Midas Touch: Chapter 16

Detective Jacques sighed as he entered his office and home.

Tessa had shared some interesting information, but he wasn’t sure how useful it would be. She had seemed hesitant to talk to him at first, but when he said people were missing, she opened up a bit. She repeated how David came in with two girls and asked her to translate something. She forgot most of the details except for a magic crystal and turning things into wine, women, and gold. She gave Jacques David’s email after a bit of hesitation. 

Jacques sat down to write an email to David; he didn’t have too much hope for a response, but he’d be remiss if he didn’t try and lure him out. The moment he started, his doorbell rang. Maybe he had more work. The woman on the other side of the door was not part of his regular clientele. She was in a crisp business suit and looked very professional.

“Hello?” Jacques said with a bit of hesitation. “How can I help you?”

“Detective Richard Jacques, I presume?” the woman replied; she flashed her credentials. “I am Bailey Smith from the Department of Data Analysis. May I come in?”

“Of course, come in,” Jacques replied, a little confused. “Want a drink?”

“No, thank you.” Bailey settled on the chair opposite his desk when Jacques sat down.

“How can I help you, Mrs. Smith?” Jacques asked, clearly suspicious of her last name.

“According to our reports, you have been looking into the missing person case of David Walker.”

“That’s right. His case is linked to many other missing people. A couple of people have hired me to find their lost family members, and I have reason to believe David is involved.”

“That matches the information we have on you,” Bailey nodded. “Have you found any leads? We would like to assist you in solving this case.”

“Why?” Jacques asked.

“Call it a hunch,” Bailey said with a smile. “I’m good about sniffing out outliers. I became interested when I first heard about the case, but when I heard the progress you’ve made, I wanted to reach out.” 

Jacques shrugged; he didn’t have a reason to hold back information. In fact, he really wanted to share it with someone. “It’s getting stranger and stranger the more that I dig; I’ve held most of my findings back until I have solid proof. My leading theory is that David is somehow transforming the people around him into young women.”

Bailey raised an eyebrow. “That’s quite the theory.”

Jacques laughed. “I know. Every piece of evidence leads to that conclusion. Take a look at this.” He ushered her over to the next room and showed off his bulletin board with all of his evidence. Multiple photos and sketches of people were laid out in a timeline.

“Let’s go over everything I know.” He pointed at pictures of David and Karlee. “August 22. David goes on a hiking trip with his sister, Karlee. Apparently, they found a cave with a magic crystal while they were out. David ran away when they returned.”

“Magic crystal?” Bailey asked with a smile.

“Let me finish,” Jacques said. He pointed at a photo of an older man and a young woman with red hair. “August 23. David rents a room from Simon Henderson with a girl named Samantha Peterson. I found old documents in his home talking about reserving that same room to a guy named Samuel Peterson. I’ve recently found Samuel’s family; they’ve been getting texts from him but no calls. I tried calling him, but no one picked up. His family told me the place where he went for work; the office said Samuel never worked there. Only a Samantha matching the description of the girl who was with David, though a Samuel initially applied. They thought she had somehow made a mistake on her application. She quit on September 11, less than a month ago.”

Bailey leaned in. “Go on.”

“August 26.” Jacques pointed at a sketch of a girl with blonde hair tied up in a braid and photos of a young man with red hair, two elderly men, and an elderly woman. “David goes with a neighbor Alec Hutchins and an unknown girl to a rest home. Alec’s grandmother had lived there for a few years before she passed away, so I’m assuming it was his idea to go there. While there, three elderly tenets disappeared. Alec made a distraction while everyone else slipped out. Later that day, all three tenets had their money withdrawn at a nearby ATM by these people.” He showed images of three girls and Alec near an ATM. “These images were how I was able to connect Alec to the case.”

“Have you found out about who those girls were?” Bailey asked.

Jacques shook his head. “Nothing at all.” He pointed at photos of two young men next. “That same day, August 26, at a nearby waterpark, two teenage boys disappeared. I found reports of a show being put on about two boys matching their descriptions transforming into girls.” He pointed at a grainy photo of video footage next. “Looking through video evidence of the entrance, the two boys never left, and two girls left who never entered. I also found David entering the park with Alec and four girls. The same girls who would later go to the ATM.”

Bailey nodded. “This does sound very strange.”

