It was yet another morning, yet another hangover. I'd been unlucky recently – more than unlucky. To tell the truth, I hadn't had a client in weeks.
So it was that I woke up to a loud and irritating alarm-clock buzz that morning. Eight in the morning. The infernal contraption received the closest to a withering glare as I could manage at that time, and I rolled over in bed. Clang.
A frying pan. Inexplicably, there was a frying pan in my bed, right where I tried to roll over to. I sat up and prodded the thing until I was thoroughly sure it wasn't going to bite me, and then removed the sticky note from the handle.
“You have a client! 9am!”
Ah. One of those days.
I was still lost in the murky fuzz inside my own head, half-hangover and half-coffee, when the woman arrived. She hung her long brown coat and hat on the hook inside my door, and proceeded up the stairs to the paper-littered room that for the sake of argument I called the office. It was getting better these days. It used to complain all the time that it wanted to be called Steve, but now we quarrel less and it's reasonably happy with “office”.
So, this woman. Prim, proper, boring. A lost cat, I figured, or a jealous husband. How wrong I was.
“A great evil stalks this land,” she said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Of course,” I replied. And meant it. You didn't last long in the private investigation business without having some idea of who pulled the strings in society. Demons and the Illuminati, mainly. Anyway, I digress again.
“Which evil in particular?” was my question to her.
“There are tales... Dark tales,” she responded, trying to sound mysterious. “About goings-on in the town of Aylesbury.”
“Don't you mean 'Duck Tales'?” I asked, but the pun was lost on her. Obviously not a fan of children's television. Or not a fan of puns.
Either way, I agreed to work for her. The pay was good – any pay's good to a man who's been surviving mostly on whisky for a week.
And here I am, in Aylesbury. Darkness is abroad, evil stalks the face of the Earth, and some batty humourless woman wants me to find out what's going on. I could fill volumes, I really could. Devils plotting Armageddon, secret societies and their even more secret wars, and even the truly despicable evil of the Women's Institute coffee mornings. But I got the feeling she already knew about that. There was something else here. Something even more dark and twisted...