Mermaid, Chapter 9, Part 3 and End

Here’s Part 3 of chapter 9.  Boris, Stephie and Hilda react to the message from the Manager, just in case, Sal returns to New York, Tim captures a car and drops his camera and more.


At first the meeting between Hilda and Sphinx seemed to be normal. I think that she had at least a little sense of being watched even though I kept my highly developed shields as tight as possible. Both of my sisters and I were very good at this because we wanted to avoid being sensed by Tom by accident which would have had consequences with mother.  Tom’s sheer power as a royal fae was enormous and he did get glimpses from time to time even when we had our shields as tight as possible. While we wanted Tom to get a sense of our Change it was going to have to be because of his actually reaching to his own and not an accident.  Otherwise we would have had to deal with mother’s anger.  The fact that what happened  isolated Tom and we suffered because we were not free to be in our Change because Tom might accidently pick up on it was something we all never quite managed to come to grips with until he left .

Still one advantage of that was all three of us were very good at keeping ourselves hidden from the average fae. I could sense that Sphinx felt that she was being watched as she Ran quickly away from an obviously disturbed Hilda even though she didn’t know who was watching her. It was also obvious that Sphinx was frightened by what she had just done.  She barely managed to get her train and I turned to fly back home. The lights were on Hilda’s cabin and Boris’ truck was there so I dropped down and phased through the door. Hilda was obviously distraught and holding Andy. Ominously, she hadn’t released her Change. I asked Boris;  “What did Sphinx do?”

“Gave Hilda an invitation to meet with the Manager.”

“NO! Unless he comes up here, of course, and then we invite everybody and we all meet with him. For a truly long talk about the right kind of behavior.”

“He wants to pick up Hilda from Grand Central next week.”

“I hope that you are calling Helmut first thing tomorrow.”

“Yes. Father and mother too.”

“Hilda, did Sphinx talk about anything else?”

“Guns. She wanted to know how many guns we had. How many guns Tom had.”

“What did you tell her?”

“Vague answers that if she is smart she will come up with lots and lots. It took them long enough to figure out that Tom may not have been an isolated case. She’s never asked about guns before. ”

“Boris, considering the indentured, they may go after Andy.”

“I think so too. From now on my people take Andy to and from school and I have one of my deputies who is fae at the school with a gun loaded with specials.  You bring one too.”

“Al convinced me a long time ago. I never leave home without it. At least when I am not Changed and it’s not a pain to keep concealed.”

I had alternatives to guns, but Al had been determined and made cogent and effective arguments. I actually used his speech with the wives, girlfriends and bonded of Boris’s deputies for the same reasons. Especially with the two that were high fae. I had pushed the boundaries of Change just a bit and could keep a gun or other small object with me while Changed and concealed or phased for a short period of time.  I used that trick in my battles with Tom to set things up on him and being able to do things like that had been useful in the past. Chrissie and Tom had been asleep when I used that skillet and thus hadn’t noticed that I hadn’t actually opened their door and more than likely hadn’t remembered that they had locked it the night before.

Of course Hilda and I had our ongoing little contest. Where I was ahead this year. We had run a lot of rounds down the tube over the years. Of course we had pretty much run out of the guns in the armory.

I had an idea. Sphinx’s questions and Al’s talk made me think of guns and how fae typically relate to them.  I looked at Andy and said; “Andy, would you like a toy gun?”

“Aunt Stephie, guns aren’t toys and I have real guns now.”

“Well this one won’t be a toy either, but we will make it look like one.”

Boris said; “What are you thinking Stephie?”

“Boris,I keep getting the feeling that the other side doesn’t really understand or think about guns very well. Right around the turn of the century there were all those pocket pistols and some of them were cheaply made and look like toys.  I think we should take Andy and Hilda, go over to Larry’s and check out the armory too. If we don’t have one there we can check the confiscated and evidence room at the office.  I bet we have something that we can do some stuff with and make a “toy” gun for Andy to carry around without anybody thinking too much about it.  Take some grips from a toy, or make them from wood and slap them on and nobody will think twice about Andy having it.  At least not the other side.”

Andy said; ‘I don’t want to shoot people.”

“Andy, neither do we, but these people are leaving us little choice and we are also dealing with monsters here. Sphinx was caught today between being a person and being a tool for monsters.  I don’t want you to be a tool for monsters and I don’t want your mother to be a tool for monsters.”

Boris said; “you’re starting to think and sound like Tom.”

“Well I may not be able to rebuild an engine but I can change a tire. I’ve been dealing with Tom for a long time and if I hadn’t learned at least some of his skills, faery abilities or not, he would have run right over me. Diana and Maria too,come to that. In order to compete with Tom, who was essentially no fae,but very skillful and a wizard with puzzles and machines we had to learn at least some of what he was doing.  We had to know how science and things work, how to make electricity work and other things.  We also had to learn to spot the subtle signs that he was up to something and how to plan far in advance.  These are things that most fae just don’t know how to do and you can see the result when the other side tries to deal with Tom. That set up with the firecrackers and Tony was probably a month or more in the works, a little at a time day by day.  There he was behind the plow, plowing a field.  He had been at it for hours before the firecrackers went off. That’s what the other side is up against. Yet the best they can come up with is those stupid attacks.”

“By the way, speaking about Tom, Stacey called again. She wants to surprise Tom with something he really likes for Thanksgiving. She went down and met Chrissie and Tom last weekend and her mother was up top with mother and father. Apparently that was rare in mer life and Stacey wants to keep Tom happy because of some project that he’s doing. She also wants to nudge Tom into helping her with her battles with her brothers. Or at least trade secrets, both with you and him.”

“Oh good. I’ll trade her my fudge recipe for the recipe for those meat pies she keeps talking about. And that sounds like fun. Let’s talk to Larry and get Andy set up.”


With the anxiety over the sharks gone, the trip back through Rhode Island and Connecticut was less romantic than the trip out across Long Island. Still, going back, I was no longer making stops looking for the protection racket because I was pretty sure now what it had been and why it had suddenly evaporated. We made a lunch stop in an almost empty beach town in Rhode Island and found an empty beach where Sillia pulled me under for a short Swim. We stopped for the night at an old Victorian seaside hotel in Old Saybrook where we spent no time in our room. The next day we drove through along the coast, stopping at an empty park in Westport and finally reaching the city by midafternoon.  I said to Sillia; “Do you want to drive straight down to the bower or should we stop by the office?”

“Let’s stop by the office. I want to drop these off.”