“Tell me about it,” Jacques said. He pointed at a photo of Tessa next. “This is a young woman I met today. On August 30, David traveled to a nearby university to translate a document he had found. He was with the same blonde girl as before and a girl with reddish-orange hair. David either hiked back to the cave or had the paper all along. The paper was in an old style of Spanish from the 16th century, and Tessa said she had a difficult time translating it. It contained a variation of the story of King Midas, but it also included the story of the Amazonians, the all-female country. Evidently, whoever touches the magic crystal gains a specific power, either transforming things into gold, wine, or women. She didn’t have a copy of the document.”

Bailey nodded. “Too bad. I would have loved to test its authenticity.”

Jacques pointed to pictures of a woman and a teenage boy. “August 31, Simon’s ex-wife, Janice stopped by for custody of their son, Riley. She said Simon looked younger and had much thicker hair than before. Many of the people I interviewed in the apartment complex said something similar. Though, there were mixed reports of a relative taking over his role for a short time. I met him a few days afterward on September 3, and he looked very androgynous. I wouldn’t have recognized him if I saw him before.”

“When did you begin the case?” Bailey asked.

Jacques continued. “August 27. I got hired by the parents of the boys who disappeared at the waterpark, but I didn’t identify Alec until September 2. September 6 is when I met and was hired by Janice to find her son. I found out about David on this day. I visited his apartment, but he had left the day before. I was so close.”

Jacques continued. “David has been in hiding ever since. I believe Simon warned him about me, and David got scared off, taking everyone with him. I’ve been looking at missing-person cases to see if I can find another clue.” He pointed at a few profiles on the board. “But, nothing seems to fit the pattern. The only thing that stands out is the Flame Mystic from a few days ago.”

Bailey nodded. “It’s been all over the news. We even have a team looking into it. Why do you think it’s connected?”

“The Flame Mystic only healed young women. I believe she could have healed men and older women too, but it would have been a lot more dramatic for them. Also, it takes place in a nearby town. Two supernatural events happening close to each other can hardly be a coincidence.”

“But wasn’t the Flame Mystic a girl?”

“Honestly, at this point, anything is possible. David might be a girl by this point. It might not be connected, but my gut is telling me it is.” He glanced at her warily. “So, you probably think I’m crazy at this point.”

“No, not at all,” Bailey said with a smile. “I believe you’ll be able to help us out a lot. This might help a bit.” Bailey handed over a file.

Jacques opened it. It was a profile on Karl Walker and Karlee Walker. “Ah, that would make more sense. Wait, you had proof all along? Why did you have me explain the whole case?”

“Before we found you had looked into the case, we didn’t know David was the cause of the transformation. We didn’t look for David ourselves because we didn’t think he was important and that the local law enforcement would take care of it. We’ve been running extensive tests over the last two months on Karlee; we have her come in every week to give a blood sample. We were 92% certain Karl and Karlee is the same person. The evidence you’ve provided boosts it up to 96%.”


“We never deal in absolutes. There is a small possibility it is all part of an elaborate hoax. But, we are getting more and more certain this is a bonafide supernatural event.” Bailey’s eyes lit up in interest.

“Who are you, really?” Jacques asked.

Bailey grinned. “My specific branch has a nickname. The Fiction Hunters. The people who know about us treat us like a joke, but we get to see many unique cases that aren’t easily explained. We go in and do extensive research to either debunk or prove the event.”

“Have you found anything before this?”

“Little things here and there that are hard to explain. But, nothing this drastic. We’d like to work closely with you on this case if you’d be willing.”

Jacques thought about it. He was feeling relieved he wasn’t going crazy. It would be nice to find out more and have more resources at his disposal. He’d never really thought about working for the government, but this might be a good opportunity.

He held out his hand. “Let’s get to the bottom of this rabbit hole.”

Audrey stretched after she finished adjusting the actress’s costume for the next scene. She had only taken this job because Ellie wanted to work on a movie, but Audrey was really enjoying it. She didn’t have to talk much and could see how the actors behave when they weren’t acting. 

Ellie, on the other hand, yawned as Aubrey joined her on the couch. “Sooo bored. I barely have anything to do.” She was an extra in two scenes, but they weren’t filming them today.

“You didn’t have to come in today,” Audrey said. “Betty asked me to come in since she needed more people to put on makeup.” Betty was the head costume designer and had taken Aubrey under her wing. As a result, Audrey was needed much more than Ellie.

“And miss out on seeing a movie being produced? Never!” Ellie said.

Aubrey knew another reason she came was that Ellie was very protective of her. Ever since becoming a girl, Aubrey had become an introvert to almost a crippling degree. After talking to David and the others, Aubrey learned that her personality was based on her male side’s ideal girl. She cursed Anthony for the hundredth time that he liked shy girls.

