Maggie slammed her front door and ran into her living room, leaving Danny standing frozen dripping wet by the front door. She bent down and turned on her gas fire, flames flickering to life and lighting the dark room,
“Oh for god’s sake, come in Danny, you don’t need to wait to be invited”
Danny trundled into the room and dropped to his knees next to her by the fire, together they sat with their hands held out towards the flames, saying nothing. They sat this way for several minutes before Maggie eventually stood up and told him,
“I need some warm clothes, I think I have an old boyfriends shirt if you want it?” she walked off towards her bedroom. Danny stood up and took off his dripping wet jacket and white tee-shirt, throwing them across the room and onto an arm chair.
“Danny” he turned to find Maggie standing just inside the door separating her bedroom from the living room and dressed in a grey sweat pants and a sweater, which was about four times to large for her thin frame, “what the hell happened tonight?” she tossed him a man’s shirt she was carrying and he put it on, grateful for the warmth,
“I wish I knew” his stomach turned over as he recalled the events from the alley, he could barely even remember the drive back to Maggie’s house.
Maggie sat on the sofa and watched the flames flickering, she’d seen and heard of a lot of weird stuff happening in the city, but never anything like that, what the hell were those creatures?
“Hell hounds” she remembered his words, Hell hounds he had called them, but surely he couldn’t have been serious? Then something clicked in her head and sat up a little.
“Danny, what did you say that girl was studying?”
“Physics, come off it Mags, the reports right there, on the table, just glance at it, for me”
“No I mean what it she was chasing that night she disappeared, you said something about weather anomalies?”
“Oh yeah, err....hang on” he shifted through the report, “she was looking for electro-magnetic disturbances.....you think that’s what we saw?”
Maggie crossed her legs and looked deeper into the flames, they danced in her brown eyes like two tiny fire places, “All I know for sure is what we saw, they...whatever it was opened while those dicks were attacking us, then that idiot was killed when he got too close to it, right before those two monsters came through”
“So I think it’s fairly fucking safe to assume it’s a doorway of some kind, right?”
“Oh yeah, right, doorway, exactly what I was thinking” Maggie noted the sarcasm in his voice,
“Well what do you think it was genius?”
“Actually I agree, Mags, I just hate doing it, I mean doorways to other places, isn’t that supposed to be impossible?”
“Obviously Terri didn’t think so, she must have figured some way to track them, I’m assuming hypothetically, but actually started picking things up....how long has it been raining like this?”
“Huh? Oh, about a week, maybe more......you thinking the two are connected?”
“Well she was studying weather anomalies, wasn’t she, she must have worked out how know when one was forming, and then........and then she came looking for it, oh my god, Danny.......the examiner’s report said parts of her had been dead for days”
Danny was already quite white at the mental construct Maggie was building for him, “I don’t understand?”
“She must have gone all the way through, Oh come on, you’re a nerd, you watch Star Trek and stuff, how many times have they done shows about places in other dimensions or parallel worlds where time moves differently?”
“Well, yeah I know, I’m just flabbergasted you do!”
Maggie stood up and crossed the room to her desk where she unplugged her laptop then brought it back to the sofa, she opened the lid and flicked the power on,
“Okay, let’s see what Google say’s.”
“About what mysterious black holes to other worlds, opening in downtown alleyways, I don’t know how many results you expect to find”
“6’120 results under your oh so helpful suggestion, but that wasn’t what I was going for” Maggie replied, “I want to tell Terri’s story, she died in a place where no human should ever have to go, but if I’m going to write this, I’ll need to know exactly where that thing goes and what’s down there, and there was only one other person in that alley who might have the slightest clue” Maggie typed the words carefully into the search engine, Devil May Cry.
The results were few, a couple of mediocre book titles and an old rock song from the seventies, repeated over and over down the list. As Maggie scrolled down, her eyes landed on one listing that she almost scrolled straight past, Devil May Cry (private investigator).
Maggie clicked the icon and waited for the next screen to load, when it finally did, she was disappointed to find nothing more than the same red neon like logo against a black screen, just like the business card, she moved the cursor arrow all over the image, looking for a hidden link, anything that might explain more about the mysterious, red leather clad hero.
“Nothing, I mean this guy hands me or rather flings me a business card and he has a web page, but no links, no info, who the hell is he?”
Maggie stood up, pushing the laptop across the sofa and paced back and forth from the door to the fire with Danny watching, feeling amused and better already.
“I mean who does he think he is with his last minute rescue and roof top jumping, flashy guns and slick sword moves? And what’s with that silver hair, bet he uses bleach, and who the hell wears red and black, skin tight leather anymore anyway?”
Danny just grinned up at her, “Taken with him a little were we?”
“WHAT?” she snapped back.
“Nothing, nothing, you just seem a bit on the fixated side” he grabbed the seat cushion from the arm chair he was leaning on and held it up like a shield.
“I am not fixated” Maggie growled back, teeth clenched, “I just want to find out what happened to Terri Domico, and this asshole isn’t making it easy.”
Danny stood up and walked through the room and into Terri’s bedroom,
“And you think you’re doing what in there?”
Danny walked back out a second later with the now rather sodden business card, “Call him”.
Maggie stared down at the card in his out stretched hand she couldn’t just call him, could she?
“What the hell do I say?” she asked,
“You know you’re kinda dumb, for a reporter.”
Tossing him a ‘don’t mess with me now’ look, Maggie picked up the cordless phone from its base and turned it on, waited for the dial tone then checked the number on the card 666-nevr-cry, ‘cute’ she thought to herself while dialling.
