2.9 Proper Notice

by Matt P.

Inside the warehouse was cooler than the warm and sticky outside, although it was still a thing of relativity. In a few minutes the cool was going to be worse than outside simply because the air was still, where the hot at least had a breeze.

And with the corpse lying there, the stillness was a favor to no one. It was a man, an older looking dignified man with salt and pepper hair and a look of exquisite agony on his face. He was lying on his back, and his face was the only relatively untouched thing about him. Blood flecked his lips and his eyes stared sightlessly up at the ceiling, high and away and shrouded in shadows.

Below the chin the horror began. A slashed throat and a long carve down the center of his naked frame, the skin flushed red and burned black and yet all still together. Behind him on one of the broad brick walls was the calling card of the Three Stripe killings, two equally sized stripes on either side of a longer one in the center: I|I.

Kneeling next to the corpse was a slender woman whose raven black hair was neatly braided and swung down to the middle of her back. She had pale skin, and when she stood she was taller than Walter expected. She had a mask over her face, blue gloves on her hands, and a white lab coat. She walked over to the three of them, nodding familiarly to Andre and Leah.

“Marshal on his way?” She asked, her voice lower than Walter expected but warm and professional.

“Here now.” Came Alexander’s voice as he stepped in from the outside, and looked across the warehouse and its grim tableau. “Damn.” He said simply, sighing. “Well, there goes our hope it was a copy-cat or coincidence.” He said, with a faint tilt up at the end indicating the tiny little hope he might be wrong.

But the woman shook her head. “Its the same. Everything the same, down to the little details. The cicadas, the simultaneous cutting and burning with the wounds. And the symbol, of course.” The woman said with a sigh, gesturing to the wall.

“Any more evidence at this scene than the last ones?” Leah asked while everyone considered for a moment. The other woman, who was obviously a medical examiner of some sort, shook her head.

“None. No fingerprints or footprints, no signs of a struggle or defensive wounds.” The woman sighed. The others went to look at the body one by one, then stepped back to stand next to the medical examiner. “This your new deputy?” She asked.

Walter held out his hand. “Walter Richards, pleasure to meet you.”

She gave a wry smile. “Doctor Morgan Winters, coroner. This your first look at a Three Stripes?”

He nodded. “They had one in Kansas City while I was there, but I was new. I didn’t even get to secure the scene. I got to secure the scene of the people securing the scene. Didn’t even know about the cicadas.”

Morgan nodded. She opened her mouth to say something, but Walter was already moving. With fluid speed and practiced ease he had his gun in his hand and was leaping forward to tackle her to the ground. He opened his mouth and shouted, as the gunfire began.