Aaron Steinmetz

...be very still...the bird's angry...and I think he can see us.

Cocoa Tales: Episode 25

With a resounding clang, darkness broke the room when the door opened and a figure was thrown inside. Floyd landed with a thud as the door slammed shut behind him, darkness overtaking his world. "All right," he said with a cough, "I punched the Storyteller. My mistake. Won’t happen again, I swear."

He winced in pain as the light suddenly blinded him. His eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the light when he heard the sound of Monty Gerald’s voice with quiet menace saying, "Welcome to my playroom, Detective Floyd."

On his knees in a room with a drain in the floor, Floyd turned a slow circle. Every wall was covered in bright red blood, still glistening in the light. Monty waited patiently as his prey took in the sights around him. He even smiled a bit as sweat began to build on Floyd’s brow.

"Wow," Floyd muttered, "the Storyteller has taken it up a notch."

A large bald man Floyd mentally nicknamed Pludd picked up Floyd, lifting him clean off the ground and held him in midair.

"Where’s Domino?" Monty asked.

"Where’s what?"

"Domino," Monty stated. "Where is he? You know where he is. Make this easy on yourself and tell me where he is."

"So Domino is a person," Floyd stated.

Monty turned his back to Floyd and Pludd dropped him on the floor, the fall alone taking the wind out of him.

"I don’t know what you’re talking about," Floyd gasped. "We’re all being controlled by an idiotic, inept Storyteller, don’t you get it, Gerald!? You can’t even say bleep or bleep or bleeping bleep! He’s the one in control!"

"Some of us," Monty said, "don’t really mind so much right now."

Pludd picked Floyd up again and shoved him against the wall. It stuck to his face, a liquid slime that turned Floyd’s stomach. He sucked in air, expecting the scent of copper.

It didn’t meet his nostrils, however.

"Some of us," Monty continued, "have the Storyteller in our pockets."

Floyd opened his eyes, and he curiously sniffed again. "That smell," he said, "what is that?"

"The scent of blood, Detective," Monty said, although a slight tremble in his voice betrayed him.

"No, no, I know what blood smells like," Floyd said. "And I know what it looks like. It’s darker than this, especially when it’s been out of the body for a few minutes. This...it smells like...acetone?"

Pludd dropped Floyd to the floor and turned to Monty. "Sorry Boss," he said quietly, "I shoved him against the wrong wall."

Floyd tapped at the red on his face and then rolled it between his fingers. "It’s paint," he said with a smirk. "You painted the room red?"

Monty was rubbing his temples and exhaling slowly through his nose.

"I thought that was the dry wall," Pludd said slowly. "Must’ve been the last one we painted, you know?"

Shouting at Pludd, Monty hollered, "Why can’t you keep remember which wall you painted first!?"

Cowering away from Monty Gerald, Pludd’s face curled as tears began streaming down his face. "I’m sorry, Boss, please don’t yell at me!" And before Monty could respond he began scream-crying and ran from the room.

Slowly rising to his feet, Floyd said, "Well, guess I’ll be leaving now."

"I still have a lot of power in this jail, Detective Floyd."

"Oh I’m sure of it. Any mastermind who can paint a room can certainly bring me down."

"I can still paint this room with your blood, Floyd."

"I believe you. Be sure to use two coats, Gerald, the first one fades."

"Guards!" Monty shouted. The door reopened and the guards grabbed Floyd by the arm.

"Oh you’d better put me away, Gerald. I know too much. Wouldn’t want to let it out that you painted a room!"

As the guards pulled Floyd from the room, a smaller man with a clipboard walked sideways through them and hurried over to Monty. He whispered something in Monty Gerald’s ear.

Exhaling through clenched teeth, Monty said, "Well, tell him to go away. I don’t want to talk to him."

Hesitant to approach him again, the man whispered something else in Monty’s ear.

"All right, all right!" Monty said, shaking his head. "I’ll go see him." Storming out of the room Monty muttered, "This bleeping day can’t get any worse..."

The glass divided the room in half. Several cubicles with chairs on each side lined the glass. The room had been cleared for Monty Gerald, but for two guards in Monty’s half and one man seated on the other side of the glass. Monty stormed in, passed the guards without looking at them and didn’t sit down. He grabbed the phone on his side and said, "What the bleep do you want?"

