This is the freebie for today's fishbowl, inspired by prompts from janetmiles and kestrels_nest. It also fills the "unexplained noises" square in my 9-11-14 card for the Halloween Bingo Fest. It belongs to the series P.I.E.
"I thought you should know,"
Zephyr said one day,
"that the police station is weeping."
"Okay," Brenda said slowly,
"what exactly is going on,
how do you know about it,
and why is this my problem?"
"I am uncertain about the nature
of the event," Zephyr said.
"The electromagnetic signature
does not match my records.
People are complaining that
they hear someone crying.
Water is leaking through the roof
and triggering the flood sensors.
You are good at solving mysteries."
"I'm a private detective, not a plumber,
but all right, I'll see what I can do,"
Brenda said. "Show me your data."
Zephyr turned on the computer screen
and displayed readouts for the police station,
which had a comprehensive set of sensors
to discourage people from breaking in or out,
along with a robust data storage system.
Brenda was able to map the seep of water,
minor enough that it really should not
have caused as much trouble as it was.
"So the roof has this little crack,
rain soaks in and -- have you checked
to see if the rain is contaminated?"
Brenda asked, poking at the screen.
"The nearest weather station has not
reported contamination," Zephyr said.
"Maybe something about the police station
itself, then," Brenda mused. "Water, weeping ..."
She typed busily, trying different combinations
of search terms and browsing the results.
"There are water elementals," Zephyr said.
He highlighted several articles for her.
"They deal in emotions," Brenda said.
"A police station is full of intense feelings.
The roof leaks, water lets in elementals,
they feed on the emotions and amplify
what people are feeling ... this is not good."
She pulled out her smartphone and called Darrel.
"Hey, Brenda," he said, his voice low and dull.
"Can we do this some other time? It's been
a crappy week here at the station."
"That's why I'm calling," she said.
"Have you heard weird noises, like crying,
especially around water leaks?"
"Everyone is hearing noises. The pipes
must be busted or something," Darrel said.
"There's a drip in the hall that even a bucket
won't catch all of, and it's depressing."
"Could you hold the phone near the leak?"
Brenda asked. Darrel didn't reply, but
she could hear his slow footsteps.
Then came the plangent sound of water
falling into the full bucket. "Okay, thanks."
She let Darrel go.
Colored lines wiggled across her computer
as Zephyr sorted out the human voices,
then isolated the noise from the leak.
It did sound eerily like someone crying.
"Hydriads riding a ceiling leak," Brenda said.
"Well, I guess we need to find banishments.
What about good old salt? That's for Earth."
"Water nymphs include saltwater and freshwater,"
Zephyr pointed out. "They probably do not mind salt."
"Hmm ... Fire opposes Water, so we could try ash,"
said Brenda. "That might make them stop."
"It is likely to solve the short-term problem,"
Zephyr agreed. "However, the pressure
could easily build enough to wash away the ash."
"Obviously they need to repair the roof,"
Brenda said. "I wonder if we could
give the nymphs some other way down ..."
She looked through lists of things that
corresponded with the element of Water.
Then Brenda went down to the police station
to see Darrel. "You have a pest problem,"
she explained. "Water nymphs are
coming in with the rain from the roof
and stirring up people's emotions."
She held out a plastic bag. "I asked Nick
for some ashes out of his fireplace; this
should repel the nymphs already in here."
"Okay," Darrel said. "Thanks.
The roof is scheduled for repair
at the end of this week."
"That's good," Brenda said.
"I can sprinkle the ash around.
People here know me well enough
by now that it shouldn't raise eyebrows.
I'll need you to hang this, though."
She gave him a roll of silver wire.
"Run it down the lightning rod to give
the nymphs a more appealing path
to the ground than through the station."
While Darrel went up to the roof
to rig the silver wire, Brenda
went through the station
to distribute the ashes.
Zephyr followed her through the smartphone,
showing a map of the building with the leaks
marked in purple over pale blueprints.
On the lower levels, though, the ground
blocked out the signal and Brenda
had to rely on the individual flood sensors
and other equipment networked indoors.
Finally she finished the task and
went back to where she could talk
with Zephyr more easily.
"I dusted all the leaks," Brenda said.
"Check for weeping water nymphs."
"They seem to have left the building.
Still, it is frustrating to find so many places
where I cannot go," Zephyr grumbled.
"I hear you," Brenda agreed.
"We'll just have to work around
the limitations as best we can."
* * *
Water sensors send an alert when they get wet, useful in basements or near equipment that needs to stay dry.
Hydriads are one type of nymph, elemental spirits that may appear as young women. They can be very distracting.