Damn it all, I’ll have his head! It’s clear I underestimated Mr. Vane. The bloody singsong f...
I told you I thought I hadn’t seen the last of him. It turns out I was right. Well, technically, I haven’t seen him, but he’s been back, and he’s been busy. And he wasn’t at all who I thought he was.
I woke this morning as on any other day, shortly after sunrise. I showered, shaved, and dressed. I breakfasted—a pair of eggs and buttered toast with blackberry jam. I reviewed the day’s business over a cup of thick black coffee. I hadn’t an inkling that anything was amiss. No sense of foreboding. No air of silent menace.
I must be losing my touch.
I took the outside stairs around the building and down to the shop. There’s no way in from my flat. Work-life balance and all that. I took out my key, a proper, big brass old thing, and opened the door—it must be said, in the vague mental fog of long routine. What I lay on the other side of that threshold was near enough to send me into an apoplectic fit. I closed the door until I heard the latch click. Slowly opened it up again in the hopes that I had been imagining things. A trick of the light, perhaps.
No such luck. What I found on the other side of that door… was nothing.
I’d been robbed. Swindled. Burgled. Cleaned out.
Everything was gone. Not a speck of precious bloody dust left behind. The work of years, the accumulation of countless hours, untold number of artful deals and careful trades, taken, in a single night. And I didn’t hear a thing.
I might have guessed who’d done it. Though to be fair, I have a laundry list of rivals and estranged business partners who I would have thought more capable. I’d have figured it out eventually. Except—
The cocky bastard left a note.
You may have already guessed this, but it rhymed. It was pinned to my wall with a stiletto. Melodramatic prick.
This is what it said.
“And lo, the morn doth bring surprise,
A rude awakening.
Perhaps you’ll reconsider then
Just whether cash is king.
I’ve got the goods, that much is clear,
But if you suffer doubt
You’ve trifled with the Nightshade Gang
And now you’ll know our clout.
We’re nothing if not fair, mind you,
As soon you’ll surely see.
To get it back keep to the track,
We’ll give you chances three.
The first stab that we’ll let you have
Expires at Midnight.
Unless you want to start again
You’d better get it right.
They say this place is filled with spooks,
A rumor I’ll confirm.
A dark and dripping place to die,
To feed the Earthy worm.
Under nineteen sturdy arches
Who’ve seen their share of loss
You’ll find what you are looking for
Where heifer used to cross.
Good luck, Mr. Greyburne. Time is of the essence.
Signed, Alastor Vane”
You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all this. Especially considering how embarrassing it is for me. Why don’t you just phone the police? Well, aside from the fact that they’re incompetent twits, there are things that I would rather not have to explain to the plodding, vanilla authorities.
The problem is, while I am a man of many talents, unraveling fatuous riddles is not among them. As our friend Mr. Vane noted, time is of the essence, and, as you might guess, the contents of my shop are worth a great deal to me. You have all the resources of the internet at your fingertips. Figure it out in time, help me recover what is rightfully mine, and the reward will be… substantial.
Now hurry. The clock is ticking. Time is running out.
Update: Day Two