D Is For Damien: Chapter 3
Information & Discovery
A MOMENT LATER, in pulled Amy's pink convertible. The hood was up, as it had been raining when she, Damon, and Choby left the B&C, but when she pulled in it came down.
Harvey jumped down from the porch. "Choby, Choby!" he panted, running to him. He had to pause briefly to catch his breath. "I--I know who has Father Damien!"
Choby looked interested as he got out of the car he hated so. "What's your guess?"
"It ain't a guess, Choby!" Harvey gasped, leaning upon the car door. He started talking fast. "I was sittin' upstairs when this guy came in. I saw everything through the vent in my floor. He was tall and blond and had this creepy look in his eyes."
"Luther Broderick," Choby muttered.
"He was talkin' to someone on the phone," Harvey continued, as if he hadn't heard him, "and he said all this stuff like, 'You still got him? Tie him up. His nephew's lookin' for him. Is the poison in the needle?'"
Choby stood bolt upright. "Poison in the needle!"
Harvey nodded wildly. "It has to be Father Damien he was talkin' about! What d'we do, Chobe? They're gonna poison him!"
Choby waved a hand. "Don't get all hyper. First we gotta tell Dami about this." Amy and Damon came up beside him as he gazed northward down M-33, towards town, and sighed. "And believe me, I don't think he'll feel too hot once he finds out he's confiding in a Satanist."
Damien, after letting Luther off at a big, abandoned-looking building out near the swampland back north of the Cheboygan County Fairgrounds, pulled in at the police station. It was a small red brick building, with a sign that read, "Michigan State Police. District No. 7." He parked, unbuckled, and got out, starting to grin. He didn't really hate cops; he just didn't like them nosing around. Lord knew they did that enough already. He did find it amusing to pretend to hate them, however. And as soon as he entered the little building, he saw he was in luck--Officer Jones was on duty.
It was a given that the policeman shuffling papers at the front desk absolutely detested Damien, and would do just about anything to have him put away for good. So far, mostly due to Damien's excellent, smooth-talking lawyer Davison Temple (the only trustworthy attorney Damien knew who wouldn't bend the truth), he hadn't succeeded. Now the singer, free as a bird, could come and go as he pleased, often using--or, in Jones's view, abusing--the First Amendment to speak with him. Officer Jones looked up as Damien entered. Anger briefly flashed in his eyes, quickly giving way to cool criticism.
"Hello, Jonesy," Damien greeted cheerfully, using the name the cop hated most.
"Well, well, if it isn't ol' Damien," Officer Jones grinned in reply. "And what brings you here today, Dami? D'you get busted again?"
Damien rolled his eyes at the dumb comment. "If I did, would I be coming in here voluntarily?"
"I don't know. Remember that store incident...."
"Cut the smalltalk," Damien snapped. Jones smiled, knowing he'd finally gotten to him. "I came here for a reason."
"And what might that be?"
"To get info. On Scorpio."
"Scorpio?" Jones laughed. "Are you losin' it, Dami? Of all people I thought you'd be the most practical, ignoring dumb tabloid horoscopes--"
Jeez, how dense can you get? "I'm not talking about astrology! I'm talking about the cult--Scorpio the cult."
"Oh," Jones said, looking slightly subdued as he realized what Damien meant. "Those guys."
Damien decided not to ask him what he knew, as it was about as much as he himself knew anyway. Damien had gone to the police before with questions about Scorpio, after he first learned of them last summer. The police had admitted to knowing about the cult, but not knowing very much; they'd investigated several murders that appeared to be linked but had no real leads. Officer Jones hadn't been on the case, and so was pretty much in the dark. So reports were the best way to go. The singer stood by while Officer Jones turned away and rifled through the files. "You know, we really need a new computer here," he muttered, pulling out a file, looking at it, and shoving it back in. "I hear the county police got another one. Why not us?" He pulled out several files, glanced at them, and handed them across to Damien.
Damien looked at a couple of the folders; he'd looked at them before, when first seeking information on the cult. One was an old missing persons report. But there was another, newer, one, under SATANISM, and he handed the others back to Officer Jones while he looked through it. It was titled ALLEGED SATANIC MUTILATIONS--UNSOLVED. Inside was a rough typed report with a few pictures, dated several months ago. It read in part:
"Several missing animals reported found outside city limits. Throats cut, bodies mutilated, incl. removal of hearts (not found)."
Damien swallowed at that part. He remembered his dreams at night, what happened to his sister...
