Detective Psychon arrives on The Glimmingdrift where he works with a client to solve who has been leaking their play scripts to the press.
Every piece of media and publicity Detective Psychon found about The Glimmingdrift recommended seeing a live show in the Dionysus Circle district. Spawning from a shady gambling past, the current captain revitalized the spaceship city to be a theatre lover’s paradise. Performing arts venues replaced the twelve casinos, keeping the flashy neon aesthetics and repurposing them for the arts. A neon blue holographic billboard promoting, “‘A Disastrous Carol’ Written and Directed by Scourge” briefly caught the detective’s attention as he walked deeper into the district.
Pairing with the performing arts, visitors also knew Dionysus Circle for its eclectic culinary collection of food vendors. Each booth was a work of art, often embodying the dish they best served. While the detective had no use for food, in a past life, he would’ve had a hard time picking something to eat based on all the tantalizing aromas as he strolled past them.
All the detective planned to do during his visit aboard The Glimmingdrift was to see a client.
Vertically, the district was only two to three levels tall, allowing people with wings to fly around, but no need for upper-level pedestrian walkways. The detective stopped in front of a mini-tower consisting of an elevator base to a circular observation deck. At the top was a penthouse suite that doubled as a living and rehearsal space for the prestigious writer and director, Canopus.
“I’m here to see Canopus,” the detective said to the private guard.
The muscular brown sasquatch with a black hoodie and jeans sized up the short-by-comparison human vampire. “What’s your business?”
“I’m the new hat designer,” the detective lied as requested by the client.
The guard looked at Psychon’s ragged black pointy hat with various hand-sewn patches adorned on it. The guard shrugged and stepped aside from the door. “Canopus is waiting for you.”
The door automatically slid open, and the detective stepped inside the freight elevator, which was large enough for a few dozen people. The elevator walls and ceiling were covered with living flowers and ivy, smelling like a spring meadow. A few of the flowers had a metallic sparkle to them. As the door closed and lifted him to the only destination, Psychon recalled his initial conversation with Canopus. They spoke on a holographic video call via their networkers.
Canopus patted her forehead with a towel using one tentacle while the second used her flower sewn hat as a fan. Her third tentacle held the networker as the last one raised a glass of ice water to her mouth. She took a sip through the rainbow swirly straw.
“Look, I need you to find out how my stories are getting leaked to the press,” Canopus said as she sat the glass down. “I don’t want to accuse my troupe falsely, and I don’t want to come across as unhinged.”
“Is it one media outlet that gets the inside details?” Psychon asked.
“No, it changes every time, but whoever gets it, it’s an exclusive.”
“That rules out any media outlet. Do you have any suspects on your team?”
“My troupe is loyal,” she said with a hateful glare with her large eyes.
The detective opted not to question her statement further and went with a different approach. “I’ll need to infiltrate your team to be sure. They may be unknowingly or unwittingly helping.”
Canopus tossed the towel aside and put her hat back on, which gave her an idea. “You could be my new hat designer.”
Psychon adjusted his pointy black hat he made himself. “I can pull that off, and I now know how to solve your problem.”
The elevator dinged open with a gentle musical melody. Like the elevator, plants covered every inch of the ceiling. Most of the walls were transparent or were windows to the outside, making the circular penthouse feel larger than it already was. Before walking on the plush green carpet, Psychon took off his boots and placed them on the shoe rack with the others.
The detective only took a couple of steps when Canopus ran up and greeted him with a tight, warm hug that lifted him from the floor. If Psychon needed to breathe, he would’ve been struggling at the moment. Instead, he grumbled, and Canopus carefully returned him to the ground.
“I’m so excited to see you,” Canopus apologized.
“I’m excited to be working with you too,” Psychon said as he straightened out his black trench coat.
Canopus turned back to her troupe of eight people working together for their latest show. Each person sat in a plush pod hung from the ceiling that formed a circle, so everyone was equal in discussion and rehearsal. All nine pods were large enough to fit Canopus, who was the largest person there. The detective noted the diversity of the troupe. From the reviews the detective gleamed about the company, the mix of ideas and cultural backgrounds was a favored trait.
Canopus returned to her pod. “Everyone, before I give out the scripts for tonight’s show, I have a special associate who I commissioned to design you each a special hat for this production.”
Psychon took off his hat, then one by one, he walked around the room, pulling out a hat from inside his hat, which was bigger on the inside. Each black and red striped hat was similar in appearance as not to cause any jealousy. However, they were different enough in size and strip width to tell each one apart. After the detective passed out all the hats, he returned to Canopus.
“I hope everyone enjoys their hats,” Psychon said as he gave the last one to Canopus.
“These are exquisite,” Canopus genuinely praised as she put on the hat. She took a rolled-up poster from her pod and unraveled it to show only Psychon. “This is for you as a thank you. You’re the first one to see the poster for tonight’s show.”
“Thank you,” Psychon said as he rolled up the poster and put it in his hat. “It’s been a pleasure working for you.”
The detective tipped his hat and returned to the elevator. Everything was going according to plan.
