Senior Inspector Jim Kelso eyed the ragged unkempt back yard. The techs were sweeping the area, and Martha was hobnobbing with the tarts. “Just a big circle of desert, and two people looking through it?”
“Yes.” Dr. Todd looked mildly amused. “Then the young woman who was sitting cross-legged on the ground stood up and jumped through. Exzy said she was his sister and he had to go back home now, and jumped through with the woman following him. She was carrying on about little brothers.”
Jim looked at the other two men and the middle-aged woman. “You told people he was you grandson?”
She fluffed her hair a bit. “I hadn’t dyed my hair then, it was pretty gray. I know we ought to have called the police, but the way the boy fell out of nowhere, well, there was obviously somethin’ odd goin’ on.”
“And we’re right, aren’t we?” Grissom, the snake-oil salesman, eyed him. “You knew just what to look for.”
Jim shrugged. “Gates like that have a magnetic pulse when they open or close. While they’re open, they’re really hard to find. But some specially designed satellites can detect the opening and closing, and pinpoint the location. So I have another team out scouring the ground of your alley.”
He eyed the four of them. “We’re looking for anything your visitor left behind.”
They exchanged wary looks, then the guy with thinning hair snickered. “He fixed the glass in the house—but you can’t have it, unless you replace it.”
They took him inside to show him. Previously shattered glass that looked like it was welded together. At least the house was clean, and they’d been painting the exterior when the team rolled up.
“So . . . all you former winos, drug addicts and prostitutes suddenly cleaned up and banded together to get a roof over your heads. Got any of that magic wine left?”
More looks exchanged.
They all look quite ordinary, probably no genetically engineered ancestors, unlike the dead druggie. Or me.
Ruby Meyers, who according to her ID was fifty-five and looked ten years younger shook her head. “We drunk it all. Worse the luck.”
Her eyes narrowed. “So, how often does this happen?”
“About once a year.” Jim shrugged. “We had great hopes of actually being on time to find someone this time. If this kid comes back, give him my card and tell him that our authorities would like to talk to his authorities.” He handed out cards profligately.
I ought to be jumping all over the snake-oil salesman, but since that wine has proven to be a cure-all and anti-addictive, we’re not really going to carry on about the aphrodisiac properties. What we’d really like is to talk to . . . damn near anyone.
Except, perhaps the Animal Gang.
And . . . an eight year old boy? Running around having adventures in parallel worlds?
It just keeps getting weirder.