Jack entered his room at the Hotel Schlemmer after what seemed like an eternity of a day.  He had been up for nearly twenty-four straight hours, and all he wanted to do was crawl into that great big bed and cover himself from head to toe with the fluffy comforter.  First, though, he needed to place his phone and tablet on charge, and connect to the hotel’s wireless network.  His phone hadn’t had a good connection all day, and since it hadn’t pinged once, he knew he must be missing some emails from the office.

His stomach reminded him that he hadn’t eaten since the plane, so he dialed room service and ordered a sandwich, then pulled his chargers and plug adapters from his bag, and plugged in each of his electronic devices.  Once the tablet booted, he logged into the hotel’s connection, and almost instantly was hit with a barrage of emails.  Each was sorted into the various folders he used to keep everything organized–one in his brother’s folder, one routed to Mason’s, and thirteen to Sally’s.  Spam filled up, as usual, but he deleted those after a single glance to verify they were all, indeed, spam.  The one from Mason had an attachment, so he opened that first, expecting the latest internet meme to brighten his day.

Jack,

I had Vanessa, a friend of a friend at the FBI, take a look at your Shadowman pics.  She’s a bit of a savant when it comes to photo analysis, and she’s got this really cool program to combine a bunch of fuzzy pics into one clean one.  Don’t ask me how it’s done, but the result is attached to this email.  Vanessa’s already done a facial recognition search on the FBI database.  No hits, I’m afraid.

–Mason

p.s.–I think I’ve got a shot with her!  😉

Jack smiled.  He had met Vanessa at a party at their mutual friend’s apartment, and unless Mason was willing to undergo a sex change operation, he actually had no chance with her.  I should probably tell him, but it will be more fun watching him find out for himself.

Shaking his head, he opened the attachment, and was greeted with the stark face of the Shadowman in more detail than he expected.  He looks a lot like Patrick Stewart, he thought.  Not the cool and cerebral Picard or Professor X version, but more like the one in Moby Dick.  Angular, severe, and a bit creepy.  The man was seventy, if he was a day, and there was a gray shadow of stubble on his sunken cheeks.  It was the face of a man at a job long past his expiration date, but determined to finish nonetheless.  The eyes, still shaded by the hat, were empty dark orbs with neither iris nor sclera; the program clearly not having enough information to extrapolate, and it made the face that much more frightening.  Jack wondered how he never noticed such a man in his presence, and his skin crawled at the thought.

“Thanks, Mason,” Jack said with a sigh.  It looked like sleep wasn’t going to come easy this night, either.  Fortunately there was a cure for that, and he set the tablet aside and walked with purpose to the mini-bar.

Read the rest at Channillo.com

 

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