Lore

Notice: First chapter is going through a major rework.

Thomas Lore has found himself in jail and the number one suspect in a serial murder case in his home town. The real murderer is still on the loose and may have Lore's girlfriend in hostage somewhere. Will Lore be able to get out and find the true culprit in time?

This is a product of a brainstorm between myself and two of my close friends.

Status: 3/6 chapters completed.

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1. Chapter 1

           “Damnit, Lore!” Myles slammed his hands down on the table. It was cheaply made, yet durable. The top of the white table contrasted greatly with his dark tan. His black briefcase laid inches away from his hand on the table’s smooth surface. If the table’s current residence wasn’t in a police station’s interrogation room Myles would have suspected it was nicked from a school cafeteria.

          “You need a lawyer!” Myles lifted one hand and turned it to indicate himself. He was half bent over with one hand still pressed firmly against the table. His finely pressed suit had begun to show signs of wrinkling. His black blazer jacket was carefully folded over the back of a metal folding chair.

          Across from him sat his best friend; Thomas Lore. Thomas sat forward in his chair with his forearms pressed against the table’s top. His hands were collapsed together. Chains threaded between the cuffs on his wrists and the ones on his ankle. He wore an orange jumpsuit with a four digit number stitched across the breast pocket with the name of the prison stamped upon the back. His head was bent downwards with his jaw clenched. His light brown hair was longer than normal, pulled back into a low ponytail. His normal ever present five o’clock shadow bloomed out to a full fledged beard. He was yesterday’s great reporter, today’s number one suspect in a high profile murder case.

          “I don’t want you involved in this case, Myles,” Thomas worked out slowly. His voice sounded beaten from exhaustion, but his words held a sharp edge of resolve.

          Myles expelled air from his lungs with heavy frustration. He stood up to his full height of 5’8”, four inches shorter than Thomas. He dragged one of his hands through his short cut, ebony hair. His fingers slipped past a streak of grey locks. He often joked that it had arrived early from the stress his friends often put him through. His hand slid down the side of his face to cover his mouth while he stared at his friend. Releasing a second drawn out breath he placed his hand on top of his jacket. “Thom, just tell me what’s going on. Let me decide if I want to walk or not.”

          Thomas looked up. His sea green eyes locked with his best friend’s mismatched set. Thomas tapped his thumb on the table a few times then shook his head, “This isn’t something you can fix.”

          Myles slowly paced back to the table placing both hands on the surface once more. He bent forward over the table to level his gaze with Thomas. Neither of them broke eye contact. Myles’s voice dropped an octave edged with a harsh, serious tone, “Try me.”

          Thomas blew an escaped lock of hair away from his face. He rolled his eyes before thunking his back heavily against the metal rest of his chair. The chains around his wrist clinked as his hands sunk down into his lap. He looked up at the ceiling. His eyes bounced from side to side scanning the stippled white.

          “Look,” Myles called out to him, “I’m just trying to help you. … but to help you, I need your help.”

          A sharp bark of laughter escaped from Thomas’s lips. He lowered his head to face Myles. His expression was now replaced with a half smirk. “You wouldn’t believe me,” he glanced to the blank wall and then down to his hands. “I barely believe me.” He looked back at Myles. His smirk twisted out into a full bitter grin, “And if you did, it wouldn’t do you any good.”

          “OH COME ON!” Myles’s voice reverberated off the plain walls, his fists connected with the table in emphasis. Thomas didn’t flinch. His grin plastered to his face mocking Myles. They stared at each other in silence. Myles counted his breaths in his head while Thomas remained fixed in expression. Myles lowered his head. His voice weighed down as he struggled to convince reason into his friend, “Look, Thom, I’m the only one you’ve got left.” Myles raised his head. His eyes pleaded Thomas to ease away from stubbornness. “You need to trust me on this one. … please.”

          Thomas’s grin dropped. He stared at his reflection in the wall mirror. He turned to look at the blank walls. He then dropped his gaze down to his hands that were now resting on the table once more. He felt his head jerk slightly to the left and then to the right. He heard Myles’s response rather than allowing himself to look up and watch.

          Myles’s mouth dropped open. A short half astonished laugh leapt from his throat. He felt his own head move up and down in its own accord. He understood. “You ... fucking idiot,” his words tumbled off his tongue. He grabbed his notepad and stuffed it into his briefcase before lifting it off the table. He then grabbed his blazer jacket and slung it over his arm. He snagged his phone off the table hitting pause on the recorder app as he lifted it into the air.

          Thomas voice was barely audible, “Off the record…”

          Myles’s head snapped up. Thomas was looking up at the phone in Myles’s hand. Myles looked down at the phone. He let his voice fall freely as his thoughts worked to fuse together, “No …” Myles shook his head to clear it, “No.” He turned to fully face Thomas. His words more forceful, “On the record. Damnit, Thom.”

          Thomas’s jaw locked in place. There was no hint of wavering in his expression as he stared at the phone. “I’ll tell you everything. Everything I know. … but we do this off the record. No notes, no recording devices, no phones.  And then,” his eyes shifted upwards to Myles’s face, “Then you walk away.”

