Sun and Moon (part 2)

He was running fast – as fast as he’d ever remembered running. Sweat was pouring down into his eyes, making everything before him smear into a blur. Darting into one narrow alleyway and out of another, he thought a few times he’d given it the slip – the Beast – but then he’d hear its heavy footfalls behind him again. Where was he? The signs were all in Japanese – Tokyo, maybe. Asakusa district. But the streets were deserted, which was impossible. No time to think about that now. He didn’t look back – that would just slow him down, the hideous thing would catch up with him and that would be the end. Wait – did he even know what the Beast looked like? Had he ever looked back? Something about that last thought seemed wrong. “This has happened before,” he heard himself saying aloud, although he could swear he hadn’t moved his lips. That was the last thought he had before he felt a claw attach itself to his left ankle. He tried to shake free but the claw dug in and pulled savagely backward, drawing his snared foot with it. Needles of pain shot up his leg. He began screaming even before he started to fall…

Clay woke up covered in sweat.

So the dreams were coming back. He hadn’t had one of those since the first months after she… He stopped the thought before it had time to fully form, with a discipline born of long practice. He tried sitting up, and promptly realized he had a raging hangover. Slowly, deliberately, he swung his legs to the floor and managed to get his weight under him, to stand up. It took all his concentration to make it to the bathroom, to get his head under the shower, one hand pressed against the cool tile for support, the other hand turning on the cold water tap.

It felt good. Icy cold, damned good. Brain function began to return, clarity restored, a clarity he’d obviously been trying his darnedest to avoid the night before. He didn’t remember the exact sequence, but it seemed that at some point last night he’d given up trying to keep the memories out, had poured himself a drink, only the one, just to take the edge off. But of course it was never only the one, was it?

He dried off his hair, and with a purposeful air walked back into the bedroom. One of the two whiskey bottles was empty, but the other was only half finished – good thing he’d passed out when he had or he’d be feeling a lot worse right about now. He looked at the labels, impressed. Both bottles were Macallan thirty year old single malt – pure liquid gold. How the hell had he come into possession of such riches? Most likely the misplaced gratitude of a wealthy former client. Back in the day, when he’d still had wealthy clients. Before…

He could feel the thought stop cold in his head as he walked over to the sink, ran the tap, and carefully poured out the remaining whiskey. How odd to be pouring over four hundred dollars worth of liquor down the drain – more money than he had left in the bank, last time he’d checked. But now he had something better than money – something he hadn’t had in a long time – an interesting case.

It took him only twenty minutes to shower the rest of his body, shave badly, pull on his old suit and head out the door. Another twenty to get to his destination. When he arrived he looked dubiously at the dilapidated old store front. The rotten smell emanating from the grocery store next door was definitely not helping his lingering hangover. He couldn’t figure out which looked more out of place here, the ancient doorbell beneath the faded sign on the glass door, or the fluffy white cat sleeping in the window. He declared it a tie. Trying to look as dignified as possible, he rang the bell.

The front half of the doorbell promptly fell off the door. It hit the ground with a loud ringing thud that seemed to go right through his aching head. He stared down balefully, wondering if this had been a good idea after all. Just then the door opened and a young brown haired man opened the door.

“Welcome to SunMoon detective services. We solve your cases, night or day. How may I help you?” The young man smiled helpfully. “Please don’t mind the doorbell – it does that.”

Clay remembered the importance of first impressions. He thought of various ways of expressing regret over the doorbell incident, decided in the end to pretend it had never happened. Squaring his shoulders, he looked the young man in the eye and was about to speak, when suddenly he realized he was seeing double. Well, almost double. Two young women had just appeared. They looked almost identical, except that one had bright orange curls and the other possessed the blackest head of straight hair he’d ever seen. Both women had one eye hidden by her hair, so that between them they had only two eyes visible. For a moment he had the oddest sensation that he was looking into the eyes of a single person.

“Oh my,” he said to himself, “One person, two heads.” His own head started to ache with renewed vigour. Then he got a hold of himself, and started again.

“My name is Clayton Adam Terransky, private investigator, and I have an interesting case for you.”

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