Lost and Found

Lost & Found: Chapter 5 – Genealogy Part 1

Jeremiah whirled around to face the owner of the voice. A slight youth, pale skin stark against his black clothing, stood in the middle of the room, a sad half-smile playing across his lips.

“I mean horrible, obviously, but beautiful all the same,” the young man said.

Steelhead - Chatting to Lunar

“Who the hell? How did you get in here?” Jeremiah snapped, struggling to regain composure.

“S’not like it’s locked, you know,” the youth shrugged to the doorway. “Saw you come in, figured I’d see what you looked like now.”

“You know me?” Jeremiah asked quickly.

“Nah, not really. Saw you at Genies once, but y’know you were human an’ all then, not furry and stuff. Nice horns though.”

“Er, thank you,” Jeremiah stammered back, “Do I… I mean did I know… you see, I’ve…well, I’ve got… I mean, I’ve lost…”

“You’ve lost your marbles and want to know if you know me, man just spit it out will ya,” the youth sounded bored, “Don’t think so. Prob heard of me. I sort of run things around here. Name’s Lunar.”

Jeremiah’s face registered the surprise he was feeling and had no chance to hide it.

“Yeah, I know ‘I don’t look old enough’, man I’m sick of hearing that!” Lunar said sounding very annoyed.

“I… er, I’m sorry…” Jeremiah started.

“Look,” Lunar, “it’s my old lady’s fault. She broke the moon and I’m stuck human again. And 17.”

“Er, Oh. I’m sorry,” was all Jeremiah could think to say.

“Yeah,” Lunar said idly tracing a shape in the dust on the floor with the toe of his boot. An uneasy silence descended and settled on the two men and long seconds ticked away between them.

“So you can’t remember anything?” Lunar said at last. Jeremiah let out a big sigh, acutely aware of the beads of sweat tickling him beneath his fur. Teenagers were so bloody hard to talk to. “Um, no. Not a thing.”

“Man, you have a lot coming you way. You aren’t the most popular person in town, you know.”

Jeremiah bit his lower lip in contemplation, “No. Genie didn’t say too much but given I seem to have been hiding there under a false name I guessed that my son didn’t want to see me.”

“Darien?” Lunar snorted, “Oh hell you guys pissed each other off royally! Wham! Fights, explosions, demons, everything!” Lunar seemed quite happy at the thought of this. Jeremiah, on the other hand, felt his eyes widen, “Demons? Is that what that is for?” he stabbed a finger at the arcane symbol in the floor behind him”

“Yeah,” Lunar replied suddenly serious again, “Darien and you were into some heavy stuff. You seriously can’t remember all that? The whole curse thing? Him?”

“Him?” Jeremiah asked.

“Can’t say his name round here, just Him. He was a Demon that possesed Darien, although Darien got rid of him in the end. Not before the Demon Darien caused a lot of trouble mind, but then so did you.”

“What kind of trouble,” Jeremiah asked, dreading the possibilities running wild in his mind.

“Y’know, stuff. Look, why don’t you talk to Frau Lowey over at the Baron’s place. She’ll be able to help.”

“OK, but where is the Baron’s place? And who is the Baron? And Frau Lowey for that matter?”

Lunar sighed heavily, bored with the conversation “Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. Europa Consulate. Go and talk to Annechan Lowey, she lives there. I gotta fly.” He turned and began to walk out but stopped at the steps to the door, “Don’t touch that thing,” he nodded to the pentacle, “in fact don’t touch anything. And say hi to Ama for me.”

“Ama? Who’s that?” Jeremiah asked.

“Your granddaughter,” Lunar said as he slipped through the dark doorway…

************

To be continued…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here.

Lost & Found: Chapter 4 – A Place Called Home?

The ride into Steelhead was a quiet affair with both Jeremiah and the horse trotting along in silence.

The horse was getting used to its new rider; although he had long ago ceased to be surprised if a new rider had fur, horns or wings he was confused as to why his mistress addressed this rider with the same name as the man who used to scratch his ears and bring him biscuits. Still, if being a horse had taught him anything, it was that if you waited long enough the answers either came or didn’t matter so he just plodded along and slowly got used to this new rider’s little ways.

Lost & Found: Steelhead is empty

For his part Jeremiah was almost oblivious to the horse beneath him (which could be seen as a testament to the horse’s skill) lost, as he was, in deep thought. What would he find when he reached his son’s lab? What dangerous things had the lad been up to? What dangerous things had *he* been upto? And most importantly of all, where the hell was everyone? Steelhead was deserted!

