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The Journey Inward
The Journey Series
Copyright Bob James 2016
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the eventual publisher of this book.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales entirely coincidental.
Seppe turned his eyes away from the gruesome scene in front of him and looked up at the moons. “At least it isn’t Sand Season,” he thought. He sighed. Then he turned his attention back to the murder scene. It was one of the worst he had ever seen. The blood was spattered over a trail about 20 meters long and hit the buildings on both sides of the dark alley. The stiff’s head had been thrown under the fire escape of the building on the west side of the alley. The victim’s torso was splayed against the trash cans of the Kroll Rader Bar and Grill on the east. Both legs were cut off at the knees. The right leg was 15 meters to the south of the body, while the left leg was next to the head, as if it had been kicking the head. The left arm was partially amputated and hidden by the torso. The right arm was extended, as if he had seen the attack coming at the last minute and tried to defend himself. Even at night the flies were already gathering around the pieces of the corpse.
Seppe looked over at Aiden. Aiden was handling the shock of the scene as well as he was. He sniffed the air and could tell that Aiden was fighting back the nausea that this scene invited. Aiden looked up and saw Seppe looking at him. “Me too,” he said. “Twenty-five cycles on the force and I haven’t seen anything like this.” He laughed a bit. The irony was too heavy not to. “Here I thought they were getting ready to retire me, and now this. I guess I still have a lunar cycle or two left before they run me off.”
Seppe nodded. “You’re just hard to get rid of, aren’t you? I was hoping I wouldn’t have to put up with you much longer.” Seppe and Aiden were a team. In fact, they were THE team for the Wesdanian dectective force. Neither had stuck with a partner for more than a few lunar cycles until Captain Tengler had put these two together out of desperation. They had clicked and spent the last 8 cycles solving the tougher crimes together. The coming disbanding would put an end to all of that. But for now, they had work to do. When Aiden turned back to his work, Seppe sniffed again. He wanted to make sure that the extra smell he had sensed was a part of the crime scene and not just a passing odor.
It wasn’t. His tendrils quivered as he sniffed again. The odor was stronger. He knew it, but he couldn’t place it. He thought back to his childhood. He shuddered. He knew that he would have to talk to his pater. He frowned and shook his head. He turned back to the body when Aiden interrupted his thoughts.
“Something smells real bad about this,” Aiden growled. Seppe jumped a little and his tendrils stood straight out. Had Aiden seen him sniffing the air? Would he realize….
Seppe laughed nervously, “You got a dismembered man here, of course it smells bad.”
Aiden rolled his eyes, “You always do take me too literally, don’t you Seppe.” He laughed in friendly mockery. “I just meant that as bad as things look, there’s more going on here than meets the eye.”
Seppe laughed back. He was relieved. “Brilliant deduction, Aiden. We have a dead guy in pieces scattered across the alley and you figured out that something was wrong. I thought you were getting ready to retire and now you look like you’re bucking for chief.”
Aiden snarled, “Very funny bright boy. Let me just ask you one question. Who did it?”
Seppe shook his head in amusement. “We just got on the case how would I know who did ….” His voice trailed off as suddenly the depth of that question hit him right in the gut. “That’s right. We don’t have anything to go on.” He paused, and then looked back up in the sky at the silver moon, “All the bad guys are supposed to be up there.” Aiden and Seppe both stared at Dwarinda, the moon that held all the criminals.
Aiden’s comment highlighted the most puzzling part of the case. Half a cycle ago the Congress had arranged to deport anyone who had ever been convicted of a crime, anyone who had been suspected of a crime, and then anyone who might be thinking about committing a crime to Dwarinda. Wesdania was supposed to be free of any type of crime. Yet here they were, staring at the dismembered body right in front of them. Seppe glanced at the head of the corpse. The eyes stared back at him, mocking his naivete.
“It looks like they missed someone, doesn’t it? What do we got to go on?” Aiden asked with a shrug. “Where do we start?”
Seppe yelled back. “Good question.” He kept the odor clue to himself. He had kept his heritage hidden from Aiden so far, he didn’t want to reveal it now. “Perhaps we’d better get busy and see what we can find.”
“Yeah,” Aiden sighed. “What do you want to search: the head or the torso?”
“I’ll take the head,” Seppe said hesitantly. He had a hunch that Aiden wouldn’t mind and he wanted to check out a possible source for the odor.
“I like that idea,” Aiden said a little more enthusiastically than before. “I never did like working where I thought the victim was watching me work. I was always afraid that he would be alive and start talking to me.”
“Trust me, Aiden,” Seppe shook his head, “This John Doe is NOT going to talk to you.” As he turned towards where the head had been thrown he thought, “But maybe I can get him to tell me his story.”
Seppe examined the ground around him as he took each step. He pulled on a pair of rubber gloves as his tendrils quivered to let him know that he might be on to something. He stooped down a couple of meters from the head and examined the ground. He sniffed hoping to catch a scent that was out of place without Aiden noticing. His head swiveled back and forth as he made his way towards the dismembered head looking and smelling to find any evidence.
