Reports–or even just rumors–of people going missing in New Babbage are, at times, an almost daily occurrence. The problem is separating the true disappearances from those who have simply moved on elsewhere; this city, after all, does have a rather large turnover in its population.
The disappearance of the two bankers, though, is definitely another matter. Such prominent men are not known for being peripatetic. When the report came in of their disappearance, I started with tracing their movements that night. They had gone to Ruby’s Pub–evidently their habit–for a nightcap before returning to their homes. After some inquiries, I found one witness–a young boy who had been singing for alms on the Jefferson Way bridge that evening. He saw them walking along the canal, going north; he did not think they were particularly inebriated.
After that, nothing. I searched their likely routes, and the streets and alleyways branching off them, but found no signs of violence.
(I must see if I can borrow some of Mr. Culdesac’s equipment and recording that lad. I can think of a few music schools that would be interested, if only they could hear his singing…)
With no signs of an involuntary disappearance, I turned my attention to the possibility that it was, after all, voluntary. With such men, financial issues would likely be at the root of such, so I spent the next day looking into their finances, both personal and professional.
And found… nothing. There were no indications of personal financial troubles, and their bank was on a sound footing, with no signs of embezzlement or theft.
So I was back to an involuntary disappearance. But who–or what–could spirit away two such large men with no traces left behind? Where were they taken, and why?
I’ve alerted the militia, but I’m not sure what can be done at this point. For now, I think all we can do is keep a sharp eye out…
“Wotcher Mr. Emerson,” sang out Bert the old screever as he came into the bar carrying the same money bag he had left with not half an hour earlier. “Seems them fancy bankers hours ain’t enough. They’ve gone and taken themselves a nice fancy bankers ‘oliday I reckon.”
“A jolly holiday, I’ll bet.” Emerson said looking up from his crossword puzzle as Bert poured himself a coffee and sat down on the couch, feet up on the table. “I guess not everyone shares our work ethic.” Emerson added, then started checking his pockets for a cigar before remembering he’d run out five days ago.
“Help me out, Bert,” began Emerson. “I need an eleven-letter word; second letter is ‘E‘ and it means: ‘a person who travels from place to place; wayfarer; itinerant.’
Bert thought a minute. “Royal soldiers back in me old London town wore red and they move around a lot. Per’aps ‘red shirters’ is the answer.”
Emerson smiled as he filled in the little blank boxes. “I knew I kept you on the payroll for a reason.”
“Cor, I get paid! Who knew?”
Your crossword puzzle-solving skills are… quite interesting, Mr. Lighthouse. *laugh*
Petra ran then skidded, ran then skidded, ran then skidded up the Grand Canal, sliding under the Jefferson Way bridge when she heard the gurgling whispers and some sort of singing warbling from the sewer grate.
She crept closer, and over the noise of the rushing water in the tunnel she could definitely hear voices, but the words echoed over one another. One was singing…or humming? It was hard to tell. The tune was that strange foreign song Gaston was always singing for change, she was positive of that.
Squinting, eyes adjusting to the darkness of the tunnel, she began to imagine she could make out shapes… but the shapes didn’t make sense… bony angular people, hunched over yet swaying… or dancing?
She swallowed, the hair on the back of her neck prickling up.
Petra backed away, not taking her eyes from the grate until she was far enough to run.