Caution immediately overtook me and I snatched up the whaling harpoon hanging on the wall above my desk and planted myself in the front entry, harpoon at the ready, fluke tip leveled at the door. "I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor!" I called out in my best Ian McKellen but sounding oddly more like Brock Peters. "The dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udun! Go back to the shadow. You. Shall not. Pass!"
"Jericho!" said a voice on the other side of the door. "It's Duke! Open up!"
"What's the password!"
"For the love of all that's Felicia Day, open the damn door!"
"Good enough," I replied, lowering the harpoon, and opening the door. It was my old friend Cordwainer Duke, all right. Aside from Anne, my Trusty Companion, he was the only other person who knew I had a crush on Felicia Day. I silently cursed him as I opened the door.
Duke stepped inside, dressed in his customary dark gray tweed jacket with elbow patches, pair of tinted aviator-style glasses, and carrying a thick leather satchel slung over one shoulder. "We have to talk."
"I had writing-sign the likes of which even God has never seen," I said, "and you interrupted."
"We have to talk," Duke repeated. "Have you got beer?"
"Hefeweizen," I said, closing the door. "In the fridge."
Duke went into the kitchen. I sat back down at my desk. A moment later, Duke returned with a chilled pint glass filled with beer. He took a long pull, grabbed a nearby stool, set it in front of me, and sat down.
"You could've called, you know," I said.
He shook his head. "Couldn't risk an open line. Better to meet in person."
"So what's going on?"
"Remember what we talked about last time? In the city?"
I remembered. Vividly. Omega-13. Covert wing of the SFWA. The Fey Invasion at the end of next year. Urban Fantasy authors as our trainers. I repeated what he'd told me.
"Correct," he said. "And there's more. Did you see that video by George Takei?"
"The Star Peace one?" I said. "Sure. What's that got to do with--"
"It's no joke," said Duke.
I fought back a gasp but failed. "You mean...!"
Duke nodded. "Part of the Fey Invasion plan. We've been following it for a while and thought it was going to blow over. Twilight, I mean. But Azerov noticed some strange patterns going on. He put two and two together, got six, and knew something was up."
"Twilight?" I said. "Sparkly vampires? Beefcake werewolves? That's part of the invasion?"
"Insidious, isn't it. Azerov's been working around the clock since the video went up on the Interwebs, checking in with his contacts around the world. He's learned that they've put together a hidden army. They call themselves the Twilight Revolutionary Army Paratroops."
"It's a TRAP," I said, as if my mouth were full.
"Exactly," Duke said. "Can you get this out to your readers? Pronto?"
"I can," I said. "They're dialed in to the pulse. They know that the worm is the spice. That knowledge is power. And that power is great. And with great power comes Tobey Maguire."
"Good." Duke downed the beer and got up. "I have to go. There are other people I need to see. Including George Takei. He needs to be warned."
"Is he in danger?"
"Possibly. His blueberries must be protected. Azerov says the North Carolina blueberries are extremely susceptible."
"Susceptible to what?"
"Exactly. We can't have anything even close to what happened in Santa Barbara."
"What happened in Santa Barbara?" I asked.
"TriCon. Tri-Annual Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention. Kidnapping case solved by a local psychic. G.T. could've been in the line of fire."
"And what line of fire?"
"Explosives set to go off under the stage of the S.B. Convention Center."
"Not John Malkovich?"
"Or Clint. Luckily George wasn't."
"Omega-13 saw to it?" I ventured.
Duke nodded. "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor blackest night, no evil shall escape our sight."
"Isn't that the oath of the Green Lantern Corps?"
"We have many oaths," said Duke. "That one's non-repeatable."
"I won't repeat it," I said. "Mum's the word."
"The bird is the word," said Duke.
Come back next week for another entry of The Jericho Files!
Read previous Jericho Files entries here.
Read previous Jericho Files entries here.