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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Murder Most Fantastical - Chapter 2

Chapter 2
A Crime Scene Unlike Any Other

Fifteen years on the job and I never encountered anything quite like it before.
And I had seen a lot.
“Inspector, come look at this.”
I let out a sigh and headed towards my junior detective in the corner of the alley.
“What is it?”
“If I knew, I wouldn't have asked you to come look at it.”
Detective Earhart squatted back on his heels, allowing me space to squeeze in next to him.
“What do you think?” He pointed to a set of tracks in the sooty dirt. The ground between the tracks was discolored a dark red.
I stuck a finger in the reddish dirt and tasted it with the tip of my tongue. Metallic and coppery, with a hint of rotten fish. I ignored the last flavor during my analysis.
“Blood. Most likely from our victim.”
Earhart stared at me, mouth slightly open.
“I meant shape of the prints, Inspector. I assumed as much about the blood.”
“Oh. Of course.” I wiped my finger off on the leg of my pants, pushing the memory of rotten fish as far away as possible.
“You know, sir, that this alleyway has a backdoor to the butcher shop.”
“Yes, Earhart, I'm aware.”
“And the mortuary.”
“And the waste management research labs.”
“Thank you, Earhart.”
I turned my attention to the prints he had dragged me over here to see. They looked like horse prints, but smaller. Daintier.
“As long as you're aware, sir. I mean, no telling what they dump out here in the alley.”
I leaned over the prints, squinting at them and ignoring my junior detective.
A pony? But what would a pony be doing in the alleyway. Better yet, what would a horse of any size be doing back there?
I stood, brushing myself off and clandestinely spitting, ridding my mouth of the foulness. Once composed, I turned back to Earhart.
“Let's take another look at the body, shall we?”
The girl's body remained slumped against the fence, an expression of surprise frozen on her face. She couldn't have been more than twenty. The cause of death was obvious enough. Not many people could survive impalement that left a bloody round hole through their chest the size of a doughnut.
While we had the cause of death, we had no murder weapon.
“This seem odd to you?”
Earhart bent down to inspect the wound closer.
“Awfully neat. Practically a perfect circle. Wonder what caused it.”
“So do I.”
Something glimmered at the edge of the wound, catching the dim rays of sun.
“Hand me a bag,” I said, pulling out a pair of tweezers. Earhart held the collection bag open as I lifted a gold thread and examined it.
“What is it, sir?”
“Hair? Although, it's too shiny to be real hair. From a wig, perhaps. We'll have the lab run tests on it and see what they can tell us.” I tucked the hair into the evidence bag and Earhart sealed it.
“Do we have any identification yet?”
Earhart shook his head. “Nothing on the body and no pocketbook or wallet anywhere nearby.”
Robbery? Could be the motivation, but doesn't seem likely. The method of death was so violent, but clearly planned. No one picked up a weapon from a trash heap and left that precise of a mark.
“So no identification and no murder weapon. Looks like we have our work cut out for us on this case.” I waved to the coroner smoking at the end of the alley. She nodded back and crushed out her cigarette before joining us at the body.
“Detective Summerton. Glad to see you've been assigned to this case.”
“Doctor Dunn. Have you had a chance to examine the body?”
“I did. Just waiting on the all-clear to have my team move it to the lab for a closer inspection.”
“What can you tell us about it now?”
Doctor Dunn shook her head. “Not much. She died last night, I'd say around 9. Cause of death seems pretty clear. Puncture was done by something sharp and tapered, like an awl.”
I thought back to the hoof prints.
“Or a lance?”
“You mean like the kind jousters use, sir?” Earhart piped up from behind me.
“Exactly what I mean.”
Doctor Dunn shrugged. “Sure, why not?”
I nodded and tapped Earhart on the shoulder. “Let's head back to the station. We have a lot of work to do. Doctor Dunn, you can go ahead and move the body. Inform us at once if you find anything more.”
“What do you have in mind?” Earhart asked, scuttling along beside me, my longer strides outpacing his short legs. I would have slowed down, but I was in a rush to get back to my desk.

“Jousters, Earhart. We need to compile a list of every jouster in the area. One of them is certain to be our man.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

First Chapter to a New Story

You asked for it, and here it is. The beginning of a new story, just for you. In case you missed it, I was given the following to work with:

Blovel (writing this as I go along - so expect some errors)
Kitchen Sink (I have to thank my husband for that one.)

Without further ado, I present you with Chapter One of MURDER MOST FANTASTICAL. Enjoy.

