I wanted to escape the violent streets of cold Konia and spend some time with my wife and a son for a change. Patrolling in the frozen city became tiresome for a veteran such as me.
I blew in my palm while watching the girls in fur coats passing by the cleanly shaved businessmen that were too occupied to notice them. I pitied the young, because I’ve done my part serving the army, found a job and got married.
That’s probably the only thing that kept me going. Amira understood the horrors I survived; she saw them first hand as a refugee from Zaria. She had to leave her home when Ildocians obliterated the Zarian walls and breached into the desert city held by merchants. I can’t imagine her troubles crossing the desert and prairie in order to reach the Eternal Mountain.
“The main news today is that seven years of peace anniversary will take place on Wednesday where a delegate from Ildock will be met on the bot’o’drome with great reception. The delegation…” The player rustled making me adrift in my thoughts. “Such a big event will demand a higher level of security. Captain will most definitely call me to monitor the event, just when I planned a vacation with my sweetheart.”
In the middle of that thought, a police scanner sounded off.
“Betario here,” I said uninterested in what Commissioner wanted when an image of a bald head appeared on the holo-projector.
The Commissioner was leaned over the table obviously bothered with something.
“I know your shift was nearly over, but I need you to do one more job.” He said barely watching at the holo-projector on his desk, “There is a patrol near you that is in need of help. Can you assist?” His question made me gasp and shake my head, run my hand over the face.
I wanted to cuss, but restrained myself and nodded at him.
“What is it about?” I frowned when the Commissioner took a deep breath and left his cigarette on the tray.
“You’ll see when you get there. A dead guy I hear. No witnesses.”
“Is he homeless? If you called me because of a homeless guy who hasn’t got away from the cold wave last night, I swear, I’ll shoot myself.” The attempt of raising my voice failed, when the Commissioner gave me a look.
“Stop it Bet. You know we collect drifters right off the street, no questions asked. This is much more serious.” He groaned as I probably pulled this attitude too many times before.
“Is it that bad?” I broke my eyebrow at him while he blew the smoke and curved his lips to confirm. “Tell them I am coming.” I changed gears and typed in the coordinates that popped up in the dashboard and holo-projection disappeared.
Commissioner’s behavior seemed strange. He wasn’t fazzed with a corpse before, he has seen many during the war. Anyway, I had a case to solve and a woman waiting at home, so rotation lights flashed and the siren began blaring.
I drove aside the patrol car at the corner of an old building and stopped to inspect the neighborhood.
The street like any other had a solid crust made of ice, dumpsters and the fair amount of trash littering the ends. In the middle of an alley, a body lay at the feet of the two policemen which blew in their hands, hopping about to warm up.
Just by looking at the thing on the street my mind fell to solving the murder. Maybe a “daddy’s girl“, had a rough evening with her boyfriend and got angry. Male shoes lay there, some thug met a wrong whore to mess with, and her pimp brought justice. This was a residential building at the corner, maybe a gang stumbled upon a man coming back from his mistresses? Not enough drugs, or too many drugs?
“Computer. Call home.” I said stepping out of the vehicle.
“Hello, love. Are you coming?” Amira’s devilish voice lifted my spirits followed by a noise of plastic cubes clacking in the background.
“Yes, but there is something I have to take care of first. I’ve just got a call. I might get home late. Forgive me, dear, I was the only one around.” I almost broke in sadness, when she scoffed and we both went silent for a second.
“Nobody else? What about our vacation?” I could picture the worried wrinkles that made me smile at her.
“He knows about the vacation. He wouldn’t dare touch that. Don’t worry about that.” I tried my best to comfort her with a nervous smile, and she believed it.
“If you say so… Look what I have for you.” Her tone spiked when an image of a lased red costume with silk ribbons opened in my glasses.
“I’m sorry, but I think it’s not my size,” I said trying not to burst in laughter and heard her giggling.
“Of course not, silly. That one is for me. You’ll be completely naked. I bet our neighbors will complain about the noises I’ll be making tonight.” Her gentle voice made me grow… downstairs.
“Alright, I am at work. We need to postpone it for later. I got to go. Love you.” I ended the conversation and pulled the long coat over my pants. “If you are not married, pick Zarian girls,” I said to the policemen that gazed at me. “Betario Nok Dus. Homicide. What do we have here?” I asked the first one who had his ears sticking out from the cap and showed them my badge.
“Officer Nok Lor, and Deputy Vos Bilok.” The thinner guy introduced himself that I named Floppy-ears in my mind. “We have a dead guy near the dumpster.” He blew in his hands and drew his eyes over the shoulder, eager to go home.
“Who is he?” I made a grimace approaching the dead body when Floppy-ears shrugged and shamefully looked at his partner.
“We don’t know Sir.” He said like I was going to punch him.
“What? That’s impossible. Where is his chip? Every bum has one of those in their skull.”
“He doesn’t have one Sir.” The chubby and older officer said somewhat lost. “Maybe he isn’t a classic bum.
I’ve found nothing unusual on the body. He wore a fine coat, almost as every Konian at this time of the year. His pants were somewhat similar to those that could be found on the market, just cheaper and paired with quality boots that stood out from the overall image. He appeared as every normal working class guy, too modest to spend his money on the trending rugs. He was pale from the cold with blue lips bitten by ice and a long red mark on his throat, ends cutting in upwards around the strong jaw.
