Erik Krie sighed heavily as he closed his apartment door behind him. His thoughts ran wild with questions and his hands trembled a bit on the ride back to the apartment. Locking the door with his key, Erik turned to spot the setting sun outside his bedroom window. For some odd reason, the scene made him feel vulnerable and cowardly. Seeing the bright sun collapse under its weight of time was proof of his long and tiresome day. It also made him feel lonely, which was something his mind usually avoided. Alcohol was the cure when it came to thoughts like that.
Krie leaned back against his door and lowered his head like a child would do if scolded. He didn’t feel scolded though, it was a combination of tiredness and shame. He just never knew a job like this would come up and make things difficult. He preferred living the way he did and doing small jobs, but finding a missing person imposed strange emotions on himself. Not to mention the bizarre characters he continuously bumped into along the way. Krie shook off his current pondering and walked over to his living room table, placing a mysterious bag on top of it. Eyeing the bag he had just placed, Krie slowly sank back to the conversation he shared with Åsa in the diner. It was a conversation that lasted for most of the day, with Krie explaining the whole of the story.
“So, you’re telling me that you have to find this talented pianist who’s been missing for ten years?” Åsa asked while fidgeting with the record pieces.
“Yeah, that’s basically all the information that I have right now. Strangely enough though, Mr. Horse didn’t even give me a picture of her. Don’t you think that’s a little weird?” Krie responded as he watched her examine the broken pieces. She seemed to have settled down a lot more after he promised to reveal more information about his job. The sly and devious girl named Åsa Norland forced Krie into an awkward position. She promised to give him the piece she owned only if he kept his end of the deal as well. Erik Krie had to keep in contact with her and fill her in on the job until it was over. Finding no other way around it, Krie reluctantly agreed.
“Yeah, it’s pretty weird alright. I mean, a famous pianist that I’ve never heard of and you don’t even have a picture of her? Seems a bit sketchy, Erik.” Åsa replied softly. Her short blonde hair distracted Erik a bit, but it was for reasons unknown. She acted tomboyish for sure, but there was something else to it all. Erik didn’t feel like she was putting on an act at all. Åsa suddenly spoke up again while placing the pieces inside her bag. “I could ask my father to help you with figuring out who this woman is.”
“You think he could? Would he know her?”
Åsa snorted and fluck one of the empty horse radish packages towards the older couple. They didn’t seem to notice, and Erik was glad.
“Most likely, yeah. My father sorta lives and breathes music like that. I could write him a letter asking him for information on this Camille Zorn and possibly a picture? My father probably won’t call, so a letter is better to do. Would that be alright?”
Erik thought for a moment about her proposal before nodding. He thanked Åsa for her help and stood up from the booth, preparing himself to leave.
“Oh, don’t forget this bag!” Åsa exclaimed while holding out the said object. Erik paused hesitantly, mentally questioned her gift, and then accepted it. “Inside are a couple of records that I think will match your taste. Try to enjoy them, alright?”
“How...how do you even know what I like?”
Åsa chuckled and turned her head to the window.
“I just know. Now, keep your phone on so I can call you!”
Erik grunted and took a few dollars out from his wallet before placing them on the table. He still couldn’t believe that a nineteen year old girl coerced him into exchanging phone numbers just for information. Maybe Erik was growing shabby after all these years.
Erik poured himself some whiskey and tossed back a quick shot. He could remember a time when it once burned with fury, but now it was dull. Erik simply wanted to drink himself to sleep tonight. He wanted to forget his loneliness and he wanted to erase the thought that while Camille Zorn had been missing for ten years, he spent most of his just drinking and wasting. A small part of him believed that doing what he hated would help him forget that hatred. Erik’s mind was an inevitable hell, and was one that he continuously fueled.
And tonight, he would repeat his usual anguish.
