I recommend that you read a few stories before this one – ‘Pseudo’ by Strike should help (Duh), as would ‘Queen Of Rain’ by Ashrin, the latter having Vachon in it. ‘Road Trip’ by me has both Vachon AND Jeremy in it. Past RPG’s from Strike’s page relate to the events in Jeremy’s past and ‘Platinum Grit’ (an Australian comic now released in America) Issue Three should introduce you to Jack Leaderboard P.I. Once you’ve read all those stories, and know what I’m talking about, you should be so tired that you won’t have time to read this at all, thankfully ? Note: All sections marked by + and + mean it’s being dreamt/imagined by Jack in his head, and everything has a dated 20’s look to it – detective heaven. Throughout this, Jack wears a trenchcoat and hat, and has a cigarette in his mouth, except when he’s in his ECR disguise. Just so ye knoo.
“Pseudon’t” (from the files of Richard ‘Jack’ Leaderboard P.I.)
9:37 on a Friday morning. Up ’til now, the week has been so slow, you could sing the National Anthem to it. I’m trying to get to work, but the 147 bus is as late as Alicia Barrett: more than 5 minutes. When I oh-so-casually look at the schedule so as to not arouse suspicion, I learn that this isn’t the 147 bus stop.
The little detective bone at the back of my nose tells me something – this is no ordinary mistake. I was tempted to chalk the whole thing up as some sort of scheduling accident, when it hits me – that’s just what they want me to think. They went to alot of trouble to make this look innocent, but they overlooked one vital point. There’s no Greengrocer on this route. Right now, I don’t know who ‘they’ are. I don’t know what their game is. I don’t know why Alicia Barrett and associates are so keen for me to miss my 147 bus.
In fact, I don’t know much of anything – yet.
The detective placed a fresh cigarette in his mouth, and lit it with a lighter he held in his paw.
But I’m going to find out. I’m a private eye, see – a sleuth, a trenchcoat, a shamus, a gumshoe, or as my friends like to say, a Dick.
The detective lifted his head slowly, looking up at the empty road ahead of him.
My name’s Jack Leaderboard. Fly me.
Miyau grunted as she tugged on the sofa for what must have been the thirtieth time that day, but it continued to remain stuck in the doorway. She had decided to finish moving into her new ‘pad’, but had come across the problem of furniture and moving it. Miyau was a strong she-kat, but every kat has his (or her) limit, and Miyau had reached hers. You needed two people to move a sofa, and that was that. Miyau didn’t know anyone that she could call to help her, or someone who she knew and could call, or someone she new and could call, and who would help her. Being a ‘ghost’ did that. You kept a low profile, because, well, ‘you’ were dead, and dead people didn’t need help moving into their new house, apparently.
Friday. 11:17 pm.
I finally found the schedule for the 147. Sure, there was trouble, but you can’t argue with a bus. I can’t, anyway. I’ve got Jimmy ‘the Clutch- Pencil’ Mulrooney running spectoral analysisesses, analysisisses, analyssissi, anal- I’ve got Jimmy to run a spectoral analysis on the bus route. And while he’s at it, I’m getting him do some more of them.
But it doesn’t take a thumb the colour of a jilted dame’s eyes to tell me this is the patch I’m looking for. Jack knelt on the grass outside 147 Manx Street, and examined some fibres more closely. They had been caught in amoungst some grass stems, and Jack placed them with tweezers inside a small plastic bag. He looked up at the small house that was there, and wandered up to the door. He knocked twice and waited. A tomkat answered the door.
“Hello? Who are you?” he asked.
“Never mind who I am. Talk”
“Alicia Barrett. The transport system. How you’re involved”
“Alicia Barrett? Isn’t she the poor kat that died in that smash a few weeks back?”
Jack wrote in his notebook and pocketed it.
“Thank you ma’am. That’s very helpful”
The tomkat closed the door. “Ma’am?” he muttered.
Jack wandered back down the drive of the house, and entered out onto the main street, following up his next lead.
