Perhaps another pot of tea would do the trick. Cheek cupped against her palm, Alison pushed her free hand up to signal the smiling Chinese girl that had been distributing the steaming tea kettles to the early guests. Alison had gone through the first helping in a matter of minutes but the pounding inside her head refused to relent. Happy New Year She thought wrily, acknowledging her current condition was largely her own fault. New Year's parties at the Raffles always consisted mainly of drinking, talking, cementing old friendships� and more drinking. She should have been used to this by now.

The evening had begun splendidly. When she had arrived the usual words of welcome such as "Hello darling, so very good to see you where have you been hiding?" flew back and forth with chain-gun speed. These were rituals Alison knew and treasured. Returning every greeting with equal warmth she had made her rounds, spending a little time with as many old friends as she could manage. There was no regret at the shortness of each conversation since at nearly ever little talk new appointments were made.

There had been cheers when the waiter brought her bags and she began setting up her camera and tripod. She had laughed and waved them off. "Go back to what you are doing. Party and don't pay attention to me. Just let me do my work." Of course they had done no such thing! One after the other had stopped by: the hostess who made sure her glass was ever full, her friends who did the same and a colonel from the British army who gave her some free advice before returning to his drinking. "The tripod must be put on a footstool for the proper height", he told her with an air of importance. Alison only half listened to the old dear. When he was finished, she took another long drink from her scotch, smiled and explained that unfortunately the Raffles Staff had forgotten the footstool but that she was managing just fine.

Not long after the old dear's advice all the shots had been taken and the drinking started in earnest. It had been a blast her throbbing headache suggested.

What had possessed her to think an early walk would battle a hangover? She had been wrong, wrong, wrong. Groaning, Alison pushed herself upright, lifting her head as her palms dropped to the rickety wooden table. Half turning she cast a searching look over the small Chinese tea house. She'd kill for a handful painkillers; but failing that, tea would work, maybe, hopefully.

What was keeping the waitress?


The Chinese woman, young still, perhaps mid-twenties, kept her hair tied back with traditional ribbons. Wearing a traditional dress and slippers, her movement was somewhat restricted. Noticing Alison's summons, she brought a fresh pot of green tea and a gracious smile.

In broken English she asked, "More?"

Bowing slightly she set the tea down and then remained for a moment, "Excuse me, excuse me, are you waiting for man?"

At first the question made little sense, but then the waitress humbly gestured behind her and for the first time Alison noticed the presence of Davey Humboldt, her East Asian contact for the National Geographic Society. If she'd been born differently Alison might have had to gesssture humbly to people who weren't better than her. Alison preferred not to think about that. Davey Humboldt sat with a cool smile and a fresh beard on his face. Brown-eyed and blond-haired, his youthful looks were deceiving. Although they had only met in person once before at a company party, she knew he was in his early thirties.

Wearing a white fedora, khacki button-up and slacks he looked as if he was on assignment already. Gesturing comicly with his fingers as if he was taking a drink, he pointed from across the tea house and chuckled.

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

"Oh! Yes indeed. Thank you." Explaining this was just a coincidence was too much of a hassle, so Alison smiled and nodded with a little dip of her head. A mistake. Her head throbbed and the waitress swam in and out of her vision. Groaning inwardly she waited for her head to clear before pushing her chair back. "We'll have our tea over there, please." Alison didn't bother bringing her cup or tea pot over, the waitress would take care of that as soon as she took a seat at Davey's table.

"Davey Humboldt. What a lovely surprise! How are you?" Alison's smile beamed as she reached him. Despite her bleary-eyed vision, she was able to admire his immaculate appearance. Obviously he hadn't knocked down a few too many drinks at the Raffles last night.


Davey stood up and gave Alison a polite hug and offered the seat across the small round table from his. He had chosen a fine location. The floor-to-ceiling window the table was posiitoned in front of offered a delightful view of the Boat Quay.

Street vendors were setting up wares, crafts, and produce while shop owners were opening their doors for business. Restaurants, hotels, parks, and shops tower over small cobblestone streets. A strong Wednesday crowd flooded the small streets as people go to trade, sell, or sight-see. Perhaps they were poor folk who couldn't take time off, even on New year's Day. Perhaps they were part of a culture which has holidays at other times. The elite at Raffels wern't really interested. A few British soldiers could be spotted keeping a careful eye on the crowds. With recent uprisings, they are being very cautious.

"Well if it isn't Alison Taylor, Gem of Islands," he said.

Sitting only after Alison sat, he waited politely for the waitress to bring the tea over. After a quick bow and smile, the waitress went on to other customers.

