A VIRGA MYSTERY
The Invisible Girl: Entry 1b
I heard nothing more about this first case for the rest of the first week of classes. Then, late that Friday night (or rather, very early Saturday morning) after I had already gone to bed, I was awakened by the sound of someone shouting in the next room. In other words, Melissa’s office.
Crawling out of bed and cracking open my door, I realized the shouter in question was Melissa herself, and that she was screaming at someone on the telephone.
“Look, I don’t care WHAT time it is!” she stated. “Do you or do you not have a banishing amulet in stock?? … Hello? HELLO…?!” She banged down the telephone into it’s cradle in disgust. “He’s not going to sell ANY merchandise that way! I wish it wasn’t against my ethics to turn him into a frog.”
Not quite sure what to do now, I cleared my throat uncertainly. Melissa turned and blinked at me, abruptly looking quite calm and collected. “Oh, you’re home?” she said with a half smile. There was no trace of anger left in her voice. She was also dressed normally, not for sleep at all.
“Yeah, well, it’s 2am,” I pointed out. “Where else would I be?”
“2am?” Melissa said in surprise. “It can’t be 2am…” She paused to check her wrist, the desk, and the wall, before finally admitting, “Though I guess that’s not out of the question. It would also explain some of that guy’s behaviour. I’m obviously not used to sharing this place yet… did I wake you?”
I gave her a ‘duh, no kidding’ look. When she didn’t respond to that, I eventually replied, “Yes, but I can probably get back to sleep again.”
“I can help, if you like,” Melissa offered. “I know a sleep spell. How do you feel about raw onions?”
“No, look, it’s fine,” I assured her quickly. “Just, uhm, if you could keep the noise down for a bit, that would be great.”
Melissa nodded. “Sure. Suppose there wouldn’t be much point calling anyone else at this time of day. It’s a shame my regular supplier was out of amulets… she’s a lot more understanding when I call her at home, you know. I’m less shouty.”
“Yeah, I’m sure she is…”
“Still, it raises the problem of where I’m going to get one,” Melissa continued, tapping her foot on the floor. “I don’t suppose you’d have any leads? With that memory of yours?”
“Well, no,” I said blankly. “I’m not even sure what you’re talking about, so I think I should just…”
“Oh, it’s a banishing amulet,” Melissa interrupted, oblivious to my lack of enthusiasm. “Good for one shot at handling a supernatural manifestation out of control, and then the item has to be recharged by some mystical procedure I haven’t personally figured out. I know, I know, I should have some in stock, but they’re frightfully expensive. Lucky for me Dan’s footing the bill.”
On the verge of simply backing into my room, I paused, my curiosity once again getting the better of me. “Dan?” I inquired. “The tall, well proportioned guy who was here earlier in the week?”
“The same,” Melissa confirmed. “It’s all going to come to an end tomorrow you know. That’s why I need the amulet now.”
I blinked a bit more sleep from my eyes. “Tomorrow?” I questioned. “How do you know something’s going to happen then?”
“Well, it’s obvious isn’t it,” Melissa stated. “Based on what Danielle said.”
“Danielle…? When were you speaking with her?”
“Earlier tonight. Oh, that’s right, you weren’t there… did you want to hear about how it went?” Melissa inquired, now smiling at me invitingly.
It was the sort of smile that could take a man’s breath away under the right circumstances. Of course, a cluttered office at two in the morning, with the knowledge that Melissa was about to embark on a farfetched tale of mystical happenings, hardly made for the right circumstances. But unlike most, I quelled my first instinct to flee, in the hopes that this would let me understand the habits of my new roommate a little better.
“Sure,” I replied hesitantly.
“Have a seat,” she responded, moving back to sit in her own chair behind the desk. “It’ll probably be good for me to review the facts actually. Make sure I didn’t miss anything and all that.”
She stared at me patiently until I had grabbed my dressing gown (hung behind my door), shrugged it on over my pyjamas, and completely exited my room, sitting in the chair opposite her desk. Then this is what she told me.
There had been a call left on our answering machine that Melissa had picked up after her Friday afternoon class. In it, Dan had said that Danielle was willing to manifest herself for a talk between six and six thirty that day, during which time most of the other people at the residence would be having dinner.
However, Dan had only called at five, and Melissa had only retrieved the message at five forty-five, meaning it would be difficult to arrive in time. Melissa even hypothesized to me that Dan or Danielle had been counting on that. But, as it was, Melissa made it to the rendez-vous just after the stroke of six, her broom fitting in well with the janitor disguise she had adopted to get inside.
