Part of Apex of Creation
There was, it seemed, a fine line with Emily. Ordinarily, she was happy, outgoing, and delightfully nerdy. Unfortunately, the stress of dealing with anything parent-related could make her retreat into her emotional turtle shell.
So Emily’s voicemail from Officer Jackson was an unwelcome element in a day that had otherwise been pretty good.
“You don’t have to talk to them if you don’t want to, you know.” I said, as we swiped into the campus cafeteria.
I shook my head. “If you ‘needed’” I made air quotes “to come in, they would have a warrant or a subpoena. And since this Officer Jackson person is asking nicely, they don’t have either. Probably don’t need one anyways, considering the evidence left on the laptop.”
“We have both had an absolutely crazy week.” Emily nodded in agreement. “So let’s forget about that for now, and let the police do their thing without us worrying about it. And let’s try to get back to focusing on school.”
Emily gave a small smile - a good sign. “Yeah. That sounds good. God, two weeks ago if someone had said any of this would happen, I would never have believed it.”
“I know, me neither. I was dealing with all of this on my own for a long time. Not that I want you to have to deal with my problems, but it’s nice to share this whole supernatural thing.”
“I understand.” Emily said, sympathetically. “Like, there’s still the whole issue of my father’s shady friends, but it’s really nice to not be alone.”
“Yeah.” We found a free table and began eating. “I agree. And also, please don’t forget, I can get you out of trouble at a moment’s notice.”
Emily picked at her food. “I know you can, and after everything today, it’s not that I don’t believe you. It’s just that… This is all just so much to take in, you know?”
“This has been a lifelong issue for me, and we’re less than twenty-four hours into taking it apart completely. It’s a lot to process.”
I smiled at Emily. At least, I tried to smile. For all I knew, it could have been anything from a stiff frown to a crazed grin. “Emily, I’m here for you.” That was awkward phrasing. “Like, I’m sure I’m going to need to lean on you, you know? You’re the only other person that knows about my… abilities.”
My vocabulary seemed to be falling apart by the moment.
“And I want to be there for you as well. If that makes sense.”
Emily smiled. “It does. And thanks. It’s really sweet of you. I just need time to let it all sink in. Time, and maybe another trip to the therapist.”
“Yeah, about that… we should probably set you up with mine now.”
“...He’s an angel. Raguel.”
Emily rolled her eyes. “I should have guessed. I suppose your ‘friend’ that set up the first therapist is actually an angel?”
I nodded. “His name is Cael. He’s actually the one that saved me over Christmas.”
Emily grinned. “I’ll have to thank him for making sure I have a study buddy.”
I was feeling impulsive. “You want me to call him here?”
“You can do that?”
“Geez James, what am I getting myself into?”
I gulped down the enormous bite of food that I’d taken at exactly the wrong moment. “Trust me, if I could answer that, I would. But I have no idea. I’m flying by the seat of my pants here.”
“You and me both.”
I still had the urge to impress Emily by summoning an angel. “Let’s figure this all out together then? As a team?”
Emily gave a soft smile. “I’d like that.”
We finished eating, and headed back to the dorm tower. Unfortunately, the week’s events had no effect on our academic workloads. There were still chemical reaction mechanics to learn, lab reports to proofread, history lessons to absorb, and calculus to practice.
All on a Sunday evening.
It was time to get to work.
Detective Darren Sanders
Dakota Jackson came into my office, carrying another pile of reports that she unceremoniously dumped on my desk. “Hotel assault from the other night. I can’t make heads or tails of it, and I was hoping you might see something that I’m missing.”
I grunted, stacked my current papers into a pile, and pushed them to the side. “I’ll take a look” I said, as I picked up another case file to look through.
Officer Jackson didn’t move.
“I said, I’ll take a look” I repeated.
“Clearly you’re not.”
A little part of me died inside. The younger generation had no respect, even within law enforcement, it seemed. “I’ll get to it when I get to it, Jackson. Or are you going to stand there while I schedule out my plans for the next week?”
Officer Jackson sighed. “I was hoping you could ‘get to it’ sooner rather than later. It’s a strange case.”
“Victim had a computer full of CP. I heard. It’s not ‘strange’, Jackson; dirtbags like him are why we have jobs.” Truth be told, I wanted to congratulate whoever it was that had delivered him to us so nicely, though I wasn’t about to say it. “Tell you what, put it on the stack here and I’ll make sure I look it over before the end of the day.”
“Thanks, Darren. You’re the best.”
“Yeah yeah, I know.” Now get out of my office, Jackson.
As if reading my mind, Jackson left.
I eyed the new file warily, chugged my coffee, and got back to work.
We stopped at my dorm, and I grabbed my books. Then we headed up James’s room. I went through the motions of opening the calculus textbook and starting the homework.
It wasn’t until I’d read through the first problem four times that I realized my heart wasn’t really in it right now. My head was still trying to make some sense of today’s events.