Including the pictures she had taken on our trip down there were twelve film packs from the camera.  Sillia had taken a lot of pictures during our trip and restocked film packs up on the Cape. I drove down through Manhattan and into the garage.  A smiling George looked up and went in and came out with a chair for Sillia.  As he came up, he said; “Hi Sal.  You’re back.  Is this Sillia?  I’m so glad to meet you at last.”

He held the chair as I opened the door, picked up Sillia and put her in the chair. I handed George the keys; “Just park it. We’re going right back out once we drop some stuff off.”

I handed Sillia the film packs, opened the trunk and took out the Thomson. I slung it over my shoulder and rolled Sillia into the building. I said to Sillia; “Wait here, I’ll be right back.”

I walked over to the armory and handed the Thomson to Joe; “Joe, I’m turning this back in.”

“Hi Sal. How’s Al doing?”

“Great, the last time I saw him. He and Eltra going around the Cape and hitting just about every beach.”

“So what are their plans?”

“As far as I know they are on there way back here after Al has a long sitdown with Tom about guns and Changed. I’ve got to go.”

I walked back out and rolled Sillia into the elevator. When the elevator reached our floor, I rolled her into the office and she called out; “Mary,I have all the pictures that we took on the trip. Well, except for the beach battle pictures.”

“Noro brought those down Friday. I wasn’t sure what you planned to do with the rest.”

“I knew that since you were going to want them that it would just be easier to have you develop them. That way we didn’t have to worry about them on the trip.”

Mary said; “So tell me about the trip. It sounds like quite an adventure.”

Sillia started to tell Mary about the various happenings and I said; “I’ll take the pictures into Steve. I want to check in with the boss anyway.”

I walked into the office and over to Steve; “Here’s the pictures Sillia took of our trip. Mary is going to want them. Make up a set for me and Sillia.”

“Sillia doesn’t believe in missing things does she?. If these are as good as the others they are going to be amazing.  How did things go, busted ambushes aside?”

“Great, except for that poor mob guy. The sharks were a no show, at least for us.”

“Talk to the boss, they may have actually gone after you last Monday. We got some interesting stuff from those towels you gave those fishermen.”

“Then they had a busy week. Anyway we did a lot of Swimming, the bower was amazing and the rest of Mera’s family is pretty much what you might expect from them.” “Scary competent and even scarier fun?  I can’t wait until we have Nera and Eltra here full time. How are Mike and Al doing?”

“Mike is doing fine though Nera is running him ragged with exercise and Al and Eltra seem to be having a great time. I need to talk to the boss.”

I walked over to the boss’s office; “Boss I’m back.”

“Great. By the way you did a great job up there. So did Mike and the rest.”

“Well Tom has given us everything he had and I added fourteen more construct jars to my collection. Though what they expected to accomplish with mass constructs is beyond me.  On the beach, by the time they reached us they were nothing much more than targets for what we had. At least the necromancer is out of the picture. Overall things are pretty tight up there.”

“I know. How much chance did you get to talk to Mera’s daughter, Stacey?”

“Not as much as I would have liked, considering what I found out about her after she left. She seems to have an ear everywhere.”

“She does. She called this morning and Mary had a long talk with her. Josh realized that he made a mistake by not talking to her before coming down here and wanted to make sure that we had what she did and a line to her. So where are you going next?”

“To take Sillia down to the bower and talk to Dom if he’s there. I want to start working the undercover booze operation.”

“Noro wants to talk to you about that. We’ve been talking about setting you up as a high paid troubleshooter consulting with his company with shady mob connections. The idea is to build an elaborate cover to explain what you are doing without  covering you with the smell of a crooked cop.  That way when the swells check you out, everything is legit but still crooked. I might have to take you off that part time though.  There’s been a string of kidnappings on the water and that market near the navy yard.  One of Mary’s irregulars has been looking into it on his spare time. He’s looking for his first big scoop.”

“How is this our case? Kidnapping is FBI’s jusridiction.”

“The NYPD found some remains of one of the victims. He had been eaten by sharks.”

“How many of these kidnappings so far?”

“Four or five.”

“Are any of them fae?”

“That’s been hard to tell. The families are barge types or Flushing farmers and neither one is going to come out and tell people that they are fae.”

“You think that these kidnappings and the sharks are related?”

“Well after Tom blew thirteen of them away there should have been seven left. Yet ten showed up in the cars during your little ambush. So they either added three or there were three we didn’t know about. Coincidently, at that point there were three kidnap victims that we knew about.”

“Steve said that there were some sharks chasing those towels that I handed out.”

“At least one showed up at all three boats. The third boat had more, but they were chumming the water and some of them may have been real sharks.  But I think they did show up trying to look for you. Considering that, by that point you were far away from there, that must have been rather frustrating. And then they had to drive all the way through Connecticut and Rhode Island just so John, Jake and Noro could mousetrap them.  Did those three have as much fun as it looks like they did?”

“Boss, they were very pleased with themselves. Except for the fact that John and Jake were upset that the sharks were so damned stupid. They wanted to give Noro worthy adversaries. I think that everybody up there is very concerned with the potential of Noro falling back into his funk. Well at least we have a handle on the sharks and if we can tie them to the kidnappings maybe we can actually arrest them in the real world.  The swells don’t like scandals and maybe one could draw the opposition into the light.”

“Talk to Noro and see what he thinks.  He said that he’s going to start paying for information and do some other things. By the way, before you take Sillia down to Bennies, call your parents. They want to meet down there.”

“Ok, boss. I’m going to talk to Frank too about the kidnappings.”

I walked out to my desk and reached for the phone to call dad. Once I got through to his office I said; “Dad, we’re back.”

“Good. Go down to Bennies and we’ll meet you there. Bennie needs to talk to you.”

“Bennie, why?”

“You’ll find out when you get there, but we had an interesting lunch with Noro and some other people on Saturday and Bennie turned out to be more interesting than we knew. We’ll see you there.”

He hung up and I typed up a quick trip report for the desk detailing Long Island, dropped it off and headed back out front. Sillia and Mary seemed to be conspiring about something. I walked over and said; “So what are you two up to?”

Sillia said; “Oh you’ll find out. By the way we want to stop by Bennies on the way to the bower.”

“I know, the boss told me and I called dad. Let’s go.”

I took her back to the car and as we started down toward Bennies I said; “So what first?”

“Well I’m starting to feel dry so let’s take you down to the bower and find mother. I think that Aunt Meria wants to meet with you too. Then we go up to Bennies and dinner, followed by another Swim and we end up in my, no our, bower.”

“Is the Rockaway bower as amazing as the Cape bower was?”

