On I-5 heading North, February 4th, 12 AM
“Sorry to wake you up but we have something we would really like to examine soon.”
Groggily the doctor says okay.
“Do you have facilities to conduct an autopsy soon?” she asks.
“Have you already reported this?” he says thinking about the legal issues.
She tells him no and Ilyes asks if it is a person. She tells him it isn’t and relieved he says he can help. Shaw asks him to be discrete and they decide bring the remains to his house that night.
As the others drive over, Ilyes hastily builds an autopsy room in his basement. He arranges and disinfects a metal table and constructs a primitive isolation unit with plastic shower curtains.
He shouts after them, “Let me know how it turns out.”
Ilyes’s house, Bellevue, Washington, 1 AM
An hour later they pull into Ilyes’s garage. The doctor meets them there and asks, “where did you find this animal?”
“You might want to steel yourself and just take a look at it,” Shaw says.
Disquieted by the humanoid corpse, Ilyes helps Robert get it on the table. Since he covered in the dust oozing from the numerous gunshot wounds, the doctor agrees to let the detective help. The others keep a safe distance.
Ilyes begins his examination with the sand leaking from its body. The tan colored substance is easily compacted and seems to be made of a fine dust. Under a microscope it proves to be not a silicate nor made of any known organic material.
He then starts an exterior examination of the corpse. It weighs only 90 pounds but is 5 feet 11 inches tall. It possesses normal human feet and limbs. Strangely it possess no hair and its skin is a pasty white. Its ears are shriveled and its eyes are entirely black. Checking its mouth he finds it utterly dry with a withered tongue and yellowed teeth. He gets cast of the teeth for possible later identification.
The creature is painfully thin. The abdominal cavity feels empty and their are signs of surgical scars from an appendix removal. There are also signs of an early small pox vaccination. It possesses female genitalia and Ilyes estimates her age to be somewhere between early and late adulthood. The hands are quire strange with multiple additional joints on each finger, varying between 3 to 6 more segments.
The wounds indicate damage from close range buckshot as well as point blank shots from a .38. There are also signs of shrapnel from an explosion of some sort. The others describe how they killed it.
Next he makes the Y-incision. He and Robert briefly smell the scent of pine trees. Puzzled he begins his catalogue of the organs. Most are dry and long atrophied. The same strange dust pools around them. The stomach is empty. The lungs though drier than normal seem strangely healthy but everything else, even the heart is dead and desiccated. “Very interesting and very weird, how the hell was it metabolizing?”
Ilyes asks the others how long ago it was alive. Their answer astounds him. It is biologically impossible.
He conducts some biopsies, finding all the cells dead. He hypothesizes that the creature died of dehydration and extracts a sample from the kidneys. But unfortunately there are no signs of crystallization consistent with that diagnosis.
Shaw asks about its bones to distract from the disturbing details of kidney damage. Ilyes takes a sample from a rib. It seems normal except that the marrow is utterly dry. He remarks how strange it is that all the moisture has been extracted from this thing and yet it is still flexible.
He turns his attention to the moistest part of it, the eyes. He extracts an eye and examines it. It seems normal except for its lack of an iris or pupil. He speculates that the creature must be color blind. It contains clear vitreous fluid and he locates working tear ducts.
He checks for any pieces of metal in it, finding only fragments from the grenade. Checking the lungs again he finds more of the dust.
Ilyes moves to the cranium. He prepared for spiders to pour out but instead captures a pile of dust. Its head is full of the material. Strangely both he and Robert hear the sound of unfamiliar laughter as the dust pours out. The creature lacks a brain.
The forensics expert cuts open its arm, testing its musculature. The dry but tough fibers seem healthy. The sinews are somehow lubricated. He also finds a complete lack of nerves, resulting in a complete lack of galvanic response. Instead of a nervous system it seems to use this strange dust.
They experiment with the dust, exposing it water. Water seems to greatly dissolve the material resulting in a thin brown smear.
