Kemia

Kemia (full version) is the third draft of Decay. This will likely be the final one.

“I found this behind the bar.” Setzer handed Natasha a thumb-sized glass vial. It was empty, but lined with a distinct maroon residue. “They must have been poisoned.”

“Yes,” said Jade, “There was something wrong with the taste.”

For the first time since the inn had been built, there was more than one person in its attic. Three of the seven within were dead.

Setzer didn’t like the involvement of Jade Sing. He had a long list of reasons for why he disliked her. The first reason was that Jade was a foreigner, but the worst, somewhere near the bottom, was that she was a cannibal. Natasha had never seemed to be too interested in arresting Jade, despite Setzer’s suspicions. Every time he’d investigated one of Jade’s catches, she had come away innocent. Did she eat people? Yes. But did she kill them? Not according to evidence. Cannibalism isn’t technically illegal, and it seemed that Jade was either a master frameup artist, or she simply took advantage of murders and reaped the spoils. One thing Setzer was sure of: Jade was a sly opportunist. That was also on his list.

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Jade Sing (05.25.2015)

Jade had broken into the inn attracted by the scent, she had claimed. She had found the bodies and sampled them, and then she had alerted the nearest guard, Sergeant Alice; a small, jumpy woman built like a brick house. Alice then told her Captain, and they had both arrived along with Constable Setzer; the short, often cross young man with long black hair, pale skin, and dark eyes.

To Setzer’s chagrin, it seemed he was again going to prove Jade’s innocence. He surveyed the corpses. Each was missing part of its calf, and one’s face was so bludgeoned that it was unrecognisable.

“Easy to draw a conclusion based on this,” he said. “First, based on the vial and the… taste, we can assume that these people were poisoned. Second, Dhesmond Machina owns and runs this inn. He could easily spike his alcohol and claim that the victim passed out. Finally, the inn didn’t open today, and,” he handed Natasha a hand-copied document, “yesterday’s travel ledger shows that Dhesmond skipped town this morning and hasn’t returned!”

“Wonderful!” Alice clapped.

 

“So, Natasha, are we going to search Hannibal or Baracus? He probably escaped to one of those cities.”

Natasha Glass Rhye studied the list and felt her neck tighten.

“Neither. This is not enough.”

“Umm, okay but…” Setzer said, “what else do we need?”

She looked at him calmly, “Who are these people? Where did the poison come from?”

Setzer wasn’t happy, but orders were orders. “Fine, we’ll identify the bodies first.”

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Alice May Däwngale. casual dress. (Concept. Not final.) (05.12.2017)

“Good.” Natasha’s face was stern, “After you two are finished, meet me at the Ph.Kem. lab. Alice, I would like you to visit the undertaker for this area and get them to identify the body, whether you yourself can identify them or not. If the district mortician can get us faces quickly, bring us a note, otherwise, come without it.”

“Sure,” Alice nodded.

Setzer sighed. “Alice, do you know who usually comes here? To the bar?”

She took a deep breath, and presented Setzer a word salad. “I know almost just about all the people from around here.” Alice’s grasp of syntax faltered when she was excited. Setzer always assumed it was due to her being a foreigner, a Plainkind for the west.

Natasha left them to parse out the identities as well as Alice’s speech, and exited the building, studying the ledger. She watched the cobbled streets as she went, and headed northwest to speak to one of the city’s construction foreman.

 

Setzer and Alice sat at a table in the bar and drew up a list of all the patrons. Alice identified the two who were dead, and they were crossed off. Setzer went out into the city and sought out the rest of the people list.

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Setzer (Concept. Not final.) (06.22.2016)

Jade was told to stay behind, tasked with keeping people out of the bar. After much frustration, Setzer managed to bargain her into promising that she would “try not to eat anything,” and “definitely not touch the mysterious body.” He hoped he wouldn’t have to answer to families again, but he could never be sure with Jade.

It took until noon to find everyone. Most of them had no idea that anything was wrong, they simply wondered why the bar was closed. One person mentioned that Dhesmond had become too touchy as of late “He damn pussified litl’ bitch nao. Gon haffin’ a new bar.” Setzer assumed that this loss would be considered good news to any innkeeper. Most of the other patrons agreed that, in the past month or so, he had seemed more stressed than usual. Setzer and Alice thanked each person for their time, and soon the list was empty, except for one name.

 

Alice looked, and shook her head, “Reighleigh Straker. We only checked his house, remember? He’s maybe at work.”

It dawned on Setzer why the Captain wanted them to meet her at the lab. “Does he work at the Ph.Kem. lab?”

“Yep.”