“Not quite. The Cape has better connections to the land and is better situated. There was a lot of backsplash back during the war between the Cape bower and the dark fae.  I think that that was when Noro started to build his connections, but the Rockaway bower was caught on the edges of the war and suffered for a long time until the king saw what Noro was doing and encouraged people like dad and your father to get jobs up top.”

“Well it’s better than my apartment. I don’t have a bed tank.” “I still want to see it. Even though I’m not sure that you really lived there.  There was a lot of stuff still at your room at home.”

“I’m not sure that I did, really. It was just a place to bunk and then we all sort of were cut off at the office.” “Well that seems to have changed.”

“Yes it has. Mera and the rest really pushed us out of our rut.”

“Well she brought you to me at last and let you see yourself as you truly are.”

“That maybe the best thing that she did for us all.”

I pulled into the familiar street and parked in front of Bennies. I went to the door and opened it, but it looked like dad and the rest hadn’t arrived yet.  I called out to Sissy; “Sissy, when my parents show up tell them that I took Sillia for a Swim. We should be back in about an hour!”

“Sal, nice to see you back and I’ll tell them when they get here.”

I went back to the car with the rickshaw, put Sillia in it and took us over to the warehouse. I asked Sillia; “How do we deal with our clothes?”

“There’s some lockers along the wall. Sit me down here on the bench.”

Most of the lockers were empty and I opened two of them as Sillia took off her dress and handed it to me and then I undressed, picked Sillia up in my arms, walked over to the water door and dropped her in. I Changed and followed her. When we were under I said; “Which way?”

“This way, at least it isn’t that long Swim like they have at the Cape. On the other hand those long swims did have their advantages.  A little more work and we can start to dance.”

She was right, the Swim was short and as we approached the bower I sensed Dom and Tara as well as a mermaid I didn’t know. Tara called out; “Sillia, Sal you are back! How was your adventure?  At least the parts we haven’t heard about from Noro.”

As we approached Sillia said; “Sal, meet Meria, dowager queen of the bower and my great aunt.”

Meria said: “Sal I’m truly glad to meet you at last. You saved us all. You don’t know how much you did.”

I said; “I hope that we can keep things safe. I’m still trying. And it wasn’t just me.  Dad, the boss and our tactical people, and especially Mera all had important roles to play.”

“I know and I’m sorry that Mera didn’t know enough to visit. Noro told me about your adventures with the sharks.”

“I’m not done with them, yet. Apparently they have been kidnapping kids and eating them to grow their numbers. This time we know who they are.”

Dom said; “I hadn’t heard about the kidnappings. When did this start up?”

“The boss said that it started recently with barge kids and around that market near the warehouse that we raided. One of Mary’s irregulars has been looking into it on his spare time because he wants to be a reporter.  The problem is that the barge community and those farmers tend to be clannish and we don’t know if they are fae or not. I’m going to see if Mary can give me a contact for the kid and talk to Frank tomorrow. I’m thinking that while we can’t bust the sharks for being sharks, maybe we can get them for old fashioned kidnapping and homicide. The gold coast people don’t like a scandal and something like that would be a big one and shine all sorts of lights in the right places.”

“Well, I haven’t talked to Tony since the stuff from the Cape came in, but we agreed that the sharks are your thing to play with. None of the boys have any doubt that you will inflict the maximum lesson on them.”

“Well just shooting them, as pleasant as that would be and Mera has said that if they even show up anywhere near her kids again they go for a deep ocean swim with concrete blocks attached, doesn’t really accomplish what we need. Humiliating and perpwalking them for a nasty series of crimes can be amazingly effective. Vinnie liked to do that to some of the clowns we dealt with.  People might be willing to die, but have their families and everything else dragged out, not so much. Since kidnapping is a Federal crime now since Lindberg in addition to troubleshooter Sal and Detective del Vecchio we also get Federal Officer del Vecchio. Along with real Sal.  I just hope I can keep all the Sals straight.”

Meria said; “Noro wants to talk to you about this. He’s also looking to pull out all the stops.  Try to keep things from getting TOO far out of hand.  On the other hand, while he was moping down under sea all his relatives were developing their skills for deviousness and unfair play.  He called today and was rather upset that Josh and the rest had managed outfox him on the tank bed thing.”

“That reminds me Dom,I have a preliminary business plan to go over with you and Tony about that. It’s legit, but it looks like a good investment. Chrissie was making friends all over the place with just a hint that there would be a solution to the seperation the ladies were having, wasn’t she Sillia?”

“Dad, the way those ladies were acting it was better than anything that you could sell. Not that I don’t want something like a tank bed too. In fact I’m going to push the project hard too.  Mom, do you have Mrs. Stelleti’s number? I want to pass it on to Chrissie as a potential supplier.”

“I already called her to give her the heads up. Stella, Mabel, Ella and I are getting together with her once Bob has better numbers.”

Meria laughed and said; “Poor Noro. He’s doomed. If he had played  it straight, he would have been fine.  But no, he had to find a crooked path and he’s going to be stuck with it.  I can’t wait to meet Chrissie and Tom. Things are going to be fun. Sal, why don’t we show you around and then get back up top with your parents and your sisters.”


It was Monday and started like just about every other day. I kept the morning papers, but I was letting one of the boys in my flop have the lunch papers so that I could get over to Brooklyn and wander around earlier in the day.  I had gotten lucky and seen the car twice, but at a distance and I had a picture of it.  One of Jimmy’s people had had their little girl taken and I had talked to some of the people on Talman street but they were poor and both parents of the families tended to need to work so there hadn’t been anybody on the street when it happened.  Once the kid was taken, Jimmy put one of his people to watch the street and he had seen the car too, but it had driven away again when they saw him. After that Jimmy’s guy started to carry a gun.

I had some extra prints of my car picture made and I horsetraded it with the precinct for what they had on the kidnappings, which wasn’t much  more than a shoe they found in the water near Queens that had been eaten by sharks and a list of the victims. I also took a print to Mary at that office near where I sold papers because both the cops and the mob guys at the market said that they would be interested.  When I talked to Jimmy about the picture he told me to take it there or he would beat some sense into me the next time he saw me. The scary guy that ran that office went over what I had and said that I was doing good work, to be careful and that he didn’t have anybody to work the case but they were interested.  He also said that if I saw the car again to get the license number but make sure not too get close to take a picture and that if the car stopped while I was there, to run. As usual I crossed over the bridge and  went over to Walabout to talk to Jimmy. Even though the market hadn’t cleared out for the day, he wasn’t hard to find.  As I walked over to him he said; “Did you do what I told you?”

“Yes I did. I’ve been in that office before but the boss there is scary. He told me to watch out if I saw that car again. Have there been any more kids taken?”

