Unexpected Visitors

Here is the next chapter in my Genre Stretch story… last month, the challenge was crime.  This month the challenge was mystery.  I’ve decided to just keep writing the same story for the genre stretch.  Each month will be the same chapter with a new genre.  It’ll be a fun and interesting challenge.  We’ll see how it goes.

This story also answers one of the WriYe DreamWidth prompts: policeman.

**

Ryan couldn’t have been more annoyed.  Not only had Ian vanished with his truck, he was late coming back.  He glanced over at his wife and shook his head.  “When I get my hands on that brother of mine,” he said, before trailing off.

“Now, Ryan,” she said, barely looking up from her knitting, “I’m sure we’ll hear from him soon and he’ll have some amusing story about how your truck’s gone up a tree again.”

“I wish he’d stop that,” Ryan said, rolling his eyes.  “I wasn’t funny the first time and it’s not getting more amusing now that he’s kept on with it a dozen more times.”  He might have continued his angry tirade, except that there was a knock at the door.

“Who could that be at this hour?” Nancy said, glancing over at the door.

Shrugging, Ryan headed across the room.  He tugged the door opened and frowned.  The two men on his doorstep were a mismatched pair if he’d ever seen one.  The short one was dressed in a fine suit with the dark green robes of a wizard over it.  His companion was tall and broad-shouldered.  He wore a cloak and… was that a kilt?

Shaking his head, he looked from one to the other.  “Can I help you?” he asked, scowling.

“I’m Officer Lachlan McClelland,” the tall one said.  Waving to his companion, he said, “This is Officer Ezra Metternich.  Are you Mr. Ryan O’Neill?”  As he saw their badges, he frowned.  What were two Supernatural Policemen doing on his doorstep so early in the morning?  This couldn’t be good.

“Oh, God,” Nancy said, her tone one of horror.  “What’s Ian done now?”

Officer McClelland looked from Ryan to her and then back.  “Ian O’Neill… is a bit of a troublemaker, then?” he asked, arching his brows.

Ryan rolled his eyes.  “My idiot brother likes to play practical jokes,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest.  “His favorite is stealing my truck and putting it in trees.  Then, he calls for a ride and says that he parked it and, ‘barely had he turned around, but the fool thing bolted up a tree, like a scared cub’.”

“That explains the truck being in the tree,” Officer Metternich said, scowling.  “Do you know how he’s done it, Mr. O’Neill?  I couldn’t detect any spell on the car that could have lifted it.”

“He makes the tree lay down and then drives the truck into the branches,” Ryan said, shaking his head.  The officer’s eyes widened and then Ryan shrugged.  “He thinks it a fine lark, but it’s not so easy to get down as it was to get up.”

“Can you think of… any enemies your brother might have?” Officer McClelland asked.  When Ryan shook his head slowly, he grimaced.  “I ask, Mr. O’Neill, because… we’ll, there’s no easy way to say this, so I apologize if this is harsh: your brother was found late last night in a wooded area.”

“Ian’s… dead?” Ryan breathed.  He covered his mouth with both hands as Nancy came to his side.  When the officers nodded, he shook his head.  “How?  How did it happen?  Did he fall?”  Had Ian fallen out of the car after driving it onto the tree?  Ryan had always told him the stupid stunt would be the death of him.  But then, he remembered that they’d asked about enemies.  No, it couldn’t have been an accident, then.  “You think… it was murder?” he breathed.

“He was killed with a dark spell, Mr. O’Neill,” Officer Metternich said, his voice soft.  His brows furrowed when Ryan shook his head.  “Are you… all right?” he said, his tone one of concern.  “Do you need a moment?”

“Where – where is he?” Ryan asked, as tears filled his eyes.  Ian was an idiot with his constant jokes, but Ryan had never honestly wished him harm.  He was Ryan’s brother, after all.  “D-did he suffer?”

“He didn’t suffer,” Officer Metternich said, shaking his head.  He heaved a sigh.  “His body is at the medical examiner’s office.  They’re checking it over to see if there are any clues.  It was difficult to say at the scene.”

“Basil,” Officer McClelland said, nodding.  He waved towards his face and shook his head.  “I was done in before I could get a good check of the scene for any trace of others.  Can’t say as it wasn’t on purpose that we found him hard by the dreadful plants either.”

“You’re one of those new werewolf policeman?” Nancy said, blinking.  When Officer McClelland nodded, she frowned.  “But… you still couldn’t find anything?  What good is that, then?”

Officer McClelland ducked his head, but Officer Metternich was the one who spoke.  “Officer McClelland has been a positive addition to the force, Mrs. O’Neill.  There are unusual circumstances in this case: the presence of basil at the scene.  His kind can’t tolerate the plant.  We’re employing other means in our search for clues.”

He handed a calling card to Ryan.  “If you think of anything that may be useful or just need to talk,” he said, “please call me.”

“Thank you,” Ryan said, nodding.  He heaved a sigh and shook his head.  “You’ll call me when… the body is released and – and when I can have my truck back?”

As the officers nodded, he sighed.  He set the card on the small table in the foyer where the phone was sitting.  Then, he nodded slowly.  “Thank you, Officer McClelland, Officer Metternich.  I’m sorry that I couldn’t be more… helpful.”

“It’s fine,” Officer McClelland said, his own voice soft.  “All our condolences to you and your family, Mr. O’Neill.  It’s a hard thing, but… please know, that we will do our utmost to uncover the perpetrator of this terrible crime against your brother.”

“Thank you,” Ryan said.  He watched as they turned and headed down the walk back to their vehicle.  Then, he shut the door and looked at his wife.  “A dark spell?” he breathed, shaking his head.  “But… who?  Why?”

“I don’t know, husband,” Nancy said.  Then, she hugged him close, while Ryan finally gave in to his grief and began to sob.

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