The shadowless hours.
It was a childhood nickname for the first few hours of the day, in the Billows. With the Spire casting it's warm red light from the west, and the sun rising in the east, there was little room for shadows to hide.
It also meant those first few hours of the day could be uncomfortably hot. Sweat trickled down Samuel's neck beneath his already unbuttoned collar, the breath he pulled into his lungs through gritted teeth was more like soup than air, and heat seemed to push onto his skin and clothes from every direction.
And it didn't help that every forge and manufacturing site in the Billows was still working. The night shifts would hand over the equipment ovens still lit, and whatever cool air was left through the night was pushed out of the tiny shadows the narrow streets could keep.
Samuel scowled, and tilted his hat to keep the light of the Spire out of his eyes, letting his coat billow in the gentle breeze.
His home was only a short few minutes from the precinct, but by the time he arrived, he already wanted to dunk his head in a bucket of cold water.
His discomfort was a part of why he felt so happy to see his partner at the door, holding a tall glass of water in her hand.
"Figured you'd need it," Angela said, extending her arm towards him.
Samuel greedily took the glass in both hands and gulped it down. The water was nearly ice cold, and Samuel even enjoyed the short headache caused by the sudden shock of the cold.
"Thank you," Samuel said gratefully.
"My train felt like someone made a sauna out of dirt and sweat instead of water and hot rocks. I guessed even your short walk would be unpleasant today," Angela said, taking the empty glass from him and leading them inside.
"How long ago did you get here?" Samuel asked.
"Ten minutes. Just long enough to wonder if you had applied for a career change," Angela said. "And if you did, please take me with you."
"Ostal and Fraser. Wonder if we could start our own investigation firm," Samuel speculated, chuckling.
"You propositioning me, Sam?" Angela asked slyly.
Samuel coughed and looked away, his cheeks feeling hot. "I, uh, thought we should go and meet the parents, first."
"My parents? My, Mister Fraser, aren't we bold?"
"Amanda Destir. I want to get a sense of her backstory before we conduct the interview. Figured it shouldn't take the records department more than an hour," Samuel said.
"It shouldn't take that long," someone said from up ahead. Samuel glanced up to see Bertram leaning against a wall, digging out dirt from under his fingernails with a thin, long knife.
"I brought over everything the Bureau has on Silas Miller and Amanda Destir. As well as all of Starson Vontusk's notes," Bertram said as he pushed himself off the wall.
"Thank you, Berty," Angela said, clapping the shadow on the shoulder hard enough that he nearly dropped his knife.
"Ang, be careful. He does have those burns from yesterday," Samuel said.
"Glad one of you cares," Bertram muttered.
"We need his arms so that he can find where Amanda Destir's parents live. Otherwise, we have to dig through all that paperwork ourselves," Samuel added.
"Right. Sorry boss," Angela said with a laugh.
Bertram lead them to their desks, where a metal trunk had been unceremoniously dropped on top. The lid was open, and nearly overflowing with haphazardly piled papers.
YOU ARE READING
Bitter Cold Truth: A Tale of the Everburning CityFantasy
There is no night in the Everburning City. There can never be. Fourteen people lie dead on the platform of Billows Station, killed by fire and rage. And as the perpetrator hides within the millions of people who inhabit the City, the task of findi...