"Three dogs, one cat killed. Alleged 'satanic' symbols painted on trees in animals' blood (see pic.). Owners of three animals contacted. No suspects, no arrests have been made. Case closed due to insufficient manpower."
Insufficient manpower, or insufficient interest?
Two of the three pictures showed the mutilated cat and dogs, lying on the ground in a circular clearing. A fire pit was visible nearby. The third showed grotesque paintings on the tree trunks--an inverted pentagram, upside-down cross, the number 666. And another, barely visible--an M with a spiked tail on the end. That M was strangely familiar....
Damien sighed. "If that's it, I'll be going now," he said, handing back the folder.
"Maybe I should search you to see if you swiped anything," Officer Jones said, eyeing him suspiciously.
Damien flared. "Like what!"
"Oh, I dunno.... Like maybe a..."
Damien glared at the policeman for several seconds, and, when Jones finally averted his eyes, quit the police station.
"I don't see what you're so excited about," Amy said, her pink convertible cruising through traffic. "There's no real proof. He never said Father Damien's name, and we don't have the call on tape."
"Well, Harvey was pretty set on his theory," Choby replied. "He told me all these details, like Luther sayin', 'His nephew's looking for him.' And I got a gut feelin' about this, too."
"That's the pickles and whipped cream talking there, Chobe," Damon said.
"That guy was kinda fishy," Amy commented.
"Somethin' must be up," Choby added, "if he knows about Scorpio."
The others agreed.
Amy suddenly braked. The tires squealed and everyone was thrown forward with a yelp.
"What's goin' on?" Choby cried.
"Damien! Hey, Damien!" Amy called, waving her hand in the air and pulling to the side of the street. She made a rude gesture at a car that honked as it passed. "Over here!"
Choby looked and saw Damien's Lamborghini pulling up behind them. The window opened and Damien stuck his head out. Amy twisted around in her seat to yell back at him, her hand on the back of the seat.
"Dami, Harve says he knows where your uncle is," she somehow managed to make herself heard over the traffic.
"He does?" Damien shouted. "Where?"
"He thinks this Luther fellow knows where."
"Luther?" Damien squawked. "Now how do you guys know about him?"
"It's kind of a long story. Let's park someplace and talk it over."
Damien pulled out into the street and into the parking lot of Mickey's Mini Mart, Amy following and doing the same. They shut the motors off. As Amy and the others were getting out Damien was already coming their way, his arms crossed.
"Okay," he said, giving them all a look, "you guys have got a lot of explaining to do. Tell me, now--who's the snoop here?"
"There is no snoop," Amy replied. "We just used our brilliant--uh, deduction." She jabbed Choby in the ribs. "Tell him, Chobe."
"Yeah! Right," Choby exclaimed. "Uh--we were wonderin' where you were and all but it looked like it was gonna rain, so we went to the B&C for some breakfast. That's where you came in."
"I didn't see you there," Damien said.
"We were in the upper level, near the windows. We saw you and this weird detective sort whom you called Morris and rather seemed to dislike."
Damien nodded. "Go on."
"Well, you two talked--or should I say argued--for a while, then he left and another guy came in and you two talked real quiet so we couldn't hear. Don't worry," he said, noting Damien's look, "we didn't try too hard. Anyway, Sister Annemarie--I'm sure you know her--was with us and she said his name was Luther Broderick. Also said something about Scorpio."
Damien tensed. "What do you know about Scorpio?"
Choby noted the strain in his voice and shrugged. "Heck, Dami, prob'ly a lot less than you. I wouldn't really know anything except that this Luther fellow seems rather fishy to me--and I'm not the only one who thinks that."
Damien snorted. "Well, we'd need a lot more better proof than just that to go on to tell if he's really behind any of this." He turned to Amy. "What exactly did Harvey tell you?"
"He told me," Choby said. "He said Luther paid a visit to your house--"
"That he did. I drove him."
"--And used the phone to call somebody. Told me before we left that his name was Derrick."
Damien got an odd look, a cross between disbelief and misery. "Derrick," he said. "I should have known."
No one questioned him. They knew well of the Satanist who had nearly wrecked his family and ruined his life over a year ago.
Choby cleared his throat uncomfortably and went on. "Anyway, he says this Luther said something about someone bein' tied up. He's really worked up about this. I say we check it out."
"Where did you take Luther?" Damon asked.
Damien was silent for a moment. Then, "To this big warehouse-like building on the edge of town. I could take you there."