"You are up early for a New Years Day, I would have expected you at the Raffles."

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

Alison poured tea for Davey and herself. "And you would have been right a few hours ago. In fact, I am just starting to feel human again." She chuckled. "The Raffles was a blast. Good drinks -they know how to do that- and almost everyone was there." Alison set the teapot down and reached for her cup. Staring over the rim she waited for the drink to cool, her gaze wandering to the vendor carts and their colourful wares. She smiled, turning gaze back to Davey. "I fled when they began talking politics. Some feel nothing changed since the Occupation. And after all that drinking they were getting persistent and you know Michael.. Michael Dawnes?.. he likes to provoke and baited them with a few clever words. It was very much the spirited discussion when I left."

With a look at Davey, Alison raised the plain kettle, offering him a refill. "Of course, the real reason is that I had come close to passing out, but you aren't supposed to tell anyone that. Hopefully, the tea will cure it all."

"It was a shame you weren't there, Davey. You really missed a good time." A thought dawned and she canted her head. The sleek blonde locks brushed her shoulder as she regarded the man thoughtfully. "They didn't send you on an assignment, did they? Not on New Year's Eve?" She asked, a shimmer of envy perhaps shining through. Alison didn't think they would do that. But if they had, she'd been happy to trade places with him.


Davey laughed at his visualization of the party and accepted the tea graciously.

"It's funny you ask," he said sipping, "and quite a lark that we've bumped into each other. The bloody yanks did put me on assignment on New Years Eve and now that I see you I think I could use some help. If not for a bit of company. Maybe we should ring Washington and ask those blokes to send you a new contract."

He sighed and rubbed tired eyes.

"I arrived two hours ago. Supposed to go profile the Devil of Sensota."

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

"I can't think of a better way to start a new year", Alison agreed immediately. "Hmm, let me see" It will be early New Year's Eve in the States." She concluded after a glance at her watch and doing some calculations in her head. "Most of them will be home now, readying for their party. Do you know if they'll open for business in the morning?" Not much chance of that, but perhaps Davey would volunteer a contact. They only needed a verbal agreement after all, with the papers sent by next mail.

Alison was feeling better by the minute. Sipping tea, she watched Davey rub his eyes. "Two hours ago? Goodness Davey, you must be exhausted." Sending him a smile across the table, Alison lowered her cup. She beckoned the waitress for a fresh kettle and leaned back in the wobbly chair.

"I can't wait to hear what Devil's been hiding in our rainforest." She laughed, intrigued with the name. "Please, do tell me everything. What kind of creature is this and where was it last seen?" Davey's assignments never failed to capture her interest. If it were up to her, she'd gladly spend the next few hours listening as he explained the details of his assignment. Or perhaps, their assignment; Alison crossed her fingers.

This would a good time to try those new films Mr Zhou send me. They are the best on the market, he says. See first, believe later. I'll bring one of my old films too, just in case. And the tripod... If only the office goes along with this. Please, please let them agree with Davey.


"Good, then. I'll ring Washington."

He sipped more tea, implying the phone call would wait.

"Don't know if you listen to the locals. The fishermen over there been talkin' about a devil for decades. Somethin' that lives in the forest and snatches anyone passin' through. Apparently there's been a rise in activity as of late and the ol' society'd like to do an plug on it."

Davey lit a cigarette and then added, "I wouldn't worry about too much activity. You know Geographic, they just want the 'history' and 'people' behind the myth."

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

"Can't say I've heard", she replied thoughtfully. "Or read. I don't think the papers mentioned any disappearances?" As she tried to remember recent headlines, Alison's gaze idly trailed after one of the patrolling guards until he walked out of sight.

Comfortably seated on the wobbly chair, Alison appeared cool despite the clammy heat. With her mild tan and sleek blonde locks -neatly combed back-, knee-length skirt of pale green cotton and white cotton shirt with rounded shoulders and small waistline, Alison looked as British as Piccadilly Square.

She smiled at Davey. "If it's folklore you're after, you have come to the right place. The locals tell a good story once you get them talking. The way they tell it, you believe it until you're back home and realize there must be a logical explanation. But the stories are grand. You will enjoy them, I think." She fell silent, thinking of the upcoming assignment and waiting for the Chinese waitress to replace their empty tea kettle with a full one.


Davey polished the tea and put out his cigarette.

"Well, then, I'll give Washington a ring."

He winked and went to the cash register, requesting use of the phone. In the meantime the waitress brought more tea.

Davey came back in a couple minutes.

"I think they were just trying to get me off the phone, but you're in. The paperwork should arrive in a few weeks. I suppose you'll need to gather your things?"

