Day of the Dove

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Chapter two

They followed the image down the hall to an office. The earlier Dove opened the door and leaned in long enough to talk with someone inside the office. Then he left, heading for the stairs.

“Where am I going?” Danny rushed to keep the image in sight.

“It looks like the roof.” Breach grimaced. He smelt burning flesh and knew he would have to stop the summoning soon, or chance losing his hand.

At least he couldn’t feel the magic eating him alive.

He reached the roof and paused to watch Dove look around. The broker had a hand to his mouth as he seemed to remember why he had come to the roof in the first place.

“I was supposed to meet Sharon McGraw up here.” Dove paused. “Only she wasn’t here. Someone else was.”

Breach waved his hand around. All he saw was a foot disappearing over the edge of the roof. He willed the image to back up so he could examine it.

Evidently Dove knew how to fly for a few seconds at a time and had thrown himself off the roof.

The other explanation was someone had been here but had been invisible, or cloaked, to prevent being memorized.

Breach shook the fire off his hand as he surveyed the scene with his naked eye.

“You said you were supposed to meet a woman up here?” He knelt to inspect the gravel, puffing on his cigarette.

“I remember that Sharon had called me.” Dove went to the edge of the roof. “When I got up here, she wasn’t here. Then I was falling. No wonder the police thought I had jumped. I didn’t see who pushed me from the looks of things.”

“You were thrown.” Breach breathed some smoke on the gravel. “Whoever did it probably impersonated your friend.”

“What’s the point?” Dove spread his hands. “Everyone at the firm is making more money than I am on their accounts. Stealing mine couldn’t be that much of a gain.”

“A gain is a gain.” Breach puffed on his cigarette, storing up smoke. Then he produced a small cloud that covered part of the roof. He smiled as one set of footprints went lockstep with Dove’s. The others had to belong to police and technicians.

“Where do these go?” He stabbed the lit end of his cigarette into the visible footprint.

A trail led to the roof access and back down into the building.

“What’s that?” Dove frowned at the glowing footprints.

“I think these belong to your killer.” Breach started to the roof access. “Let’s see where they go.”

Breach led the way this time, puffing on a cigarette until he had to replace it with a fresh one. They descended past the offices where Dove worked and arrived in the lobby. They waved at the guard as they went to an access hall leading to the back of the building. The prints reached a back door and headed outside again.

“Where is he going?” Dove paused as the prints led from the door to the street. “I thought he was working in the building with me and Sharon.”

“Let’s follow him and see if he will give us some answers when we catch up with him.” Breach walked down to the street and looked for the prints on the sidewalk. He frowned with the thought that he was at the end of the trail.

How could the killer leave without anyone noticing what he did?

“What happened?” Dove looked around for the prints on his side of the sidewalk. “Where did they go?”

“He got into a car, or a cab.” Breach puffed on his cigarette. He breathed out a small cloud. A cab became visible at the curb until the smoke dissipated.

“So he kills me, and then rides off into the sunset.” Dove glared at the fading image of a vehicle. “That reeks.”

“Let’s walk down and see if we can see one of the cabs working the area so we can ask them to check the logs for us.” Breach picked a direction and started walking.

“We’re looking for a cab?” Dove followed. He wore an outraged expression as he glared at the people who couldn’t see him. “There must be dozens in action through the city.”

“We just need one particular type of cab.” Breach kept walking, hands in his pockets.

“Then what?” Dove walked after the smoking man.

“Then we ask where the cab we wanted went so we can find its final destination.” Breach threw his cigarette stub to the sidewalk and stumped it out. “Then I’ll have to go in and ask the guy how much he got out of it.”

“So you think this is about money?” Dove looked around. “I suppose if he had a way to take control of the funds I was administering. Otherwise, there is just as good a chance that the money will go to someone the board likes.”

“Maybe this is about a woman.” Breach crossed the street and headed down the next block.

“I’m gay.” Dove jogged to catch up. “I doubt it was about a woman.”

“Depends if your killer knew you were gay.” Breach wondered at the naivety of his companion. “He might have thought you were dating his girl, or guy, and decided to get rid of you.”