“Not that I’ve noticed and people have their eyes out. Look around.”

I did and the usual farm kids were conspicuous by their absence. Farm women too. I looked at Jimmy and said; “No kids. Women either. They’re staying at home.”

“They are,which makes it rough on the farmers. This time of year they might stay home and that hurts business for me and my customers. Not that I can blame them. For that matter my customers are keeping their kids home too. This is making it rougher on everybody.”

I hadn’t had enough to take to the paper yet, but I had set up to give them updates from my notes as I got them. A full time reporter  had been working with me on this, but he needed more and we had both tried the barge people and run  into the same stone wall. I left Jimmy and started to walk around the market, taking pictures of  people loading and the trucks and wagons as they left. Jimmy’s point about the kids gave me a story idea. I walked around  the edge of the market and as I was turning the corner and had the camera up to take a picture, the car drove right into the picture just as I tripped the shutter. I put the camera back down and as I walked down the street I heard the car slow down.  I turned around, walked back around the corner into the market and once I was around the corner, ran into the market and dodged around until I got back to Jimmy. He looked up as I approached him out of breath and said; “Timmy, what happened to you?”

“The car is here, at least it was. I got a picture of it by accident. I think that they might be after me.”

Jimmy put his arm up, waved and two of his people came over. He said; “Bob, go over to Gianni and tell him we need to talk.  Jonney, go around and let the boys know that that car is back then get O’Doul and tell him too. Tim, you stay right here with me until Gianni and O’Doul show up.”

Bob came back in about ten minutes with BOTH Gianni and Sergeant O’Doul. He walked up and said; “I got both of them. It wasn’t hard. They both have coffee at the cart this time of day.”

O’Doul said; “What’s going on, Timmy?”

“That weird car that keeps showing up when the kids get taken, it just showed up right in front of me while I was taking a picture.”

Gianni said; “Are you sure that it was the same car?”

“Big Packard saloon car about ten years old? Yes, it was the same car.”

O’ Doul walked over to the police desk and started to make a call. After he finished he said; “I called it in but there’s no detective available. The word has gone out to traffic to keep an eye out but if they’re smart they’ll split and without them actually having a kid in the car, it’s just a car.”

Gianni said; “Tim shoot the camera out and give me the film. I’ll have one of the boys take it to lab and bring back prints for you, the outfit, Joe, for his desk and the office in Manhattan. Tim, walk a set in there when you are over there tomorrow.  I suspect that Sal will want them.”

I took four random pictures of the market to empty the camera, rolled the film back opened up the camera and handed the film to Gianni. He took it over to one of his people who left with it. I asked; “Who’s Sal?”

“Troubleshooter. Gone upscale.”

We laughed. Gianni was the only one of us who actually knew him, but we all knew who he was.

“Oh, him. Maybe I can trade this picture for a picture of him and his car. You wouldn’t believe who wanted one.”

Jimmy said; “Who?”

“Mr. Rockefeller. He buys his paper from me every morning. I took his picture once and the paper ran it. He bought a print and got me this camera.”

“No kidding? There’s a story.”

“Any way there’s no way that I would take a picture of Sal unless Mary said it was ok.”

Gianni said; “Good policy. On the other hand, ask her if she wants pictures. She likes pictures.”

“How do you know that?”

“I didn’t have this gig forever and you aren’t the first kid through that office.”

Jimmy’s people came back; “The car is gone. Everybody’s keeping a lookout though.”

While we were waiting for Gianni’s guy to get back with the prints I walked over to the pier.  That picture I had taken of the Pennsylvania with Manhattan behind it had been a little weird.  A bunch of the crew had been on the side of the ship looking at the water and what looked like a very large fish was waving at them. Fish don’t have arms and hair though. Were Jonney’s stories about mermaids in the navy yard true?  Anyway I had been going back to the pier and trying to see if I could spot the fish again and failed, but from time to it felt like I was tapped on my shoulder, but when I turned around, there was no one there and giggles sounded.  Sometimes I caught a flash of scales and fins, along with a splash, but there never seemed to be a person around. I walked to the end of the pier and opened the camera to reload it and that’s when my life went strange and I learned the truth about mermaids in the navy yard and in Brooklyn.

As I was reloading the camera I was tapped on my shoulder again and I dropped the camera and my future into the water. I heard; “Oh No!” in a girls voice behind me and looked as there was a flash of fin and something disappeared. I looked at the water again, where there was no sign of a girl or the camera either  and turned dejectedly back to the market. As I walked back Gianni had two packets of the pictures, looked at me and said; “What happened to the camera?”

“I dropped it while I was reloading it. It’s in the drink.”

“Well, when you talk to Mary’s people tomorrow ask them for another one. These are great and we need you down here. We all think that you’ve been doing good work over those kids. If Mary doesn’t have a camera, let me know and I will kick it upstairs and let Sal know.  I have some friends at the papers too and they go through cameras like you wouldn’t believe.  We’ll get you fixed up. The important thing is that you got the shot.”

He handed me the two packets; “One of these is yours and the other is Mary’s. Hand the picture over tomorrow.  I’ve got a car to drive you over to Manhattan.  We don’t want you just walking around here right now. Gianni’s man drove me to my flop and I put the packet of photo’s in the file I was building.  There was a knock on the door and the manager had a telegram from my father for me.  He wanted me down to The Coney Island subway station tonight for a family emergency. I locked my door and went down to the subway station.  After the long ride through Brooklyn I arrived at the Coney Island station where dad was waiting with my uncle Karl’s cab.  I got in and said; “What’s up?”

“I’ll explain when we get there.”

He didn’t seem to want to talk and we drove down to a street that had a dock on the end that he parked in front of. Uncle Karl was waiting and said to dad; “I’ll be back to pick up Tim when he calls.”

He took his cab and left. We walked to the edge of the water and there were what appeared to be my mother and sister, but neither one was wearing clothes and both had what appeared to be fish tails instead of legs. I boggled as I asked; “What happened?”

Mother said; “This is what we are. This is our Change.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Would you have believed if you hadn’t seen it?”

“So what am I?”

“I think that you will find out. If what I see now is any indication, sooner than you think.”

“So why are we here?”

“Well your sister and I have to go under sea and your father is joining us.”

Dad said; “I can only Change once due to my war injuries and won’t be able to come up top any more. You’re old enough and have been taking care of yourself and I don’t want to be separated from your mother. So this is good bye for the time being.”

Mother said; “probably not for very long if the hints I’m seeing in you are true and even if they weren’t we could still get together down here from time to time. Joe, go and get that cart from in front of Bennies so we can eat together.”