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

Alison enjoyed another cup of tea while Davey was on the phone, watching the busy vendors on the street. She rose when he returned, anxious for news. A wide smile spread at his words and her eyes sparkled with enthousiasm. "Well done", she cheered.

"I'll need my camera and a few other things, nothing that would take long." Remembering he had arrived only two hours, she added. "Do you have a hotel? If not, the guest room at home is free for use. You might snatch a few hours sleep while I'll pack my camera and do a bit of lightning fast shopping. I desperately need a pair of loafers." Her light tone implied she did need them but not badly enough to waste time over. The offer was mainly made to provide him with the opportunity of sleep.


"I've already checked at the Raffles," Davey said somewhat dissapointed he couldn't join the lovely young woman in her natural habitat.

"It is probably for the best, I'd say. A hotel bed shall only keep my nap small. A nice feather bed may keep me there until supper. Shall I pick you up two hours? Remind me where you live."

He took a fountain pen from his kacky breast pocket and offered a paper napkin to write on.

"If you mention your favourite blend of wine as well, that may prove useful in the future."

He playfully winked and called the waitress over to pay the bill.

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

"Two hours should be plenty", Alison reassured him. Her slender, well manicured fingers held the napkin in place as she wrote her address down. She laughed, handing his pen and napkin back "If the occasion arises, I'll gladly rely on your good taste." "I will see you at ten-fifteen or thereabouts then?" Alison waited for him so they could leave together. "And thank you for the generous amounts of tea, Davey, that was just what I needed".

"This is too good to be true, I must be dreaming. I didn't dare hope for another assignment for another week at least, with the holidays and such." She confided in him as they stepped out. "I'll be counting the minutes till we leave, hoping I won't wake up in the meantime." After they had left the Tea House, Alison looked for a Trishaw to take her to her favourite shoe-shop before returning home to pack her things. "See you then, Davey." She said, giving a warm smile as they parted ways.


Davey was punctual as usual. He arrived at the house with an American flatbed. The 1943 Ford was stocked full with camera equipment, camping gear, water jugs, and backpacks. He'd managed to cover most of it with a tarp, but various tripod legs, bottle caps, and nozzles poked out from underneath. Getting out and feigning a snobby and proud walk he acted like a chaeffer by removing his hat and opening the passenger door.

The sun was high now and humid heat began to wash deep into town. The cobblestone and concrete absorbed the blue skies above and it already seemed to much to be wearing slacks and boots. The insects were out too. Several unidentifiable beetles flitted through the air throwing buzzes into her ears. Mosquitos had also taken flight, although there weren't too many this far into town.

"'ello, love. Your car is ready."

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

Her backpack bulged from the newly bought loafers that had been packed, together with a fresh set of clothes, her swimsuit, flashlight, first aid kit, make-up and a lot of other necessities. After she had changed into slacks and a fresh white shirt, Alison wrote a quick note for her parents and left it upon the kitchen table.

Dear mom and dad, I ran into Davey from the National Geographic Society, and guess what? He has an assignment for me! We are leaving immediately for Sentosa, not sure when I'll be back, could be hours or a few days. Love, Alison

Alison secured the note by planting her father's favorite tea mug on one corner. "That should do it." She grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and dragged her backpack out just in time to greet Davey as he pulled up in front.

"Thirty seconds late", with a mock frown at her watch and a snobbery that matched his. She laughed and lowered her backpack to the pavement. "Funny man", she said with an approving grin.

"It's good to see you, Davey. Let me grab my camera and I'll be all set." Alison pointed to the door and put action to word by walking back inside. A minute later she was back, carrying her tripod and camera bag. Alison helped him stack her gear into the Ford and climbed into the passenger seat, keeping her camera and a bottle of water close. "Ready." She smiled at him and reached on to the handhold above the car door.


Davey roared the flatbed to life and drove recklessly onto the semi-paved street. The radio was tuned to a station playing American jazz, but the reception was not good enough to make much of the music out. The truck barrelled through town, passing the meek buildings of the city.

Eventually they were outside the city and on bumpy and dirty roads. Each dimple in the road sent the truck lurching high because of Davey's speed. The station was finally changed from static to a Manderin new station. Although the driver could not understand, he knew Alison could.

The jungle escalated around them and the road became more and more diffiuclt to drive on. This did not change Davey's speed.

"So," he said in between bounces, "when was your last assignment, then?"

