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Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-eight - ... the Evil Wizard ...

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-EIGHT

Friday midday — 12:45 p.m.

“Damn,” Ferguson, the head of the Denver Police Crime Scene Unit. “It’s dark.”

They had just stepped into the hallway to the area of the Castle with unopened apartments. The two younger people with Ferguson stood just inside the door. They both looked terrified.

“Uh, sorry,” Jacob said. “The power is active here but I keep the breaker off because the electrical here hasn’t been redone.”

“Ah, sketchy electrical,” Ferguson said. “It’s okay. We have lights.”

“I can turn them on,” Jacob said.

“I was just surprised, I guess,” Ferguson said.

Jacob turned to look at him. Ava and her team stopped to look at them. The two young people who worked for Ferguson hadn’t moved from their position near the door.

“Not everyone has a museum in their house,” Ferguson said. “This wall paper is straight out of the 1950s.”

“You should have seen it when we started,” Jacob said. “We have a photo album if you’d like to see it.”

“That’s a hard no. I had the pleasure of coming here when I was just starting out.” Ferguson gave a dramatic shiver. “You’ve done a great job.”

“Just turn down the hallway,” Jacob said.

Delphie came in the door, surprising the younger people.

“Oh, excuse me,” Delphie said.

She walked passed them to Jacob.

“Where are we going?” Delphie asked.

“104,” Jacob said.

“Ah,” Delphie said.

“Ah? What’s that mean?” Ferguson asked.

“We had some ghost issues there,” Delphie said.

“Huh,” Ferguson said. “I’ve been in some haunted places. Are the ghosts still there?”

Delphie looked at Jacob, and he shrugged.

“The short answer is ‘No,’” Delphie said. “Jacob hates ghosts.”

“I don’t hate them!” Jacob said. “I just think that they’re a waste of time.”

“Look at how they could help today,” Delphie said in a prim reprimand.

“You don’t need them,” Jacob said.

“Jacob!” Ava called from down the hall. “I hate to interrupt, but unless you want us to break this down, we need the key!”

“Excuse me,” Jacob said with a sniff.

Grinning, Delphie let him pass.

“It’s an ongoing argument,” Delphie said. “Come on! Come on! This should be fun. From what I remember there were four specters. All about the same age — old teenagers or young adults.”

“Write this down,” Ferguson said to one of the young people.

The man held out his phone which showed that he was recording.

“Huh,” Ferguson said with a sniff.

The young man grinned at the young woman but she was too terrified to respond.

“Your phone won’t work in a minute,” Delphie said. “Ghosts disrupt cellphone.”

The young woman shivered and Delphie turned to her.

“Why don’t you head on, Captain Ferguson?” Delphie asked. “I wanted to speak with this young woman.”

Ferguson and the young man went down the hallway and turned down the separate hallway.

“You don’t have to be here,” Delphie said, kindly. “You can hang out with Val and Sami in the kitchen. I think my friend Joan is there.”

“I. . .” the young woman said.

“I know,” Delphie said. “Would you like me to tell Ferguson?”

The young woman nodded. Delphie walked her out to the kitchen. Joan was chopping tomatoes with Samantha. Valerie was putting together a new pot of tomatoes.

“I brought you some help,” Delphie said.

“Great!” Valerie said at the same time Joan said, “Welcome!”

“Val’s the head of the kitchen during Harvest Week,” Delphie said. “She’ll find you something to do.”

The young woman nodded. Delphie gave her a kind smile and left to return to the hallway. When she got back to the hallway, she found Ferguson waiting for her.

“Where’s my technician?” Ferguson asked in an accusing tone.

“She’s a little overwhelmed,” Delphie said. She looked up at the burly man. “You know that her mother was killed here.”

Ferguson groaned.

“You forgot?” Delphie asked.

“I forgot,” Ferguson said. “We talked about it before she came here. I asked her if she wanted to come because it was her mother’s case! Then, I forgot.”

“She’s okay,” Delphie said. “She’s a huge fan of Valerie’s. You know, Val.”

Ferguson nodded.

“She’ll take care of everything,” Delphie said.

“Should I go check. . .?” Ferguson asked.

“Yes,” Delphie said. “But get back here or you’ll miss the show.”

“Show?” Ferguson asked.

“Jake was never able to get rid of all those ghosts,” Delphie said, rubbing her hands together. “It’s going to be fun.”

Ferguson gave her a vague nod and left the hallway to check on his technician. Delphie waited for him to return before heading down the hallway.

“Hey,” Nelson called to Ferguson from the turn in the hallway. “Do you have the crime scene photos? It looks like no one’s done anything to this area after the incident. It’s not even cleaned up.”

“Yes,” Ferguson said. “It’s on the tablets. Didn’t the technician show you?”

Nelson rolled his eyes and shook his head.

“Ah, yes,” Ferguson said. He took a few long steps to where Nelson was standing. “Let’s show him how his tablet works.”

Grinning, Nelson let Ferguson pass. He looked at Delphie.

“You look happy,” Nelson said.

“I knew this day would come,” Delphie said. “It’s like a little present.”

“Even on Harvest Day?” Nelson asked.

“Even on Harvest Day,” Delphie said.

Nelson put his arm over Delphie’s shoulder, and they walked to the apartment. Delphie glanced at him and then went inside. Leslie and Fran were standing with their back against the wall. Ava was wandering from place to place in the apartment. Bob was standing in place, staring at the blood spatter on the ceiling. The young technician was standing in the middle of the room with his head down poking around his tablet.

Everyone stopped moving when Ferguson stood in the doorway.

“What the. . .” Ferguson looked around the room. “This is the crime scene.”

“Great blood spatter here,” Bob said. His nickname at the FBI was “Blood Spatter Bob.”

“Did you just close this up?” Ferguson asked Jacob.

“After arguing with ghosts,” Jacob said with disgust. “It’s why these apartments are just sitting here.”

There was a sound from the closet.

“And they’re back,” Jacob said. He swore.

“Now, now,” Ferguson said, looking around the room. “We’re here to figure out what went on here. That’s our job. If you want us to look at something, then make sure we know what it is you think we should see. Otherwise, we’re going to get about our business here.”

No one cared before,” the young woman said in an angry other worldly voice.

“Is there a ghost in front of me?” Ferguson asked.

“She said that no one cared before,” Jacob said.

“Ah,” Ferguson said. “Yes, well, we’re here now.”

Ferguson gave a curt nod in the direction of where he thought there was a ghost.

“Let us get to work,” Ferguson said to the air. “You can complain when we’re done. In the meantime, let us know if we miss something.”

Ferguson nodded to the air. He glanced at Fran, who was trying not to laugh.

“Don’t,” Ferguson said, pointing at Fran. “These people lost their lives.”

Fran nodded to him and looked away to keep from laughing.

“What can we do?” Leslie asked.

