A shorter story I've decide to work on. I've been hitting writer's block with my other two stories- Exiles and The Games Rich People Play (go check em out, I'd love to hear feedback on them), and I feel like I need to stir my brain up to keep going. This probably won't be too many chapters, but I hope it'll be a decent crossover.
Don't worry, I'm not gonna keep starting story after story without finishing. I've looked around and the general consensus is that you can have three stories going before you start stretching yourself too thin. I'm close to done with the other stories' chapters anyway.
Chapter 1: Runaway Girl on the Luz
A man lifts a cigar to his mouth before lighting it. "So get this…" He puffs out
"There's this girl… a normal girl, nothing strange about her. She lives with her mom, goes to school, reads her favorite books, the works. Sure, she's a bit of a rambunctious kid with a big imagination, but she isn't packing some hidden powers or anything." He taps his cigar, the ashes falling off. A shine catches his eye, prompting him to investigate. "But she does know how to get herself into messes. See, she causes a few incidents at school because of her more… "ambitious" projects. Gets a little too graphic in a play, uses a swarm of spiders for a model Griffon, and brings in snakes for a book report. Course, that Griffon thing is pretty accurate… but probably not what a normal kid should be doing in a normal school."
He reaches down and picks up the shining object. A marble. "So after the snake thing, ol' mom decides it's time to stifle… I mean, reign in her daughter's imagination. She signs her up for this summer camp that's all about bookkeeping and filing taxes and… reality. Sounds like hell, which is a lot coming from me." He flicks the marble up in the air and catches it, staring at it again when it rests in his palm. "So when the summer begins, she sees her kid off, but needs to leave for work before the bus arrives. She trusts her girl and asks her to text once she gets to camp."
He pockets the marble, then makes his way through the woods. "Sometime later, after work, the mom texts her daughter, to see if she made it okay. The girl confirms. Pretty normal, nothing seemingly wrong… but then about that time, that's when the actual counselors at the camp call… and where the real trouble begins."
Camilia had flopped onto her favorite chair, glad to be through with a rough day. She hadn't been able to get off until late at night, swamped with patients. Even her lunch break had to be cut short for an emergency…
Which reminded her: she hadn't gotten the chance to text Luz yet. By now, she should've been getting ready for bed, probably after the introduction ceremonies at the camp… if they had those at an "inside the box" camp. "How's summer camp?" She texted.
Oh Mija… She wondered if she had done the right thing, sending her to this place. She knew she looked disappointed before she had gotten on the bus… it's not as if she had wanted to resort to this option. After that hijo de puta left the two of them, she only dived deeper into her love of wizarding fantasies to cope. But the incidents had started piling up, and the school wouldn't tolerate them anymore. They had threatened suspension, or even expulsion. So, Camilia had to put her foot down, for Luz's sake.
A ring from her phone alerted her. "I think I'm gonna like it here." Luz's text wrote. She sighed in relief. Perhaps things wouldn't be so bad after all. Especially if Luz was already having fun.
Another ring from her phone, this time for a call. She didn't know who decided to call this late in the evening, and she didn't seem to recognize the number. It could have been a robo call. She let it pass, not wanting to deal with something like that.
Once the call passed however, she noticed the same number had called her several times today. She had turned off her phone while working, but it seems someone really wanted to get in touch with her during that time.
She quickly called the number back, curious about the circumstances.
"Hello?" Came a voice from the line.
"Uh, yes. This is Camilia Noceda. You've called me several times today. I apologize, I was at work, and had my phone turned off. I only just got off around forty five minutes ago."
"Ah, Mrs. Noceda! I'm Artie Felds, a counselor at Reality Check. Yes, we've been trying to get in touch with you. It's about your daughter."
Camilia felt a twinge of worry. "Oh no. Did she cause an accident at camp? I promise it won't happen again, she can let her imagination get away from her."
"I know it might've caused some chaos, but I hoped she might learn a bit of balance while she was there."
"Mrs. Noceda, what are you talking about?"
