Franz Porter’s Journal was filled with dull, tedious speculation about stocks.
The man had been obsessive about gathering information on every company he could and using that information to try and predict what would happen with the stock prices in the short and long term.
“No wonder he was pretty good at predicting the market,” Hilde muttered.
There were areas filled in with angry, deeper strokes when something unexpected happened and his predictions were rendered useless. Accompanied by short explanations of what went wrong.
Hilde stopped when she reached what looked like a blank page.
It was sandwiched between two full pages. Given the attention to detail Franz Porter displayed elsewhere, it was unlikely he had just missed a page.
Hilde went to her bathroom and retrieved her hair iron. She plugged it in and carefully ran it over the page.
“Yup, that’s invisible ink,” she noted.
The page was very informative. He’d written:
It pains me that I’ve failed you as a husband and as a man. But in my desperation for a solution, I may have damned us both. You see, I made a pact with a demon.
Demons, it turns out, are small, harmless looking creatures. But it seems to have an eerie power in that small frame. It’s promised me that we would have children. I… I’m afraid I’ve agreed to its terms at too high a price. I only hope you’ll forgive me when the time comes to pay up.
Hilde found another page written in invisible ink later on in the journal. It read:
I’m so sorry, Olivia. I can’t do it. After seeing them born, holding them in my arms… How can I give that thing one of them?
I’ll protect them both. Even if it costs me my own life. I swear to you, Benjamin and Erik will both grow up into fine young men. No matter what the cost.
Hilde found a final page in invisible ink.
I was a fool. I should have known that damned monster would have its due. I kind of thought it would come directly for him, give me some kind of chance. Any chance.
Never expected it to wreck the car like that.
I’m so sorry, Olivia. I’ve failed you again and I’m not even man enough to tell you directly. I hope when you find this that you can also find it in your heart to forgive me. I don’t know if I can forgive myself.
Hilde was starting to get a picture of what was going on, but she needed to do some research.
When Bianca arrived at her office in the morning, she was ready.
“Franz Porter made a deal with the brownie to have children,” Hilde said. “His wife had twins, Erik and Benjamin.”
“Wait, I thought she mentioned a son not sons,” Bianca said.
“She did because Erik died in a car accident when the kids were three,” Hilde said. “They were hit by a drunk driver on the Autobahn. Franz was left in intensive care. Erik died immediately. Seemingly miraculously, Benjamin was completely unharmed. Franz considered the incident the brownie’s way of taking what it was owed, one of the boys.”
“He was a fool then,” Bianca said. “Why would she want a dead child? Clearly, her claim was to Benjamin and that’s why he was fine.”
“Figured,” Hilde said. “But you have to remember, Dear, normal people don’t know how brownies or other supernatural beings work. He didn’t even know what she was. He thought she was a demon.”
“So, he thought she was ‘paid’ and didn’t actually pay her,” Bianca said.
“Right,” Hilde said. “So, the question becomes, how do we resolve this? We can’t just steal a child and give it to her.”
“Right, because she wanted his child,” Bianca said. “But he’ll be too old at this point.”
“That wasn’t what I meant,” Hilde said. “Honestly, you can be so insensitive about things like this.”
“Hey, I know that people value their children,” Bianca said. “But I also know, way better than your ‘normal people’ what these kinds of deals mean. Besides, she wouldn’t hurt the kid. She probably wanted to transform him into one of her own.”
“Be that as it may,” Hilde said “There’s nothing to be done. Like you said, he’s too old now. We’ll have to go talk with her again and see if we can make our own bargain with her.”