How dare they make me wait? They had no idea how long my memory was, or how silly all these procedures were. The walls had obviously not been washed since their construction, the floor was on the verge of being sticky, the table and chairs were sturdy but simple. The air hung heavy as I continued to wait.
Finally the metal door swung open, and a grisly human male walked in. He wore an ill fitted suit, of cheap make, and hadn’t showered in an uncomfortable amount of time. His stubble was past the point of attractive, and squarely in the sloppy camp.
I moved my hand over my mouth to hide my amusement. I’m sure the officer meant to enter the room in a quick assertive manner, but the worry, and anxiety poured off him in waves of energy and odors. He carried it well, hidden behind a mask. Anyone with sensitivity saw right threw it. He was in over his head.
“Miss Petrenell, I-” the officer said, without facing me.
“Mildred, please,” I interrupted.
He wasn’t able to hide his annoyance. “Fine, Mildred, I understand you have some understanding on how this device works?” He held out a small metal and plastic box, full of buttons and dials and lenses. It was slightly larger than the current cell phones, and much more complicated.
“I should hope so, as it’s mine,” I said.
He finally faced me, and I saw the badge tucked into the top of his pants was the generic version. His eyes were brown, and puffy from lack of sleep. His skin was tan, and wrinkled on the forehead, and around the eyes. He stared in what I assume was his best intimidating manner.
“Might I know who I’m speaking with?” I said.
“Officer Naevius, Special Investigations,” he said, still staring.
“Is that an unusual title?” I said, and blinked at him.
“I’m asking the questions here,” he said and paced for a short time.
“Well, as I’ve been patiently waiting, and have shown no signs of violence, are these necessary?” I said and held up my cuffed wrists.
“Yes they are. They guarantee continued safety,” he said, absently.
“Might I ask why you have my, um, device?” I said.
“It holds evidence,” he said.
“How would you know if it did or didn’t?” I said.
“I figured out how to power it, and flipped through some of the images on it,” he said.
“I see. What did you make of them?” I said.
He looked at me in disgust. “You do realize you’re in a police station, arrested and cuffed? This is not normal behavior, even for the people from that district.”
“You mean the Vampire District?” I said.
“Of course, where else would I be talking about?” he said.
“You don’t approve of the area?” I said, and raised my eyebrow.
“No one does. Wannabe vampires running around with cloaks and thousands of dollars of dental work, it’s a nuisance. They demand businesses stay open long after sunset, and hung around in dark allies. It’s a nightmare to patrol,” he said.
He was right, of course. The Vampire District was somewhat of an embarrassment to the regional collectives. On the other hand, a real vampire now had a whole area of town to shop after sunset, which we took full advantage of.
“Might I inquire why you are interrogating me?” I said, hopefully.
“I was told you had information, and to gather it from you personally. I’m investigating a series of murders. It’s my only case, so my assumption is that you know about the Gylky Slayings?” he said, and sat across from me. He watched my face intently.
“I do actually,” I said.
He looked surprised. “Please, tell me what you know.”
“I am not here to offer information. I’m here to answer questions,” I said.
“You want a lawyer present, is that it?” he said.
“Listen, Mr. Naevius-” I said.
“Officer,” he growled.
“Officer Naevius, I am beyond your laws, and your methods are a joke. I would suggest you take this opportunity to gather as much information from me, while the offer stands,” I said, and allowed my human visage to slip. My skin turned it’s natural stone tones. My eyes sunk to their comfortable position, and the pupil grew total blackness. My nails grew into their customary spikes, and of course my teeth descended over my bottom lip.
“You’re real?” he said, watching the transformation bravely. His heart rate spiked, and his color paled considerably, but he didn’t give any outward signal.
“As you see,” I said with a nod.
“Why are you cooperating?” he said.
“As a favor,” I said, and blinked at him. I shifted my human visage back, and noticed he relaxed slightly. Fool, it should make him more alert, knowing how easy it was for me to hide.
“What is this?” he said, and pushed the device across the table toward me.
“My version of a cell phone,” I said.
“It can capture images?” he said.
“Obviously, you saw them,” I said.
“Why don’t they look like proper images?” he said.
“Special techniques are required to capture these types of images,” I said.
“Such as?” he said.
“Lenses, special power sources, unusually quiet environment,” I siad.
“And you’ll answer any questions I have for you?” he said.
“I’ll answer what I am duty bound to answer,” I said.
He nodded. His body language had changed, and he became more wary, but also more open. I smirked as he tightened his tie.
“I wouldn’t attack a defenseless human unless it was self defense,” I said.
“What?” he said, and dropped his hand from the tie knot. “Can you explain the images on your phone?”
“You must ask what you wish to know,” I said.
“What about this one? It’s the first, and it seems off somehow,” he said.
“That is my girlfriend,” I said.
“She’s your friend, and what is she doing?” Officer Naevius said.
“She’s my lover, and she has the hobby of seamstress. That was her newest creation, at the time it was taken,” I said.
“But you’re a… I mean…” he said and trailed off.
“Does it matter if I’m a lesbian?” I said, and enjoyed his homophobia appear on his face, and be forced down.