The door opened and Aubrey stood up abruptly, but relaxed when she saw who it was. Wendy Reyes, one of the main supporting actors. She had brown hair, but Aubrey knew that it originally was a very pale red, almost pink. Wendy’s eyes lit up when she saw Aubrey. “How’s my favorite body artist?” She glanced at Ellie with a false glare. “And my biggest rival?” Wendy knew exactly how to act in front of them. Not just them, she seemed to have a positive relationship with everyone in the studio. Her charisma was off the charts.

Ellie laughed. “Hardly. From what I’ve heard, they keep on giving you more scenes because you steal the scene every time you’re filmed.”

Wendy waved it off. “I’m just doing what they ask. I’m grateful I’m here.”

Ellie leaned in close and whispered conspiratorially. “I heard you got scouted for at least three other movies after this one.”

Wendy placed a finger on her lips with a wink and grin. “Shh, that’s a secret.” Both Wendy and Ellie giggled like best friends. But, true to her nature, Wendy didn’t leave Aubrey out of the conversation. “So, Aubrey, do you think you can change the details around my eyes a bit? I want to display more emotion for the next scene.”

Aubrey thought for a moment. “Hmm, maybe. I’ll need to get it checked off with Betty before you go out on set.”

“Of course, I’ve already cleared it with her. Come on, work your magic,” Wendy begged.

“Do-do you think you could act out the part?” Aubrey asked hesitantly. “I want to get a good idea of the scene before making changes.”

“Of course. It’ll be good to practice it as well.” Wendy nodded eagerly. She turned to Ellie. “Do you think you could play the role of Mark? Hope you don’t mind playing a guy. Do you have the script?”

Ellie laughed. “Not a problem. We’ve got one here.” 

Wendy closed her eyes. A moment later, it was like a different person was standing in front of them. Her eyes were blazing fiercely and tears were forming around the edges.

“Mark! How dare you leave me behind? I could have helped!”

Ellie recited much less naturally. “Jessica, it was dangerous. I couldn’t take you with me.”

“I’m not some fragile flower you need to protect. It’s the apocalypse. Safety is not a luxury we have anymore. Do you know how aggravating it is to be left behind? If you die, I die. It’s that simple. I’d rather die out there fighting zombies than starve to death in here.”

“Alright, fine. But, I’ll need to train you how to handle yourself outside.”

Wendy’s eyes sparkled with joy. “Oh, Mark, thank you. I won’t be a burden, I promise.” Wendy broke character with a laugh. “And she dies a few scenes later.”

“Wow, that was incredible,” Ellie praised. “I felt myself getting dragged into your pace. I bet the other actors get a bit frustrated.”

Wendy laughed sheepishly. “Maybe a bit.” She turned to Aubrey. “Did that help? Have any ideas?”

Aubrey nodded. “I think so. Shall we get to work?”

Dr. Timothy Wilson sat at his desk with a headache. He was grateful for the Flame Mystic coming in. She had cured most of his patients; it was gratifying to see how completely healed those girls had become. Even if he couldn’t comprehend or understand what had happened, he was content to chalk it up to a miracle.

Reality wasn’t as nice. When the news hit about the Flame Mystic, countless numbers of people contacted him for a chance to get healed by the Flame Mystic or to gain some smidgen of information they could sell to reporters. Tim had to hire three more secretaries to shift through the constant phone calls and emails. The hospital itself was getting swarmed by requests that the directors had to stop new people from applying or else they’d get overwhelmed.

A knock sounded at the door, and Erika walked in. Like Tim, Erika had been flooded by people trying to get more information on the miracle since she was the nurse who had seen most of the healings firsthand. At first, she gladly talked about her experience, but like most things, people started to harass her for believing something like that could happen. She joined Tim in self-imposed isolation.

“Someone’s here to see you, Dr. Wilson,” Erika said.

“Please, no more visitors,” Tim said. “I’m tired of people asking questions I can’t answer.”

“You’ll want to meet with her.”

A woman with dark skin and bleached blonde hair waltzed into the office. Tim was about to tell her off, but he recognized her immediately. The bodyguard of the Flame Mystic.

“It’s you,” Tim said.

The bodyguard smiled. “It’s me. And no, she’s not here.” Tim had been looking behind her.

“How can I help you? I didn’t think you’d come back. What you did . . . it caused quite a scene.”

The bodyguard grimaced. “We did more than we planned. The Flame Mystic is new to her ability, and her compassion outweighed her caution.”

Erika spoke up. “I think it’s great what she did. So many people were cured thanks to her.”