Without reply, Amy, Damon, and Choby got back in the convertible, and Damien into his car. They both started up again and drove off into town.
It wasn't much later when they arrived at the building Damien had spoken of. It was a huge desolate-looking place, its lot long reduced to dust, old paint peeling on a few bricks here and there, and nothing in the lot save for an old dusty car and several bits of blowing litter. Everybody got out. All they did at first was stand around in the dust, staring at the building and occasionally shaking off their feet. The rain didn't seem to have done anything to the ground here.
"This is the place," Damien finally said, spreading out his arms for dramatic effect, then letting them drop to his sides.
They continued staring.
"It looks deserted to me," Damon murmured.
Damien shrugged. "In any case, this is where he asked to be taken, so this is where I took him," he replied, and leaned against his car. "What now?"
Choby said, "Well, someone's got to go in there."
Damien looked at him and hitched a shoulder. "Any volunteers?"
No one moved. Damien stared at them all coolly, his gaze questioning. Finally Amy of all people spoke up.
"My hair's buggin' me anyway," she muttered, stomping off through the dust. She soon disappeared within the building's vast confines, leaving the other three out in the heat.
"Good luck," Damien called, "in whatever it is you're looking for."
Amy pushed open the entrance door and stepped carefully inside. An empty hallway greeted her. She looked around. The hall was long, stretching off to both sides, and lined with doors, several open. She started wandering around aimlessly, peering into the rooms, looking for a bathroom. The structure did seem to have been a warehouse at one time, as in some of its rooms she could see huge boxes stacked against the walls, all gathering dust. She tried to read their contents; there was just what appeared to be a company name, BLACK EAGLE PRODUCTION COMPANY, on the sides. She couldn't tell what was in them, nor did she wish to know. The whole place was dusty and dim. She saw no one as she walked along the hallway, and never thought to look down for footprints. It probably would have been too dim to tell. She then noticed a door marked LADIES RESTROOM, next to another marked STORAGE, and went in.
Her first impression was that the place was definitely abandoned. The sinks, floor, and mirrors looked like they hadn't been cleaned in years; she didn't even go near the stalls--Lord knew what could be lurking in there! As she neared the sinks, she noticed that one looked as if it had been struck with something large and heavy, for a great chunk of it lay upon the floor in shatters; this sink would never hold water again. Amy shook her head.
"Someone mad at the sink?" she asked herself, going over to the one nearest the door--it was still intact--and turning on the water.
Only something odd happened, and that was that nothing happened. No water came out.
"Huh?" Amy asked the air, puzzled. She moved on to the next sink. It didn't seem to be working either. She tried the next, and the next.
Where the heck's all the water?
She was starting to tell herself that any electricity to the building had been shut off long ago, as well as any water connections; to test this she finally tried the last sink, the broken one. Water did come from its faucet, and she washed her hands and ran them through her hair as a pump kicked on, trying to get rid of the creepy feeling this place gave her.
It was then that she heard it.
She started and looked around her, alarmed.
Where was it coming from?
There! Behind the wall! Behind the sinks! But--what could possibly be back there--?
I guess it's time to figure that out, Amy thought, and left the restroom.
In the hallway she stopped. She wasn't the chickenish type, and was actually more daring than Damon would ever be. However, she was only human, and this place unnerved her. Something just seemed--wrong about it. It was wrong to be so empty. Even if it was abandoned. She looked around the hallway. Where did the noise come from? From its position it must have originated in the room to the left. Was someone in there? Were they hiding?
Are they watching me?
She slowly went up to the door and called out tentatively, "Hello?"
Amy pushed the door open further, peering inside. It was another big room filled with those boxes. "Hello? Anybody in here?"
She went in and slowly walked around, looking at all of the huge dusty boxes which loomed above her in the dim light. What kind of company had this been? She'd never even remembered seeing this building before. None of this made any sense. Remembering her mission, she turned to the wall nearest the bathrooms, and noticed a door there. It looked to be a broom closet--or something. She went over to it and knocked softly. "Hello?"
Nothing. But then, just faintly, she heard it.
Amy drew back, growing more and more frightened by the minute. Who could be in there? Or should she say what? And why were they in there? There was only one way to find out, and that was to open the door and look inside. Which was just what she wanted to do least.
She reached out her hand, taking the doorknob. It was cold and dusty in her grasp. She twisted it slowly.
She pulled the door open.
The hinges creaked in the stillness.
She peered inside.
And then she gasped.