You were looking for evidence. You opened a drawer. There was a bottle of [REDACTED] and a tape recorder in it. It was dusty. You have in your inventory: an lost voice recording of a report from Noperative (Noir Operative). You listen to it. Parker is named. It might be of interest, or it might have never happened.
Forest and Anonymous Relation
(Note: below is the transcript of the above audio. Please listen to the audio if you can. It’s fantastic.)
There was a woman. There is always a woman. This woman was all legs. Only legs. At least seventeen of em, and no mouth. She communicated with a modified version of ASL. She came in crying, but then smiled, when I made it clear that I saw through her farcical display. She stopped smiling, when we both remembered legs could not smile.
She was angry, you see. Angry at the world, at the endless cycle of existence, never beginning or ending, always crawling, continuing, breathing, writhing…
Anyway, to be specific, she was angry at her partner. They had been coming home late these past few weeks, looking flushed and exhilarated. Excuses about ‘big plans at work’ and ‘the coffee machine would only give O negative blood’, would be familiar topics around the breakfast table.
“There can only be one reason behind this,” the woman exclaimed to me. “They are practicing Blaseball without me! I cannot believe he” — here she wiggled her toes in a most rude manner — “would do this to me. It has been our dream to join a team together. I want you to follow him and find proof of this betrayal.”
“And what will you do with this information?” I asked. An operative should always have a sense of the consequences of their missions, even if said consequences will be redacted post haste.
“I will [insert long swearing peep],” she said.”
I nodded and said, “Alright. I will take the case.”
The woman stood, and stood again, and stood several more times before toeing me a business card. “Here is his office’s contact information,” she said, “so you can confirm he has not been working.”
The card was of high quality paper. On the face was a forbidden symbol, indescribable and incomprehensible, and on the back stood in fine print “Parker MacMillan the third, intern.” Below the name was a telephone number I could not repeat out loud.
The woman turned towards the door, but I stopped her with a high pitched whistle.
I asked, “Before you go, which team did you and your partner want to join?”
She let out something like a wistful sigh, if she’d had a mouth, and said, “The Baltimore crabs.”
I nodded. I had suspected as such. And even if I hadn’t suspected it at all and was in fact quite surprised, it was not like anyone could hear my thoughts and discern the truth.
The doorbell jingled as the woman waggled her way outside.
It was raining still. It is mostly raining. And it was night. But the woman was not bothered by the gloomy weather. She had no umbrella, but instead it seemed as if the rain droplets all individually decided not to land upon her, creating a gentle circle around her form.
The gaslight lanterns gave an orange glow to this shield of water, and when she reached the corner of the street, she disappeared with a flash of light.
I played with the card in my left hand, while reaching out for my glass of deep red whiskey with the other. it smelled like wine, as it always has done.
Sipping my definitely-whiskey, I pondered the circumstances of my new case. I mused on the potential implications of the information that had been laid before my admittedly lacking feet. The future told me, by way of soulscream, that there was something of import behind it all, yet my stomach told me, by way of rumbling, that it was time for dinner. The latter won out.
After my agency-sanctioned food coma, the rain had stopped pouring. It was day. It might have always been day. And yet it was dark, yesterday. Or was it? It must have been. The woman. The legs. Parker. Or was it not Parker at all? Was it John? Or Simon?
The card was gone.
There was no burn mark of destruction, which would be expected when a business card of high quality disappeared from sight. Instead, my desk was slightly wet. It smelled like the sea.
My stomach reminded me it was time for breakfast. It won out.
When I finished, a new woman came. There is always a woman. No legs, this time. I honestly could not say if there were legs, last time. There hadn’t been legs in this office for over 25 years.
I sipped my blood red whiskey. I listened to smiling lies.
I took the case.