          “But …” Myles’s voice protested before he even had a chance to think. He nodded setting his case down on the floor. He dropped his blazer jacket across the back of his chair before sitting down. From under the table he tapped ‘record’ with his thumb on his smart phone. His thumb then glided over to press the button to turn off his screen. “Ok, ok.” Myle’s lifted his hands in the air showing what appeared to be a power down phone in one hand. His other hand was empty. He placed his phone upside down upon the table. “Fine,” Myles muttered, “off the record.” He started at Thomas for a few minutes before finally leaning back. He exhaled loudly dragging a hand through hair. “When did ‘it’ start?”

          “Honestly,” Thomas leaned back in his chair. A short laugh of disbelief escaped him, “I don’t know. No one knows, but for us,” he paused to look down at his hands, “Karen and myself,” he looked back up at Myles, “I’d say about six month ago.”

          “But she didn’t … ” Myles stammered, “until… well a few days ago … ?”

          “You wanted to know about her disappearance,” Thomas snarled, “Then I’m going to go back to the beginning, when we first encountered him.”

          “Who?” Myles went to grab his briefcase. He stopped once he saw Thomas shake his head. Myles instead searched his head trying to remember his friend’s testimony. “The … ‘Boogeyman’ was it?” A sharp laugh escaped from Thomas. It was quickly replaced by a sarcastic grin that mirrored the one on Myles’s face.

          “I like to think of him like that Pied Piper from … ” Thomas frowned, “Where was it…?”

          Myles coughed out his shock, “Hamelin?”

          “Heh,” Thomas’s grin stretched thinner, “Yeah … ”

          Myles rose his hand to stop Thomas, “You expect me,”  the smile on his face was frozen in shock. His eyes stretched wider as the wheels spun in his head. “to believe you met a seven hundred year old mythic figure?”

          “No,” Myles shook his head. His shoulders raised in a barely visible shrug while he sunk back into his chair. “I expect you to not believe anything.”

          Myles released his breath in a long drawn out sigh. Both sets of his index and middle fingers were pressed together against his head. He pressed inward moving his fingertips in small clockwise moving circles to ease the pain forming at his temples. “Ok, so you meet a funny dressed man with a flute who is partial to stealing children.”

          “Yes,” Thomas nodded. He frowned again, “Well no.” He placed on hand over his eyes trying to block out his surrounding environment. His uncertainty drew out in a sound he made with his voice as he searched for the right answer. Finally he looked up again, “Kinda.”

          “Was he or was he not the Pied Piper?” Myles pushed.

          “No!” Thomas growled slamming his fist against the table. “Look,” he pointed at Myles, “you want the story? Then shut the fuck up.” Myles shut his mouth slowly. He carefully placed his hands on his lap, threading his fingers together. Thomas fell back into his chair as he looked slightly upward, recalling a scene from his past. It danced in front of him like a movie as he spoke. “When we first met him, he came to us …  at that diner just down the street from here.”

          “It was ... July,” Thomas could hear his own voice off in the distance. He watched the faded image of Karen laughing across from him as she drank her coffee. The diner’s fluorescent light bounced off her copper ringlets. They sat next to a large window which they couldn’t see out of due to night’s raging storm.

          “It was ... midnight,” his voice sounded even further away, “The diner was mostly empty.” The image of Myles faded as Karen’s image sharpened. Her smile dropped slightly as the humor drained from her eyes. Thomas sat back drawing a sharp breath bracing for the topic to revert back to what they had witnessed earlier.

          “What do you think?” she asked setting her mug back down.

          “Come again?” Thomas heard his voice echo from his mind out across the diner table over to her.

          Karen narrowed her eyes. Her tone was less than amused with Thomas’s avoidance. “The murder case, Lore, what do you think I’m talking about?

          Thomas stirred his coffee. “I’m just checking, Karen. Your sentence wasn’t exactly complete.

          “That’s when I first noticed him,” Thomas told Myles. “He didn’t come over to us, not right away, but he stood out.”

          A tall man dressed in a black suit tailored in the style of the Victorian age walked into the diner. Karen’s back was to the door, but Thomas was struck by the man’s entrance. His long silver hair was pulled back with delicate black leather tie. His nails were long, slightly curved and painted to look metallic black. Thomas thought of them as talons on a bird of prey. The man’s skin was pale and nearly flawless like porcelain. Wrapped around his neck was scarlet hand knitted scarf which was torn on both ends. However, what had really caught Thomas’s attention was the man was dry. Not a single drop from the outside storm soiled his appearance.

          “Fine,” Karen playfully amended, “What do you think of the case, Mr. Lore?

          “I think ... ” Thomas wrenched his gaze back to Karen’s face, “I think it’s sick. I hope they find whoever did it.

          “This is the work of a professional ... and a psychopath,” Karen growled, “Our police department can’t handle this. The case is as good as dead. I’m not even sure if I can even find-

          “I won’t let you give up, Kar,” Thomas interjected. “You’ll catch the murderer. You’re the best forensic scientist I know. There will be something.

