Unfettered

“You’ll never find them!” The woman screamed, her voice hoarse from her histrionics as she was bundled into the back of the police car by two uniformed officers. Her hair was tangled and in dire need of a wash, and her clothing disheveled. There lingered about her an acrid stench of unwashed sweat, and there was a slight grimace on the faces of the officers who were moving her into the car.

Turning away from the scene, Special Detective Inspector Carl North gestured for his accompanying colleague to follow him as he walked back into the house. He was a slightly grim looking man in his mid-forties, hair graying already and angular face beset with lines. Several constables inside glanced up at him as he entered.

“I’ll need you all to get clear of the premises. Take a squad car back out to the turn off. We’ll radio for you when you’re needed.” He ordered. He was quietly spoken, but firm in giving orders.

“Yes, sir.” One of them responded, heading out with the others. “Good luck.”

“Thank you, officers.” Detective Sergeant Linda Roberts smiled to them as they left, before looking back to the man she was liaising with on the case. He was pacing around the slovenly living room with a focused expression on his face. She jumped a little as he kicked a magazine-strewn coffee table out of his way.

“Sir?”

“It was in my way.” He replied, reaching into the brown overcoat he wore to pull out a large, red-and-white bottle of table salt. She watched curiously as he emptied a pile into his palm, hefting it slightly to test its weight before adding some more.

“Sir?” She asked again, slightly taken aback. His response was to rotate in a smooth motion, streaming the salt around him from his hand. As he completed his rotation, he slid down into the lotus position with agility that she did not expect.

“Stay out of the circle. This won’t take long.” He replied, placing his hands on his slightly rotund stomach and shutting his eyes.

Linda had worked under some with enigmatic methods or weird little idiosyncrasies in her time with CID and on the force, but nothing as confusing as this. When he was assigned to her on this case, she was hoping to see what made members of the Special Investigations Service have the prefix of ‘Special’ to their titles. So far, Carl North had done little to show her. It was probably safer to say that he had done little of anything, other than drink tea and offer her Polos. She considered making a report about this man’s behaviour and use when she was back at the station.

As Linda mused on this, SDI Carl North was meditating with expert skill, carefully unlocking each of the seven seals in his body in a methodical order. When the final seal was unlocked his spirit departed his body, free to roam now unfettered from the flesh. Ethereally, the room was much the same as it was: untidy, littered with crumbs and clothing, sorely in need of redecoration and home improvements. But there were ugly black stains swirling about in places, as well as faint glimmers of white wisps and harsh red glows seeping through some of the floorboards. Linda was a white-blue image for him in this particular form of vision, as opposed to a brunette woman with light brown skin and an all-too severe haircut.

Moving cautiously out of the protective circle, there was a slight flash and fizzle from the salt. He noticed even Linda looked over at the salt circle, now a perfectly formed and compacted ring of white instead of the scattered random pattern of salt crystals it had been. From the head of his spirit form, he carefully directed small arcs of energy out, listening to the feedback much like a dolphin or bat would. It didn’t take long for him to locate the poorly-warded room and entrance, and the black marks of corruption backed up his hypothesis.

It was a simple matter for him to drift back into his body and reseal his chakra.

“Right.” Carl said, rising up and looking to his startled partner. “Move that bookcase towards the window.” He said, pointing at the Mills & Boon-laden shelf even as he went to the sofa on the other side of the room and started pushing. While Linda had no idea what the man was up to, she knew how to take an order and did as asked. After a few moments of pushing, there was a click from Carl’s side of the room, shortly followed by a click from Linda’s.

“What was that?”

“Latches in the floor. Go radio the constables, please?” He asked. It was the first time he’d said ‘please’ to her outside of when she’d offered to make him a cuppa.

“You sure? We really should stick together.”

“Positive.”

Once she was out of the house, Carl dug into his pockets and heaped more salt into his hands before moving cautiously towards the kitchen. One of the units was easily pulled forwards, revealing a narrow and steep inclined wooden staircase going down. With a curious motion he threw a handful of salt at the staircase. It crackled as it hit an invisible barrier, and unlike detaching his soul from his body, it was an easier process to deliver a single ethereal punch to the sizzling salt, cracking the barrier wide open. With the wards destroyed, he dashed down and repeated the process with the padded wooden door before entering the room.

It had been excessively soundproofed, with black cloth covering the walls. The wooden floorboards had been daubed with animal blood, sheep by his reckoning, into a variety of harsh patterns. There was a large altar at one end of the room, covered in a red silk cloth with a variety of implements laying on the top. Before he could even consider moving to the cage in one corner he removed a large burlap sack from his jacket, silver string threaded through it in a dancing pattern, and bundled the cruel and wicked looking instruments into it. With a tug of the silver string at the top, the bag sealed itself and was easily hidden back into his jacket.

He turned to look at the wooden cage in the corner of the room. It was fairly large, and held five young children inside, currently dressed in simple white smocks and kept sedated by a thrumming spell running through the wood, centered on the old lock on the gate to the cage. The lock buzzed angrily as he put one hand on it before giving a squeal as salt was tipped into the lock. A quick squeeze of his hand shattered both lock and spell, rousing the children within.

“It’s alright. You’re safe now.”

“This was all very mysterious, Carl.” Linda said as they rested alongside a fence outside the property, watching Child Protection taking over in getting the children back to their parents.

“Yes, it was.”

“Care to tell me what happened?” Linda pressed, giving a wave as an angelic-looking little blond boy waved excitedly to them, carefully wrapped in a foil blanket.

“Care to guess, Linda?” Carl replied, giving her a long look.

“If I was silly, I’d say it was some kind of magic. Salt circles, meditation, Satanic basements and mad witches kidnapping children.” Linda replied, waggling her fingers a little. “But that would be -if- I was silly, and I’m not. I’d say you were hazing the person you’ve been lumped with, and simply closed your eyes to put the pieces together, recognizing marks on the floor in the living room, something about the construction, that sort of thing.” She added, paused, and then followed up with, “Well?”

“Well what?”

“Was I right?”

Carl chuckled and pushed away from the fence. “No.” He started back towards the silver Mondeo Estate they’d arrived in, before looking back at her. “It wasn’t Satanic.”

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