Jeremy sat in his apartment, lightly flicking between the channels. There was nothing much on. He eventually decided to turn the TV off, and got back to doing his science practicum. He picked up the welding torch, put his safety goggles on, and wandered into his room.
Monday, 12:56 pm.
MegaKat City Salvage Yard. A place of car parts. I was bound to dig up some dirt on Alicia’s efforts to overthrow the entire transport system of MegaKat City here. If not, I would have to settle for a few car doors.
Jack tightened his trenchcoat and pulled his hat further down on his head, as he walked into the garage.
“Hello there. What can I do for you?”
“And your name is?”
“Jake. Jake Clawson. Can I help you?”
Jack jotted the name down in his notebook.
“Yes…I need you to fix my car” Jack lied, creating what he thought was the perfect alias and story to support it.
“Fine, that’s what we’re good at. Where is it?”
He was onto me – he knew I didn’t have a car. Caught in the act. Play it safe.
“I don’t know” Jack replied, drawing on his cigarette.
“Sir, this is a non-smoking environment. I’m afraid you’ll have to put that out” Jake pointed out, ignoring the car, temporarily.
“Put it out? Like Alicia?”
Jake froze. ‘How did he know?’ he asked himself.
“Uh…I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean”
Pix walked into the main part of the garage, and saw the two kats.
“Hi, Jake. Who’s your friend?”
“Uh…I don’t know, Pix. Who are you?”
Trouble. Don’t let them know your name, Leaderboard, or the jig is up.
“I don’t know”
“Uh…right” Pix said, taking Jake aside. “Jake” she whispered, “who IS he?”
“I don’t know” came the hushed reply, “but he knows about Alicia somehow. We’d better tell Chance”
They looked up to see the mysterious kat, but he was gone.
“Chance? We have some news for you” Jake began.
“Yes? What is it?” Chance asked, looking up from the car.
“Well….I don’t know how to put this-” Jake begun,
“Look, someone knows the truth about Alicia Barrett”
Chance jumped, and banged his head on the hood.
“Nice going, Pix”
“Well, you should have reminded me not to ever do that again last time. Sorry I-”
“Who? Who knows?”
“We don’t know. He was just in here asking questions. He’s gone now”
“Who was it? Who? Did he say his name? Where he was going?”
“No, he just came and..went” Pix muttered.
“Does he know about US? Does he know our identities? Has she told him?”
“Look, I don’t know. Should we go and ask her?”
Pix looked up in surprise. Chance had spent so long trying to purge himself of Alicia, and now Jake was suggesting he go see her again. Jake realised his mistake too, but he was too late to catch himself, as when he turned to see him, Chance was already gone.
1:17 pm, Monday
Followed subject, Chance Furlong (Male. 27. Ex-Enforcer) to 23 Feral Terrace today, the residence of one Miyau Connor (Female. 25. Female. Dame. Babycakes. Female). He briefly stayed, but then left looking displeased. It’s time I dig deeper. I plump for the old ‘Good Samaratin’ routine.
Jack Leaderboard examined himself in the mirror. He wore a ball cap bearing letters ‘ECR’ and his overalls had ‘Ecclesiastical Charity Removalist Finals ’97. Open Division’ stitched where the breast pocket would be.
“Not bad. Not bad at all”
There are no athiests on Moving Day.
Jack walked into 23 Feral Terrace, and saw Miyau sorting through a crate.
“Hey there, baby”
Miyau looked up, and narrowed her eyes at the stranger.
“I’m here to help with the moving” Jack purred, pointing to the logo on the overalls.
“I didn’t ask for anyone to help me with the moving”
“Charity requires no words, doll. What do you want moved?”
“I do this for the good Lord, sweetcakes. How about I move some furniture and secure my way into Heaven?”