“You know, I think the good Captain is a few steps ahead of us.” Setzer shook his head.

“What?”

Alice smiled. It seemed that was what she did when she was confused. Or happy. Or angry. Setzer had come to accept that nearly all emotions led Alice to smile, but he had yet to tell the smiles them apart.

“Natasha must have known all along… Now we just have to confirm that he isn’t there, at the lab, and our bases will be covered.” Setzer nodded to himself.

Alice just shrugged, “We’ll meet there after I go to the cemetery.”

“I doubt we’ll need it, but orders are orders, I guess.”

 

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City Guard Captain Natasha Glass Rhye (08.17.2017)

To his surprise, Setzer arrived that the Philosophy of Kemia lab first and had to wait a few minutes. Natasha arrived late, with the slight sheen of a person who just walked halfway across a city and back.

 

“Where did you go?” asked Setzer.

“I went to where they are extending the wall.”

“Oh.”

“Did you find the identity of the third body?”

“We deduced that it was Reighleigh Straker. Not sure why Dhesmond would beat him up like that though.”

The Captain shook her head.

“You will see when we go inside the Philosophy of Kemia Laboratory,” She returned the vial he’d found at the inn. “Search his desk when we get inside.”

 

Natasha knocked on the door. It was answered by a woman who looked like her, except she was younger, smaller, wore a white coat, and had more hair.

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Chloe Rhye, Fifth Prince of the Solune (07.12.2018)

“Natasha?” She asked.

 

“Chloe,” she nodded. “We are here as part of an investigation.”

“Ah, sure. I’ll get someone who actually works here.” She turned and called, “Straker?”

Setzer glanced at Natasha. If Reighleigh was here, alive, then his investigation was worthless. A moment passed, and she called out again, but for someone else.

“Finch? Yes, ah, the guard is here.”

Chloe let them into the lab. It was brightly lit, with large wooden desks. Some were capped with thick layers of metal, but all of them were covered with metal and glass instruments, and lined with drawers. In the far corner was a small room sealed with a heavy door.

A lab student approached them. His lanyard read “Finch Däwngale Zeth.” He was a short man with pale skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. He wore a white lab coat and held a mess of papers.

“Oh, Captain Rhye,” he looked from Natasha to Chloe, “Here to talk to your sister…umm, to talk to Chloe?”

“No. We speak enough when we are not working.”

Setzer said, “Is Reighleigh here? I need to—” see if he’s alive, is what he thought. “I need to search his desk.”

“He’s in the supply locker, right there.” Finch pointed, “It’s heavily barred to prevent theft. Some of that stuff is dangerous, you know?”

There was a loud metallic creak and Setzer’s stomach churned. According to his logic, the man who stood before them was dead, his body stashed in Dhesmond’s inn. The Constable took a deep breath. He hadn’t earned his rank by faltering. Lost, he defaulted to his orders.

“We are here to search your desk.”

Reighleigh gave him a deep frown.

After a pause, Finch helpfully pointed to one of the counters, “It’s that one.”

Setzer strode to it and began opening drawers until he found one filled with thumb-sized test tubes, and a labelled jar of distinct red liquid. He took the vial found at the inn out of his pocket. The size and shape matched, and the colour was almost the same (the inn’s vial having dried).

Natasha looked sidelong at the doctor. He seemed to be stifling his nerves. Her eyes moved down to his hands and she saw that his knuckles were blue.

In his head, Setzer read the label on the jar; Hyperthermic Coronary Accelerator. Then he looked up and nodded to Natasha. She nodded back. They’d found the poison’s supplier. Reighleigh moved slightly. Natasha knew those movements; the flight response. He would go either for the window or the door. Natasha’s eyes moved fast, her mind faster.

Then Alice flung the front door open, and jumped inside, shaking the floor as she landed.

“I got it!—Oh, hi dear; I mean Finch,—anyway, I got it!” She waved the mortician’s note in front of her cheery face, “The last dead person is not Reigh even for sure now, it’s Dhesmond Machina!”

Reighleigh froze. His face hardened, and then he steeled himself and sprinted for the door. Alice smiled and repositioned slightly as Reighleigh leaped forward and tried to tackle her. Unfortunately for him, Sergeant Alice was nearly twice his weight in muscle; a capable guard in the occupational sense well as the literal one; guarding the portal. She restrained him with ease.

“You’re under detainment for killing three people using poison!” Setzer ran to the man and seized his hands. he began winding a cord around Reighleigh’s wrists.

The man retorted, “How could I have murdered someone who isn’t even in town!”

“You—” Setzer had no idea.