I also noticed his eyes closed shut, his arms over the stomach as if the killer wanted to bury him there in the snow. It was very odd, so I pulled a pen out of my pocket and unraveled his stiff fingers where I’ve found a lock of fur. That must’ve been a token or a calling card that killer left behind. It looked familiar as I’ve seen this fur that just a few Ildocians had right to bear as a mark of Dread-guard, an elite soldiers – mercenary formations. The question arose: Who was able to overpower a skillful soldier, trained to be merciless in combat?
“Call in the drone to photograph the crime scene. Block all relays in the area. I don’t want the news to hear about this until further investigation. Let the laboratory know we have a male N.N. person without I-link with a wound over its throat that shows he was strangled. The search for motives commenced after the personnel came to the crime scene.” I listed them the tasks where Floppy-ears took the radio and reported. “Also mention that the victim is a foreigner,” I added while opening the pockets of a dead man.
“How do you know this?” Chubby flinched and grunted.
“Do you see his hair? When does Konian want to go to Ildock, what is the first thing he does?” I threw my gloating face over the shoulder to see his brain struggling with this question when he answered after a pause.
“He grows his hair?” The policeman said scratching his nose, anticipating my response which came in a nod.
“Correct. If he wanted to blend in, this guy had to shave his head. Show me one Konian who has some hair on his skull and I’ll show you a stranger.”
“Everybody’s coming in ten minutes,” Floppy-ears said in haste. “Commissioner said that we should wait for the agents from Security Biro. He says this must be an Ildocian because of his pale skin.” He added cautiously squatting down, one hand on his knee.
“I would say the same, but without the chip, we are only guessing,” I spoke slowly in attempts of taking out the fur from the cold hands of a victim. “Let them check the origin of this lock and a DNA scan. That is a memento from the killer. It must be something ritual. See how he closed his eyes. Post mortem respect? He knew the victim. His pockets are full of things so that rules out the robbery. There are keys from a motel, wedding ring, a lighter, I-link transmitter… Probably erased. The money, an expensive watch, and a pen, maybe something is missing. Let them also run diagnostics on the transmitter, we might hack into it and find where did he buy it.”
“Motel, we all know what’s happening there.” Both policemen smiled for a moment. “A wedding ring that must be an angry wife that left him like that. I-link, erased even… That’s she deleting the shame of her husband. And that watch, that’s his anniversary gift, and the poor bastard went whoring.” Floppy-ears grinned; proud because he solved the case for us and saved us time.
“Well, it does look like a crime of passion. A love case.” Chubby nodded and propped itself by the waist.
“If it was a woman, she would use a weapon. She must be strong as a man to strangle this poor bastard. It’s not the passion. It’s a job.”
“Maybe she wanted to kill him slowly.” Floppy-ears grinned, still holding on for his version of the story.
“We will know when everything gets disassembled in the laboratory.”
“Disassembled? But why?” Chubby jerked up – his eyes racing over me.
I had it enough of their idiotism.
“Come on. Are you that daft?! Ugh…” I shook my head, my fingers rubbing the nose bridge. “What’s the main news today? Huh?” No answer, just roaming thoughts. “It’s a seven-year anniversary of the peace treaty with Ildock… And whom have you found dead in the street? An Ildocian.” I clapped their caps tempted to clap them harder. “That is a scandal. His eyes shut, clothes too ordinary for anyone to notice him, a wolf’s hair… The victim was a spy, you morons!” I stared at their dumb faces and checked to surround for bystanders. “Listen up, boys. If this leaks to Ildock before the meeting, we could enter a war with that ‘corpse face’ fuckers. Now, get back to your car and keep your traps shut. Where is that drone damn it!” I swooshed my hand too tired to waste my time on them when clumsy cops turned and went back.
I’ve lost several hours waiting for the agents, signing up the paperwork, organizing the lockdown on the area. I was freezing in the street, but in my mind, I was home, building a castle with my son, drank tea, kissed my wife. At that moment, I knew she was mad and worried. I had to excuse myself with something, so I kicked the door of a store and bought her a box of chocolates and flowers.
While in route home, my mind played games again showing me a slideshow of her smile, the moments of her crying because of the horrible war reports on the holo-projector, me making love with her, the orgasms and moans.
I barged in the apartment, lock the door and went in. The armchair was without that lustful costume; Amira must have gone to bed. I hung my coat on a hook that took it inside the wall and showed me the way to the bedroom. Music whispered in the hallway, a chill-out tune that was perfect to make love to. Amira was sleeping in our bed, so I quietly came to the edge of it and crawled close to her face where I kissed her.
Her warm hand fell to my cold cheek, and her smile melted me. A slap followed the kiss, weak but meaningful. Straight after that, her tongue entered my frozen lips, her hand glided down my pants when I stopped her and pulled back.
“What’s wrong?” She asked prompting herself on elbows.
“Work. I had a lot going on. Sorry. Can we make a rain check on that?” I frowned, rubbed my face before I gave her a box of chocolate.
“You shouldn’t have.” She said letting me crawl in between her legs where I turned around and left my head on her costume.
The only thing I was able to do was to sigh, look at the ceiling and think about that „love case“, a dead Ildocian on the street. She massaged my bald head, hummed a song from the player and giggled at me from above. In between the moves of her hands, a worried grimace passed her face and changed the mood.
“What happened? You seem distressed.” I shot my eyes at her nervous gasp.
“My father called.” She finally gained strength to speak.
“And? What did he say?” I continued, when she locked my arms in her thighs, pressed them down and wrapped a glistening wire over my throat.
“He said, I shouldn’t leave any survivors.”