Puddles and Whiskers, Wash and Dry Brush Phase 13

Previously.

This conversation was the end of what I had hoped would have been a fast moving montage of conversations and such explaining what happened and setting up what would happen. That did not pan out as I planned. As each previous section expanded the original purpose of this scene dissolved. The update for this scene ties together what has happened and moves the action forward. Enjoy. 🙂

Catching Up

“How long have you listened to Acid Chamber?” Chuck asked around a mouthful of rice.

Ignoring the rice caught in his chin fur Whiskers replied, “Since their first hoverport single, ArNk’Hal”

Stunned, Chuck replied, “That’s a long time.”

“Their music is great to practice to, inspiring a whole set of movement,” Whiskers said.

Amused, Puddles took a long sip of tea. Setting the neon yellow teacup down, “Whiskers’ choice of music aside, where are we on the cases?”

“Nowhere,” Chuck said sarcastically.

“Shut up Chuck,” Puddles fired back. “Seriously, what do we have on the three clients?”

Setting his tablet on the garish neon colored table, “Chuck is gathering the data on the Harowes.”

“Should have it tonight,” Chuck interrupted.

Flipping a screen on the tablet, “Acid Chamber’s manager…a…here it is, Janus is sending us data on their concerts and crew.”

“And Doctor Marlowe?” Puddles asked.

Chuck looked down at the neon green bowl full of rice in front of him. Whiskers flipped to a new screen.

“Nothing at all?”

“Nothing,” Whiskers replied lazily stirring his bowl of noodles with a single neon-flashing chopstick.

“Some investigators we are,” Puddles said.

“We don’t have the right connections.”

“Shut up Chuck,” Puddles snapped.

Staring Puddles down, Chuck continued, “The right connections to find whoever pretended to be Doctor Marlowe. I sent you the data on the real Doctor Marlowe.” Holding up his paw to stop any interruptions, “I have feelers out for information on what Titan is doing with Black Myst or in Tumbledown. These things take time.”

Setting his chopstick down, “Unfortunately, Chuck is right. We do not have the right connections,” Whiskers interjected.

“Whatever,” Puddles mumbled around a mouthful of noodles. “At least we are clear of charges. We are, aren’t we?”

“We are. Officer Tanx will send us any information he gets as well,” Whiskers replied. “This case is not dead. Put on hold is all.”

“Hold?” Puddles interrupted. Shaking his head, Chuck continued eating.

Ignoring Puddles, Whiskers continued, “We have a two cases to work. I suggest we move on from this and get back to work.”

“I like that idea,” Chuck said.

“Shut up Chuck.”

Puddles and Whiskers, Wash and Dry Brush Phase 12

Previously.

The wash and dry brush phase is almost over, two or three more sections. Since I started I have added around 10 pages of new text. Next up for existing work, letting it sit for a bit while I work on the new material. Bet you are happy for that. Until then, enjoy. 🙂

The Second Client of the Day

“What do you think of this one?” Puddles asked Whiskers.

“Looks like a frying pan to me,” he blandly replied.

“Single forged no need to worry if the handle will separate with a good hit,” Puddles went on, “And look at the weight.”

“What do the reviews say about its ability to survive an impact?” Whiskers sarcastically asked.

Puddles extended a single middle claw in Whiskers direction, “Ass. I’m ordering this.”

“Have you pulled the data on the Harowes yet?”

I sent a message to Chuck,” Puddles said to Whiskers, “asking him to get the data on the Harowes.”

“That will save us some time. Reviewing the information she gave us, this should be a night or two of work at most.”

“A quick case, nice.”

At the sound of the door chime, two vid-displays on their desk activated; two korogin males wearing matching black leather outfits waited. The bone facial plates concealed their expressions and through the vid made telling them apart difficult. One of them with both ears and neck pierced down to his collarbone, looked at the vid-camera and pressed the door chime. Another chime.

“Friends of yours?” Whiskers asked Puddles with a smirk.

Her left flattened before responding, “They look like gangers and I bet they don’t have any isstas.”

“Let us find out,” Whiskers replied, opening the door.

Walking in step into the office, their heavy boots made each step thud ominously. The pierced korogin pushed a chair over to Puddles side of the desk. The other korogin stood, glaring, behind the seated korogin.