Last edited by Laveaux on Mon Mar 14, 2005 4:08 pm; edited 1 time in total

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

Davey's driving threw her left and right, against the car door and back in her seat, as she held on desperately to the handhold above the door. "A little over three weeks ago", she told him as soon as the road permitted conversation, "photographing the plain tiger and the banded peacock, amongst others." Throwing him a sidelong grin, she added "Butterflies in Malaysia, I didn't know either."

Alison planted a foot against the dashboard, bracing herself against the worst leaps of the truck. Mandarin chatter assaulted her ears through the radio, Davey seemed intent on breaking all her bones before they arrived - "How did he manage to keep driving anyway?" and she was enjoying every second! The years between 1942 and 1945 had hardened her against discomfort and taught her the value of simple things, such as good company; like Davey's.

"What about you?" She asked after a pause. "What was the last time you were in Singapore? What did you do before returning here?" Again she looked over at the driving man, "and what do you think of this assignment?"


"Haven't been here since ... when was that... I was... that was the night I woke up on the street I think. Eight months ago?"

The truck went airborne for a second and after it landed, Davey continued.

"I've been stationed in Berlin, covering a story about post war Germany. The article's being published this week. Bloody glad I'm in someplace warm now."

On her last question he shrugged, "You seen one devil, you've seen'm all."

He roared with laughter and smacked her knee as if she was one of the guys.

"Time is it?" He asked and checked his watch before he answered.

He pulled a flask from a backpack behind his seat and took a sip, then offered it to Alison.

The truck continued to pound its way deep into the forest, but they were suddenly passing through a clearing. The area seemed to have been turned into a small ranch. Fences kept cattle at bay and long grass served as a sudden change of scenary.#

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

"On the street?" She laughed, shaking her head. "Oh Davey!" The way he told it, waking up on the street sounded like a splendid joke. Alison was still laughing when she accepted the flask from him. "Well, this is going to be my first devil", she told him contently, "so he will be special". It was easy to relax around Davey with his jokes and laughter and Alison found herself looking at him almost as much as watching the road and the rainforest. Now she thought about it, he was getting very cheerful. He hadn't been drinking, had he? Ah, and what if he had? Davey knew what he was doing.

Alison waited till the truck had landed after another bump and raised the flask, sniffing the contents before taking a drink.

"Oh look!" She pointed with the flask in hand, "Slow down, Davey, isn't it gorgeous? And so close to the city still! Are these people you wanted to interview, or further still?" She threw him a fresh excited smile and risked letting go of her handhold to angle for her camera.


The flask smelled of sweet rum, and it went down like coconut milk. It was still full, so it appeared Davey had only begun drinking. The warm sensation cloaking her stomach suddenly took the edge off the hard trip and eased a pleasent calm over her.

Davey, without responding stopped upon request and pulled the truck to the side. He got out and wiped some sweat from his brow, the jungle heat already coming to a climax.

"Good shot, dove," he said.

Suddenly he cocked his head as a curious expression glinted across his scruffy face.

"What's that then?"

He pointed into the feild. It seemed four or five cows were either sleeping or dead a few dozen meters in.

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

The drink trickled down her throat like a balm after a hot day, its pleasant effects spreading through her body. No wonder Davey had been such pleasant company, she thought as she stoppered the flask and left it on the driver's seat. She grabbed her camera and hopped from the truck. "Hot, isn't it?" Alison shot Davey a sympathetic look, "It will be steaming once it starts raining", She grinned, "but it never lasts long and at least you aren't in cold Berlin."

Turning to the field at Davey's questions, Alison raised one blonde brow. "Heh, that's odd! you won't find many cows in Singapore. Most farmers keep pigs or poultry." She took a few steps closer and leaned over the fence to look at the placid animals. "I wonder where the owner is?"


"Well, then, get your camera."

Davey took his own camera and tripod from the truck and slipped under the fence into the tall grass ahead.

Upon arrival the cows were most certainly dead. Mutilated in fact. Davey quickly brought a handkerchief to his face and reeled back a few steps. There were five of them, placed in a neat row. Their stomachs were slashed open and whatever was left were covered in huge flies.

Every other part of the cows were intact.

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

Camera slung over one shoulder, Alison ducked back into the truck to dig out her tripod. "Coming", she called out to Davey as she lithely climbed over the fence despite the tripod in her arms.

"Oh God!" Alison pressed a hand to her throat and averted her eyes, swallowing heavily. "Oh dear Lord.." Her legs felt weak and she fumbled with the tripod, trying to get it to stand on the uneven grass. She pushed it back and forth, removed it and stomped the grass with her boot. Anything to keep looking away from the butchered lifestock. Opening her camera bag with trembling fingers, she mounted her camera on the tripod. "Don't touch anything." Alison warned automatically, although she didn't think Davey would be that stupid. She was mostly talking to herself.