“Uh..fine. Start on that sofa there”
Retracing the steps of the master-criminal. The jailing of Nate Selkirk has something to do with all this. I can FEEL it. I went into a store called ‘Computer Cee-tay’, and I was poking my nose where it shouldn’t go. That’s what we dicks do. Unfortunately, no-one likes a badly placed dick.
“Can I help you, Sir?”
“Help me? You mean help Alicia Barrett – spill it, kid”
“I’m sorry, Sir?”
“You’re covering for her. I know she’s still alive. She’s out there. And she’s going to want a good amount of computer equiptment so she can hack into the Public Transport Computer System. That’s what you’re doing, you’re covering for yourself, protecting your own, but let me tell you, kid, I’m your last hope, because once Alicia’s done with you, you’re done for. Where’s the computer that the Pumadyne thief used?”
The clerk gave a very long pause.
“Uh..sir…the computer’s gone. It used to be just there” he muttered, pointing. Jack walked off to look at it, and the clerk called the security guards.
I hit too close to home. They tossed me out on my tail, but not before I got what I wanted. On the screen of the computer that was in the same place that the hacker’s one was, there was a short message, obviously left by an associate of Alicia’s. I had managed to get it all down before being searched and had a temporary restraining order placed on me. The message read as follows:
‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy do s. I THink the on your computer is misssing. It worked then thou h. GGggggG gGgGGgg GgGg GGG gg gG GGG GggG GGg. Sorry. g’
If I’m going to break this case, I’m going to have to spend alot less time moving furniture.
+Jack Leaderboard stood in his office, facing Miyau Connor. The office was mostly dark, but light creeping in through the venetian slats illuminated strips on the wall+
She had a voice like deep-fried honey, and her body was a relief map covered in bullseyes.
+You’re a beautiful doll+ he continued.
+And you’re a dangerous dick+
+You’re not frightened, are you baby?+
+Only of scary things+
+We’ve only just met+
+You’re a funny girl, dollface+
+I lose a lot in the translation+
+So what would you do if I kissed you?+
+Don’t call me that+
+What do you think I am?+
+I’m through with thinking+
+Do you want to have sex?+
+I’ve already got one+
+Okay+ Miyau said, and walked away.
Jack Leaderboard woke up in a cold sweat. Dames did that to him. He shook his head, and the image of Miyau Connor vanished. He laid back down, and drifted off into a suspiciously sound sleep.
Tuesday. Early. The trap is set. A small advertisement in the personal column written by yours truly went to print today. ‘A.B. Meeting Required – Frozen Foods Aisle, MegaKat Supermarket 8 pm’. That should trick Alicia into putting her head into the noose. If all goes well, I’ll capture the mechanics from the garage along with her. The computer clerk won’t show. I can just tell. Theory – Alicia, working for Nate Selkirk, steals plans for advanced travelling means from Pumadyne, plans like engines that burn water and airbags for the back seats of vehicles. Alicia develops a taste for power, however, and sets up Selkirk for a piano lesson he’ll never forget. Selkirk goes behind bars, and Alicia dies in her car crash. Jake Clawson and Chance Furlong, both autoworkers perform voodoo cult ceremonies and bring Alicia back to life, so that she can take over the city as her own dead self. Hence her want for revenge on the public transport system – if there were more efficiency, she wouldn’t have died in the first place. Jake and Chance work for the same motives as the computer clerk – they wish to keep their prospective jobs: more buses = lesser car smashes. I take my place, hiding in the freezer at the end of the aisle, taking my just place between the ‘Huskie Ice Cream’ and ‘Happy Pops’, as all kats must do at one stage or other in thier lives.
A kat turned up, along with a fox. I photographed them both. They stood there for awhile, but then the fox went off to hide in the Cereal Aisle. I’ll put a profile together on the two, later. Due Legal Process can wait, though, becuase some she-kat in a trenchcoat turned up. She was packing a rod, and she made this point clear to the other kat. I couldn’t get a clear view of her, but I could hear what they were both saying.
“Why are you here?”