“I want to hire you to watch me while I am in town,” the sitting korogin abruptly announced.

“To do what?” Whiskers asked.

“Keep an eye on me while I’m in the city,” he said a bit slower.

Whisker’s ears descended a bit, eyes narrowed, “You want us to watch you, why?”

Puddles began a staccato beat with one of her paws trying not to glare at either of the korogin. Silence from the black clad, heavily pierced korogin male sitting across the messy side of the desk and from his similarly black clad bodyguard glowering behind him. Whiskers looked at Puddles. Puddles shrugged before turning her attention back to the korogin.

“I’m trying to understand what you want from our agency,” she said. Paws on her side of the desk, one drumming a staccato beat, “We don’t do body guard work and you have…” gesturing with the non-staccato paw at the bodyguard.

The korogin in front of her looked over his shoulder, looked back and smiled or at least what Puddles took as a smile; the bone plates on korogin faces made reading any expression a gamble at best. A low rumble from both korogin, turned into belly clutching laughter. Whiskers ears wide apart and tail swishing, shrugged his confusion to Puddles. Puddles ears went flat, tail slashing her irritation with these two rising quickly.

“What am I missing?” she hissed at them.

“You don’t recognize us?” bodyguard asked around the last of his laughter.

“Should we,” Whiskers asked hesitantly.

The sitting korogin abruptly stopped laughing, “You don’t know who we are, for real?” Looking over his shoulder, he barked in korogin, “Tak-ga shinnat ur gagganoth.”

Bodyguard shook his head before speaking, “Does Acid Chamber sound familiar?”

“The quadstomp duo?” Whiskers replied ignoring the stunned look on Puddles face.

“That’s us,” the bodyguard said.

“We will take the job,” Whiskers said in a rush.

Puddles and Whiskers, Wash and Dry Brush Phase 9

Previously.

A conversation over noodles…

NiHo’s Noodle Shacks, everywhere and easy to find, due to the bright, clashing, and gaudy neon decorations. The car’s auto-shade windows activated as Puddles, Whiskers, and Chuck pulled into the parking lot, neon bright enough that parking lot lights were unnecessary. Whiskers shook his head at the display. Before they exited their car a welcome holo, a non-specific female wearing a neon green and yellow kimono with company logo on the shoulders, gestured towards each of them and the front door welcoming them. Reaching the front door, a holo-menu with the day’s specials appeared over the top half of the door.

“Giant bowl of drunken ham noodles on special today,” Puddles read aloud.

“I know what I’m having,” Chuck said tail swishing happily.

Whiskers stepped through the door where the neon assault continued. Each round table edged with a different color neon, a neon-holo of a chubby faced non-descript yet vaguely asian looking human smiling with a bowl of steaming noodles under his chin on the table top, and four different colored neon-edged chairs waged a war to be seen. Looking across the crowded restaurant, he saw Eth at a table near the back.

“Eth is already here,” Whiskers said to Puddles and Chuck.

“Let’s eat,” Chuck said walking between Whiskers and Puddles while rubbing his belly.

Eth looked up from the holo-menu, nodding a greeting to each of them, his baldhead and lineage spots cast in the green glow from the table neon. As soon as each of them sat down a holo-menu popped in front of them with the day’s specials highlighted in neon red. Seconds later, a holo-waiter materialized next to the table, a male version of the door greeter.

“Please input your orders,” the waiter announced.

“What are you having Eth?” Chuck asked while claw inputting his order of drunken ham noodles.

“Hot and spicy bowl,” Eth responded.

“Whisk?”

“Double bowl of soba.”

“Seafood special,” Puddles said.

“Seafood special?” Chuck asked wrinkling his nose.

“What?” Puddles challenged.

“Nothing.” Chuck mumbled.

“Thank you for your orders,” the holo-waiter said before dematerializing.

During the few moments of silence, Puddles opened her chopsticks, Whiskers used the paper wrapper of his chopsticks to make a holder for his chopsticks, and Chuck fumbled unsuccessfully to separate his chopsticks, while Eth furiously worked on his phone. Setting his phone down, Eth looked at Puddles and Whiskers, “You wanted to see me?”

“I thought cymeans were heavy on etiquette,” Puddles said with a smile.

