Welcome to Character Creation Contest #73 -- Halloween Contest II.
That would have been a lot to put in the title
For this contest you will be continuing the story of Sleepy Hollow, that most Halloween of all Halloween tales. Your entry cannot be about Ichabod Crane, who disappeared at the end of the story. This is where your OC comes in. Your story may takes place in any universe or timeline as long as it fits the rules.
Legal to read online if you need a brush up
Rules: Create an OC. Write a continuation/sequel to Sleepy Hollow
May 14, 11:59 PM, (CST)
And I looked and beheld four riders-- ahem, writers, and with them four legendary tales for the sleepy forum (Sleepy for me anyway, my sleep cycle has been a mess lately) but only one can hold their head high when the contest ends. But mount your steed and ride fast, for voting ends May 28 at 11:59 pm (CST)
Isabel Crane and Mr. Hess by BlueEcho
Isabel's moment of fame had already come and gone. She had not known much of the story behind her life, only that she was the ward of a large estate and inheritance, and had been raised by a sequence of nannies and tutors since a young age. She had never known her parents, nor could anyone really answer any questions concerning them. What was certain was that Isabel had been given much but also had lacked much. What she lacked was the same as any person without a family lacked, answers and contact to a shared past. What she gained was a conduit to channel her natural talents. With the finest tutors she had been educated to a high level and admitted to Harvard at the age of fourteen, where she had finished her degree in quantum physics by the age of 17. She had made all the papers as the newest prodigy who was going to redefine what we thought and knew of the world, but that had passed. She had studied mostly in obscurity, having been usurped by the age of 16, as another younger prodigy had taken her place in the limelight. She was knowledgeable in the hard sciences and yet was not a researcher nor on a path to becoming a professor. Her life had taken a different route, and it was due to something that had occurred shortly after her 18th birthday.
A lawyer representing her estate had approached her and delivered a package, as part of a will enacted from a long lost family member. The package was a seemingly incoherent sequence of letters, notes, journals and books, but they touched on the missing family history that she craved. She had never thought much of her last name, Crane, and never thought of a shared family history with any others. Instead her story traced its way back to one of an infamous haunting, that of Sleepy Hollow. The story was well-known, as Ichabod Crane had disappeared after racing for the bridge next to the Old Dutch Burying Ground, which was supposed to have given him refuge. His nemesis had been the Headless Horseman, the undead spectre of a Hessian trooper that had been decapitated by cannonball during the Revolutionary War. What had followed was that the Crane family, early settlers of Connecticut and therefore rich in real estate and stature, had dedicated their combined efforts towards ghost hunting. Ghost hunting was a profession and a vocation which had not sat well with Isabel at first as her mind was very deeply set in the laws of the physical world, but ghost hunting had turned out to be not so different from quantum physics, trying to see the hidden secrets of the universe with only the aid of logic and reasoning. The package that had been given to her outlined the manner in which she would need to educate herself. She had learned some basic mystic spells from these the arcane notes, and she had trained herself in martial combat to equal the challenges that she faced. She had also used these notes to harness the power of her mind, and while she could not say that she was a psychic, she was at least more aware of the mind's capabilities than most. She now maintained an inconspicuous residence in Alphabet City in Manhattan, which she devoted to her study of the supernatural.
She had only realized that the doorbell was ringing after the sixth chiming of the bells. She had been in her study, working on some cryptic questions, but it was not that she had been so engrossed in her study. It was rather that she had heard the doorbell ring so infrequently since she had moved here, that she didn't really remember what it sounded like, and didn't immediately recognize the sound among the others that one was immersed in while living in the city. it was also odd as no one really knew that she lived there. Her neighbours kept to themselves as did she, her bills were paid through her family's estate, and her name was not even listed on the deed for the house. For someone to come looking for her here, they had to know specifically that she could be found there, and that was a small group of people.
