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Crime Fantasy Science Fiction

You don’t win your case. Or get paid when your client turns up dead.

I saw him die. I saw his deceased form being dragged into this alley seconds ago, but the body and the perp are gone. I rub the birthmark on my neck, it is burning. Who am I?

I am Indra, a private detective for those who wish to keep things private. This is what I do. Who I am is another mystery.

I have no idea who my parents were, I am the cliché baby in the basket, but no cliché happy ending. Orphanage, foster homes. One to another. Way back somewhere I tried to be a nice girl in a nice home that I hoped to stay in. It’s hard when you are little and you have no idea that with your strength throwing a blossom pony can result in a dead cat.

I am stronger than I should be. Quite a lot stronger. I don’t know why. Stronger and sharper. It would be sweet if I had superhero strengths and smarts; but no I am strong enough to hurl a big man through a window. Very satisfying I can say; but not to lift a bus of someone trapped. Sharp enough to see most details in a crowded room but no x-ray vision. I learned very early that using my abilities in any obvious way led to grief. All I know is I am not normal; and I have to hide it.

My last foster home was a cell. Can’t even recall what I did to end up there. A drunk fight, some guy in hospital. Some damage to a bar. A smart mouth counselor told me I talked like one of those shady private D’s of TV. I liked the idea so here I am. Perfect.

Max appeared after a shit day with a loud rich white woman wanting pics of her sleazeball husband with his latest wa-too-young girl so she could break the prenup. Exciting stuff. Paid well enough to wash away the grime with some solid vodkas, so I headed to my usual haunt.

The Viola is not as pretty as it sounds. It lurks on a back street and hosts a specific clientele. My uniform black jeans, black leather jacket, and black tank serve to hide me well enough if I don’t quite fit in. Most of the clientele look like they are from off the set of Blade Runner. The viola hosts Werewolf and Vampire nights for weird sects – I avoid those ones. The music pumps and a variety of mating dances are being performed under revolving flashing lights. I am a voyeur on my corner bar stool. Remi knows how I want my vodka and pretty much always has useful snippets for me. Clients scared to come to my office don’t like coming here, but they know the stay anon.

I was on my third when Max sidled up. Not my type. Too lean, too pretty. He sat himself on the stool next to me, anime-sharp features and jet-black hair hanging over a too pale face. He got Rami’s attention and pointed at my vodka, holding up two fingers indicating one for him too. Confident. I was going to tell him to bugger off, in not so nice terms.

He looked straight at me. Dark eyes through too much hair. Intense.

“Hello. I am Max.”

“And I am sure you are worth a million.” He didn’t get my joke. I did not say who I was. I picked up my vodka. “Cheers Max.”

Now let me tell you, it takes a lot to throw me of my tracks. The only thing that ever scares me is thinking too far ahead. Everything in the now I take in my stride. Or with a fist.

Max’s intense look focused on my neck, he reached out and touched my birthmark. A blue crescent halfway between ear and shoulder. I jumped. First instinct was to smash him, and no idea why I did not. For a full beat I was 100% discombobulated.

“What the F*** did you do that for?” My hackles were up and my mark burned. I touched it unconsciously. One of my foster parents had called it a ‘devil’s brand’ when my caseworker came to take me out.

“It is interesting. Birthmark or tattoo? Sorry; I know too personal. I apologise.” He drew back lifting his class.”

Sure okay, I would do cheers, wondering why I had not a; left or b: punched him out.

“So what’s your number pretty boy? Cheers for the drink and all, but you are not my type.”

“I have many numbers; but for now, I just chose this stool.” He smiled. The effect was disturbing. Part of me melted and part of me chilled. Who the hell is this dude?

I did not have to worry for long. He would be dead soon. I did not even get another vodka out of him.

He looked up at someone or something I did not see. Did I say my senses were sharp? I can see every detail in a crowded dark bar like this as though it was under a floodlight. I can focus on a girl five tables over with a pink mohawk and enough metal in her face to sink a small boat. She was telling some greasy similarly metal-laden young man what she may do for him. Yuk. But I could not see what Max was focused on, somewhere just beyond her.  

“I know who you are I have a case for you, Indra.”

He was speaking to me but distracted. His smooth veneer gone, he remained focused on a blank space beyond Miss Mohawk.

He dropped a fat bundle of notes in front of me. Now I liked him.

“Look at this later… as pleasant as this has been I must go.” Oh he was way too smooth for this joint! He slid a folded slip of paper beside the cash stack. I noticed Remi trying to look the other way as I stashed it inside my jacket. I made sure I left a fifty under my glass for him.

My gaze followed Max as he walked away. Just before Pink Mohawk a man approached him from the side. Heavy build. Hair shaved at back hanging in a pointed fringe over a pale face. Tight black jeans, long mesh tank. Tattered leather vest. Lots of chains and black with tattoos He looked like most of the guys in here.

Max was startled. It was fast. Mr Tats put an arm around his shoulders and a needle in his neck at the same time.

I gasped in shock.

Mr Tats led a staggering Max out. A friend helping a friend who had drunk too much. I was the only one who noticed.

I had to leave a damn good vodka. I sliced through the gyrating bodies and spinning lights watching Max being half dragged through a side door. This door led into a dark side street. Staying in the shadow of the small porch I watched Mr Tattoo lead Max toward a darker alley. A thin curtain of light bled out a high window; I saw the needle again, into the same place, and something else that sent ice through my bones.  Mr Tat dragged a now deceased Max into the alley.

I am in that alley now. No sign of Mr Tat or Max. I run down the full length checking dumpsters, only one door way firmly locked. I find a dead end with a fire ladder. Do I go up it? Is there anyway Mr Tat could have taken a dead body up there in that time? No. I go up anyway; all the way up past barred and locked doors to a roof top where I can sit and think.

I have to notify police. Part of my survival in my job depends on never hiding anything. I will be on camera somewhere following them out. On camera drinking at the bar with a now John Doe.

I need to think reflect on what I saw briefly in that light. On Max’s neck I saw my birthmark. It was the other way round, but it was the same. What in all hells could this possibly mean?

My insides are crumbling in a turmoil I have not experienced for many years. Each foster home rejection.

“she is a freak.”

“Devil Child.”

“She is not right.”

Stuff I have buried. I am Indra. Private detective for those who want to keep things private. My abilities are part of me and best used with care, best hidden. But who am I?

I unfold the note.

“Dearest Collette; you have been here too long. As was I. We feel you are ready; see you soon in 2420. Max.”

The needle takes me from behind.

******

My question was not ‘who am I’. It was ‘where was I from.’

November 11, 2020 01:39

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