“Not this cymean,” Eth retorted, while gesturing towards his phone “I have business.”

“Fair enough.”

“What can I do for you?”

“I haven’t told him a thing,” Chuck offered.

Whiskers pulled his tablet out of a side pocket and slid the tablet to Eth, “Take a look at the vid and then we will give you the details.”

While Eth watched the vid, Whiskers arranged meetings with the SCPD and two clients. Puddles and Chuck engaged in a brief fencing match with their chopsticks.

“Looks like a clean room,” Eth said, “Is this in Tumbledown?”

“Yeah,” Puddles mumbled setting her chopsticks down.

Eth set the tablet in the center of the table, “These piles of whatever indicate a flash job. Drug gangs have everything sensitive wired to incinerate evidence.”

“How?”

“Tables or overhead system does the work, I don’t have the specifics, but hot enough to melt plastic and turn drugs into ash. You really found this in Tumbledown?”

“After a lengthy search and fight through the Black Myst gang,” Whiskers stated.

“I haven’t heard of them,” Eth interjected, “No surprise there, Tumbledown has more gangs than I have lukei on my back.”

“Would a corporation have a reason to put a clean room in Tumbledown?” Chuck asked.

“I’ve heard corporations using gangs as test beds for experimental augmentations and drugs. So it’s possible,” Eth answered.

A human waitress wearing a neon-colored kimono and carrying a tray with three bowls of noodles approached the table. Silently, she set bowls in front of Chuck, Puddles, and Whiskers before walking away. A holo-notice appeared in front of Eth, informing him of a slight delay.

Scowling at the notice, “Why me.”

“Wonder what happened,” Chuck said dipping his chopsticks into his bowl.

“Is that kind of information something you can get?” Puddles asked.

“I’ll see if anyone knows which corps are working in Tumbledown,” Eth responded irritatedly. “Who hired you to go into Tumbledown?”

Whiskers slurped a chopstick full of noodles while shrugging. Across the table, Eth looked annoyed, “Where is my bowl? Don’t they know who I am?”

“What my partner means, is we were hired by a Doctor Marlowe, but not the real Doctor Marlowe. The fax Doctor Marlowe, wanted us to locate his daughters. The real Doctor Marlowe has no daughters.”

“Two Doctor Marlowes?”

Shaking her head, “We didn’t pull his data before looking into the case.”

“Why?”

“No particular reason. We made a mistake,” Whiskers replied. Another slurp. Another shrug.

“You have pulled his data since then?” Eth asked.

“I did,” Chuck said.

“I will keep an ear open for information on a second Doctor Marlowe,” Eth said looking around for his food.

“Much appreciated,” Puddles said.

“I know a lot of people, but I don’t know everyone,” Eth responded. “You need corporate contacts.”

“You have corporate contacts,” Whiskers responded around another slurp of noodles.

“I thought you knew everyone?”

Setting a bowl of noodles in front of Eth the waitress wearing a clashing neon colored kimono announced, “Hot and spicy bowl.”

“About time,” he said. Picking up a chopstick full of noodles, returning his attention to Puddles and Whiskers, “I do,” emphasizing do, “know a lot of people. The person you two are interested in are beyond me. I will see what I can find, will that work?”

Another slurp.

Puddles and Whiskers, Wash and Dry Brush Phase 8

Previously.

Following afternoon…

Standing next to the coffee maker, Whiskers’ wished for the third time this morning that he had slept in. Unfortunately, there were clients to meet. Still, a few additional hours of sleep…

Puddles head snapped up, she looked around the office, good Whiskers did not see her fall asleep reviewing the work from last night. Swiping her finger across the display, the vid resumed and Puddles eyes closed.

BAM!

The office door shot open, slamming into the wall. Puddles head snapped up, Whiskers almost dropped his coffee, and a black and white cat, wearing black and red fatigues, tail swishing lazily, one ear drooping swaggered through the door. He looked around the office for a second before approaching Puddles.

“Nice mess.”

Puddles looked up at the door trying to look casual and awake. Glaring daggers at Chuck, Puddles shoved a small stack of papers onto the floor in front of Chuck.

Looking down at the mess, “I’m not here to clean,” Chuck responded blandly.