She was presentable enough, she was still wearing her workout clothes from her morning fitness routine that had seen her run five miles, as well as a series of calisthenics in a park on the East River. She had foregone the shower as she had thought of something while running, and had wanted to look it up before it escaped her mind. She had now been sitting in her study for about an hour, and while her clothes were not sweaty, she felt a bit disheveled to answer the door. She ran her fingers through her hair, and headed for the door. Outside stood an ordinary looking delivery man, looking identical to any other from the parcel services. She looked at the name on his uniform, it said 'Van Brunt'.
"Miss Crane?" he asked.
"Yes?" she replied.
"A small package for you ma'am," he said, "I just need you to sign here."
She signed on the small electronic screen, and he handed over the package to her, a manila envelope with little weight. She smiled to him as he walked away, and then retreated into her house to inspect what she had received. The envelope was nearly weightless, and she saw why when she opened it, as it contained nothing on the inside. She looked more carefully, and knew that something was amiss. She got a letter opener from her desk, and sliced the envelope open along one of its seems. There was a simple message there "Meet at Leatherstocking's Rescue at 3 pm". Most wouldn't know such an obscure painting by its name, but Isabel did, as she spent many hours walking the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and this was one of her favorites. She felt a connection to Natty Bumppo, the hero of Leatherstocking Tales, of which the story The Last of the Mohicans was the most famous. More concerning was that no one knew that this was one of her favorites, which meant that someone has been watching her. A crazed stalker? It was possible she supposed, although the likelihood was small. She knew in cases like this that the most likely outcome was actually the least likely based on the science.
She dressed as any young woman might to go to the Met, pastel purple blouse with a black skirt, tights and high heels. She did not prepare for any type of conflict. That was not how things worked with the supernatural, it was always a game of cat-and-mouse where the supernatural force liked to play with their targets first, and so actual combat on a first meeting was unlikely.
She arrived exactly at the time that had been requested. As she stepped into the room, she saw a middle aged man sitting on one of the benches in the room, as well as two older women, who were slowly ambling around the pictures. She stood patiently as the women walked around and then out of the gallery room.
"The American legends are more real than we know," the man said.
"Sometimes right in front of our eyes," she said. Her words signaled the start of a long pause between the two.
"I am sorry," she said, "you have the luxury of my name, but yours is a mystery."
"You can call me Mr. Hess," he said.
"Very inventive," she said, "I suppose that your first name is Ian."
"You are a clever one aren't you?" he said, "perhaps as clever as your mother, and no less beautiful."
"What do you want?" she said.
"Quite simple, my dear," he said, "I want to kill you, as I have killed every member of your family going back every generation to poor Ichabod."
"And so why this introduction?" she asked, "when you could have just had an errant car run me over on a morning jog, or poisoned my takeout?"
"You are versed in the mystic arts," he said, "it is never that easy."
"So what is it then?" she said, "A test of wills? A gauntlet of punishment?"
"I am soulbound to the destruction of your family," he said, "of that there can be no question, but I had come to realize with the death of your parents that while they had lost that they still won. I was focused on the destruction of your family, and lost sights on greater evils to spread. I am here to pose you an impossible challenge, for I have grown smarter in the past twenty years, for I will attack not only you but your entire world."
"I have heard it before," Isabel said, "the boastful words of an impotent malevolent force."
"You can judge for yourself," he said, as he stood and handed her a small memory stick.
"A challenge indeed," she said.
"It would be unlike me to attempt widespread murder without even giving you a chance," he said, "though this will be unlike anything your family has faced before." She took the memory stick, and then watched him walk out of the room. She could follow him, but she knew that it was pointless. He would disappear at the first blink of her eye, or around the first corner. Instead she put the memory stick in her purse and returned home to find out what it was that she was against.