“Hey Seppe! You’ll never guess what I found!” Aiden called out excitedly. Seppe turned quickly to look at Aiden’s prize. As he turned his eyes caught a glint of light and his nose picked up a whiff of the scent he had been sniffing for.
“Whatcha got?” he yelled taking note of the glint and the smell. Seppe spied the billfold in Aiden’s hand before he responded.
“I don’t think the motive was robbery,” Aiden yelled. “His credits card is here in his wallet.” Aiden pulled out a small card reader and waved it over the credits card. “This guy had more credits than I’ve ever seen! If the guy who knocked him off was looking for credits, he could have lived out a natural life-time on the credits this guy had.”
“So he was rich. Big deal. Did you get a name and address from the card?” Seppe asked impatiently.
“Yep, some guy named ‘Grenoj.’ He lived over in the Zark,” Aiden responded.
Seppe’s countenance clouded over. He couldn’t say it out loud yet, but this looked like a case of tribal warfare that could be brewing. The Ca’suisse who had migrated into Wesdania City after the Revolution had all moved into the Zark. In fact, they rarely left the Zark which made matters even more troubling. “Why would this Grenoj leave the Zark?” he asked himself. As all this passed through his mind, he quickly processed the information and looked at what he could say. “The Zark?” he asked. “Isn’t that where the Ca’suisse live? Is he Ca’suisse?”
Aiden shrugged his shoulders. “I wouldn’t know, now, would I? You’re gonna have to tell me that. Check for the tribal marks on his head and let me know.”
Seppe turned and laughed quietly to himself. It was hard to believe these two worked together so well with all the barbs flying back and forth. Aiden glanced at Seppe and noticed that he was veering off to the right a bit rather than going straight to the head. He shook his head with resignation and turned back to searching the torso for more clues as to who Grenoj really was.
Seppe veered off to check out the source of the glint of light and the aroma he had noticed when he turned to hear what Aiden had to say. He approached the area slowly, eyes sweeping to and fro trying to catch a glimpse of what he was afraid he would find. Then his eyes picked out a gleam from the ground and he slowly approached as if fearful that the object would attack him of its own volition. He reached down quickly and picked up the toothpick sized object, putting it into an evidence baglet and just as quickly concealing it in his coat lest his partner see it. He justified his actions because he knew that few, if any, Wesdanians would understand the significance of the Qu’epic. “In fact,” he thought, “most Qu’evah wouldn’t know of it either.” His father’s endless teachings on the culture and the traditions of the Qu’evah, even the bloody ones, might actually be important now. As much as he tried to hide his heritage, he was sickened that a member of his own tribe might be guilty of such a horrendous murder.
“What did you find?” Aiden called out. He had seen Seppe stoop down but couldn’t see everything he had done.
Seppe broke out of his reverie and breathed a second to regain his composure. He decided that Aiden hadn’t seen him pick up the Qu’epic and told his lie with more assurance than he should have felt. “Nothing. I thought I saw something over here but it was just a piece of trash.” He knelt down again and picked up a tiny piece of silver thread that was near where the Qu’epic had been dropped and showed it to Aiden.
“It’s probably nothing, but why don’t you bag it anyway. You never know,” Aiden said helpfully.
“I don’t think…” Seppe began to contradict him, then faltered as he saw Aiden’s face, “…that’s such a bad idea. You always find clues in the most insignificant places,” Seppe complimented Aiden as he took out another evidence baglet and put the silver thread in there.
He walked slowly to the head and squatted down to examine it. He pulled back Grenoj’s hair looking behind the ears. It didn’t take long to find his Ca’Suisse mark. Next, he checked the neck to see if he could see any Qu’epic marks. He saw the puncture wound just below the jaw and he knew how Grenoj had met his maker; if the Ca’suisse believed in a Maker. He laughed at himself as the prejudices from his old way of life surfaced. Here he was berating the Ca’suisse for maybe not believing in a Maker when he himself chose not to believe in any of the deities, especially the Maker his people believed in.
“He’s Ca’suisse for sure,” Seppe called out to Aiden. Then he anticipated Aiden’s next question. “I wonder what he was doing over in this section of town?” he asked out loud.
“That’s a great question, Seppe,” Aiden nodded. He pointed towards the bar. “Let’s see if any of those bar patrons have any idea what’s going on.”
“Good idea,” Seppe responded. “If nothing else, I’m sure the bartender would love to get those people out of the bar and head home himself.”
Aiden laughed, “You don’t get out much, do you?”
“Whatcha mean?” Seppe asked innocently.
“The Kroll Rader was groundbreaking in letting females tend bar. They have an all-female bar staff, now,” Aiden added.
Seppe was a bit annoyed, “Doesn’t matter if the bartender is male or female. I bet the bartender is ready to go home.”
“True,” Aiden said, a note of triumph on his face. “Let’s go.”
Chapter Two is now available here
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