Skulduggery grumbled to himself as he turned into Casa De Florence drive. Valkrie had gone off around the world with Fletcher again today- this time to Rio. It was becoming more and more frequent. Skulduggery had solved several cases by himself in the last week and Valkrie had been too busy going off with her boyfriend to help him on any one of them. Although he'd never admit it Skulduggery was feeling a bit neglected...lonely even.
Skulduggery got out of the car and trudged up the stony path. He went to knock on the door but it creaked wide open when his hand touched it just a fraction.
"Hmm..." he said to himself taking his gun out of its holster. It was odd that Florence's door was open and even odder that her dogs hadn't come to greet him. Slowly, he crept forward.
Almost as soon as he’d taken a step Skulduggery heard something clatter in the kitchen. He sprang forward and kicked the door wide open. Inside he saw a boy who looked about nineteen wide-eyed, taking up a fighting stance.
"You have five seconds to tell me who you are before I shoot." Skulduggery said pointing the gun at the boy's chest.
"I'm...I'm Sabien Mist..." stammered the boy.”My girlfriend Skylara said she'd be here....I.."
"Skylara?" Skulduggery asked cocking his head to one side. "As in Skylara Wolfbane?"
"Yeah, she said she and her mates were staying here for a bit and asked me to come over. When I found the place it was like this."
For the first time Skulduggery noticed the condition the kitchen was in. There was blue dust scattered across the floor and several of the windows had been shattered. When he looked down at the dust his whole body went numb. If he had a heart it would be beating a million miles per hour. He knew that the blue dust could only mean one thing...
Gradually, Skulduggery lowered the gun and looked back up at Sabien. "Dimension doorway." he sighed solemnly. "They pop up now and again every few thousand years. They are drawn to magic. There are stories of mages going missing, getting lost in other dimensions."
"But...but you went to another dimension! You got back!"
"After a year of hell!" snarled Skulduggery, his expression suddenly turning dark.
Sabien looked taken back. He'd never met Skulduggery before himself but Skylara had gone on about him so much that Sabien felt like he knew the man rather well. Maybe Skylara hadn’t seen this side of Skulduggery either.
“Yeah but..isn’t there a way to get them back as well?” Sabien asked hesitantly.
Skulduggery’s expression turned softer. “My portal was opened, it didn’t just appear. That’s why I got back, and even then it took time.”
Sabien dropped to his knees and choked out a sob. “So...there’s no way to get them back?”
Skulduggery looked up thoughtfully for a moment. “I don’t know...” he drawled slowly.”But we’re as sure as hell gonna try. Dragona still owes me twenty quid on a bet we had, I’m not gonna let him get away with a silly excuse like ‘oh sorry I was trapped in another dimension.’ A bet’s a bet.”
Despite his mood Sabien chuckled. “What was the bet on?”
“Whether or not he could persuade a barman that he was an American biker from Texas.”
“Turns out the barman was actually a biker from Texas...we won’t be going there again in a hurry...”
“...Where do you suggest we start by trying to get them back?” Sabien asked suddenly looking desperate and upset again.
“Oh...I have a few ideas...” Skulduggery said mysteriously. “But before we get started I have one thing I need to say.”
“Please put some cologne on or something, I don’t want my car smelling of dog.”
“How did you-?”
“I’m a detective, what did you expect? Come on Sabien, let’s go, walkies!”
Sabien sighed. “Am I going to have to put up with the dog jokes all the time?”
“Try and restrain yourself from putting your head out the window, it draws unwanted attention.” Skulduggery said turning towards the door.