6.1 Memories of Blood

by Matt P.

“My father had been in the army,” Naomi explained after a moment’s pause for thought. “Like a lot of people he came back not entirely whole from the experience of fighting a war. I imagine that you can sympathize, Detective,” she offered, with a glance at Walter. Walter didn’t feel appropriate interrupting her, but he gave a nod at her implied questioning. “He got a job with the government, at a research facility in town. I don’t know exactly what they were doing,” she offered, forestalling the inevitable follow-up question. “I know it had something to do with chemical experiments—I remember Dad talking about formulas.”

Morrison went quiet again, and Walter studied her face for a long moment. There was serenity there, the peace of something emotional having happened a very long time ago; but there was also pain there, long buried. It was in the tightness around her eyes, the stiffness in her pose, and the way she kept looking to various parts of the church as if seeking familiar places of support. No matter how long ago something happened it still had happened, and it still left an imprint on the soul; Walter felt like there were times he probably had the exact same look. Maybe everyone did, if the wrong things happened to them.

Siobhan was still, but it was a more relaxed stillness—more like Walter’s. This wasn’t their trauma, they were just along for the ride. They knew it was mounting toward tragedy, and Siobhan wasn’t so tough that she wouldn’t cry at sad stories (despite claiming otherwise), but it wasn’t a pain they had lived through.

After another long moment for gathering her thoughts, Naomi continued. “My parents were also oddly into…mystical things. What we’d call new age now, but they never called it that,” she offered with a slight smile. “Most of it was benign. I remember some books on Buddhism, and some crystals. But some of it wasn’t—there were things they brought home and took that made them paranoid.” She shivered at some memory, that she didn’t share the specifics of. “Sometimes my father seemed like he was a different person,” was how she summed up whatever had made her shiver. She leaned forward, putting her elbows on her knees.

Walter looked around for a moment. “Do you need a cup of water, Reverend?” He asked solicitously. She shook her head, and continued from the leaning forward position.

“The night they died they came home late. I had a baby-sitter when they needed to work late,” she explained in a sidebar, “and she died in 1996, so there’s nobody you could ask about what happened. I was very young, but I remember things seemed off somehow. The babysitter was distracted, and she left as soon as my parents got home.” She stopped to consider her words for a moment, cocking her head. “I think they invited her to stay for dinner most nights, if she hadn’t made something for me.” She shrugged, and continued. “I think…Dad seemed like he was anemic, and he was incredibly irritable. We ate a very awkward dinner, and I was sent to bed early.” She sighed. “I could fall asleep fairly easily—I’ve always been able to—but I seem to recall that it was even more than normal. I might have been given something. And I remember that I didn’t wake up until I heard something wet.”

She had shivered before, but now she shuddered outright. “I woke up and went in to the hall to see what had spilled, and found a dead body. I didn’t recognize who it was, but as soon as I started screaming I could hear other people start screaming too. And then I got hit by something, and I don’t remember anything else.” She reached in to her pocket while she continued speaking. “I know that isn’t a lot of information, Detective, but I was very young; and it was a very long time ago.” She pulled a vial out of her pocket, and held it out to him. Walter pulled a latex glove out of his pocket, to which she raised an eyebrow.

“You never know,” Walter answered, taking the vial in his hand and pulling out an evidence bag for it as well.

“After this long and surviving a fire I’m pretty sure I do. I had the substances checked when I became an adult, off of some residue left in there. My first career was in chemistry,” she explained. “We were able to identify that there were three individual compounds in there, but only identify one of them—sodium thiopental. It’s a barbituate,” she began to explain, but Walter chuckled.

“I’m very familiar with thiopental and pentobarbital,” Walter explained. “Through my different and varied career. It can also be used for medically induced comas,” Walter explained to Siobhan. “Which is…interesting. I can keep this?” He asked, holding up the evidence bag.

Morrison nodded solemnly. “I’ve kept it in case it would be useful—stoppered, and cared for.” She looked at the vial, as if it had its own little world in it. “If you can find out more than I could decades ago, let me know. I…I have accepted my life, and I love my adoptive parents; but there is still some closure I would appreciate.”

Walter nodded, holding it carefully. “I will; and if this is what we think it might be, it could bring that closure to other people in the same situation. Thank you,” he said sincerely. Both he and Siobhan stood up, and he smiled softly. “I’ll be in touch.”

“Thank you,” Naomi Morrison said, as they all walked back to the door. They were just stepping through it, when his phone rang again.”