Birth of the Undead – Multiple Identities 1
Written by kshoo :: [Saturday, 01 July 2023 10:06] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 01 July 2023 21:56]
“Sometimes I question whether humankind really has progressed after all.” Blake remarked on the side as Fred Danvers checked out the scene of the crime. “I mean, we have the latest smartphones, we’ve sent people onto the moon, we’re in the process of trying to figure out how to cure cancer and get rid of the latest epidemics in the world. And yet...”
“And yet, we have this.” His superior didn’t even look up as he continued to survey the body and the scene in front of him.
It wasn’t a gruesome. Not by a long mile. At least not those where one finds dismembered bodies, disfigured faces, or disemboweled items. But it doesn’t make it less disturbing to go through what unfolded in front of them.
A runner going about his usual route called it in early in the morning when he thought it ‘weird to see such a big bag placed in such a visible location’, which brought the big guns running. When they peeled open the black bag and realised what it was, they packed up and called Fred’s team instead.
As Blake combed the immediate vicinity for clues, Fred Danvers couldn’t help but be drawn to those pair of lifeless brown eyes. Beautiful but lifeless now, staring into space. A wonderful future suddenly brought to a close, the deep-purple ring around her neck confirming the cause of death.
Many thoughts flashed through his mind, not the least of his own daughter. Daughters now, he thought wrily to himself, wondering despite his experience and ability, how truly possible can he really protect them from all kinds of harm from vermins in the city. At least she was still dressed, though they looked a size too big for her 5”5 frame.
Just like the other previous ones.
“Think there’s a possible change in MO?” Fred was jolted back to reality by his colleague’s question.
“How so?” Standing up, he looked at Blake expectedly.
“Well, for starters, she’s found on a street bench , and not next to a dumpster in an alley. Plus, this neighbourhood is different. Even though the way the body was dressed remained similar.”
It really was, for at the moment both of them are staring down at the body at one of more affluent side of town, with their mowed lawns and well-kept picket fences. Though the place have seen better days before the economic downturn. All the other bodies were found at seedier locations that are probably more familiar to those who are struggling to make ends meet.
“Think the killer’s moving up??”
Fred placed a thumb under his chin as he considered the question, realising that his five o’clock shadow had grown longer. It really had been a long day. “Careful now. One difference doesn’t make a trend. But...” looking about he continued “there’s definitely no backalleys here. The larger, individual household trashbins are dragged out from homes on specific days the trucks come by to collect, else they are normally kept on the driveway or in the garage.”
“So nothing. It’s another piece of data. But one common theme is that there are no prints and no ID on these women. Not even their phone within the immediate vicinity. If I know anything about teenagers and young adults these days is that they would die without their phones in their hands or their pockets.” Blake nodded, agreeing to that point.
“But we can’t find it. Not on this one around here, or with the other two.”
“Either they were tossed, or the perpetrator have kept them...”
“As a souvenir? That’s sick.”
Fred thought over that comment. “I was thinking more along the lines of suppresing or hiding evidence, but yes there might be some who love their mementos.” Then he thought of something before looking around again. “A neighbourhood like this normally should have regular patrols, or at minimum CCTVs all about the place...”
“Already on it. They have a neighbourhood watch with a hook up to the station’s direct line, but there are a few cams around this area. Let’s hope that at least this time we pick up more information than a hooded person dressed in black.” The previous two didn’t yield any better results, and there are no noticeable persons that have caught their eye despite their best efforts.
More importantly though, there will need to be a broadcast out, telling people to keep vigilant. Which is going to stir up another wrong problem within the community and have people again coming to his door questioning his leadership and ability to maintain peace and safety around the place. Not good advertisement for the local police force’s reputation.
“Well...” Blake hesitated slightly before he went over under the bench and fished out a packet. When Fred took it he was surprised with the contents within the black plastic bag.
“Robin?” Many people knew that Gotham City’s most famous vigilante has an equally famous sidekick. But the body on the bench was decidedly not male. And they were a couple of hundred miles away from where he normally operated.
“Well, I’m not even sure if it’s somehow related to the body. Have to send it to the lab for fingerprints and for DNA, just to be sure.” Fred nodded in agreement.
“Sexual assault kit and the rest?”
“Will be done once the body is sent to the morgue. No reported missings person as yet that matches our young woman’s profile. She does look a bit paler than normal though.” Surprise, surprise. Just like the other three bodies that were discovered over the past two months.
“Keep forensics on it a bit longer to try and gather more evidence, if available, and to figure out if the person has been dead longer than we thought. We really need a concrete link if we want to get something to pull the links between those three together.” And to put that dispicable killer behind bars before the bodycount stack up. “Also, before I forget, sometimes these things spillover from elsewhere. Check the intranet and comb the system to see if there are similar cases happening over the past few weeks around other larger cities. Am thinking National City, Metropolis, Gotham...”