“I want you to take on all of the closets,” Ferguson said. “You’re a smart girl.”

“Woman,” Leslie corrected.

“Woman,” Ferguson said without missing a beat. “Check the closets to see what’s going on there. If something was missed, it’s usually in the closets.”

“The ghost came out of that closet,” Jacob said, pointing.

“Do I need to worry?” Leslie asked. “I have three kids at home.”

“No,” Jacob said staring at a spot in the air. “She says that you should go into the closet on the left and to check the walls.”

“Robert?” Ferguson asked.

“Yeah,” Bob said, not breaking his gaze at the blood spatter on the wall.

“Anything you’d like to share?” Ferguson asked.

“Uh,” Bob looked at Ferguson and then back at the ceiling.

“Walk him through,” Ava said. “You can trust him. We need to know where to collect samples.”

Bob nodded.

“Fran,” Ava said, and gestured to the young technician.

Fran nodded. She went to the technician and took the tablet from him.

Bob went to the doorway.

“Okay,” Bob said. “From here, it looks like there were four or possibly as many as six people here.”

“The ghost just said that there were more than that originally,” Jacob said. “They left when the ‘action’ started. She specifically said the word ‘action.’”

“They were having a party,” Delphie said.

“That makes sense,” Bob said nodding to Jacob and Delphie. “It’s great to have you here.”

“Any day now,” Ferguson said, irritably.

“Right,” Bob said. “Something happened at the door. It’s hard to tell what. Maybe some kind of skirmish or fight. You can see that the door was broken in.”

Bob looked at Jacob, who shook his head. He turned to Delphie.

“Doesn’t seem like anyone knows,” Delphie said. “Maybe it’s something that happened that no one thought was a big deal until the person started shooting.”

Ferguson threw down an incident cone in the doorway. Bob nodded and took a step into the room.

“I think that the door was broken previously,” Jacob said.

“Before this party,” Delphie said. “Do you think that’s how they got into this apartment?”

“Oh,” Jacob said with a nod. “Maybe.”

Turning to Ferguson, he said, “These apartments weren’t a part of the house then. This hallway was outside. The side across the hallway was another set of rooms. The doors opened to each other.”

“What’s happening there now?” Ferguson asked.

“I made them into rooms,” Jacob said. “One is an apartment that Tanesha’s family lives in. The rest went into the kitchen. The space where the table sits now and all of that space behind it belonged to those apartments.”

“You’re saying that these young people could have come to this apartment to party because it was open,” Ava said with a nod. “Because someone had previously kicked in the doorway.”

“That makes sense, too,” Fran said. “Part of the problem they had with this case was that no one was supposed to be here. The apartment wasn’t occupied at the time. The tenant had moved out a week before. The landlord had no idea who might have been here. They never identified three of the people. And none of them were connected to this place. So you’re right. They probably just came here to party because it was open.”

“It doesn’t mean that they didn’t live here,” Ferguson said. “They could have lived across the hallway.”

“Just a sec’,” Jacob said. “Okay, the female ghost — she’s standing next to Bob — she said that she lived across the hall. She said that she saw this apartment was open. When her friends called to invite her to party, she suggested this apartment. She didn’t want them in her apartment because her daughter was there. Her mother came to watch her daughter. She didn’t want to go far because the child had been sick.”

Jacob paused for a moment. He nodded.

“Her daughter is that girl in the kitchen,” Jacob said. “This ghost wants to be released from this apartment so that she can see her daughter.”

“But let her come back,” Delphie said. She touched Jacob’s arm. “Imagine how you’d feel if it were Katy.”

Jacob nodded.

“Close your eyes,” Jacob said.

“She’s been stuck here so long that there’s bound to be a burst of light when Jacob releases her,” Delphie said.

When everyone’s eyes were close, Jacob did something that sound like he’d clapped his hands.

“Okay,” Jacob said. “You can open your eyes. She’s gone.”

“Robert?” Ferguson said. “You’re on again.”

“Leslie?” Bob asked.

Leslie was in the closet next to the door.

“What do you see in the closet?” Bob asked.

“It’s odd,” Leslie said. “I was just wondering what the crime scene photos show.”

“There was a body in the closet,” Fran said.

“Looks like a self-inflicted shot,” Bob said, scanning the walls and floor.

“Right,” Leslie said. “But look over here.”

Leslie pointed to the corner of the closet. There was crayon writing on the wall as well as a dried puddle of blood.

“Were there any children in this ‘action’?” Leslie asked. She turned to Ava. “That’s the word we’re using? Action?”

“I guess so,” Ava said with a shrug.

“No, Leslie,” Fran said. “Four adult bodies including one self-inflicted gunshot in the closet.”

“They note the blood and crayon but it looked older when they got here,” Ferguson’s young male technician said. “I’m Luther, by the way. Luther Gundy.”

“Nice to meet you,” Ava said. “I’m Ava. I had your job for a while.”

The young man gave her an embarrassed nod.

“The blond lady is Leslie,” Ferguson said. “Fran’s standing next to you. The pain in the ass is Doctor Robert Parrish.”

“Bob,” he said from the closet.

“You met Jake and Delphie,” Ferguson said. “Now that we all know each other’s names. . . Robert?”

“I agree with the original report,” Bob said. “This blood is older. There’s not enough of it for the wound to be critical. It’s distinct from this larger pool of blood. I think we should take samples of both. Photos everywhere.”

“You got anything for me?” Ferguson asked.

Jacob shook his head.

“The ghosts that are here don’t know anything about the man killing himself,” Jacob said.

“I think that they were dead before he shot himself,” Delphie said.

“Do the ghosts know the shooter?” Ferguson asked.

Jacob looked at three distinct spots in the room.

“No,” Jacob said. “They came over to party with the other ghost. They’d been friends since elementary school. They got together once a month or so and partied — pot, alcohol, music, dancing, talking all night. Nothing crazy.”

“This one,” Delphie pointed to the air. “He says that he heard that there was a party here. He didn’t know anyone here. He came from Aurora. Wanted to score some weed.”

“You know, son,” Delphie said. “We don’t know your name. You were unidentified by the police.”

They silently watched Delphie listen to the air for a long moment.

“Huh,” Delphie said.

Delphie looked up and realized that everyone was looking at her. Delphie blushed.

“What did you learn?” Ferguson asked.

“Oh, yes, sorry,” Delphie said. “I forget that not everyone can hear. Um. He told me his name, which I will give you; and his address. The other two ghosts are friends of the woman who invited everyone. They said that the rest of their friends ran out. That’s their last memory — their friends deserting them in their deaths.”

“Terrible,” Ava said. “They clearly didn’t come forward to identify people either.”

Ava looked out into the air.

“Is there a place where we can get DNA on the folks who were here?” Ava said. She gestured to her teammate, Fran, “Fran is a master at getting DNA from almost nothing.”