Dad went over and brought the rickshaw over and I picked up Kathy and put her in as dad put mother in and we took it back to the restaurant and we took them inside and sat down. My mother and sister were not the only mermaids in the place and as I looked over at one of the tables, I recognized one of the men with a mermaid. I had missed his car out front. The waitress came over to get our orders, Father recomended the meat pie, so I went with that and she left. Another mer couple came in with one daughter who was a mermaid and the other who wasn’t  and the mergirl was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen as she said; “OH NO!”


It was time to talk to mother. I had first seen him when he was taking a picture of the Pennsylvania while I was performing a little dance to give the crew a send off.  The ship blocked any view from Manhattan and the docks over at the market were far enough away and quiet enough at that time of day that I hadn’t been too worried about being seen.  Most of the time I used my shields to more or less make myself invisible because Mabel and Ella showed me how and insisisted that we do that to hide ourselves from people just looking out the windows across the river.  But the crew of the ship had been good to me when we were getting ready and I thought a little send off wouldn’t hurt. There was the boy with the camera though, and I was fairly sure that he got me.  Any way he kept coming back and I started to tease him a little bit.  I don’t think that he got a close look at me and it was a bit of fun.  Then tonight I made him accidently drop his camera and the look on his face as I dove to pull it from the water made me realize that things had gone just a bit beyond a little teasing.

I rolled into mother’s office and over to her; “Mother, how did you meet father?”

“He fell overboard when his destroyer made a hard turn and Swam over the bower back to shore. He was born into his Change and could Swim from birth. I felt him as he Swam through and Swam up to introduce myself. ”

“So you knew about your bond almost immediately. Did you have the same kinds of issues that Mera did?”

“Not really. It helped that your father was mer and high fae as well as navy. A large part of the bower was and is navy so those kinds of relationships aren’t unsual.”

“Why did you move up here?”

“Well,once I had legs and Sal, Mike got the job up here and we both liked Dom and Tara and our other friends so we stayed. It’s not as if we hadn’t visited your grandparents, but once you were growing up we wanted to wait until you knew about Change.”

“So you knew about your bond right away? Is it always like that?”

“Sometimes, sometime the bond grows. What is it that you are trying to get to?”

“I think that I have bonded with somebody and I may have ruined his life by accident.”

I held up the camera; “I caused him to drop this in the water.”

“So, have the photo people check it out and give it back. That is probably a great way to introduce youself.”

“Aren’t I a little young to bond?”

“Well maybe, but once we have our Change it can occur at any time. My sister wasn’t that much older when she bonded. You don’t need to close the deal right away and this way you can learn to enjoy each other. Why don’t you take that camera over to the photographer’s mate’s shop so that they can clean it and look it over.  Then you can give it back. Mike should be here soon, we’ll run it by on our way to pick up your sister and go to Bennies to meet with Sal.”

Dad showed up and put us in his car. Mom said; “Dear, we need to stop by the photographer’s mate’s shop on the way out.”

“What happened?”

“Well Suzy thinks that she has bonded and she caused her bonded’s camera to fall into the water. We want to have the camera cleaned and gone over so that she can give it back as a way of introducing herself.” “Who is he?”

“Dad, I don’t know. He takes pictures over at the market next door to the yard. I’ve seen him on the pier and I think he took a picture of me dancing for the Pennsylvania a week or so ago.  If he did, I want a print. Anyway, I was teasing him with water magic and he dropped the camera into the water. So regardless, I need to give him his camera back.”

“Well he might be in for a surprise.”

Dad drove us over the photographer’s mate’s shop and I rolled in. The photographer’s mate behind the counter said; “Hi Suzy, what can we do for you?”

“I need this camera cleaned and checked. It fell in the drink.”

“It isn’t one of ours, but that shouldn’t be a problem. What happened?”

“I was sort of teasing somebody on the pier and he dropped it. I want to give it back and apologize.”



“Well go for it. Whoever he is he’s a lucky guy.”

I rolled back out and dad put me in the car and we started down toward Bennies. When dad took us in, there at one table were Sal, Sillia, Dom and Tara along with a regal looking merlady that I didn’t know and at another table, with a disfigured man, a merwife and her daughter who probably had just came into Change, there he was and I could only say; “OH NO!”


When we arrived at Bennies I noticed two things. The first that was my daughter had been correct about her bonding and second that our new family did not seem to very happy with itself.  My new son in law seemed to be rather shocked and more than just bond fuzz.  Well the first start to solving problems was to figure out what they were.  I turned to the other couple and said; “My daughter here was saying that she bonded with somebody.  It appears that it was with your son.  I’m Stella del Vecchio and this is my husband, Mike.”

The mer lady said; “It would appear that you are right and I’m Maria Thomas and this is my husband Joe.”

I said; “I have to talk to my son and his bonded, but I will be right back. Suzy why don’t you introduce yourself to the young man and apologize.  Young man, Suzy retrieved your camera and we took to the photographer’s mate’s shop to be cleaned, so if you come to the yard tomorrow we will return it to you.”

Maria said; “This is my son, Tim and my daughter Katherine. What happened, Suzy.” Suzy said; “Tim came down to the docks across from the navy yard where I live and he started to take some pictures.  I thought that he had taken a picture of me so I started to tease him a little bit with water magic so that I would get his attention.  Today, he was reloading his camera on the pier, I nudged him and he dropped it.  I’m sorry, Tim and when the photograper’s mates are done with it I will give it back.”

I said; “I’ll be right back.”

I rolled over to the other table and said; “Sal dear, welcome back. I think that I’m going to be tied up for a bit, so talk to your father and Dom.”

I rolled back as Mike and Cindy sat down with Sal and the rest; “Ok, I’m back. It looks to me as if there’s more going on than just minor bond issues and a lost camera. How long has Tim known about Change?”

Joe said; “We told him just now.”

“And Maria and Katherine are going under sea.”

“As am I. Due to my war injuries, if I Change, I don’t think that I will ever be able to release my Change because the pain and injuries would kill me. I wouldn’t do this if we had a choice. We were going to meet with Tim here and then leave everything up top and go below.  We felt that we really didn’t have a choice.”

Maria said; “Tim has been doing fairly well by himself for some time now but I was still worried that he would be all alone. So Suzy, I am so glad that teasing or not, that you entered into Tim’s life.”

I turned to Tim and said; “You’ve been quiet. What do you do?”

“I push papers downtown on the battery in the morning and I take pictures in the afternoons for the paper. I want to be a reporter.”

“So that was why you were down there taking pictures?”

“Well there have been a string of kidnappings and some friends down in the market are in middle so I’ve been trying to look into it.”