The memory stick had revealed a plan that was far beyond what she might have imagined. She had understood evil in many different incarnations before, but she had never seen this refined of an attack, nor the incorporation into the threats that plague modern society. After twenty four hours of reading, she determined that the threats were threefold. The first threat, a highly advanced technology used to make ballistic missiles undetectable which had already been given away to rogue nations. It was called Heightened Detection-Loss/ Evasion Strike System. The second threat was a trio of viruses known as Friesian, Lippizan, and Mustang meant to disrupt financial and telecommunications systems. That the three names, were names for breeds of horses was not lost on her. The third threat, a highly lethal drug resistant and highly contagious virus known simply as M4N. It was not very subtle in the end - HeDLESS "Horse" M4N, just the kind of clue that the supernatural could not resist, but Hess had been right about something. This was the kind of threat that she was not prepared for, and she would need to act fast.
The Curse Breaks by RichGenX
Yvette C’Near knew the night would not be quiet, not after what she had experienced with her client. She had been hired by her client to research and discover their family line. The client had left an hour ago, after a two hour visit, and she was just about to get ready for bed when the knock came on her door at the boarding house.
She opened the door to find the sheriff and deputy facing her. The sheriff had a grim look on his face, as if he was going to deliver bad news, while the deputy looked enraged. The sheriff nodded, and said, “Miss C’Near, I’m sorry we have to call on you at this hour, but it’s a bit urgent, and a bit tragic. Mind if we come in?”
She motioned for them to enter, and as they did, she figured she knew why they were there. She just had to keep quiet about what she experienced. “Please do.” Once they were in, and she closed the door, she asked, “What’s going on? I know I don’t have many connections in town, other than the person who hired me to research their family, and Liam. Has something happened to one of them?”
She was almost taken aback when the deputy almost lunged forward, but kept himself to just jabbing his finger into the middle of her chest. “As if you didn’t already know. Liam Van Brunt is dead, and we know you did it.”
Before she could even say anything, the sheriff put his hand up, and pushed the deputy back. “Excuse him, he’s been believing the story his sister, Catherine, has been spreading, claiming you are a descendant of Ichabod Crane. We know that can’t be true, since the story is he died at the hands of the Headless Horseman.” She noticed that the sheriff was giving the deputy a pointed look as he said, “If you believe the legend.”
She nodded, crossing her arms in front of her, and said, “It is a crazy notion. I always thought that was just a story anyhow. It wasn’t until I came here that I started thinking otherwise. Does this mean the Headless Horseman is real as well?” She already knew the answer, but she knew she had to play dumb.
The sheriff nodded, and then shook his head. “Yes, and no. The truth is that no one has ever gotten proof one way or the other. Some people, however, believe he’s real given the fact that every member of Van Brunt’s family, ever since colonial days, has been killed. All apparently beheaded.” He then shrugged as he said, “Even the story can’t seem to confirm if Crane died, or if the Horseman was real.”
The deputy again stepped forward, but didn’t attempt to poke her again. “We know the truth now. You, and your family, have been killing them all off. You made up this story of researching someone’s family so you could worm your way into the last of the family, and kill them.”
She shook her head at that statement. “That is not possible at all. I just met him when I came here a few weeks ago. I grew up in New Orleans.” That was true, but not entirely true. She then said, “But what happened to Liam? Last I heard from him, he said he wasn’t going to get here by tonight, and he said he had something he wanted to ask me.”
The sheriff again pushed the deputy back, and said. “Basically, he fell victim to the curse his family has been under.” He sighed, and then pulled something out of his pocket. “Apparently, he had been run off the road back in the area that was the actual Sleepy Hollow. He was found outside his car, missing his head. This box was on the ground next to the body.”
After the sheriff said that, Yvette recalled what happened when the client was there. While they had been talking, she had seen the accident happen. A tractor trailer had pushed Liam’s car off the road. Once it had happened, the vehicle disappeared, to be replaced by a horse, and she saw Liam crawling out of the car. Then, a sword came down, cutting his head clean off his neck. She had seen all that while discussing her client’s family line being traced back all the way to Amiens, France.