“Are you asking the ghosts?” Jacob asked.

“Yes,” Ava said.

“Bathroom,” Jacob said. “They did coke in the bathroom. The drugs are still there. Roaches? What’s a ‘roach’? Do I need the exterminator?”

“The small end of a marijuana cigarette,” Delphie said. “Hippy talk.”

Jacob gave her a pinched look and rubbed his forehead.

“I’ll take the bathroom,” Nelson said and walked into the bathroom.

“Someone did a great job here,” Ferguson said, sarcastically. He sighed. “Okay, Leslie, can you place evidence cones where you think they need to go? We’ll see if Bob has something else for us.”

“If I may,” Luther, the young technician, said. “Why do you keep going back to him?”

“This is ‘Blood Splatter Bob,’” Ferguson said with a gesture to Bob. “He basically developed the entire science of blood spatter. It’s his thing. Even though I give him shit, he’s the best at this. He can read the blood spatter and tell what happened here. He’s usually right. You can hear that even the ghosts aren’t sure what happened. It’s like magic.”

Ferguson nodded to Luther and then scowled at Bob.

“Moving on,” Bob said. He pointed to the ground about a foot from the south wall. “There’s a bunch of spillage here. Someone picked up the glass.”

“That would be me,” Jacob said. “There was a lot of glass from beer bottles, broken china, rotten food. The rats had been through it. It was very gross. Val wanted to get in these apartments. She loves going through the crap in these apartments. But she would freak out at the food and the mess. I was trying to clean it up a bit for her to go through the stuff left here. But the ghosts were on me and. . . I closed it up and walked away.”

“Makes sense,” Ferguson said. “Did you landfill the stuff or. . .?”

“Good question,” Jacob said. “I probably. . .”

Jacob looked around. There was a broom and a trashcan with a lid near the door. He pointed to the trashcan.

“If it’s anywhere, it’s there,” Jacob said.

Ferguson gave a cone to Luther and the young man walked over to place the cone on the trashcan.

“Use a mask,” Jacob said. “There’s likely rat feces.”

Ferguson nodded and pointed to Bob again.

“You can still see some of the glass and a stain here,” Bob said, pointing at the ground again. “I’d guess that this is food — like a snack table was turned over.”

Ferguson tossed a cone where Bob pointed.

“Okay,” Bob said. He looked at Jacob. “I think I know what happened here, but you’ll tell me if I’m wrong?”  

“Sure,” Jacob said.

Denver Cereal continues next week...

 


Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-eight - ... the Evil Wizard ... (part five)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-EIGHT

(part five)

“It’s odd,” Leslie said. “I was just wondering what the crime scene photos show.”

“There was a body in the closet,” Fran said.

“Looks like a self-inflicted shot,” Bob said, scanning the walls and floor.

“Right,” Leslie said. “But look over here.”

Leslie pointed to the corner of the closet. There was crayon writing on the wall as well as a dried puddle of blood.

“Were there any children in this ‘action’?” Leslie asked. She turned to Ava. “That’s the word we’re using? Action?”

“I guess so,” Ava said with a shrug.

“No, Leslie,” Fran said. “Four adult bodies including one self-inflicted gunshot in the closet.”

“They note the blood and crayon but it looked older when they got here,” Ferguson’s young male technician said. “I’m Luther, by the way. Luther Gundy.”

“Nice to meet you,” Ava said. “I’m Ava. I had your job for a while.”

The young man gave her an embarrassed nod.

“The blond lady is Leslie,” Ferguson said. “Fran’s standing next to you. The pain in the ass is Doctor Robert Parrish.”

“Bob,” he said from the closet.

“You met Jake and Delphie,” Ferguson said. “Now that we all know each other’s names. . . Robert?”

“I agree with the original report,” Bob said. “This blood is older. There’s not enough of it for the wound to be critical. It’s distinct from this larger pool of blood. I think we should take samples of both. Photos everywhere.”

“You got anything for me?” Ferguson asked.

Jacob shook his head.

“The ghosts that are here don’t know anything about the man killing himself,” Jacob said.

“I think that they were dead before he shot himself,” Delphie said.

“Do the ghosts know the shooter?” Ferguson asked.

Jacob looked at three distinct spots in the room.

“No,” Jacob said. “They came over to party with the other ghost. They’d been friends since elementary school. They got together once a month or so and partied — pot, alcohol, music, dancing, talking all night. Nothing crazy.”

“This one,” Delphie pointed to the air. “He says that he heard that there was a party here. He didn’t know anyone here. He came from Aurora. Wanted to score some weed.”

“You know, son,” Delphie said. “We don’t know your name. You were unidentified by the police.”

They silently watched Delphie listen to the air for a long moment.

“Huh,” Delphie said.

Delphie looked up and realized that everyone was looking at her. Delphie blushed.

“What did you learn?” Ferguson asked.

“Oh, yes, sorry,” Delphie said. “I forget that not everyone can hear. Um. He told me his name, which I will give you; and his address. The other two ghosts are friends of the woman who invited everyone. They said that the rest of their friends ran out. That’s their last memory — their friends deserting them in their deaths.”

“Terrible,” Ava said. “They clearly didn’t come forward to identify people either.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-eight - ... the Evil Wizard ... (part four)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-EIGHT

(part four)

“Doesn’t seem like anyone knows,” Delphie said. “Maybe it’s something that happened that no one thought was a big deal until the person started shooting.”

Ferguson threw down an incident cone in the doorway. Bob nodded and took a step into the room.

“I think that the door was broken previously,” Jacob said.

“Before this party,” Delphie said. “Do you think that’s how they got into this apartment?”

“Oh,” Jacob said with a nod. “Maybe.”

Turning to Ferguson, he said, “These apartments weren’t a part of the house then. This hallway was outside. The side across the hallway was another set of rooms. The doors opened to each other.”

“What’s happening there now?” Ferguson asked.

“I made them into rooms,” Jacob said. “One is an apartment that Tanesha’s family lives in. The rest went into the kitchen. The space where the table sits now and all of that space behind it belonged to those apartments.”

“You’re saying that these young people could have come to this apartment to party because it was open,” Ava said with a nod. “Because someone had previously kicked in the doorway.”

“That makes sense, too,” Fran said. “Part of the problem they had with this case was that no one was supposed to be here. The apartment wasn’t occupied at the time. The tenant had moved out a week before. The landlord had no idea who might have been here. They never identified three of the people. And none of them were connected to this place. So you’re right. They probably just came here to party because it was open.”

“It doesn’t mean that they didn’t live here,” Ferguson said. “They could have lived across the hallway.”

“Just a sec’,” Jacob said. “Okay, the female ghost — she’s standing next to Bob — she said that she lived across the hall. She said that she saw this apartment was open. When her friends called to invite her to party, she suggested this apartment. She didn’t want them in her apartment because her daughter was there. Her mother came to watch her daughter. She didn’t want to go far because the child had been sick.”

