Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rue: Rats In The Cellar Part 2

Exhibit A

I have seldom been more bored in the whole of my natural life. It wasn't really Don Yoku's fault, but I already wasn't trusting him and had no real interest in his cultural treasures. Other things were going on that piqued my interest somewhat. The last thing I really cared about was the stuff that hadn't been stolen. Over an hour after I'd arrived and seen the dubious message spelled out with the clock by the main entrance, Don finally cut to the chase. He presented me a circular room directly underneath the domed skylight visible on the roof. The center of the skylight had been shattered and pieces of glass lay scattered about the room.

"This was one of our most popular exhibits. Each one of the thirteen stands positioned around the room held a ceramic foo dog. The glass center case held a pair of sapphires commonly referred to as the Salamander's Eyes. Legend had it that they were the eyes of a rebellious dragon that dared to grow an extra toe in defiance of The Emperor. The Emperor offered a great reward to any who would slay the dragon for its impudence. Many tried but it was eventually a merchant who outwitted the dragon."

"And how was that?"

Don Yoku smiled.

"He played to the dragon's greed by convincing it that The Emperor was willing to give up his greatest treasures in fealty to the dragon should it allow its extra toe to be cut off. The dragon believed the merchant and when it allowed the merchant close enough to remove the toe, the merchant carved open the dragon's throat. He became a rich man and a favorite of The Emperor... However..."


"He stole the dragon's eyes and was punished by the Gods for his own greed."

"Right. Anyway, what sort of security was in place in this room?"

"Multiple lasers string the room as well as some... proprietary equipment I'm not allowed to disclose. However, what I can assure you is that whatever means the thief used to enter, they were highly acrobatic and moved like a ghost. Nothing can avoid our security system. Nothing."

I drained my coffee and crushed my styrofoam cup.

"Something did Don. Or else I wouldn't be here. Something took what you own."

He stiffened at that. Oh well. He getting on my nerves. I popped a double dose of ProTabs and cracked my neck. He had something to do with this. Either the theft or the disposal of the thief. This was all about insurance and him padding his wallet.

He was still glaring at me.

"My apologies. Only stating the obvious. May I have some time in the room alone? Just so I can look without distraction."

Don nodded stiffly and bowed slightly. Good reaction that. His complete and sole ownership of the musuem and all of its exhibits was only a footnote in the file I'd been given. I hadn't missed it though. I stepped forward and pushed the broken glass around with the toes of my shoes. If they were bothering to send me out as the point man, there would be no forensic crew cleaning up after me. I was it today.

I rubbed my eyes and squinted at the floor again. A slight green glimmer shone among the regular glass. I crouched down and sifted through the glass. There was jade in the carpeting. All of them were small pieces, some had carpeting embedded inside of them.

Suddenly I was wide awake.

Which was good. Because there was a snarling behind me.

I spun just in time to see an enormous lion dog hybrid lunge for me, teeth bared. I planted my feet into its chest and flung it through the air. It smashed against the far wall with a sickening crack. I scrambled to my feet.

The smooth sheen of its skin was cracked in spiderweb shapes from its collision with the wall and had begun to flake off. Beneath the pottery skin was thick, leathery hide.

"Well, at least I know about Don's proprietary equipment now. How long have you been searching for the thief boy? Huh? You eat him yet? I bet you didn't. Just before I got here, you caught his scent again. But Don sent you back to clean up the evidence first, didn't he?"

The foo dog howled and charged at me. I didn't bother moving. I cocked back my fist and drove it into the dog's skull, right between its hateful red eyes.

The momentum of its body kept it moving forward from the neck down but its head stayed planted on my fist. The ceremic splintered and fell away as its skull splintered to pieces as well. The foo dog crashed to the floor, perfectly silent.

"Very impressive Mr. Chadwick. I am beginning to understand your nickname. You are indeed built like a gorilla."

"Thanks Don. A test?"

"Certainly. I can't have a complete hack wasting my time. I want my jewels back Rue. And I want the eyes of the one who stole them."

I turned and looked to the room's entrance. Don hung back just outside of the room's lighting, the musuem darkened behind him. There were two foo dogs on either side of him, snarling at me. His glasses gleamed slightly from the shadows but the rest of him remained hidden.

I sighed.

"So... I'm too good to just let leave, right?"


"But you'd rather not have a cop go missing."

"Correct again."

"So I suppose I'll have to help you find your missing thief, who, apparently is still hiding in your musuem."

I heard a faint clapping from the direction of the shadows. I sighed.

"Get to work Rue. Find him by morning and not only will I let you leave, but I'll even give you his accomplice's silver eyes as reward."

"You mean his lover's eyes."

Even the foo dogs shut up for that one.

"Didn't you notice the jade that seems to be dried into the floor? Our thief was having sex with his date after he got her a present. You have a pissed off lover in your building Don. And I doubt he's going to rest until he's had his way with your collection."

There was a moment of silence.

"Find him. Bring him to me. No one tampers with my collection. If you can't find him, your eyes will be forfeit."

"Fine. But I have one request."


"Put on another pot of coffee. It's going to be a long night."

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