It is then that Ilyes notices some of the earliest cuts now show evidence of minute repairs. It is healing itself. Terrified and fascinated he stares in horror.
Robert prods him and he points out the scarring. “Is that unusual?” the detective asks.
Ilyes begins to point out how unnatural it is, “Yes. It is. This thing suffered catastrophic damage. There is no way it could be operating under any normal biology! I cut a Y-incision!! I cut its head open!!!”
Robert asks Vito to help him restrain the doctor. As he settles down he mutters, “It can’t be. Its dead. Its not alive. Its not dead.”
Shaw meanwhile looks for rope to tie the creature down.
After a breather, they train a camera on it. The image is still blurry. Ilyes begins a series of tests to see how to destroy it.
They chop off a finger. They find parts that are separated from it quickly shrivel and decay.
Exposure to water also seems to cause decay as well.
The dust itself doesn’t react to chemicals though solvents cause it greatly compact. When burned it gives off a white light. Vito comments, “We really need to get this into a GC mass spec.”
“This water for some reason has special ionic properties,” Ilyes speculates.
In the end they conclude that fire and water seem most harmful to it. Its dry composition makes it vulnerable to fire while exposure to water causes rapid decay. Ilyes begins to calculate how soon it will recover from its wounds. He figures they have several days or weeks at least.
As the others leave, Ilyes makes sure the creature is locked down. He encases its limbs in concrete.
Bellevue, Washington, February 4th, 7 AM
The next morning Dr. Ilyes checks the body. It is still slowly healing but none of the dust has regenerated. Nor has a finger they soaked in water. With that in mind he rigs a tank of water to drop on it if it tries to escape.
He also calls a friend of his at the local Medical School and gets him to identify the dental records.
Seattle Area, February 4th through 8th
Dr. Ilyes soon hears back from his friend. They teeth belong to a Francine Johnson. Born in 1936, he soon finds out she disappeared sometime in the late 60s. But she was never reported as missing.
Robert meanwhile spray paints a message to attract VI‘s attention. He then visits his friend, Mike Matthews, at the University of Washington’s chemistry department. He gives him a sample of the dust and asks him to do a chemical analysis. He explains he found it at a crime scene.
A day later, Mike calls him up. “What the hell dude? What is this stuff?”
Robert feigns ignorance but Mike continues, “No really what is this stuff?”
“You tell me this is your area.”
“I have no idea what this is. I don’t even know what elements this is made of.”
“Is that unusual?” the detective asks.
“Did you sleep through chemistry?” his friend asks.
“So this is something unique?”
“This this stuff, doesn’t exist,” the frustrated graduate student exclaims.
“When you say it doesn’t exist you mean we don’t no about it yet?”
“No its doesn’t fit on the periodic table.” Mike goes on to tell him of its lack of magnetic properties, unnatural lightness, and complete lack of reaction to acids or bases. “What kind of crimes are you investigating?”
“I’m sorry I can’t give you any more information. I’ll talk to my boss about it. Sorry about it.”
Back in Bellevue, Iyles begins to investigate where the creature is getting the matter to regenerate. He erects a Faraday cage around it and begins to take notes.
On Monday, Robert gets a phone call at the office. VI asks what he wants. Robert explains, “we recovered a specimen and we thought you or one of your associates would be interested.”
“Sure, When do you want to meet?”
Northgate mall, February 8th, 8PM
The detectives find the hoodie clad monster hunter lounging near the Cinnabon. Robert makes introductions and then gets some coffee and cinnamon rolls for the group.
“That happens,” he says seriously.
“You’ve dealt with Sandmen before?” she asks.
“No, but I’ve been dealing with monsters for a while.” He goes on to explain he has a friend who studies ENEs, or extra-normal entities. “I can see if I can get him down here to help.”
Shaw confides, “our lab guy is good but I’m sure he would appreciate the help.”
