Do I have a sense of humor?

I wanted to share with you one of my wife’s favorite parts of Shadow World Revealed. It is the first scene where Illomen, one of the main characters of the book, shows a little of what he is like. She says it shows my sense of humor.


Brian Medcalf strode briskly down the brightly lit corridor toward the interrogation room. It had already been a long day. Fortunately, the green vapor had dissipated without harming anyone. Still, the police had kept the public away, to be safe. People were only now being allowed to return to their homes. The incident was already the top story on all of the networks, with each channel vying to be most creative in titling the event. Walking through the police station, he’d heard a reporter on one network announce, “Mayhem in Music City, hundreds flee in terror from mysterious death cloud. More after this brief announcement.” The Chamber of Commerce was going to be livid about that one. The members of the Chamber could feel the local tourist industry bleeding lost revenue with each new announcement across the networks. To make matters worse, every politician in the city was calling the police department demanding action. The governor had already called Chief Carroll twice. Don’t these politicians realize that every moment spent answering their redundant questions was one less moment available to take action? Brian wished for once the Chief would tell one of the politicians, “The police are taking action. It’s what we do. Now you go find the money to pay for the equipment and overtime. That’s what you’re supposed to do.” Of course that day would never come because those words would be career suicide for Chief Carroll or anyone else who dared to utter them. Besides, he suspected Chief Carroll had political ambitions of his own.


The witnesses at the crime scene had provided little useful information. Both had been driving through the area and been good enough citizens to wait for the police to arrive. One of them had been the person who called 911. Both witnesses had enough good sense to stay away from the devastation until the police arrived. One witness, Marilynn, had been driving on the interstate when she saw what she described as a black shape pass over her car. The shape had struck the power lines by the auto auction and knocked out power to the area. She’d only caught a glimpse of the thing in the electrical flash as the lines broke and the transformer blew. She’d said it was a large bat or birdlike figure, bigger than a semi-truck. She’d lost sight of it after that brief look as she’d sped down the darkened highway, fumbling for her phone. Despite what she’d seen, the elderly woman had turned around at the first exit she’d come to and waited for the police to arrive before returning to the area to aid in the investigation.


The other witness had traveled past the auto auction a little later than Marilynn. He reported seeing several flashes and hearing explosions from the auction yard. From the light of the flashes, he said he’d seen some large creature that looked like a dinosaur. The press is going to have a field day with that one. Brian could imagine some reporter announcing over the television, “Flying Godzilla Demolishes Nashville; more after this next stupid commercial trying to sell you overpriced stuff you don’t want.” Ok, the reporters would never speak ill of their beloved advertisers, but they had no problem trashing the city for ratings. This city was safe and a great place to live, and he was going to find a rational explanation for all of this so the people in his city could get back to their normal lives and livelihoods.


Right now, he had one more potential witness to talk to. He’d deliberately been saving this one for last. It was time to see what Illomen knew. John Warner had initially placed the white-haired illusionist in the back of the police car with his cane and iPad secured on the front seat. Five minutes later, he’d gone to check on him and found the guy calmly tapping on the iPad, with his cane across his lap. Thinking he’d forgotten to separate Illomen from his belongings, John had taken the two items from him again. Illomen had been fairly pleasant about the whole situation and simply handed the cane and iPad over to the patient police officer. When John came back to the vehicle later, he found Illomen sitting quietly in the back of the car, closely examining what was on his screen. The rest of the day had been a steady escalation of tactics to separate Illomen from his belongings. On the last attempt, John had left him handcuffed in the car and had placed the items in a different police car, next to a patrol officer who was instructed to take the iPad and cane to the police station for safe keeping. The officer had returned to the auto auction ten minutes later to report that the iPad and cane were missing from his car. They had gone to the patrol car containing Illomen to find him, cane in lap, steadily typing away on the tablet. For the trip to the station, John had gotten in the back of the patrol car with Illomen and then placed the cane and iPad in the hands of David Jefferson, who had ridden to the police station with the Brian. Smiling confidently, Brian recalled how he had personally taken the two items to the evidence room, where he could examine them at his leisure.


Opening the door to the interrogation room, Brian dropped his cup of coffee on the floor. Mr. Illomen sat hunched over his tablet, with the cane laying across his lap. Brian stood silently in the doorway and looked closely at the figure in front of him. His face was smooth and well-tanned, with a thin hawkish nose. His lips were thin and his expression stern, yet there was a hint of a smile on his face. Thick, glistening hair fell loosely across his back, barely reaching the bottom of his shoulder blades. His suit appeared to be made of reddish brown silk, slightly darker in color than dried blood. The style was at least ten years old, but the suit didn’t show any wear. He wore sturdy leather boots, dark brown in color and well worn. They were clean and polished, but old nicks and dark stains covered the surface. His long fingers fairly flew across the tablet before him. His cane was made of dark wood with a silver tip at the base and a worn, round knob on top. Everything about his dress exemplified quality workmanship and functionality. Everything except the mirrored sunglasses he wore. Made with a wire frame and cheap plastic lenses, they looked like one of those sets of sunglasses people pick up for a few dollars at some gas station along the highway.


Pulling himself from his analysis, Brian walked the few steps to Illomen, extending his hand in greeting. “Let’s start over shall we? My name is Lt. Brian Medcalf. I need answers, and I think you may know more than you’ve told us so far.”


“My pleasure, lieutenant. As I told you earlier, and as your fellow officers have duly recorded, my name is Darok Illomen.”