Taking out one of the records that Åsa gave him, Erik decided to use his phonograph and listen to some music. He had never really been in the mood to listen to music for as long as he could remember. Music in general made Erik uncomfortable with such dreaded feelings. He never could explain why, but he also never attempted to figure out the answer. Either way, Erik was beginning to feel drunk and a little music wouldn’t affect him now that he was close to passing out. He couldn’t read the artist or what the album was, but Erik didn’t really care. Placing the record on the dusty phonograph, he set the needle to the starting position. Setting it down to start, Erik poured himself another shot of whiskey before dropping the glass to the floor. The music that begun set his soul on fire and he wanted to drown in it. Taking a large swig from the whiskey bottle itself, Erik felt his eyes lose sense of his surroundings and the world spin around him. The darkened room in which he stood appeared to be lit on fire and the musical notes of the instruments in the background danced in his head. Erik felt sick and safe at the same time; his thoughts screeched to a halt and his fingers numbed from an invisible blizzard. Ears slurring with rhythm and mouth stuck open, Erik faintly remembered falling to the floor like some sort of Greek colossus. It was then that his sight turned black.
When his vision did come back to him, Erik realized that he was sitting on his couch in a comfortable fashion. Strangely, Erik wasn’t drunk nor having a headache even though he remembered drinking heavily not too long ago. Instead, Erik felt like a drifting spirit in a strange dream.
Erik was dreaming!
Realizing that he became aware of his current situation, Erik looked over at his phonograph and saw it still spinning. The needle dragged along the grooves of the record as it moved, but no music or sound came forth. Confused by what he saw, Erik tried speaking aloud, yet nothing came forth as well. Only silence filled the absence of words and music. Seeing that he couldn’t speak, Erik then tried to move his body which also remained silently still. It almost seemed as if anything he wanted to do was forbidden in this dream world. What kind of crazy dream was this?
“Ask about the Moonbirds.”
Startled by the sudden words, Erik moved his sight over to a strange man who sat in a wheelchair. The man (who was mostly covered by darkness) tried speaking again, but his voice came from nowhere.
“Ask about the Moonbirds.”
Erik widened his eyes as he saw that the man’s mouth didn’t open to speak. The words he “spoke” simply came from nowhere. No one else sat in Erik’s living room, and the words most definitely did not come from a speaker of any sort. Erik tried to leave the bizarre trick to the thought that this was simply a dream. Before Erik could try and reply to the strange man, a loud sharp noise started to ring in his ears. The ringing became constant bells of anguish to Erik until he felt his vision blurring and the dream flushing itself away into his memories. A couple seconds later and Erik realized what the origin of the anguish was.
Lying a foot away from his head was Erik’s cellphone which screamed the reminder that someone was calling him. Lifting his head slightly off of the floor, Erik covered his eyes from the blinding morning light that entered through his window. Once again it seemed he passed out from overdoing his liquor treatment. Erik’s phone though, still kept on ringing as he rubbed the side of his head. Picking up the phone Erik checked the ID and noticed it said ‘Unknown’. There was a chance that might be Åsa and that she was already abusing her deal. Erik only hoped that he was wrong. Answering the phone, Erik began to speak.
“You’re not hungover like last time, are you, Mr. Krie?”
The voice belonged to Mr. Horse.
“Well...sorta, but think nothing of it. Why are you calling, Mr. Horse?” Erik stated as he slowly sat himself up from the ground. His clothes were soaked with whiskey and the floor stunk of hard alcohol.
“I’ve got some information to share with you on the Camille Zorn job. My employers have asked me to tell you that a local library might have some helpful information on the kidnappers.”
“A local library?”
“Yeah, there might be some books there that’ll help with figuring out their past.”
“Well...alright then. What books do I need to look out for?”
“Well, Mr. Krie, anything that revolves around cults.”
Erik blinked his eyes a few times to help wake himself up.
“Cults?” Erik suddenly remembered his strange dream and the wheelchair man who mentioned a strange name. “Cults like...the Moonbirds?”
Silence fell on Mr. Horse’s side of the conversation. Erik waited and bit his bottom lip in hope that his crazy dream didn’t mean anything.
“Yes, exactly, Mr. Krie.”