Andrea, Attorney at Law

The Mad Dwarf: Part 10

    It all made sense; slowly, of course, but now I knew exactly what was going on.
    I pushed Andrea behind me and stepped in front of her, my hands still raised in the air.
    “Hey! I said- I said stop!” Maddox retreated, trying to keep the same distance between us. His hand shook, and the wand was now pointing all over the room.
    “Travis...” Andrea warned.
    “I’ve just had it. I told you. I want this case to be over, and I don’t care how it ends.” I took another step.
    Maddox leaned back. “You don’t? What’re you mad?”
    “Quite,” I said, taking another step. “So, go ahead. Use that wand.”
    Maddox looked, almost pleadingly, over my shoulder at Andrea. “I’ll do it! Don’t think I won’t! Get him to back up!” His voice was at a fever pitch.
    “Travis.” Andrea used her best command voice, but I ignored it.
    “Well? Go ahead. Use. That. Wand.” I swallowed, trying not to make my nervousness obvious.
    “Ah!” Maddox threw the wand, then leaped behind the desk.
    “Not so fast!” I yelled and jumped after him. I grabbed him in my arms, and a tussle ensued.
    This way, that way, our arms entangled, disentangled and re-tangled. First, he was scratching at my face, like some deranged feline, and then I was meagerly punching him with all my poor limited strength.
    “You were a cop!?” I breathed out, not understanding how I was winning this struggle.
    “Oof!” Maddox went limp as a book miraculously appeared above us and connected with his temple.
    I rolled out from under him as his body slumped to the floor, and looking up saw Andrea holding a book in one hand. She reached out, then pulled me to my feet.
    “Are you okay?” She asked.
    “Yeah. I think so.” The side of my head was numb, from the earlier fall, but now the other side pounded. My face felt hot; my fingers revealed slight traces of blood.
    “He scratched the hell out of you,” Andrea said, hiding the amusement from her face.
    “I can feel that.” I looked down at the crumpled Maddox. “How the hell was he able to arrest people?”
    “I think he had mainly a desk job.” Andrea walked over to where the wand laid, then picked it up between two fingers. “My guess is he was on the scene with Blackstone with another purpose other than as an arresting officer.”
    “You think he orchestrated it?” I sat down on the table and tried to get my bearings.
    “If not fully, I bet he helped for most of it.” Andrea looked over at me, with what I thought was admiration in her eyes. “That was very brave of you, Trav. How did you know it wasn’t a real wand?”
    I shrugged. “Gut feeling." I lied. "I’m starting to think this whole operation is just a rouse. How else could they get away with this many employees if they were indeed developing illegal, dangerous weapons? Even if all those employees are as zonked out as they seem, there’s no way they could keep this a secret.”
    Andrea paused. “But, we’re here. This is an actual building with actual people. It’s even called ‘Delatrosh Wand and Staff.' What is this place if not another arm of the mining corporation?”
    “This is just a guess,” I said. “But, it’s the best lead I can come up with. I think the ‘wand and staff’ part is recently created. This is some sort of front, and Blackstone stumbled upon the reason, or was too deeply involved to be left alone.”
    “But for what?” Andrea asked, imploringly. She seemed at a total loss for words.
    “I don’t know. But, we’re making headway. And I think it’s all plausible. This guy,” I kicked at the unconscious Maddox, “was being used to frame Blackstone. Whether Blackstone’s memory loss, outbursts, and Pale Man sightings have been occurring or were induced is another question. I can’t be sure about that yet, but I am certain he was framed, and it’s because of this company, which is clearly a sham.”
    “Right.” Poking Maddox lightly with her foot, she nodded towards his unmoving form. “What do we do with him?”
    I had no clue. I said as much, and Andrea moaned with impatience.
    “We need to question him, but I doubt he’ll be out for long.” As if on cue, Maddox stirred slightly. “We still need to figure out what he was looking for, and why did the building empty?”
    Andrea scanned the surroundings, “I just want to take one more look around. Just in case we find something.”
    “Go for it, but we should hurry up,” I said tensely. 
    “Yup,” and she was at it; sleuthing around like a bloodhound.
    Only a few seconds passed before out of the corner of my eye I saw the briefest glimpse of a figure stalk past. Tall, hunched and maddeningly quick.
    “You see that?” I asked, grabbing Andrea’s shoulders.
    She was busy probing through the bookshelf looking for other items Maddox might have been hiding. “No,” she said uninterested.
    “Someone else is up here.” I moved towards the door, with another unexpected burst of bravery.
    “Huh?” She was holding a book, but put it back and took a step towards me.
    Looking down the hallway, I saw the figure disappear down the flight of steps. What precisely I saw took my breath away.
    “Travis,” Andrea grabbed my shoulder, and I jumped a good foot in the air.
    “Andrea.” I leaned close.
    “Travis, what is it?” Her eyes became wide. “You look like you saw a ghost.”
    “Something like that,” I said and laid my head back. “I think I saw the Pale Man.”
    Andrea did not miss a beat. She shoved my out of the way and took off down the hallway.
    After a few deep breaths, I started to run after. “Be careful! You might lose your mind, like that daft dwarf back in jail!”

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