Jacob paused for a moment. He nodded.

“Her daughter is that girl in the kitchen,” Jacob said. “This ghost wants to be released from this apartment so that she can see her daughter.”

“But let her come back,” Delphie said. She touched Jacob’s arm. “Imagine how you’d feel if it were Katy.”

Jacob nodded.

“Close your eyes,” Jacob said.

“She’s been stuck here so long that there’s bound to be a burst of light when Jacob releases her,” Delphie said.

When everyone’s eyes were close, Jacob did something that sound like he’d clapped his hands.

“Okay,” Jacob said. “You can open your eyes. She’s gone.”

“Robert?” Ferguson said. “You’re on again.”

“Leslie?” Bob asked.

Leslie was in the closet next to the door.

“What do you see in the closet?” Bob asked.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-eight - ... the Evil Wizard ... (part three)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-EIGHT

(part three)

“After arguing with ghosts,” Jacob said with disgust. “It’s why these apartments are just sitting here.”

There was a sound from the closet.

“And they’re back,” Jacob said. He swore.

“Now, now,” Ferguson said, looking around the room. “We’re here to figure out what went on here. That’s our job. If you want us to look at something, then make sure we know what it is you think we should see. Otherwise, we’re going to get about our business here.”

No one cared before,” the young woman said in an angry other worldly voice.

“Is there a ghost in front of me?” Ferguson asked.

“She said that no one cared before,” Jacob said.

“Ah,” Ferguson said. “Yes, well, we’re here now.”

Ferguson gave a curt nod in the direction of where he thought there was a ghost.

“Let us get to work,” Ferguson said to the air. “You can complain when we’re done. In the meantime, let us know if we miss something.”

Ferguson nodded to the air. He glanced at Fran, who was trying not to laugh.

“Don’t,” Ferguson said, pointing at Fran. “These people lost their lives.”

Fran nodded to him and looked away to keep from laughing.

“What can we do?” Leslie asked.

“I want you to take on all of the closets,” Ferguson said. “You’re a smart girl.”

“Woman,” Leslie corrected.

“Woman,” Ferguson said without missing a beat. “Check the closets to see what’s going on there. If something was missed, it’s usually in the closets.”

“The ghost came out of that closet,” Jacob said, pointing.

“Do I need to worry?” Leslie asked. “I have three kids at home.”

“No,” Jacob said staring at a spot in the air. “She says that you should go into the closet on the left and to check the walls.”

“Robert?” Ferguson asked.

“Yeah,” Bob said, not breaking his gaze at the blood spatter on the wall.

“Anything you’d like to share?” Ferguson asked.

“Uh,” Bob looked at Ferguson and then back at the ceiling.

“Walk him through,” Ava said. “You can trust him. We need to know where to collect samples.”

Bob nodded.

“Fran,” Ava said, and gestured to the young technician.

Fran nodded. She went to the technician and took the tablet from him.

Bob went to the doorway.

“Okay,” Bob said. “From here, it looks like there were four or possibly as many as six people here.”

“The ghost just said that there were more than that originally,” Jacob said. “They left when the ‘action’ started. She specifically said the word ‘action.’”

“They were having a party,” Delphie said.

“That makes sense,” Bob said nodding to Jacob and Delphie. “It’s great to have you here.”

“Any day now,” Ferguson said, irritably.

“Right,” Bob said. “Something happened at the door. It’s hard to tell what. Maybe some kind of skirmish or fight. You can see that the door was broken in.”

Bob looked at Jacob, who shook his head. He turned to Delphie.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-eight - ... the Evil Wizard ... (part two)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-EIGHT

(part two)

“I. . .” the young woman said.

“I know,” Delphie said. “Would you like me to tell Ferguson?”

The young woman nodded. Delphie walked her out to the kitchen. Joan was chopping tomatoes with Samantha. Valerie was putting together a new pot of tomatoes.

“I brought you some help,” Delphie said.

“Great!” Valerie said at the same time Joan said, “Welcome!”

“Val’s the head of the kitchen during Harvest Week,” Delphie said. “She’ll find you something to do.”

The young woman nodded. Delphie gave her a kind smile and left to return to the hallway. When she got back to the hallway, she found Ferguson waiting for her.

“Where’s my technician?” Ferguson asked in an accusing tone.

“She’s a little overwhelmed,” Delphie said. She looked up at the burly man. “You know that her mother was killed here.”

Ferguson groaned.

“You forgot?” Delphie asked.

“I forgot,” Ferguson said. “We talked about it before she came here. I asked her if she wanted to come because it was her mother’s case! Then, I forgot.”

“She’s okay,” Delphie said. “She’s a huge fan of Valerie’s. You know, Val.”

Ferguson nodded.

“She’ll take care of everything,” Delphie said.

“Should I go check. . .?” Ferguson asked.

“Yes,” Delphie said. “But get back here or you’ll miss the show.”

“Show?” Ferguson asked.

“Jake was never able to get rid of all those ghosts,” Delphie said, rubbing her hands together. “It’s going to be fun.”

Ferguson gave her a vague nod and left the hallway to check on his technician. Delphie waited for him to return before heading down the hallway.

“Hey,” Nelson called to Ferguson from the turn in the hallway. “Do you have the crime scene photos? It looks like no one’s done anything to this area after the incident. It’s not even cleaned up.”

“Yes,” Ferguson said. “It’s on the tablets. Didn’t the technician show you?”

Nelson rolled his eyes and shook his head.

“Ah, yes,” Ferguson said. He took a few long steps to where Nelson was standing. “Let’s show him how his tablet works.”

Grinning, Nelson let Ferguson pass. He looked at Delphie.

“You look happy,” Nelson said.

“I knew this day would come,” Delphie said. “It’s like a little present.”

“Even on Harvest Day?” Nelson asked.

“Even on Harvest Day,” Delphie said.

Nelson put his arm over Delphie’s shoulder, and they walked to the apartment. Delphie glanced at him and then went inside. Leslie and Fran were standing with their back against the wall. Ava was wandering from place to place in the apartment. Bob was standing in place, staring at the blood spatter on the ceiling. The young technician was standing in the middle of the room with his head down poking around his tablet.

Everyone stopped moving when Ferguson stood in the doorway.

“What the. . .” Ferguson looked around the room. “This is the crime scene.”

“Great blood spatter here,” Bob said. His nickname at the FBI was “Blood Spatter Bob.”

“Did you just close this up?” Ferguson asked Jacob.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-eight - ... the Evil Wizard ... (part one)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-EIGHT

(part one)

Friday midday — 12:45 p.m.

“Damn,” Ferguson, the head of the Denver Police Crime Scene Unit. “It’s dark.”