At this point I interrupted Melissa with the natural question as to whether she meant to imply she’d ridden a broom over to Dan’s place. She said of course not, that she’d only ride a broom a night. I couldn’t tell if she was joking. However, during the day she can get away with “gliding” her broom, which basically means using it like a skateboard… she holds the handle, stands upright on the bristles and basically propels herself along the ground with very little effort.
I have yet to see this, but according to Melissa it’s good for the environment while being faster and more maneuverable than a bicycle. She adds most people refuse to believe they’re seeing her on a broom anyway, believing it to be a segway.
So Melissa got to Dan’s room, dropping her janitor disguise once inside. It was little more than illusion and apparently took some effort to maintain. “Now, where’s Danielle?” was her first question as she leaned back against the door.
At this point the temperature of the room seemed to drop a couple of degrees and a shadowy figure appeared, sitting on Dan’s bed. “There she is,” Dan said, gesturing at her.
Danielle’s outward appearance filled in fairly rapidly, revealing a diminutive blonde, not much taller than Melissa herself, wearing a long dress with a rose pattern on it. Her hair was, as previously described, shoulder-length, she was wearing glasses, and her face was, as Melissa put it “strangely expressionless”. Melissa also wagered that Danielle had become more or less solid at the same time as she arrived, for she noticed creases appear on the bedsheets, implying the presence of actual weight.
“You wanted to speak with me?” Danielle said simply.
“Yes,” Melissa replied. “I’d like to know exactly what you’re doing here.”
“You… wanted to speak with me,” Danielle repeated by way of explanation.
“Mmm hmmmm. Now, what about before our encounter?” Melissa clarified. “Why have you been manifesting yourself over the last little while?”
“Well…” Danielle glanced over at Dan before returning her quiet gaze to Melissa. “Because I won’t be suppressed any longer,” she declared abruptly. “I’m going to run and jump and play out in the real world just like any other normal girl would!”
“Mmm hmmmm,” Melissa repeated. “Not a lot of jumping and playing happening on this university campus, except maybe in the bars. I think you’re a bit out of touch.”
“Am I?” Her gaze fell to the floor. “I’m sorry. It hasn’t been easy, trying to make this transition after so much time…”
“You see what I mean about her being detached from reality?” Dan broke in. “It’s like she’s still ten years old inside. That can’t be healthy.”
Melissa glanced over at him. “Perhaps not, but it doesn’t mean that she’s going to ‘hurt someone’, as you indicated.”
“H-Hurt someone?” Danielle gasped, again looking to Dan. “Oh, no, of course I wouldn’t!”
“Danielle, tell Melissa what it was you told me last weekend,” Dan prompted patiently.
Danielle’s feet kicked out nervously from her bedside perch. “Look, I… I only said that sometime in the near future it might be nice to blow up the physics building and put in a nice flowerbed instead. I mean, it would give me what I want, and make this campus look a whole lot nicer… and Dan’s friend Ron agreed with me!”
“Ron is an idiot,” Dan countered. “Besides, he told me that he thought you were some crazy joke of mine. No sane person would ever suggest such a thing.”
Danielle sighed. “But I know how to rig the proper explosives and everything. It’s one of the few useful things I came across during my research. I’ve even been able to determine the other supplies I need. And it’s not like those science types are really people. They’re all so cold hearted, denying my existence.”
“Okay, hold on now. Back up. What research is this?” Melissa questioned.
“Into how I can make myself fully real,” Danielle explained, the trace of a smile appearing for the first time. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the campus library at night, after it was closed. Finally, I came across a section in one book talking about how a large enough explosion could do the trick. All it requires is that the force of the blast be directed perpendicular to your physical plane.”
“Mmm hmmmmm. And these non-people scientists, what’s the story with them?” Melissa continued.
Danielle shrugged. “Well, they’re such idiots is all. They don’t pay attention to me when I try to contact them… not even Dan could make them understand, when he tried. I mean, why can’t they be more open minded? I just want to live the life I was always meant to have.”
“Danielle, let’s not get carried away,” Dan interjected quickly. He turned back to Melissa. “You see now of the danger I was telling you about, Ms. Virga? I think you know what’s required here.”
“Mmmmmm,” was Melissa’s only reply as she moved to look out the small available window. Silence followed as, according to Melissa, she pondered what the campus would really look like without a physics building.
She apparently concluded that administration would simply convert their current plans for a new residence into plans for a replacement building, the physics department partially taking over engineering in the meantime. Hardly an ideal situation, as she put it.
“Ms. Virga?” Dan prompted. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to look at Danielle’s nails,” came Melissa’s reply at last.
