detective jean bellerose knew what was @ stake as they crept to madame esposito’s manor @ the dead end o’ 11 evening, an evening chilly this late into autumn; & while normally the warm glow o’ the full moon to be the most assuring o’ guiding lights thru the black night, on a night like this bellerose cursed it & the conspiracy it lit to foil them, as they did e’ery creak cried by e’ery ol’ rotting stairstep they ascended & e’ery neglected door they opened on the way to their target.

but here ’twas: they could see by the orange glow — this glow a glow bellerose liked to see — ’hind the stainedglass windows on the door, ’nough that they could faintly see the thin black shadows o’ the long curling bevels gainst the dark, dark brown o’ the door, that this was the last door in their way to victory.

but ’pon opening that door, they saw a sight & heard sounds that made them shudder to their throat & stomach & felt a pneumonialike chill suck the color from their face.

there, standing before madame esposito, in her long, flowing robe & slippers, was detective elke braun, their hated rival, already talking to madame esposito.

they both turned to bellerose, braun with a wicked smile, & madame esposito said, ¡o! ¡madasir bellerose! i am surprised you are up this late, too. madasir braun here was just explaining to me their theory o’ the case o’ the death o’ sir svart.

still smiling @ bellerose, braun said, i could start from the beginning ’gain for your edification, madasir, if madame esposito would not mind the tedium.

o, not @ all, madasir. i find the story thrilling ’nough to hear 5 times before becoming bored.

barely holding back a sour frown, bellerose thanked them but declined, & then turned back into the darkness like a candle blown out, vowing vengeance gainst their killsteal rival.


explanation, agency, priority