They had just stepped into the hallway to the area of the Castle with unopened apartments. The two younger people with Ferguson stood just inside the door. They both looked terrified.

“Uh, sorry,” Jacob said. “The power is active here but I keep the breaker off because the electrical here hasn’t been redone.”

“Ah, sketchy electrical,” Ferguson said. “It’s okay. We have lights.”

“I can turn them on,” Jacob said.

“I was just surprised, I guess,” Ferguson said.

Jacob turned to look at him. Ava and her team stopped to look at them. The two young people who worked for Ferguson hadn’t moved from their position near the door.

“Not everyone has a museum in their house,” Ferguson said. “This wall paper is straight out of the 1950s.”

“You should have seen it when we started,” Jacob said. “We have a photo album if you’d like to see it.”

“That’s a hard no. I had the pleasure of coming here when I was just starting out.” Ferguson gave a dramatic shiver. “You’ve done a great job.”

“Just turn down the hallway,” Jacob said.

Delphie came in the door, surprising the younger people.

“Oh, excuse me,” Delphie said.

She walked passed them to Jacob.

“Where are we going?” Delphie asked.

“104,” Jacob said.

“Ah,” Delphie said.

“Ah? What’s that mean?” Ferguson asked.

“We had some ghost issues there,” Delphie said.

“Huh,” Ferguson said. “I’ve been in some haunted places. Are the ghosts still there?”

Delphie looked at Jacob, and he shrugged.

“The short answer is ‘No,’” Delphie said. “Jacob hates ghosts.”

“I don’t hate them!” Jacob said. “I just think that they’re a waste of time.”

“Look at how they could help today,” Delphie said in a prim reprimand.

“You don’t need them,” Jacob said.

“Jacob!” Ava called from down the hall. “I hate to interrupt, but unless you want us to break this down, we need the key!”

“Excuse me,” Jacob said with a sniff.

Grinning, Delphie let him pass.

“It’s an ongoing argument,” Delphie said. “Come on! Come on! This should be fun. From what I remember there were four specters. All about the same age — old teenagers or young adults.”

“Write this down,” Ferguson said to one of the young people.

The man held out his phone which showed that he was recording.

“Huh,” Ferguson said with a sniff.

The young man grinned at the young woman but she was too terrified to respond.

“Your phone won’t work in a minute,” Delphie said. “Ghosts disrupt cellphone.”

The young woman shivered and Delphie turned to her.

“Why don’t you head on, Captain Ferguson?” Delphie asked. “I wanted to speak with this young woman.”

Ferguson and the young man went down the hallway and turned down the separate hallway.

“You don’t have to be here,” Delphie said, kindly. “You can hang out with Val and Sami in the kitchen. I think my friend Joan is there.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-seven - What the Evil Wizard wants...

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-SEVEN

Friday midday — 11:34 a.m.

“They’re out there again,” Xanda, one of the med techs, said to Tanesha.

Xanda was a quiet African American young woman. She rarely spoke to anyone until Fin and Tanesha showed up in the ER. Now, she only spoke to them.

“Who?” Tanesha asked.

“Those jerks,” Xanda gestured outside the windows. “They say that we’re lying — that the ICU isn’t full. They show up with their weapons and. . .”

Tanesha turned to look at the young woman.

“What?” Tanesha asked.

“Someone’s going to get killed,” Xanda said. “You know — you, me, your cousin — it’s usually us.”

“What is this?” Fin demanded in his princely voice.

Xanda shook her head and walked away.

“She says that there are people outside with weapons,” Tanesha said. “They believe that we’re lying that the ICUS if full. They demand to come inside and. . .”

There was a shout at the door.

“I will take care of this,” Fin said.

“Fin!” Tanesha said, but he was gone.

She watched as Fin walked outside the ICU. Two of the guards bowed to Fin and moved to stand around him. Tanesha started toward the door.

“This is a place of healing.” Fin’s voice boomed over the chants of these armed protestors. “You are not welcome here.”

“Get him on camera!” someone yelled.

The guard standing at Fin’s right raised her hand. All of the electric devices burst into flames, including the hospital’s surveillance camera.

“What the. . .?” the leader of the protest asked.

Fin and the guards transformed into their new Fairy military uniform, complete with gleaming broad swords.

“You will leave here and never come back,” Fin said, in a low threatening voice.

The protestors were so surprised that one of them jerked his machine gun and shot off a round. Fin easily deflected the series of bullets with his broad sword. The bullets flew through the crowd.

The protestors began screaming and complaining that they were being fired at. A few of them ran toward their cars.

“Leave now,” Fin said.

There was a snap and the people disappeared.

Fin nodded to the guards. The guards held their broad swords to their foreheads and bowed to Fin. As he walked back into the ICU, his armor and sword transformed into the personal protective gear they wore in the ICU.

“Subtle,” Tanesha said.

“Look around you,” Fin said. “No one saw a thing.”

“That’s not the point,” Tanesha said. “Those guards are here to guard you?”

“I am a prince,” Fin said. “They are here to defend me, should I need them. You cannot ask me not to be exactly what I am as you deny what you are.”

Irritated, Tanesha squinted at Fin. He gave her a bright smile.

“And the people? Well, I assume you sent them home?” Tanesha asked. “You did send them home, didn’t you?”

“I may have,” Fin said with a grin. “They won’t remember that they were ever here.”

“Smart,” Tanesha said.

Fin gave her a nod and went back to work. More than an hour later, a doctor came up to Tanesha.

“Did you see that protest this morning?” the doctor asked. “They showed up with their machine guns!”

Tanesha made a non-committal sound.

“They just disappeared,” the doctor said. “One moment they were there and the next they were gone.”

“Weird,” Tanesha said.

The doctor sighed.

“This job. . .” The doctor shook her head at Tanesha.

“You make it look easy,” Tanesha said with a smile.

“If I were you, I’d never become an ICU doctor,” the doctor said.

