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Mordet/The Murder

 
Hyle Troy's picture
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It was around two in the afternoon. Hyle was leaning on the edge of her desk, looking out of her office window. Her office door was closed and the blind was down. She had left explicit instructions with her staff that she was not to be disturbed.

 

From her window, Hyle watched the usual groups of mothers and some fathers making their way to the school to collect their children. There was a difference though. On any other given school day there would be gaggles of two to four mothers waving at similar groups, smiling and chatting with each other, some wheeling their younger progeny in strollers as the school day’s end approached.

 

Today however, the groups numbered anywhere between ten and twenty, each one as sombre as a grey November day. Heads were bowed, the chatter gone, replaced by close conversations. Inaudible. There was fear. From her window Hyle saw it plainly.

 

Hyle’s arms were folded tightly across her stomach, she felt sick, empty. Her body rigid, her jaw clamped. Her mood swung like some mad pendulum from anger to deep sadness, taking in disappointment, hopelessness and sheer frustration within its arc.

 

How could this have happened, in her town, in Hope Springs, in this age!?

 

 

Shadow had answered the door that morning before the hammering of the constable broke it down, Hyle had heard a breathless frantic report from the policeman, Shadow calling upstairs, ‘I have to go, something’s happened’.

 

By the time Hyle made it to the hallway he was about to leave, pulling his jacket on, and about to join the impatient looking constable who was waiting outside.

 

Hyle’s questioning look stalled Shadow a moment, he explained in short order. “There’s a body. Back of The Waffelhus.”

 

Before Hyle could even draw breath to ask, the door slammed and he was gone.

 

By the time, and it was not long. But by the time Hyle reached The Waffelhus a considerable number of townsfolk had gathered behind some blue tape that the police had strung out as a barrier. Hyle barged her way through and ducked under the tape. She noticed Theis. He was sitting on the steps to the back door of The Waffelhus with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. He looked grey. He barely acknowledged Hyle with reddened eyes.

 

Seeing a person beyond the tapes, a constable made to stop Hyle but thought the better of it as soon as he realised who it was. He stepped back and nodded, allowing Hyle past to the rear of the building, to the trash bins.

 

What did stop Hyle’s march was a glance from Tuki, a glance that said clearly, ‘Don’t come closer.’ Despite slightly reddened eyes, Tuki was in full ‘professional mode’ Her medical bag by her feet and a notepad in her hand. Beyond her, Shadow was peering into the bin, equally engrossed I his work. He looked up for a moment then spoke to a constable by his side.

 

It was the constable who filled Hyle in with the details so far as they were known at this time.

 

So it was Magrat. The enthusiastic medical student to whom only yesterday, Hyle had presented with a diploma in recognition of her progress and the work she had done for the town. The bubbly fifteen year old who had proved herself and now had a bright future ahead of herself. The outsider who despite the stony welcome from some had brought smiles to most of the people she had met in the last month. Magrat, now lying broken in a waste bin. It was beyond belief.

 

Mayor Troy, despite her office, was surplus to requirements for the moment. This was a police and medical matter. Hyle sat with Theis on the steps by the rear door of The Wafflehus, consoling him.

 

As she sat with her arm around her cafe manager, Hyle looked at the faces behind the tape. Winnie Barrow, red faced, red eyed, weeping, surrounded by her circle of friends. Evan Stanton. Wide eyed, swallowing like a beached fish. Some faces shocked, some shaken, others nodding, others shaking lowered heads. The background noise was only low mutterings.

 

Somewhere in this sea of faces… well.. someone, perhaps. Were they among the crowd?

 

In time, the body was lifted from the trash bin, more observations taken, more photographs. Magrat’s remains were then wrapped and escorted by Doctor Troy and a couple of constables to Haven for the autopsy.

 

Hyle took Theis home then returned to her office.

 

 

The tapping on her office door shocked Hyle back to the here and now.

 

I thought I told, No interrupting!” Hyle snapped as the door opened behind her.

 

Hyle.” It was Shadow’s voice.

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Lance Striker's picture

Shadow buttoned his jacket as they walked down the road with pace, winter was biting

and the sombre start of the day did nothing to warm him. Constable Davies was breathless

and panicked, no-one had expected the new constabulary to be tested so soon, if at all.

 

   Who is it?” Shadow asked, forgetting to do so in the brief chaos.

 

   “Not sure, chief. I came running here as fast as I could when I found out.” He replied, still struggling for air.

 

   “You said Theis found the body in the bins behind the wafflehouse?”