Lost & Found: Steelhead is empty

Lost & Found: Steelhead is empty

Lost & Found: Steelhead is empty

He rode down several empty streets and alleyways, past houses and businesses and all, without exception, were empty. His calls went unanswered, his passing unnoticed. He was beginning to think the worst when he saw a small kiosk by the roadside proclaiming that today was a special day in which the whole town was taking part in a relay race of some kind. With a small sigh of relief, he flicked the reins and started the horse back on the path for Mason Labs in Port Harbour.

****

As he drew closer to the rear of the squat black building, the horse became jittery and skittered about, not wanting to approach.

Lost & Found: Frank is uneasy about Darien's Lab

Jeremiah looked at his son’s laboratory and felt a chill run through him too – something in the silhouette cast by the smoking chimneys unnerved him, making him think of a monstrous black beetle squatting on a log. With a shake of his head, he led the horse to a small patch of grass nearby and tied him to a tree. The horse seemed happy enough to left here, so Jeremiah set off to investigate his son’s one time home.

At the front, heavy stone steps led up to the strange doorway, a round aperture framed by a large cog from some colossal machine. There was no door, but the space between outside and in was as black as pitch and criss-crossed with a fine filigree of glowing fibres. Jeremiah walked slowly up the steps and gingerly extended his right hand towards the web, inch by inch until his fingertips touched one. He tensed, expecting something but not knowing what, but nothing happened, not even a flash of light or crackle of energy. Instead his hand passed through and into the blackness. He pulled it back quickly and it was fine, not one single strand of fur singed or out of place. He took a deep breath and stepped through…

… and missed his footing on the other side and fell face first into the room beyond. For long seconds he lay winded on the cold, hard floor before he dared move. He hurt, but nothing seemed broken – what a bloody silly place for a step he cursed as he rose to his feet and looked around. What he saw chilled him to the marrow

Lost & Found: Inside Mason Lab

Just the right of the entrance a hospital gurney stood in pools of dried blood. Surrounding it were various contraptions and anatomical drawings as if the area had been used for emergency surgery.

Lost & Found: Inside Mason Labs

Away from the steps and to the left at the back of the room was a strange machine that purported to be for capturing and storing lightning bolts – everything crackled and sparked with his slightest touch.

Lost & Found: Inside Mason Labs

But over in the far corner, hidden away from the casual observer (not that he imagined such a person had ever found their way into there four walls), was the most shocking discovery of all. Etched into the stone floor and glowing with some ungodly power was a large red pentacle that make his skin tingle all over just to look at it.

Lost & Found: Inside Mason Labs

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said a voice from behind him…

************

To be continued…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here

Lost & Found: Chapter 3 – A Foreign Country

Jeremiah had been at Eugenia’s place for three days and his leg was getting stronger every day. Unfortunately the same could not be said for his memory; the only ones he could recall started when he awoke on the farm. Everything before had gone and only an aching void could be found in its place.

Eugenia, Genie as she asked to be called, had explained several times, her patience never waning, what she knew. Jeremiah had gone missing from his room many weeks, months, before but Genie had kept it for him as long as she could, eventually having to let it to Maxim, the purple-skinned Jagermonster who still eyed him with naked suspicion. Then nearly three weeks ago a noise in the room alerted her and she found him sprawled on the floor badly injured, shot in the leg with a poisoned arrow and mumbling incoherently. Of course he looked totally different from the last time she saw him, he had been human when he’d left but had returned as some strange half-man half animal complete with fur and horns which Maxim said he recognised as gazelle. What the devil he had done to become half-gazelle and to be shot with an arrow was beyond everyone’s guess, although Maxim did mutter something about “Herr Doktor M und hall dat jazz” but he refused to elaborate.

In the end, it was only because in his fevered state he kept repeating his name over and over that Genie knew who he was. The sheriff and others came, but with Darien’s sudden flea in to exile, Genie kindly offered to look him. The poison attacking his system was tricky to fight and she nearly lost him more than once, but with her tender care he slowly began to pull through. Now he was conscious again he struggling to come to terms with what had happened to him. Genie told him what she knew of him, although she was kindly trying to brush over what he guessed were some less than palatable areas of his background.

He was Dr Jeremiah Mason, father of Dr Darien Mason of Mason Labs in Steelhead city a few miles from Genie’s farm. Darien and Jeremiah were estranged (Genie couldn’t – or wouldn’t – go into details) but Genie was convinced that Jeremiah had returned to make amends. He had rented his room and workshop here under the name Sawyer so as not to alert Darien to his presence before he’s had a chance to fix their relationship.

He had absolutely no memory of any of this. He could not remember having a son, let alone falling out with him. His entire life consisted of the last three weeks.

He looked through his belongs stored in his workshop, but both they and the contents of the workshop didn’t reveal anything new to him. He picked things up, tools, papers, a beautifully crafted metal toy doll but none of them, spoke to him or awoke even the smallest memory.

“And you say I built this?” he asked Genie of the doll in his hands.