She returned her mind to the present when the deputy stepped forward again, stopping the sheriff from doing more with what he had just pulled out. “Enough with the act, Miss C`Near. We know you were the one who did it. You and your whole damn family. You all wanted revenge because Ichabod was kept from marrying Katrina all that time ago.”
She scowled at the deputy, and noticed the sheriff was doing so as well. While she didn’t think it would help defend her innocence, she responded to the deputy’s outrageous statement. “I most certainly did not. Up to an hour ago, I was discussing the linage of Constance Van Ripper with her. She had sought me to find out her linage, since I have contacts in France. If you don’t believe that, you can call her yourself, or better yet, the sheriff can call her, since I have doubts you will, Deputy.”
While the deputy looked like he was about to shout back at her, the sheriff held up a hand and said, “I’ll do that. Deputy, don’t you dare say another word. You are already making a mess of this, and I hope, for both of you, that Constance clears this up.” He then put what he had in his hand back in his pocket, and pulled out his cell phone.
As the sheriff made the call, Yvette’s mind momentarily wandered to her satchel. While neither officer seemed inclined to check it out, she knew the contents would be a bit damning. One of them would either exonerate or damn her, but the other two would ensure that she would appear guilty of the crime she was being accused.
When the sheriff finally ended his call, Yvette saw him glare at the deputy. “Well, Mrs. Van Ripper confirmed your story. Given when the crime must have happened, you can’t be responsible for it. She confirmed she was here for a few hours, and left at about the time the crime happened. Sorry that one of us suspected you, Miss C’Near.” She watched as he put the phone back, and pulled out what she now realized was a ring box. “Given what this is, I honestly didn’t think you were the one who killed Liam.”
She took the box, opened it, and gasped. There was no doubt in her mind now what question Liam was going to ask. She also realized why the sheriff didn’t suspect her of Liam’s death. As she gazed at the diamond ring in the box, she only registered the two officer’s leaving, especially as she heard the sheriff say, “Maybe we should look into your sister more. She had been pursuing Liam prior to this, and maybe thought if she couldn’t have him, no one should, especially an out-of-towner. I remember not being too welcome here at first when I arrived.”
When the officer’s were gone, Yvette closed the ring box, and then placed it in the satchel she had. She had just a few things to settle up tomorrow, however it would be best if she left town tomorrow night. With everything that had happened, it would be too much heartache now to remain in town. She then got ready for bed, and went to sleep.
The following day, many things happened. While Yvette C’Near settled up her tab, and collected her fee from Constance Van Ripper, the sheriff had spent the day searching for evidence for whomever killed Liam Van Brunt. The only thing he could find out was circumstantial, and given the family’s history, marked the case as unsolvable.
The deputy and his sister, whose family have been in town since the time of Ichobod Crane, were now under a cloud of suspicion. For all the years that the killings had happened, maybe their family had been responsible At the time, the Van Tussel family had been wealthy, and any man would have loved to have married Katrina. Their ancestor was also a viable suitor for Katrina.
Eventually, had people did some more searching, people would have learned the truth about the Van Brunt family, and the real curse of Sleepy Hollow. People knew that the Headless Horseman was the spirit of a Hessian soldier who lost his head to a cannon. What no one actually knew was that the Hessian soldier had actually been a turncoat, and had been supplying information to Washington’s army. More so, the head of the Van Brunt family had been paid by one of the redcoats to shoot the turncoat. Things had actually been good for them until Bram’s stunt to scare off Ichobod. After that, the family started being hunted by the Horseman.
For years, the Van Brunt family worked to make sure that the paid murder was never found out, as well as deter the Horseman from hunting them, and going after the Crane line if it still existed. They kept the legend alive in a way that made then not look like a part of it. Hints of the story of the Headless Horseman would appear in various forms of media over the years, especially once television shows became the norm. Episodes of shows like Scooby Doo, Kolchak, and the Real Ghostbusters were influenced to make Crane look like the target.