 

   Yeah, Alana's with him now.”

 

Shadow's brow furrowed and almost froze solid in the morning chill. His first thought was

that it could be Canni, though he'd not seen nor smelled her in some time. He felt sickened

at the notion, cursing the state of a world in which that might be best case scenario – she

was a clone after all, even if Shadow held a unique view on their lives.

 

A flash of gold in his periphery broke his brooding; Tuki raced ahead of them towards the front

of town. Davies set himself to rush on after her, but Shadow grabbed him firmly by the shoulder, he

turned and felt those grey eyes boring into him.

 

   Everyone's eyes will be on us in the coming days, they'll be looking to us for answers, and for

   reassurance. I need you to keep calm, take a breath, and set an example, okay?” Shadow said, soft and quiet.

 

Davies looked around and saw people gathered at their windows and doorsteps, surprised

at the perception of his boss. He felt the weight of their curiosity crushing down on him.

 

   Morning, boys! Can I get you two something to drink?” Came a delicate voice from over Shadow's shoulder.

 

   Morning, Mrs. Cleary. I'm afraid we don't have time right now, maybe later.” Shadow replied with a smile.

 

   “Oh that sounds wonderful,” the jolly old woman chirped, backing up inside her front

   door, “I brought some plants inside like you said, maybe you can take a look at them for me.”

 

She disappeared behind the door as it closed and Shadow turned back to Davies, squeezed his

shoulder and nodded at him. Davies nodded back, renewed with calm and determination. The pair

headed quietly towards the small crowd gathering around the rear of the wafflehouse.

 

 

Theis sat huddled on the steps, being comforted by Constable Alana. Shadow was conflicted with

the reality of the situation and pride in his team. He pushed through the small crowd and slowly

walked up towards the statuesque Tuki. Despite the buzz of the gathering behind them, there was

an eerie air of deafening quiet around the doctor. She stood staring into the bin, her eyes dewed

over, clutching her bag. He wasn't sure she'd even recognised his presence, and that haunting look

on her face made him reluctant to see the body. Slowly, he peered over the edge and let out a defeated

sigh as he saw the broken, beaten body of Magrat.

 

He looked up at Tuki, giving her his best apologetic look. His mouth opened to say some words of

comfort, but he could neither find them or be certain she'd hear them. Instead her gave a squeeze

on the shoulder as he walked back towards the crowd and began taking charge of the scene.

 

   “All right everyone, back up and give us room to work, this is a police matter! Davies, get the posts

   and cordon tape from the station. Alana, get him a blanket and something hot to drink. And someone

   go find Constable Hill, I need boots on the ground.”

 

   “Sir!” Came a small chorus of voices.

 

Shadow's steely grey eyes narrowed and began searching the crowd for clues.

Lonely are the brave...

Joe Spivey's picture

Tukiko washed her hands. Behind her the mortuary staff, as ever assisted by a small gaggle of students, stripped Magrat’s body. Tuki was aware, but not aware of what was going on behind her. For now, she would continue to wash her hands until someone told her Magrat was ready.

Word had come down that the dead girl was possibly an acquaintance of Seeker Troy so the deceased was being shown considerably more respect by the attending mortuary staff than would normally be paid to the corpses that travelled through Haven’s mortuary halls like units on a production line. The body was also part of a police investigation, so everything they removed was bagged and labelled ready to be taken off and examined by other staff with other students. Despite being an acquaintance, friend, or even a relative of the distinguished pathologist who would be carrying out the autopsy, Haven was still a place of learning and every patient and body in the place without exception was still a teaching aid.

Tukiko looked at her reflection in the cracked mirror. She did not like what she saw there, staring back at her, accusing. Yes, she had cried. She had been upset, still was in fact, because the last thing she wanted to do was to look behind her.

The red-rimmed eyes in the mirror bored into her. The tight, hard line of the reflection’s mouth twitched in an anger aimed right back at Tuki. And her reflection was right to be angry, wasn’t it? After all, who had brought Magrat to Hope? Who had exposed her to the hate, hidden just below the surface of the ideal everyone in Hope fought to achieve? Who had…?

A noise behind her. She brought the view in the mirror into sharper focus, her own body thankfully hiding that of the girl she had betrayed. The staff were looking around, confused. Some of the students were crying. The senior mortuary attendant turned to look at her.

Dammit. Tukiko closed her eyes, fought to get her emotions under control. Not now, please not now. More noise behind her, people leaving, their steps uncertain on the tiles. A wash of calm flowed through Tuki. She opened her eyes and concentrated on washing her hands.

