I waved good-bye to Nana Spider as the bus pulled away.
Pierre’s capitol building loomed before me. It was fairly typical of a lot of state’s capitols in that it was built in a Federal style. Unlike the one in Washington, DC, Pierre’s capitol had a copper dome that had burnished to a dull brown-black. The dome was also atop a tower, rather than capping the whole building, but it still managed that cold, impressive, forbidding feel that so many government institutions had. In fact, no matter how many times I walked up the marble steps, I still expected someone to tell me I didn’t belong here.
I certainly didn’t fit in terribly well with the various power suits that streamed in an out of the main doors. But I wasn’t the only one in jeans—pages, staff, reporters, and even some of the more hip, liberal state congresspeople and lobbyists dressed more casually. There were other elected officials like the Sheriff who had offices in the building that weren’t the typical legislative types, too.
Even so, I normally preferred my basement morgue.
I was weird that way.
But I had a thought and that thought involved asking a few questions of some of my colleagues, particularly someone in social services. The interaction on the bus had reminded me of something that should have been obvious from the start. I’d been looking for a motive within the magical community, but could it be that someone was using a magical creature for a mundane hate crime? What if the reason people were being dropped from the sky had less to do with whether or not they were witches or gremlins or fairy or whatever, but that they were homeless people.
So I needed to know: was this a problem in Pierre? Had there been other crimes like this against the local homeless population recently?
What I wanted to do was find out a couple of things. First, was there someone local with a grudge against the homeless who might have ‘stepped up their game’ as it were? Someone who might have turned to someone in the magical world to ‘make their job easier’? I found that possibility somewhat less likely, since all the people I knew rather liked Nana Spider, and so, I thought, would be more reluctant to go after anyone in her tribe.
A second possibility that occurred to me was that maybe someone in social services might know if something like this might have been reported in the nearby towns. Was there a magical killer moving through the US, taking out homeless people? It seemed likely that a flying creature had dropped the victims, and, if so, maybe that creature flew its controller from town to town too…?
I wasn’t sure about that one, but I was beginning to really feel in my gut that these had been hate crimes.
Maybe the other thing I should check was to see if any other marginalized group had been targeted.
When I came into my office, Geinieve, my assistant/secretary startled. She did some quick keystroke which I was very sure had just hidden a game of solitary or whatever porn she was looking at. Plastering on a big smile, she cooed, “Ah, Alex! Good to see you. What can I do for you?”
By the way she held on thinly to that smile, I was sure she was worried I was going to ask her to deal with a dead cow carcass again. Instead, I asked, “So which would you rather do? Help me research some stuff or go fetch coffee?”
To her credit, she considered this for a few moments before saying, “Both.”
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Alex Connor thought that being the South Dakota Hughes County Coroner was going to be a boring cushy job. She didn't count on the fact that her first case would leave her with a magical, living tattoo and awaken her latent magical powers. Now she'...