“Wow, that far?”
“Helps to be thorough. We can offer to share information too, if it can bring leads. Leverage contacts.” Suddenly Fred just felt years older than he really is, as he thought that it would really take a huge break to be able to crack this case out. But more importantly, he couldn’t help shake the feeling that the blank face staring back at him could actually be someone much closer to him.
And that it’s linking to the other case that he is still looking at on his own.
“Sometimes I really think this place is really dead. Nothing big ever happens hear that deserves a bigger mention.” Carter talked aloud to no one in particular as he burst through the door of the office.
Striding past a bemused Linda Lee Danvers he just took off his very used coat, and tossed the brown non-fashion statement towards the hanger. Ignoring the bad miss he continued towards his table without an additional glance, left his tweed cap atop of a stack of papers that threatened to topple over the side before plonking his butt down into the seat of the chair. Rocking the chair on its two rear legs he took the small stack of clippings that Linda laid for him on the table and started reading, ignoring the intern who had gone to hang his coat back on the hanger, wrinkling her nose at the stench of booze and sweat.
“Nothing much? You’ve gone for the better half of the day. And I thought those are your most trusted sources of news.”
“Please. All they are good for are booze on my dime, which I might add, is just enough to keep my head afloat. Man, what I’d give for a huge story these days...” Carter rued as he rubbed his balding head absentmindedly as Linda looked on with a wry smile.
“I’m sure that they must have tossed you some juicy murder case, or another scandal of the rich-and-famous, just to whet your appetite for a while.”
“As if. To think that I was the main source that tossed them that bit that got the city coucilman to own up to the corruption scandal. So much for developing affordable housing which lined up people’s pockets. Those guys can be so cold.” He sighed loudly.
Linda had managed to get Carter to take her own as a “intern reporter”, to help her gain some experience for her upcoming college application. Despite the young woman’s misgivings, Eliza and Fred had promised to still support her financially given Alex’s independence, and the elder sister had been instrumental in encouraging her to try out different things for the next phase of adult life. Even though being involved with the school paper was good and all, in addition to her part-time job at Chen’s.
Can’t really put ‘saving humanity dressed in a skintight costume’ on one’s college application after all.
Carter was vetted by Vampirella, being one of her sources of her unique ‘dietary requirement’. How it came to be wasn’t shared, but somehow it didn’t take much to convince him to go along with the plan. This quid pro quo also helped with Linda returning the favour somewhat to Vampi. In addition to being the full-blown adminstrator without pay, Linda was also the designated courier for the unique merchandise to Vampirella (with a few packs for her own consumption. Vampi was more than inclined to share).
To Linda, Carter is an enigma of a journalist. Most of the time, he would be writing up articles and “newsworthy” items of varoius topics with a very different and controversial slant, and then try to peddle them all over the place. Given his propensity to write in sensationalist languages and using dramatic news titles, it obviously appealed more to small magazines and sleazy tabloids rather than the mainstreams.
Now and then however, there would be an interesting item that either catches his eye, or irks him enough that the resultant investigation and output quality of his reporting would rival those that go into the Daily Planet, the Times, the Post and more. It was this particular unconventional trait that made him so fascinating to Linda, who also tried out her hand in trying to improve her observations on the latest happening in town with a few op-ed pieces.
Carter had however deemed them “too innocent and flowery”, and most of it had ended up in the wastepaper busket. Even for those that he deemed worthy, only certain paragraphs were kept in the eventual output, with the rest re-written in his own bombastic flamboyant style.
“Well, maybe there’s other things brewing that might be interesting.”
“You know, there might be something to what you said.” ...” he paused to look at Linda, who had gone back to her place to continue with the layout. ““You hear anything from your dad lately?” Carter suddenly stopped rocking and stared at Linda expectedly. It wasn’t the first time he had asked, and Linda had always given the same reply.
“He doesn’t really bring his work home. Eliza insists it that way.” That’s not entirely true, but Carter doesn’t need to know that.
“Really? Word is that he is working on a pretty big case. I’m sure he must be dying inside to share with someone. Anyone.” Linda looked up and grinned at him. “Not him. He’s like the epitome of a poker-face. Get anywhere within three feet of that topic and he will steer you away. He’s THAT good.”
“Pity. Else YOU would have been a great source. Will help with your data gathering skills, and even your writing. Can’t practice if you don’t put those thoughts down on paper.”
“Well, you can continue to pine for that, but I’m done for the day. Come have a look at what I’ve done, and then I’ll take my leave.” Linda took the finished layout and motioned for Carter to come by. Despite still being new, the more experienced journalist did think that Linda have a certain artistic flair in the young woman. The way she laid out the photos and articles were very tasteful and unique, even as it still kept to a certain professional layout. Upon seeing the nod, Linda Lee Danvers put on her white outer jacket, and practially leaped down the two flight of stairs in a very good mood...