Sal overheard and said; “The boss mentioned that I should look you up. How about we meet someplace tomorrow near the market and you give me the lay of the land?”

I said; “Tim, this is my son Sal. He’s famous because of his car.”

Tim said; “I know. Gone upscale.”

Sal groaned and said; “How much has that story gone around?”

“Sal, there might be three people in this city who don’t know it. I’m going to drop a copy of the pictures I took today at Mary’s tomorrow. I got real lucky today. That car that seems to be connected to the kidnappings dropped right into my picture frame as I was tripping the shutter. That’s why I was reloading the camera on the pier. One of the outfit’s people was taking the pictures over to be developed.”

“So have the victims been anything special?”

“Sal, these have been barge kids, farm kids and a laborers kid from Talman St. From what I’ve been able to figure out none of them had anything that would be worth kidnapping somebody for.  Then there’s the fact that the police found some remains from the kids that were shark eaten.”

“I’ll fill you in tomorrow. Better yet, I’ll call my boss and he will when you drop the pictures off. Why don’t we agree to meet at mom’s office at the yard. That way nobody will tie us together.”

“I’ve already talked to him somewhat when I delivered my earlier picture of the car. He just said to be very careful. The yard is good.  I’m just recovering my camera and you are just there to visit. ”

“I don’t think that the boss wanted you to be fully involved and I can’t blame him for that, but with that picture, if it is what you say it is, they are coming after you anyway and you seem to have your ear on what’s been happening. You’re family now too and that makes a difference.”

“Why would they come after me for taking a picture?”

“Because these people are adamant that they don’t leave traces that the boss’s people and some others can trace back to them.”

“That means, unlike you, as far as I’m concerned, they are fair game and I will make every effort to take as many pictures of them as I can get.”

“Who wants my picture.”

“John D. Rockefeller, Jr.. I sell him his paper every morning and he gave me my camera when I took one of him that he liked recently. He asked if I would take a picture of you in your car and I told him essentially, not unless I had Mary’s permission. He agreed with me that that was the sensible thing to do. So you’re safe.”

“No I’m not. Once Mary realizes that you want to take pictures of me at work you will be told to take as many as you can get, right Sillia? By the way, meet my bonded Sillia and her parents, Dom and Tara Caliabierti.”

Sillia said; “Tim, Mary likes pictures.”

Tim said; “The outfit’s guy up at the market said the same thing. He used to go through that office too.”

“See, I’m not safe.”

Mike said; “In all the bond fuss stuff we sort of lost the reason that we are here. Meria, you haven’t said very much.”

“I’ve just been enjoying myself. When it comes to not liking their picture taken, the challenge is going to be Noro. Young man, if you do manage to trap him. Please send me a print.” Tim said; “Who’s Noro?”

“My brother. From what you’ve said and the fact that you are fae, he’s likely to want to recruit you for his nefarious schemes. Along with your friends. Look out for Mr. White. You’ll know him when you see him.”

Sissy started to bring the dinners out and serve us. I rejoined Mike at our table but said to Suzy; “You stay with Tim, you two need to talk.”

Tim’s family looked much happier. I suspect that the strain of having to leave him all alone was something that they had been struggling with for some time and that may be why they hadn’t told him. I turned to Sal and said; “I’m sorry.”

“What for, mom.”

“For almost doing the same thing to you that Tim’s family did to him. I never understood fully until I saw their tragedy. At least Tim isn’t going to be isolated and alone.”

“Once the boss knows that he is fae and bonded to us he’s going to be in a race with Noro to recruit him. I suspect that the only reason he hadn’t tried already was that he hadn’t picked up on Tim’s Change.”

“Which is amazing because he is a lot like you were when you were his age.”


“Yes, but I think it’s hard to see from the inside. I am glad that the opposition didn’t pick up on him.  Now that Suzy and he are together he should be safer.”

Mike said; “Sal, considering that he spends most of his time right next door to Mary’s sort of kept the opposition away. You’ve told me what happens to tails if they get too pesty.”

“Seeing Tim now, I wonder how many are fae. We really need a way to figure that out when these kids are younger. Especially if they are shark food. Otherwise why are they coming down here for it? Tim! Do you have a list of the kidnap victims and where they were?”

“Yes I do, Sal. I traded the cops my first picture of the car for everything they had.”

Sal said; “I wish that we could get Josh down here or at least convince the barge people that I know him. He used to live with them and did some monster killing for them.”

Mike said; “He might come down about the tank bed thing. It’s also likely that stories about you and him will start popping up. Maybe we can even start some ourselves if we need to. You were on the beach with him last week. Tim! How many zombie rumors have been spreading around lately?”

“Zombies? They aren’t real are they? There are stories, but nothing recent.”

“So the story of Big Jim and the zombies hasn’t been spread around?”

“What story of Big Jim and zombies? Big Jim’s office was hit by crooked cops.”

Sal said; “Dad are you sure that you want to start that? Tim I’ll fill you in on all of that tomorrow, but it’s not something that we want spread around.”

“Who’d believe it anyway? Like who believes in mermaids?”

“Welcome to our world.”

Bennie came out, looked at Tim’s family and said; “So Joe, it’s time.”

“Yes, unfortunately. Kathy and Maria came down last week and I’ve been straightening things out.  Tim, when we finish eating there are some things that we need to go over since you will be taking  over all the money. Until you’re 21, Bennie is taking over power over the accounts.”

“Why not Uncle Karl?”

“Because Karl isn’t really your uncle and he’s not good with money. I’ve also paid the apartment through to  May so you have a place to live if you need it.  Considering the Change coming your way that’s a bit irrelevant. Bennie, go over with Mike what’s involved here.”

“Dad, how much money are we talking about? You and mom always worked.”

“More than you might think and there was more involved than you knew. We were keeping a low profile and unfortunately the war and what it did to my face sort of forced some things on us. It’s hard to conduct business when people can’t stand to look at you.”

Bennie said; “Mike, Dom,this is one of the things I wanted to talk about. It looks like it worked itself out. Joe was a front for some businesses until he was drafted and went to war.  Since he was legally thirty at the time there was no way he could avoid it. He’s been putting off going below but with Maria and Kathy going under he can’t go on and Tim seems to be doing all right.”

Mike said; So he’s the reverse of you?”

“Yes and I’m glad that he’s going under so that he can keep an eye on things. Now before we get too much deeper I want to talk about what happened with the sharks.”

Sal said; “Did you know what they were?”