Natasha finally spoke, her mind finished with all thought, “You followed him, but not through the gate. You went through the part of the wall that is currently under construction.”

Setzer and Alice looked at each other across the man who stood between them. Reighleigh remained silent.

Finch was unsure what to think. He looked between Natahsa and his wife nervously.

Chloe called to her sister, “go on!” She loved to see anyone competent at work. It was, in her mind, an art.

Natasha strode to the nearest desk and sat down on it.

She faced Reighliegh,

“Jade confirmed for us that all three victims were poisoned.
Setzer confirmed that the liquid and vial found at the inn match with the poison and containers found here. Likely they were killed under your instruction, using your chemical.
Alice confirmed that the body was Dhesmond’s.
Finally, I confirmed that Dhesmond exited town, but supposedly never returned. We have the ledger.”

Setzer had finished his knot, so he presented the items as Natasha mentioned them.

“Shortly before I came here, I spoke to the foreman of the wall project and confirmed that on the same day that Dhesmond left, the she saw him return through her construction site, along with someone else; you. I assume you exited before the workday started and managed to convince the poor man back into town so you could snuff him. Then you poisoned him like you did everyone else; except he would have known his fate when you handed it to him.”

“How haunting!” Chloe blurtend.

Natasha frowned at her sister and continued. “You threw Dhesmond’s body with the rest. But,” shepointed to his bruised hands, “you beat the recognition off his face first.”

She took the ledger from Setzer, and dropped it beside her. “You left Dhesmond’s closet full of skeletons, with his name on a document proving that he tried to evade the law. You framed a dead man. It would have been the perfect crime—if there was no one who could identify a dead body. But what is the job of a coroner if not identification?”

Natasha stood, towering over everyone in the room by at least a head. She said, “Dead men do not sneak into cities or poison and brutalize themselves. You will face judgement in the court. We will bury the dead with love and respect. We will bury you, when you are done rotting to death, with apathy and forgiveness.”

A quiet came over the room. Natasha bodily lifted the criminal over her shoulder, and the guard filed out.

Daniel Triumph.

Word Count: 2125.
This is the second draft of Kemia. Polished and added illustrations… does this count as an illuminated version?

This is the third draft of “Decay.” There are a lot of differences, to the point where I can comfortably call them different stories, so feel free to check it out.

This is the second draft of a story written as an exam for my Detective Fiction course, 01-26-202-01. I got a decent mark in the end, I think, so perhaps that’s indicative of the quality of this piece.

P.S.:

 

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Natasha Glass Rhye, before becoming captain (Early design.) Left to right: Saan of Village #4, Natasha Glass Rhye, Second Prince of the Solune, Setzer [last name unknown], Nashir [deserter] (June 2014)
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Recent Alice concept. Still not final. (08.13.2018)
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Natasha (full) (08.17.2017)
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Alice, Plainclothes (Sketch). Finally a decent drawing of Alice. (08.31.2018)

Kēmeía (Chemia)

“I found this behind the bar.” Setzer handed Natasha a thumb-sized glass vial. It was empty, but lined with a distinct maroon residue. “They must have been poisoned.”

“Yes,” said Jade, “There was something wrong with the taste.”

For the first time since the inn had been built, there was more than one person in its attic. Three of those seven were dead.

Setzer didn’t like the involvement of Jade Sing. He disliked her for a lot of reasons. Jade was an unusual foreigner, and worse, she was a cannibal. Natasha didn’t seem to be interested in arresting Jade, despite Setzer’s suspicions. Every time he’d investigated one of Jade’s catches, she had come away innocent. Did she eat people? Yes. But did she kill them? Not according to the evidence. Cannibalism wasn’t technically illegal, and so it appeared that Jade simply took advantage of other people’s murders. She was a clever opportunist. Jade had broken into the inn attracted by the scent. She had found the bodies and apparently sampled them. Then she had alerted the nearest guard, Sergeant Alice; a small, jumpy woman built like a brick wall. Alice told Natasha, the towering, stoic, guard Captain, and they had both arrived along with Constable Setzer, a short, often cross young man with long black hair, pale skin, and dark eyes.

To Setzer’s chagrin, it seemed he was again going to prove Jade’s innocence. He surveyed the corpses. Each was missing part of its calf, and one’s face was so bludgeoned that it was unrecognisable.

“Easy to draw a conclusion based on this,” he said. “First, based on the vial and the… taste, we can assume that these people were poisoned. Second, Dhesmond Machina owns and runs this inn. He could easily spike his alcohol and claim that the victim passed out. Finally, the inn didn’t open today, and,” he handed Natasha a copied document, “yesterday’s travel ledger shows he skipped town and hasn’t returned!”