What they never realized was that the Headless Horseman never came after them if there wasn’t another generation ready to take their place. This little detail was found out by one person who learned of the family history, since it was linked to theirs. Their ancestor was Ichobod Crane, who fled the town after his run in with two Headless Horsemen. The first one had chased him to the edge of town, and after narrowly avoiding the attack, Ichobod fled the town. When he had looked back, he had seen the second one watching both him and the first.
Ichobod had eventually heard of the story being put into writing, and asked the writer to keep the fact that he survived out of it. From that day forth, the Crane bloodline literally lived in obscurity, never making a name for themselves. The only link they had, however, had been visions from time to time; dark visions of death. It wasn’t until the latest in the line figured out how the Headless Horseman’s curse work with the family bloodline that they figured what had to be done. They just didn’t know how things were going to turn out when they finally got the chance to go to Sleepy Hollow, since going there with their goal in mind would have looked very suspicious.
Yvette C`Near now sat in her rental car, along side the road out of town. She was about to move when another vision had started. This one was different from the last. This time she wasn’t seeing a vision of murder, but it was disturbing none the less. This time she was seeing the very vehicle she was in. She was approaching it from behind.
Just moments before, she had pulled over to the side of the road to pick up her satchel. It had slipped off the passenger seat, but luckily none of the four times in it had fallen out. Having this vision now reminded her of how important those items were. Two had been important before she came to Sleepy Hollow. One became important in the past week. From her vision now, she knew the figure was approaching the vehicle, but she sensed no malevolence from it, at least no direct malevolence.
She waited as the vision moved closer to her. The movement, from what she could tell from the vision, was of a man dismounting a horse. She tried to remain calm as the figure neared the vehicle. She wasn’t going to lower the window, though. While she felt the entity wouldn’t attack her, not now, she didn’t want to make it easy for it. Once she saw her profile from the vision she spoke. “So you finally got him. I hope you are happy. From what I could tell, he was nothing like his ancestors.”
Out of instinct, she reached in her stachel, and pulled out two manila folders. One had Laim’s name on it, while the other had hers on it. “We are nothing like our ancestors. While my ancestor’s own nature allowed him to avoid your wrath, and keep us all safe from incurring it, it allowed me to figure out how you targeted Liam’s family.”
She turned her head, while reaching into the satchel, and pulling out the ring box. “If you had held off, maybe he could have righted that wrong in some other way. He would have figured it out. He was a decent man.” She was now staring up right were the head would be on the figure. She didn’t flinch as her anger fueled her bravery. “You didn’t have to keep taking the Van Brunt family’s lives.”
She then smiled at the figure, and pulled out the last item in the satchel. It was something she figured the specter couldn’t fathom, since it was an invention of the current age. She held up the pregnancy test, which was positive, and said, “The curse ends, Hessian. The last Van Brunt will remain out of your reach. You won’t strike me down, since the Crane’s have learned not to draw attention to ourselves, and if you did right now, you’d still end the line of Van Brunt. The terror you’ve caused ends with this generation.” With that last statement, she floored the gas pedal, and sped off.
The Headless Horseman was stunned for a moment, and then let out a sound of pure anger. Inwardly, it cursed not being able to follow Crane all those years ago. The spirit had deemed him a nothing, a coward. Now it realized it should have pursued Crane, but the man had left the range of its haunting range. Its only hope was that the unborn Van Brunt would return to Sleepy Hollow, or the female Crane drew more attention to herself. The former, it realized, was more likely. It then returned to its endless search, knowing full well that its time may well be limited now.
Untitled by Batkevin74
The doors of the Tarry Town church slammed shut causing all heads to turn away from Pastor Irving’s reading from the book of Judges. A large man with a shock of red hair and beard to match had barricaded the door.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Pastor Irving snapped, slapping the Bible closed and stepping down from the pulpit.
The man drew a flintlock pistol from his belt, in which he had four stashed, and fired a shot into the wooden roof sending the congregation into a panic. They scrambled over pews and headed away when the man levelled another pistol at the priest.
“You’ll tell your sheep to settle!” he said with his Scottish accent. “Now.”