Walking into the office, Whiskers stood behind Chuck, looking over his shoulder at the mess, “What are you doing?” he asked Puddles.

“Hey Whisk,” Chuck said, “What can I do for you two today?”

“Pull up a chair,” Whiskers said.

Chuck sat down in front of Whiskers half of the desk, only his head visible.

“No short jokes,” Chuck stated, “You two look like…”

“Don’t start,” Puddles interrupted. “We had a long night.”

“How did the rescue go?”

“Not well,” Whiskers replied attempting to stifle a yawn.

“How not well?”

“We killed a few gangers, found a clean room, and didn’t find his daughters,” Puddles blurted out.

“Killed a few gangers?”

“Yeah, a few. I didn’t count them if you wanted an exact number.”

“What…”

Whiskers held up his paw, waited for silence, “Acting on Scar’s warning, we went over to Tumbledown and tried to sneak in. Suffice to say, the gang was less than accommodating. Violence ensued and by the end of the night we found nothing.”

“Not nothing,” Puddles corrected. Ticking off on her claws, “We know there is no Doctor Marlowe with daughters. We know the gang was heavily armed, protecting a clean room, and we have an idea that the gang, clean room, and person who claimed to be Doctor Marlowe are connected to Titan Industries.”

“That’s a lot of nothing,” Chuck said sarcastically. “And you killed a few of them.”

“Sounds correct,” Whiskers said.

“Have you told anyone else this?” Chuck asked.

“Like who,” Puddles said with an edge.

“How about the SCPD? They might want to know who left them with a few dead bodies.”

Puddles scrunched her face, close to blasting Chuck with an anger venting.

“You have a good point,” Whiskers said. “I will make the arrangements today.”

“How do you know the Doctor Marlowe who hired you is not real?” Chuck asked.

“A late night visit to Titan where we met the real Doctor Marlowe,” Whiskers replied.

“He was a real nice holo,” Puddles mumbled.

“What?”

“Ignore Puddles,” Whiskers continued, “the real Doctor Marlowe was off site, communicating with us via holo.”

“Oh.”

“A few minutes of conversation and a data-search, confirmed his identity. Something we will be doing from now on.”

Puddles flipped a vid-display to face Chuck, “This is our recordings from last night. The room we spoke to Doctor Marlowe looked exactly like this room minus the piles of ash.”

Chuck watched the vid and then started the vid a second time, making notes on his wrist pad.

“Anything?” Whiskers asked.

“The room is a clean room for sure,” Chuck began, “You said the room looked like a room at Titan?”

“Exactly,” Puddles answered.

“I’d start there. After the SCPD, of course.”

Whiskers shook his head in amusement, “Of course. Who do you know with corporate contacts?”

“Titan Industries in particular,” Puddles added.

Putting a paw to his chin, Chuck thought for a moment, “I know a few people. Why?”

Puddles looked at Whiskers, who shrugged, “A case of ours hit a wall.”

“Off the top of my head Eth, might know someone at Titan or someone who does.”

“Anyone else?” Puddles asked.

“He’s not so bad,” Chuck quickly responded, “I may know another contact or two, but I’m hungry. How about some noodles?”

“Have Eth meet us there,” Whiskers said.

Puddles and Whiskers, Wash and Dry Brush Phase 7

Previously.

No small revision here, three sections combined into one long scene. Toss in some additions, edits, and revisions and you have a complete (r) scene that answers some lingering reader questions (yes, I get them) and continues setting up the larger tale. Enjoy. 🙂

On the Drive…

Letting the car drive, Puddles watched the city change from dark and dreary to bright and hopeful. Settling into her seat, Puddles enjoyed the view. Eastern Stroud quickly became the rear view as the lights and glitter of Central Stroud came into view. Puddles pulled up the map on the car’s windshield heads-up-display, as their car merged in with the flying lane. A bright blue line showed their destination roughly ten-minutes away.

“Is that new?” Puddles asked, pointing to a tall tower wrapped in moving holo of vines shooting up to the top and sprouting vivid multicolor flowers before repeating in the distance.

Looking up from his datapad, Whiskers replied with a non-committal grunt.

