A short story excerpt
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
“A harpoon?” I murmur, confused and fascinated all at the same time as my eyes take in the ancient whaling device lodged in the chest of a dark-skinned man I knew only from mugshots.
Levi Holt sits crumpled against the wall of the small office; his head bent and obscured by rough-cut layers of black hair, as the harpoon pins him upright. He looks like some garish puppet left out to rot.
I step around the pool of blood that has already soaked into the snow-white carpet, careful as I push aside the collar of the dead man’s shirt. An old scar encircles his throat, dusky and a shade or two darker than the flesh that surrounds it.
“What’s that?” The voice comes from behind me, but I don’t have to look to know it is one of the patrol officers sent to help secure the scene.
“What happens when a super takes off their equalizer collar,” I say. I’m used to those kinds of questions from the rookies. I hear him inhale as if to ask something further, but whatever the question was remains a mystery the moment I turn and he catches sight of my own very distinctive piece of jewelry.
“Y-you’re…” he began, stumbling over his own words.
“Controller Dai Graydon,” I interrupt, introducing myself before he could say something career-damning. “My partner Detective Anders and I handle all homicide investigations involving the super humans in this sector.”
“Controller,” he acknowledges, regaining his composure and tipping the brim of his black hat in salute. He’s so green he doesn’t even have a name on his badge yet. He’s probably fresh out of the academy.
I nod, quickly turning back to my work and away from the young officer. Something is eating away at the back of my mind, something calling for my attention. I feel my head get foggy as the equalizer collar around my neck dampens my abilities, trying to eradicate the eidetic memory I was born with.
Though my inability to forget even the minutest detail of every instant in my life is considered a non-combative ability, it is still deemed too great an advantage over the population at large. The equalizer collar ensures that all people are evenly matched regardless of genetic mutation in lineage or self. I was five at the time use of collar had been made law, barely aware of the politics or reasoning behind it; but the complete and photographic memories I have from before are still whole in my mind. I have since analyzed them, and as a result opted to become a Controller, an officer that specializes in super human crime.
I look to the body, scowling as I try to figure out what is fighting to get through the haze of artificial amnesia. Holt looks the same, his shoulders folded over the concave crater in his chest caused by the force of the harpoon. I can feel tiny pinpricks of pain behind my eyes as the collar’s efforts intensify, and that’s how I know I’m getting close to whatever my subconscious has already figured out.
“Officer, bring up the file on Levi Holt,” I order flatly.
“Holt?” Anders shuts the door to the file room behind him. He’s a slightly haggard-looking man with a scruffy beard he never has time to trim, and short ginger hair streaked with white. He had been looking at the other body, the one belonging to the man that actually worked here.
I wave absently to the bloody mess on the floor, waiting as the patrolman codes in the request to his gauntlet. The glove’s holographic projector blinks to life, having to widen from its usual setting to accommodate all the information the Patron City Police Department had collected on the elusive criminal.
“Levi Holt, defected from the Equalizer program five years ago wherein he became known by his alias Reaper…” the officer pauses, a look of shock taking him as he comes to terms with whose corpse he’s standing beside. Reaper was a well-known figure in press, and I wish I could tell the rookie that his reputation was undeserved.
“Get to his abilities,” I prompt. Anders looks to me questioningly, and I know behind that stare he is wondering if my collar is failing and there is something in particular I want to point out, but don’t need the file in front of me to recall.
“Advanced teleportation. Holt has the ability to instantly appear anywhere he has prior structural knowledge of. This includes but is not limited to blueprints, photographs, or detailed descriptions of the area.”
“So, here’s Holt, with the ability to appear and disappear in the blink of an eye… How did anyone have time to go grab a harpoon gun and shoot him?” I ask with a little more dramatism than most were used to from me.
“Someone was waiting for him?” the officer attempts, shrugging his shoulders like a wet-nosed school boy.
“No, the weapon was one of opportunity,” Anders muses. “There’s an award plaque it was pulled off of in the other room.”
I crouch down by the body, looking for any reason this situation would make sense. A silence falls over us, the buzz of the still-active projector the only sound in the room. The pinpricks return, flaring worse than before, heightening as the need to sneeze from the smell of new plaster builds.
“Plaster,” I murmur to myself. I ignore the odd looks both Anders and the officer are giving as I reach for Holt’s elbow and lift it enough to see the bloody stump at the end of his wrist. “Bring up the blue prints for the office,” I order with little concern for explaining my theory to either of them.