My eyes open, the black ceiling confusing. I can still see the Nyx. For a moment, I look at my body and see the gray skin that "Moira" sported. My eyes cringe as the light crosses my face. I blink and my skin appears normal. I turn; realize that my hand is empty. Izzy's side of the bed is neat. I grab my flimsy from the end table and attach it to my arm. I put on my vintage smart watch and connect via the net. A text is waiting. I read it and quickly rush out of bed.
"Zara," Tanaka rushes to me as I enter our office. His frenzied manner makes me survey the room. Was there any news since his text? The clock display is clear of news. My flimsy inactive on my arm. "The latest murder, it," he puts his hand up to his chin. Tanaka brings his hand back down, looks me over, turns away. "Come out with it, Tanaka," I cross my arms and lean against my desk. My "Karma is a stern mistress" mug just behind me filled with coffee Tanaka set out for me. "The perp' killed... a man." I stand straight up, "but, his MO. He killed women. Where are the details - do you have pictures?" Tanaka pulls up his arm and holds it out. He transfers his data from his flimsy to mine. The image is of a man with black hair. His bangs feathered around his face. The hair short in the back. The eyes have epicanthic folds. The lips firm, plump and round. The nose long with a soft, bulbous end. The face is so beautiful. The face so strikingly similar to Tanaka. The major differences being a mole and the shape of his ears. "First of all, Zara, we don't know if the killer is a man. Second, how the hell does this guy look so much like me? He even left the mouth intact!" I put my arm down. Walk sedately to my chair. Turn it around after I sit so Tanaka can not see my face. "I need to think." For the first time, the other realms have not helped with the search or Izzy's sight. For the first time, there is a paranormal perp' who exhibits the characteristics of a serial killer, but now this. The only reason that the killer is known is because of the burns from his navel up. The body is an obvious message. Tanaka is right to be worried. He is the face of the business. Maybe, somehow, they, he, she, whatever. This killer knows. Knows that Tanaka is helping to find them. I can hear Tanaka's chair swivel as he sits. From experience I don't need to see him to know, his head is in his hands. He rarely gets that look, but when a desperate situation arises he is there, cradling the one thing he worships; his seat of reason. A part of me is tempted to pray to the gods of my mother or call to the ancestors as is sometimes done by Brujas of the island. Tapping into my upbringing as a witch seems counter intuitive. I already tried to get information from the other realms. What can my ancestors do that those other beings could not? Besides I have tried tracking down the ghosts of those killed. There was nothing left. Usually, someone traumatically killed at least leaves a remnant of that moment in space. Wait. I swivel to face Tanaka who lifts his head. "I know you're not going to like this." He is sighing already. Ryan sits across from me in the dark corner of my favorite Cuban cafe. I lean back, the corner of my mouth upturned, my legs crossed. Ryan crosses himself after he sits down. "What are you up to now?" "Only the best strategy to catch our most wanted perp. You may even get a promotion." "I have a wife and kids." My laughter, throaty and unrestricted causes Ryan to shift in his seat. He smiles, puts his hat down. Ryan lifts his latte up to his mouth. The whipped cream leaves foam on his upper lip. I motion to a napkin and he wipes it off. He clears his throat. "I thought you got nothing from the last body. You haven't even been able to see the stuff you normally," he scans the room, "see." He had plain clothes on, to me he looks more suspicious with his apparent anxiety about being overheard. "Oh, Ryan. You underestimate me. I am more than just paranormal. I have tracking skills. Hunting is a part of our job, is it not?" Ryan folds his hands into a steeple, his eyes stern, "the last time I checked, you are not a cop." "I see." Ryan sat back, "there is only so much I can do to help you get contracted when you keep turning up with no leads. Why are you dangling a promotion? What's going on?" I lean forward, "now that you are done insulting me," Ryan rubs the back of his head, "listen." I breathe deeply. "The reason there are no leads is because the perp' is not a serial killer, in fact, they do not follow the convention at all. Most killers leave traces in the aether. I had to ask myself why? Why are all the paranormals stumped when this seems so clearly paranormal? Why no traces on the body? In recorded history, no paranormal has drained a person dry of their energy to the point of there being no record of who they were or what happened left. As