Some time later, probably just a minute or two, a voice from behind.

“Seeker Troy? Everything is ready.”

Tuki dried her hands. She took a deep breath, turned around and approached the shiny stainless-steel table that dominated the centre of the room. There was… something… on it. Her assistant for the autopsy started the recorder and gave Tukiko a nod.

Tuki reached for the waiting knife.

“The subject is a female adolescent aged fifteen, one five, years. I will begin by…”


 

Autopsy Report

 

 

Time of death: Between 6pm and 8pm the previous evening.

Cause of death: A single thrust to the heart from a long-bladed knife approximate length of blade 270mm with a pointed end. Approximately 15mm wide bevelled sides.

Other injuries: Multiple stab wounds (14). Bruising consistent with punches and kicks but not consistent with any recognisable implement being used. Resulting damage to ribs (2 broken) and lower internal organs damaged. Broken nose and lower left orbital cavity. All injuries not from stab wounds are consistent with a beating by two or more people.

Notes: No sign of any sexual interference. Clothing had not been undisturbed. 1 blue and 26 white chips found in pockets. Muscle damage consistent with body being manhandled during the period of rigor mortis. Post mortem lividity suggest the body lay on its back for several hours before being moved. All injuries other than the fatal wound occurred several hours post mortem.

Unusual findings. The length and shape of the blade suggests an uncommon style of knife, similar to a poniard but sharpened along both edges. Small amounts of black grease and rust found in the hair and on the clothing. The grease is aged but of a consistency similar to axel grease.

Seeker Tukiko Troy, Lead Pathologist. Haven

 

 

 

 

 

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Lance Striker's picture

With the crowds driven away and the body photographed and moved, Shadow and

self-proclaimed detective, Constable Benjamin Hill, could examine the wider area

unhindered. Until Tuki had finished the autopsy and gone over her findings with him

in detail, Shadow could only try to piece together the events at the scene and trace

them back. He started with the bin and began combing the worn tarmac for

spatters. There were no visible signs of anything to connect to the body, not a dram

of blood, no hairs, marks, or foreign objects to be found. None of this was surprising

to Shadow, the location of the body was far from inconspicuous – the bar was nigh-on

permanently populated, with the porch a fan favourite for deep-meditated stoicism, Theis

often worked late, and the constabulary itself was staffed 24/7 mere feet from the scene.

 

   “No dice, chief?” Benji asked, his camera poised close to his chest.

 

   “Nothing. But that tells us something in and of itself.” Shadow replied, rising to his feet and

   turning towards the field east of town.

 

   The body was moved.”

 

   “Aye, and our killer at least put some thought into it.”

 

   “You think it was planned?”

 

   “Dunno yet, one thing's almost certain though. They could only have brought the body

   from this direction. Only a fool would have carried it out front.”

 

The pair walked out onto the grass, Shadow was keeping his eyes peeled for footprints, but

he knew this land well and the ground was hard, stony, and unworked. Benji peered out

across the field, casting his gaze back towards town, across the street where the hostels

were and back along the rear of the bar to his own feet. Shadow kept a semi-permanent

camp in the middle of the field – a holdover from his return to Hope earlier that year, before

he and Hyle had kindled their love. Since then, it had served as a stop-off for his unofficial

protection of the town, and had become a little home for his horse, Fluss, who now grazed

contently in the distance.

 

   “If only she could talk...” Shadow bemoaned.

 

   “Hey, Shadow, look at this!” Benji replied, excitedly.

 

Constable Hill was crouched beside a scattering of mud on the tarmac slightly behind

them, taking photographs with enthusiasm.

 

   You were right, someone dragged mud in from the field it looks like.” He said assertively, still

   snapping away with the camera.

 

Shadow crouched down beside him, noticing straight away that Benjamin's theory was

wrong, though not by much. He picked up a small clod and examined it closely.

 

   “No. This is proper soil – lighter in colour and fertilized.” Shadow said, sniffing it and immediately

   coming to a conclusion.

 

   It came from the farms?” Benji asked, thinking better of snapping a picture of Shadow sniffing his fingers.

 

Shadow pressed the clod between finger and thumb, leaving a reddish brown smear on his

skin. Both men looked at each other and frowned before instinctively following the trail of

mud clods around the unsightly trailer nobody seems to want to dispose of. There, the trail

came to an end, or rather, its beginning.

 

   “Christ...” Shadow muttered upon seeing the scene.