“Yes, you are very talented Jeremiah. You make the most wonderful dolls, although I don’t pretend to understand how. You used to talk of the spark and how that automated them, but, well you said so many things I didn’t fully understand,” she replied. He nodded slowly and she walked out quietly, leaving him to his thoughts.

**********

After a few more days rest he was feeling strong enough to venture into the city. “Are you sure about this Jeremiah?” Genie asked him as he climbed up on the horse she had saddled for him.

“I can’t stay here, Genie. I may not remember anything of my life or who I was, but I’m sure that hiding wasn’t something I would have done before,” he replied.

“But is it wise to go to Darien’s laboratory? You don’t know what you might find… he was involved with some dangerous things. You both were.”

He looked down and smiled, “I’ll be careful Genie. I’m just going to see if anything jogs my memory, that’s all. Maybe someone will know where I went all those weeks ago.”

She smiled back, her lips a little too tightly drawn to hide the worry, “Well just be careful is all I ask. Don’t play around with anything in there until you know what you are doing.”

“I promise.”

“When you get there, find Frau Lowey and talk to her, she knew you too.”

“Thank you Genie, for everything,” he smiled at her more grateful then he could every tell her. Then, with a flick of the reins, he set off down the path to the gates and the road to Steelhead city.

**********

Maxim watched him go and walked over to Eugenia, “Vell, ve vill see vat de sheriff makes uf him.”

“What do you mean, Max?”

“Dat sheriff, he hes a goot nose too hyu know…”

“You still don’t think it’s him, do you?” she sounded exasperated.

“Hall Hy’m sayink iz dat he doesn’ schmell right iz hall, not like de schtuff he left behind.”

“Well I’m sure the sheriff will know what to do, Max”

“Hrmm,” was all he said as they both watched the horse and its rider trot slowly down the road…

To be continued…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here.

Links to other blogs & stories:
Sheriff Ortega weighs the new Jeremiah up here.
Maxim informs Veles Jagermonster of his doubts concerning the new Jeremiah here.
Veles relays these concerns to Frau Lowey and she shares her own here.

Lost & Found: Chapter 2 – Waking With Strangers

The birds woke him, chirping away at some ungodly hour as was their wont. His mind bobbed upwards through the layers of sleep and into the conscious world and he immediately wished it hadn’t. His body ached all over and he groaned as he tried to move even the smallest amount. His eyes slowly opened and found themselves looking at a ceiling. He turned his head, wincing as the muscles complained bitterly, and saw he was led on a sofa in the corner of a sparsely furnished room. He recognised nothing. How the hell did I get here, he thought and where the hell was here anyway?

He rose slowly, swinging his feet on to a rug beneath him until he was sat on the edge of the sofa. Across and to his right was a door, ajar and smelling of the outside. To his left was a wash stand and mirror on top of a set of drawers. He got unsteadily to his feet and stumbled towards the basin, bracing himself against the drawers as he splashed cool water on his face. He removed his hands and looked into the mirror.

He let out a terrified, animalistic howl at the sight that greeted him and a woman in elegant black clothes and wearing what looked like a sword at her hip burst through the door. She stopped dead as she saw him, her beautiful face etched with fear. He turned back to the mirror and looked at his face again – only it wasn’t his face and a vision of brown fur and black horns stared back at him with flame-red eyes wide with fear.

“Jeremiah…” the woman said, the soft, soothing tone she used strained with fear.

“Who… who are you?” he said, his voice scared. “Where am I? What have you done to me?”

“Done? Nothing, Jeremiah, nothing. You are home. Your home,” she replied.

“But… but what has happened to me?” his hands making a disgusted sweep across his face “What have you done?”

”Jeremiah, please… I don’t know what has happened to you…”

“But I have horns!” he shouted, “Horns and fur!” he was backing away from the washstand, away from the woman in the doorway

“I know Jeremiah…”

“Why do you keep calling me Jeremiah?”

A look of pained sympathy crossed her face and her body relaxed a little, “Because that is your name. I’ll admit I didn’t recognise you myself, but that’s the only name you have said these past two weeks.”

“Two weeks…”

“I don’t know what you have done, dear man, but you have obviously changed your form,” her voice was soft and gentle as she began to slowly move across the room towards him.

“What? I… I don’t understand? Where am I? Who are you?” he had backed away as far as he could, his back now against a wall.

“Please, don’t excite yourself Jeremiah. I don’t have all the answers, but take my hand and we will find them, I promise,” she was almost upon him, edging towards him, her hand outstretched.

