…from the case files of Detective Pagasmo…
(Continues from Epistemology)
The Nefelibata took my hand and lifted me up. Wire-rimmed glasses perched on her Roman nose and through them peered a pair of chocolate eyes. She was a sturdy gal in jeans, sneakers and a long-sleeved shirt bare of logos. The Plain Jane glared her suspicions at me but held her tongue.
“Where are we and how’d I get here?” Best we establish the obvious before we dive into the weird.
“The epistemological center and how you got here is what I’d like to know. You’re not a Nefelibata.” She tugged my hand, and we stepped onto a passing cloud. It descended and the stippled ground hove into view miles below us.
The ‘epistemological center’ resembled a cloud bank. Maybe the ‘epistemological’ part of it had gone colloidal, and the clouds had trapped thoughts instead of moisture. Would it rain inspiration if this baby ever dumped its load? How about a deluge of dreams? I hid a smile and put a lid on the humor bubbling up before it spilled over into a bout of hysterical laughter. I’d just survived an attempt by a psycho to shred my personality, so I was owed a good maniacal laugh.
A jetliner streamed by and its tail wind sobered me up as it mauled me. My cloud-walking companion stood firm, unaffected by the wind. But she did extend her middle finger and flip off the pilot. Forgoing the one fingered salute, I slapped both hands over my flapping duster’s pockets. My fingers trapped vital clues and prevented them from blowing off my person. After all, I still had a mystery to solve when I hit the ground again.
“Thanks for saving me from that creep. What’s his beef? Did you steal his cloud?” I asked when the wind died down.
“Dunno never saw him before. ” She folded her arms and squinted at something below.
“That makes two of us.” I looked where she did, but the ground was a patchwork quilt of browns from 35000 ft up. “Where’re you taking me?”
By the time the Bridge to Nowhere separated from the sere landscape, I could feel my connection to Gaia. Its two ends flailed around seeking to reconnect. I could hurry it along if I jumped.
“Hey, where do you think you’re going?” The Nefelibata seized a handful of my duster and hauled back on it. Stitches popped but the garment held together, and I stayed on the lowering cloud.
My gray duster was an antique, and it completed my hard-boiled gumshoe facade. After losing my job, my home and my self-respect, I had little else. The papers crinkling in my pocket drew my attention back to the mystery causing my current misery. Tugging them out, I gave them a gander. The slow pace of our descent gave me time to stare at ten blank pages. All my clues had disappeared.
Had the villain who’d tried to drain my memories written his taunts in invisible ink? Even the bookmark I’d taken from the dead clerk at the internet cafe had faded to black. I whipped out the stoner’s copy of Maurice and a casual flip through its pages reassured me. E.M. Forster’s novel still retained its text, but something fluttered free from the pages and landed on the cloud.
Bending, I picked it up and shook my head at the design embossed in the card stock. A sword was superimposed over a sun-in-glory, and its tip parted a laurel crown. Under it lay those same four letters, IMBC, which had accompanied all my now vanished clues.
The wind kicked up, tearing the blank pages and faded photographs from my hands. But I fought it and retained the card. Written on in three lines of block type was an address in Magic Town. And out of a land baked drier than a biscotti, an orange bridge rose. Its deck had collapsed long ago. Most of its cables had snapped in the calamity which had thrown it hundreds of miles inland from the bay it used to span. Out of the wreckage, the Golden Gate loomed and behind it sprawled Magic Town in a neon-lit tangle of wrought iron and baked clay. And the answers to all my questions lay in there somewhere.
To be continued…
This is the last post for the Incredible Blogger Marathon Challenge. The mystery will continue, though. Thank you PH for this delightful challenge! I hope you will all consider giving it a try.
More Detective Pagasmo stories: The Boxes Are Doors, Descending into Trouble, Epistemology, Novitiate, Lulled by Rhymes, News, Clues and Howitzers, Mixed Media, No Truth in Quotes, Haiku Hunt, Random Risks, Freeze Frame, The Mark of Destiny, Detective Pagasmo in Playing Dead, Detective Pagasmo.