This is Episode 1-4 of a serial urban fantasy & paranormal story.

Prev • [ All parts ] • Next

Part 1-4: Breakfast

Now I couldn’t get the book or Willy out of my head. I tried to sleep it off, tried to get distracted by our business mission, but I kept seeing those blank pages, kept replaying Willy’s vacant expression, kept seeing those bus parts spread all around in a neat little fan. Three days after meeting Harold, I sat Deluxe down and confessed my irrational fears.

“So! You admit the anomaly requires our attention then,” she said, after hearing me out. We ate breakfast in her condo’s kitchen. She mowed down on crisp toast with cheese slices. Every bite sent crumbs flying everywhere. A fine sprinkling of them coated the lengths of her long, jet black hair, giving the impression of a terrific case of dandruff. A pair of budgies dined with us, nipping up the larger hunks of bread.

Gross, yes. But I had acclimated to a million different animal smells and activities over my time here—this was nothing. Better than paying rent.

“I admit that it’s freaking me out a bit,” I said.

“The world has funny little holes in it, you know.”

“I wish they’d go away.”

“Now that’d be no fun,” she said. “Don’t you want to see where they go?”

“Clearly not. What I want is to be assured that there are no psychos roaming around this town.”

Crunch. I brushed a fresh wave of crumbs away from me. The budgies scurried to eat them.

“Sorry,” Deluxe mumbled. She swallowed. “Assuring a psycho-free environment is a commendable goal. Psychos do tend to follow patterns though. If William is on a trajectory to harm you, I assume he will either make another appearance or stalk you for a while before making a move.”

“You’re making me feel so much better,” I said. I stole a piece of toast in an attempt to annoy her.

She tossed me a cheese slice and crunched again. “What I’m saying is, you can be on guard for William, but—”

“Willy,” I corrected, and applied my cheese.

She tipped her toast crust at me, and continued, “Willy is relatively manageable, but we have no data on how or what caused the explosion. One could happen right now!”

I slapped the table, hard. The budgies scattered, Deluxe screeched and reeled backwards, and I received a faceful of her soggy crumbs. Her chair clattered as I coughed and laughed and wiped her breakfast off my cheeks.

“Jumpy?” I said, giggling.

She stood in the middle of the kitchen, eyeballing me. It was a worried look.

“What?” I said.

“The last ‘prank’ you pulled on me was four months six days ago, and it was when you were drunk and ordered three pizzas instead of the agreed-upon one pizza.”

“There was a coupon…” I said, remembering.

“Point is,” she said, “your patterns are off. You’re genuinely out of sorts about all this, huh?”

I swallowed. “I mean, who… who sits in a cafe reading a blank book? And acts all weird and empty like he did?”

She returned to the table, closing one eye and rubbing her chin. The budgies flitted back too, now opting to perch on her arms and nibble at hair crumbs. She scratched one with her fingertip. “I think it’s time we start to make some solid contacts around town,” she said. “Get in with some of the gatekeepers, movers, shakers. This place is teeny enough—we’ll be able to find out if Willy is local or not, if others have had similar interactions, etcetera. We’ll want ins for the restaurant anyway. How many friends have you made so far?”

I have always been more of a lone wolf. Also, part of the reason I was so willing to move to this place was to escape toxic and unfulfilling relationships. I had not prioritized my social life since. I can do the business networking thing just fine and wondered if it worked the same way for friends. I pictured being at a party and imploring guests if they had any friendship opportunities or if they could refer me to someone who did. I shuddered.

“I met the owner of Glenscot’s the other day,” I said.


“You know him?”

“Of him,” she said.

“Right. That’s about it then.”

“Similar for me. Any ideas?”

“We could… check out the bar scene I suppose?” I said. It was Saturday, so it would be lively.

“Hm. That’s a start. Tonight?”

“Sure, I guess.”

“Capital. I’ll need some wardrobe advice from you.”

“Are we getting dressed up?” This plan was starting to become as stressful as the events that inspired it. I munched some more toast to give my senses something else to fixate on.

“I should probably, yes. You may do as you please of course.”

“Got a hot date or something?” I said through a mouthful.


I coughed as Deluxe sprouted a lopsided grin. I’d known her for over a year, had lived with her for a month and change now, and she’d never once mentioned her romantic life. It had actually been a bit refreshing, compared to other friends who would never shut up about it. But now I was more than curious. I made rapid pinwheeling motions with my hands, as my throat was dealing with the lump of half swallowed food.

She blushed and said, “When the fire department failed to reach out, I took a more proactive approach. Namely reconnaissance at the local hall. One of the service professionals was charged with dispatching me, but we traded information. He’s been rather textually inquisitive of late, beyond professional limits, one would say. He suggested drinks some days ago and I agreed to let him know when my schedule would allow. This is a fine opportunity.”

“You have a date with a firefighter.”

“Yes, and you’re coming with as a principal navigator, as I am not particularly skillful in these sorts of exchanges. Also, he may have connections into the sheriff’s department and/or the investigatory body assigned to the incident. We stand to learn much.”

Her phone blatted. She looked at it, said “Ah!” and made to leave.

“That him?” I asked.

“Hm? No, my bus. Have to take a tracker out of circulation. I’ll be back in an hour.”

She bounded out of the kitchen, fluttering budgies still clinging to her shirt, leaving me among a sea of crumbs and a sudden realization that I had nothing at all to wear.

Prev • [ All parts ] • Next

Continued in Part 1-5

This story was originally published on the Hive blockchain & ecosystem, as part of the Scholar & Scribe community. See info on the latest Polygon NFTs and story parts here.