With one swift push of his legs he leapt clean over her and was away through the door. Pain jolted through his left thigh, but he pushed on. He had to get away, to run from this nightmare. He ran out of the door and straight into a barn – it appeared the small room was built into the back – and headed for the sunlight streaming through the big barn doors. Outside he ran over grass and mud, more barn-like buildings were dotted about and the smell of animals was in the air. A path led to a road and the road to freedom, he turned and ran towards it.

Something cannoned into him from behind and sent him sprawling to the ground. A weight sat solidly on his back. He was trapped, unable to get up, his legs and arms flailing, water and mud in his face and mouth. He felt hot breath at his ear “If hyu hef hurt her, Hy vill gut hyu likes a pig!”

“Max! No! He hasn’t hurt me, he’s just scared. Please, let him up,” the woman shouted from somewhere behind him. Max didn’t move right away, instead he pressed his mouth close to the trapped man’s ear and whispered “Hyu betta vatch it bub.” before slowly getting up.

Once free he pushed himself up. His leg was now screaming and when he looked down at it he saw a muddy bandage oozing blood freely. He turned over to look at his assailant and was confronted by a nightmarish vision of a purple skinned monster with fangs and talons dressed in some form of military uniform.

“What… what are you people? Where am I?” he asked, eyes wide with fear.

The woman came slowly over to him, “Please Jeremiah, don’t be scared. We are your friends…”

“Yeah? Well maybe you should that to your tell your dog there,” he said glaring at the monster.

“DOG? Vo har hyu kallink dog? Hy schould kill hyu vor zuch han insult!” it shouted.

“Maxim!” snapped the woman, “Please, you are not helping!”

The purple creature glared, muttering darkly, and took a step back.

“Jeremiah. This is your home. I’m Eugenia, do you not remember me? You rent – rented – a room here and have a workshop in the barn,” she nodded to a building. He glanced over quickly but didn’t recognise it. He looked back into her eyes, trying hard to see if she was lying, “Are you saying you know me?” he asked eventually.

She looked saddened by the question, “Yes, of course I know you.”

“Who am I?” he asked quietly.

“You are Jeremiah Mason. This is your home. I am your friend. Please come inside, let me re-dress your leg and I can tell you everything I know,” she said and held out her hand and he looked at it for long seconds before reaching up to take it…

To be continued…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here.

Lost & Found: Chapter 1 – The Ocean of Night

It was night, a dark sky wrapped around him like a heavy coat. The water was cold and full of thick weeds. He swam through the cold and the weeds and the night, but it was hard and tiring. The cold sapped his strength and the weeds snatched and pulled at his limbs. He had long ago forgotten where he was swimming to or even why, he just knew he had to keep swimming, never stopping, not once, just swimming in the dark night against the cold, against the weeds pulling at him, swimming always.

Voices drifted past. Someone close. Someone in the water. When had he last heard another person? When had he last seen one? A face flashed into his mind, a handsome man with a moustache, his face shocked as he fell and fell and fell. And the face was gone. The voices bobbed by, stroking, caressing, soothing. He found his arms were slowing, his legs stopping their ceaseless kicking. He didn’t want to swim anymore. He wanted the voices to carry him. He began to look around for the voices, searched in the night and held fast to them, a raft in this endless ocean of night.

The voices were near. A name formed in his mind, long and curving it swam through his thoughts and into his mouth.

Jeremiah.

The weeds had him! In the water they were grabbing and pulling. The water filled his nose, weeds forcing their way into his mouth. He tried to scream. He was sinking. The ocean taking him down. He tried to fight but he was so very tired. The night tightened around him.

He sank.

He was glad.

He began to let go of everything.

I have swum enough, he thought. Let the sea and the night have me.

Hands grabbed him, fingers digging into his arms and pulling him upwards. The weeds screamed with rage and clawed at him, but the hands held fast and he was dragged back out of the ocean, out of the night. A light above him, blindingly bright. Voices. Loud voices near.

“…he’s back…”

“…thought we’d lost him then…”

“…are you sure…”

“…how long…”

“…who…”

His mouth, thick and heavy with the taste of the choking weeds, struggled to form words. Sounds bubbled forth, incoherent questions tumbling over his lips. The ocean was gone, the night and the weeds with it. Light surrounded him, too bright for his eyes. He couldn’t tell if he was standing or lying, walking or falling. Something cold on his forehead. Something dribbled into his mouth. Hands busy over his skin. Voices all around him.

“…fur…”

“…he’s changed…”

“…think it’s him…”

“…Jeremiah…”

The name! His eyes suddenly wide, he sat up, people tumbling backwards away from him. “Jeremiah!” he screamed, his mind burning.

And he fell backwards into the darkness. Not the cloying night of the ocean again, but the dark of a quiet forest where the bows of friendly trees bent to shade and protect him. He felt the kiss of sleep upon his eyes and as he slipped away he sobbed quietly without knowing or remembering why.

To be continued…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here.