Central Stroud, tall buildings reaching past the clouds and lit up at all heights. Even now, at night, Central Stroud appeared cast in multi-colored day light from all of the lights, signs, and advertisements. Signs and moving holos bigger than the building their office was located in advertised the latest brands of fad foods, beverages, mechanical augmentation, and more. Puddles could not help but stare at the hundred foot tall moving holo-advertisement of a human female showing off the latest in clothing across the tops of three buildings; dancing and twirling clothing morphed from one design to another seemlessly. As they passed the sign, her eyes bigger than the car illuminated the interior enough the auto-shade feature of the windows activated.

Approaching Titan Industries central offices, a monolithic white and blue square building with barely any exterior features other than the corporations iconic giant blue with white border T on each face of the building, the car dipped entering lower flight lanes. At this hour, little traffic flew around Titan Industries.

“Titan control,” a flight controller said, “to approaching vehicle.”

Looking up from his data-pad, Whiskers said, “You should answer them.”

“Titan control, we are here to see Doctor Dan,” Puddles said.

“Do you have an appointment?”

Grabbing the tip of her nostril, Puddles shook her head, “No. This is an emergency meeting.”

Silence.

Puddles looked at Whiskers who shrugged.

“We do not have a Doctor Dan in the building at this time.”

“Shit. Wait…what was his name?” Puddles irritatedly said.

“I do not know. Remember you left his name on the desk,” Whiskers sarcastically replied.

Shooting Whiskers an exasperated expression, Puddles gestured towards the approaching building. Whiskers waved her expression and gesture off.

“Titan control, our mistake. We are here to see Doctor Marlowe. He should be expecting us, PW Investigations.”

More silence.

“Coordinates to the 33rd floor landing pad have been sent to your vehicle. Do not alter flight path.”

Looking at Puddles, Whiskers held up his data-pad, “Research,” and smiled.

Puddles let the auto-drive guide the car to the landing pad. Taking a slow turn around the building, the only activity drones and security teams. Nearing the landing pad, Whiskers set down his data-pad to admire the clean state of the landing pad, nothing out of order, although he guessed things would be different during peak hours. Right now, they were the only vehicle on approach. He could see security guards waiting next to the only door. As their car landed, the two security guards dressed in blue and white Titan modular body armor with sidearms visible stopped talking to each other.

“Follow us,” said the guard on the right as they approached the door.

Puddles counted ten pieces of bland corporate art, six white hallways, one express elevator ride down two floors, and not a single word out of either guard before they stopped outside a secure door. A thick windowless door silently slid out of the way.

“Doctor Marlowe is inside,” one of the guards said.

One guard stood near the door, the other escorted Puddles and Whiskers into a white room with several tables covered in equipment and interface stations. Puddles turned to Whiskers and gave him her “looks familiar look.” Whiskers returned the expression.

“I don’t see anyone,” Puddles announced.

“Behind the glass,” a guard replied pointing to the large window at the rear of the room.

Approaching the glass, they saw another room packed with equipment and tables, nobody inside. Whiskers turned to ask the guards when a holo of an elderly human male in an oversized blue and white hazmat suit appeared on behind the glass.

“Good evening,” the holo addressed them.

“What is this!” Puddles ears back, fur raised, shouted while gesturing towards the holo.

“I think you mean who is this,” Whiskers responded while squinting at the man’s face. “Remarkable quality holo,” Whiskers mumbled.

“I don’t care about the quality. Where is…Doctor…Doctor…”

“Marlowe.”

“Yeah, that guy.”

The holo of the man raised his hand, “I am Doctor Cadius Marlowe.”

Pivoting on her heels to face Whiskers and the remaining guard in the room, “That’s not Doctor Marlowe!”

“But I am Doctor Marlowe,” the holo pleaded.

“Excuse us a second, Doctor Marlowe,” Whiskers said to the holo while directing Puddles over to a corner of the room.

Ears less flat, fur still raised, and tail slashing through the air, Puddles allowed herself to be directed out of the way, “What?” she hissed.

“Let me handle this,” gesturing towards the holo of Doctor Marlowe who was turned away from them, “I might be able to get something of use out of him.”

“Fine,” Puddles fumed, “you go talk to Doctor Pixels. I’ll wait over here.”

Clearing his throat, Whiskers waited for the holo of Doctor Marlowe to turn around. A few seconds of waiting, Doctor Marlowe faced Whiskers his hands hidden behind a desk or table, Whiskers assumed.