A siren screamed indicating another patient’s oxygen level was dropping fast. Their conversation forgotten, the doctor and Tanesha ran to help the patient.

~~~~~~~~~

Friday midday — 12:05 p.m.

“Ava?” Delphie asked as she answered the side door.

Delphie held her arms out. Ava showed her an elbow, and Delphie nodded. They touched elbows. Ava was wearing an African print mask while Delphie was wearing one with delicate flowers on the front.

“What are you doing here?” Delphie asked.

“I’m here to talk to Jake,” Ava said with an exaggerated roll of her eyes. “The Evil Wizard wants us to get the Crime Scene Unit in here to see if we can get forensics. You know, what the Evil Wizard wants, he gets. Were you here this morning?”

“When those detectives were here?” Delphie nodded. “They were very unpleasant.”

“So I heard,” Ava said. “‘Complete a-holes.’ That’s what the Evil Wizard said: ‘Just because the detectives were complete a-holes, doesn’t mean that we don’t need forensics.’ Anyway, he knows that we’re friends so he’s hoping to get forensics.”

“For those detectives?” Delphie asked, wincing.

“That’s the hard thing,” Ava said. “Since they claimed these cases, they cannot be reassigned without big drama. You’d have to file against the department which is a big pain in the rear.”

Delphie nodded.

“They thought that we could do the work, get answers for the families, and you don’t have to deal with assholes,” Ava said.

“No a-holes?” Delphie asked. Her eyes crinkled as if she were grinning.

“That’s why I’m not the head of the Denver Crime Labs,” Ava said with a laugh.

“Come in, come in,” Delphie said. “Is your team here?”

“They’re waiting in the SUV,” Ava said. “I wanted to get permission first and talk to Jake.”

“You know that I own this house, right?” Delphie asked.

“I’m sorry, Delphie,” Ava said. “I forgot. Would you mind if we took forensics from a few sites.”

“You’re most welcome, Ava,” Delphie said. “Nelson, Leslie, and Fran, too.”

“But not Bob?” Ava asked with a grin.

“I do love Bob,” Delphie said. “And Joan. Is she here too?”

“Of course,” Ava said. “But. . .”

“Yes, dear,” Delphie said.

“Isn’t this Harvest Weekend?” Ava asked.

“It is,” Delphie said. “The way I figure, if you get what you need, you can help!”

“Sounds like a plan,” Ava said. “Have you met Leslie’s husband?”

Delphie shook her head.

“We’ll volunteer him,” Ava said with a grin. “He loves gardening. He’s asked about your Harvest Weekend before.”

“Good,” Delphie said with a clap of her hands. “The more the merrier.”

“First, I need to talk to Jake,” Ava said. “Will you sign something saying that you’ll let us in?”

“Of course,” Delphie said. “Jake’s just in the kitchen. Samantha Hargreaves is here, too. They are starting to cook down tomatoes for tomato sauce.”

“Fabulous,” Ava said.

Delphie stepped back, and Ava walked into the Castle. Ava followed Delphie through the living room and into the kitchen.

“Ava!” Valerie said from the stove where she was stirring a large pot filled with pureed heirloom tomatoes. “I’d come give you a hug, but. . .”

Valerie gestured to the baby on her chest.

“Hi Gracey,” Ava waved to the baby. “Love the little mask.”

“Isn’t she cute?” Valerie asked with a smile. “Eddie and Jackie are at school. You should see how cute their masks are.”

“I bet,” Ava said. “Hey, Sami.”

“Ava,” Samantha said, in a guarded tone, from her spot at the kitchen table. Samantha was cutting up tomatoes from a large basket.

Ava raised her hand as if Samantha was pointing the knife at Ava. Samantha laughed.

“Did you get sent here?” Samantha asked.

“By my boss,” Ava said. “I know that there was some trouble this morning. My boss thinks that we can get the Crime Scene Unit in here and between us, we could get whatever forensics.”

“None of that Detective Stone?” Samantha asked while chopping a tomato.

“Stone?” Ava asked her voice laced with disgust. “That’s who was here?”

Samantha nodded.

“She’s horrible,” Ava said. “To everyone. I’ve never met an unhappier person. She makes everyone miserable. She gave Seth so much crap about dating me. You wouldn’t believe the stuff she said. Karaowski is the only person who can tolerate her and that’s just because he’s oblivious to everyone.”

“I love how you know everyone.” Samantha nodded.

“I was a cop before. . . you know. . .” Ava stumbled on words.

“Saint Jude?” Samantha asked.

Ava nodded.

Reading Ava’s discomfort, Samantha changed the topic.

“What do you need from us?” Samantha asked.

“I have a form for Delphie and Jake to sign agreeing to let us poke around,” Ava said.

“Can you set it so I can read it?” Samantha asked.

“Where’s Jake?” Ava asked.

“He’s harvesting tomatoes,” Delphie said. “With Alex and John.”

“Mike’s out there, too,” Valerie said.

“Mike’s harvesting from the fruit trees,” Delphie said. “John too, now that I think of it.”

Ava nodded and started toward the door. Samantha patted a dry spot on the table. Ava set a copy of the form on the table. Samantha waved Ava away, and Ava went outside to the backyard.

“Jake?” Ava asked from the deck.

“Here!” Jacob said from his spot in the tomato plants. “Ava! What do I owe the privilege? Is Seth with you?”

“Seth’s in New York,” Ava said. “That guy is still trying to evict his tenants so he can build a ‘better’ — whatever that means — Hell’s Kitchen. Seth and his dad are in court today.”

“Some people are such jerks,” Jacob said.

“This is bad business that goes back to when Seth bought his building when he was 10 years old,” Ava said.

Jacob shook his head.

“What do you need from me?” Jacob asked.

“My boss sent me and my team to see if we could facilitate the Crime Scene Unit to come in and get forensics,” Ava said. “I’ve worked with those guys for as long as I’ve been at Denver Crime Labs. They are really great guys. Not an asshole among them. Really.”

“What did Sami say?” Jacob asked. “Did she tell you that she kicked the detectives out?”

“My boss did,” Ava said with a shrug. “I would have thrown them out too.”

Jacob nodded.

“I left the form with her,” Ava said. “My boss wanted me to give you my assurances that the department is very sorry for the misunderstandings this morning.”

“I’m sure he is sorry,” Jacob grimaced.

“I’ll tell you,” Ava said, nodding, “I’ve had run-ins with Detective Stone, most recently over our project to process all of the Native people’s rape kits. In short, she thinks that it’s a waste of our time and slowing down forensic work. She filed a complaint with the police board. We had to go through an investigation and everything.”

“Didn’t you open a separate lab?” Jacob asked.

“We did,” Ava said. “We even got separate funding for it. She’s just an asshole.”

Jacob nodded.

“That doesn’t change the fact that there were cases here,” Ava said. “Which means that we might get forensics and bring some relief to the victims’ families.”

Tipping his head back, Jacob groaned.

“Too much?” Ava asked with a smile.

“No,” Jacob said. “You’re right. I just. . . I mean, how is it my fault that there were crimes in this building? Many of them happened before I was even born!”

“I know,” Ava said. “I understand.”

“But, you’re right, it doesn’t change the need to look into it,” Jacob said. “And before you say it, people should be caught and, if we can help bring peace to families of the dead, we’re happy to.”

“I was kind of hoping you and Delphie could help, you know, using your. . .” Ava waved her fingers in front of her forehead.