"Turns out, that little summer camp about filing taxes and crunching numbers sure liked to keep consistent records. Go figure. So when a camper doesn't arrive, they're pretty quick to call the family about it."
"Mrs. Noceda, I was calling to see if you wanted a refund for your registration. We assumed there was a family emergency of some kind…"
"Uh, Mr. Felds, was it? What are you talking about?"
A tense pause from the other side of phone. "Um… Mrs. Noceda… your daughter never arrived at camp."
Camilia's heart felt as if it had stopped. Her fingers grew cold, clenching the phone as tightly as a snake. She struggled to breath for a moment.
"Mrs. Noceda?! Are you still with me?"
She took a deep breath. "I'm sorry… I'm sorry, I need to go." She hung up, quickly dialing a new number after.
"9-1-1, what's your emergency?"
"Please, I… my daughter has gone missing."
"Where did you last see your daughter ma'am?" The police officer asked. Camilia stood in front of her home, many cops walking around, inspecting the property.
"I had left her in front of our house so she could wait for the bus." She drew her hands up to her face. "I thought she would be safe in our neighborhood…"
"Yeah, everyone thinks their neighborhood is the safest place around." The other police officer said, only making Camilia feel worse.
"In any case," The first one said, recognizing the insensitivity. "We'll do everything we can to find her. Is there anything else you can tell us? Any strange things that might have been happening around here recently?"
"I… I texted her. And she answered me back. Right before the summer camp called." She lifted up her phone and showed the texts.
Before he could look over the message, another officer walked over. "Mendoza, I've got a witness from across the street. Says the kid ran off into the forest, but why, she couldn't say."
Mendoza nodded, then quickly looked at the texts Camilia provided. "Ms. Noceda, what kind of summer camp were you sending her to?"
"It was Reality Check. It's a camp meant to teach kids to be more down to earth. My daughter's imagination was starting to get the better of her. It caused a few incidents at school."
"Hmm… well, Ms. Noceda, this might not be as bad as it looks."
"The police figured it was a run away scenario. Girl feels out of place, thinks she doesn't belong, or something else. So, the police figure she couldn't have made it too far, and send a squad out into a forest. They even get dogs to make it quicker."
"Fan out. If there's any trace of where the girl went, we'll find it in this forest." Mendoza said, as his group began combing the area. Each one had a hound on leash. "Get your hounds to sniff out every inch they can. "You're with me, Officer Stacy."
The blonde nodded. "You got it, Corporal."
Mendoza then leaned down to let their dog smell an Azura doll, something the girl played with often, according to her mother. "C'mon, Riley. Let's get a girl home to her mother."
The dog sniffed a few times, before barking in one direction, leading the officers onward.
It hadn't been too long of walk, when Riley reached his destination.
"Well, if that ain't spooky." Stacy commented.
Before them stood an abandoned house. It was run down, probably waiting for some kid to come make it a dangerous clubhouse of some kind. Mendoza sighed. "Looks like we've found our run away hideaway. C'mon, we'll coax her out of there." He heard a whimper and looked to Stacy. She gave him a confused look back, before both of them noticed the culprit: Riley.
The poor dog was entirely submissive, ears and tail drooping, never taking his eyes away from the house. Mendoza responded by trying to pull him forward- he pulled back instead.
"Riley's the bravest dog in the squad. The hell could be in there that's scaring him?" Stacy asked Mendoza.
He didn't have an answer, instead choosing to pull his gun out to search the house. It didn't take much time, but his heart was pounding the whole way. Each room he feared he might find a bear or some thing worse… and even more, he feared he might find a poor girl's body massacred by it.
It both his relieved and concerned him when he finished. "There's nobody in there. I mean nothing, no animals or people… not a thing."
"Then why the hell is Riley so scared?"
"That's what I'd like to know." Mendoza heard static from his radio.
"Coporal Mendoza, come in, Corporal. This is Officer Griggs."
"This is Mendoza. What's your status?"
"Might be nothing, sir… but did you drop your sniffer dog's doll?"
Mendoza looked to Stacy, who showed said item was in her pack. "No. Still secure. Why are you asking?"