“Wonderful!” Alice clapped.

Natasha studied the list and felt her neck tighten.

“Good job, but this is not enough.”

“Okay…” Setzer said, “what else do I need?”

She looked at him calmly, “Who are these people? Where did the poison come from?”

Setzer wasn’t happy, but orders were orders. “Fine, we’ll identify the bodies first.”

“Good.” Natasha’s face was stern, “After you two are finished, meet me at the Ph.Ch. lab. Alice, I would like you to visit the undertaker for this area and get them to identify the body, whether you identify it or not. If the district mortician can identify it quickly, bring us a note, otherwise, come without it.”

“Sure,” Alice nodded

Setzer sighed. “Alice, do you know who usually comes here?”

“I know almost just about all the people from around here.” Alice’s grasp of syntax faltered when she was excited.

Natasha left them and exited the building, studying the ledger. She surveyed the cobbled streets, and then headed northwest to speak to one of the city’s construction foreman.

 

Setzer and Alice sat at a table in the bar and drew up a list of all the patrons. Alice identified the two who were dead, and they crossed them off. Then Setzer went out into the city and sought out the rest of the list. Jade stayed behind, tasked with keeping people out of the bar. After much frustration, he had bargained her into promising that she would “try not to eat anything,” and “definitely not touch the mysterious body.” He hoped he wouldn’t have to answer to families again.

It took until noon to find everyone on Alice’s list. Most of them wondered why the bar was closed. One person mentioned that Dhesmond had become too touchy. Most of the other patrons agreed that, in the past month or so, he had seemed more stressed than usual. Setzer and Alice thanked each person for their time, and soon the list was empty, except for one name.

Alice looked, and shook her head, “Reighleigh Straker. We only checked his house, remember? He’s maybe at work.”

It dawned on Setzer why the Captain wanted them to meet her at the lab. “Does he work at the Ph.Ch. lab?”

“Yep.”

“Natasha must have known all along… Now we just have to confirm that he isn’t there and our bases will be covered.” Setzer nodded to himself.

Alice just shrugged, “We’ll meet there after I go to the cemetery.”

“I doubt we’ll need it, but orders are orders, I guess.”

 

To his surprise, Setzer arrived first and had to wait a few minutes. Natasha arrived with the slight sheen of a person who just walked halfway across a city and back.

“Where did you go?” asked Setzer.

“I went to where they are extending the wall.”

“Oh.”

“Did you find the identity of the third body?”

“Reighleigh Straker. Not sure why Dhesmond would beat him up like that though.”

The Captain shook her head.

“You will see when we go inside the Philosophy of Chemia Laboratory,” She returned the vial he’d found at the inn. “Search his desk.”

 

Natasha knocked on the door. It was answered by a woman who looked like her, except she was younger, smaller, wore a white coat, and had more hair.

“Natasha?” She asked.

“Chloe,” she nodded. “We are here as part of an investigation.”

“Ah, sure. I’ll get someone who actually works here.” She turned and called, “Straker?”

Setzer glanced at Natasha. If Reighleigh was here, alive, then his investigation was worthless. A moment passed, and she called out again, but for someone else.

“Finch? Yes, ah, the guard is here.”

Chloe let them into the lab. It was brightly lit, with large wooden desks. Some were capped with thick layers of metal, but all of them were covered with instruments and lined with drawers. In the far corner was a small room sealed with a heavy door.

Finch approached them. He was a short man with pale skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. He wore a white lab coat and held a mess of papers.

“Oh, Captain Rhye,” he looked from Natasha to Chloe, “Here to talk to your sister?”

“No. We speak when we are not working.”

Setzer said, “Is Reighleigh here? I need to—” see if he’s alive, is what he thought. “I need to search his desk.”

“He’s in the supply locker right now.” Finch pointed, “It’s heavily barred to prevent theft. Some of that stuff is dangerous.”

There was a loud metallic creak and Setzer’s stomach churned. According to his deduction, the man who stood before them was dead, his body stashed in Dhesmond’s inn. He took a deep breath. He hadn’t earned the rank of Constable through faltering. He defaulted to his orders.

“We are here to search your desk.”

Reighleigh gave him a deep frown.

After a pause, Finch pointed to one of the counters, “It’s that one.”

Setzer strode to it and began opening drawers until he found one filled with thumb-sized test tubes, and a labelled jar of distinct red liquid. He took out the vial from the inn. Its size and shape matched, and the colour was the same.

Natasha stood with Reighleigh and Finch on one side and Chloe on the other. She looked sidelong at the doctor. He seemed to be stifling his nerves. She watched his hands and saw that his knuckles were blue.