“My. . .” Jacob waved his fingers in front of his forehead, mimicking Ava, “. . . is all yours.”

“We’re okay, Jake,” Alex said, standing up from the tomato plant. “Finn and my sister, Helene, will be here in a few minutes. They can help me.”

“You’re sure?” Jacob asked.

“Jake, I can call and have a dozen burly guys and gals here,” Alex said with a grin. “They’re not here because I thought that so many people will get in the way. People are no problem.”

“Thanks, that’s very generous,” Jacob said.

“This is not generosity,” Alex said. “It’s delightful to spend a day harvesting and hanging out with friends.”

Jacob gave her a nod. Standing up, he wiped his hands on his jeans.

“I’m all yours,” Jacob looked at his hands. “I should clean up.”

“Sure,” Ava said. “Would you mind if I call the Crime Scene Unit? Bring my team into the building?”

“Of course,” Jacob said.

“I need you to sign the form,” Ava said.

“I’ll sign it if Samantha says that I can,” Jacob said.

“Deal,” Ava said.

They walked together into the kitchen. Samantha gestured to the paper.

“What do you think?” Jacob asked.

“I think that this is the easiest way,” Samantha said. “We should be grateful to Ava for helping us with this situation.”

“You mean, we’d have to deal with it at some point?” Jacob asked.

“At some point, someone will give them a warrant,” Samantha said. “I would guess that they tried for one?”

Ava nodded.

“Was it for the entire building? Every room?” Samantha asked.

Ava nodded.

“They will dump everything out of any drawer or closet, all of those boxes you haven’t gone through, everything in this house will end up on the floor. Then start making up crimes,” Samantha said. “We don’t want that.”

“I don’t,” Jacob said.

“Then sign here,” Samantha said. “This is limited to the spaces that are indicated in the original documents on the original crimes.”

Samantha looked at Ava.

“Did you designate these areas?” Samantha asked.

Ava nodded.

“Good to know,” Samantha said. “Delphie’s already signed. You need to sign, as well.”

Jacob signed the document.

“Now go shower,” Samantha said. “You smell.”

Jacob looked up. Valerie nodded in agreement. Ava shrugged.

“You’re going to smell by the time we’re done,” Ava said. “At least we always do.”

“I’ll go shower,” Jacob said.

“I’ll call CSU and get my team,” Ava said.

Jacob nodded and jogged up the stairs. Fifteen minutes later, he came back down wearing clean clothing. His hair was wet from the shower. Delphie was standing in the kitchen talking to Ava’s teammate Dr. Leslie McClintock. Nelson Weeks and Fran DeKay were sitting in the living room drinking tea. A tall burly red-haired man was standing next to them. He wore a black mask with the white block letters “CSU” on the front.

“Ferguson,” the man said when Jacob came into the room. “I understand that you had a run in with Detective Stone.”

Jacob nodded.

“Sorry about that,” Ferguson said. “My team is filled with only nice people. I make sure of it. We just want to catch some bastards and get out of your hair.”

“Good to know,” Jacob said.

“We’ve been informed that you and Delphie have the gift of sight,” Ferguson said.

“I know that you’re a good friend of Seth O’Malley’s and Ava used to work for you — if that’s what you mean,” Jacob said with a smile.

“Did you get that. . .” Ferguson made the same gesture that Ava had.

Jacob laughed.

“I know that from when we were in the middle of Saint Jude,” Jacob said. “Your team was here for a couple of weeks retrieving the bodies and collecting samples.”

“Oh fuck, that’s right,” Ferguson said. “I knew this place look familiar. Sorry. This whole thing has been a fiasco.”

“No problem,” Jacob said. “If Delphie’s ready, we can start.”

“Good, that’s real good,” Ferguson said. “I’ll get my men.”

“Any idea where we need to go?” Jacob asked. “What we’re talking about?”

“I pulled the last plan for the house,” Nelson said. “We printed it out and matched the map to where these crimes were committed.”

“Can I take a look?” Jacob asked. He held up the large map. “This is a little behind the times but it will do.”

He looked around.

“Everyone ready?” Jacob asked.

Delphie nodded. Ava’s team nodded. Ferguson and two other younger people nodded.

“The first one is. . .” Jacob said, looking at the map.

“I think it’s one in that section by the ballroom,” Nelson said. He pointed to the “secret” door off the Castle main living room. “Through that door? Blane took me through there. If I remember correctly, there are a few apartments still there? The closest incident to where we’re sitting happened there.”

“Good thinking,” Jacob said. “Do we know what happened there?”

“We have it on our tablets,” Ferguson said. “Let’s walk through the site first.”

“Okay,” Jacob said.

He went to the wall.

“You can get through this door,” Jacob said. “You have to push on it twice to open the latch. There’s a hallway behind. You can also get there from the stairway off the kitchen. The stairway off the kitchen is a little wider if you need to get equipment in. We also opened the door from the outside to the ballroom. They needed a wider space to get the video equipment and the aeration equipment inside.”

“Let’s just take a look first,” Ferguson said. “Ava, your team can leave their stuff here. We’ll walk through and figure out what we need. There’s no reason to second guess anything.”

“Okay,” Ava said.

She nodded to Leslie, Fran, and Nelson. Dr. Bob Parrish came in from the backyard.

“I hope you’re all wearing. . .” Bob held a handful of N95 masks. “Oh.”

“We wear masks in this house,” Jacob said. “Science. You know. It’s big with us.”

Ava and her team grinned while Ferguson laughed out loud.

“Very funny,” Bob said. “Dr. Joan is going to stay with Valerie and Samantha until we need her.”

Dr. Joan Quincy was recovering from colon cancer.

“I’m ready!” Delphie said.

Jacob opened the door off the living room. He let Nelson go first since he seemed to know where he was going. Ava’s team followed Nelson. Ferguson and the two younger technicians came in after them. Delphie and Bob went inside.

Sighing to himself, Jacob followed them into the dark hallway.

Denver Cereal continues next week...

 


Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-seven - What the Evil Wizard wants... (part six)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-SEVEN

(part six)

“Oh fuck, that’s right,” Ferguson said. “I knew this place look familiar. Sorry. This whole thing has been a fiasco.”

“No problem,” Jacob said. “If Delphie’s ready, we can start.”

“Good, that’s real good,” Ferguson said. “I’ll get my men.”

“Any idea where we need to go?” Jacob asked. “What we’re talking about?”

“I pulled the last plan for the house,” Nelson said. “We printed it out and matched the map to where these crimes were committed.”

“Can I take a look?” Jacob asked. He held up the large map. “This is a little behind the times but it will do.”

He looked around.

“Everyone ready?” Jacob asked.

Delphie nodded. Ava’s team nodded. Ferguson and two other younger people nodded.

“The first one is. . .” Jacob said, looking at the map.

“I think it’s one in that section by the ballroom,” Nelson said. He pointed to the “secret” door off the Castle main living room. “Through that door? Blane took me through there. If I remember correctly, there are a few apartments still there? The closest incident to where we’re sitting happened there.”

“Good thinking,” Jacob said. “Do we know what happened there?”

“We have it on our tablets,” Ferguson said. “Let’s walk through the site first.”

