Stirling Haig, Chick Magnet.
Warning: This chapter contains adult language and humour. If dirty words offend, please read no further.
Again, this is a first draft, so expect errors. Feel free to comment below, and thanks for reading!
Stirling spent the rest of the evening speaking with the police and salvaging what he could from his workshop. A box of jars that hadn’t cracked or been melted in the fire sat in the corner of his living room. They didn’t smell like sandalwood anymore, now they just smelled like burnt plastic and unfocused rage.
Another one of his ducks had disappeared a couple hours ago, and what little doubt remained that the break-in was connected to the decoy disappearances was officially gone. Someone was officially fucking with him.
With no contracts for the next few days, no workshop to experiment in, and all of his research material gone, he found himself at loose ends. In a fit of sudden inspiration he sent out a group email to his decoy mailing list asking if anyone had lost, sold, or recently had their decoys stolen. That took exactly fourteen minutes.
He was considering a night in with a large White Russian, Netflix, and the very real possibility of getting lucky with himself, when her heard a knock at his door. That in of itself was surprising, the number of people who’d darkened his door in the last year could have been counted on Luke Skywalker’s fingers—the real ones.
He glanced at his phone, it was a bit after nine, technically it was still early enough for visitors but late enough that it was unlikely. He got himself ready to drop a few of the mental safeguards he habitually kept up, stormed to the door, and yanked it open.
“Mr. Haig?” asked the police officer at the door taking a step back in surprise. She wore an RCMP uniform under the standard blue bulletproof vest, sunglasses, and carried a notepad. I’m Constable Queen, you reported a break-in earlier today? Stirling eyed her sunglasses, then poked his head out of the door to look up at the sky which had been dark since four thirty, then back at her with a cocked eyebrow.
“I just had laser surgery on my eyes. I need to wear them for a couple more days,” she explained apologetically.
“Huh. That’s got to suck,” he said. “You want to come inside?”
She nodded and they walked into his living room. She was almost as tall as Stirling with pale skin and a long glossy black ponytail that fell to mid-back. It was the first time in over two years since a woman had been in his little apartment, and the thought was more than a bit depressing.
“Can I get you a drink? I’ve got coffee and uh… water,” he offered. She smelled really nice.
“Coffee would be great,” she said, examining the box of soot-blackened jars. She picked up the jar containing a dried owl pellet and shook it lightly. The vole bolus made a rattling sound.
Stirling noticed what she was doing. “I see you’ve found my vole. Total chick magnet,” he confided. “It’s only too bad the poles are reversed.”
She replaced the jar of desiccated rodent back in the box. “So, would you mind going over what happened to your shed?”
"Workshop," he corrected her.
Stirling turned to the stove and carefully measured out coffee grinds into the stainless basket of his Mocha Pot, twisted the apparatus together and put the coffee maker on a reddening element. He really needed to get his shit under control, he wasn’t a teen anymore for god sakes.
“I already filed a report,” he said, ignoring the ever-deluded part of his brain that was telling him that if he was really nice and helpful, she might sleep with him.
“This is a separate case,” she said smoothly. “Your break-in may be linked to a group we’ve been investigating.”
Stirling shrugged and retold the story.
“Can you think of any reason why you were targeted?”
“Not really, I made duck decoys. They’re expensive, but they’re not worth going to jail for.” He was getting tired of this.
“And the safe? What was in that?”
“You know, family heirlooms, war medals, a box of vintage 80s porn, a kilogram of homemade thermite, the usual stuff. How do you take your coffee?”
“Black, thanks,” she said dryly.
Stirling noticed a streak of flesh-coloured makeup had rubbed off on the woman’s grey collar. The strip of skin beneath was an ivory white.
The coffee maker had the mechanical version of an asthma attack on the stove-top, and Stirling poured her a cup. He poured himself a mug as well and they sat at the kitchen table.
“Why do I have the feeling you aren’t being completely open with me, Mr. Haig?”
“Because I’m not?” he guessed.
“Any information you can give me will only help up apprehend these people faster,” she said earnestly. “Are you worried about someone coming after you?”
“No, that’s really not it.” If anything, the opposite was true.
“Then why are you holding back?”
“I’m trying to figure out how you fit into all of this,” he replied, tasting his coffee.
“What do you mean?”
“You’ve almost got the cop act down, but you’re not quite there.”
“You’re no cop.”
“I assure you, Mr. Haig, I really am.” She pulled out a leather badge case and showed him a very authentic-looking badge.”
“That’s a nice badge,” he said pointing at it, “But I’m still thinking probably not. See, I’ve been expecting someone to make a run at me ever since the workshop got torched, and posing as a police officer was the first thing I thought of.”
“And the fact that police would naturally investigate an arson doesn’t give me any credibility?”
“It might if I hadn’t already filed my report with the real police this afternoon,” he said. “You, Constable Queen, are a biiig phony.”
“What can I say that will convince you?”
“Not much,” he admitted.
“Okay then, let’s try this. What reason do you have to doubt that I’m a real police officer?”