Setzer read the label on the jar, Hyperthermic Coronary Accelerator and then looked up and nodded to Natasha. She nodded back. They’d found the poison supply.

Then Alice flung the front door open, and jumped inside.

“I got it!—Oh, hi Finch—anyway, I got it!” She waved the mortician’s note in front of her, “The last dead person is not Reigh even for sure now, it’s Dhesmond Machina!”

Reighleigh’s face hardened. He sprinted to the door. Alice smiled and repositioned slightly. Reighleigh tried to tackle her, but unfortunately for him, Sergeant Alice was nearly twice his weight in muscle; a capable guard in the occupational sense well as the literal one. She easily restrained him.

“You’re under detainment for killing three people using this poison!” Setzer ran to the man and seized his hands. he began winding a cord around Reighleigh’s wrists.

The man retorted, “How could I have murdered someone who isn’t even in town!”

“You—” Setzer had no idea.

Natasha finally spoke, “You followed him, but not through the gate. You went through the part of the wall that is under construction.”

Setzer and Alice looked at each other across the man who stood between them. Reighleigh remained silent.

Finch was unsure what to think.

Chloe called out, “go on!”

Natasha strode to the nearest desk and sat down.

She faced Reighliegh, “Jade confirmed for us that all three of the victims were poisoned. The liquid and vial found at the inn match with the poison and containers found here. Likely they were killed under your instruction, using your chemical.”

Setzer had finished, so he presented the items Natasha mentioned.

“Shortly before we came here, I confirmed that, on the same day that Dhesmond left, the foreman saw him return through her construction site, along with someone else; you. I assume you exited before the workday started and managed to convince the poor back. Then you poisoned him like you did everyone else; except he would have known his fate when you handed it to him.

“You threw Dhesmond’s body with the rest. But,” Natasha pointed to his bruised hands, “you beat the recognition off his face first.”

She took the ledger, and dropped it beside her. “You left Dhesmond’s closet full of skeletons, with his name on a document proving that he left town. You framed a dead man. It would have been the perfect crime—if there was no one who could identify a dead body. But what is the job of a coroner if not identification?”

Natasha stood, and said, “Dead men do not sneak into cities or poison and brutalize themselves.”

Daniel Triumph.

This is the second draft of “Decay.” There are a lot of differences, to the point where I can comfortably call them different stories, so feel free to check it out.

This was written as an exam for my Detective Fiction course, 01-26-202-01. I got a decent mark in the end, so maybe that’s indicative of the quality of this piece.

P.S.

I know I’ve been talking about The Solune Prince A LOT and not actually posting about it. Fear not, it isn’t “stuck” or something I’m just talking about, without actually working on. I have around forty notebook pages full.

Mostly, I’m just adjusting to my new job and whatnot. If I don’t have anything started, I’ll publish a backstory or something.

… Or I’ll publish more stuff I wrote for class …

Decay (Early Draft)

EDIT: I apologize for the lack of distinct scene changes before this edit. WordPress has a habit of deleting important page breaks for some reason. I’ve put hyphens ( – ) in between scene breaks to make it explicit. I hope WordPress doesn’t delete the paragraph breaks like before.

My first go at detective fiction. I’m thinking to further edit this one in the future. It’s a little rough, fast, and full of dialogue, but I think it’s decent. I’ll be releasing a similar story that functions as a re-writing of this in a few weeks called Kēmeía which is at least four times better. (I’m just getting feedback on it.)

The Captain pointed to the body and told Fredrick to take a sample of the rot.

“Bring it to Chloe. Find me as soon as you get results.”

The officer nodded and did as he was asked.

“How long do you think?” She asked Setzer.

“Looks around four days.”

Captain Natasha looked at the corpse’s armband. “Four days?” She said.

“That’s what he said,” Setzer continued, “I got a ledger of everyone who was in the city during that time” He handed her a hardback clipboard.

She scanned the names, “A copy?”

“Yeah.”

Natasha unsheathed her fountain pen and began cutting out names. She handed the board back to Setzer. Only three remained.

“Where would you like to start?”

Setzer put his finger on a name.

Chloe took a look at the sample. It seemed strange.

She said, “Thanks, I will, ah, I’ll get it back to you in a couple of hours.”

Fredrick nodded, and then left.

“It has been a while since I got a chunk of human… Hey!” She called out to her one of the experimenters, “ah, can you prep my station?”

Setzer looked up at one of the few three-storey buildings in the city. They were there for Jason Arson, servant of one of the landowners in the “old money” district. Setzer was sure, or at least he hoped, that Arson had done it.