“Okay,” Jacob said.

He went to the wall.

“You can get through this door,” Jacob said. “You have to push on it twice to open the latch. There’s a hallway behind. You can also get there from the stairway off the kitchen. The stairway off the kitchen is a little wider if you need to get equipment in. We also opened the door from the outside to the ballroom. They needed a wider space to get the video equipment and the aeration equipment inside.”

“Let’s just take a look first,” Ferguson said. “Ava, your team can leave their stuff here. We’ll walk through and figure out what we need. There’s no reason to second guess anything.”

“Okay,” Ava said.

She nodded to Leslie, Fran, and Nelson. Dr. Bob Parrish came in from the backyard.

“I hope you’re all wearing. . .” Bob held a handful of N95 masks. “Oh.”

“We wear masks in this house,” Jacob said. “Science. You know. It’s big with us.”

Ava and her team grinned while Ferguson laughed out loud.

“Very funny,” Bob said. “Dr. Joan is going to stay with Valerie and Samantha until we need her.”

Dr. Joan Quincy was recovering from colon cancer.

“I’m ready!” Delphie said.

Jacob opened the door off the living room. He let Nelson go first since he seemed to know where he was going. Ava’s team followed Nelson. Ferguson and the two younger technicians came in after them. Delphie and Bob went inside.

Sighing to himself, Jacob followed them into the dark hallway.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday...


Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-seven - What the Evil Wizard wants... (part five)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-SEVEN

(part five)

“I need you to sign the form,” Ava said.

“I’ll sign it if Samantha says that I can,” Jacob said.

“Deal,” Ava said.

They walked together into the kitchen. Samantha gestured to the paper.

“What do you think?” Jacob asked.

“I think that this is the easiest way,” Samantha said. “We should be grateful to Ava for helping us with this situation.”

“You mean, we’d have to deal with it at some point?” Jacob asked.

“At some point, someone will give them a warrant,” Samantha said. “I would guess that they tried for one?”

Ava nodded.

“Was it for the entire building? Every room?” Samantha asked.

Ava nodded.

“They will dump everything out of any drawer or closet, all of those boxes you haven’t gone through, everything in this house will end up on the floor. Then start making up crimes,” Samantha said. “We don’t want that.”

“I don’t,” Jacob said.

“Then sign here,” Samantha said. “This is limited to the spaces that are indicated in the original documents on the original crimes.”

Samantha looked at Ava.

“Did you designate these areas?” Samantha asked.

Ava nodded.

“Good to know,” Samantha said. “Delphie’s already signed. You need to sign, as well.”

Jacob signed the document.

“Now go shower,” Samantha said. “You smell.”

Jacob looked up. Valerie nodded in agreement. Ava shrugged.

“You’re going to smell by the time we’re done,” Ava said. “At least we always do.”

“I’ll go shower,” Jacob said.

“I’ll call CSU and get my team,” Ava said.

Jacob nodded and jogged up the stairs. Fifteen minutes later, he came back down wearing clean clothing. His hair was wet from the shower. Delphie was standing in the kitchen talking to Ava’s teammate Dr. Leslie McClintock. Nelson Weeks and Fran DeKay were sitting in the living room drinking tea. A tall burly red-haired man was standing next to them. He wore a black mask with the white block letters “CSU” on the front.

“Ferguson,” the man said when Jacob came into the room. “I understand that you had a run in with Detective Stone.”

Jacob nodded.

“Sorry about that,” Ferguson said. “My team is filled with only nice people. I make sure of it. We just want to catch some bastards and get out of your hair.”

“Good to know,” Jacob said.

“We’ve been informed that you and Delphie have the gift of sight,” Ferguson said.

“I know that you’re a good friend of Seth O’Malley’s and Ava used to work for you — if that’s what you mean,” Jacob said with a smile.

“Did you get that. . .” Ferguson made the same gesture that Ava had.

Jacob laughed.

“I know that from when we were in the middle of Saint Jude,” Jacob said. “Your team was here for a couple of weeks retrieving the bodies and collecting samples.”

“Oh fuck, that’s right,” Ferguson said. “I knew this place look familiar. Sorry. This whole thing has been a fiasco.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Fifty-seven - What the Evil Wizard wants... (part four)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-SEVEN

(part four)

“My boss sent me and my team to see if we could facilitate the Crime Scene Unit to come in and get forensics,” Ava said. “I’ve worked with those guys for as long as I’ve been at Denver Crime Labs. They are really great guys. Not an asshole among them. Really.”

“What did Sami say?” Jacob asked. “Did she tell you that she kicked the detectives out?”

“My boss did,” Ava said with a shrug. “I would have thrown them out too.”

Jacob nodded.

“I left the form with her,” Ava said. “My boss wanted me to give you my assurances that the department is very sorry for the misunderstandings this morning.”

“I’m sure he is sorry,” Jacob grimaced.

“I’ll tell you,” Ava said, nodding, “I’ve had run-ins with Detective Stone, most recently over our project to process all of the Native people’s rape kits. In short, she thinks that it’s a waste of our time and slowing down forensic work. She filed a complaint with the police board. We had to go through an investigation and everything.”

“Didn’t you open a separate lab?” Jacob asked.

“We did,” Ava said. “We even got separate funding for it. She’s just an asshole.”

Jacob nodded.

“That doesn’t change the fact that there were cases here,” Ava said. “Which means that we might get forensics and bring some relief to the victims’ families.”

Tipping his head back, Jacob groaned.

“Too much?” Ava asked with a smile.

“No,” Jacob said. “You’re right. I just. . . I mean, how is it my fault that there were crimes in this building? Many of them happened before I was even born!”

“I know,” Ava said. “I understand.”

“But, you’re right, it doesn’t change the need to look into it,” Jacob said. “And before you say it, people should be caught and, if we can help bring peace to families of the dead, we’re happy to.”

“I was kind of hoping you and Delphie could help, you know, using your. . .” Ava waved her fingers in front of her forehead.

“My. . .” Jacob waved his fingers in front of his forehead, mimicking Ava, “. . . is all yours.”

“We’re okay, Jake,” Alex said, standing up from the tomato plant. “Finn and my sister, Helene, will be here in a few minutes. They can help me.”

“You’re sure?” Jacob asked.

“Jake, I can call and have a dozen burly guys and gals here,” Alex said with a grin. “They’re not here because I thought that so many people will get in the way. People are no problem.”

“Thanks, that’s very generous,” Jacob said.

“This is not generosity,” Alex said. “It’s delightful to spend a day harvesting and hanging out with friends.”

Jacob gave her a nod. Standing up, he wiped his hands on his jeans.

“I’m all yours,” Jacob looked at his hands. “I should clean up.”

“Sure,” Ava said. “Would you mind if I call the Crime Scene Unit? Bring my team into the building?”

“Of course,” Jacob said.

“I need you to sign the form,” Ava said.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...