“How did he know to use Sharon as bait for his trap?” Dove frowned at the thought that someone was inside his office and killed him.

“Cause he knows you.” Breach paused to get a bearing. He smiled when he saw a car sitting at the curb. “It looks like our ride is here.”

A cab with a brown and gold checkered scheme and TAXI written on the hood and doors sat there waiting for the fare to get out. Breach and Dove rushed it so they could get in the backseat.

“Where do you need to go, gentlemen?” The driver didn’t comment on Dove’s faded appearance as he pulled away from the curb.

“Just go in this direction.” Breach puffed on a cigarette. He blew a cloud of smoke into the radio. “We’re looking for a particular address. I’ll let you know when we’re close.”

“All right.” The driver smiled. “It’s your money.”

Breach leaned back in his seat. He let the cigarette go out. He didn’t feel he needed it while they were driving.

The cab slipped through the streets as the driver paused to look at the changing neighborhood. He must have been on autopilot. He didn’t see any way to get across town between blinks of an eye.

“Pull up to the next gate.” Breach leaned forward. “That’s where we have to get out.”

“No problem.” The cab rolled to a stop in front of a black metal gate set in a white brick wall. The driver looked at the forbidding house beyond through the windows of his car. “Is this where you want to be?”

“Looks like.” Breach opened his door. “Here you go.”

He handed over enough money to pay the bill on the meter, with a little bit left over to give the driver a tip.

Danny got out of his side of the car. He looked at the dark house. He frowned at the thought he had been there before, but couldn’t remember when that had happened.

The cab drove off and left them standing on the side of the road. Breach pulled out a pack of cigarettes and grabbed one out. He stuck it in his mouth as he watched the house. He put the pack back in his jacket. He lit the cigarette.

“Is there where the killer went?” Dove grabbed the gate. He pulled on it, but it refused to move.

“Maybe.” Breach blew smoke on the driveway. Footprints lit under the influence of the cloud. “Let’s make sure.”

He pushed on the gate and it opened for them. He started up the driveway to talk to the owner of the footprints. Maybe the man had a reason for throwing someone off a roof. Maybe the reason made sense too.

Breach didn’t plan to let the reason sway how he felt about things. If Dove hadn’t done anything, there was no need to ambush him and get rid of him. Throwing a man off a building had to be answered whether by good reasons, or the application of force.

Murderers tended to respect force more than anything else.

They followed the glowing footprints up the driveway until they veered and headed around to the back.

“Where did he go?” Dove pointed at the glowing trail.

“Maybe he has a secret lab back there.” Breach headed down after the footprints.

“Then why kill me?” Dove followed, eyes looking for any danger that might present itself.

“Once we know that, we’ll know everything.” Breach paused when he saw the prints went into the dark house’s back door. “This is where we walk into someone else’s house and ask him why he did it. Make sure to keep an eye on him.”

“You got it.” Dove pulled up the sleeves of his jacket and shirt.

Breach grabbed the doorknob. He twisted and door opened for him. He smiled as he stepped inside. Where was their target?

“Is anybody here?” Breach made sure that his voice could be heard every place in the building.

Wards snapped on to deny him access. He looked around at the lines in the air. He grabbed one and spun it so he could get through the next line of defense. He should have expected something like this.

The man had made himself invisible for a time. Of course he would have some kind of defense on his home base.

“I can’t move.” Dove floated in the air, lines piercing his body. “What’s going on?”

“There is a defense setup to keep people like us out.” Breach didn’t want to break the line to get his companion free. He grabbed the lines and Dove in both hands. He pulled the boundary until the ghost dropped to the floor.

“That was unpleasant.” Danny brushed his jacket off.

“Stay close and step where I step.” Breach turned back to the rest of the display. “That should keep you free of the net.”

They proceeded across the room to a set of stairs leading up to the second story of the house. Breach had to manipulate the net several times to cross the ten feet of space.

He wondered about the extensive defense. It had been just luck that Dove was already dead. The line he had stepped into would have killed him if he had been alive.

He had expected to see the wizard by now. Maybe the man thought his defenses were impenetrable.

If so, he had forgotten the first rule of security. Anything could be pierced once.

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