          “If only … ” Karen frowned staring down at her coffee.

          “Excuse me,” a voice as smooth as silk slithered into their ears. The strange man stood next to their table. His mouth was curved up into a friendly smile revealing canine teeth to be sharper than Thomas was used to seeing. A blanket of fear draped around Thomas’s senses. “I could not help but to overhear you discussing about a homicide. Perhaps I may offer assistance?

          “Do you know something about a murder?” Karen’s face contorted in a strange concoction of annoyance and confusion.

          “Not a thing,” the corners in his mouth lifted higher, “but I am very good at connecting … dots, as it were.

          “No, they have this under control,” Thomas muttered, “I can’t support a citizen vigilante running about. They already have one snooping reporter,” he half smiled at Karen. “I’m sure that is bad enough.” Karen responded in a glare followed by a quick kick to his shin. Thomas grimaced. “Thank you, but no,” he amended. “I’m sure the department will not require your 'services’.

          The man placed a hand over his heart. His irises held a slight twinge of red that mingled in its original color. “My mistake officer,” the man said with a slight bow. “I was under a different impression.

          “Oh I’m not a -

          “Whatdoyouknowaboutamurder?” Karen blurted out while jumping as best as she could to her feet. Her hip hit the edge of the table as her hand connected with her mug spilling her coffee across the fake wood grain.

          “Kar?

          “Excitable thing, are you not, Ms. Ryde?” the man’s chuckle drowned out Thomas’s concerned voice. He dropped his hand to his side standing again. He stood a little under six feet in height. “As I have told you, nothing.

          “But how did you …?” Karen stammered. She turned her body slightly back placing her left hand upon the table. Thomas grabbed a hold of her wrist. He wanted to reassure her he was still here. He wanted to reassure himself that he wasn’t afraid of this strange being that stood in front of them.

          “Who are you?” Thomas wondered out loud.

          The man ignored Thomas as he stared deep into Karen’s eyes. His irises burned red as he lifted her right hand to his mouth. “Come dear,” the man’s voice created a fog across Thomas’s brain, but his senses sprung to life in full panic. “I have been searching for you for a long time now.” The man lightly kissed the top of her hand.

          “Let go, Thom,” her voice was hollow. She stared transfixed into the man’s eyes.

          “Kar?” Thomas squeezed her wrist slightly. She didn’t respond. The man’s lips drew into a full smile once more. Fear gripped Thomas around the neck as panic danced full fury inside his stomach, “Karen??!

          “Pay the tab, boy,” the man oozed out a bubble of laughter. He lightly tugged her hand closer to his chest. “She will see you in the morning.” Time froze for Thomas as he felt Karen slid out from under his hand. He watched in stunned silence as the man led her out into the middle of the thunderstorm. Not once had the man broken eye contact.

          As the door shut behind them Thomas regained control. He pushed himself away from the diner booth. His coffee landed, intermixing with Karen’s previous spill. He raced to the door. Yanking it open he was blasted with sheets of rain. He shielded his eyes with his forearm as he rushed outside.

     “KAREN?” he shouted into the storm. He whipped around searching for their forms. He drew in another big breath before bellowing out once more, “KAREN?!!!” It had been to late. They were both gone.

          “But that was five months ago,” Myles pointed out, “She’s been seen since then.”

          Thomas’s reality snapped back into the focus. He was back sitting at a cheap little table. His body was dry dressed in his orange prison jumpsuit. His wrists and ankles were still shackled together. “I didn’t say he kidnapped her that night,” he closed his eyes as he accepted his current reality. “He just took her away.” He opened his eyes again. Liquid pooled at the bottom of his eyes as he remembered the expression on Karen’s face the day she returned. “He scared her that night.” A tear slid across his cheek, “I mean really scared her. He told her all sorts of stories …” another tear dripped down splashing on to the metal wrapped around his wrist, “About his past.”

          Myles cleared his throat shifting slightly in his seat. “Were they true stories or just a bunch of bull meant to scare her off?”

          “I don’t really know,” Thomas admitted, “She told me a few of those stories. She told me the real murderer of baby Scott ... and after what I’ve seen … ”

          “Karen?” Thomas’s memory whispered to him. “Karen, what happened?

          Karen stood in the doorway of his apartment. She stared blankly into his residence. Thomas wrapped an arm around her shoulders carefully guiding her in. He lightly kicked the door closed and led her to his black leather couch. He draped a blanket around her body before wandering off to get her something warm to drink. She simply sat there staring off into the distance.

          He returned with her favorite mug with warm coffee. He sat down beside her offering the mug. She didn’t respond. “Karen?” he spoke softly. He grabbed her hands and wrapped them around the mug. She slowly turned her head to look at him. Her lips trembling. “Karen, you’re ok now. What happened?

          “ ... That man is capable of anything,” Thomas said to Myles.

          “I-I know who he is, Thom,” her voice trembled out. “I know what he’s done... He told me the beginning ... He told me everything. 

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