Illomen’s grip was firm. His thick, rough, calluses scraped across Brian’s hand. Seating himself in the gray, metal chair across the table from Illomen, Brian waited for thirty seconds before speaking. He’d learned over the years that most people were unnerved by the silence and would offer valuable information merely to get the conversation started. Illomen wasn’t most people. He simply sat with his hands folded in front of him on top of the table, looking at Brian and waiting.


“Mr. Illomen, I prefer to be able to see people’s eyes when I talk to them. Would you mind taking off your sunglasses?”


“I wear these for your sake, not mine.” Pausing, Illomen chose his words carefully. ‘Most people find my eyes disturbing. Are you sure you wish for me to remove them?”


“Simply take the sunglasses off.” Brian couldn’t help being annoyed. Something about this guy irritated him.


Bending his head forward, Illomen pulled off his glasses with one hand, laying them unfolded on the table. Slowly raising his head, he stared into Brian’s eyes.


Brian couldn’t help himself. Knocking his chair over in his haste, he sprang to his feet and backed up several steps before he could catch himself. The irises of Illomen’s eyes were bright red, with small black flecks which seemed to constantly move and disappear across the surface. They resembled two burning coals, glowing brightly upon twin white pools. And the pupils . . . the pupils looked like matching, bottomless, black pits. Fighting to regain his composure, Brian righted his chair and sat down again. “Good grief, man! I forgot you’re a performer. I bet you paid a pretty penny for those contact lenses.”


Illomen sat motionless. Smiling slightly, he silently watched the lieutenant.


“Ok, let’s try this again, Mr. Illomen,” Brian began. “Sgt. Warner asked you to leave after he first talked to you, but you stayed. You appear to have deliberately brought attention to yourself. Why are you here, and what do you want?”


“I want the same thing you do, answers.”


“Why? Did you know the victim?”


“Which victim? The man you found or the woman you lost?”


“Nobody told you anything about the victim. How did you know it was a man?” Brian grinned. This guy isn’t so clever after all. He’s made the classic blunder.


Illomen leaned over his iPad and tapped the screen, turning the tablet so Brian could see. On the screen was an overhead view of the crime scene. As Illomen moved his fingers over the scene the image zoomed in and shifted angles. Bright blue numbers and symbols flew across the screen providing distances between objects, temperatures of puddles, wind speed and direction, chemical compositions of every object in view, blood type and fingerprints of the victim. All of this and more whizzed across the screen under the masterful touch of this illusionist. Brian didn’t recognize some of the words or symbols that he saw, but he sensed they were important.


Brian had no way of verifying the accuracy of any of the information he saw. The police samples were barely beginning to be processed by the lab. It would be weeks before he had all the results back. As far as the measurements, his people hadn’t taken that many nor had they measured to the nearest millimeter. This information couldn’t be real, but the images on the screen were precisely as he remembered them. He watched as the screen showed Richard cutting off the tip of his thumb and the horror on Mary’s face as the flames engulfed her hand. The pictures were real, and Illomen had them all at the tips of his fingers. He could spin them and look at them from any angle, at any speed, and zoom into any image until it clearly revealed every hair on a person’s hand or every piece of dirt on a patch of asphalt. With the tap of an icon, Illomen could shift the images from the poor illumination Brian remembered at the scene to infrared, x-ray, or brightly illuminated images.


Stunned by what he saw, Brian sat back slowly and ran his fingers through his graying hair. “How did you get this?” was all he could manage to ask. In response, he heard a sound he never expected, laughter. It was not mocking laughter. Rather, he heard the genuine joyous laughter of a performer who has succeeded in amazing his audience.


“My friend, you need to keep up with the times,” Illomen chuckled. “Some of the apps you can get for these tablets are pure magic. Now, I have one question for you, one thing I couldn’t film or measure. When you approached the body, what did you feel? Specifically, on your face and on the backs of your hands, what sensation did you feel?”


“I . . . I felt a prickling sensation, not sharp, light enough I could discount it as nerves or something else, but . . . how did you know?” asked the startled lieutenant.


“I didn’t know. I’ve been waiting all day to ask you that question.”


Brian sat back. “You’re more than a simple performer Mr. Illomen, but I don’t believe you’re a murderer. We have your address and phone number. I’ll call you if I have more questions, but your tablet stays here.”


The smile left Illomen’s face. Though Brian was armed and had him by fifty pounds, for the first time, he felt alone and vulnerable in this room, with this mysterious man. Leaning forward, Illomen tapped the end of his forefinger on the tablet. “This is my property, and you can’t have it.”


Standing, Brian walked to the door and opened it. “Mr. Illomen, you can go now, but the tablet stays. It’s evidence in a murder investigation, and there’s no way you’re going to walk out of here with it.” Then, remembering the events of the day, he called for John Warner.


“Sir?” inquired the burly police officer as he walked into the room.


“Sgt. Warner, I want you to walk Mr. Illomen out of here. Before you leave the building, frisk him to make sure this tablet isn’t on him. Drop him off wherever he wants to go, and frisk him again before you leave him.” Clutching the tablet in his hands, he followed Illomen and the sergeant into the hallway and watched them depart before turning and heading toward Chief Carroll’s office.

So what do you think? Do I have a sense of humor? What do you think of Illomen? Do you believe his story about being an illusionist? Leave a comment and let me know what you think. You can see a better preview of this book HERE.

Martin Golson

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