“Well, to start off with, female cops have a rough enough time proving themselves in a career that is basically one big sausage party,” he began. “Wearing your hair against regs is all an opening some douche needs to start talking shit about how lady cops get preferential treatment,” he said, nodding at her ponytail. “Not when you can fix it with five minutes and some bobby pins.”
“That’s it?” she asked flatly. “Your entire argument against me is based on my hairstyle? Egads, Sherlock, you’ve cracked the case!”
“Not done yet. Your radio has been turned off the whole time you’ve been here, you haven’t written down a single note in your notepad, but the main reason is that there’s no way in hell the RCMP would ever let someone recovering from freaking eye surgery out with a sidearm! I mean come on, this is Burnaby, not downtown Waco. Good job on finding a Smith and Wesson 5906, though, you really went that extra mile.”
“And that there’s someone in your home with a handgun who you suspect isn’t a real police officer doesn’t bother you at all?”
“Not really,” Stirling admitted. “Under all this boyish charm and good looks lurks the heart of someone with nary a fuck left to give.”
She looked at him curiously. “If I’m not a police officer, then what am I?”
“No idea,” he admitted freely, “And to tell you the truth, what you are is much less important to me than why you are here.”
“Why am I here, Mr. Haig?”
“Elementary, Watson, you’re here because of magic,” he said,” spreading his fingers in a Doug Henningesque motion. Take that, Benedict Cumberbatch.
She sat back in her seat and sipped her coffee. “Magic?”
“Magic.” he agreed.
She eyed him for another thirty seconds before saying, “Not bad,” though Stirling wasn’t absolutely positive if she was talking about the coffee or his uncanny skills of deduction.
“Just so we’re both clear, I’m here with the blessings of the RCMP, the VPD, and most of the other police departments in the Lower Mainland.”
“Abbotsford PD doesn’t accept there are people with non-standard abilities,” she said.
“Hah! I knew it. So you’re what? The magic police?”
“No, I’m just here to let you know that it’s in your best interest to stop.”
“Whatever it is that you’ve been doing that has been attracting so much attention.”
Stirling began to speak, but she held up a hand. “I don’t want to know about it, if I did, I might have to do something that neither of us would like.”
“That’s an enlightened attitude, even for a pretend cop to have, I approve,” said Stirling. “So, you aren’t the one who broke into my workshop? The one who has been messing around with my decoys?”
“I don’t know anything about what you just said, please keep it that way. What I do know,” she went on, “is that you’ve attracted the wrong kind of interest. It’s probably already too late, but there’s a small chance you can still slip under the radar if you stop it right now.”
“Magic is real,” said Stirling, speaking more to himself than her. “I need to find someone who can teach me.”
“Nobody can teach you,” she said flatly. “The only thing you’ll discover if you keep it up is the key to a doorway leading into a world of shit.”
“Do you think you could be just bit more cryptic? I’m low on my vague warnings quota for the month.”
“I know, and for what it’s worth I really am sorry, but the less you know, the better it’ll be for you.” He opened his mouth up to speak, but She held up a hand to stall him. “I’m not saying this to be a bitch, I’m saying it because I can see the big picture. I know what kind of danger you’re in. The ones who broke into your workshop aren’t the nice kind of people who will kill you quickly. Take a long vacation, go live on a mountain somewhere and forget you could ever do anything out of the ordinary.”
Stirling eyed her and leaned back in his chair. “Do you know I have to concentrate just to make it bearable for other people to stand my presence?” he asked casually. “I’m doing it right now. If I didn’t keep my shields up, you’d be out that door and gone in under five seconds.”
She didn’t look convinced. “Because of magic I’ve had all the social appeal of a five-foot-ten septic hemorrhoid from the age of fourteen. Until I discovered how I could dial it down, I could literally clear the urinals at a beer drinking competition. I once had an escort offer to pay me to go take care of myself so she could cut the night short.”
“That sounds awkward.”
“I can’t sleep without losing concentration,” said Stirling, “You know what it feels like to drift off next to someone you really like, just to have them wake up screaming and in tears five minutes later? My magical talent is to be unlikeable, alone, and cock-blocked. Just how am I supposed to forget that shit?”
The faux Constable Queen winced and took a final drink from her cup. “I don’t know, I’m just here to make you aware of the situation.”
“Come on, throw me a bone,” said Stirling. “There must be something you can tell me. I’ve been trying to find anyone clued into the magic scene for years. I just want to learn how I can be normal again.”
“I can’t, you can’t.”
“I won’t,” she agreed, sounding a bit regretful. “People are all the same, Mr. Haig, no matter what their abilities are,” she said rising to her feet. “When they get scared they either run away or they smash what they are scared of.” She looked directly at him, and even with her sunglasses on he could feel her eyes lock onto his. “If there are people out in the world who know about magic, there’s probably a good reason we haven’t ever introduced ourselves.”
She walked herself to his front door.
“Thanks for the coffee, Mr. Haig, and please think about what I’ve said. I’m sorry I can’t do more for you.” With that, she left.
“Well fuck me,” said Stirling. Now he had a headache. Date night was officially off.