He woke up on a glistening marble floor. A familiar, light feeling of something sticky and uneven pulling him down.
A deep woman’s voice commanded, “C, what are you doing?”
His eyes wide open, he quickly checked his belongings. Shirt, faded jeans, military issue polished shoes. Coat? No coat. Wait.
A young woman with blue hair curling in an unnatural manner with purple eyes and sharp eyebrows was staring straight back at him. With his coat. Significantly worn and several sizes too large for the lady donning it now.
“Miss, where are we? Have you seen a cat around here?”
The lady smiled, baring sharp teeth from one end to the other.
He continued. “Tabby, green eyes, answers to ‘Antonio’. When they’re in the mood to be found, that is. Only eats one kind of cat food? Don’t even think of trying to change his cat food. He’s going to be really pissed about it.”
“C, I’m Eleanor, and you’re a bloody mess.” She pointed one sharp, blue fingernail right at his chest mid sentence as the quite large coat started slipping off her shoulders.
“See? I don’t...”
At that moment, the man looked down to see large amounts of a familiar red substance on their shirt, hands, jeans, and the floor.
He turned to his left and right to survey the scene. There was quite an unusually high quantity of corpses of feathered women with birds feet, robed ones, and a creature he could not really think to have the proper words to describe.
If it weren’t for the decay, C might have first noticed the imposing, grand entrance of a temple. A long staircase with four pillars in front of an open doorway, its depth appearing to go on for at least another mile in relative darkness.
Eleanor shook her head, expressing brief pity. “You really don’t remember anything? Well, I’ve got a journal to help with that.”
The woman took out a worn book and a pack of cigarettes from the left outer pocket. The man, C, immediately recognized the handwriting and the assortment of pens.
“Ah, my buddy.” C leafed through pages of scribbles in different colors of ink, a system of his own creation. “Yes, you’re Eleanor. You are, uh, a special friend.”
“‘Special’?” Eleanor wrinkled her nose. “Am I a trophy to you?” She then snapped a finger to light one of C’s cigarettes for herself and another for C.
“No, I’m just saying that you are as hard to get a handle on as my cat...” he leafed back a few hundred pages in the journal “...oh, I guess they left me twelve years ago.”
“Relatable.” Eleanor looked back at C with half open eyes and a sly grin.
“So what are we doing here?”
Eleanor exhaled and put out her cigarette. “We’re looking for a ring. The corporation sent you here. You offered to split the pay 70/30 if I tagged along as your problem solver.”
She gestured with her arms to all the bodies. “And I’ve solved a bunch of your problems.”
C took another puff of his cigarette, put his fingers on his temples, and calmly took a look at the short, beautiful girl in the overly large coat. “Do I really want to know how you got that?”
“You’re the detective, C.” She waved off C while looking at the sun setting in the distance. “You can figure it out.”
C surveyed one cluster of items that didn’t seem based on carbon, by the foot of the long staircase. A purple and red tiger striped jacket was the only item that looked salvageable from the mess. C turned back to Eleanor.
“Okay then. You skipped out on the laundry and decided now was the time to expand your horizons from the magical girl attire?”
Eleanor snorted. “It’s a witch outfit, asshole.”
C grinned. “Yeah, I guess it wasn’t a willing change. You went berserk again?”
With a sigh, Eleanor’s shoulders sank back into the coat. “I’ve done some things I regret, only a little bit.” Smiling, she added as she looked straight into C’s eyes, “Just a little bit.”
“That’s okay with me.” C bounced back on his feet, still in need of a shower. “So, how long have we been at this?”
“C, we’ve been on this island for only about three hours.” A villainous grin formed on her face. “It’s Friday night, and we’re just getting started!”
“...what did you say?”
C motioned to his PDA, still keeping time. “Sunday, eight o’ clock PM.”
Eleanor’s eyes went wide for a moment. “There’s no way that’s right! We just got here. I’m... I’m not the amnesiac loser!”
Thinking quickly, C tapped a lump in Eleanor’s right coat pocket. “Are you keeping candy over there?”
“Ugh, no. I don’t know what you keep in your dingy excuse for business casual.”
“Could you take that out?”
Eleanor reached in and pulled out a golden ring with a black gem, the ring formed by carvings of curvaceous women carefully holding the sphere. Her expression changed to shock, before looking closer at the item she held in her hand.
“C, this is... is this what we’ve been after?”
C thumbed to the last pages in his journal, surveying a clipping from a printout. “I’m not a jeweler, but to my eyes, that looks like a Ring of Lethe to me.”
Slack jawed, Eleanor stared at C for answers “...but... how?”
“Eleanor, you remember arriving at the Archive of the Naiad. But do you remember how we got here?”
“I...” She sat down to recollect her thoughts. “I remember us in your apartment, with Mem. I remember a big fight. I remember your body falling limp. I remember killing harpies and cult members. But... I don’t remember entering the temple.”
“Is that really everything?” C continued leafing through his journal for clues.
“Everything that’s your business.” Eleanor gave a smug grin.
C summoned up his best straight laced detective face. “Do you know why we split the payment three ways?”
“C, it was two ways. 70/30, I take the majority.”
With a hand to his chin and another lit cigarette, once again with Eleanor’s assistance, C flipped open his journal to the payment agreement. “It was 70/15/15.”
“You hired someone else?” Eleanor stuck out her tongue. “Did the corporation need something extra for life insurance?”
C raised an eyebrow. “Do you remember if we came here by ourselves?”
“C, just tell me what you really mean.”
“I’m saying...” C started dramatically tapping at a green penned annotation. “There was a third person among us. Someone well versed with explosives.”
Eleanor was a bit taken aback by the implication that some of this destruction wasn’t her doing, before realizing the deeper meaning behind what C was saying.
C continued his flair for the dramatic. “And we’re not entering. We’ve been searching around this place for two days. We’re leaving.”
Thinking along C’s lines, Eleanor did her part of playing detective. “Alright, I get that been stuck on this dumb island for so long that your memory went and wiped itself clean. That wasn’t ahead of schedule. Then how...” Eleanor winced at the ring she was still holding in the hand that wasn’t lighting cigarettes by request. “Lethe, sounds Greek, right?”
“Sister of Mnemosyne. A lesser known Greek goddess of forgetfulness and oblivion.” C put his journal on his lap. “I think we may have lost a friend here.”
The two looked at each other, and once more at the scene. The witch was in no shape to perform more magic tricks, just as the detective was in no mood to idle around.
“C, let’s get the fuck out of this creepy place.” She tightened the belt around the jacket.
“Want a piggyback ride to the raft, madam?” C bowed, then turned his back to the lady that gave him the only name that stuck. “I’ll handle what’s left of your belongings.”
“Sure thing, dumbass.”
With that, the two limped off into the sunset, Eleanor nodding off as C whistled a cowboy tune.