Danielle blinked in surprise as Melissa turned back to her. The blonde extended a hand, and Melissa moved forward to grasp it – however, the brunette’s palm passed through Danielle’s as if the girl was a ghost. The blonde immediately pulled her hand back. “I’m sorry, I forgot to concentrate… here try again.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Melissa assured her, ignoring the hand as it was offered once more. “I saw what I needed to. Tell me now, why blue, Danielle?”
Danielle pursed her lips, looking to Dan before replying. “I… I don’t know. I guess I just like blue,” she said. “I think it was the colour of my blankets when I was young.”
Melissa raised an eyebrow. “Young?”
“I had a blue blanket I carried around with me,” Dan clarified immediately. “I would ‘lend’ it to Danielle when we were together.”
“Ahhhh. Is that how you remember it, Danielle?” Melissa asked, cocking her head to the side.
Danielle let out a little shrug. “I guess it must be. My memory… it’s very spotty in a lot of places. I can only remember most of the recent stuff I’ve done with any clarity.”
“So are you happy now?” Dan interjected. “I think you can see that I haven’t been lying to you. So shouldn’t you start taking this whole matter more seriously?”
“Oh, but I am,” Melissa countered. “In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that there’s already been explosives planted somewhere in the physics building. Hooked up to a timer, set to go off very shortly. That’s the case, isn’t it, Danielle?”
The blonde jumped visibly and looked towards Dan, but Melissa interposed her body in between them. “Don’t think about how Dan will react, tell me, is it true or isn’t it?” she reiterated. I imagine she used that soft but firm tone of hers, while at the same time fixing her eyes on the short blonde.
“It… it might be,” Danielle admitted. “But I don’t think that many people will be hurt, since the timer is set for Saturday at…”
“Don’t tell me when!” Melissa interrupted. “Don’t tell anyone the time, Danielle, that’s your little secret. Okay? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a few more questions to ask of Dan in private. Could you fade back into your astral plane, or wherever it is you go?”
Danielle blinked at Melissa uncertainly before nodding and beginning to disappear. The detective then turned to face an open mouthed Dan.
“Wh-Wh-What are you doing?!” he demanded, pointing. “If she’s really planted a bomb, we have to know where it is. And how to keep it from going off!”
“We’ll discuss that in a moment,” Melissa countered. “First, answer three questions.” She raised three fingers to emphasize the point. “Number one, what did Danielle mean when she said that you couldn’t make the scientists understand?”
Dan hesitated at that.
“The truth, please,” Melissa added. “Or I shant help you at all.”
“Oh, all right, I did speak with some of them back on the first day of classes,” Dan admitted reluctantly. “Before I came to see you.”
“Then you already knew about Danielle’s quest to join our real world.”
It wasn’t a question, it was a statement, but Dan nodded nonetheless. “She did tell me that was why she had come back,” he yielded. “But does the reason really matter though? She’s going to cause a lot of pain to a lot of people! Right?”
“Second question,” Melissa continued doggedly, “Would you be willing to fund the purchase of a banishing amulet? It can be used to remove manifestations from our physical plane, however, it’s a bit pricy.”
“Well, I’m not exactly rich… but if you think it’ll help…”
“A hundred dollars up front.”
“Euhhhh, geez. I can only manage sixty right now.”
Melissa sighed. “That will have to do then,” she stated. She waited expectantly as Dan fished out his wallet and handed over the money, which she pocketed. “Third question,” she concluded. “Could you name for me one of the first classmates who ever teased you at school?”
“I beg your pardon?” Dan said, exasperation returning to his tone.
“A little bet I have going with James,” Melissa shrugged. “He thinks it was a girl, I figure it was a guy. The money involved here can make up the difference in the purchase of the amulet, so what do you say?”
(I of course interjected here that we’d never made any bet, but Melissa told me to hold on, she was almost done with the story.)
“As a matter of fact, it was a guy,” Dan stated.
“Uhhhhh, Bob. Maybe Frank, I don’t really remember… look, how is that at all relevant to the situation at hand??” Dan said, throwing his arms up in the air.
“You never know,” Melissa responded. She moved to pick up her broom, then reached out for the doorknob.
“Whoa, hey, wait a moment!” her tall client protested. “You’re not leaving, are you? What about Danielle? What about her bomb?!”
“Oh, yes, that,” Melissa acknowledged. She shrugged. “Well, if you ask me, Danielle was right in one respect. We’ve got far too many buildings on campus. Call me again on Monday, I should have an amulet by then.”
She flashed him a smile, then quickly crafted her janitor illusion and left the room before Dan could vocalize any response.
I wasn’t sure what to make of it.
ASIDE: Originally written in 2003. Do you know what to make of it yet? Any predictions for whether things will end in a bang?