"So—just to recap—we're up against something with no origin, name, or weakness." He took a deep breath and sat down in the chair across from me. "Awesome."
"Basically, yeah." I folded my hands, rested my chin on my knuckles, and stared at the laptop's screen. There were a dozen windows open, some of them showed bits of ancient texts and others were more recent documents. I'd found a pattern and traced it back as far as I could, but what little trail there was revealed nothing definitive about the creature we'd stumbled across. Everything about it was vague. Crossover members of the conspiracy theorist and supernatural camps were linking it to everything from Hiroshima to the Black Plague. Seriously. How was a guy supposed to get any legitimate research done?
He reached over and pulled the laptop to him. "Okay. What do we know?"
I rattled off the short list of concrete nothing that I had. "Witnesses report seeing a fuzzy shadow with no real shape. More like a dark haze, I guess. It appears one to three days before a catastrophe, but not during. The earliest mention I can find is on an alleged Sumerian tablet. If we're lucky, it might give us a name."
"Wait, wait." He stopped me before I could get any further. "Alleged?"
"Well, back in 1914, an article was published about a Sumerian tablet that told the story of a great flood brought on by the gods. Trouble is, it wasn't an entire tablet. So, there were chunks of the story missing. I found this guy who…uh…" I hesitated. He wasn't going to like this. It was like a priest taking a book of Grimm's fairytales to the Vatican and claiming it was Gospel. For all I knew, that's exactly what I was doing.
He stared at me expectantly and pushed, "A guy who what, man? Spit it out."
I started talking, fast. "He claims he's found one of the missing pieces. In it, there's a reference to etutu mah zini-ak. It means something like 'great darkness of the spirit of the wind.' According to the fragment, this darkness covered the earth for three days before the flood. I've been trying to find more information on Sume—"
"Hold it." He signaled for a timeout. "This find hasn't been verified?"
A grimace flashed across my face as I shook my head.
"Does he have any credentials of any kind?"
I shook my head again, but added, "None that I've seen. He could have some, somewhere." My voice trailed off.
"I'm confused. Why do we think this will help?" He rubbed his face with his hands. "Look, we can't chase down every rabbit trail we find. We don't have that kind of time."
"No, I know that. But this might be the real deal. I sent the files over to the professor. He's researching them as we speak. While he's doing that, I'm trying to run down other angles. It's just…everything I'm finding is vague. If that tablet's real, it's the closest thing to a name tag that we've got."
He sighed and leaned back in the chair. "Right. I guess we wait, then." His fingers drummed out a rhythm on the tabletop.
I turned the laptop back towards me. My eyes were exhausted, but we needed information. I sat up straight, stretched my arms, rubbed my eyes, and went back to the files. If Sumer was our best lead, I needed to know more about it. The internet is probably my best friend. Well, the most informative, anyways. I opened up half a dozen more windows, these teeming with facts about the civilization. Geography, natural resources, religion, language—I was kind of surprised at how much information there was. I'm a quick reader, but I wasn't going to be able to slog through this on my own. "Hey. We should go to the library. Get you on a computer, too. Maybe they'll have some older texts."
"Fine by me. Let's go." He was at the door before I'd even shut the laptop. He may be a jerk sometimes, but he doesn't shy away from the work that needs to be done. That and I'm pretty sure he was bored. There wasn't a Magic Fingers in this place and the picture on the TV was mostly snow. I shoved the laptop into my bag, grabbed the charger and my cell, and went out to the car.
The library was a little over ten minutes from the motel. Ten minutes of Van Halen's Hot for Teacher. Yeah. It was a long ride. He hadn't even put the car in park when I opened the door and got out. I heard him laughing behind me as I crossed the parking lot. To be honest, I didn't mind it. He was stressed. We both were. His car and his music let him forget for a while and that was a good thing. I smiled to myself, careful not to let him see as he met me at the door. Things would be all right. We'd figure out what this was and handle it like we always did.
A sharp whistle and a slap to the back of my head pulled me out of my thoughts. He looked at me like he was just as surprised as I was, then shrugged and walked inside. Jerk moment. I followed him to a back corner of the library where we quickly set up our research station. Within minutes, he was combing through history books and I was poring over websites. Neither of us had much luck. After four hours, we had uncovered nothing that fit the pattern. I had just closed my eyes to give them a rest when my cell rang.
"Hello…Yeah…You did?" I kept my voice low, covering my mouth with one hand in an attempt to muffle the sound. "Okay…Sure…Uh huh…That sounds…Oh…Right…No, nothing…Thanks…Bye." I hung up and looked across the table.
"What was that?" He asked, his eyes on mine. "Please tell me it's useful."
"Well, sort of." Useful? Yes. Encouraging? No.
"Come on! Remember? Time's a-wasting."
This was going to be…fun. "We've got a name."
Both of his hands shot up, like he was declaring a personal touchdown. "This is good. Who is it?"
His expression went from victory to confusion. "Who?"
"Enlil. He's a…uh…he's a Sumerian god, Dean."
The confusion was replaced with dismay. "Oh. That's bad, Sammy."