“Everyone. Everyone! Please, calm yourselves. God will protect us.”
The man chuckled. “That depends. I’ve travelled across the sea to find my cousin. A tall fellow, school master. Known as Ichabod. Ichabod Crane. Seems nobody in town will talk to me about him, so I’ve decided to MAKE you all talk until I find out what happened. My name is Argyle Crane. Don’t try scurrying out the back as I nailed the doors shut last night. Kindly tell me where my cousin is, and you can all go home.”
“He left town about a year ago,” said a man who was shielding his wife and child. “No word just left.”
Argyle pondered the information. “Does that at all sound like a man who taught children? Just leaving without notice.”
“Sir, we are in a house of God. If you wish to…” Irving started as Argyle stormed up the aisle and thrust the gun into his mouth.
“Mention the Almighty again and you shall join him, ye hear!”
“He was taken by the Hessian!” yelled an old woman in black. “Taken in the night.”
“The Headless Horseman who haunts the roads of Sleepy Hollow,” she continued. “Those who cross his path are surely damned to Hell.”
“What nonsense!” He removed the gun from the priest’s mouth and let him splutter like a landed fish.
“It’s true!” added another woman. “A spirit from the other side who cannot rest.”
Argyle looked at them. “You honestly believe this?”
He noticed them either nod quietly or look to the floor. “Where is Brom Van Brunt?”
“Here,” a large burly man stepped forward. “If you didn’t have those pistols I would sort you out.”
Argyle smiled and tucked both guns away. “Would you now? Perhaps you’d chop my head off too.”
“What?” Brom shuddered at the statement.
“Ichabod was a great letter writer,” Argyle took a seat on the top of a pew. “About his thoughts, about the children he taught, about the women he set his eyes on. About Abraham Van Brunt the hero of the local community and rival to the girl my cousin fancied, who it looks to be your wife.”
Katrina Van Brunt nee Van Tassel shrunk behind her husband.
“I can tell it’s you because as a schoolteacher, my cousin had a way with words, at least on paper.”
“What do you want?” Brom growled as he moved forward.
“Revenge,” Argyle replied as he produced a bag. “Because in THIS, is the head of my dead cousin!”
The congregation gasped, several women fainted, and children broke into tears. Brom started forward but Argyle was quicker, and the flintlock was back out and levelled.
“My cousin was not killed by some apparition! He was killed by Abraham Van Brunt! He chopped off his head and buried him in a ditch just off the road.” Argyle shoved the sack forward as Brom’s eyes rippled with rage. “Before your God, in his house, I say that YOU Abraham Van Brunt killed my cousin!”
Brom leapt forward tackling the Scotsman to the ground. The pair rumbled and tumbled up the aisle, another shot went off. Brom smashed the gun loose and slammed a fist into his nose.
“Now you’ll join him,” Brom hissed between his teeth. Argyle released the bag and out onto the floor rolled a pumpkin.
Brom turned to booming voice of his father-in-law, Baltus Van Tassel.
“You killed him? To take my daughters hand in marriage?” Baltus stated aloud. “You’ve sullied the Van Tassel name! You’re a monster!”
“I can explain!” Brom pleaded but he was cut short when Argyle cracked him in the jaw knocking him off his feet.
“I knew you’d killed my cousin,” Argyle spat in disgust. “From the way he wrote about you, you pompous ass! I didn’t know if marching in here guns blazing with a pumpkin in a bag would make you confess, but it has.”
“The Lord moves in mysterious ways,” said Pastor Irving.
Katrina Van Brunt walked forward, pulled her wedding ring off and threw it at Brom the silver band bouncing about the wooden floor. Abraham clamoured after it only to have it rest at the feet of Sherriff August Corbin.
“You will hang for this,” Corbin said grabbing him by the collar and reefing him to his feet. Baltus Van Tassel stepped forward and spat on his son-in-law before attending his distraught daughter. Argyle walked to the church doors and removed the wooden barricade to allow Corbin to frog march his prisoner towards the jailhouse.
