The Inside Man Comes Out (a short story)

This story is a continuation of the plot started HERE.

“Look, I don’t mean to criticize, but…”

“Of course you do,” Storm interrupted his partner. “The only reason anyone starts a sentence with ‘I don’t mean to criticize’ is to soften the sting of the critique.”

Storm Hamilton threw his old brown fedora expertly onto the hatstand which rested on the edge of his desk. He collapsed into his black leather chair.

“What do you expect me to say to the Captain about this?” Detective Drake asked.

“Why do you have to say anything at all?”

“Because those are the rules.”

“Listen, sometimes being partners means more than some arbitrary rules.”

Drake paused to consider the thought.

“Excuse me…um…are you Detective Hamilton?” A man in a ragged suit made his way around Storm’s desk, visibly avoiding Storm’s alien partner.

“Yes, how’d you find me?” Storm said, knowing full well he was the only human in the room.

“Well, I…”

“It was a joke. And Storm will do just fine. We like to be informal around here.” Drake frowned; Storm smiled. “Please, have a seat.”

The man struggled with the chair as if it were an oiled pig he couldn’t get a grip on. He was jittery and paranoid, glancing this way and that, and his body shook as if he was coming down off some heavy dope. The man made a conscious effort to avoid eye contact with Drake.

“What’s the problem?” Storm asked, looking the man over.

His suit was dirty, as if it hadn’t been washed in days–or weeks–and his brownish red hair was cut down almost to the skull. He almost looked like the pictures of those people being processed into concentration camps during the Middle War.

“Do you think we can have a moment alone?” the man said, nudging his head towards Drake.

“That’s my partner. He goes where I go, hears what I hear.”

“It’s just, I don’t feel…”

“You’re a cultist, right? Come over here Drake. Set this guy straight.”

“Storm, I don’t think that is a good idea.” Drake stood his ground.

“Why not?” Storm asked. “Because the government would rather let people go on thinking they are gods? It’s time to cut the bull. Tell the man.”

Drake stood stern-faced for a long moment before speaking, “Sir, the Seraphim are not angels. We are mortal, biological creatures just like you.”

“I know,” the man said. “It has taken a long time for me to accept it, but I know…I was just a child during the war. My father was killed…my mother took me and my brothers and fled. I was sure we were going to die. But then you came…the aliens, I mean…down from space, knocking the missiles right out of the sky…How was some like me, who was raised to believe God was watching over the world…How was I supposed to come to terms with what had happened? With what people had done to each other and the circumstances of our rescue?”

Storm listen to the man’s story with more interest that he expected. The confession did have a sort of sense to it.

“What made you change your mind?” Storm asked.

“Kirney. I heard he’s dead…He was the one that helped a lot of us break out of our mental shackles. But he’s dead, and I think I’m going to be next.”

The man started to grow hysterical, rising from his chair.

“You have to protect me!” he cried.

“Sit down. You’re safe here,” Storm said. “This was what I was worried about,” he said to his partner.

“I see your point now.” Drake sighed.

“Please, sit down. What’s your name?” Storm asked.

“Abernathy…Ross Abernathy.”

“Well, Mr. Abernathy,” Storm began, loosening his coat, “why do you think someone is going to kill you?”

“Jasper Smith, one of the cult elders, is out to get Kirney’s followers. He blames us for the death of his nephew…”

“Aiden Smith. Yes, we know,” Storm said.

“How do you know?”

“We discovered Aiden’s body…and Kirney’s.”

“So then you know what Jasper Smith is capable of,” Ross said, his voice trembling.

“Do you think he killed Kirney himself?” Drake asked.

“No, Jasper doesn’t get his own hands dirty. He has a hundred loyalists to do that sort of work.”

“Professionals?” Storm asked.

“Yes, some. A handful of former mobsters and other rough types.”

“Listen, we will keep you safe,” Storm began, “but you have to help us take these guys down, before things get further out of hand.”

“Okay. I want to help. For Kirney’s sake, rest his soul.”

“For tonight, you can stay with me, alright?” Storm put a hand on Ross’s shoulder; the man’s tremors eased.

“Storm, you cannot…” A glare from the human detective silenced Drake.

“I suggest you spend some time with your family, partner,” Storm said. “Tomorrow we go hunting.”

*The plot continues HERE.

*More stories set in the world of Storm Hamilton and the Seraphim can be found here:

Old Bones

Signs of a Past Life

Some Things You Can’t Let Go

That Which is Not Displayed

Green Food


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