From the other side of the glass, Harold Gerald replied, "Nice to see you too, Father."

"Don’t get smart with me, boy, I’m having a very long day."

"Aren’t we all," Harold replied leaning forward on his hands. "Listen, Pops, I gotta be honest. The last thing in world I wanted to do was come here. Even less than I ever wanted to visit your little stronghold at Mt. Lassen."

Through narrow eyes, Monty corrected: "Mt. Gerald."

"Not what I see when I look at the maps." He took a deep breath, careful to keep his eyes trained on his father’s face. "Anyway, it occurred to me, as I suspect it has to you, that the Storyteller who controls our fate doesn’t really know what he’s doing."

"I know what he’s doing," Monty said with a sly smile. "My bidding."

"Maybe," Harold replied. "Maybe not. But one thing is certain: he’s not following his muse’s plan. Did you know he had a muse?"

Monty said nothing.

"He doesn’t anymore. They’ve been on and off for a while now. The Storyteller, for some reason he liked to confide in me. She seems to be gone for good now and he’s going it alone. Made me wonder. Has anything fallen through the cracks? Something he simply forgot about? An alien, perhaps?"

With quiet menace Monty said, "An illegal alien."

"Funny," Harold said, "she didn’t know the difference."

"How did she find out!?"

"How do you think!? Carrie follows you around! You and her mother! The sitter can’t raise your daughter for you, my sister needs parents! She heard you talking about Domino, your alien in the woods, and she was drawn to him."

"So what!? You don’t know where he was hidden, anymore than I do! This conversation is over!" He turned away quickly, knocking over the chair.

Harold sang, "‘Take the canyon to the river and you hang a little right: follow through the woods to the shack that’s out of sight.’" Monty froze, mid-step. "She made it into a song."

Slowly, Monty Gerald bent over, lifted his chair off the cold floor and set it in place. With a sigh, he lowered himself into it, moving slowly, suddenly very tired. He picked up the phone. "The detectives never found Domino."

"No, but I did," Harold said. "He was very confused. Wondered why no one had picked him up. Perhaps, if our world was being run by a man who knew what he was doing, Domino would be in your possession. But he’s not. I have him now."

"Do you even know what to do with him?"

It was Harold’s turn to stare silently.

"You were hoping I would tell you," Monty replied with a smile. This smile, however, was different. On another face, in another time, the smile might be described as fatherly. "All I can tell you is Domino is the source of unspeakable technology. Nothing like we’ve seen."

"What does he know?"

"I don’t know," Monty replied. "That’s all you’re gonna get from me because that’s all I know about him. President Winchester wanted him, so I wanted him. Now you have him, son, and I don’t know what Winchester will do to get him back. That’s all I have to say. I’m going to take a nap. Maybe this day will be over when I wake up."

From the shadows behind him Monty heard a voice: "I think a little me-nap will do you some good."

Monty turned around to see both guards unconscious on the floor, darts sticking out of each of their necks. He followed their trajectory up and saw Cocoa Tael pointing a dart gun at him, meeting eyes with her just in time to see the puff of the dart fly out of the gun and strike him in the neck. He slumped over, and then fell to the floor.

Dropping the dart gun, Cocoa hopped to the floor and jumped up to the table. Speaking into the phone she said, "Starting to get a little sappy there toward the end."

"I think he was impressed with me," Harold said with genuine surprise, "like I won his praise by beating him to the prize." He took a deep breath, shook his head and said, "Tranquilizer, right? Like we talked about?"

"Yes, yes," Cocoa replied. "They’ll be out for hours. Besides: I know my quarry."

"Fine, whatever," Harold said. "Just let me in there, I’ll get the others out. And try to keep the death count low, all right? Remember, I am trying to rehabilitate you, after all."

She hopped over to the door, leaped and grasped the handle with both paws. The door popped open just enough for Harold to pull it the rest of the way.

"Hey, I just tranquilized three people when I could’ve poisoned them just as easily. And, for the moment, I’m not trying to kill you."

"For the moment?"

"Well, I am still a cat," Cocoa said with a shrug. "Bloodthirsty killers, we are."

"And by my watch," Harold said, checking the time, "you don’t have much time left to get that first kill in."

Cocoa took a resolute breath and nodded. "It all ends tonight."