When Robert gets back they move their discussion to the more secluded area in front of an abandoned Waldenbooks.
“How did you catch it?” VI asks.
They describe their trip to Yesler Terrace including the strange doll and the drug they took to see the house and Sandmen.
“I’ve heard rumors about things like that,” he says about the drug. He looks at the doll Robert is carrying with him and pulls out his phone.
Gesturing with the phone he asks, “You mind?”
He takes picture of doll. “I have a friend who might be able to tell us more.”
Talk moves to the their research and the Westergard family. They also discuss the effects of holy water on the creature.
“I’ve heard of priests who know ways of dealing with monsters,” VI remarks.
Vito asks him if he knows any in the area. He doesn’t but will try to reach out via his contacts. “I’ve heard the Vatican has its own team to deal with these kinds of threats.”
“Do you want to look at it tonight?” Robert asks.
VI is eager to see the thing. Shaw calls Ilyes to check its alright. He agrees and will be waiting for them. They leave and drive to Bellevue.
VI follows with Vito in a SUV stuffed with video equipment in back. The two discuss the gear along the way. He has nothing to catch clear video of a sandman but he does have stuff to video tape ghosts.
Bellevue, Washington, , February 8th, 9:30 PM
The young man focuses a handycam on the creature. Robert explains to VI, “Here is an associate of ours with some medical experience.”
As the camera turns toward him, Ilyes blurts, “I don’t want to be on the film.” He shields his face with one hand. “Please keep me off this, I’ll provide medical experience.”
“Okay”, VI says turning the camera on the blurry form of the Sandman. He begins to interview Ilyes, keeping him out of the picture. “Tell me about the creature.”
“By all biological rights this specimen should have been inanimate for the last 20 or 30 years. If this was found in the Mojave desert, I’d believe you.” The forensic expert goes on about his findings. As he lectures on, VI sets up a tripod.
“One of the things we are trying to find out is what it was using in lieu of a circulatory system,” Ilyes says as he begins to speculate on the biology of the creature. “There was no sign of a brain what so ever.”
“Well it was a woman,” Robert quips. As he laughs, Shaw gives him a bruising punch in the shoulder.
“Oh I’ve got to take this,” VI interrupts as his phone begins to buzz. He looks at the text. “Huh, ok.”
He turns to the others. “So my friend, he’s kind of interested in that doll.”
“How so?” Robert asks.
“He’s just asked me if you’d be willing to part with it.”
“Oh sure how much money is he offering?” Shaw says greedily.
“I’ll ask,” he says as he texts back.
Robert ells VI, “I’d be happy to show it to him or something. I don’t want to part with it.”
“I’ve never actually met this guy,” VI explains. “I’ve only interacted with him over the internet. But he knows a lot about these sorts of things.”
A reply text arrives. “That’s a bit of money,” VI remarks. He tells the others, “He’s apparently willing to offer 10 grand for it.”
“I’d like to know some more about it first,” Robert says.
“What do you expect to learn?” Shaw asks him.
“I don’t know.”
VI interjects, “he says it doesn’t have to be immediately.”
“See if he’d be interested in meeting with me, I can bring the doll by,” Robert says.
VI texts back. The reply is quick. VI says, “He says he doesn’t meet people.”
They return to the interview. VI note the lack of any forgetfulness about the Sandman though it still appears blurry on film. “Maybe it is inactive.”
Shaw thinks. “Maybe it has to be conscious.”
Ilyes continues his speech. He delves into the particulars of its bodily structure. He pauses as he considers the slow repairs to its body. “Where is it getting the material from? It has nothing to metabolize into tissue.”
Shaw posits that it might be pulling material from the air.
VI asks for a sample of the sand which they give him.
Ilyes asks him about the Groetnick. The monster hunter knows about as much as Ken. The creatures are survivors able to live in both salt and fresh water. They possess primitive lungs and can move slowly on land. He advises him to lock it up.
