Night Beat

Disclaimer: Scooby Doo and all related characters are owned by Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros., and/or Cartoon Network. All other characters, names, places and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, events, or locations is coincidental.

Prologue

Sonia Manchac was a good medium. She had all the trappings to fleece any sheep that entered her domain. Like the table she sat at presently. It appeared to be bolted to the floor but could easily be lifted and appear to float. There were lights that flickered on and off eerily thanks to modern technology and a simple timer. The one that got all the sheep's attention was the dancing skeleton and the talking head that knew all and told all.

Take the couple of sheep that sat at Sonia's table now. A normal, average, middle aged couple; the type Sonia saw every day of the week. It had taken months to get them to this point. And as much money as Sonia thought safe to charge for each meeting. Sonia had gone through the floating table, flickering lights and now the skeleton and skull made it's appearance right on cue.

"Ask him Julia! This is taking too long!" The man yelled at his wife."We have to have that money now!" he added.

"Grandpa, where did you put the money?" an alarmed and fearful Julia exclaimed.

Time to do the talking head routine or they would have an irrational sheep blundering all over the place and that just wouldn't do.

"Under a loose floor board in the attic" the skull answered in the best ghost voice Sonia had heard from her friend and cohort Charlie.

"That's ridiculous! I've looked in the attic! No loose floorboards! I'm leaving!" the man rose and stormed out of the building.

"Steven! Don't go! Wait for me!" Julia screamed, running after her husband. Sonia only smiled and began to count the pile of money left by the couple.

"Help me... Help me!" came a high pitched feminine voice.

"Charlie! Lyle! Get in here" Sonia yelled at her two helpers. "Nice touch with the loose floor boards Charlie. Lyle I didn't know you could do a female voice so well; we will have to do more of that."

"Sorry Sonia, I thought it was you; I never said anything" Charlie's denial was filled with fear. Lyle added, " I can't get that high Sonia, that wasn't me!"

The next day Sonia answered the phone in her best theatrical voice, 'Madam Sonia."

"Madam Sonia, It's Julia from yesterday...we found it! Under a loose floor board that Steven had missed!"

After much excited small talk good bye's were said, Sonia's voice boomed, "Charlie, Lyle! I think it's time to raise our fee's! New Orleans has a real medium. I think I've got the gift!"

Chapter One: Anxious Excitement

Would 'anxious excitement' describe that first night? Daphne Jones thought it was a perfect description. Any idea of breakfast wasn't on the menu as wedding day jitters had turned her stomach into a butterfly haven. The wedding had gone about as perfect as could be expected; as soon as the ceremony had ended she had changed from wedding attire to a more comfortable 'going away dress'. The ever logical Velma had solved that time consuming ordeal by choosing a two piece wedding gown. A quick removal of the full skirt left a smart and elegant dress suitable for any occasion.

When they reached their hotel the usually calm and collected Fred had turned all thumbs. "Why so many buttons Daph?" He'd asked. A passionate filled kiss and "I didn't want you to unwrap your present too quickly" had been her reply. She had been the one to suggest a bite to eat and just relax from the day's tension would be in order. Besides rumbling tummy noises from not eating anything all day wouldn't be very romantic. Comical but not conducive to the loving conclusion to the day they both wanted.

Two months had passed since that first night together; a whirlwind two months of finding a house, moving, and arranging furniture not to mention the rest breaks from the many "It'll be here later" excuses the newlyweds found as they made the house their home. The anxiousness had evaporated like rain on a hot sidewalk but the excitement remained.

Daphne woke sometime in the wee hours of early morning thinking of those two months. She lightly kissed Fred's cheek, extracting her self from his sleeping embrace; the light of the full moon filtering through the lace curtains as she slipped on her robe over the 'baby doll' nighty and quietly walked down the hall to the kitchen.

The trust fund her parents had set up was enough to hire a cook/maid but Daphne had wanted to try her hand at housekeeping and cooking for Fred and with the help from her mother-in-law, she had turned into a decent cook. Not great, not gourmet yet but above average. This had come after a few mishaps like the time she had wanted to impress Fred with home made biscuits. She had placed the biscuits in the oven when disaster struck. She had accidentally started the stove's self cleaning cycle. All she could do was watch and cry as the biscuits burned to charcoal.

With the coffee perking, she walked through the living room, lovingly touching each piece including the old piano she and Velma had found; buying it had been Velma's idea.

"I need a break!" Velma had called earlier in the week. "How about a girl's day out. I'll even go shopping (Uggh!) after lunch. We've been so busy we haven't had a chance to catch up!"

They had found the piano at "Rescued Treasures" a hole-in-the-wall antique shop snuggled between a bakery and a pharmacy. Long and narrow, it was unique in that one section wasn't the usual antiques but things the owner thought interesting and had bought at estate sales he attended. The piano had sat against one wall, separated from the other furniture and looking abandoned. The piano had been delivered yesterday. Daphne had made arrangements to have it tuned tomorrow.

She had started toward the kitchen for that first cup of morning coffee when she heard the music. Soft and sweet the piano sounded in perfect tune. Daphne turned, wondering where the music was coming from. She and Fred were the only ones in the home and Fred didn't play.

Sitting at the piano was a beautiful young lady dressed in an old style party dress, her fingers flying over the keys. Daphne started to ask who she was; had even taken a step forward when a man appeared in the scene before her. The man grabbed the young lady, jerking her off the bench. Her feet struck out trying to regain her footing, hitting the bench instead, knocking it over.

"Help me...help me!" Daphne heard the plaintive cry of the young woman; before she could react the scene wavered and both man and woman disappeared.

Daphne Jones walked to the piano setting the bench upright, sitting on the bench for several minutes, thinking of what she had just witnessed.

"FRED!" Daphne screamed, "Call Velma and Shaggy! We have a mystery to solve!"