"Because I just found one… and it looks pretty new."
Mendoza paused, thinking on this.
"This is Officer Dare, I've been seeing random pieces of junk all over too. Saw some toys myself, but also a pair of glasses, and even shoes. And yeah, some look like they only dropped in the dirt recently."
"Officer Williams here. I found a lunchbox and a radio. Even a book or two."
This was starting to worry the Corporal. Quite a few items that kids would use… they could've been simply lost by the children from the surrounding neighborhoods. But Mendoza didn't want to take chances.
"The Corporal was starting to think that maybe it wasn't so simple as a girl running away from home. Things were strange enough when the CSI's couldn't find DNA on the house or the toys, but the traced call is where things really turned sideways."
Camilia looked at the officers around the room. The one in headphones gave Mendoza a thumbs up, and he in turn nodded at Camilia. She quickly dialed her daughter's number.
"Oh, hey mom! What's up?"
Camilia wanted so badly to ask if she was alright. But the police had told her to act natural- if someone had taken her daughter, they were likely only letting Luz answer to not arouse suspicion. Even if she still only ran away, if she knew they had realized she'd run, she might stop answering her phone.
"I just wanted to check in on you sweetie."
"Already? Didn't you check in the other night?"
"It's been some time since we've been away from each other like this. I guess I'm still worried."
Camilia couldn't believe how casual she was being about this. Then again, Officer Mendoza did say she might've been enticed by her captors and simply didn't know what danger she was in. "So, how has the camp been so far?"
"Oh, uh… you know. Taxes and stock exchanges and… bundles more! But, you know, made fun!"
Camilia could tell she was lying, not just because of what she already knew, but the tone in her voice. "Are you sure? I… I know you weren't exactly excited when I left you."
"Oh… well… It's just, after being here for a while, I think my opinion's really turned around. You know, uh, really got to know the place." *BANG* "Listen, uh… they're about to start the, um… the next activity!"
"What? What activity? What was that noise?"
"Oh nothing, just a couple of the other campers having some fun!" *BANG* "I'll call you back soon, love ya!"
"Wait! Mija! I… I just wanted to say I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry if… if I ever made you feel like it wasn't ever okay for you to be yourself. I know it's been hard after… after your father left. But I only wanted what was best for you. But if you truly aren't enjoying yourself… you can tell me. Because I love you. No matter what happens, I'll always love you. And if you want to go home, you can tell me. And we'll talk about a plan both of us can be happy with. Ok?"
"Yeah, Mom. I'd like that. Honestly, I really am enjoying it here. But I'd like that. And I love you too." *BANG* *CRASH* "Oh boy! Sorry mom, I gotta go!" *click*
"Wait, Luz, don't-" She heard the tone, and realized she was gone. Tears welled in her eyes. "Oh mija…"
Mendoza placed a hand on her shoulder. "It's okay, Ms. Noceda. That should've been long enough for us to-"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" The Officer using the phone tracker jumped back out of his seat. Several sparks started coming out of it, too dangerous to approach. But it soon became worse, the sparks becoming full on lightning, burning into the ground around the tracker. It finally died down, the lightning disappearing.
Officer Stacy broke the silence. "What… the hell… was that?"
Mendoza used a baton to tilt the tracker, investigating the burns. It formed a perfect circle. "I don't know… but I think we might be in over our heads."
"So, the police realize they've got no idea what's going on. They call in for some kind of backup… and it eventually reaches us. The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Once that little situation reaches our ears… well, we know exactly what's going on."
"So that's the deal. Girl's been kidnapped, but all our leads are mysterious kinds of dead ends, and with the tracker incident…" Mendoza told a woman from the BPRD as they stood in front of the Noceda house.
"You've contacted the right division, Cpl. Mendoza. We've got the tools and people to find this girl."
"I hope so, Ms. Morrigan. Ms. Noceda's been losing her mind over her missing daughter."
"Just guide us to that house you found and we'll take it from there."