Argyle Crane turned to the congregation who were all shocked at the events that had rocked their Sunday morning and their lives. “I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not. I’m just glad my cousin will get the justice he sorely deserved. Hopefully Van Brunt will tell you where he buried my cousin so his soul may finally rest. I bid you all farewell.”
The sun set as Argyle Crane rode his mount out of Tarry Town and through Sleepy Hollow on his way up north to seek a fortune in the Klondike that Ichabod had written about. On his right he could see the sweeping estate of the Van Tassel's. Twas no wonder everyone in the region wanted a piece of it. Ahead on the road shadows swirled and danced causing Argyle's mount to get skittish.
"Easy lass," Argyle said patting her neck.
Just then the shadowy object of alarm put itself in motion and, with a scramble and a bound, stood at once in the middle of the road. A powerful black horse reared in the moonlight; a horseman of large dimensions upon it’s back…bereft of a head.
“Seems the old woman wasn’t lying,” Argyle cursed as he spurred his horse in the opposite direction.
(Note: this line Just then the shadowy object of alarm put itself in motion and, with a scramble and a bound, stood at once in the middle of the road was NOT written by me. It comes directly from Washington Irving's story on page 11. Credit where credit is due)
Sleepy Hollow Revisited by CBishop
A man and a woman approached the crime scene tape stretched across the mouth of the alley, showed their detective badges to the uniformed officer on watch, and ducked under the tape as she lifted it. Walking up to the face-down body, they noticed the large chunk taken out of the victim's left side, the blood, and what appeared to be pieces of pumpkin near the alley wall. An officer stood nearby taking a man's statement. Walking over, the male detective identified himself, "Detective Crane. This the man who called it in?"
The officer, whose nameplate read "G. Chaffin," nodded. Through a thick beard, he answered, "Witness too. He says it was a supervillain."
Hearing "supervillain," the female detective walked over, and said, "That would explain the pieces of pumpkin then. Detective Paulette, Mister...?"
"Uh, Bones," the man said nervously. "Dom Bones."
"So we're dealing with the Green Goblin?" she asked Bones.
"He was, uh..." Dom took a deep breath. "He was on a glider-thing like the Goblin rides, but I don't think it was him. His head was on fire."
"On fire?" asked Crane. "You saying the Ghost Rider has taken up flying?"
Bones laughed nervously. "No," he said quickly. "This guy... his head was a..." he hesitated.
Detective Paulette looked at him expectantly.
"It was a... uh... a pumpkin," he said finally.
Paulette said nothing. She merely got wide-eyed as she made a note on her pad.
Crane spoke up. "A pumpkin?" Pointing his thumb over his shoulder towards the victim, he asked, "So this Flaming Pumpkin Glider Guy- he threw his head at the victim?"
Mister Bones shook his head. "No. They were smaller... like the size of softballs, I guess?"
Paulette looked up suddenly, eyes still wide. "Pumpkin bombs?" she said seriously. "You're sure it wasn't the Green Goblin?"
"I'm sure!" Bones said in frustration. "Would the Goblin have left me alive?"
Paulette shrugged, and made another note.
"Officer Chaffin, do you have Mister Bones' information?" asked Crane.
Flipping a couple of pages back on his pad, Chaffin skimmed, and shook his head. "Yep. I've got it."
Offering his card, Crane said, "Mister Bones, you're free to go. We may contact you again if any questions come up with the case. In the meantime, if you think of anything else, please don't hesitate to call."
Taking the card, Bones nodded stiffly. "Thank you, Detective." Nodding at Paulette, he walked to the front of the alley, the officer lifted the tape for him, and he disappeared around the corner.
The detectives looked at each other before Paulette turned to the body, "Anyone get an ID yet?" she asked Chaffin.
"No one's touched the body," he answered. "I wouldn't let 'em. You hear 'supervillain,' and you don't know what might be important. CSI got pics though."