“Um..I’m meeting someone”
“I know that. Why do you want to meet me? Nuh-uh, don’t move. One false one, and you’ll become a quite functional umbrella stand”
“You? I don’t want to meet yo- he sent you, didn’t he?”
“The other me. Alternate Bender. A.B. He’s sent you to kill me, hasn’t he? Oh God. I don’t think I’m feeling very well”
“Shut up. Who’s this Alternate Bender? And why do you want to speak to A.B?”
“He sent for me. I wouldn’t have come, but I thought he might try to hurt me, or the others. I haven’t told them about him”
“Him? You think A.B. is male?”
“He is. I think I’m really going to have to sit down soon”
“Shut up. So A.B. stands for Alternate Bender?”
“Yes. I think. Why, what did you think it stood for?”
“Nothing. Don’t mention this to ANYONE, or I’ll have you killed, understand?”
“Yes” the kat replied quietly, and Miyau walked off, her identity still a mystery.
The kat leant against a freezer, and the fox returned. They spoke in hushed voices, and left. They’re IN the case somewhere, behind it all, I can just tell. I got a cold from the freezer. But revenge can wait. I’ve got an appointment with a dame who makes Bergman look like a fat old film director. Maybe she knows how the Barrett kit REALLY took her licks.
“I hear she died in a car crash. She’s dead now”
Jack placed the cabinet against the wall, and pushed it into place.
“I think she’s still out there” he said, staring into the distance.
“You do?” Miyau asked with her coldest voice.
“Yes. I’ve got a lead on her. I’m close. I’m convinced that she’s changed her identity”
“Do you really think so?” Miyau asked, narrowing her mouth to a thin line.
“Sure do, honey”
I asked her for her theory. She became evasive.
“What’s that over there?”
When I looked back, she was gone.
Wednesday, 5:47 pm
This whole case is like a chocolate jigsaw puzzle: it’s messy, it sticks to your paws, and you don’t know whether to fit the pieces together or just take a big bite. Am becoming incoherent. Must get more bromide.
Subject: Jeremy Kafka Lachlan MacKatlitch. Male. 21 years old. No criminal record. Orphaned at age 16. Dislikes custard.
Subject: ‘Vachon’. No other aliases known. Age: Unknown. Sex: Neither. Occupations: Magic-user, neuroradiologist, transport expert, freelancer.
I was used to this mix. One normal suspect, who was usually innocent, and dragged into the whole messy affair by the weirdo, I mean, the peculiar suspect. I decided to concentrate my efforts, and confront the weirdo.
“Um..yes? Who are you?”
Jack pushed the apartment door open, and walked in.
“Look, kid, I don’t have time to play your sick games. I’ve been inside the heads of psycho’s like you. Hannibal Lecter. Jack the Ripper. Ted Turner. I know how you think, and to be honest, I think it makes me want to puke, but I’m not going to waste my vomit on scum like you”
“Cut the act. I know the truth about you”
“You do? I..um…what?”
“I know about you and Alicia Barrett. You’re just the patsy, kid, give it in, and I’ll guarantee the Enforcers will go easy on you”
“Me? Enforcers? What?”
“You’ve done some bad things. You’re going to pay. Just as all people who use public transport do. Only thing is, you’re getting the one-way, kid. No all-day ticket. No multi-trip saver. No return ticket. The only discount you’ll get if you buy the multi-trip ticket, and turn in all of your evil associates with yourself. THEN you’ll have leniency on yourself. But only if you give up Alicia, too”
“Ticket? Alicia? What?”
“Stop covering for her, kid. I’ve got enough evidence on this video tape here to convict you alone. The only question is, are you going down alone, or will you have a few buddies with you on the ride?”
“Video tape? Ride? What?”
Jack walked over the the VCR, and put the tape in. The screen came to life, and grainy black and white resolution took over.