In her haste however, as things would have it she didn’t even pause to look as she turned towards the left of the sidewalk, and slammed headfirst into the first person towards her. With her strength and invulnerability it was the other person who was sent flying a few feet into the air before crashing down onto the pavement.
“Omigoshomigosh! Are you ok?” Linda rushed over to help the young woman up, helping her into a sitting position as the person’s companions stood by.
“Ow...now I know what it feels like to hit a brick wall suddenly...” The young woman groaned in pain as she dusted herself, before accepting Linda and another gal friend’s help to stand back up. A quick check with her own x-ray vision confirmed that the woman was merely bruised.
“Sorry about that. I was in a rush to meet someone.” But the woman instead of being cross at her, was surprisingly excited. She instead looked past her and spoke to her companions.
“See? I told you that I would be in a mishap! Just like I predicted.”
“Huh?” Linda was confused, before suddenly finding another person’s face in hers, held back by the third companion of the young woman that she had accidentally bumped into.
That didn’t stop her for trying to have a go at Linda though.
“Did you even stop to look where you’re going? What if Dillie fell onto the road instead of on the pavement? Imagine how dangerous that would be!” Despite her being the most petite compared to the other two, the way she acted was as if she is the eldest of the three, and is now trying to protect her siblings. That dark, middle-length hair tied into a pony-tail behind her, her dark brown eyes showed no fear even as she looked upwards at Linda despite the 3-inch height difference between her and Linda.
“I, I’m really sorry. I know it’s my fault.” Linda gushed again, hoping to placate her.
“Since you agreed, then hand it over then.” The woman reached her hand out, expectantly.
“Huh?” Both Linda and the young woman’s companions were dumbfounded by that sudden gesture.
“Compensation. For my friend’s medical fees. That will teach you to keep your eyes on while walking about town.”
“Comp...but she’s not even hurt!” This changed things quickly. Kindness and humility will only go so far, and she refused to be played. Linda felt anger rising.
“Es, I’m fine. Really. You’re making a scene here.” The fair-skinned woman had picked herself up, and moved in front of Es. Adjusting her long dark wavy hair to have it cascade beyond her shoulders, Dillie spoke softly to Linda in an accent “Please, don’t worry about it. Es was just trying to protect me. I’m not hurt, just surprised. You don’t owe me anything.”
“But...” Es tried to make her case more forcefully when the darker-skinned companion behind them finally spoke.
“Es. That’s enough. Dillie said she’s fine, so she’s fine. Leave it.”
“See? Even Kat agrees with me. Again, no harm no foul; and I appreciate that at least you came over immediately to help me up, instead of just walking away. I was told that people in this country can be mean to others sometimes, but I guess that is not true.”
“Wait, so all of you are new in town?”
Kat grinned. “Not entirely. We’ve been staying thereabouts, though we don’t really come into the city centre that often.” Kat replied, her thoughtful eyes never wavering from looking at Linda, seemingly observing and contemplating in her mind about the person standing in front of her.
“I thought you said you were in a rush?” Dillie spoke helpfully, and a lightbulb went off in Linda’s head.
“Oh shit. Oh SHIT! Alex is so going to KILL ME!” The young blonde lady immediately took off down the street barely remembering to NOT use her superspeed, and left the three bemused women behind.
“This is the best that we can offer.” The owner said to the prospective customer. “It doesn’t look like much, and it have definitely seen better days, but I can assure that it still works.”
Rich Crone looked at the aging industrial excavator sitting at the yard, his face communicating his doubt obviously. Having worked construction for the better part of his adult life, he knows a good tool when he sees one. Or a junk, in this case.
But in his current situation there are few choices. With the deadline closing in on the highway project, it was just fate that both of his excavators broke down at the same time due to overuse. While the company that he leased them from had promised to send in new ones, they were not due for another week. Rather than have the crew sitting idle for the next two weeks Rich had to find alternatives; Leesburg for what it’s worth happened to be the closest mid-tier town that at least had what he needed.
“Can’t you go any lower?”
“No can do, since you’re only taking it for a week. Three hundred is a very fair price.”
A nod, a handshake, a passing of keys, and Rich finally climbed onto the industrial machinery and started its engine. The owner gave him a wry smile as the it refused to turn.
“You need to jiggle it a little. Then only apply the gas.” Rich gave him an annoyed sideglance before retrying.
The huge machine finally sputtered to life after the fourth try, but it’s too late to back out now. Putting his foot gingerly on the pedal and turning the steering wheel, he started driving the machine out from the yard and into main street, passing a blonde-haired man who just about avoided the machine as it turned out. With the speed it’s going, it would take him least another hour to reach his destination thirty miles away.
“Better step on it then” he thought to himself.