“What is she doing, aside from modeling?” he said, pointing at the image as if to draw attention away from his redded face.
“She is killing her pet fish,” I said.
“Why?” he said.
“I believe that fish had cursed at her,” I said, cooly.
“Fine, ah… this image, what is going on here?” he said.
“That is obviously a magical spike being captured for future study,” I said.
“You believe in magic?” he said, with a cautious expression.
“You are very ignorant of Special Investigations. Magic is real. Do you require a demonstration?” I said.
“You can provide one?” he said, as if he was caught me in some sort of lie.
I looked at the one-way mirror in the room, and it shattered, but stayed in place, crackling. I made the lights go out, and escaped my cuffs. I used the simplest wave of my hand to crush the metal cuffs into a tiny ball, and rested it in the middle of the table. I turned the lights back on.
“There are the cuffs you were relying on,” I said, and nodded at the near sphere wobbling on the table. I held my hands up, to show the cuffs were off.
If such a thing were possible for a human, there would have been smoke pouring from Officer Naevius’s ears as he tried to figure out what just happened. I began to glow, bright blue, an aura around me about six inches from my skin. He shook his head, and rubbed his eyes.
“Very well. Let’s say I can accept magic exists, and you can manipulate it. Why would you take a picture like this?” he said.
“That is the first intelligent question you’ve had. Good job, Special Investigations Officer. It’s rare to have the opportunity to capture such an event, as they only happen when a God or Goddess are Awakening,” I said.
He blinked at me. “Fine, what about this image?”
“The train had stopped, and I had a hunch someone on board was magic sensitive. I couldn’t suss out who it was. When I saw it was her, I recruited her immediately,” I said.
“Recruited her?” he said.
I pursed my lips.
“Does your girlfriend approve of recruitment?” he said, unsure if his question was a jab or legitimate.
“She regularly sends me on recruitment hunts,” I said.
“Your device shows the absence, or presence, of magic?” he said.
“In layman’s terms, yes. It is more complex, but I wouldn’t want to befuddle you more than you already are,” I said.
“What about this one?” he said, showing me the one image I knew would make me wince.
“That is one I took as a young one tried to follow me in the sun,” I said. The skin was shown just before internal combustion began. The tongue was like a nasty piece of jerky.
“You can enter sunlight, but others can’t?” he said.
I just looked at him, not bothering to answer such an obvious question.
“Who was he?”
“A new one, freshly converted. He was cast out of his collective, and was attempting to follow me back to mine. I warned him not to, and he didn’t heed the warning. Not that much of a loss, but still unpleasant to see.”
“Why wasn’t he much of a loss?” he said.
“He was male, he was undisciplined, and he was collective-less,” I said.
“Who converted him?” Naevius said.
“My time is limited,” I said, raising my eyebrows. I crossed my arms over my chest.
“Fine, what about this one?” he said, and held the device up again.
“That is a mindscape,” I said.
“What is a mindscape?” he said.
“Like a landscape, but of someone’s mind,” I said.
“Your device can take images of people’s minds?” he said.
“No, only casters or supernatural creature’s minds,” I said.
“Who’s mind is this?” he said, studying the black and white image. The fog was very telling, but he would never understand.
“That is a personal matter, and outside my willingness to discuss,” I said. It was my girlfriend’s mind, and it meant a change was coming to her. All the color was gone, and the fog was growing thicker.
He changed to the next image. I smiled at it, as it always brought pleasant memories.
“This is a private playground, and of no concern to you,” I said. The tombstones at the end of the slide was always a whimsical touch that I loved about my mother’s home.
He changed the image again.
I looked at him, and waited.
“Are you aware that this child was found brutally murdered in this room?”
“I would imagine that’s true,” I said.
“What is under that blanket?” he said.
“A ghost,” I said.
“Can ghosts murder children?” he said.
“Sometimes,” I said.
“Do you know if this ghost was responsible for that child’s death?” he said.
“Quite probably,” I said.
“How did you come to take this image?” he said.
“I didn’t take this image,” I said.
“How did it come to be on your device?” he said.
“I was sent it, as preparation for coming to talk to you,” I said.
“Who sent it to you?” he said.
“My Queen,” I said.
“Queen as in girlfirend?” he said.
“Queen as in ruler. She is no one’s lover,” I said, offended, but also unsurprised at his continued display of ignorance.
“Where did this Queen get the image?” he said.
“I did not ask. One doesn’t ask the Queen questions,” I said.
“These are very convenient answers,” he said.
“They are,” I said with a nod.
“Why would the ghost allow itself to be photographed, or whatever your term is?”
“It feel guilty, wants to be stopped,” I said.
“How do you stop a murderous ghost?” he said.
“You exorcise it,” I said, slowly, so it might seep into his brain.
“None of us are priests, Mildred. How can we solve this string of murders, all the same cause of death, when you say the perpetrator needs to be exorcised?” he said.
“We are taking care of it. With this image, we can track and exterminate the offense thing. I’m to inform you it will be resolved within the week,” I said.