The bodyguard nodded. “Yes, but it paints more of a target on her back now. If she had done one as we had planned, people could mark it off as an individual recovery. Now, it’ll be hard for her to move around.”

Tim nodded his head. “So, why are you here? I’ve told the story so many times I’m beginning to doubt it myself.”

“We may need some help in the future. The Flame Mystic’s power does work outside of women between 15 and 25, but there are extreme side effects.”

Tim felt a pit form in his stomach. “What side effects?” Had he just poisoned his patients who had supposedly gotten healed?

“You don’t need to worry about those girls who got healed, though I cannot say what they are because it is a secret of our Order. However, those who get healed outside of that age and gender range cannot go back to the life they had before. We need to set up a new identity and place for them to be.”

Tim felt speechless. He was not expecting the direction this conversation was going. “And you want me to do what? Find people for you to heal?”

“Something like that,” the bodyguard answered. “We are aware you have been contacted by countless people desperate to be healed. We can help. But, I want to be upfront about the consequences. They won’t be able to see anyone from their previous life again, including you.”

“I . . .  don’t think I can condone that,” Tim replied. “I cannot recommend something I don’t understand, especially if I can’t see the outcome.”

“I completely understand,” the bodyguard said. “But, I’m sure there are a few people who came to mind who would be desperate enough to take a risk on this.”

Tim hesitated. “Yes, there are a few. I’ve been contacted nonstop by them since she healed those girls. But still . . .”

The bodyguard continued. “You wouldn’t be able to see or talk to them, but you may text or email them. You and their families can tell them specific information only they would know, so you can verify they are alright afterward. All you need to do is give our contact information to those who desperately need healing. If it’s a woman within the age range, there won’t be side effects and they can return to regular life.”

“I’m starting to question my decision to become a doctor,” Tim said, bringing his worries to the forefront. “I mean, what’s my purpose anymore if people can be healed with a simple ritual?”

Suddenly, the bodyguard smacked the table hard, making a loud noise. The passion in her eyes made Tim do a doubletake. “Don’t ever think that. What we do is not healing, and it is not all-powerful. And, it’ll only work once for each person. We don’t want to replace doctors but work with them.”

Tim nodded slowly. “I’ll consider your offer. This will open a can of worms. Many people will try and trick you. I’ll only send those I know are sick but word will get out.”

“Let us deal with that,” the bodyguard said. She placed a stack of business cards on the desk. “Give these to those who are desperate enough to take our deal.” Then, the bodyguard left.

Tim leaned back in his chair as he digested what she told him. He’d probably lose his license if he went through with it. Even just connecting his name would have consequences. But . . . if they could get healed, wouldn’t he be morally obligated to help them?

“What are you going to do?” Erika asked.

“I don’t know,” Tim replied, but he knew he’d do it. If nothing else, his curiosity would get the better of him.

David paced back and forth in the garage.

“Relax, David,” Juliet said. “They’ll be alright. They confirmed they picked up the body.”

“I’m sorry, I’ve never been part of a jailbreak before,” David replied.

“It happens more often than you’d think,” Juliet said. “Pay enough money, and the prisoner will experience an ‘accident’. They’ll be given a sedative, and the doctors will mark them dead. Then, we sneak them out.”

“I know, Cassidy explained the details,” David said. “I’ve been wondering, what happens if somebody sees them from the outside after being snuck out. I mean, we don’t have to worry about it, but I’m sure it might bite them to find out a person they marked as dead is still alive.”

“Ah, usually, the prisoners are high-profile cases. They have means to go into hiding afterward,” Juliet said. “In this case, Cassidy may or may not have blackmailed the warden to take the deal. It’s best you don’t know the details.”

David shook his head. “It makes me wonder about the type of life Cassidy led before transforming.” 

“How to put this gently,” Juliet began. “Henry was . . .”

“A dirty cop,” Nancy finished.

“I sort of figured that out on my own,” David said.

“He was very useful, but he got caught and spent time in prison,” Juliet explained. “I heard after he got out, he went deeper into criminal organizations, but he ended up burning his bridges in the process. Anyway, Nancy, let’s go over everything with David while we wait?”

Nancy scrolled through her tablet. “Both Leah and Susan are in place. Leah put a tracker and listening device in Karlee’s bag. We found out that she goes in once a month to get her blood drawn.”

“Do we know if there’s something special about our blood that will make us identifiable?” Juliet asked.

Nancy shook her head. “We don’t have anyone specialized in that field, and it’s too risky to send our blood out. We do have plans to set up a lab at the mansion and to recruit someone able to study the blood, but it hasn’t been a high priority.”