“Sorry to bother you so late in the evening,” Whiskers began.

“No bother,” Doctor Marlowe interrupted obviously looking at something off holo, “Its only 8 am here.”

Whiskers masked his surprise as best he could, while making a “wait” gesture below the window to Puddles in the corner who looked ready to pounce on the holo. “I’m sorry, did you say 8 am?”

“That is correct.” Doctor Marlowe chuckled, “You thought I was there? No, I’m in [static] working.”

“Where are you working?” Whiskers asked.

“The security filter prevents some information from transmitting. Suffice to say, I am off site. Is there a reason why you wanted to see me?”

“Before I answer that, how long have you been off site?”

“Weeks. Why?”

“Then you did not hire us to look into your missing daughters?” Whiskers asked, knowing the answer.

Shaking his head, “No I did not. I do not have any daughters. What is this about?”

“A man claiming to be you, hired our investigative firm to find his missing daughters. Following his information we tracked their location to Tumbledown,” Whiskers kept the details to himself.

“Oh…,” Doctor Marlowe hesitated, again obviously looking at something off-holo. “No, I did not hire you. I must get back to my work. I’m sorry I could not be of more help.”

Without warning the holo-disappeared.

“Um…,” Puddles said.

“Let us go,” Whiskers said with urgency heading for the door. “Please escort us back to our car,” Whiskers said to the guard.

Ten pieces of bland corporate art, six white hallways, one express elevator ride up two floors, and not a single word out of either guard before they stopped outside the door to the dock, Whiskers rushed past them towards their car, Puddles followed hissing, “What’s the hurry?”

Whiskers looked over his shoulder, “We…”

Grabbing Whiskers’ arm Puddles interrupted, “I know we got played and I don’t see why we have to leave in such a hurry.”

Shaking off Puddles paw Whisker said, “What if…”

“What if what?” Puddles interrupted a second time while following Whiskers across the dock, “I don’t think anyone at Titan cares about us, our investigation, or anything else we do.”

“Did you see Doctor Marlowe’s face when I mentioned the cleanroom?” Whiskers asked standing next to the passenger door.

“Behind all that plastic and via holo, I couldn’t tell if he was smiling, scowling, or passing gas and neither could you,” Puddles testily replied, ears flattening.

“Fine. Tell me this,” Whiskers began while opening the door, “why would anyone hire us to find people who do not exist?”

Slamming the car into drive, ears still flat, Puddles answered, “No clue, but someone did hire us to clean out that gang and room.”

Exiting Titan Industries Dock, their car merged with traffic heading into the city. Puddles set the car on autopilot and sat back, fuming. Whiskers watched traffic fly around them in silence, thinking. Watching traffic fly around their car, Whiskers sat silently. Ten minutes of fuming and thinking passed.

Puddles shattered the silence first, “We need to do something.”

“Such as?”

“Find Doctor Dan and shake answers out of him!” Puddles said angrily, “That is my first inclination.”

“Mine as well. However, we do not have any real information on Doctor Dan. We need information.”

Minutes of silence passed as both of them thought.

“I’ll call Chuck,” Puddles said with a sarcastic tone and smirk.

“Chuck? Really?” Whiskers replied with a groan.

Puddles and Whiskers, Wash and Dry Brush Phase 6

Previously.

A small revision and expansion, mostly dialog bringing their conversation in line with previous revisions and setting up for more.

Later that evening…

DB’s Bar, a three story bar across the street from Puddles and Whiskers office. Local watering hole on the lower floor, trendy afterhours club on the middle floor, and hopping nightclub on the top floor and after short drive, two long showers, and a change of clothes later where Puddles and Whiskers regrouped.

“This really rubs my fur the wrong way,” Puddles mumbled, slamming an empty glass on the bar top.

“Hey!” the human bar tender exclaimed.

Puddles shot him her “do not mess with me, but please serve me another drink look.” Returning from the bathroom, Whiskers sat next to her, waving the bar tender over.

“All I can say about the bathroom, is there is some interesting reading on the walls,” Whiskers said.

“Yeah?”

“A variation on a herg warmarch where every instance of birds above was replaced with various slang for male genitalia. Pretty funny and clever, if you are familiar with the warmarch.”