“He works here? Out in the open?”

Natasha nodded, “innocent until proven guilty.”

“What if we can’t prove someone did it?” Natasha said, citing Solune common-law.

A servant opened the door; it was the man they were looking for.

“Not you again,” he said. A mask covered his mouth.

“Has your master sent you on any ‘errands’ recently?” Setzer asked.

The servant made an angry face, but remained silent.

“How about, say… four days ago?”

At this, Natasha prodded him.

The servant shook his head, “I was on an errand. I picked that up.” He pointed to an expensive bottle of wine on the table behind him. “Is that why you came here?”

“No.”

“Well then, goodbye.” He shut the door.

As the two guards moved on, Natasha said, “You should have said yes. He obviously stole that bottle.”

Setzer frowned.

They visited the butcher shop. “Closed. Looks like your idea didn’t work out so well, Natasha.”

“We will check his home.”

The butcher lived in an old and run-down house in the same district as the body. Setzer knocked, and then eventually tried the door but it was locked.

“That’s odd.”

“Yes.” Natasha said, “So? What do you think?”

“Not what I was hoping for,” Setzer said, “we don’t know where he is now.”

Natasha said, “Then we will go to the lab.”

They went to the labs and checked to see if any poisonous chemicals were missing. Nothing was gone that wasn’t undocumented.

They passed a particularly dark and cluttered alley. Setzer, who somehow became more alert at night, stopped and turned his head. He listened.

“What?” Natasha’s words sounded more like a statement than a question.

“You made it stop, which means whatever it was is alive.”

He stepped into the alley, walking over dirt and rotten vegetables. Then, he saw her, a dark woman crouching near one of the walls.

“Who’s that,” he shouted.

The woman stood. She had black hair, dark skin, and a dark blue side-cut dress.

“Eating someone’s leftovers?”

“Maybe.” The woman wiped her mouth. It was too dark to see the red that was on it.

Setzer felt a prod in his back. He stepped forward, “Let’s see than.”

The woman courageously stepped back and crossed her arms. Her claws dug into her skin.

“What—” He stopped and then looked up at the woman, “it was you then!”

He grabbed her and tried to cuff her, but she was a lot stronger than him. Natasha watched in silent amusement. Setzer, in his struggle, turned for her help.

“What are you doing?” He shouted.

“She will not run. Give it up.”

Setzer ignored this advice and continued to wrestle the woman until he ran out of breath. The woman looked down on him and scoffed. Setzer leaned on a wall and threw one hand into the air in defeat.

Natasha took three steps toward the woman.

“That is a nice catch, Jade,” Natasha pointed to the corpse on the ground. Some of the fleshier bits had been torn open. “Tell me where you found it.”

The woman sneered, “Right here.”

Setzer caught a second wind, “Another body in an alley? How old?”

“Four days,” Jade said, “I hoped for something fresher.”

Natasha saw the armband. “Were those wounds there when you found it?”

“No. But the meat tastes funny, even for a body this old.”

Jade stopped and looked around. Her eyes changed their nature, and her nostrils flared.

“You will lead us,” Natasha said.

Jade gave a grunt of anger and moved. Natasha followed.

“What? Hey!” Setzer shouted after them. He got no answer, and, giving up once more, he followed them.

She took them to an abandoned building closer to the castle, but still in the western district.

“Hey,” Setzer whispered, “what’s with the cannibal?”

“That is simply a defect in Jade. She is not happy that we are going to cut her supply.”

“Huh. Innocent until proven guilty?”

Natasha nodded, “Cannibalism is not illegal.”

“Just everything that leads up to it, then? What a joke.”

“Here,” Jade extended her arm to the building, and then promptly left.

The building was old and hallowed. Setzer guessed that it would be demolished soon.

“What if they’re working together, then?”

“I doubt it.”

Chloe put on a white coat and sat down at her station.

Her colleague saw what the sample was, and knew what she was going to find out, so he silently left the lab.

The door was not locked. Setzer looked back, and Natasha confirmed; this building should have been sealed. They searched around what was no more than a shack.

“Up here, the roof has a loft. Aww! I can smell it!” Setzer waved his hand in front of his nose, then scaled the wall and hoisted himself through the hole in the roof. He looked to see if Natasha was following him, but she just stared. He shrugged and looked around. His eyes adjusted quickly and, in a pile of dirt, he found the body. There were two.

“Oh jeez!” He called down, “We’re going to need older records, this one’s a skeleton! And— oh man, what the hell? This is the first guy we found, except—”

Someone else came through the door, and Setzer stopped talking to listen. Natasha calmly turned around.