if, their very soul had been taken." Ryan scoffs and shifts his chair back, "I will hear nothing of this. You are proposing a paranormal did what only god himself can. What? Are you saying he is an angel of death?" People turn to look in our direction. "Ryan, we may have to find a more suitable place to talk." I motion towards the rapt crowd. He grabs the edge of his seat, "sorry, she is a conspiracy theorist. Ridiculous, I know." The crowd sits, though some watch us."I take it you won't support my following this possibility?""If it were true, your people will be in a lot of trouble." An icy fear creeps up my spine. Isolation, a singularity of existence, even in a crowd they do not understand us, me. My face is stone as I confront the truth once more. Even Ryan would be powerless to control the backlash if this was found out. "What a ridiculous notion, of course, you're right. You all should continue the investigation—by the book." Ryan nods but winks at me. Okay, so I have one official backing me if it all goes awry. Tanaka will not be too happy to hear we are carrying out our plans on our own. We adjourn our little meeting. I take the remnants of my espresso and nurse it as I walk out the cafe. My flimsy vibrates. I have a call from Izzy. "Hey, what's," her voice interrupts me at a high pitch, "Zara, it's Tanaka." My arm drops. I am too late. The car drops me off at the ground level. My feet touch the earth and I make my way to a transport that will send me to our living district. Our home, a tiny gem in the suburbs, greets me with its crimson door. Although it looks like those of the 20th century it swooshes open to allow me entrance. There she stands, her apron stained. She had been cooking when she received the message. "Zara," I walk up to her and grab her. Pulling her into my arms I place a comforting hand through her hair. "It will be okay." She thrusts her arms against me. Her eyes glaring as I release her. "How could you make those plans without me?" "There was nothing else to do. Tanaka is not equipped to deal with this. His abilities are not suited." "What is wrong with you?" Izzy puts a fist against my chest. Her eyes scrunched up. Confused I grab her bunched up hand. "Do you know something you're not sharing?" Why else would she react this strongly? "You sent him away. Now you are on your own. This case, it is too much for you. Let it go." I step back from her, releasing her hand. "In this area, I am the only one capable of dealing with this criminal. Do you think the police can really take down someone that leaves bodies psychically dry?" Izzy's eyes search me like a rake over hot coals. I won't tell her what we planned. Not the truth. Anything, but that. "Make me a part of this case, Zara. No other seer will do and you know it." I sigh. Reverting to my marble gaze. I step forward. "I respect your agency, but you must respect mine. Stay away from this. There is a reason things are being conducted this way." Izzy shows me the message Tanaka sent her. We have agreed. It is best that I go visit some family. "All of this reaction for a simple text? It could be anything." I cross my arms. Izzy put a hand on her hip. "I called him to find out why. Are you insane? Don't you date him? How can you let him go back unsupervised? How can you put yourself in danger by being alone?" "Please, Izzy. Not everything is as it seems," I slowly move my eyes around the room then wink at her. Izzy smoothes out her apron. "Fine, don't tell me. Don't get angry with me if I do the same." Izzy stalks back to the kitchen. The smell of arroz con gandules fills the air. My stomach rumbles. One minor victory was won. Izzy turns from the stove to look at me. I am sitting on the couch. Izzy points a large spoon at me, "get ready, we have guests coming." My suit and tie off, I look through my closet. I have a few jumpsuits, but I don't want to piss Izzy off more. So I try to appeal to her fashion sense. I pull out a black corset and dress. After putting on my fishnet stockings I look in the mirror. My biker boots make the outfit. I look more like a punk version of Morticia Addams, but it will have to do. I don't often wear dresses and frilly things. I like them but on other people. Okay, maybe I do like wearing them. I poke my butt out in front of the mirror the lace bouncing off from the motion. No one need know I was cutesy for a moment. My long black hair reaches the hem of my dress. A jacket not hiding the length for once, I realize, I look wild; like some dark witch who can eat someone for dinner. I smile.
YOU ARE READING
The Alter Mysteries: Death ShadowParanormal
Zara, a private investigator and founder of The Paranormal Investigation Task-force, solves paranormal crimes on contract for the police. In over her head, she is pursuing a serial killer that threatens the delicate acceptance paranormals have recei...