SynopsisThe idea is still forming, it will either be a mystery or a romance or some combination of the two.
ExcerptThe things that people did to one and other never ceased to amaze Cassandra Gale, just when she thought she’d seen every possible horror one person could inflict on another someone went and came up with something new. Cas hoped for something simple and common as she worked her way through the suburb with its cookie cutter homes. It would be bad enough for the residents that death had cracked the façade of normality of the place, a death of the type she usually dealt with would destroy it. The house sat in the center of a cul-de-sac she knew which house was hers by the cars parked in front of it, the Medical Examiner and Crime Scene vans, the patrol vehicles. The smell hit her as she got out of her car, nothing had the same cloying smell as a body in advance decomp and it was never a good sign when you could smell the body from the car. The small cluster of officers huddled outside the house in the steady rain told her it what waited inside was beyond bad.
Cas ignored them for the moment. Lifting a hand to acknowledge the single greeting, she stepped into the house to see what new horror mankind had unleashed into the world. She paused in the doorway to pull on gloves and study the room. The door opened into the living room, a bank of windows was to her left a couch positioned in front of it, a small table next to it. There was a single plate with a half eaten sandwich and a can of soda sitting on the table. The television remote lay on the center couch cushion. Across from her a huge television hung on the wall. A fireplace was tucked into the corner. The walls were a pale peach. No personal marks had been made on the room, just T.V., couch and table. She could see into the kitchen from the door, a door immediately to her right was cracked open, she peaked into it confirming it was a small closest. A short hallway next to it revealed a half bath and stairs leading to the second floor.
She moved towards the voices in the kitchen. Dr. Lara Maisy knelt next to a pile of something that glistened. Cas closed her eyes as her mind tried to access what exactly her friend was studying. Techs moved around the doctor collecting evidence or dusting for prints.
Maisy glanced up, “It’s not pretty.”
“I noticed.” Cas said her eyes scanning the room. The counters were crammed, toaster, blender, coffee maker, crock pot, cookbooks, canisters, and plants. The walls in here had been painted a sunny yellow. The appliances were shiny steel and looked new. This room had a lived in feel to it. It would have been inviting if it wasn’t for the splashes and smears of blood. The blood had dried to a dull rust color. Cas leaned forward to study something on the wall. Her stomach flip flopped as she realized the textured look of the smears came from something mixed with the blood and not something done to the walls themselves.
“Upstairs is worse.” Maisy said gently placing the pile into a bag.
“The blood is, great way to start the day,” Maisy stood. “I won’t be able to tell you how many victims there are until I get them back to my place and get them sorted out.”
“Goddess,” Cas muttered. “Best guess?”
“Three, maybe four,” she replied.
A small gasp had them both turning. Sara had a hand over her mouth.
“Anything on the owners,” Cas asked turning her around and leading her back out to the front door.
“Um,” Sara took a deep breath and immediately gagged. She lurched for the street barely making it before losing her breakfast.
“Detective,” one of the uniforms waved her over. “The owners are in San Diego. Been there all week. Spoke with them myself.”
“Good job Officer,” Cas’s eyes flicked down to his chest, “Dayton. What else?”
“They had left the keys with the neighbor,” he motioned to a guy huddled inside a patrol car. “He went over a couple of days ago to water the plants, bring in the mail, that sort of type thing. To his knowledge the house was empty. He’d never seen any signs that someone was staying there until this morning when he noticed the blinds open and the T.V. on, went over to see if they had gotten back early and found…that. He lives across the street, works from home. He’s the one who called it in, name’s Henderson, Rick.”
“And the other neighbors?” she asked.
“Knocked on doors, only two were still home.” Dayton said checking his notes. “Neither had heard anything unusual. I got their contact information just in case.”
“Thank you Officer Dayton.” Cas turned as she heard Sara approach.
“Sorry.” Sara said.
“You up for this,” Cas asked her eyes darting to the small bump just starting to appear under Sara’s jacket.
“It’s just morning sickness,” Sara snapped, “I’m pregnant not dying.”
“Still, if it’s too much for you.” Cas said waving a hand back at the house.
“I am still able to do my job,” Sara said her nose inches from Cas’s.
“Good grief, eat a breath mint,” Cas said stepping back.
Sara’s eyes widened and then she burst out laughing. “Sorry.”
“Same,” Cas replied. “If you say you can you can. It’s just…I mean….how can this” she waved a hand behind her again. “Be good for that.” She finished pointing at Sara’s stomach.
“He or she doesn’t know about that.” Sara replied, “It doesn’t have x-ray vision. It’s not an alien for Christ’s sake it’s a baby.”
“And you’re sure about that too.” Cas said, “I mean the x-ray part, not the alien part.”
Sara gave Cas a push and headed back for the house. “So we still need to see what’s upstairs.”
“Maisy says it’s worse,” Cas warned.
“Good to know.” Sara replied. She paused at the foot of the stairs. She paused to slip her hands into fresh gloves and put the plastic booties over her shoes, then took a couple of shallow breaths. “No guts no glory.”
Cas cringed remembering the stuff on the walls downstairs and what it most likely was. “Don’t say that.”
Sara lifted an eyebrow at her and then headed upstairs. The stairwell and hallway were white. No pictures were on the walls. The only thing breaking up the long hallway was four open doors. The first door led to a bathroom. It was clean. The second door opposite it was a small bedroom, a narrow bed made of some light color wood and matching dresser and night stands. The bed was made. The door next to it opened into another bedroom a handful of inches bigger. There wasn’t a single piece of furniture in this room. Its white walls had been turned a swirl of rust reds and light pinks. There were four glistening piles on the stained carpet, each with a little numbered placard next to it, the techs had already photographed the scene.
Sara put her hand to her stomach, her bronze complexion took on a decidedly green tinge. “Is that a foot?” she asked.
Cas stepped carefully into the room, her eyes on the object in question. “I think so.”
They stood side by side and studied the walls. Sara nudged Cas and pointed to the closest. Cas turned and saw the slightest shift of shadow between the French doors. She shifted slightly moving closer to the door as Sara moved to the other side. They each reached out and took a handle meeting each other’s eyes they pulled the closest open.
“Oh God,” Sara whispered and then ran for the door a hand clamped firmly over her mouth.
Cas watched her go and wished she could follow her. Tied to the center of the bar in the closest was a head. Dangling below the head was the spine and nothing else. Cas closed her eyes for a moment and wished again that she could follow Sara.
“I see you found him.”
Cas shrieked and spun around her hand dropping to her weapon. “Goddess Lara!”
“Sorry,” Maisy said trying not to grin. “Never seen you react like that before.”
“Never seen anything like this before.” Cas retorted. “You didn’t make a sound.”
“Sorry.” She repeated.
“How do you know it’s a guy?” she asked turning back to the closest.
“I don’t for sure, but the remaining facial features suggest a male.” Maisy said, “besides it just seemed better than the head in the closest or it.”
“Alright,” Cas nodded, “Sara spotted what looks like a foot in pile two.”
Maisy moved into the room and squatted down next to it. With gentle hands she lifted it out and studied it. “Good eye.”
“Yeah,” Cas said, “just hope this doesn’t hurt the baby.”
“I don’t see how it could.” Maisy replied. “The baby’s got plenty of protective layers between it and this.”
“She’s fine Cas,” Maisy said putting the foot down and standing up. “honestly there’s nothing here that could harm Sara or the baby. Nightmares don’t get transmitted down the umbilical cord.”
Cas managed a small smile. “Alright doctor, I’ll take your word for it. Show me the final room.”