Pneuma Kleptis – pt2
by Lee Hulme
Sam shuffled impatiently in her seat, cursing as her knee hit the underside of the wobbly table, slopping tea over the side of the mug as she waited for Ty to arrive.
Ty hurried in, hands deep in the pockets of his jacket, nodding as he passed by to order his own mug of tea, plus one extra. This task done, he sat down across from Sam, hands, red from the cold, wrapped around his mug.
“I swear I’m just gonna sew gloves to your coat sleeves, see if they can last you more than a week before getting lost.”
Ty grinned, “Least I only lose my gloves, not, say, patient medication charts.”
Sam laughed, “Oh one time! One time I did that! And I found it!”
“After we’d made a new one, sure.”
“OK but still. Once.”
Ty grinned then looked past her to the door, nodding a greeting at the new entrant, “Here she is.”
They both stood as the woman walked over, greeting Ty with a hug and Sam with a handshake.
“Nice to meet you Sam, I’m Jas.”
Sam shook her hand warmly and they all slid into their seats, Jas taking the chair opposite Sam.
“How do you know Ty?” Sam asked.
Jas smiled, “He didn’t say? We’re cousins. A number of times removed, but still, we don’t have much family so we make do with what we have.”
Jas shot him a sidelong glance and rolled her eyes.
“Anyway,” Jas ignored him with a slight smile, “He’s mostly right. I do most of my study in weird things like psychogenic epidemics.” She smiled at Sam’s blank look, “Dancing plagues, mass hysterical laughter, that kind of thing.”
Sam nodded, “I get it. Kind of. I think.”
“Doesn’t really matter the details, I look at unusual – and usually medically inexplicable – epidemics, which I tend to theorise are most likely caused by psychosocial and psychological phenomena. Again, the details don’t matter, but what Ty told me was interesting enough that I wanted to know more.”
“I don’t know much,” Sam shrugged. “People seem to be losing their memories, all the things that make them the person they were, but there’s no cause we can find, no connection.”
“Well it may not be the first time,” Jas reached into her bag and placed a folder on the table, opening it and spinning a page round for Sam to read. “I’ve found a handful of occasions, just from some quick matching, where a number of people in a similar area were afflicted with what sounds like the type of amnesia you’ve described. I mean without looking further, and understanding that these older ones wouldn’t have had the same equipment we do to look for causes, I can’t be sure of anything, but still. It’s a find.”
“Holy shit,” Ty interjected, looking through the rest of the folder. “You found more now, too. How is it you manage to do three times as much in one day as any other human being could possibly manage?”
“Efficiency, honey,” Jas took the folder back.”So there are a couple more I’ve found, again in this area, that seem to have the same symptoms. I propose I go and take a look at as many as I can, while you two do some more digging.”
“You sure you got time, cuz?” Ty asked.
Jas grimaced, “The lab has me looking at obscure neurological illnesses two hundred years ago in the far east. I think that can afford to wait a little longer. I’ll make some calls, see what I can get arranged, then meet back with you both.”
“Between us we can probably get some time in the medical library between shifts,” Ty agreed.
“And google,” Sam added.
Ty nodded, “And google.”
Jas started to hand the folder to Ty, then changed her mind and handed it to Sam.
“Gee thanks,” Ty muttered.
“Please, you can barely keep track of your own head, and that’s stuck to the top of your shoulders,” Jas nudged him. “Make a copy if you want it that badly.”
Ty chuckled, “Yes ma’am.”
“Then I’ll leave you two to it,” Jas picked up her mug of tea and downed it in a few gulps. “I’ll call you in a couple of days Ty, unless I find anything urgent.”
Ty nodded, “Yeah, same. Thanks cuz,” he stood and gave Jas a hug as she left, before sitting down and grinning at Sam, “That might be the longest I’ve ever seen her sit still.”
Sam smiled, “I’ll make a copy for you tomorrow. I have study time so I’ll make use of it.”
“Alright, but don’t forget your actual study stuff.”
Sam raised an eyebrow.
“Obligatory reminder from your mentor.”
Sam laughed, “Sure. You still think I’m mental, for all this?”
Ty cocked his head, “I never thought you were mental. You saw something weird, then you showed it me. I’m not convinced yet, but I trust your judgement enough to follow through. And I don’t bring my fave cousin in for nothing.”
Ty nodded and drank off his tea. “You wanna ride home? Save waiting in the cold.”
“If it’s not a hassle, the buses around here mostly suck.”
“I remember,” Ty agreed, “Come on.”
Sam dropped her keys in the bowl by the door as she entered the tiny flat, then dropped the folder on the chair where her work bag sat.
She sat on the bed and undid her trainers, throwing them vaguely behind her as she yawned and lay down, hoping for a pre-shift nap.
As she edged into a doze, the smoke alarm began to blare, bringing her bolt upright, heart pounding. The alarm turned off before she could take a step and she sighed. It didn’t take long to check the flat and find it fire-free, or to prod the alarm with a pen to ensure the battery hadn’t just decided to let out a dying wail.
With a tired grunt, Sam curled back up on the bed.
Again, just as she slipped into a doze, the smoke alarm blared again.
Again, Sam checked the flat and, this time, removed the battery from the alarm, before crawling under the duvet and closing her eyes.
When the alarm began to bray for the third time, Sam swore loudly and stomped into the living room just as it grew silent.
“What the fuck?” she asked the alarm as she opened it back up to see the empty battery slot.
Before she could formulate any more thoughts, the lights in the flat flickered once, twice, and then went out.
Sam looked around wildly, trying to remember where she left her phone. Finding it in her pocket, she opened the torch app just as the lights flickered back on.
Sam sat on the sofa, frowning alternately at the smoke alarm and the light fixture. Her phone was still held loosely in one hand when it bleeped and vibrated, bringing a small cry of surprise from her as she dropped it to the floor.
Picking it back up she opened the message, from a private number, and stared at it for a few moments, uncomprehending.
Only warning. You’ll be safer if you stop investigating.
End of part 2
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