As VI and Ilyes talk, Robert asks Shaw what to tell his friend Mike Matthews. She advises him not to tell him anything more but perhaps to slip him some patty cash for his work on the case. They settle on a cover story where they found the dust, which they assumed was a weird drug, at a in crime scene.
VI turns to the others. “I kind of guess you learned more about Ken?”
Robert looks at Shaw. She denies telling knowing what happened to him.
“I just want to know if he is okay,” the young black man says.
“I don’t think the sandmen found him,” Shaw hints.
Shortly afterward the group breaks up for the evening. VI gives Robert an email address for his hacker friend: firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 9th to February 27th
Over the course of the month Dr. Ilyes makes sure the Greotnick is secure. He also begins working on getting a ichthyologist from out of state to identify the creature. I
As for the Sandman he eventually determines the matter for its repairs are coming from the ambient dust such as skin flakes and small hairs. Increasing the dust content of the air doesn’t seem to speed up regeneration but perhaps a vacuum or similar isolation might slow down the process.
He gets further with his investigation of Francine. The Seattle native vanished in 1968 as near as he can determine. Her family barely recalls her and her son explains that she just left one day and abandoned them. Her last place of employment was Brickley’s clothing department store in 1968.
Shaw meanwhile makes sure that there are no legal entanglements from the case of Kenneth Thomas. There was no follow up on the police report for loud noise in the neighborhood of the House. Also no one comes to check in about the missing persons case.
“Hey Frank, I hear things have been getting better,” she tells him. When he doesn’t say anything, she brings up the old office.
“We had a party there, right?” the old man says.
“Yes,” Shaw tells him. She asks about the armory he hid there.
“Always be prepared,” he replies.
“There was a crucifix,” she says carefully. When he looks distantly at a wall, she continues. “What was that for?”
“That was a long time ago,” he says. “It belonged to a friend.”
She asks what his friend’s name was. He concentrates. “Father…something or other. He was a priest.”
The younger detective asks about the weapons. “There are things out there, you have to be prepared.”
“Did you keep records?” she asks.
“Files…I can’t remember.”
Armed with this knowledge, Shaw investigates this unknown priest. She talks to Frank’s wife, Mavis. The old secretary is a regular church goer but there are only a few pirests she can think of. One is Father William. He passed away a few years ago but ran their local church for decades. He officiated at their marriage. The other is Father Manny, the new priest. He is quite elderly.
Then Mavis recalls someone else. “There was one other priest I can think of. I only met him a couple times. He was a friend of Franks. Ben…Benedict, that was his name.”
“Yes, I think they met through a case.”
Shaw probes deeper. Mavis recalls meeting Benedict in the early 80s. She hasn’t seen him since the late 90s. Shaw tells Mavis that Frank’s memory seems to be getting better.
She then begins her own search for Father Benedict. Unfortunately there are no matches in any public records or any of Frank’s case files.
Over the month, a new missing persons case come to the firm, involving a possible runaway. As she is discussing the matter with Jack Lawrence she brings up the earlier missing persons case. “I wonder if this anything like Kenneth Thomas.”
“Who?” he asks.
“Oh just another case I’ve been working.”
It seems Jack doesn’t remember the case at all. Shaw asks, “Is there no case file for him?”
On his computer, he looks it up. It seems the case was closed. “I would have thought I’d remembered that, weird.”
“They must be working you pretty hard,” Shaw says.
Robert meanwhile quietly follows up the loose ends of the Kenneth Thomas case. Liz, Ken’s supposed girlfriend, is missing from Cafe Equinox and the staff no longer remembers she ever existed. The other locations from Ken’s map turn up to be a collection of abandoned homes and warehouses, several suffering fire damage and under lax police investigation. His talks with Ken’s former adviser Dr. Baker are more informative. He describes Kenneth as distracted with fanciful notions about local mythology. Looking into Benjamin Miner, he finds that his family barely recalls him and believes he left long ago.
