A short story excerpt
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
“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.”
It takes only moments before the rookie’s gauntlet displays a three-dimensional replica of the room from the mainframe of the building. As it spins ever so slowly, I examine every inch for deviance. “There!” I point out the small section of wall Holt was shot in to. “The measurements are off.”
My statement is met with some skepticism as both Anders and the officer glance back and forth from the actual wall, to its scaled counterpart.
“According to that, from the window to this wall is supposed to be around 16 feet. Holt is around six feet, sat as he is he’s probably taking up about three and a half to four feet of that space. With the desk by the window, and the three of us in here, there’s not enough space left over.”
My explanation seems to satisfy them as both look around to apparently check my calculations.
“Damn,” Anders murmurs as the patrolman begins coding something else into his gauntlet.
“Micheal Perill recently filed permits to have a wall removed and rebuilt, they must have added a few feet for a wall safe or closet…” the young officer speculates, though it’s clear by his tone he’s not sure how any of this is relevant.
“If the structure of the room changed, and the blue prints hadn’t been updated yet… Reaper was working off old information,” Anders explains, finally seeing how my theory is coming together. “Wait, but that means… he got stuck in a wall?”
“He’s missing a hand,” I push Holt’s other arm away, pulling the stump into full view of my cohorts. “We’ll have to get forensics to cut into the wall, see if it’s in there.”
“So, Reaper was after Perill? He pops in, but the blueprints he studied are wrong, his hand gets sliced off when he reforms…” Anders begins.
“The guy found in the file room sees him, freaks out and reaches for the closest weapon, the harpoon gun on the plaque…” the officer adds, looking about himself as if fearful either of us would berate him for contributing.
“And he shoots Holt while he’s distracted,” I finish, already aware of the gaping hole in our theory.
“Then who killed Perill?” Anders asks, looking to me and confirming my suspicion over who the second body is.
“Micheal Perill, why is that name familiar?” I ask, feeling the same fog seep into my memory to hide the origin of where I had first heard of the man.
“He wrote that book, Philosophy of a God. It was some pretty high-handed stuff,” Anders replies flatly. He watches me discreetly, I can just imagine him trying to discern if my lapse in memory is the real thing, or some sly plot to throw him off suspecting my collar is malfunctioning. “All about the uprising and how Arcane Fire’s mental breakdown was due to a hormonal imbalance caused by pregnancy.”
“He was one of the ones pushing for mass sterilization.” My tone is impassive, as I make sure my feelings on the matter are well hidden. I never allow myself to express my own view of politics. I am already too closely watched for signs of rebellion given my position.
Two decades ago there were no equalizer collars. The super human population was controlled by a group of elites that kept them in line. Arcane Fire was a code name given to a psychic that worked as part of a team to protect Patron City for years. Though the real cause is unknown, the woman’s mental break affected everyone around her. Arcane Fire began using her abilities to control the rest of the team and many others. She incited a violent and bloody riot that lasted for three days before she was finally taken in, and later sentenced to death. After that the bill for the mandatory use of equalizer collars, which had previously been laughed at, quickly became a law.
“He was wrong,” I muse now more curious than ever to see Perill’s body.
“What?” Anders seems taken aback by the statement, too used to me never voicing my opinion on controversial super human matters.
“He was wrong. It’s all in the file back at the precinct,” I state, calming his fears before they have time to become an actual concern. “Arcane Fire’s abilities manifested in a blue flame that consumed her from head to toe hence the code name, it was considered a physical deformity. Even in those days they didn’t allow any supers to alter the gene pool that drastically. She was chemically sterilized soon after puberty…”
“Wow, you can remember all that?” the officer asks, blind to how dangerous his words are. Anders is not, however, and the look in his eyes is one of suspicion once more.
“I’m a Controller, the majority of super human crime is influenced by the Arcana, which was named after her.” At the blank look the rookie gives me, I have to try hard not to laugh. “The Arcana is the inner, most radical part of the SHA. You know who they are I presume?”
“Super Human Alliance, they push for equal rights and the removal of the collars,” he answers, an eager young student.
“Right. Now the Arcana probably don’t like the idea of mass sterilization, or the man who’s using an old fear to push a law for it through.” My words are deliberately careful, as I try to navigate the treacherous waters of human psychology. Not only to speculate on the murders that took place here, but also to keep my own beliefs private. “So, they send their suspected 13th member, Reaper, to assassinate Micheal Perill…”
“But there’s the mistake with the blueprints, and their assassin ends up dead. That still doesn’t explain what happened to Perill,” the patrolman points out.
“Actually, it might,” Anders chimes in. “If it was the Arcana that wanted Perill dead, and not just their attack dog, Holt could have brought someone else with him. The harpoon gun has a one-time use, Perill could have shot who he thought was a bigger threat, but then was killed by the accomplice.”
The way he was speaking had me suspicious that Anders had already formulated another theory.
“You have someone in mind?” I ask, cocking a brow at him as he nods gravely. He waves a hand, beckoning me towards the file room and the second body.