“Ah! I don’t like this at all. Where did you say you got it?”

“Natasha told me to bring it to you.”

“Obviously you had to bring it to me, who else would know what to do with it! But, ah, you told me that the body was only four days old, but look at this! Ah! Even you should be able to tell!” Chloe slammed the glass container on the table in front of Fredrick.

“Jade,” Natasha nodded, “you have returned.”

She looked very unhappy.

“Something is wrong,” She said.

Setzer, now aware that their guest wasn’t necessarily an enemy, said, “The other body is up here, the first one, and also a skeleton. And there’s a bigger problem.”

“Tell me,” stated Natasha.

“Well—”

“—it’s far older than four days, Look, the blood is decomposing. Fredrick, you have to tell Natasha that that doesn’t normally happen until eight days at the earliest.”

Officer Fredrick wiped his brow. It even looked like a different piece. The piece of flesh he’d brought was a sickly green, but sample Chloe held looked red and sticky.

“Bring this to her at once. And, ah, here,” she scribbled a note, “to quell and doubts she may have that it’s her sample.”

“—the body has become mostly decayed, as if it’s suddenly a few days older,” Setzer shouted down the hole.

“My food—I mean,” Jade thought for a moment, then said it anyway, “My food has been tampered with!”

Setzer jumped down from the attic. “Let’s stake this place out. Whoever is doing this will definitely return, probably with the cannibal’s body. Then we’ll get some real answers.”

They organized under his direction and surrounded the building. Jade hid across the street, Setzer crept in the alleys behind, and Natasha lay prone on the roof. Apparently, Setzer thought, she could climb if she needed to.

About an hour later, a man came through the alley with a large sac. Setzer watched him, but remained hidden. He tailed the man and confirmed that he was going towards the shed. Setzer beckoned to Jade, who was watching grouchily. She beckoned back across the street to Natasha, who was on the shed’s roof.

Natasha put her ear against the tile and listened. After a short period, she heard a loud thump; the sack. She waited for ten counts and then dropped her body, knee first, into the rotten roof. It sunk intward. She swiftly beat the dent into a hole with her fists, then slid both hands into it and ripped out as much if the ceiling as she could hold.

Bathed in the moonlight, the man froze in horror and then shrieked when he saw the silhouette of a guard Captain leaping through at him. She made quick work of the culprit.

Three people were gathered in the Captain’s office , two women, and one man.

Setzer said, “Well, you got him. Do you think he’ll make it through court?”

“Not with this evidence,” Chloe said, “Thanks to your other samples, I managed to extract the poison from his fluids.”

Natasha nodded, “I knew from the start that something was off, but when I saw Jade’s body, I was certain. None of these people had wounds, and they apparently tasted funny. They died from poisoning. And their clothing didn’t seem as old as the rest of them. What finally confirmed it though, was the wristbands.”

“Wristbands?” said Chloe, “They had festival bands?”

“Yes, from yesterday’s festival, not from four days ago.”

“What about the person who made the poison?”

“That was someone from my lab!”

“Yes,” Natasha nodded, “The man we caught did not seem the type to be making potions.”

Natasha and Setzer both stood.

“We still have work to do.”

Daniel Triumph.

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The Spectator; The Thief

Jason Arson walked across the rooftops. Most other people in his position may have run, but Jason was a punctual infiltrator. He was already ahead of his own schedule by fifteen minutes, and his schedule was set ahead by twice that much. Running would actually be detrimental, as the longer he stood in his hiding place, the more likely he was to be discovered. The only real downside to walking was that he had to push harder to jump from roof to roof, but Jason had strong legs, so he didn’t mind.

So Jason Arson walked.

He ran down an alley, thrusting his legs from wall to wall. He ran, losing a cubit of height with each step and hitting the ground right before running out of alley. Then, he walked out into the streets, entirely unassuming.

Arson wore a brown trench coat, cut right above the knee. He preferred black, but brown would blend in better with the castle’s insides, as well as its inhabitants. Jason patted himself down, checking items off his mental list.

Short sword? Left side, tied high on the waist. Spike launcher? He felt around. Also on the left side, above the sword. Truncheon? He knew he had that for sure, it kept knocking on his spine as he walked. Wallet? Jason tapped around his seven pockets. Nope, forgot the wallet. Hand pick? Yes! In a pocket! At least he had that.

The last item was his ear-trumpet. The use of the trumpet had made him a laughing-stock, until it had allowed him to hear a vital piece of information that everyone else had missed. They stopped calling him ‘the deaf spy’ after that.