‘Until Tom’s pictures, not for certain. I did manage to gut one of them before three more managed to get a bite on me. Fortunately we were near a barge and I was able to get pull myself on it and Change. I never did see the one I gutted Change or I would have known what they were. They certainly were not acting like any sharks that I had ever encountered before. One advantage I had over my dad and my brother was that I sort of knew that I could be ambushed and I stayed away from places where they could ambush me and close to shore where it was harder to gang up on me. That’s why there were only four and not all of them.”

“Where were you attacked?”

“Over in the harbor as I was heading up to Manhattan for a business meeting.”

“Why were you Swimming for a business meeting on the island?”

“Because it wasn’t on the island, it was off the Battery as neutral territory.  I had had a minor dispute with the Sound bower and was going to resolve it.”

“What was the dispute?”

“The usual stuff over booze. They wanted a bigger share of the business and since I had direct contact with the offshore ships and was talking to Josh I had more control than they thought I should.  I told them that we should all talk to Josh but they didn’t want to deal with him for some reason.”

“Dom, does this make sense?”

“Well they did cut the Rockaway bower out when they used the shark attacks, but we just started to ship down the island through Josh and up through Jersey. The Sound people didn’t pickup any business at all. Now that we know what happened we’ll just go back to our old way of handling the stuff.”

Bennie said; “Sal, from now on you are responsible for all up top business through us. I’ll take you through things and now that Joe is full time under sea you will flip roles with him”

“Me? Why? I’ve barely visited the bower.”

Meria said; “Because the keystone chose you. When Bennie’s father and brother were killed and Bennie could no longer function, the keystone started to pick defenders that were high fae and related to the royal family. That was Vinnie, you, and now, Tim. Noro was astounded at your power when you walked into his building a couple of weeks ago and Mera said that you started to grow about the same time that you started actively working to protect the bower. What you didn’t know was that the chemical attack was against the keystone itself. It was also effective which is almost impossible. That’s why I gave Sillia, Tara and now you, Stella, your jewels.  When Nera and Eltra come they will show you how to use them. As for Tim, I suspect that he was a sort of reserve until he tied in with Suzy. I wouldn’t be too concerned with the bower or the keystone. You are already along the right path and have very strong allies.”

“From the sounds of it, we go straight back to the Sound bower. Bennie is attacked by sharks when meeting with them. In a deal that was only destructive. This is what we’ve seen with these people right along.”

Tim asked; “What is going on with these shark attacks? The kidnapped kids were eaten by sharks too.”

Mike said; “When you get together with Sal, we’ll discuss that. Since you are bonded with Suzy and your sister just Changed and will probably also make a high value bonding, you need to know.  Fortunately the sharks tried to put the bite on the wrong guy a couple of weeks ago and sort of got shot to pieces.  Which may be why we are getting the spate of kidnappings.”

“Right now I wish that I had brought my stuff about this. This is bigger than some barge kids, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but the kids are an important part of this.”

Joe said; “Maybe I should stay up top for a little while longer.”

Bennie said; ‘No, Joe. I want somebody I trust down below if things go to crap again. Between Sal, Mike, Dom and me, we can handle up top.”

“Ok, and we’ve already gotten the business matters taken care of. I wish that we hadn’t been out of touch a few weeks ago.”

Tim asked; “What happened a few weeks ago?”

Bennie said; “That’s how come the keystone started to draw you and Sal in. Somebody was poisoning the water to attack it.”

“The warehouse. Some people down in the market saw the same car that’s being used to kidnap the kids there and the guy in charge at the market pulled his people  that were doing work there because he was afraid of them being poisoned.”

Sal said; “Tim, then you definitely need to go over things in that area. We thought that everybody who had been connected with that warehouse was dead.”

“Jimmy was a soldier during the war and survived gas attacks. He didn’t want to have to tell the families of his people that they had been poisoned and killed, so when he saw the stuff going on in there he pulled his people out. He had seen the car before because the big boss used it when he came by.  When he started seeing it again he told me to look out for it and that’s how I got the first picture of it.”

“When you drop by the office tomorrow with that picture you took, make sure that you tell the boss that. After our talk, We’ll get together with your friend at the market and have him tell us what he saw in that warehouse. Because the operation burned itself to the ground we never got much more than some paid purchase orders.”

Suzy had been talking to Kathy about her work in the yard, turned to me and said; “Mom, when Kathy’s mom gets settled, Kathy thinks that she might want to work at the yard. Spiro said that he wants another Swimmer to do sea life stuff and Kathy was taking oceanography before her Change.  She likes doing that stuff and sort of felt lost when her Change started and she went under sea. And I could use somebody my age to talk to sometimes.”

I said; “I’ll talk to Mabel and Ella about that tomorrow.”

I liked my new family already and we would be moving forward, together.


This week has gotten off to a great start and from the look on Mary’s face it was getting better. She had two stacks of pictures on her desk. As I walked in she looked up and said; “Helmut, Tim came by early this morning and dropped off some very interesting pictures.  He’s going to come back just before lunch to talk about them once he sells his morning papers.  Sal called and wants you to give him a full brief as Tim apparently bonded with Suzy.  Meria called and said the same thing.”

She handed me the pictures and they showed that market next to the navy yard and one picture of a large Packard saloon car with two men in the front along with the license plate in full focus. I said; “I told him to stay away from that car. I guess that he didn’t listen.”

“According to what Sal said the car dropped right in front of him as he was taking a picture. He dodged back into the market and alerted everybody. Sal is going to get together with him and go over who to talk to and how things work over at the market. Apparently some of the laborers worked at the warehouse, but their boss pulled them out when he saw what they were doing. That’s why Sal wants you to brief him on what’s really going on.”

“I didn’t want to bring him all the way in, but it looks as if he’s already there. In that case I agree with Sal and I’ll have a talk with him. When he leaves give him a copy of the book. From the sounds of it he’s going to be adding content shortly. If Noro shows up, tell him about the kid.  How did he run into Suzy?”

“He accidently took her picture when she was dancing for the crew of a ship. She started to tease him and he dropped his camera into the water yesterday. Then his family is going under sea and they were eating at Bennies to say good bye. Suzy was with her parents to meet Sal and that’s how they all ran into each other. Meria thinks that Tim is another potential royal fae.”

“Then I definitely want Noro to look him over, if possible. I wonder how come the opposition didn’t pick up on him?” “He sells papers right at our front door over by the Standard Oil building.  I doubt that the opposition could get close enough to get a good look at him. Jonney the shoeshine keeps an eye on him too and Jonney is fae.”

“Jonney doesn’t miss very much. We haven’t had a good talk with him in some time. I wonder if he knows about Bennies?”

“Have Tim tell him and we can quietly set up a get together.”