My parents had been arrested. My dad was going to spend a long time in jail. Hopefully. Heaven existed. The portal was in the closet. It had amazing coffee and the best library I could ever want. James knew angels. James also had superpowers. And he wanted to use them… for me. Why? He’d already busted my dad. So where is next semester’s tuition going to come from? Maybe an angel can hook me up with that? Am I sure that this all isn’t just a strange dream? No, I could definitely feel the effects of the self-refilling coffee.
“F of x equals six x sine two x plus c.” James announced confidently, derailing my train of thought. I realized I’d been mindlessly staring at him. Oops.
“The first problem.” he responded, handing me his work.
I looked it over, forcing myself to make sense of the math. “Oh. Inverse product rule?”
“Yeah. And that was all me, no divination, I promise.” James paused for a second. “Or not. That’s the right answer.”
“Good to know.” I copied down the solution and started working the second problem.
It was nice, hanging with James. I had no idea what to make of the whole divine power thing, but he had been there for me twice when I needed him. And he’d taken care of my dad. It might prove to be phenomenally stupid, but it was sweet.
At least forcing myself to do math helped me stay out of my own head.
Detective Darren Sanders
Officer Jackson had been right, damn her. Not that I’d ever admit it to her out loud. The Nigel Butler case was tricky. Not the kiddie porn part; that was easily an open and shut case. He would be going away for a long time. The piece of shit deserved it.
The hotel assault part, on the other hand just did not make an ounce of sense. The timing was screwy, the footage had exactly fuckall for leads, and the one witness - who, as far as I cared, was probably just as guilty - reported an apparition of someone named “James”.
In fact, if it weren’t for the Butlers clearly entering the hotel just a few minutes prior to being found by Officer Jackson, I’d be inclined to dismiss the whole thing as a hoax.
I closed up the case folder and went to hunt down another mug of coffee. My cardiologist hated my late night coffee consumption, but he could go fuck himself.
After returning to my office and staring pensively at the case folder, I added half a shot of whiskey to the coffee.
Alright, let’s take it from the top again. 911 call, placed from a supposedly empty room. Transcript itself was straightforward: reporting an assault at the Butler’s hotel room.
Officer report: Dakota Jackson arrived on-site. Investigated report of assault, found Nigel handcuffed to bed and Allison emotional but compliant. Discovered laptop computer displaying slideshow of disturbing images. Arrested Nigel immediately, and detained Allison for further questioning.
Medical report: Nigel Butler covered in bruises. Stated that he felt like he “got hit by a truck.” Allison Butler emotional but unharmed.
Copies of the booking intake forms and family visitation forms. Nigel and Allison were married, with one daughter, Emily Butler.
Witness statement by Allison. Reported entering the room, and seeing a “James” before blacking out and finding Nigel on the bed with the slideshow playing.
Hang on. I’d seen that combination of names before somewhere. Where was it?
Was it- no, that wasn’t it.
The bank. It was the bank. I dug through the stack of folders on the side of my desk, and found case file. I shoved the Butler folder to the back and opened the bank file.
911 transcripts, officer reports, initial ballistics reports, preliminary autopsy results, come on, come on.
Witness statements. Here we go, it’s gotta be somewhere in here.
I found the two statements I was looking for: Emily Butler, and James Exosia. Both students, about the same age. They’d both been in the bank when the botched robbery went down. Emily had been a hostage. James had been in the bathroom when the incident started, and he had used his position to distract the perps.
And now they were both connected to the hotel assault. Two crimes in the space of just under a week. Jackson had missed it because she’d been on another call at the time of the bank robbery, and hadn’t been involved in the response.
So why James and Emily? Were these two lovers? Co-conspirators? Vigilantes? Was there some other connection between the Butler parents and the bank robbers? If nothing else, I at least had a likely last name for the “James” that Allison had reported seeing.
I found the next opening in my calendar and penciled in “Investigate James Exosia - bank/hotel”
I closed the bank case file, downed my spiked coffee, and got up for more. It was going to be a long week.
I jerked myself awake. Homework!
Emily chuckled. “Hey, James.”
I looked around and got my bearings. “How long was I out?”
Emily checked the time on her phone. “Twenty minutes, half hour, something like that. It’s almost midnight.”
“Oh. Geez. Sorry.”
“Don’t worry. I finished the chemistry; here, take a look.”
I gratefully took the sheet from Emily and copied down the answers. “Thanks.”
It’s all correct.
Damn, Emily was sharp. Meanwhile, I’d been fading out in front of her. Great.
“Alright, that’s the chemistry.” I said, as I finished writing out Emily’s answers. “What’s next?”
“That’s it.” Emily replied, as she packed up her papers and stuffed everything back into her bag.
“Yup. You can go back to sleep now.”
“Heh. Sorry again for that.”
Emily zipped up her bag and sat back down. “I said don’t worry about it.”
She gave me a hug, and my exhausted mind went blank.
Beep beep beep beep
I rolled over and turned off my alarm, pushing Emily’s arm off my phone.