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Was it just her or was there a pattern there?
Aine set down her notes and spread out the records her sister managed to collect over the past few days. The details distracted her all day. They were important, she could feel it, but they weren’t what she needed to pay attention to. There was something to the bigger picture.
Usually, their work catered to the subtleties of things. Weird marks, trails of deaths, disappearances – the little nuances that surrounded each of those things made tracking and finding the creatures that went bump in the night that much easier. And they had plenty to track. There were vampires, griffins, kelpies, trolls, demons. Creatures people idolized, and wrongly entertained themselves with, and creatures only those with advanced education and interests knew about.
She skimmed the pages, one by one, then laid them out in a grid as she looked for the pieces that seemed to fit together like an intricate puzzle. Simple deaths explained away. A domino effect of misfortune and woe. Nothing really unusual or supernatural about any of it. A heart attack was a heart attack. But…
“That’s it,” she whispered to herself. “Echo! I got it!”
“Huh?” Her sister lifted her sleepy head from the comfort of her folded arms. “What?” Echo rubbed the little amount of sleep from her eyes that Aine let her enjoy and rounded the table to join Aine. “I don’t see it.”
“Nobody would. That’s the point.” Smiling, Aine handed Echo a police report about one of the victims. “This woman said that there was someone harassing her at night. See? Eyes at the window, constant banging at odd hours of the night, and then this.” Aine slid over the notes she took from the open house. “The realtor said that the upstairs windows were all new.”
“Just wait. Remember when I went to talk to her friends at her book club?” She waited for the nod before trudging on. “One of them told me how Mrs. Taylor told them about an old wine cabinet she bought at an estate sale. I didn’t think anything of it till now.”
Her words tumbled out faster and faster, one over the other, as if wasting any time would cause death to another innocent person. If it was too fast, her sister didn’t let on. Instead, Echo was reading over the papers and nodding along to her sister’s hasty deduction.
“I looked into the sale. Guess what happened to the previous owner.”
“Died from natural causes?”
Aine nodded. “Just like Mrs. Taylor. And the owner before that also lived in town.”
“Did they also die naturally?” Echo looked at Aine who nodded again.
“But not without multiple hospital visits. Everyone thought he was accident prone, but it was that cabinet.” Everything in her knew she was right. It was the only thing that connected the people. “Echo, it’s a dybbuk box. It has to be.”
Chuckling in mild disbelief, Echo glanced at her. “There’s no way.”
“Why not? All a dybbuk box is is a haunted object. In this case, it’s a wine cabinet.” Aine pouted as Echo’s chuckling turned into full blown laughter. It wasn’t that hard to believe. As hunters, they crossed paths with multiple creatures. Many of which that were far more intimidating than a restless spirit bound to an old wine cabinet.
“An old piece of wood, no bigger than a shoebox, is responsible for an old lady’s heartattack?” Echo’s mocking grin made Aine roll her eyes.
Switching tactics, she tried to get her sister to come around. Facts weren’t enough so she’d add things Echo already knew. “Echo, we’ve seen worse.” Their family vault was full of worse and yet, somehow, a haunted wine cabinet was where Echo drew the line. “Everyone who had it in the last two years is dead. There’s nothing else here that makes sense. Why would we be called out here if something supernatural wasn’t going on?”
“Fine.” Echo was still smiling but the laughing has stopped. “It’s a cursed box. Do we know where it is?”
“Uh? What do you mean, uh?”
“I mean…” Aine’s mouth went dry as she stared down at her notepad. “Well. You were busy and I thought I’d track it.”
“Aine, tell me it isn’t here.”
“We can’t burn it.” Despite the not so explicit confession, she rushed to explain herself. “If we do then the dybbuk is released and then we’d have to capture it again. So, I thought, if we had it, then we could figure it out and keep people safe.”
Any hope of avoiding a lecture faded the longer Echo stared at her. Her eyes were narrowed slits of disapproval. Her arms were crossed in irritation. And her mouth was set in a tight line of a barely held back argument. Aine looked back down at her notes. The quick glance up was enough for her to regret taking it upon herself to locate the thing. She thought about filling Echo in but the cabinet itself distracted her. It wasn’t every day that she got to see such a small wine cabinet. And Echo knew she liked antiques.
Shaking off her internal rationalizing, she glanced at her sister again. “I sealed it with some wax and wrapped it in a black cloth marked with protection and containment sigils.”
Echo sighed. It wasn’t too heavy but it wasn’t the usual, I forgive you, one either.
“We have to take it home.”
“I know.” Echo ran a hand over her face. “I know we do.”
“But now I don’t get to relax.”
Relax? “Echo, why would we relax on a job?” Unless it wasn’t a job. And then it made sense. Why Echo dragged her feet for the first two days, and why anything job related seemed to put her on edge. “We’re here for a guy, aren’t we? You set this whole thing up.” And she actually felt bad for a second.
“No.” Echo pulled out the chair to sit. “I heard there was something going on here so I may have suggested that we get the job. I didn’t think it would actually be something we’d have to go back to the compound for.
Aine shook her head, a tsk on her tongue. “I can’t believe I almost apologized.”
“Love you too, sis.” Echo grinned up at her.
Still shaking her head, Aine gathered the papers into a neat pile. “I hope the dybbuk gets you.”
Next up — He couldn’t sleep in that bed no matter how hard he tried.