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The Strange Tales of Thomas Novack: Novack and the scavenger hunt

The Strange Tales of Thomas Novack is a flash-fiction serial story. Thomas Novack, our unfortunate hero, is one part private eye, two parts irritable cephalopod and a dash of magic. He runs his P.I. business out of a shop called The Emerald Eye, which rests inside the space station, The Flying Spade. He may not always be successful, but he’ll try his best to keep the paychecks coming.

“So tell me again, what are you looking for?” Novack asked, head in his hands.

“The symbol for my divinity!” the strange creature named Niko sitting on the other side of the desk said happily.

“How did- How can you lose that?” he asked, exasperated.

The creature simply shrugged with a smile. The creature looked like, if he could remember correctly, a red panda from Earth. However, this one was on two legs and could talk. He wore an old sailor coat, leather pants, and worn boots. Novack’s eyes kept drifting to the single dangling earring. He couldn’t place it, but it was familiar.

Niko may be related to the pandas, but he was definitely not from Earth. Novack wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth, this wouldn’t be the first being in his 300 odd years that had delusions of grandeur. However what Novack could be sure of was his payment. Bob checked.

“So what can you tell me?”

“I’m a god of Lost Things. And my symbol has to be on this station.” Niko paused, cocking his head, “Well, it should be anyways. If it is here, it will be in a place of gathered lost things.”

“You can’t do any better?” Novack asked, uncertainty obvious in his voice.

“Nope!” Niko responded happily.

“Good lord.” Novack whispered to himself.

Novack ushered Niko out of the room, and leaned against the wall as it slid shut behind him. With a sigh, Novack’s tentacles on his face pushed him back into a standing position. He turned to Bob, who simply shrugged back. A paycheck is a paycheck, and if they wanted to not get spaced for not paying rent, they had to take it.

Usually Novack did these things himself, but when the potential of the entire station having to be searched was there, it was a little daunting to say the least. Between the two of them, they could search in most spectrums.

Novack, while not incredibly trained with magic, had a sense for finding it.  Bob could scan for any electronic interference or anything out of the norm. Between the two of them, little could get past. At least that’s what they liked to tell themselves.

Their journey first took them to a recycling center. They figured, a place like that is exactly what they were looking for. Lost things in this station weren’t thrown away. They didn’t have enough resources to simply throw things away. Garbage was broken down and recycled. So, if the owner couldn’t be found, it comes here.

They found everything except for a symbol. At least they hoped so, although they couldn’t be exactly sure with this type of thing. Nothing in the rows and rows of garbage and broken electronics that gave off signals could be related to magic. In Novack’s experience, divinity was close to magic, but not exact. On the plus side, they found a lamp that matched the office.

They were down one symbol for divinity, but up one lamp. They had to take what they could get. On they continued, looking through different corners of the station. So far, they had been mugged twice, although not successfully, but the idea was still there.

Through different sections of the station they searched. They did manage to return two lost cats, a lost teddy bear and an egg sack to the rightful owners. Novack managed to rise a couple notches in the great unbalanced cosmic scale of Karma, but it didn’t get them the rest of the payment; which that thought lowered him one again. Fickle thing, karma is.

Novack and Bob slowly trudged their way back to The Emerald Eye, down half a payment, and out a day of work. It was rare that they didn’t finish a job, sure, may not be a good ending and didn’t get paid, but at least it was closure.

When Novack got back to his office, he slumped into his seat. The old fake leather creaked as his momentum carried him into a spin. His eyes landed on an old drawer in his desk that he hadn’t opened in as long as he could remember. Novack had a sudden urge to open it.

The drawer slid open with a faint squeak. Inside was nothing except for a compass that he didn’t own. It was an old thing, made of copper and brass. The side was weathered and pitted, a life of use could be found along those mars. He lifted the nautical tool, thumb feeling along the dents. He slowly pushed on the top latch and lifted the cover. A chip fell onto his lap.

When he reached down for the other part of his payment, the needle moved, pointing the same direction before he turned it. Which wouldn’t have been strange, except for the fact that the station didn’t have magnetic poles.

Joshua Rettew is a third-year student majoring in microbiology with a minor in creative writing.  JR868511@wcupa.edu.

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