The detective made himself comfortable in the corner of an underwater themed bar. He sipped on his glass of blood while his networker projected live feeds from the hidden cameras placed in each of the hats. With the show starting in a few hours, no one attempted to leak any details about the production. With tentative diligence, he watched for any sleight of hand tricks as well as any outsiders who might be spying on them.
When a news alert with breaking details about Canopus’ latest show popped up on his feed, he almost didn’t want to believe it. Earlier, he scheduled his networker to push any news about the show to him. He tapped on the news box from The Daily Cork.
The article revealed exclusive details about the plot. The story even mentioned the wardrobe and hats for the show. It included several suggestions on what to eat that paired with the show. Then down at the bottom was a witness sketch of the show poster, which Psychon plotted with Canopus to make sure only he saw it.
Psychon closed the networker video. “Time to pay The Daily Cork a visit for answers.”
The Daily Cork was a one-person operation specializing in culinary news and reviews, with the occasional story about performances, usually with food recommendations. Luckily for the detective, they had an office aboard The Glimmingdrift, but it was a private residence, which meant he couldn’t barge in.
The detective learned the residential hallways were designed without any decorations so people would get to and from home quickly without any distractions. The bright purple walls did give Psychon a sense of luxury despite the minimal architect. He knocked three times on the white door to Room 289.
The door slid open, revealing a young 28-year-old human woman, although the snakes in her hazel hair exposed she was half-gorgon. She wore a thick, white sweater and a pair of tight red leggings.
“Hello, Alaia,” Psychon said, forcing a warm smile. “I saw your article about Canopus’ latest show, and I wanted to see if you are interested in interviewing me about the hats I designed for it.”
Alaia beamed with excitement. “Yes, please come in.”
With the invite, Psychon stepped inside. “Thank you.”
The detective studied the white minimalist zen studio apartment room. If Alaia was hiding anything or anyone, there wasn’t much space to do it. He didn’t spy any surveillance equipment, and Alaia didn’t seem to recognize him either.
Alaia took a cross-legged seat on a mattress on the floor, which was the only piece of furniture. She sat up with an immaculate posture.
“So, tell me, what’s the story behind this show’s hats?” she asked.
“Well, Canopus hired me to find out who was leaking details about her shows to the press, and so I made special hats with surveillance equipment to track her staff.” The snakes in Alaia’s hair rattled with nervous restlessness. Psychon held up a warning finger. “Don’t even try to turn me into stone. Vampires are immune. Now, tell me, how did you learn about the show when I saw no one contacting you?”
Alaia’s posture slouched. “I got an anonymous message. They said if I brought them some stuff, they would give an exclusive. I’ve seen other publications get exclusives, and so I took it. I thought it was a publicity stunt at first…”
“What did they want in return?” the detective questioned.
“I can’t pronounce it, but here’s the message. They wanted me to deliver it to a dumpster out back behind Canopus’ place.”
The journalist brought up the demands on her networker.
The detective swiped away the screen. “That explains everything.”
Canopus and her troupe stumbled up the penthouse entrance with celebratory bottles of wine and high spirits from a successful performance. The detective stood outside with the personal security guard.
“Psychon, it’s so good to see you,” Canopus said. “Do you have good news for me?”
“Yes, I’ve learned that your troupe is loyal, and you don’t have to worry about your shows being leaked to the press again.”
“Really?” Canopus said, about to drunk cry with happiness.
“Wait, I thought you were a hat designer?” one of Canopus associates asked.
“Detective is my proper title,” Psychon said.
“How’d you fix it?” Canopus asked.
“I set it on fire.”
“Set what on fire?”
“All of your plants, specifically the aglowies. Fun Fact: aglowies are native to the Yellow Planet and illegal on all the others. They are notorious for fusing with technology. They’ve been getting fertilizer in exchange for exclusive information about your shows.”
Canopus paused to soak in everything explained to her. “I got that plant as a souvenir when I visited the Yellow Planet for inspiration. That’s about the time when small little details started to leak to the press.”
Psychon nodded. “And as the plant grew bigger, it was able to expand its reach.”
A realization hit Canopus. “But the aglowies covered my entire place!”
“Yes, your whole penthouse suite is currently in flames. I had to get special permission from the ship’s captain, but once I explained the danger, she gave me access.”
The detective’s client took a big swig of wine. “I guess it was time for a remodel anyway.”
For January’s short story, I wanted to reveal the case Detective Psychon was heading to that he referred in Who Killed The Toymaker Aboard Starbringer II? I thought it would be fun to explore more of The Glimmingdrift featured in A Rescue Request to Santa, having both stories take place at the same time. In the Santa story, I did mention Starbringer II landing there, so I’ve planned this idea in advance. I was also inspired by a bit of dialogue from a writing prompt, which I incorporated. The prompt was, ““How’d you fix it?” “I set it on fire.””
I got to work again with Chen Kang at Design Pickle to bring Dionysus Circle to life. I incorporated the tower in the background Chen drew as Canopus’ penthouse. Huge thanks to Chen for the fantastic art!
I have to say, I love writing a detective story in a speculative fiction world with Psychon as I can give him such weird and unusual cases. If you liked this story, be sure to click on the Detective Psychon tag for more with him or his character profile.
Be sure to join me on Patreon to read my works first.