 

Benji was silent for a moment, then began photographing the area. There was blood

everywhere, pooled and still slick to the eye. Shadow was no stranger to blood, or the

spilling of it, and immediately he could tell the spray was unnatural for any stab wound

and too violent for any bludgeoning.

 

   “This must be where she was killed, no one could survive this.” Shadow noted.

 

   So much blood...you can smell it.”

 

   “There's almost too much. Look at how distributed it is, that's not natural. Not even a single

   stab wound would bleed that much, and her body had several.”

 

   What do you mean?”

 

   “The pressure would have dropped with each stab, she would have bled a lot, but it pool

   underneath her, not spray all over the place.”

 

   So...what could cause it?”

 

   I don't know. Maybe her killer strangled her as he stabbed her, not sure that would raise

   the pressure enough though...the other wounds could've been inflicted after she'd died. Only

   Tuki could tell us more when she's finished the autopsy.”

 

Benjamin sighed and lowered his camera.

 

   Never thought I'd see this kind of thing here.” He said, shaking his head.

 

   “And back home?” Shadow asked, focusing on the blood.

 

   “Odenville's a rough town, why I wanted to get away. You don't seemed too phased yourself, this

   common where you're from too?” He asked Shadow in return.

 

   Seen this kinda thing all my long years, but I'm plenty angry, believe me. A little girl was slain

   on my watch, in the safest place on Earth.”

 

   “Yeah, I...guess she didn't have the best introduction to our constabulary.”

 

Shadow had almost forgotten her first day in town. Suddenly his own blood began to burn hot

and his fists balled up by his sides.

 

   “That won't happen again. Expand the cordon to this area, bag up that soil and take samples

   from that blood. I'm going to have a little chat with Hana Barrett and call everyone else back to base.”

 

 

Lonely are the brave...

Lance Striker's picture

Two dozen constables huddled on the bottom floor of the constabulary; not daring

to move to find space even if they could. Nobody wanted, or risked, making a

sound – if not for not missing out on the explosion of words coming from up the

stairs, then certainly for fear of being next on its list. Nary a person exchanged glances

with one another, many were concentrating hard on trying to decipher the increasingly

foreign accent roaring from Shadow's bearded maw.

 

   “...but we've already been over this -.” Pleaded a female voice, interrupted by a loud

   slam of something on something and the tide of anger Shadow was unleashing.

 

   “That was then! And now!? Now a little girl is fucking dead! DEAD! Bled like a fucking

   pig and beaten shitless because of upstart little cunts like you. I'll tell you summat

   now, you might not have done it, but you fucking started this. You undermined my

   fucking authority, you set a precedent for her treatment, you showed her killer that

   people can treat outsiders like shit and get away with it. I was way too fucking lenient

   on you. I'll tell you summat else while you're here, you might cower away when Hyle

   comes and has a word with you, but if I even hear a rumour of you not doing your part

   for this community, being found dead in a bin is better than you could possibly hope

   for. Now get the fuck out of my sight before I do something I'll regret.”

 

Hana Barret was smart enough, if barely, to know when to keep her mouth shut. She

sped towards the stairs but paused in horror as she saw the dense crowd of people

staring back up at her from the bottom. Fleeing one angry constable only to have to

be confronted with nearly all of them. She gathered what remained of her dignity and

descended, red-faced and on the verge of tears as she had to squeeze her way through

the crowd. Some might even have pitied her, if they didn't generally agree with Shadow's

accusation. Nobody made too much of an effort to make room for her as she wormed her

way to the other side and disappeared out the door.

 

Shadow commanded a little more respect, however, and the constables made a little

corridor for him to pass, his own face red with fury. His eyes gleamed with hate, locked

on the entrance, as if daring Hana to come back, for any of her family to come back. A

shuffling came from the crowd, one of them had broken the tense silence hanging in the

air and Shadow calmed somewhat, focusing on his duty. He moved behind his desk, pressed

his palms on it and leaned forward towards his charges.


   “Really fucking shit day, you lot. This should never have happened, not on our watch, not in

   this town. We have to be better, better than that self-righteous bitch and her money-worshipping

   family. But, we have a job to do, this is what you signed up for, this is the harsh reality we live in

   and a stark reminder that we can't afford to rest on our laurels and hope the world is set to

   rights. I need the two of you that are on patrol in the main courtyard posted on the school for

   today, and an extra to keep an eye on the men's hostel. Remember, your job hasn't changed, people

   will still be looking to you as ambassadors of the community, but I want you all taking statements, asking

   questions and keeping a fucking close eye on anything and everything until we find out who

   did it. Any questions?”

