Grandma Laika had not been a popular woman in her lifetime.
Something had died in her, people said, when her father disappeared. It hadn't been helped that his job before the war had kept him away for long hours. It had split him from his wife. In any way, Laika Kalsky had not made any friends. She had been alone when she slipped away in her bedroom in her sleep.
That explained why there weren't many people at the funeral.
The only reason Suzie and her family was there with a few other relatives was that her father was Grandma Laika's oldest son. There would be disapproval if they didn't go.
Suzanna "Suzie" didn't really have many memories of Grandma Laika. She and Suzie's father had gotten in some sort of disagreement before she was born. The only actual memory that she had were snapped words and a stern, disapproving face. Which made sense- her grandma had been a stern and disapproving person in life.
The funeral carried on like other funerals. Everyone was dressed in black and pretending to cry. The pastor droned about ashes when the coffin entered the ground. Dinner came afterward. People were more alive during that, talking about their own lives instead of the dead.
It wasn't until a week after the funeral that Suzie's mother knocked on her door. "We were going through your grandma's stuff when we found this letter addressed to you." She said. The confusion was clear in her voice. It was in a clean, white envelope with Suzanna written in cursive on the front.
Why would Grandma Laika send anything to her? She'd never believed in Christmas or birthdays.
She opened it.
If you're reading this, I'm probably dead and didn't get a chance to talk to you before. So, this is why I wrote you this letter. I have a very important request.
Why am I asking you about this?
Maybe, out of everyone in our family, you are the only person that bothered to try and talk to me during the few occasions you visit. Maybe. Or it could be that you remind me of my father. (I've seen your drawings, young lady. You two have the same art style. You're a wonderful artist.) This task is VERY IMPORTANT to me.
I want you to find your great-grandfather.
Yes, Grandpa Walt, in case you're wondering.
He's probably long dead.
I don't need you to actually "find" him. But, I need you to figure out what happened to him. The burden of not knowing where he is haunts me, even as I lay dying.
With this letter, I have a timeline of him, starting when he started working at Blur Studios and ending where I got the call that he was missing. When police searched his apartment, they found an odd telegram, enclosed in here as well.
Remember, this is VERY IMPORTANT. I'm putting my trust in you, Suzanna.
Suzie blinked. Then blinked again. Setting aside the letter, she pulled out two more things: a neatly folded roll of paper which was revealed to be the timeline. The other, yellowed piece of paper must've been the telegram. She put that aside to look over the timeline.
"Hm?" her dad replied, busy working at the stove.
"What was Great-Grandpa Walt like?"
Suzie received a confused look from her father. He opened and shut his mouth before he was finally able to say something. "I don't know honey. He disappeared when my mother was...around your age, actually. She never spoke about him."
"Well, what do you know?"
"Eh...not much. I do know he was an artist of this cartoon series before being drafted." He stopped stirring whatever to think. "Something about a demon." He hummed in thought. "Um...oh!" He snapped his fingers. "Daemon Demon! That's the name." Suzie gave him a blank look. "It was this little cartoon series about this troublemaking demon and all the whacky stuff he got in with his friends, Peace the Angel and Wolfie Wolf."
Suzie filed that info away. "Where was Grandma Laika when he disappeared?"
"With Grandma Ruth, I think. She and Walt divorced when he returned from the war. Why do you ask?"
"N...No reason. No reason at all."
A quick search on Youtube brought up the Daemon the Demon series.
Daemon the Demon was revealed to have a circular head with two little horns and the classic dots for pupils in his eyes. He was dressed in a tux, little demon wings fluttering and a spiked tail swishing around. The cartoon itself was soundless and black and white, like other 1920s' cartoons, but she couldn't help but be charmed by the little dancing demon and his little adventures in his rubber hose style. Then she searched for the next two weeks.
Google said that Blur Studios had been founded by Max Soundberg and Walt Klasky. The latter had been the first to sketch the little demon. But when World War Two had started, Klasky had been drafted. And there ended his role in Blur Studios. He had never returned after the war ended. The studio had struggled without him. People preferred the episodes where he had drawn. The merchandise sales had failed and the studio had sunk into debt and money trouble. Finally, it had shut down.
Suzie then noticed an article link.
It was titled 'Disappearances'.
Walt Klasky had been the latest in a series of disappearances of Blur Studio employees. Others had disappeared before him. No matter how hard she searched the internet or the timeline, she couldn't find when the disappearances had started. Then she searched again, finding a new shred of information.
Max Soundberg had been the actual first.
Curiosity taking over, Suzie returned to the telegram she had dismissed.
It was old, having yellowed over the years, with some black stains on it. But the words, printed in neat cursive, were still visible.
It's been a lifetime since we've worked together, hasn't it? Thirty years really slips away. I need you to come and visit the old workshop. I need to show you something.
Suzie looked over the telegram with a frown. That was it. Thirty-one little words of the message, all friendly, nice and neat. But this had been the last piece of mail that Walt had received. She rolled over to her computer and did another search.
The location of Blur Studios was only a half hour away. The next week, her parents would be on a weekend date. She had a bike.
She could bike.