The Journey Inward – Chapter 2 ARC

The following is copyrighted material. It is an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy which is an uncorrected proof and not representative of the final – published version) If you like this chapter, please support the eventual release of this book. Please feel free to make constructive suggestions in the comments or in a personal message to the author. (email at the end of the selection)

The Journey Inward

The Journey Series

Bob James

Copyright Bob James 2017

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. 


This is Chapter 2 of my book. If you have not read Chapter 1, may I suggest that you read that chapter first. CHAPTER 1 Link

Chapter 2

Aiden and Seppe left the alley and turned towards the bar to question the patrons. A figure emerged from the night time shadows. His eyes followed the two and then glanced back at the murder scene. He had dropped the Qu’epic during the execution and was on his way back to the murder scene to retrieve it when the cops pulled up to the scene. He had observed the whole search process anxiously, hoping that if they found the Qu’epic, they wouldn’t realize its significance. He was puzzled as he watched the one cop pick it up and hide it in his pocket, not telling his partner of his find. In fact, that cop had told his partner that he had found nothing. He wondered why a cop would lie to another cop about finding evidence. He also wondered how such a young cop would understood that the Qu’epic had any significance. Up until now he had killed without fear of discovery. Now he wondered if he had made a mistake that would open the door for the cops to catch him. His previous kills in different kandas around the city were meant to appear random to avoid exciting any attention. This was his first murder since the shipment of the evil ones to Darwinda had been complete. He wondered how that would make the cops respond to his killings. He smiled. He could still outwit these cops. “They can’t even figure out the obvious clues I leave at each scene,” he said as he laughed derisively.

He backed away and then turned, walking away of the area, hoping that no one had seen him. He had disintegrated the outer clothes he had worn to kill the big tall Ca’suisse, but he knew that some fluids might have made it through the outer clothing and onto the inner clothing. Even though he had taken every precaution, he didn’t want to take any chances of being questioned by the police. He had to control his emotions when he realized that this was kill number five and nobody still had any idea about him or even that all the killings were all the work of one man. He couldn’t resist a smile as he got back to his skimmer.

He knew where the two cops were headed, not that they would get anything at the bar. He didn’t bother to stick around and watch as Seppe and Aiden entered the bar.

The first thing Seppe and Aiden noticed was that the patrons were far from unhappy at being told to wait. In fact, they had started an old fashioned Wesdanian wake. The noise of the music blaring out of the concert box made it impossible to think, let alone talk, and nobody had an empty glass. Seppe decided then and there that it would have been better to question witnesses first, before examining the area, to get clear, sober stories.

Aiden decided to take decisive action. “Quiet!” he yelled. While the customers settled down, the concert box continued blasting its noise. “Shut that thing up,” Aiden growled as he pointed at the concert box.

“Hey wait,” shouted one of the patrons who had wandered close to Seppe. “I paid two credits for that song and I want to hear the whole song!”

Aiden had dealt with people like him before. He looked at him coolly and snarled, “I’ll make sure that you hear it in the lock up if you want. Either shut down the concert box or let me put the cuffs on you while my partner shuts it down.”

The music stopped. Aiden and Seppe tried to hide their smiles when they saw the offending patron displaying the power and connection cords in his hand. “Thank you sir,” Aiden responded. “Now I can concentrate and get finished more quickly so that you can get home.”

“Who wants to go home?” shouted a voice from the back. “We’re enjoying this old Wesdanian Wake! Have a Sufran Ale, officer!” The crowd in the bar laughed and cheered. It was getting loud again.

Seppe shook his head, “Sorry. I can’t drink on duty. But if I really wanted to honor the dead tonight, I would be drinking a Ca’suisse Baltan.”

The noise instantly ceased. Patrons put their glasses down on tables quietly and they looked at the floor. They knew that while the Ca’suisse stayed mostly to themselves, they were known to cause great destruction if one of their own was treated with a lack of respect. They drank their Baltan, actually sipped it with food more than anything else, but eschewed all other intoxicating drinks. They would not take kindly to being told that Grenoj’s death had inspired a drunken revelry. “Have you talked to the Ca’suisse yet, sir?” a nearby voice asked hesitantly. “When you talk to them, please make sure that you tell them that as soon as we heard that is was one of their brethren, we showed great respect.”