“What am I supposed to do about the paperwork? My superiors expect us to catch and put the culprit on trial,” he said.
“Your paperwork is not my concern or responsibility. Also, I understand the regular modus operandi in this day and age is ‘death by suicide’ at the scene,” I said, using my fingers as quotation markers.
Officer Naevius blanched slightly.
“I don’t know how much you pay attention to the public at large, but this is all over the news, social media, and the internet. You think it will just go away?” he said.
“Yes, the moment a new story appears, this one will be forgotten by all save the victims’ friends and family,” I said.
“What is your intention in sharing this information with me?” he said.
“I’m impressed, Officer Naevius. Another intelligent question. You should get a raise. We realize this has leaked into the public sphere, and would like your cooperation in keeping the evidence appearing normal, mundane, without magical undertones,” I said.
“The evidence is mundane, isn’t it?” he said.
“Bring the file folder, you types always have file folders, for this investigation. You can bring a copy if you wish, won’t matter,” I said and waved him away. Under my breath I said, “Complaining about your own love of paperwork, ug.” Shook my head.
To my surprise, he did get up and leave the room. He brought an obvious copy of the files, a few pages were even still warm from the photocopier. The manilla folder was shiny and new, not a crease in sight.
“Now open it to the first crime scene image you have,” I directed him.
He did as instructed, and laid it open on the table.
“This is what the image actually looks like, without a mask,” I said. I dropped my own human visage again, as the next spell was a delicate ordeal and I needed all my power. I focused, and gathered my energy in the astral plane, and brought forth the image, in it’s original form.
Officer Naevius paled, and gasped. The image had clearly altered, blood covered every surface, and a glow emanated from the body, much like an aura, but obviously sinister.
“It is accessible by anyone?” he said.
“No, casters can pull the veil aside, but it is possible to get occult believers to spread fear and falsehoods about anything remotely magic in origin. An untested and unknown sensative could feel the falseness of the image and eventually uncover the truth. We in the supernatural set have a vested interest in remaining hidden,” I said.
He shook his head, staring at the image.
“If you would like to, I suggest you take this opportunity to see the rest of your images as they truly are, unless you fear you cannot lie about them later,” I said.
He quickly nodded, and turned through all the pages in his precious folder. Some images were more gruesome than others, but they all had blood and auras.
“Why do their bodies glow?” he said.
“We fear the ghost is trying to convert these humans into ghosts,” I said. A half truth he would never know about.
“Any human can be a ghost?” he said.
“More or less,” I said, another half truth.
“Is there a pattern to the targets?” he said.
“Valid question, again. We aren’t sure, as there is no way to tell if these victims were sensitive before they died. That is our assumption. They haven’t woken to magic yet,” I said.
“Casters or sensitives make for stronger ghosts?” he said.
I nodded, letting him have his assumptions. I wasn’t here to educate him.
“Care to share any other things that might be important for this investigation?” he said.
“Will you cooperate with us?” I said.
“I might not be enough to stem the tide of my superiors,” he said.
“I will take care of any of your… superiors… that do now follow your lead. This is a one time opportunity to become a liaison with us,” I said. I pulled my human visage up again, and blinked at the sudden lack of detail in the room.
“Why would I want to do that?” he said.
“There are serious consequences if you reveal our secret. There are no consequences of you do your job normally, but we will disappear as if we had never existed. If you cooperate, we can share other issues with you in the future,” I said.
“Why me?” he said.
“You’re loose enough to believe what I say, and on the edge of uncouth. If you spout what you know, you have enough rough and tumble in your background to be committed to an institution, or survive to hunt on your own. In short, I believe you have the right temperament,” I said.
“My superiors have contact with you, or your collective?” he said.
“Perhaps, but I wouldn’t trust any of them with what you’ve learned here,” I said.
“I will cooperate for now,” he said.
“There is no waffling. All in, or all out. Once out, it’s permanent. Understood?” I said.
“Should I started eating garlic in large quantities?” he said with a smirk.
“You would have to be a much more impressive human to die by bite, Special Investigations Officer Naevius. That is a reserved honor,” I said.
“Can I contact you?” he said.
“This is a one time use number, and we can go from there. I will contact you again in about a week’s time, to update you on the ghost situation,” I said, and gave him a phone number.
“Are you part of some investigative force?” he said.
“Perceptive, if slow. If the need arises, I’m part of Hover,” I said.
“Hover?” he said.
“Is Mildred Petrenell your real name?” he said.
“It is, and I’d appreciate if that arrest was filed as a misspelling and corrected in the future, assuming I earn your trust,” I said.
“But you weren’t born in 1975, were you?” he said, glancing down at the original file he brought in for my arrest.
“Out of curiousity, what the heck is the explanation for this image?” he said, and handed me my phone back.
“Inside joke with my bestfriend. She bet me she could get me to like bananas, and this is the only thing I’ve ever liked about them – green bunches en masse on a shore,” I said and smiled down at the image.
“Did she win the bet?” he said.
“This image won her the bet,” I said.
“What did you lose?” he said. “Just out of curiosity.”
I looked him in the eye, “The burden of liaison with humans for the next 50 years.”