“For your viewing pleasure, your death, kid. Don’t hog the popcorn”
Jeremy recognised where it was filmed. It was the security footage of MegaKat City Parking Garage, Level 8 to be specific. The camera was broken, and couldn’t turn to film the fight that was going on, but Jeremy clearly saw one of the other versions of him stagger into shot and die. Jack paused the tape, and his ghostly image froze on the screen.
“I know you’re the immortal, Jeremy. I originally thought it was Alicia who had come back to life, but it must have been you in the car, impersonating her”
“Immortal? Alicia? What?”
“Here’s what happened. You were down on your luck, having no job-”
“But, I was an Enforcer then”
“Shut up, kid. I’m trying to help you. You were down and out on your luck, and you needed money. So you killed yourself for the insurance money. But that wasn’t enough. You needed more. So you and Alicia got together and planned to overthrow the public transport system. Have I missed anything, kid?”
“Insurance? Public transport? What?”
“Quit playing dumb. I got the message”
“Dumb? Message? What?”
Jack took out his notebook.
“‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy do s. I THink the on your computer is misssing. It worked then thou h. GGggggG gGgGGgg GgGg GGG gg gG GGG GggG GGg. Sorry. g’” he read out.
“Do s? G? What?”
“I know all about your scheme, Jeremy. Or should I say – Geremy. I know you’re G. You can give up the act – I know you’re planning on killing the Mayor with Vachon”
“Mayor? Vachon? What?”
“Vachon. Or as she’s referred to here – ‘the quick brown fox’. You’re both in it together. She’d have to be quick to get in on a scheme of this potential. Kill the Mayor, leave the Deputy-Mayor alive, control the public transport system – even the 147”
“Potential? 147? What?”
“The 147. My bus, Geremy. You needed it to be diverted so you’d have a clear shot at the Mayor as his car slowed to cover the hairpin bend at the corner of 4th and Straight on his way to the golfing green. I know about you, and the golf, too”
“Me? Golf? What?”
“MacKatlitch. The one flaw in your plan. You’re of Scottish origin. I hadn’t seen any two hundred and sixty three woods lying around at this stage, and I knew that Alicia didn’t have any handicaps. My guess is, Scottish or not, you’re no golfer. And that’s why you wanted to assassinate the Mayor. Your jealousy. Also, the golf carts would be most useful in your rule of the city once you controlled every bus, ferry and train. You needed a loophole, and that was it. Only thing is, I got right inside your loophole, and picked it all apart. The Deputy-Mayor is still alive, in accordance to your plan, but the Mayor is too, ruining it. Turns out I heard your song. You might have got away with it, if you hadn’t got so ahead of yourself, and if you hadn’t crossed swords with Jack Leaderboard”
“Deputy-Mayor? Song? What?”
“I heard your song, G. Or should I say – Warren G? Yes, G, I know about you tacking Warren onto your name and producing the number 1 hit. Pretty fiendish, subconsciously lulling the public into agreeing with your Machiavellian plans, so they wouldn’t object to the new public transport order you’d planned on instating”
“Subconscious? Instating? What?”
Jack walked over to the tape player and put a tape labelled ‘Evidence 14F’ in.
“I shot the Sheriff, but I did not kill the Deputy” it crooned.
Jack stopped the tape.
“Soon the public would be all for your shooting the ‘Sheriff’, and your sparing the Deputy. Deputy-Mayor, obviously. I know how it feels, kid, to look into a dame’s eyes and say ‘It’s over, sweetheart’”
“Dame? Sweetheart? What?”
“It’s over sweetheart. I know who Alicia really is. It’s all in this envelope here. You had your chance to break free, but your loyalties won’t stop you going to the clink. I’ll write you inside, kid. I’m going to give this to Feral now, and then Alicia goes down. Whether he drags you in with him, along with all the others – Vachon, Jake, Chance and Pix, I don’t know. The computer store clerk was just a stool pigeon, employed to lay red herrings that I’d eat up. But I got a bone in my throat, and I coughed up the truth. Never feed a P.I. fish, kid”
“P.I? Fish? What?”
