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Then There Were Three (part 14)

Joe Spivey's picture
Submission type:

Inspector Crabbe of the NFPD was furiously trying to write down at least some of the mass of information coming over the airwaves into his ancient telephone. What was annoying him was partly the fact that his pen was just pushing the paper across the desk half the time as he tried to make words. But mainly it was because Køjarsky was just sitting a metre away with his feet up, donut and coffee in hand and watching him struggle. All the while his stupid jaws moving slowly up and down as he gooified the mouthful of donut. Roll on retirement.

Then he finally finished, Crabbe was sweating. Child murders, while not too uncommon, where politically very sensitive. The Union would be watching his every move on this case. He read through the notes he had made. Secret underground room. Mutilated infant. Body parts arranged, probably ceremoniously. And to top it all, the chief suspect was another kid. Effing wonderful. I career finisher on a plate, to go.

He was going to need his best man on this. He looked across the desk to where Køjarsky was wiping spilled coffee off his pants with the donut. Fucking useless. He went to the office door and flung it open with more force than was strictly called for.


Doctor Troy’s head hit the bottom of the autopsy table with a solid thud.

“I’m not touching anything! I’m just looking at this. There’s a funeral shroud under the table.”

Dr. Ducas squatted down beside her.

“Let me see.”

Finny poked her head around the corner. The two doctors were on the floor looking at something but their big bums were in the way. Then she noticed something on top of the funny metal table. She squinted in the bad light and took a step forward to see… Her foot stepped in the patrolman’s vomit and skidded forward.

The tiny gasp coming from the darkness to his left was enough to drag Joe’s attention away from accidently staring at Tukiko’s backside. When he saw Finny, Joe nearly dropped his cigar.

Was that…? But then Finny’s vision was interrupted by a wall of familiar brown cloth and the unmistakable aroma of beer and cigars. She looked up into the face of cigar chewing fury for only a half a heartbeat before she found herself being roughly turned and frog-marched several steps back down the passageway.

Then she was just as ungently turned back around to find Joe’s face only centimetres from her own. It hadn’t changed much.

“What the hell are you doing here?!” Joe hissed, spitting tobacco fragments into her face.

When you are a child, and you are contemplating doing something you know is likely to get you into trouble… But you really really want to do it anyway, you gauge the likely reaction of your parent or other authority figure and decide if that thing you really really want to do is going to be worth it. Finny was now discovering that she had miscalculated, badly.

“I…” But the shock of Joe’s bulging eyes had robbed her words away. “I… I…”

Tukiko appeared. So, too, did Dr Ducas, before he tutted and went back to examining his crime scene.

Joe still held Finny by the shoulders and now shook her with each word.

“I told you to stay outside!”

Tukiko slid between Finny and Joe, pulling the little girl gently out of Joe’s grasp.

Joe stood up, but he hadn’t finished.

“You’ll likely be having nightmares for weeks after seeing those heads. No doubt I’ll get the blame…”

Finny had been rubbing her shoulders. Joe had big hands, unnaturally big. So big that they were part of his myth amongst the younger kids. But now, the fear of an imminent whipping dissolved into the background by very Finnyish curiosity.

“What heads?”

Joe and Tukiko shared a glance. Then Tuki put an arm around Finny.

“Never mind. Just Joe trying to scare you into going back again. Which, you will be doing, and right now young lady.”

Finny knew bullpoop when she heard it. She twisted in the doctor lady’s grasp.

“Why can’t I stay? What’s going on?”

But Doctor Troy was already turning back to the mysterious room. Finny took one step to follow her but then found Joe again blocking her path, this time pointing back down the passageway with a finger that brooked no argument.


Joe walked behind Finny, only moving up to her as they neared the storeroom with all the jars. Joe stood in front of the gap and made sure the nine-year-old kept walking before falling into step behind her again.

Finny, with arms folded across her chest, stomped with indignant feet back towards the growing daylight of the entrance. She had been weighing the little bits she had seen in the room where everyone had been. Nothing, just doctor stuff. Then she stopped and turned to face Joe.

“What was that thing on the weird table?”

Joe halted. He had calmed down considerably. Finny was a smart girl, that’s why he’d picked her after all, so he shouldn’t have been surprised when she had done what she did. He looked into her face. Took in the defiance, the need to know what was going on and the anger at being denied. Finny was the only one, outside of family, who could do this. Face him down like this, all spit and vinegar and happy to bear the consequences.

These thoughts took several seconds, during which Finny never flinched, or looked doubtful at all. Just determined. Joe took a long drag on his cigar and blew out the smoke in a tight stream of curling blue smoke.

“Fine. You want to know? It was a baby, a dead baby. There, happy?”


Hyle Troy's picture

That Køjarsky, what an idiøt, låzy føøl!

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

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