Aiden nodded, “We will. You could show even greater respect by helping us find out who did this. Did anyone see a Ca’suisse here in the bar tonight? On your way to the bar? He was about 2.1 meters tall, had a full head of red hair, and a slight pot belly.” He knew the size alone would help pinpoint an encounter with Grenoj since Wesdanians rarely grew taller than 1.7 meters themselves.

No one stepped up. No one disappeared. They stood there without moving. One of the younger patrons tried to pick up a glass but it had grown slippery, and he couldn’t control it as it hit the floor with a loud crash. All eyes turned to the noise just as Seppe asked, “Anyone? Any idea? Did anyone see him on the streets? Did anyone see him anywhere?”

Silence flowed from the gathered bar patrons. The only motion came from those who looked around nervously at the others wondering if they had something to say. Seppe and Aiden walked around the crowd looking for any signs that someone might be trying to hide information. While all the faces were downcast, none seemed to be hiding an acquaintance with the victim. Seppe started to walk towards the bar when he looked at the bartender, stopped, and turned back to look at one of the patrons. He confronted him. “Are you sure you don’t know any Ca’suisse? Does the name Grenoj ring any bells?” He stopped the interrogation and looked back at Aiden, “Can you talk to the bartender? I want to talk with this guy. I have a hunch.”

Aiden nodded and walked towards the bar. Seppe had never been wrong on one of his hunches. The joke was that one day Seppe would be wrong on a hunch, but that Aiden would be long retired and not be able to enjoy rubbing it in.

Seppe sighed because knew that he would be breaking his “hunch” record. He knew he couldn’t talk to the bartender. He had seen her Qu’evahn tattoo. She would recognize that he was Qu’evahn also, even without the tattoo, and reveal his ethnic identity. That would finish his career on the Wesdanian police force; he didn’t know any other non-Wesdanian on the force. He had worked hard to hide his Qu’evahn identity and he didn’t want to ruin his career on this issue. When he realized that, he grabbed the closest poor shnook and gave him some tough questioning.

Aiden walked back after talking with the bartender expecting to see a triumphant smile on Seppe’s face. Seppe’s hunches were never wrong. Aiden was shocked to see a frown on Seppe’s face. “What?” he mouthed noiselessly.

“It had to happen sometime,” shrugged Seppe.

Aiden clutched his heart and staggered. Seppe shook his head disgustedly, but was silently relieved that Aiden hadn’t even tried to see through his subterfuge. They walked out together and headed towards their police skimmer. The hydraulic door opened as they approached and closed automatically as they got in. As soon as they got in and started the skimmer, Aiden started laughing uproariously. “Oh man!” he laughed as tears started running out of his eyes. Seppe could see his tendrils quivering. “Was that a two-fer for me or what?”

“Whatta you mean, Aiden?” Seppe asked, puzzled at his partner’s attitude.

“First of all, your hunch was wrong. I didn’t think I would live to see that. That means you’re buying the Argarian Ale tonight,” Aiden was almost giddy. “Then, that bartender was totally into me. She gave me her communicator info and told me to contact her any time. If I’m off duty she’ll give me free drinks while she’s working and if I wait for her, well…..”

“Sounds good for you,” Seppe responded.  He waited to see if Aiden would continue with the normal comments about Qu’evahn women.

“Besides, I don’t know if you noticed this, but she’s Qu’evahn. Hot and Qu’evahn. Could it be any better? I hear that Qu’evahn women know some mighty fine tricks!” Aiden was lost in his own little dream world. He didn’t notice the darkening face or the quivering tendrils on his partner.

Seppe’s fought to control his darkening face. He didn’t want to his face to grow so dark that it would reveal his Qu’evahn heritage in his anger. He hoped that Aiden would attribute the color change to anger at being wrong in his “hunch.” He needn’t have worried. Aiden was so busy enjoying the moment that he didn’t notice anything else. On the road back to the station, Seppe started cooling down. He wondered why it bothered him so much that Aiden believed the stereotype about Qu’evahn women. It wasn’t as though he had pride in his heritage. Still it was his heritage and it annoyed him. His color returned to normal as he calmed down, but he knew that he would have to sort out his feelings. He yawned slightly and suddenly realized it was second moon fall as he looked out the viewport of the skimmer. He needed to get home and get some sleep.

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The Journey Inward – Chapter 1 (ARC)

The following is copyrighted material. It is an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy which is an uncorrected proof and not representative of the final – published version) If you like this chapter, please support the eventual release of this book. Please feel free to make constructive suggestions in the comments or in a personal message to the author. (email at the end of the selection)

The Journey Inward

The Journey Series

Bob James

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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