Inside the half demolished building he had bought in his teens, Dante was sitting at his desk, opposite the front door, his feet up on the desk top and leaning back in his chair with a slice of pizza in one hand and a remote control in the other. Flicking through the news channels,
“Beats going out in the rain, plus I the pizza stays dry longer” but he knew he would not find what he was looking for on CNN. The prey he hunted did not often end up in the news, unless they killed someone famous and their corpses usually melted back in the earth within the hour, no, If he wanted to play again tonight, he would have to go out again.
The sound of the phone rang out through the empty building, Dante looked at the receiver. He threw the remote control at the phone base, flipping the receiver back towards him, swapped the pizza from his hand to mouth, took a bite and threw it to the table just in time to catch the phone in one hand, and the remote in the other,
“Devil may cry?”
“Oh shit, Danny, he answered what the hell do I say?”
“Try, thanks for saving our asses”
“Bored now, hanging up” Dante sighed and aimed the receiver back at the phone base,
“No wait, please, I really need to talk to you”
Dante knew that voice, his keen hearing could pick out the vocal templates, it was the woman who had screamed that night, silly bitch that had trapped herself in a alley with a couple of wannabe rapists and two hell hounds.
“Found something for me to do? Or did you want me to do....”
“Thank you” Maggie blurted, despite the crude remark he was about to make, “for saving our lives, I just wanted to say, thank you”
“Hey, nothing say’s thank you better than an envelope full of cash, lady.”
“You want me to pay you?”
“Oh no, I’ll do it for free” Dante grinned at the TV.
“Look, whoever you are, I just want to ask you a couple of questions about what happened tonight, I’m a reporter for the........(click)....hello?” Maggie slammed the phone down, “Son-of-a-bitch, that asshole just hung up on me.”
“You know you’re swearing a lot today”
Maggie just stared at him,
“Okay, okay, what do you want to do now, personally I’m thinking hot shower, Chinese and a movie....separate showers, obviously.....”
“I want to go back out” Danny sighed, he’d been afraid of this,
“Mags, honey, I love you, but it’s cold and wet and there are muggers and rapists and hell hounds.....apparently, out there and....and......and I’m never gonna win this am I?”
She shook her head, “Get your coat on, this guy must have an office somewhere and I don’t think he’s the kinda person who works nine to five, do you?”
Grudgingly, Danny put his leather coat back on cringed as a wet bead of rain ran down his back, they left the apartment and made their way to Danny’s van, neither one could help looking around cautiously, checking every shadow just in case.
“Hooker, hooker, hooker, pimp, hooker, drug dealer, hooker....sorry that ones a police officer”
“Danny, will you give it a rest, it’s not that bad down here”
“Not that bad, Mags, two girls were murdered near here last week for sneaking off their spots for a piss instead of working, not that bad?”
“Okay so there are some bad elements”
“Pimp, hooker, hooker, two cops beating up a hooker”
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry I dragged you into this......wait a minute”
Danny’s face was screwed up in a painful expression,
“This was your idea!” she snapped, “you’re the one who was all, ‘Oh go in a new direction Mags, check out this crime scene Mags’, you’re the reason I can’t let this go now”
“Dammit, was really hoping you’d forget that bit.”
“A huh, yeah, just keep driving, mister”
They continued driving down the brightly lit streets for another half an hour or so, until Danny parked up next to a twenty-four hour store.
“What are you doing?” Maggie asked him.
“I’m thirsty Mags, do you want anything, cola, chocolate, valium?”
“No......thank.....you” she replied with forced patience.
Danny returned five minutes later with bags of potato chips and cookies and several bottles of cola, Maggie just stared at it all open mouthed.
“Well, we might be at this a while so I figured I’d stock up.”
“For Christmas?” she asked sarcastically.
“So, where do you want to try now? We’ve driven up and down every street and there’s no sign of this place anywhere”
“I’m sure it must be downtown somewhere, I mean the guy was different, no question, but he was still on foot, he must be local.”
“Not based on what I saw he isn’t.”
“Maybe If we can just imagine what it would look like, I’m thinking out of the way, maybe something small on the top floor of a building somewhere, tiny little sign.”
“Actually” Danny continued, “I think it’s more likely to be something shoved on the bottom floor of a semi collapsed building that only a complete freakin maniac, would even consider dwelling in, probably shoved down an alley somewhere between a Turkish kebab house and a xxx porn store.”
Maggie smiled at him as he stared across at her, “Oh really” she giggled, “and what makes you say that?”
“Because it’s squashed between that Turkish kebab house and porn store across the road, see, down that alley.”
Maggie spun her head so hard she nearly got whiplash, and there it was, a rundown old building of which only the bottom floor had lights on and a large red neon sign on the front above the door reading, Devil May Cry.
“I don’t believe it” she leaned across and kissed Danny hard on the cheek, “you’re a genius.”
Danny turned the van down the short alley and parked up next to a joining garage. The front wall of building was badly constructed in fact it looked like it had been pieced back together, several times. The front doors were doubled and painted deep red, although most of the paint had been chipped away.
“Classy place” Danny joked, “I mean it needs a woman’s touch” he elbowed Maggie in the rib gently.
“Shut up, okay, here we go, just gonna march in there and get my answers, because that’s what I do, I’m a reporter and I have a case to report and no amount of guns and swords and hell hounds are gonna put me off.”
Maggie marched up to the door, grabbed the door handle......then faltered and knocked gently on the old red wood.
“Oh gimme a break” Danny sighed.