The Missing Block of Ice [Part 5]
(Books by Authors Who Never Existed: A Steampunk Hybrid story)
By the author of BARD: Owner of the Gemstone
He’ll have to look into the mysterious ninjas later. “Mrs. Claws!” he shouts as he opens the unlocked front door and ducks under the lintel.
“Here,” he hears her shout back in her fascinating accent.
“Here,” the wispy and tinny voice of Mr. TLC also says.
He smiles fondly at the giant Maine Coon cat. Mr. TLC is perched on the desk in front of a man standing perfectly still. “Anything, other than,” Chief Shabuni begins to say when he glances down at the still man’s face, and grimaces, and says with a groan, “A steam automaton.”
“A what?” Mrs. Claws asks. She has her brass hearing horn firmly in her right ear.
“Missing,” Tobey says.
“Can you show me?” he asks.
The Maine Coon cat leaps down from the desk and heads towards the end of the hall.
“I hate the basement,” Mrs. Claw says with a groan. She sniffs. “That’s where Mr. Claws kept the things, he discovered in Arcticterra. Like that creepy ice pane.
In the basement, Chief Shabuni stares at a large rectangular area on the cement floor that looks cleaner than the rest of the cluttered floor. Very similar in size to what the ninjas were carrying. He notices Mr. TLC also staring down at the spot.
“Ice that not melt,” Tobey says.
“Ice that won’t melt?” Chief Shabuni asks.
“My husband brought back a pane of what looked like ice,” Mrs. Claws says. She glances around furtively. “If you touched it, it felt wet, but once you took your hand away, there was no moisture.” She places her left hand against her chest and gasps for breath. “Sometimes. Sometimes you could see something in the ice. That’s why Siku went back. He wanted to find out where the books came from. Something about a portal.”
Chief Shabuni knew Mr. Claws did a lot of exploring after he retired from the navy. Now he wondered exactly what Mrs. Claws meant by, a portal. He would have to ask her, right after he calls for backup.
He takes out his quarts phone and connects a thin hose attached to a bladder of water in his overcoat’s pocket. Next, he flips open the brass lid. He spins its tiny crank until steams pours out of a tiny exhaust pipe on the top of the phone. After a while, a greenlight shines where the quartz crystals form a star shape in the centre of the phone.
He taps out four numbers on the copper keypad.
“Yes,” a very precise, tenor voice answers.
“Justin, I need you and Linda to meet me at the Claws house.” He hangs up. The two Inspectors make a strange team. Justin Harper and Linda Campbell are physically opposites. Justin has skin so dark it has a blue hue. Combined with his aquamarine eyes, people tend to stare at him. A benefit for an inspector, because people also tend to never lie to him. Justin also has a lean face with an aristocratic nose. Linda in contrast is short, squat, and buxom, with a flat nose and flaring nostrils. Her dark brown eyes make her skin look even paler. Her skin is nearly as pale as his own. Almost, but no one has ever tried to eat her for the magical properties a true albino supposedly has.