All mysteries must have an end, one where the villain has been found. There wasn't any way for me to continue this arc. Everyone had a chance at the spotlight. Clues were found. It was time for the final act, time for the Phantom to be unmasked.
First, though, the Paranormalists had to go through a show of exorcising the spirits Ginger already got rid of in Chapter 10. The display was more for Alex and his boss, to show that the Paranormalists aren't just taking money and to hide that they've broken into the warehouse a few times. It helps that there were spirits to banish. The "ritual" just plays into what is expected of a banishment, thanks to shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural. Salt is traditional; in the past, it was rare and restricted to the upper class. Today, it's easil;y found in grocery stores and gets into everything.
That leaves the Phantom of the Warehouse. What sort of mystery story would leave the mystery unsolved? It's not satisfying, even if the Paranormalists aren't licensed as private investigators. The clues were there, though not all at once. I hadn't worked out the identity of the Phantom until late in the writing. A few things that I did have, though, helped. First, the explosion in Chapter 9. There was sound, but little damage. More than flash bangs, but still pyrotechnics. That was where I had the idea of the nature of who. Kieu's discovery of the nature of low-light recording in Chapter 12.helped confirm that the Phantom was mundane, not supernatural.
Of course, knowing the clues was just part of it. I still needed a motive. All sorts of valuables pass through a warehouse. Problem is, if they go missing, it's easy to see where they disappeared. Another problem is stealing enough to make the theft worthwhile. There might be a multi-million dollar shipment, but spread over half a dozen crates that are each too large to be picked up by a person. Art theft just needs the one work to be taken to be worth something, especially if a buyer is already lined up. But that's not the full motive.
Art theft is just the crime being done. The thief still needs a reason to steal. That was easy. Thanks to the Police Squad episode "A Bird in the Hand"/"The Butler Did It"*, I had the ultimate reason; "I needed the money." There's no tale of revenge, no deep dark secret, just someone who needed to make ends meet.
The wrap up let me get a few outstanding issues wrapped up. The big one is Kieu's attitude towards Ayel. In the unseen first arc, they did get to a detente of sorts, but Kieu backslid while I wrote "Hauntings Anonymous". I really need Kieu and Ayel to be able to work together for futre arcs. The conflict isn't sustainable for an entire series and characters should develop over time. Since the Paranormalists are doing supernatural investigations as a business, even if it's just on the side, I wanted to make sure that the audience knew they were paid. And I wanted everyone to come clean on asking Aidan to keep investigating. Ayel may have started skeptical, but she's in on the business with the others.
There were a few more shout outs in this chapter. Gregori Hapschatt finishes off the references to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, after Brad, Janet, and the Munroes last chapter. Constable Frasier comes from Due South; I'm not using the same character, but the shout out is there. Besides, I didn't include Benton Frasier's dog/wolf, Diefenbaker. My other option at the time of writing was to reference The Beachcombers, with Constable John Constable.
I do have future arcs in mind for the series. The next one has been started but stalled out. The core idea is to get into the supernatural and paranormal more, with the Paranormalists being called in because of a spriggan invasion of a cottage. I also plan on bringing in some of Kristi's family, so she, too, can be tortured by someone she can't ignore. One for later involves a haunting at a doll convention. I want to have Ginger out in view of the public instead of always hiding, and by disguising her as a doll, though a really life-like one, the LOLfae will get to see what's around her.
Coming up in the next few weeks, one final commentary about the full "Hauntings Anonymous", including items I glossed over or outright missed followed by a new serial, though one that's incomplete. NaNoWriMo starts soon, so there will be juggling involved.
Friday, bonus content for dba LTV Paranormalists.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, adaptations of adaptations.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, The Dresden Files RPG.
* Police Squad episodes always had two titles, one on screen and one spoken by the narrator. The titles never matched, and in the case of "A Bird in Hand"/The Butler Did It", includes a spoiler of who the thief is.