"Thank you, officer," said Crane. Squinting slightly, he asked, "Your sergeant lets you keep that beard, Officer Chaffin?"
He chuckled. "I'm usually undercover."
Crane and Paulette both looked at Chaffin. "You're a detective?" asked Paulette.
Chaffin nodded. "I'm just filling in for Starsky tonight; extra work." Nodding towards the front of the alley, he said, "That's his partner, Hutch up by the tape."
Crane nodded. "Alright, detective. We'll take it from here. Have a good night."
Chaffin tipped his pen to his hat, saluting with it as he closed his notebook. "I'll get a copy of these notes to your box at the Two Seven."
"Thanks," said Paulette.
Chaffin waved over his shoulder as he walked away.
Turning back to the body, they both knelt down beside it. Feeling the pockets at the back of the victim's pants, and checking his ankles, Paulette said, "No wallet. Help me turn him over so we can check what's left of his jacket."
They took hold of the body carefully, turning it over gingerly so that the hole in the victim's side didn't become larger, ripping the body in half. As they got it over on its back, Paulette was reaching for the jacket when Crane jumped up suddenly. "Oh my God!"
"What the hell, Crane?" groused Paulette.
"It's... it's my cousin," he said, a bit shaken.
Paulette looked up at him wide-eyed. "You're related?"
The detective said nothing for a few seconds, then nodded. "His name... his name's Holden Crane."
"HUTCH!" shouted Paulette as she jumped to her feet. When the officer looked her way, she shouted, "Call Chaffin back here now!"
Hutch waved and started talking into the mic of his walkie talkie.
Looking at Crane, she said, "You're off this case right now," she said sternly. Crane started to protest, but Paulette fixed him with a glare that said there would be no arguing. "I'm not asking, Crane. I'm pulling rank. You're related to the victim. Your objectivity is compromised, and it's not going to jeopardize this case. When Chaffin gets back here, he'll work the case with me. What I need you to do is get me any information you can about your cousin, and bring it to the captain. I'll get it from her."
Crane stood with his hands on his hips, and took a few deep breaths. Finally, he nodded. "Yeah, you're right. I'll have the info to the captain in the morning."
"Good man," said Paulette. "Crane."
He looked at her.
He bit his lip for a moment, then nodded, and walked away. Hutch lifted the tape for him as he left.
Paulette squatted back down next to the body, and said, "What is going on here?"
Detective Paulette strode through the detective bullpen about Nine AM. She walked as straight and upright as possible, trying to get her posture to make up for what she lacked in height. Knocking on the captain's open door as she entered, she said, "Good morning, captain. Has Crane been in here this morning? He was supposed to drop off some info on his cousin; he was our victim last night."
The captain looked troubled. "No, he hasn't been in. Crane was related to a victim?" she asked.
"His uncle. I took him off the case immediately, but he was supposed to bring some info in this morning."
"Mary, who's working with you on this?" asked the captain.
"Gragg Chaffin from uptown."
"Take him with you, and check on Crane at home," she ordered.
"You got it, cap."
When Paulette and Chaffin arrived, two black and white units were already there, lights flashing on top of the cruisers. They exchanged looks, and got out.
"Detective Paulette!" called out an officer with a wide smile. "You guys got here fast! We just called it in five minutes ago."
"Poncherello," acknowledged Paulette. "Called what in? We're here to see Crane."
Poncherello looked uncomfortable as his eyes searched the ground for a few seconds. Looking back at Paulette, he said, "Mary, I'm sorry. It's Crane that we're here for."
Mary looked stunned. "Wh-what?"
"Yeah," said the officer quietly. "Someone killed him in his kitchen last night. Wife found him this morning. Baker's inside with her now."
Mary looked at Chaffin. "Gragg, do you mind checking with Baker? I... I'm going to need a minute."
"You bet, Mary," he said, patting her shoulder before walking towards the house.
annnnnnnnnnnnnnd I ran out of time.