by Jim Davies
A moment later a raccoon’s voice echoed through the tunnel. “Who’s there?”
Dichall, Eve, and I emerged from the tunnel through an opening in the floor of a crowded basement, holding up our beads. The head of a male raccoon poked out from behind a pile of boxes, backlit with a dim light. He had human spectacles on. They looked to be children’s glasses, but even so they were so big they barely stayed on his face, and he had to keep readjusting them as they slipped off his furry head.
We all shook dirt from our fur, and he eyed us through the glasses. “Micean Council, eh? And a, uh… Springer Spaniel, maybe?”
Waffles snorted in disgust. “Pomeranian, thank you very much!”
The room was lit with a single, dim bulb that cast long, deep shadows from the mountains of junk. I was tempted to turn on my magical sight but was afraid of what I might find lurking in the Interstitium.
“Come, come.” He waved us to a corner of the room, and we followed him to his stash of human technological pilferings. “My name is Vernon Grandmaster. How may I be of service?”
I took off my backpack. “Just a phone call, today.”
“No problem!” The chubby mammal opened a shoebox with two paws and pulled out a flip phone that looked like it was from a late-1990s movie. He opened it and powered it on. “Power. Check. Two bars. Should be enough.” He turned to us and raised his eyebrows.
I placed the few kibbles on the floor in front of us. “We have this cat food to offer in exchange.”
The raccoon licked his lips. “I think we can work something out…” He placed the phone in front of us and spun it with a flourish. It came to a stop and I punched in Morgan’s phone number. It took some effort, as it was not a touch screen, and I had to depress rubber buttons designed for strong human fingers.
Vernon munched on the kibble, smiling and making “Mmmm!” sounds. I put my finger to my lips to shush him. He stopped chewing and waited.
Morgan answered her phone. “Hello?”
Dichall invoked his veilring and approached the phone’s mic. “Yes, hello, Morgan. I know that your brother is in trouble, and I know you suspect something supernatural is going on. You are correct. The woman he is dating is not a woman, but a malevolent being disguised as a woman–”
She interrupted. “Wait a minute—who is this?”
Dichall didn’t answer this question. “She is with your brother now, draining him. That’s why he’s been having health trouble. If you get him to wear the glasses and look at her, he’ll see her for what she is. Get to his house now. It’s there.”
“Now hold on—”
Dichall cut the line.
Eve blinked at the phone. “Now what?”
Dichall started walking back toward the opening to the tunnel. “We go back and see what happens.”
Vernon smiled and started chewing again. “That was awesome!”