“They’ll give you life, kid. There’s no way out of it. Being immortal won’t help you. You’ll spend your eternity behind bars. And I don’t mean you’ll be mixing drinks and slipping Mickey Finns”
“Bars? Drinks? What?”
“So long, kid”
Jack dropped his cigarette on the floor, and walked out of the apartment.
“Well, that’s the last of it” Jack said, placing the crate on the floor. “You know, I found out who Alicia Barrett really was”
“You did? Tell me more” Miyau said, rubbing the handgun in her paw that was hidden behind her back.
“Turns out A.B. left me a real paper trail to follow. Leads that appeared to lead nowhere. But then I saw it all” Jack said, turning to look out the window.
Miyau clicked the safety off.
“Saw all of what?”
“Saw the truth behind Alicia Barrett. The plan. The names. Everything”
Miss Connor pulled back on the hammer of the gun. It made a loud clicking sound, but Jack didn’t turn to face her.
“Everything? So you know then”
“Yes. I found out who Alicia Barrett really was, sweetcakes”
Miyau slowly pulled the gun out form behind her back, and pointed it at Jack’s head from behind. She gently squeezed on the trigger, but not so hard as to fire the weapon. Not yet.
“Tell me. Who was Alicia Barrett. Really”
“I sent the papers off to the Enforcers this afternoon, baby. Indisputable evidence”
“They are?” Miyau cursed silently. Maybe she could kill the kat and escape before they arrived. If worst came to worst, she tell them that she killed him in self-defence. He broke into her house and was trying to steal all of her stuff. Jack had, by moving all of Miyau’s furniture, placed pawprints on everything. Indisputable evidence. Miyau rubbed the trigger firmly.
“Yes. They’ll arrest the real Alicia Barrett. Nate Selkirk” Jack Leaderboard turned around and faced Miyau, who was now hiding the gun behind her back again.
“Nate Selkirk?” she asked, surprised.
“It was Selkirk. I’m surprised I didn’t see it earlier. The perfect alter-ego, a she-kat. Nate made Alicia up as a cover for himself, and recorded fake conversations so he could have a safety catch to fall back on in case something like this happened. But he didn’t count on ol’ Jack Leaderboard stepping in, making sure all of the correct pieces fell into place”
“So it was Selkirk?”
“I’m sorry I dragged you into all this, baby. A doll like you should never have to be dragged into a sordid case like this. Computer smuggling, treachery and violence shouldn’t bother an innocent dame”
The innocent dame hid the handgun in her back pocket, as Jack Leaderboard P.I, walked past her, and out the door.
+Miyau burst into the small office, and saw the kat standing there in the dim light of the small window. She ran forward, and he grabbed her+
+Where is he?! Where’s Jack Leaderboard!?+
+He’s gone, sweetheart+
+No!+ Miyau yelled, turning her head away.
+GONE. He knew what he was doing. We owe him more than we can ever hope to repay+
+You’re right. But in my heart I know – one day he’ll be back+
+The kat took the dame by the shoulders and looked her in the eye+
+That’s crazy talk, sister!+
+And he’ll take me in his strong, manly arms..+
“…and make a she-kat of me” Jack said and typed on his typewriter, riding his 147 bus into the sunset.
And some day, baby – I just might. End.
Would you like me to write an epilogue? A nice little epilogue which neatly ties all of the plot points up? Whether Feral uses or believes Leaderboard’s evidence? What exactly happens to all the suspects? Tidy it all up, in case Strike was planning on writing ‘Pseudo 2’, and didn’t count on me changing anything? I bet you would. Write your own. (Note: If Strike needs to (for ‘Pseudo 2’) or wants to (to get revenge), she can write the epilogue, and I’ll tack it onto this story, where what you’re reading now is. This will create 2 diff. versions of the story, one of which will come in gold-foil-hologram-covered-autographed-plastic-bag- acid-free-paper-pay-$4,550-now-quality, and a dodgy free version that’ll go onto the site)
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