The blood nauseated me.
I should’ve been used to it by now, but I wasn’t. Cracked glass and stained fabric surrounded me, staining the skin of my bare feet. I hadn’t moved yet. How was I to? The tiny little shards would likely puncture my feet, and it was not in my plan to let my own blood join that of the victims.
Sighing, I wiped each foot on the opposite pant leg in turn. I grunted as I picked up the body, dragging it off to the side. I wiped the sweat from my brow, the gloves on my fingertips smearing blood across my forehead. How delightful.
I dropped the body, panting at the weight. All these lifting bodies, and yet still, no results. I took the knife from my belt and crouched down, squinting in the darkness. I rolled up my sleeves in turn, wrinkling my nose as the stench started to creep in.
I took the shoes off the victim, gagging as I also peeled off their socks, wet with who knows what. How does one even get their socks wet? We wear shoes for a reason.
Ever so carefully, I lifted the right foot and started to cut.
“Officer! Thank goodness you’re here. Take some gloves and have a look before the forensics team comes in, alright?”
Alaria handed me a pair of clean latex gloves, and I took them, shoving them on my hands one by one.
“Have they removed the body yet?”
She shook her head, cheeks flushing.
“No, not yet. I haven’t taken a look yet either. They’re saying the feet...they’re cut.” She shuddered.
I blinked, pulling my last finger through my glove.
She didn’t answer, only turned and squinted through the crowd of detectives and pointed a finger towards an officer, shrugging.
She walked away, somewhere over to the photographers, pointing to the main crime scene. The glass on the floor crunched underneath my boots, and I winced with each step, imagining the shards going straight through the leather and impaling me.
The house, small and quaint, was, with some perimeter, surrounded by yellow caution tape and hazard signs had been put up.
I reached the broken window and tapped a glove-covered finger on my jeans.
I brushed a finger across the windowsill, coughing from the dust. Leaning my head inside, I scanned my eyes across the whole room. A small desk sat in the corner; lamp, laptop, and pens, all undisturbed. In the other corner, there was a dustpan and sweeper. In the last corner I could see was the body, outlined badly with chalk and yellow tape. The door to the room was barred shut with wood. I smiled, climbing in through the window. My boots thudded against the flooring. I walked over to the body, crouching down. Sure enough, the feet were cut. Both of them. Pieces of bone stood grotesquely out, and blood still dripped from the wound. The victim was obviously dead, with no movement coming from his chest. I coughed, gagging at the smell of the body.
“Windows were broken,” a voice says. I turned my head to see the new officer standing behind me.
“I can see that.”
“Why do you think?”
He flipped through a notebook in his hands; thick and calloused. I took a quick glance at my own bony ones.
“Perhaps the killer broke it to come inside. The door’s barred,” I said, blinking.
“Yeah. I can see that too,” he narrowed his eyes at the door, scribbling something down and walking closer to me, steps making no noise against the floor. I looked down at his shoes, soft white sneakers. They’d be ruined with the blood. I hadn’t heard him come in though. That was an advantage.
“The killer couldn’t have had enough time to bar the door himself, right? Do you think this guy knew he was being watched?”
I shifted my weight from foot to foot, shrugging slowly.
“Perhaps. Cause of death?”
He flipped through a few pages of his book, tapping hard on a page. I was compelled to read all his little scribbles, but I kept my hands held into fists at my sides.
“Some sort of poison. You would think bleeding out from...” he motioned at the body, “ but there’s no way he wouldn’t have made any noise. Neighbors would’ve heard. Or maybe something he was put out and then the stab finished him off.”
The technical term for...what? Applying a knife into someone’s body?
“Have they questioned neighbors yet? Do we have any background on this guy yet? Any reasons someone might want him dead?”
He shook his head, closing his notepad. I glanced down at it, rubbing my nose. He walked a bit closer to me and placed a hand on my shoulder.
“I’m really honored to be working with you, sir.”
I stared at his hand- perfect wrist and firm grip.
“What’s your name?”
I pushed his hand off my shoulder and he stumbled backward, smile faltering.
“Perhaps you should see to that then, Andre. I want the whole block ready to be questioned at the station within this week.”
“Y-Yes. Of course. Right away.”
He moved as if to exit from the door, but quickly climbed out the window. I rolled my eyes, taking one more glance at the corpse before following close behind.
With the lights dimmed, it was hard to see much past my own hand- clad in dark black wool gloves. Sweat rolled down my wrists and I ignored it, brushing a lock of hair out of my face.
“You aren’t in any trouble,” I said softly. The boy shifted again in his seat.
“Then why are the lights off?” he sneered, rubbing his hands on his jeans. I sighed, rolling my eyes.
Why were they off?
“I don’t know. Look, I just need to know what you know about your neighbor.”
I clasped my hands together on the table, trying to make eye contact with him.
“I don’t know anything! He was always quiet. Never any parties, practically never even saw him leave his house. I don’t know nothin', okay?”
He wiped his hands on his pants again, sniffling. I took a deep breath, biting the inside of my cheek. Did they really think a teenager could have done something so well planned? So perfect? Without his parents knowing?
“You’re free to go,” I said, getting up and trying to find the light switch. He scrambled out of his seat, doing the same.
I finally found it, flipping the light on and flooding the room with artificial light. I squinted at the change and walked over to the door, holding it open for the kid. He walked out without goodbye, a permanent scowl etched in his young features.
Kids these days.
"Alaria," I called, walking up to her.
She turned around, ponytail flying.
"Sir! Any luck today?"
I shook my head, glancing behind her. Andre.
"No. Three teens and a toddler. Really? Are they all orphans or something? Where are the adults?"
She flushed, averting eye contact. She cleared her throat, looking back at Andre.
"Well, um, no, Andre said he wanted to get to them first. He insisted."
I looked at him pressing my arm to my side.
I smiled, tapping his shoulder.
"Overachiever, I see."
His eyes widened. Slowly, he returned the smile, chuckling awkwardly.
"Just tryna save lives, Sir."
"Mm," I blinked, walking past him and towards my office. Just once, I allowed myself to look back, nodding at him, and looking down at his hands. In his left one, he clutched his notepad, the binding practically impaling his palm.
I needed to get my hands on that notebook.
I pulled my coat on, pocketing my keys.
"Sir!" someone said, practically running right into me.
"They have a main suspect list for Case 23891 and they want you to check it out."
23891. The man's address. I cracked my fingers, sighing.
"I was just leaving."
"Yes sir, but-"
"Can't it wait until tomorrow?"
He backed away, swallowing hard.
"I-I suppose, sir." He frowned as he turned and walked away.
I waited until he was gone before walking out of the building myself, finding my car, and unlocking the door.
They'd already had a suspect list, hm?
The smells of burning flesh greeted my nostrils when I walked in. I rubbed my nose with my sleeve, eyes stinging with tears.
I locked the door behind me, placing the bolt in. I hung my coat and keys, taking my shoes off.
Inside, the smell of blood got stronger and stronger as I continued towards the kitchen. I rolled up my sleeves, wrinkling my nose.
The right severed foot sat alone in the pot, heat on high. I sighed, pinching my nose with one hand and turning off the stove with the other.
I pulled on plastic gloves from the counter, humming to myself as I worked.
Just casual cooking.
It'd be great with the hands I'd get soon.