The two turned to find said mother walking up to them. "Are… are these the people who can find my Luz?"
"They are, Ms. Noceda, but I really must ask that you head back inside…"
All three were interrupted by a large figure emerging from the forest. "Hey, Kate. Liz and Abe are already getting some bizarre readings-" He didn't get the chance to finish, cut off by a high pitched scream. "Ah, crap."
"Oh Dios, es el Diablo!"
"Yeah. I get that a lot. It's the face, really. One of those faces everybody recognizes."
Camilia and Mendoza looked on in stunned silence. Only for them to be even more surprised when Morrigan walked up to him. "You were saying, Hellboy?"
"Oh. Yeah… The others found readings similar to the other hideaways we've been to, scattered across the planet. But they're more potent. They said it's looking like it might lead to another dimension. Not one we've been to before. Need more time to recreate it."
"Right. Anything they need?"
"Grocery list is right here." Hellboy handed Kate a paper. He glanced over to the two fearful people. "Maybe I should head back over there." He started to head back into the forest.
Camilia didn't necessarily understand what they talked about… but it seemed this BPRD was her closest shot at getting Luz home. "W…wait!" Hellboy turned as Ms. Noceda ran up to him. "Please… I don't know what's going on anymore… but, if you're really el Diablo, I…" Tears welled in her eyes, before cascading down. "Please, I'll do anything to have my daughter back. My parents disowned me for getting pregnant out of wedlock, my cabron of a husband left us when she was young, I-I just… she's all I have left. I'll give my soul, even-"
"Hey, hey, hey." Hellboy said gently. "Come on, now. I can't stand to see a pretty girl cry." He sighed. "Listen… I'm not the guy from downstairs. All we're here to do is get your girl home safe and sound. No catch, no strings… nothing. We're only here for your sake." He gave her a sincere smile. "We'll find her. Okay?"
The tears only seemed to fall harder. Her breathing hitched. "Thank you… thank you so much." Mendoza finally had the courage to step forward and began guiding Camilia back to the house.
Kate looked at Hellboy solemnly. "There's a good chance that whatever took her has already… well…"
"Yeah… I know. But maybe I can be the thing she blames for losing her, instead of herself."
Hellboy stood before the abandoned house, now crawling with BPRD agents. Camilia Noceda's teary face burned in his mind. "So, that's the story. Some girl's been kidnapped by an unknown force and we're the only ones who have a chance to save her. If you're wondering how I got the parts I wasn't there for, well… I have my ways. In any case, we've been scrambling for several days now to crack the code to whatever dimensional door opened up in this house. It's slow… but we're getting there. And if we can't make it for the girl…" He glanced down at his gun, the Good Samaritan. "I'll be sure to give 'em Ms. Noceda's regards." He walked up, entering the house himself. Abe was busy setting up new equipment to test the possible power output they would need. Liz was researching runes and glyphs, looking for the right combination. "Hey, Abe. Liz. Found another trinket." He threw the marble he had collected onto a pile of the various other objects that had been found.
"Heard you talking out there. Preparing this case as another story for the new recruits?" The fish man asked.
Liz spoke up without looking up from her books. "Sure hope it ends as a punchline and not a horror story."
"Think I'll kick the ass of whoever did this regardless. Cause either way, I'm not laughing." He took the Azura doll from his other pocket and looked over it. "God knows what that girl must be going through."
"No, no, nonononononononono…" She struggled, trying her best to keep the red liquid from pouring out onto the floor. But it seemed pointless as dripped through her hands. Nothing could help her now…
The door to the bathroom flung open, revealing a somewhat confused Eda. "Luz, have you seen my bottle of overflowing red slime?" Eda's eyes widened as she saw Luz covered in a mass of red good, trying desperately to get the blobs on the floor back into the bottle.
"I... might have been playing out an acting role I once had. I was a dead corpse! ...It got out of hand."
Hoo boy, won't Hellboy get a kick out of what the situation actually is. Trust me, later in life we're all just gonna look back on this point and laugh…
And yeah, it's probably going to deviate from the Owl House's canon.