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thought on his feet joining Jensen who stood from behind the desk.  Both men stood near the basement door now completely hidden in shadow.

The shadows spread and the far corner of the parlor and the hallway leading to the den where pitched in total blackness now as if something large was floating over the row home and blotting out the moon light. There was the storm of course, Jensen could see the dense cluster clouds building and swirling with occasional lightning, but not even those clouds should cause this thick of black shadows indoors.

The two men looked at one another for a split second. If he looked close enough, Jensen thought, he could actually see the shadows flow out from under the basement door like ink spilling out of a jar.

“What the?” Hoke mumbled, pulling his pistol from his shoulder rig.

“Get down there already.” Jensen ordered.

Hoke opened the door to the basement and stepped back allowing it to swing wide on its way toward the wall.  Jensen stumbled backward falling onto his desk, and then onto the floor to flee the darkness that plumed into the parlor like a gaseous wave.  Hoke crouched in a shooters stance, gun drawn and at the ready pointed directly into the dark stairwell, allowing the darkness to spread out around him.

“Go.  What are you waiting for?” Jensen ordered getting up off the floor.

Although he couldn’t see his subordinate Jensen heard Hoke’s footsteps take the stairs down toward the basement as he picked up the phone and dialed Rutledge.


Hoke entered the basement by memory and continued feeling his way in with his hands and feet.  It helped that the man had loaded and unloaded literally thousands of crates in and out of that basement from the river boat over the last few months.  As his back foot touched down on the basement floor, he crouched again and used his ears to survey the area since his eyes were useless in all of the blackness.

Amidst the shadows Lady Raven began to rise up off the floor, along with the chair she was chained too, in the middle of the basement.  She floated through the air silently until she hovered below the floor of the parlor, Jensen now residing above her head.

Hoke moved left.  One hand on the wall of the basement, the other gripping his pistol out in front of him, as he penetrated the shadows in search of the woman chained in the basement.  His movements were careful and calculated as he systematically moved through the open space.

Once the large man was beneath her Lady Raven allowed herself and the chair to drop, trampling Hoke and forcing him to the ground in an unconscious heap.  Suddenly the basement quickly cleared of the gaseous shadows leaving only the stairway chalked full of the total blackness as it continued seeping out into the office and parlor around Jensen’s desk filling up the room.

Lady Raven located Hoke’s keys.  Pulling them free she unlocked one hand then the other.  Her ankles followed, and she effortlessly rose up and off of the crumpled man now covered by her chair and chains like a bird taking flight from the ground.

Stopping at the bottom of the stairs Lady Raven reached out into empty air.  The shadows that filled the stairs repositioned, forming tendrils that reached out and collected Hoke’s pistol from its location on the cement floor.  The shadow tendrils placed the pistol in Lady Raven’s hand just as she grasped the cool metal.   Aiming toward the other side of the basement she fired two quick shots to make it appear as though Hoke had located and killed her before she let go of the pistol.  The metal death hung in the air, supported by thick shadow tendrils that grasped it

The End

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