Jonney could get in trouble if he was seen with us. He had a lot of ears in the various fae communities. He was a good source but I didn’t want to get him burned by accident. I had a thought and said to Mary; “I wonder if Stacey knows about Jonney. I imagine that they could share networks and stories.”

“Now there’s an idea. Neither one has any direct contact with us. Boris called too. Sphinx has invited Hilda to meet the Manager. He’s sending a car to pick her up next Wednesday at Grand Central.”

“That’s not happening. Though I want some people there. Not Hilda though. She stays up in Vermont. We agreed to that when the other side started to contact and she’s been through enough already. Anything else?”

“They were asking about Tom, and guns.”

“A little late now. You would have thought that they would had gotten a clue about asking questions like that before they went after him. What did Hilda tell her.”

“Vague answers that any logical person would come to the conclusion that they have so many that any sane person wouldn’t want to mess around with them. Boris said that Stephie thinks that the other side doesn’t really understand about guns.”

“I suspect not. Back a hundred years ago that may not have been important to the average fae.  Guns were not that powerful. And it took time to reload, which gave a fae an advantage.  Now though, guns are powerful and reloading isn’t that big an issue. Most fae have learned and adapted, like Eric and Greta.”

“Or Josh and Mera. She doesn’t wave a gun around, but she’s had training when she was in fisheries and when she has a purse it bulges in that certain way. As far as Josh goes, we can figure that he knows how to use one and that the only reason that we didn’t see him with one down here is that he didn’t want the fuss involved when having a gun here in the city. As for the rest of that family, well they don’t seem to have issues other than living under sea.”

“Considering the indentured, are Boris, Stephie and Hilda taking steps?”

“Yes, they are. Hopefully the other side will be smart this time and not press the issue. Both the Vermont kingdom and the Cape are going toward a war footing already and the Rockaway people are already there. If they do something with Hilda or Andy it won’t be pretty. I just hope that Sal, Noro and the rest can get to those people before they light off a war on themselves.”

I thought of that as I went into my office to deal with our usual day. Just before lunch, young Tim showed up and walked into the office. He looked rather shaken up which was not much of a surprise.  According to what Mary said, he had had a rather interesting evening even without dropping in right in front of the opposition.  I said; “I told you to say away from that car. What happened?”

“I was walking around the market taking pictures of people working and as I was turning a corner and taking a shot, the car dropped right into the picture. It started to slow down as it passed and I turned around, walked back around the corner and into the market.  I went to a friend and he arranged to have people look for the car. Then my day got really strange.  I unloaded the camera so that we could send the film off to be developed and I went over the pier to reload and maybe get a shot and a mermaid knocked the camera out of my hands and into the water.  Later we met at Bennies and I found out that not only are my sister and mother mermaids, but that that mermaid and I are attached to each other and her name was Suzy del Vecchio. I’m going to collect my camera this afternoon and talk to my new brother in law who is probably the most famous character in the city. Mary told me to get his picture and that if my camera was broken and I needed another one that you people had spares and I could take one for that picture I took yesterday.”

“Welcome to the weird and strange. At least your first introduction to it was a good thing and you didn’t have to face the dark side unprepared.  I wanted to keep you out of that, but between the picture and the rest there really isn’t any way to sugar coat it.  We here deal with that dark, the monsters and the things that create them, the twisted fae.  The kidnappings that you’ve been chasing are part of that and also part of a deeper scheme to corrupt and twist fae communities. You probably got a feel for that last night at dinner.”

“Shark attacks by sharks that were not sharks and that warehouse and it’s poison, yes. We also went over a bunch of stuff since my dad was dumping all sorts of money and responsibilities on me and going underwater forever.”

“You look a bit shook up. That’s not unusual here. Most people here had their world turned sideways.  I’ve met Suzy though and I have no doubt that she is a GOOD thing, teasing notwithstanding.”

“She can tease me as much as she likes and I have a picture for her when I go over to the yard this afternoon. We’ve just met and I already think that she’s wonderful. Of course the teasing can go both ways and Sal is going to have to watch out.”


“Well Mr. Rockefeller asked for a picture of him the other day and I said that I wouldn’t do that unless I had Mary’s permission, essentially. When I walked in, she told me to make sure that I took pictures of Sal, and Sillia at every opportunity.  She also wants a copy of that picture of Suzy dancing that I took by accident and as soon as I get back to my flop this afternoon I’ll go over to the film lab and have a print made for her as well as Suzy and her parents. As for the other side, Sal says that they don’t like having their pictures taken.”

“They don’t. They tried to murder a couple up in Massachusetts because the man had blown a bunch of their sharks away and took pictures while doing it.  Which was stupid, because between the two families and their friends there was enough fire power for a small army, the constructs and zombies they sent were just targets and Sillia took their pictures.” “Zombies are real?  I owe somebody an apology.”

“Well you won’t be running into any for some time because the thing that created them had a fatal encounter with a rifle bullet, but yes, zombies are real. You’ll learn some of these things and how to deal with them. Can you shoot?”

“Not really. Dad took me out some when I was little, but it got harder because he had to deal with his war injury and didn’t like to be seen. He was hit in the face and rather badly disfigured as well as injured other places. And then I started with the papers.”

“When our armory guy gets back I’ll have him teach you. He will be able to help you with your Change when it comes.”

“Carrying a gun could cause problems here in the city. On the other hand the kids are being eaten which is not by the rules. Well if the other side hates their picture being taken, challenge accepted.”

“When you leave, Mary has a copy of a briefing book on the case that you have been following and a dictionary that we’ve done up about the monsters that we’ve encountered. It needs pictures, so challenge granted.”

“By the way, Sal wanted to make sure that you knew that there were some people from the warehouse that survived. My friend at the market provides laborers, had some people in there and pulled them out.  He had also seen the big boss using that car. That’s how I knew to look for it in the first place.  Mary had a copy made of my notes and I’m going over everything with Sal and we’re going to talk to my friend about things this afternoon. I need to go, but I will be back with what we get today.” He left. This was looking to be a very good week indeed.  A short while later Mary came in and said; “Another remarkable young man.  I gave him another camera. Even if he doesn’t need it now, we don’t want him without one.”

“He is, isn’t he. I do think that we need to quietly nudge him into learning to shoot.  I wish that Al were back or that we could send him up to the Cape.  If we didn’t need him here, I would, but we’re low on the ground and we need somebody on the hunt for those kidnappers.”

“Did you look at that picture he took?”

“Some, why?”

She pulled the print; “I asked Tim to make an enlargement when he had more prints made at the film lab, but it looks like that is William Elliott the 3rd riding shotgun.”

“Well, well, well. We now have our bad boy connected with something that is bad in the real world and not just in the weird and strange.”


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