 

Shadow looked over every face in the room, probing for any perceivable weakness. Most had their

chests puffed out, some still seemed to be processing a very eventful morning, but all shook their

heads. Shadow nodded sideways at the door, satisfied.

 

   “Go.”

Lonely are the brave...

Lance Striker's picture

Shadow took a moment to gather himself. Alana was still straggling behind, gathering

her gear after the rush of escorting Theis home. She watched him balling his fists, tensing

up so hard he seemed as if he was going to curl up inside himself. She turned just in

time so that he didn't spy her studying him, and he sighed before heading out of the

door. Alana watched him every step of the way, trying to puzzle out the enigma that

Shadow was.

 

Outside, Shadow nearly walked straight into Benjamin, holding a bag full of the

blood-drenched earth.

 

   Oh! Got it all, chief.” He said, holding it up and giving it a little shake.

 

   “Good, take it ins- actually...let me have another clod. Need to find out where this came

   from.” Shadow replied, holding his palm out.

 

Benjamin plucked a piece out of the bag and placed it carefully on the gloved palm. Shadow

took another look, then nodded.

 

   “All right, take it upstairs and put it in the cabinet, then hold the fort until I get back. I'm

   sure you'll have enough to do with those photos. You get everything?”

 

   “Covered every inch – we won't lack for pictures, that's for certain. As for whether that

   computer will work, well...”

 

Shadow nodded, concededly.

 

   “We'll have to make do with what we have. Good work, kiddo. Off you go.”

 

   “Good luck.”

 

Constable Hill disappeared inside the constabulary and Shadow walked over to the

potted plant on the steps of the wafflehouse. There was no sign of the soil being disturbed

at first sight; no broken leaves, evenly levelled, not watered in the past day at least, and

no sign of a trail. He tilted the pot with one hand, looking at the markings on the tile

underneath – the pot hadn't been knocked or moved. He examined the clod in his palm, parts

of it were soaked in blood, but dry patches were visible on one side. The colour and texture

ndicated to his trained eye that the earth was bone dry and untended – definitely not

from the farms and not from the pot in front of him. He walked down the steps and made

his way back towards the murder scene.

 

He looked over the area once more, now it was harder to visualise after the clean-up. He

took another look at the clod and then around the area, hoping for some sudden inspiration

or clue. Shadow wasn't particularly in the mood to go round digging in everyone's

garden, but he would if he had to. He walked up onto the porch of the bar and tried to

visualise himself at the incident, but nothing clicked in his mind and so he leaned on the

railing with a sigh. He held his hand out, staring at the clod, questioning it with his mind. Of

course, the earth gave no reply and so he resigned himself to staring at the ground. The

brown, muddy ground. He reeled back from the railing a little, frowning, he'd completely

forgotten about the old flowerbeds in front of the bar, but there they were, staring right up at

him. They'd seen better days, perhaps even held flowers once, but he couldn't remember such

a time. Now the soil was hard and neglected; dry, cold, and dull. Almost. A great patch on one

side was darker than the rest, the grains of soil fine and lighter upon the surface, a surface

that was curiously devoid of the cigarette butts and other litter that had built up elsewhere.

 

He hurried down, probing the soil for himself and comparing it with the lump in his hand. It

was a match. Someone had swept through the planter, had struggled to get through the

topsoil and dug through to the softer earth beneath where the rainwater and more nutritious

earth was. He swept his free palm across the small hole he'd dug until he'd smoothed it back

over, leaving a visibly loose patch that was identical to what had caught his eye. It didn't tell

him much, not yet, but first and foremost on his mind was simply the location – so open, so

noticeable. Someone must have seen something.

 

Inside the constabulary, Alana had followed Benjamin upstairs, walking over to him as he

was fiddling with a wire on the back of an old computer.

 

   Hey, Ben...how's it going?”

 

   Trying to get this pile of crap to recognise this camera.”

 

   No, I mean with the investigation. With Shadow.”

 

   What do you mean? We just started.”

 

   I know, but...have you seen the way he acts when he talks about it? It's like he's taking it

   personally. Really personally.”

 

   “I dunno, probably pissed about having a murder happen so soon after he got this whole thing

   up and running. First in years as far as I know. I'd be pissed too.” He replied, shrugging and

   slapping the case.

 

   “No, it's...something else. You can see it in his eyes.”

 

   Who knows? I bet he's seen some shit in his day. Clones are like that.”

 

   Yeah, maybe...”

Lonely are the brave...



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