Last night, I received a note, asking me to please come to some restaurant called "Steak n' Shake" this morning. The author claimed to have information relevant to me.
Needless to say, I went to the restaurant with a gun in my jacket (which was freakin' hell given how hot it is here) and a knife hidden in my person.
It wasn't hard to pick out who had contacted me. Weird guy with really wet black hair and vaguely blank expression who was staring right at me? Oh joy.
I seated myself across the booth from my friend. It was a corner booth, away from everyone else.
"This body," the Camper said, "its former owner liked this place very much. Even now this tongue finds the taste here quite pleasurable."
"Good for your tongue," I said. "What does the Ichor want from me?"
He smiled. It wasn't genuine. There was no warmth. No mirth. It was like someone had drawn a smile on his face. It existed without any real meaning. "Nowadays people are calling us the Epping AquaTarkus."
"That's nice. I think I'll stick with 'Ichor'. It's what Master calls you. It. All you hive mind tentacle thingies."
"We are quite partial to it. It forms a lovely acronym. 'EAT'. We were given the name by--"
"I'm well aware of the Adventures of Jordan Dooling." I waved my hand around. "You tend to stay out of the Game. Why the sudden interest in my investigation?"
"We have information. As the humans say: 'Quid Pro Quo', 'Tit for Tat', 'I scratch your back, you scratch mine.' We give you this, and then you owe us a favor."
"Would this favor involve consuming water, by any chance?"
"Water? No, of course not."
The fake smile again. The Camper reached into his pocket and drew out a slip of paper. "Hello, Joseph Steward," he said. "This is a nice conversation. Your words--"
"Don't do that. Please."
He shrugged. It was a calculated gesture. The shrug of a bored actor half-assing his performance. "We were simply lightening the mood. Humor. Dark Humor. Making light of that which is serious." He put the paper on the table, along with three twenties. "Enjoy your food," he said. "Your meal is on me." With that, the Camper stood and left the restaurant.
I checked the paper. It was a flyer for a magic act. Something else had been written on it.
"You've gotta be fucking kidding me," I muttered.
A traveling magic act. No wonder the killings are all over the place.