During the war she had heard of worse deeds than this; she had known what happened to men who provoked the Japanese. Still, the jungle had seemed so peaceful. It was the unexpected brutality, the sudden find of this slaughter when she had been feeling cheerful and happy that had shaken her badly. Beads of perspiration trickled over her forehead incited more by her intense concentration than by the tropical forest heat.

Going through the familiar motions of setting up her camera helped her regain her control. Somehow, the mutilated beasts didn't seem as bad -not as real- when seen through the finder. She took two pictures, one of the cows' neat row and the other focusing on a single cow and the fly covered wound.

When she was done, Alison hastily dissembled her camera from the tripod and walked to the truck, grabbing Davey's liquor from the seating. She drank deeply and offered the flask back to him. "Good stuff. I hope you brought a lot." She told him with a weak, sick smile. "Where do you think the owners are?"


Before Davey could answer a rifle shot echoed through the air, crackling over them like thunder. It was not certain where it had come from or where it hit, but it was very close. Davey dropped beneath the grass and took Alison down with him by grabbing her wrist.

"I'd say that be them."

The rifle sounded again, this time a chunk of earth exploded next to them.

"Not hunting porcupines, I see," he jested not a glint of worry on his face, "why don't you ask him for a pint? You know, settle things over spirits?"

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

Alison recoiled when the first riffle shot hit sounded. She'd have frozen in shock if not for Davey who pulled her down into the cover the long grass provided. "Davey!" When the earth spat up beside them, she smothered a scream and pressed her body close to the ground. "We haven't done anything!" She spluttered to Davey. "What's that idiot think he's doing!"

"Berhenti!" She shouted in Malay as she pushed up on her elbows. "Stop!"

"Kawan.. Friends. We're here to help. Stop shooting!"

Not too sure of how her words would be received, Alison hastily crawled back a couple of paces from her previous spot, ducking her head low to the ground. With her luck, the shootist would be Chinese or worse and Davey was laying there as if it all was one grand joke.

"Who had armed these people with rifles anyway? This would never have happened before the Occupation? Bloody Japanese!"

"If he keeps shooting, we'll run to the truck,"She glanced at Davey, a plea in that look. "You're a good driver". All she wanted to hear was some sort of confirmation that he'd get her out of there, away from this crazed farmer.


The gunfire stopped and all that remained were the scattering wings of nearby water foul. Davey arched his eyebrows and peered over the top of the grass and then looked back at Alison shrugging.

"Maybe he liked your voice."

He gestured to the truck with his head and then crouching began heading that way.

A very British voice sounded from the distance, "So sorry! Thought you were poachers. My rifle is away now... you can come out. My wife has some fresh bread and cheese!"

He stopped his crouch and asked permission from Alison with his eyes.

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

British! The man's accent told her all she needed to know, it was his credentials, assurance and badge of honor all in one. Nodding quickly at Davey, she answered the unspoken question by pushing to her feet.

"Poachers? No, but someone killed your cows, Sir." She called back. Alison wiped her hands over her hips, leaving a smudge of dirt, and strode over to pick up her tripod. She threw the tripod in the truck and put her camera gently on the passenger seat. It didn't occur to her she'd make a prime target; one Brit didn't shoot another. "I think we should accept? If he lives here, he may have heard of the Devil." She told Davey. With her back turned to the dead animals, Alison could find some appeal in the thought of lunch.

Alison glanced over in the direction of the rancher's voice, expecting him to approach. "I am Alison Taylor and this is Davey Humboldt. We are doing research for an article."


Alison's body crested the grass and she saw a ridiculously dressed Englishman forty yards away. Decorated with a safari hat, shorts and safari shirt, he carried a hunting rifle, long black mustache dangling below his chin, monocle on his eye, and a pipe in his mouth. It was as if he stepped out of a comic strip.

"Ah, yes, I know, love. Terrible fright it is. They get a pretty pound for beef in these parts."

Davey could not hold back the snicker. He motioned forward, smiling smugly at his companion and waited for her to pass before he followed behind to catch up with the rancher.

The man politely kissed Alison's hand and shook Daveys, after removing his hat and setting the butt of his rifle on the ground.

"Walter Rushing Jr., pleasure to meet you. Journalists are you? Why, I am a fun of the printed word, indeed. Rather find non-fiction quite wizard, in fact. For whom do you scribe, love?"

The story continues on Hunt for a Demon/2.

--Laveaux 21:27, 14 December 2005 (CST)

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