The inside of the castle was extremely crowded, the walls browned with age. Jason quickly got lost. It is an infiltrator’s job to get lost. He quickly made his way to the second floor, and after making two lefts in the wide halls, he looked around for a haven where he could plan his next move. He found the door to a broom closet. According to the map he had been supplied with and subsequently memorized, Jason knew that this closet was only one wall over from the throne room. He looked around. So far, he hadn’t seen anyone on the second floor, and he guessed it was restricted from the public. This was both good and bad. It meant he was less likely to be caught, but it also meant that his presence would immediately draw suspicion. Jason tried the doorknob. Locked. He felt around for his picks, and then remembered that he didn’t have the wallet he kept them in. He was going to have to get creative.

Jason casually launched himself back towards the staircase, sidling around the corner. Before turning it, he stopped. He could hear footsteps, but they were unusually paced, as if the person was stumbling continually. He rifled around his coat for the small ear-trumpet. Thu-thump, thu-thump. The sounds became louder and more distinct through the horn, but they still made no sense to him.

He took a deep breath in, and then turned back from where he came. He tried every single door as he skulked down the hall. All were locked. He ran around the corner once more, and vainly tried the closet again. Nothing. He was farther from the footsteps now, so he took the extra time to feel around the walls for loose stones, maybe a hidden entrance. He again found nothing. He heard his oblivious pursuer getting closer. He didn’t have much time.

Jason tried all the doors in the section of the hall. No. No. No. No. Yes. Wait, yes? He opened the door and saw that it was another staircase, but that this one went up. He closed the door and ran to the top. The door there unlocked as well. “Okay,” he whispered.

Right as he opened the door, Jason heard the knob at the foot of the staircase turn. The odd footsteps had caught up. He rushed through the portal and closed it behind him, carefully turning the latch so that it clicked silently. The steps got even more unusual, as if they couldn’t understand the concept of stairs. Jason shuddered, but continued trying rooms, and continued to be denied entry.

Jason was getting nervous now; he was running out of options. He noticed that the rooms on this floor were labelled. He grabbed the one titled “supply door” and to his relief, it opened. Jason entered and slammed the door as silently as his nerves would allow.

Minutes went by, and the footsteps became audible once more. He listened as they passed and then turned the corner. In an act of poor judgement, Jason opened the closet door and looked around the corner of the hallway to see what kind of creature had been following him.

He saw a short woman. She had tanned skin, and thick sun bleached hair. She was a child! She was skipping down the halls! Jason receded back into his closet He took his face in his hands and pulled downward. He lamented the idea that he had been genuinely fearful of a prancing youth.

Jason sighed and returned to his task. He hadn’t memorized the third floor, so he felt around, hoping he had his map. Its presence in his coat surprised him. He quietly unrolled and read it. The throne room was two storeys tall, which meant that he could probably listen in from this closet, if he dug into the edge of the floor diagonally.

Jason Arson took the hand-pick out of his pocket and started at the mortar by his feet. Within twenty minutes he had removed many of the smaller stones from behind the outer brickwork. He worked his way around a wooden support beam, and then broke through into another room. He stopped digging, pulled the debris inward, and then peered inside. It was the target, the throne room. He could see the King’s wife milling about and talking to someone who he recognised. His mind began to wander into memories. He cleared his head. The King arrived. Jason lay face down on the ground, pressed himself against the wall, and readied his ear-trumpet.

 

Another of Jason Arson.

This is an edited re-release of the story fragment that was recently removed from the site. I figured that the story that was contained on the page might be worth keeping posted. Also, my editing game is getting up there. Pretty happy about it.

Daniel Triumph.

You can follow me:
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for art: DeviantArt and Instagram.

P.S., Happy Friday!

Gathering All of the Evidence [ROUGH DRAFT]

Evidence

This is a compilation of the first draft of the Evidence series.

Evidence is a novella, only 20 000 words long. This is the first draft, a simple copy of all the chapters that I’ve released individually over since May 28. This is almost word for word what you would find in the Table of Contents. If you want to read the final draft, you will have to wait for the editing process to be completed, right now there is no ETA. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy this heavily flawed first draft. I apologize for any grammar or logic mistakes, as this is the first draft, and it is entirely unedited and not at all proofread. Apologies.

One day, this will be fully drafted and finally self-published.

Finally, to hear the two songs that inspired it all, follow the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpcDQGdwlGU, and then, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMcUxONgcsE.

You may download this manuscript: Gathering All of the Evidence

Gathering All of the Evidence

The First Draft

By Daniel Triumph


© 2017 Daniel Triumph, Canada.

Digitally published August 16, 2017 on danieltriumph.com and as a .pdf file.

Some rights reserved.

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