Shawn Spencer, premiere psychic detective of Santa Barbara, California, had just been whisked across a continent and an ocean in the blink of an eye, literally. His last case had introduced him to a man who had said he was there to observe Shawn for a top-secret organization. Over the course of a few days, Shawn had put the pieces together from what was said—and unsaid—and had concluded that Col. Alan Kelly was a time traveler.
Now he found himself in a dark alley, soaked to the skin from a constant drizzle and glad that his backpack was waterproof. “Is the navigation off on that thing?” he asked with a nod to the device strapped to Alan’s wrist.
“Just a slight hiccup. We’re in the right city and the date is good. There must have been a problem with the original coordinates so it relocated us.”
Shawn ducked into a doorway. “Why would it ‘relocate’ us?”
“It’s built-in so that we won’t materialize in mid-air, underwater, in the middle of a wall, stuff like that.”
“Good to know. But I thought these coordinates were set, some place you’ve been before. Why would they now be dangerous? Ooh, maybe it’s flooded, completely submerged. Or there’s a hostage situation and we would have materialized right in front of a gun.”
“Shawn.” Alan’s tone was full of warning.
Shawn looked at Alan and then out at what Alan was staring. There were four things standing about no more than five feet away. They looked human but were bigger with a smushed-in face and peach fuzz hair. One growled and Shawn saw the sharp teeth. What made them really surreal was the fact they were wearing boiler suits. “What the hell are they?”
“Aliens. Not sure of their real name, but some of the locals call them Weevils. They hunt in packs so there could be even more around. We need to make a break for it, head to the more populated, brightly-lit areas.”
Shawn gripped Alan’s arm. “Well, go on.”
“I can’t risk it. There’s a field radiated by the machine and anyone, anything, within that field gets taken along.”
“So it’s either run, get hunted and killed or take them with us.”
“I see no other choices.”
Shawn took a deep breath. “My dad always says I’m good at running away.”
“Okay then. Follow me and don’t stop.”
Alan dashed through a gap between two Weevils on the left and Shawn was right behind him like they were attached by a bungee cord. Behind him, he could hear a strange, low wailing that could only be those things communicating.
He chanced a look behind him and saw the creatures following at a loping gait. I guess I should be thankful they don’t run like cheetahs, he thought as he faced forward. Crap, where’s Alan? His ride had ditched him! He ran until he came to an intersection. The alley to the right seemed to have heavier traffic so he turned right and straight into a dead end.
Shawn looked about desperately, but could see no way out. The walls were slick with rain, and there were no doors or windows within reach. “Oh, wonderful, dying in an alley. I could have done that at home.”
There were only three of the Weevils that he could see, but he knew from watching Animal Planet that three was enough when it came to a pack. He wanted to be brave and stare death in the face, but those faces were damn ugly. As they advanced, he couldn’t help but curl up to try to make a smaller target. It’s not like there are any witnesses.
The gunshot surprised him. He peeked through his fingers. The thing was lying dead on the ground, a neat bullet hole in the back of its head. He then became aware of another figure. It was a dark-haired man with blue eyes, square jaw, and a cleft chin. He was wearing a long grey overcoat of WWII vintage and he didn’t seem to care about the weather. Shawn opened his mouth to speak, but the man held a finger to his lips. He then pointed down the alley and mimicked a right turn. Shawn nodded in understanding and, with a wink; the man disappeared into the shadows.
Shawn tiptoed around the dead Weevil then ran off down the alley in the direction the man had pointed. He nearly ran into Alan who had to grab him by the shoulder with his free hand.
“Are you okay? When you weren’t behind me, I began to panic. I ran back to find you, willing to face Weevils over your dad’s wrath.”
“I’m okay, just a little shaken.” He cracked a small smile. “The idea that you would rather face aliens than my dad would make him so proud.”
“How did you get away?”
“I hid behind some dumpsters. When I was sure they had gone, I came out and started to find my way out.”
“You didn’t see anyone else?”
Shawn was becoming a bit unnerved by the concern in Alan’s voice. He almost broke down and told him about the stranger that saved his life. What made him hold his tongue was the possibility that the man could be watching from the shadows and the fact that he was a damn good shot. “No, I didn’t see anyone. Why? What’s going on?”
Alan stopped and Shawn could see red and blue lights ahead. “Someone was shot not too long ago. When I heard the other shot, I panicked thinking you had met up with the killer.”
“Why don’t you just flash that paper and let them see ID from that organization? That would put you above them, right?”
“Okay, tiny mishap, it’s currently disbanded. Using that ID won’t do much. We can’t let them find us because there will be no record of you passing through customs. How would we explain how we got here? Any other time, yeah, maybe we could come up with something, but now, we’d only be suspects.”
I must be slipping. I should’ve realized that. I blame the aliens... Did I just think that?
Alan led him through the alleys that just skirted along the main roads. “Okay, I think we’re in the clear now.” They stepped onto the sidewalk, down from the police cars, but directly in front of an officer. “Maybe not.”
Shawn wiped the rain from his face and noticed the officer was just as surprised as they were. If things went right, the half-truth would work. “Oh, thank God! We were walking around in those alleys for hours! And there were these things! At first, we thought they were just muggers with masks, you know?” Shawn shuddered for affect.
The officer turned to Alan who had remained quiet during Shawn’s story. “Do you have anything to say, sir?”
Alan simply looked at the man and uttered one word. “Torchwood.”