A Different Set of Ears
Lightning flashed outside, and Gurney and Troxley appeared. Gurney raised his weapon to Thurston and Maximilian. “What’s going on here?”
“He’s interrogating me beyond my rights!” Maximilian gasped.
“Is that true?” asked Troxley.
“Time is of the essence, gentlemen.” Thurston was back to his polite self, although still holding on to Maximilian. “The Splitter and Savedra are missing. I fear that this creature’s release was merely the test case for whether it would work.”
“However that is, Professor, you cannot go breaking protocol.” Gurney took a small metal box out of his pocket. “Hand over Maximilian, and you can go back to your University. We’ll take it from here.”
Thurston held Max while Troxley opened the box. It emitted purple light that dissolved the black silhouette into smoke and pulled it into the device.
“I’m not going anywhere until we find Savedra!” Thurston gestured for Troxley and Gurney to move closer, and the three leaned in, heads bent. Debtra touched Thom on the wrist, bare skin to bare skin.
“This is what I got burned at the stake for,” she whispered so closely to his ear that he could feel her breath.
Thom felt like his ears popped, but he could hear the Professor’s conversation with the two trans-dimensional detectives.
“What is your deal with that woman, Homily?” asked Gurney. “She only seems to bring trouble! We did you a huge favor setting her up with her pub in this dimension.”
The Professor shook his head. “It’s too long a story to explain. Let me just say that her welfare is of utmost importance to me. Were you aware that Forsyth was attacked this morning, and whoever did so took the Splitter out of its supposedly fail-proof safe?”
“We’d gotten word of that, yes,” said Troxley. “We’re holding Forsyth for questioning now.”
“I know he’s a friend of yours, but he’s also a suspect, the only soul who could open the safe.”
“I’ll deal with that later,” Homily told them. “You two know that if there’s any chance of finding Savedra, especially if she has the Splitter, I’m the one to do it.”
“Because she’s your…”
Thurston held up a hand to silence Gurney. “We have a special relationship, yes. However, there are some things that the others don’t need to know. My student has special talents.”
All three turned to look at Thom and Debtra, who broke contact with him and blushed.
“Fine, then,” Gurney said out loud. “You have twenty-four hours to find the woman and the device, since you seem convinced they’re together. We’re going to lean on Max and Forsyth for information.”
“Be gentle with Forsyth. He’s had a rough day.”
Debtra squirmed out of Thom’s half-embrace. He’d forgotten he held her, he’d been so caught up in their eavesdropping and her touch on his wrist. He could still feel where she’d touched him, and his skin felt pulled toward her. He tried to accidentally brush against her while they walked outside.
“So, what now?” Debtra asked.
Thurston looked at her. “I chastise my student for her curiosity.”
Debtra looked at the ground. “I’m here to learn, Professor.”
“But not to drop in on private conversations. Your talents are useful, my dear, but don’t forget that I know what they are. If you use them on me again, you will be sent back with no discussion. Understood?”
Debtra nodded and wiped her eyes, but Thom noticed her narrowed, angry gaze.
“Now… Let’s go question Savedra’s butler and see if we can see where she’d gone.”
“Who is that?” asked Debtra.
Now the Professor blushed. “Someone very special to me. Come on, Thom, you can drive us to her place. She lives in a mansion in Mountain Brook.”
Thurston spun on his heel and came face-to-face with Thom. “What?”
“No. You owe us more information before we go chasing after some other person or thing or being. We could’ve gotten killed in there!”
The Professor raised an eyebrow. “I had the situation under control, and you were in no danger. I had to be in physical contact with the creature to untangle it. Besides, you already stole enough information from me by listening in on a private telepathic conversation.”
Thom decided to revisit the telepathy thing later. He stuck his hands in his pockets. “Hey, if I’m supposed to help you out, and if you’re going to be putting us in danger, we need all the facts.” Now he narrowed his eyes. “Situations can get out of control quickly, Professor.”
Thurston coughed into his hand. “I see. Perhaps you should ask the questions, then, Detective.”