Whispers of Morg City
Chapter 6: "Persons of Intrigue"
The Morg City police station felt more like a club than a place of sanctuary or justice. Many officers simply roamed around the halls, laughing and drinking with women invited into the station. The most-wanted wall was barren, with no current investigations appearing to be taking place despite the numerous deaths the reporter has heard word of.
He searched the halls for the man he was looking for, a man who could give him all the personal details he needed about Mr. Rapt's persons of interest. At the end of the hall, behind closed doors was the officer he was looking for.
He knocked on the door, awaiting an answer, but all he heard was a quick shuffling of papers, then a moment of silence before the officer inside spoke up.
The middle-aged officer sat in his chair, legs propped up on the mahogany desk, dart in hand. He tossed the dart to the right of the reporter at a dartboard with a taped picture of the one and only Salvatore DeLuca. The officer lit a cigarette as the reporter approached the desk.
“Isn't that a little, eh, cliché?”
“Maybe a little. But when you arrest the most wanted crime boss on the west coast, you get access to such cheap luxuries.”
“So it was you! So this is what heroes do after their greatest victory. Lounge around smoking for the next twenty years.”
The reporter performed a motion as if puffing smoke from a cigarette, smiling as he did. The officer was not as amused.
“So what do you want? Who are you?”
“Well, I'm a reporter you see, acting more as a private detective in this particular case. Anyway, I need whatever files you've got on these people I'm looking for.”
“Let's hear some names.”
“Well there's Floyd Campbell, some underdog boxer supposed to be fighting next week. Know anything about him?”
“Nah, boxing never quite caught my attention.”
“Then there's Nero Blackstone. From what I've gathered on all those defaced posters 'round town, he does magic tricks? Like pulling rabbits of his hat?”
“Nero's a joke. We got plenty of stuff on him.”
The officer threw another dart, striking Sal right in the forehead.
“I also need information on Jessica Rose. Performs down at the Burlesque.”
“We've got her too. Not sure why you want anything on her, girl's an angel.”
“And the last one I need is Jack Vincent.”
The officer took his legs off the desk, standing up and leaning in towards the reporter.
“Hey, hey, Jackie's one of our guys. He ain't done nothing.”
“Apologies, I never said he did. I just needed some information-”
“Well you aren't getting any, boy. Best head home before I have you thrown out.”
“Please, sir, at least get me those other three profiles.”
“Nah, I've had enough of this.”
“How about this...”
The reporter slowly reached for his pocket, as to not provoke the officer into thinking he had a weapon. Instead, he removed several crisp twenty dollar bills wrapped in a band, and slid them towards the officer on his desk.
The officer hesitated for a moment, before striding over to his filing cabinets and searching through them.
“You ever had a dog, son?”
“A dog? No, sir, I have not.”
“Well, do you teach a dog to roll over by showing him the bone before or after you give the command?”
“That's right: before. Think about that next time.”
The officer threw down the four manila folders for each person he needed to study, before sitting back down in his chair.
“Now get the fuck outta here before this dog wants another bone.”
The reporter scanned through the files of his targets, building a short summary of their character, as well as including their contact details in the telegram addressed to Mr. Rapt. He could see why Mr. Rapt had his eyes on them. They all had a similarly shady past, apart from Nero.
With a name like Nero Blackstone, Nero had the ego of a mad-man. In several of his magic acts, Nero would break down, drunk, and start destroying parts of the stage. He's had more than a couple of arrests for his drunken rage, but has usually been able to pay the bail with his family's riches. On several occasions he has had quarrels with his wife over monetary issues, often resulting in a temporary separation. There have been minor reports of strange voices chattering away or ghostly figures flying into the sky during many of his magic acts, but this being Morg City, the reports were ignored.
Floyd Campbell's past is spotty, with several gaps of unemployment, yet despite this, Floyd resides in a high-class apartment in the outskirts of Morg City. Floyd has been arrested only once for a bar fight involving a drunk who felt Floyd had cheated in a game of poker. The charges were eventually dropped by the drunk at the bar, who mysteriously broke several fingers days after police arrested Floyd. Floyd is now a boxer, though he has not fought in the ring in over a year. With such little experience, it is a mystery why he will be going up against Tony King, the reigning champion. The reporter pondered this for a moment more, also thinking of his friend Jimmy's comments about the fight, saying Floyd was a sure bet.
Jessica Rose's past is either a massive cover-up by the police, or a large collection of coincidences. An up-and-coming star, Rose has pursued several film producers and directors, searching for a role, and quite often these men wind up dead in some fashion. On the surface, she is seen as an innocent little starlet searching for work with producers, and unfortunately losing the role on account of their untimely death. But as the reporter dug deeper, the dates of several deaths aligned too perfectly with Jessica's involvement in their particular films. The reports of course label her as innocent, but there is something far more sinister at play.
Jack Vincent's profile is borderline useless, with most of the biographical text being blacked out. Possibly by the officer he met today, or Vincent himself. Shot three times in the line of duty and with a clean record, it seems Lieutenant Jackie Vincent is a real hero in Morg City. Except, a large majority of the blacked out section of his profile was before he became an enforcer of the law. The only tidbit left not blotted was a sentence reading, “Due to his close association with criminal Michael “Finn” O'Leary, he was able to assist police officers around the area in tracking down infamous crime boss Salvatore DeLuca and his gang.” Several lines after refer to his introduction to Morg City's police force, quickly rising through the ranks. An easy guess how he attained this position, it seems.
The reporter noted down each individual's phone numbers and home addresses, and sent the telegram out to Mr. Rapt.
As the night escalated and the reporter retreated to his room, he dialed the phone for Mr. Rapt. Once again, he left a message:
"Hey Mr. Rapt. So I tracked down all the people you asked me to look into. I sent you a telegram of all their details, all their contact numbers. But I gotta be honest... I'm getting nervous. These last six months you've had me working like a low rent private dick, when really I just wanna be a reporter. It's not that I'm ungrateful, I know the checks you've given me are more than generous for services rendered. It's just.. all the stuff you've had me do - tracking down ancient artifacts in the South Pacific, finding all these strange metals and rocks in Russia - and still, I haven't even met you face-to-face! I'm sorry Mr. Rapt, I think maybe the mood in the city has given me a little... it's making me nervous, antsy. Anyway, I'm looking forward to you finally getting here."
He hung up the phone, resting in his chair from the investigating. Outside, the rain was pouring down on the sullen city. He prepared himself for bed, but was caught by surprise at the return of the footsteps from outside his door. The floor creaked in a pattern, contrasting the harsh, chaotic noise of rain drops on the window outside. Finally, the creaking came to close as the figure's shadow could be seen under the door. The reporter did not move a muscle, frightened what the figure might do next. Then, out from under the door came a white piece of paper, and the shadow disappeared as the figure walked away.
The reporter inched towards the note, slowly reaching down to grasp it with his shaky hand. The note had no words, just a letter. 'M'.
The reporter dropped the note, gripping his head in intense pain. He tried to scream, but was unable to make a sound. His vision was clouded with images of grotesque dismemberment, the destruction of cities, the deaths of many. He fell to the ground, the visions spinning in his head. The pain finally subsided, and the reporter sprinted out the door, gripping the note and leaving behind his hat and umbrella. He must find the artifact.