Chapter 1
Death Through the Eye of the Beholder

There was something satisfying about seeing his victim's face a split second before their death. The surprise, the disbelief, the horror, all flickering across their eyes almost too fast to discern one from the other. But not too fast for him. He was a professional. Death was his trade.
The face before him now was that of a young woman. A college student working towards a bachelor degree in journalism. A degree she would never fully earn.
She was at the disbelief stage, unable to trust her what her eyes were telling her brain. He couldn't blame her. It wasn't every day a man strode up, took off his hat, and revealed an unicorn horn sprouting from his forehead. Free of the necessary restraint, he shook his head and allowed his horn to extend to its full length. Killing was possible with a collapsed horn, but death came slower and more painfully than with a full skewer. Death like that wasn't fair to his victims, unless they were lawyers or bureaucrats who thrived on creating red tape. This girl was neither of those. Only a student with a school assignment who got too nosy.
“Sorry, sweetheart. Guy's got to do what a guy's got to do. You understand.”
Horror stage. Her eyes wide, tracking his approach. She stepped backwards, attempting to put space between them, but there wasn't much space to be had. The narrow alleyway he had followed her into ended at a chain-link fence, the gate padlocked. Her back hit and her hands quested at her sides for the latch that would never open for her.
“Nothing personal. You seem like a good kid. If only you kept your nose out of where it didn't belong. Shame. You would have made one heck of a reporter. You got the spunk and stubbornheadedness to hang onto a lead and follow it to the end. You simply picked the wrong lead to hold onto.”
“Please.” Her hands scrabbled, frantic to find a way out of the alley. The clanging of the gate would draw attention soon. If she came to her senses and screamed, help would race to her aid before he finished his job. Time for talking was over. He had his assignment and he knew what needed to be done.
“Close your eyes. Easier to die when you don't see it coming.”
Here came the scream. So much for making the whole incident easier on the girl. Normally he didn't feel bad about his kills, not that he was feeling bad about this one. There were simply some victims he didn't want to see suffer. Just because a guy was a killer didn't mean he didn't possess a heart.
The girl's mouth opened, a flash of teeth in the moonlight. Before she could emit a sound, the man lowered his head and charged.
A crunch of bone. A gurgle of blood. The dying gasps of the girl past the point of speech.
He backed away, red dripping down his horn and forehead. From his pocket he took out a black handkerchief he carried for occasions such as this. He wiped the blood from his horn and face, keeping an eye on the girl.
The hit had been clean. She suffered little, which would be some comfort to whatever family she had living around here. Her body slumped to the ground, a puppet with its strings cut. From her face, dead eyes stared up into space, searching for an answer to how she could die like this, at the end of a unicorn horn.
She should have seen it coming. During her research she had uncovered enough clues. She just hadn't been given the opportunity to assemble them all into a picture that made sense. If she had figured everything out, he wouldn't be standing here. He'd be in a cage somewhere awaiting testing. Not his idea of a good time.
His horn clean and retracted, he put his hat back on to cover the murder weapon. The coast clear, he sauntered out of the alleyway, whistling all the way home.
The papers the next morning would be fun, if the girl's body was discovered in time.
There was something satisfying about killing and leaving clues that didn't add up to anything reasonable. Watching the detectives trying to make sense of the crime scene was always an additional source of amusement.
As long as they refused to belief what their eyes told them, he was safe.

And they always refused to believe.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Soon Everyone Will Know

Wanted to give you all a quick update on WHAT THE TOWN KNEW. I haven't been around the blog much this past month because I've been a) sick and b) neck-deep in edits and revisions.

I received my manuscript back from my editor about mid-month and tackled the changes. And a lot of changes there are. For those of you who read the rough draft as I posted it here, just know that Lizzie, while still paranoid, is a much nicer person. Certain plot lines have been dialed back while others have been bumped up.

Currently, I'm holding the proof and going through to fix any lingering errors and format issues. Be prepared for a slightly different read when the book is released in April. (And yes, it will be released at the end of April.)

Also, Indiegogo supporters, the full swag packages will be headed out in the next few weeks, unless you're getting a hardcopy of the book. Those packages will be going out (hopefully) mid-March. I wanted the swag to go out before now, but getting the book ready took slight precedence. Don't worry, none of you have been forgotten!

On the picture book side of things, I do have an appearance at Woonsocket Harris Library on February 19th. It's at the end of school vacation, so parents in the area, if you need to get out of the house you can come see me. Story time and craft.

Hope everyone's having a fantastic year so far! Only 6 more weeks of winter and we can break out the shorts and flip-flops.