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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Animal · #1439460
Entry for Writer's Cramp prompt, 6/15/08.
It was just a hair past midnight when the phone on Detective Grey's desk rang. It was not at all unusual for him to be at the office at this hour. In fact, it would have been unusual for him not to be. The detective uncrossed his legs and moved them from his desk to the floor. He picked up the black old-fashioned phone on his desk, "hello, this is Detective Grey." The phone ringing at this hour was not unusual, either. His clients and cases were primarily what one might classify as "odd" or "different."

Detective Grey was at thirty-two, a beautiful man and a brilliant detective. He had an office in a quiet building in downtown Minneapolis. The door to his office simply stated his name and profession. The interior of his office included all of the standard decor: desk, chair, coat tree with hat. There was also a blanket and a toothbrush. Detective Grey often slept in his office. He rarely intended to, it was just the way that things happened. Sometimes a case required strange hours and only allowed time for naps.

This looked like it would be one of those cases on one of those nights. The phone call that the detective got was of urgent interest. The voice on the other end of the line had a very cryptic message about an abandoned mansion which was about an hour away. Something about somebody yelling and lights flashing.

Detective Grey nodded to the person on the phone and said he would investigate. The person on the phone said they wished to remain anonymous. He grabbed his hat and trench coat and departed in his black, rusty car.

The road to the mansion was just as it was supposed to be: long and winding, with streetlights far and few. The mansion was, of course, the last house on the road. The detective drove his car to the end of the road and parked in front of the mansion. The house was dark and boarded up. There was, however, one lone candle burning in a first-story window. The detective made a mental note of this and proceeded to walk briskly around the perimeter of the mansion. Nothing else seemed unusual - other than the candle, it seemed like an old, abandoned mansion.

Detective Grey decided to take the somewhat obvious and somewhat stupid course of action: he would knock on the front door. He marched up the creaky steps and knocked. He took two steps back and moved slightly to the side. He wasn't afraid of getting hurt - his instincts were usually accurate about which situations were dangerous. The detective did not have to wait long for somebody to answer the door.

The huge wooden door creaked open and a short and plump woman in her forties answered. She was wearing dark clothing and a bright red feather boa. "Can I help you?" she asked in a sensuous French accent.

"I hope so! I was on the way to my sister's house, and I got terribly lost. I'm from Illinois, and these roads are so confusing," the detective said with a lost look on his handsome face.

"Well, darling, come in and sit down. Where were you trying to get to?" the woman led Detective Grey to the kitchen, where there was a table adorned with flowers. The detective sat down, and nearly stepped on a duck! "Oh, mister, that is my darling Ronald! Please be careful."

"Oh, yes! I'm so sorry!" the detective did not have to feign the shock on his face.

"Ronald and I have been together for nearly ten years! He is the best companion anyone could hope for. Now where were you trying to get to? Here, have some tea," the woman handed the detective a steaming mug of what smelled strongly like chamomile.

"Here is the address where I was trying to get to," Detective Grey handed the woman a piece of paper with some writing on it.

"Oh, you are miles away! You must have gotten off of the freeway at the wrong exit," the woman shook her head and her red boa dropped a couple of feathers. "Let me write you up some proper instructions!"

The clock above the stove clicked to one o'clock in the morning. The duck ruffled his feathers and made a terrible screeching noise!

"Does he make that noise often?" The detective jumped and realized that must have been the noise the anonymous caller told him about.

"Yes, I'm afraid he does. Every time the hour changes and every time I goof up and make the lights flash."

"Well, thank you very much. I must be going to find my sister now," Detective Grey stood up and shook the woman's hand.

The detective drove away as fast as he could. He saw right through that act. The woman was obviously going to need to be checked up on. That duck was not just a duck, Ronald was more than a companion. Detective Grey had dealt with these sort of witches before. Ronald was most likely her husband, and had been turned into a duck as a punishment for something. Nothing could be done now. All that the detective could do was make his way back to his office, where he would be most protected by the building's security system. He just hoped the witch had not tracked where his car went.
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