Robert also visits the House. He finds that while holding the doll, he can see it with difficulty. The front of house has been wrecked by Vito’s grenade. He also researches the doll itself. It is not anything unique but would fetch a good price with a collector. As for the owner, the Westergards had a daughter named Isabel who was born in 1906. She vanishes from public record sometime after 1940. Her father was employed by the shipbuilding industry and retired in 1950.
Everett, NOSC Base, February 27th
While at the Navy Reserve base for training, Vito is called into a meeting. His CO seems a bit confused and tells him someone wants to talk to him. He shows him into a small room.
The rugged Agent Gray is there. “Good to see you again. Take a seat.”
As Vito sits down, the older man continues, “I want to talk to you about some lingering fallout from Afghanistan.”
He reveals to him that one of the things he fought there escaped and made its way to Seattle. He slides a folder over to him. Inside is a series of photographs. “This was taken six days ago, I think you’ll recognize some of what you see there.”
Vito instantly recognizes Nick Gilmore’s face. but the body it is part of is completely different. “I recognize part of it.”
He turns to the Man in Black. “What is this thing?”
“Its part of an experiment done by a terrorist organization.” He explains that they suspect that this was not the intended result. Even so it is a threat to the American public. His team has been tasked with dealing with this creature. He asks if he will join them.
Vito agrees and Gray details its known history. They suspect it traveled through India and from there to Singapore. There it had some altercations with the local police. Then it traveled, probably by cargo ship to San Diego. A month and half ago it arrived in Seattle. Since there its been staying put. He’s no sure why in area but it is possible it is after Vito.
“There’s an expert I’ve tried to ask about this,” Gray says. “I hoping to hear back from him soon.”
He describes its suspected abilities: superhuman strength and the ability to disguise itself. Gray also suspects it may be vulnerable to fire. “I’ve encountered things like this before.”
They discuss requisitions. Gray has already put in a request for a sniper rifle as well as incendiary rounds.
Once that is settled he introduces him to his team: Agents Lynch, Jacobs, and Noah. He explains he should expect to help them nights. Also this work will not leave any paper trail.
He asks if he gets an agent code name. Gray tells him no.
“Call me Chief,” Vito replies.
Bellevue, Seattle, March 2nd
Dr. Ilyes gets a call from his friend at the medical school, Dr. Wilkens. “You have some connections to an investigating firm? You were doing some consulting right?”
Ilyes tells him yes. Wilkens continues, “I was wondering are they discrete?”
“They handle some weird and sticky issues,” he tells his friend.
“There’s been a situation over here at the medical school over the last few weeks.” Dr. Wilkens proceeds to describe a series of organ theft from the school’s cadavers. “At first I thought it was just students pulling pranks.”
“But now you suspect criminal activity?”
“Yes. I’m not sure if the staff is involved or not. I’d like to be sure before involving the authorities.”
Ilyes agrees to set up a meeting with One of a Kind Investigations. He calls Shaw and gives her only the barest information. He stresses the need for discretion. They set up a meeting for later in the week.
Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, March 4th, 1 PM
As Mavis brings in refreshments, Ilyes makes introductions.
Shaw asks the doctor, “what can I help you with?”
“Kevin has told me you are pretty discrete. I have a problem at my work place. I am the head of the medical school at the University of Washington. We have a number of cadavers which we use for medical training. Over the past three and half weeks there have been four cadavers that have had organs removed. I’m worried due to the lack of signs of a break-in that it may have been one of our students or staff. I’m worried about our school’s reputation. Maybe it is just a thief breaking in. While that is still bad, it is much better than if it is someone from the school.”
“And these organs they would be sold on the black market?” Shaw asks.
“Possibly. But it would be very dangerous for any possible recipients.”
Shaw and Wilkens work through the financial details.
