Barrel of a Gun

Set in an alternate reality. Three bodies turn up at the quayside, one is familiar. They are taken to the private mortuary of Detective Reece aka Twitch, where he discovers two of the deceased are not what they seem, they are reanimated from cultured flesh. When a girl turns up at the door, identical to one of the corpses, Twitch begins to suspect that his wife may not be as dead as she was.

Twitch

Quayside

It was late ’90, a dark day when the rain began, and it would never cease. I had been here often, collecting bodies, and peering into dirty holes. I’d seen this one before, female, not too pretty but good enough to get her here, in the meat pile. 

The weather was a furious deluge of grey needles falling with a vengeance. I tried to look up and quickly turned away from the sting in my eyes. That’s when I spotted him, Rickets, Bastard, had no respect for the dead, shoving his fingers in entry and exit wounds as though they were meat on a hook. He had his finger in the girl, scooping around in her eye socket as though he had lost something.

‘Bandy,’ I said as flat as I could.

‘Twitch,’ he replied, mimicking my palsy. ‘What d’you reckon?’ He stabbed at the girl, ‘Hooker?’

‘Don’t think so,’ I knelt beside the body, dragging it from the pile. Water pooled around her in the soft mud.

‘I say, hooker, got that look about her. Probably pissed off a client and got popped in the eye. May as well wrap her and send her to Resyk.’

‘She’s mine. I’ll decide where she goes and what she is or isn’t’ I stood putting myself between Bandy and the victim. ‘Why don’t you run along and get yourself some doughnuts or something.’ He stared at me, thrust his hands into his pockets, splashing dirt over my shoes. Turning, to kick the soles of the girl’s feet, he vanished in the rain. The next time I saw him was from the wrong end of a gun.

I returned my interest to the girl. Took out my datacorder and set about the scene. She was young, late twenties, blonde with a blue streak over the missing eye. ‘Whatever killed her, it wasn’t a bullet to the head.’ I remember thinking. I checked her purple jacket for holes – nothing, shirt was clean too, well made, possibly tailored. Her skirt, above the knee, the kind I liked – still below see-level. Then there were the boots. Didn’t see cowboys like those this side of the water. Black toes on white shoes embossed lace effect and purple side panels with white love hearts, a real piece of craftsmanship. But no wounds, other than the eye. I cradled her chin in my hand and rolled her head from side to side. Opened her mouth, perfect teeth, white, the full set. No hooker, I’m sure. I slipped a finger under her tongue, ‘What have we here?’ A silver ring, dense, warm. 

I looked around, I was alone, the regulars were keeping their distance, playing by the book. It was just me bathed in the yellow light on the warehouse wall. I took all the necessary pictures and loaded them to the cloud, don’t trust anyone, too many quick fingers in too many places. The two bodies were gang-bangers covered in tattoos and piercings, odd thing though, two rival gangs neither of from town. Gonna be a lot of paperwork.

I took out my car control and pressed a button. The lights of the pickup swung around the corner illuminating the cops: one, two, three. The car moved along, trundling through filth holes in the potted road. I let it pass and stopped it close enough to pull out a sled. I dragged the first body over and dumped it in the back, the second thug went right on top. The girl, for some reason, I was careful not to mark; laid her out with her arms at her sides and closed her eyes. The rain was terrible, and it would never end.

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