The ruins of the corpse’s mouth moved as though trying to form words. White enamel of exposed teeth and blackened tendons gaped and gulped horrifically. Maggots bubbled from its throat. Flies swarmed near the mouth and buzzed angrily.
No, I realized as I crouched down to get a better listen, the buzzing noises were the words.
WTF. Had this body really roused itself from the dead just to say: “Jazz dance?”
If skull with little more than ant-infested pits for eyeballs could shoot an ‘are you a complete moron?’ glare at me, this one did. It tried again to send its message from Beyond. The buzzing took on an exasperated sound. Irritation didn’t make its words any clearer, however: “Juzzzzzzzzzzzzduzz.”
With that, the corpse let out a disgusting belching sigh that stank of rotting meat, and then spoke no more.
I sat back on my heels and tried to parse out any meaning to of all this. “Juzzduzz,” I repeated. I said it a few more times, faster, “Juzzduzz-juzzduzz-juzzzzzzduzz,” until I finally heard, “Justice.”
Both Spenser and Jack stood over me. Spenser adopted that classic cop pose, with a hand resting lightly on the butt of his gun. The other held on to the rim of his cap, as though shading his eyes to the sun.
Jack had his thin, pale arms wrapped around his stomach, which kind of made it look like he was giving the anime character on his shirt a hug. His eyes watched me intently. “I felt a magical ripple. He said something to you, didn’t he?”
“’Justice,’ I think.” I said, pulling myself to my feet.
Spenser and Jack exchanged a look. Spenser’s hand dropped from his cap to rub his chin. “So what’s that mean?”
“Like I know? The last time the dead talked to me all I got was ‘moo.’” Seriously. A dead cow reanimated long enough to bellow at me. I had a stupid superpower. Just once it would be nice if the dead would send nice, obvious messages, like the name and address of their murderer. My magic seemed determined to remain useless and cryptic.
“You think that’s a sign that this was, in fact, foul play?” Jack asked, releasing the strangle hold on his anime character a bit and inching a step closer. “That the corpse is demanding justice for his death?”
“Or maybe that his death served justice,” Spenser mused.
Sometimes it was obvious that Spenser wasn’t entirely human.
Jack seemed to be thinking the same thing. “You really think a person would struggle all the way back from the Other Side just to say ‘yippee, my death we meaningful’?”
Spenser shrugged. “I would.”
Jack and I shared a silent, ‘yeah, he would.’ “The cow just said moo,” I said. “It could be totally random.”
YOU ARE READING
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'...