Once the price is initially set they talk through the specifics of the case. At the moment only Dr. Wilkens, Dr. Sarah Woodruff, and a security guard know anything has happened. The security guard only knows that he needs to vary his routine and that a set of security camera have been ordered. Unfortunately they won’t be installed until next week.
As the stolen organs they consist of an index finger from an African American man, an ear from a Caucasian woman, a spleen and kidney both from Caucasian males. Whoever was involved had some medical knowledge due to the skill of the workmanship. However in two cases they forgot to put the surgical tools away afterward. “Whoever the culprit is he is somewhat sloppy.”
The cadavers were not related in any way and the thefts were separated by roughly a week each. Based on the class schedule and when the organs were found missing the thefts must have occurred sometime between 10 PM and 5 AM.
Security consists of the night watchman, Robert Evans, an exterior door with an electronic lock, and a standard lock on each of the refrigeration units. As far as access there are eight doctors, twenty students, five cleaning staff, two maintenance staff, the security guard and the secretary who have access either to the room or keys to the room.
Shaw decides she will head the investigation of the the assembled suspects finances. Meanwhile she asks Wilkens about placing one of her people at the school as a student. She says her employee Robert Mill can fake the knowledge.
“I really hope its not one of the students? I really hope it is no one connected to the university,” Wilkens frets. He agrees however and arranges for Robert to be a late transfer student.
March 5th through 10th
Vito Vitacelli spends his evenings with the Men in Black and his days working for One of a Kind Investigations. However Agent Gray’s unable to get all the gear he requested. He ends up with a police sniper rifle and some incendiary rounds.
Shaw meanwhile checks out out the staff and students at the medical school. She finds nothing unusual. She clear the security guard first. Bob Evans is apparently served in the navy, this is his third career. Dr. Wilkens has worked at the school for 12 years while the elderly Dr. Woodruff has taught for 30 years. She was a former head of the school but is due for retirement.
Shaw has Vito contact the Bob Evans and give him some pointers on security.
Vito approaches him as he starts work. “How have things been going here, anything strange?”
He tells the older man what he heard from Wilkens and gives him some advice for improving security. He also gives him his cell number in case anything comes up.
Lake City, March 10th, 11:30 PM
The team is driving around in a van filled with electronics equipment. Agent Noah reports, “We’re picking up a weak signal.”
They follow the signal to a series of car dealerships. The van stops and Gray barks, “Noah stay here. Jacobs take the remote unit and head two blocks south. Try to triangulate. Lynch and I will try to intercept it. You,” turnign to Vito, “get on that truck on that ramp.”
Vito scales the ramp and gets positioned on the pickup. He can here the agents at work over the radio.
“Jacobs, where are you?” Gray asks.
Noah breaks in. “He’s close. Probably in the next dealership.”
Agent Gray calls over the radio. “Chief, keep an eye out you may be able to spot him.”
Vito soon spots movement along a low hedge separating the two dealerships. “Movement to your southwest.”
As they approach, something leaps over a car and heads toward Vito. “Closing me, taking shot.”
Vito squeezes the trigger and a round blasts through the creature’s head. It topples backwards and fallens behind a car.
Agents Gray and Lynch approach its location. About twenty seconds later, Gray calls, “Do we have triangulation? Lynch go that way, its still moving. Chief keep your eyes open.”
Vito spots it moving incredibly fast past him. Its head is cracks but not as badly damaged as he would expect. ‘C6’ is tattooed on its shoulder. It rushes to the street and leaps over it.
“Fleeing to the west,” the sniper says as he puts another round into it.
The creature stumbles but managed to get around building. By the time the Agents catch up it is gone.
Agent Gray gets them back in the van. “Time for a change of plans, let’s find where it is hiding.”
Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, March 11th, 5 PM
As he checks in at the office, Robert notices a folder on his computer desktop. Something that wasn’t there before. It is labeled Robert and contains a simple text document:
Your current investigation possesses unique dangers. Avoid the tunnels. Do not trust the children. The thief knows not what he does. One of your team is moonlighting.