Short Story: Pneuma Kleptis pt.4

Pneuma Kleptis pt4
by Lee Hulme

Read pt 1
Read pt 2
Read pt 3

“If anything approaching the word ‘aliens’ leaves your mouth, I will punch it,” Jas warned as they walked from the cafe, headed nowhere in particular.

Ty slammed his mouth closed in a hurry and glanced at Sam, who was looking decidedly curious. He gave a theatrical sigh and ginned at Jas as she glared back, trying to conceal a smile. “Aw, ya love me cuz.”

Jas mused, “Sometimes.”

Ty snickered.

“My cousin here managed to watch Invasion of the Body Snatchers when he was still young enough to be innocent and impressionable,” Jas paused, “Well impressionable anyway.”

Ty flashed an impish grin.

“So for months he was diagnosing everybody as a pod person. Then came Men in Black and The Thing and Aliens and the Lord only knows what else, and every time he decided it was real.”

Ty shrugged, “Hey, you don’t know it’s not real. Not really. You’ll be lookin for help when they try and take over, and I might just let you get munched.”

“If all the films are right, surely the aliens would be more likely to munch each other first. We’d be left with whoever won…” Sam suggested.

Ty gave Sam the sideye, “Thanks. Now I feel better.”

Sam grinned, “What I mean to say is, we’d all have time to hide and become, like, an underground hermit species in the decades it would take all the warring factions to destroy each other. We’d be fine.”

Ty grunted tacit approval.

Jas shook her head in despair, “Fine…I’ll put aliens on the list somewhere between a super intelligent Jack Russell and self-aware kitchen appliances.”

“Hey you don’t know what those things are thinkin!” Ty retorted, laughing.

It was Sam’s turn to shake her head, “Seriously though, just for a sec. What the actual fuck??”

Jas sighed, “I did find something. I dismissed it, lore and legend and myth and the supernatural are always part of the things I study. The trick is generally to edge around them, pick through he story to the kernel of truth in an attempt to find something approaching a workable theory.”

“But given what we just saw. And the other stuff…” Sam left it open for her.

Jas nodded, “…maybe we should look in more detail at the legend side of things.”

Ty snorted, “So aliens and I’m nuts, but supernatural and that’s academic?”

Jas nudged him, none-too-gently, with her shoulder, “There is a difference between following events to a source whilst keeping an open mind, and deciding every alien story is true.”

Ty narrowed his eyes and rubbed his arm, “Fine. But if we find aliens, I’m not holding back on the told-you-so.”

“Deal,” Jas nodded.

“Okay. How are you two fixed for work today?”

“Not in today, just need to check in with my tutor,” Sam replied. “Should be free from 2ish.”

Ty pulled out his phone to check the calendar, “Well, I’m about to be late, but I’m off at 5.”

“Then why don’t you both head to mine for around 6. I’ll feed you both, and we can try to make some sense of what I’ve pieced together.”

“I’ll pick you up, Sam,” Ty offered.

Sam nodded, “Thanks Ty, that’d be good.”

***

Sam looked at the clock as her phone rang, popping Jas’ name: 6.13.

“Hey Jas, you heard from Ty?”

“I was hoping you had, I can’t reach him.”

“Maybe he got held up at the hospital. Gimme a min, I’ll check and call you right back.”

“Thanks Sam.”

“No worries, speak in a sec.”

Sam speed-dialled the hospital, tapped in the extension to Ty’s ward, and paced as she listened to the phone ring. Recognising the voice that answered, Sam kept her tone light.

“Hey Sister, it’s Sam – has Ty got off shift yet?”

“Off shift? He didn’t even get on shift,” the Sister sounded harassed.

“Did he call? We’ve been trying to reach him, me and his cousin.”

The Sister grunted, “Not a word. You think something happened? Unusual for him to be off, and he always calls in.”

“I’m sure there’s a good explanation,I’ll make sure he calls in with it as soon as I track him down.”

“If you could, Sam. I don’t wanna have to report him, and I do wanna know he’s ok.”

“I promise, thanks Sister,” Sam cut the call and worked her jaw as she called Jas back.

“Anything?” Jas skipped the greeting.

“He didn’t get to work, didn’t call in,” Sam paced the room.

“Shit.”

“Uh-huh,” Sam agreed.

“Text me your address, I’ll come over.”

“Alright, see you soon. I’ll keep trying Ty.”

Sam texted her address and dialled Ty’s number. After leaving a voicemail, she sent a text, then tried again. Still no answer. She paced the room, alternating between calling Ty, and calling area hospitals and police stations to see if she could trace him.

The knock on the door of the flat made her jump, and she answered with her heart still racing.

Jas waved a stack of plastic boxes as she entered, “I thought we should still eat, and I brought all the bits,” she shrugged one shoulder to indicate the document bag hanging of it.”Did you-”

Sam shook her head, “Still nothing. Been checking hospitals and police too, he’s not been brought in anywhere.”

Jas frowned as she made herself at home. She searched the kitchen for plates and brought them to he living room, where the food awaited. “Eat,” she ordered Sam as she filled both plates. “Whatever’s going on, we both need to eat.”

Sam nodded and began transferring food from the pale to her mouth, barely tasting it.

When they were both done, Jas called Ty’s number again, sighing as the voicemail message began in.

“What are we gonna do?” Sam asked.

Jas closed her eyes for a moment then opened them with a resigned sigh, “Unless you have any ideas of where to look for Ty – and I checked his place on the way over – I suggest we begin by trying to make some sense of these materials,” she pulled out a pile of papers and folders.

Sam studied her, trying to find the crack in the practical veneer. When Jas looked back she saw fear, deep down, fighting for control. “You don’t think maybe something normal happened?”

Jas looked at her for a long moment, “You tried all the usual places, I checked his home. Given the strange occurrences since we all began looking into this, I don’t find it too great a leap that Ty’s disappearance is connected. Do you?”

Sam shook her head, “I was hoping you’d have some sort of logical explanation.”

Jas smiled slightly, “That is my logical explanation.”

“Alright, then what are we looking at?”

Jas began laying out smaller stacks of paper across the table. As sh worked, Sam transferred the food boxes to the fridge and washed the empty plates. When her phone rang in her pocket, she pulled it out so fast it almost ended up in the sink too.

“Ty’s number,” she called to Jas, tapping the green button on the screen and then tapping the speakerphone icon. “Ty! Fuck, man, you scared us, where are you?”

There was a crackle on the other end, then a voice, slow and creaky, spoke, “I warned you to keep away. He isn’t my normal fare, but if you try to find me I will make him my meal like the others. You’ll get him back drooling and empty. Please, stay away, it’ll be over soon.”

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