“Push it up. The sooner we know, the better,” Juliet said. “Continue.”

“Susan did the same with Tessa. That detective interviewed her yesterday. Susan followed him after the interview to set up a hidden camera. While she was there, a woman wearing an expensive suit entered for about half an hour. Susan tagged her car, which led us to a government facility.”

“That’s not good, right?” David asked.

Juliet shrugged. “We probably missed our chance to turn him. Now, the government might get very suspicious if he goes missing. At least we know which government office is looking into us now.”

“Sorry,” David said. “Turning someone because he’s in our way is a line I don’t want to cross.”

Juliet put a hand on his shoulder. “Speaking from experience, once you cross a line like that, it becomes easier to keep crossing it. Soon, you won’t have any lines, and you won’t recognize or respect the person in the mirror anymore. Then you’ll be left to die alone.”

David nodded with gratitude. “Thank you, Juls. What’s our plan with them, then?”

“We’ll keep an eye on them from a distance,” Juliet said. “We aren’t strong enough to confront them directly. Nancy, arrange for someone to sneak inside both the detective’s and government offices; let’s see what we can find. Depending on the results, we might need to move out of the mansion.”

“Ah, that’s too bad,” David said. “I was sort of liking it here. Oh, here they come.”

A van pulled up to the outer fence and was allowed in. David looked out anxiously for any sign they had been caught, but all was silent as the garage closed behind them. The door to the van opened. Cassidy and Debby jumped out carrying a body sack. They placed it on a table.

“How’d it go?” Juliet asked.

“No problems,” Cassidy said. “I vote we do it before he wakes up.” She unzipped the body bag to reveal a large man with a lot of tattoos lining his arms. He looked fat, but David could tell he had a lot of muscle as well.

David hesitated for a moment. “What do we know about him?”

Nancy looked at her tablet. “Richard Johnson, though people called him Ricky. He was arrested when he was 18 for multiple accounts of petty theft after getting kicked out of a foster home. He was released five years later, but he immediately went back to prison for armed robbery where he seriously injured the store owner. He spent fifteen years in prison this time, but he returned immediately after that for drunk driving and avoiding parole. He has no family and any friends he may have had abandoned him after getting arrested.”

“He still had twenty years left,” Cassidy said. “He’s a prison lifer. I met him briefly before; if he has a little bit of freedom, he’ll abuse it. Honestly, he’s a drain on society and the warden was only too happy to have him removed.”

“And we want to bring him on?” David asked.

“It’ll be good to see how drastic the changes will be,” Juliet said. “We’ll keep a close eye on him, er, her to make sure she’s doing her job properly.”

“We need grunts,” Debby said. “I can’t manage the whole security detail by myself. I outsourced the exterior guard of the mansion, but we need more people for your personal guard.”

“I’m still trying to get used to that,” David said. He took a deep breath and touched the man for the shortest amount of time. Ideally, he’d have liked to wake the guy up, but he didn’t particularly want to talk to the guy.

Ricky’s skin melted off his body. The entire group stopped back in alarm, and David wanted to throw up. Had he just killed someone for real? But when they peeked into the body bag, they saw a girl with short black hair. She was thin and somewhat toned. She wore a crop top and cargo pants with pink tattoos decorating her arms and belly.

She opened her eyes suddenly, which caused David to jump. She sat up and looked around. “Where am I?” She looked calm and collected.

David stepped forward. “Hello, my name is David, and I transformed you into a girl. Do you remember where you were before?”

The girl looked down. “I guess I am. That’s weird. I was in prison. I felt a sharp pain, then I blacked out.” She stared at David intently. “I feel . . . extraordinarily attracted to you. Is that normal?”

David smiled. “Sadly, yes.”

“Why sadly? You are very handsome. I’ve never felt like this before. I like it.” 

The way she talked threw David off a bit. She was very stoic and spoke in a monotone. It wasn’t quite the same as Alex, who was almost innocent in her emotionlessness. This new girl was intelligent and had a personality, but just didn’t express herself very much.

“I’m glad to hear. What’s your name?”

“I went by Ricky before, but I think I’ll go with Rey. I’ve always liked that name.”

“It’s nice to have you, Rey,” David said. “We have a few things we’d like you to do if you don’t mind.”

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2 responses to “Midas Touch: Chapter 16”

  1. Didn’t expect to see Wendy again: a pleasant surprise. I always felt Wendy was one of the most interesting characters you’ve written.


  2. Another excellent update. Well done.:D


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