“Sounds fun,” she responded sarcastically.

Setting two new drinks in front of them, the bar tender eyeing Puddles for an extra second before moving to other customers. Lifting the drinks Puddles and Whiskers toasted themselves.

“What a mess,” Puddles began. “A bunch more dead people. No clues. No pay. No nothing.”

“I will agree that there is not a lot to go on,” Whiskers replied taking a sip and making a face at his drink. “What is this?”

“Something local.”

“Oh,” Whiskers replied, taking another sip and making another face.

“Think we will get anything off of the recordings?”

“We know a few people who should be able to tell us what the rooms were set up for. The daughters,” Whiskers made air quotes around daughters, “bothers me.”

“What daughters? There were no daughters. We were set up.”

“You are probably correct about the daughters, but I would like to make sure before moving onto the clean room.”

“We need to set up another meeting with Doctor Dan. What is his real name?”

“You still do not know his name?” Whiskers snorted, “A meeting is a good idea. We can ask him about his missing daughters, the clean room, and the gang protecting the room.”

Downing the last of her drink and slamming the glass on the counter again, Puddles said, “Those are some valid points. Morning call?”

“Why not now?”

Shrugging, Puddles gestured at the bar tender again, giving the universal sign for tab, “I’ll pay. You get the car.”

Puddles and Whiskers, Wash and Dry Brush Phase 5

Previously

Originally this was a small, almost throw away ending to their exploration of Tumbledown. Now, this scene wraps up Tumbledown in a better fashion, setting up further story elements, giving them a clearer reason to continue following the case, gives a sense of scale to Tumbledown or at least one corner. I can tell you this scene will be revisited again to make things clearer, but for now enjoy. 🙂

Back to the Present…

“I wish these alarms would shut off,” Whiskers said louder than he would have liked.

“They know we are here.”

“Not that they are reacting like it,” Whiskers gestured to graffiti and garbage covered tunnel.

“Fine by me,” Puddles responded.

Alarms blaring, they moved cautiously through the several tunnels and rooms, all empty. Standing in the middle of the third graffiti covered room, Whiskers looked at his skin watch; two hours since they started this search. Puddles kicked over a table, scattering empty cans and vape inhalers. Her physical expression of frustration mirroring his internal frustration.

Walking over to Puddles he shouted, “They are not here. If they ever were. It looks like whoever was hear left in a hurry.”

“I know. I want to know for sure,” gesturing at lopsided doorway, “let’s finish this up. Maybe we will get some answers.”

“If nothing else find the alarm controls.”

Puddles smirked before heading out the doorway. Whiskers nearly stumbled over Puddles peeking around a corner held up a paw, something ahead. Stepping aside, Puddles gave Whiskers room to look; at the end of the tunnel a reinforced metal door, ajar. Bright light shone through the gap between the door and doorway.

“No need to be quiet,” Puddles said.

Hefting her frying pan, she strode to the door and waited for Whiskers to catch up.

“Ready?”

“Yes,” he said drawing his katana and stepping through the door into the brightest room in the last two hours.

Puddles followed him in, frying pan and pistol ready, “Shit these lights are bright,” she exclaimed.

“The room is clear,” Whiskers announced. He moved back to the entrance, “Looks like we moved through a changing room in our haste.”

Between the ajar door and the room they stood in, a smaller closet space with three white sealed suits hanging on pegs next to the wide open door to this room. Every surface white, made brighter by the ceiling lights. The alarms shut off as suddenly as they had turned on.

“Found the alarm controls,” Puddles announced from the other side of the room, “Everything else on this terminal has been wiped. Same with whatever they were working on at the tables.”

“Record what you find,” Whiskers ordered as he pulled out his phone, “hopefully someone can tell us what all of this was for.”

A half-hour recording holo-vid of the room and an adjacent room; every surface white and only piles of ash remaining on tables, in cabinets, and where something had been. While searching and recording a connected room, Whiskers found an exit. Following the exit tunnel to a hidden landing pad took another half-hour.

“This was unexpected,” Whiskers said.

“Feels like a set-up to me,” Puddles replied.

“Who and why?”

“Good questions. Let’s get out of here before someone comes back.”