Thursday, January 24, 2013

Say Goodbye to Normal - Part 5

Title: Gate of Shadows
Chapter: Say Goodbye to Normal - Part 5
Author: Jon Harrison & Alanna Cormier
Copyright: 2012

If you missed part 4, read it here!

Logan sat staring at the collection of reports, photos, and other evidence he brought home from the precinct strewn across his coffee table. He had gone over everything, every detail. He questioned anything that stood out or didn’t seem to fit but they always ended up leading nowhere. He scrutinized every crime scene photo, the autopsy report, forensics reports and the statements that had been collected. Then there was the box. At first glance it looked like it was just a plain black stained box, but there were no marks where the wood was cut, no staples, nails or sign of glue where the pieces would be joined together. The top was a lid that could not be removed, but it smoothly slid in whichever direction it was pushed.  However, there was no visible mechanism that would keep it from falling off the edge.  It just hung there and upon closer inspection it appeared as if the lid was hovering millimeters from the surface. That’s impossible, thought Logan. The inside had only a small recess in the middle of the block of wood where Logan safely assumed the totem had been.  He had never seen anything like it. 

Logan sat back and rubbed his eyes. He ran through the statements again in his head. Only three people had really talked to Jim Seaver. Early in the morning Jim had talked over the phone with an employee at his office and then in the evening with his wife. At around 1 a.m. Jim had talked with the nightshift bartender of Lipensky’s, who was the last person to see or talk to Jim alive.

It was the bartender that had mentioned the totem, and here Logan had what he believed was the box it came in, but where was the totem? The forensics team didn’t find any totem at the scene, and he doubted the group of drunken college girls that found the body would have taken it. They were so drunk that while being questioned one of them had vomited on the deputy, and the other two just cried and sobbed, occasionally asking, “Why did he look like that? What was wrong with his face?”

With a sigh of frustration, Logan picked up the empty beer bottle and walked over to the fridge to grab another. He had already resigned himself to not finding the missing totem, and was beginning to think that even if he had it would offer no help or clues. If the totem was as strange as the box that held it, he would have yet another item that would only bring about more unanswered questions.

He stood absently staring into the fridge as the cool air seeped out and crept up his legs, but he was so deep in thought he didn’t even feel it. Something was different about this case. He didn’t quite know what it was yet, but the feeling nagged at him and it couldn’t be ignored. If his five years in the Marine Corps taught him anything, it was that he should never ignore his intuition. If it told you something was going to happen, someone was behind you, or that you were walking into a trap then you better act and do it fast. Those instincts had saved his life on more than one occasion and so far those instincts had kicked into high gear twice today. The first was at the crime scene; the body had raised his alarm. Something about it had pulled at the back of his mind. Sure, there was the grotesque face, but it was more than that and the more he concentrated on it the farther away the answer seemed to be. He felt as if he was putting a puzzle together, but some of the pieces were blank.

The second time was at the coroner’s office. Jackson had inadvertently bumped into the autopsy table knocking the victim’s hand off of it. The moment before he touched the hand to put it back, something caught his eye. It was right there, but just as he was about to make the discovery the answer seemed to drift away once again. On top of that, he had felt like he was being watched. More than once he had found himself looking around trying to figure out who it could be. At the crime scene there had been people and reporters everywhere while at the coroner’s office there was only the three of them, but that hadn’t lessened the sensation.

Logan sat back on his couch drinking his third beer of the night and absentmindedly began to play with the reflection of the light and shadows it cast over the photos. Diamonds of light and dark danced across the coffee table and spilled out onto the floor and wall creating a kaleidoscope effect. Then a rush of excitement hit him. “That’s it!,” he exclaimed. Dropping the beer he rushed over to his phone to call Maggie and impatiently waited for her to pick up.

“Hello?” she answered groggily.

“Maggie, it’s Logan. Meet me at the morgue now,” he hung up before she could answer, grabbed his jacket and rushed out of his apartment.

Maggie walked over to Logan who was waiting outside the coroner’s office. She approached him cautiously at first as he appeared to be looking around apprehensively “This better be good to call me over here at two o’clock in the morning,” she said.

“I need to see the body. I think I figured something out. I don’t know. I just need to see the body.”

“Fine. Come on then.” Maggie led him back into the morgue and nonchalantly pulled out Jim’s body from the freezer unit located against the wall letting the gurney slowly slide out. The body regained a momentary flicker of life as the momentum caused it to bounce when the gurney abruptly came to a stop on its own.

“Could you bring over that lamp?” asked Logan.

“What are you...”

“Please Maggie..”

She was slightly taken aback. He wasn’t just being polite. His tone conveyed a little desperation and maybe a little fear? She did what he asked without another word. Logan took a deep breath as he pulled back the sheet and gently lifted Jim’s arm off the table to let it hang above the floor. He placed the lamp so it was shining down directly over it. A flood of numbing coldness washed over him, “this isn’t possible,” he breathed. He then placed his arm directly under the light to be sure. He took a stumbling step back and swallowed hard as the confirmation washed over him. Logan began to sweat as everything about the world he knew suddenly came into question. “What is it?” asked Maggie, but there was no answer. “You’ve gone pale and you’re starting to scare me. Answer me, damn it!”

“Look,” he finally said as he pointed to the tile underneath Jim’s hand.

“Look at what? I don’t understand.”

“Look again,” he said with a shaky voice.

She looked at the hand with the lamp light blazing down on it, which gave the hand an almost glowing appearance causing it to stand out in stark relief against the floor. “Logan, what’s going on? There’s nothing there.” The concern in Maggie’s voice was obvious.

“Exactly,” he paused and then whispered as if afraid to say it out loud, “where’s his shadow?”


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