A Shady Murder, страница 1
A SHADY MURDER
By Adele Davis
Copyright 2014 Adele Davis
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Table of Contents
A Shady Murder
About the Author
Visit the Author
A SHADY MURDER
Tears didn't affect him. That much he was used to. It was the complete lack of them that had him so unnerved. Sure, shock has strange affects and a delayed emotional response is not uncommon but all three of them? The mother and both her sons were sitting on the couch (which had to be up righted) as cool and calm as a spring day. The only sign of movement from any of them was a slight wince from one of the young men at the flash from the photographer's camera.
As a detective in the homicide unit, Jules had investigated more crime scenes than he cared to remember but this one was different. Nothing seemed right and his mind's warning sirens were going off full blast. Nothing in the room was left intact. It was as if a tornado had come through. There was nothing that had not been shattered or overturned. The victim's body (the husband and father of those on the couch) had just been carted off by the coroner. Yellow tape marked the spot where the body had apparently been flung - in a corner on top of an overturned curio cabinet and other debris.
The police officers and members of the homicide unit were all occupied with their respective duties; gathering evidence, investigating, dusting for prints, and taking pictures. Preliminary statements had been taken.
It was Jules' turn to question the family. He glanced over at the mother - the wife of the victim. As their eyes locked a sly grin spread across the face of the wife and she winked at Jules. Just as quickly, she returned to her stoic, expressionless façade. That brief moment confirmed what Jules had already come to realize. Fear tried to overtake him as the gravity of the situation came into focus.
Jules' job as a homicide detective paid the bills but his real job was Shade Chaser. He hunted shades and they hunted him. He had been set up and walked right into a trap. Sitting on the couch were three shades and the room was full of potential victims.
Shades typically don't care for the confines of a human body but whenever they want to interact with people or things, it is necessary to take on a physical form. A human form is usually the most convenient. In its natural form, a shade can move about freely at night but by day it must stay hidden in the dark; the shade of a tree, the shadow of a building, or inside a physical body. Exposed, it is vulnerable to any form of direct light and will fizzle into nothingness. Jules also knew that in the indirect light of the room he was in, the shades would have time to find shadow; not much time, but time. A strong shade might have up to three seconds to find cover. Shades move very quickly and, as Jules had learned, three seconds can be a very long time.
Jules had to go along with the charade being, to his knowledge, the only known shade chaser and worse, the only one who knew or believed shades existed. He pulled out his notepad and pen and slowly walked toward the three on the couch. He kept his voice low and pretended to take notes. "You want me. Let these others go." Jules directed his statement to the mother.
"Certainly," she said with a smile, "As long as you do what you're told!" she continued with a hiss. "Put down your flashlight! The one under your jacket!" she ordered. Jules' heart sank. He hoped they didn't know about the flashlight. He valued that flashlight far above the gun that was in his shoulder holster. He had altered the flashlight to come on at the slightest touch which it did now as he removed it from his inside jacket pocket. The son that had been wincing at the photographer's flash jumped to his feet when he saw the light. Some of the staff in the room took note of the sudden movement.
"Sit down you fool!" the mother barked as she gingerly took the flashlight from Jules. She was being careful to point the beam away from herself even though it could do her no harm in her present form. She shoved the flashlight under the couch. "He had a recent incident with a candle, of all things," she explained. That son was stricken with embarrassment and was seething with anger.
"I gave up my flashlight. Now let these others go."
The mother waved her hand in a dismissive gesture.
The three of them began bickering amongst themselves as Jules turned to everyone and said, "The family would like to speak with me in private. I need to have you all step outside for a few minutes." The irritation of the officers was clearly evident but an effort was made to keep it to a minimum for the sake of the bereaved family.
Jules followed the last policeman to the door shutting it behind him. He wished he were on the other side of that door, running for his life but he knew it would be useless. The shades would be on all of them with strength and speed unimaginable. A slaughter would ensue and Jules would be dead just the same.
He turned back toward the shades that were all standing now, vehemently arguing with each other. "You are calling me an amateur?!" The jittery son was all but yelling at the mother.
"You are both amateurs!" The other son growled in an unsettling baritone voice.
"How dare you!" the mother blurted out. "I will break you into..." She stopped short when she noticed Jules had finished ushering the men out of the room and had rejoined them.
Jules attempted to stall while he tried to formulate a plan. "Whose bright idea was it to have shades work together? You are all far too egotistical to possibly get along. This is quite unprecedented."
Just then, an officer stuck his head in the door. "Some of the guys are done and packing it up. The rest of us are going around the corner for a burger. You want one?"
"No. No thanks. Go ahead. I got this." Alone with the shades, Jules knew he was out of time.
The baritone voice spoke up. "What is unprecedented is the price on your head! I thought it would be worth it to try working with these idiots to get rid of you."
"I've had it with your insolence!" the mother shade shrieked and lunged at Baritone with a shove that sent him into the wall on the far side of the room knocking Jittery shade down in the process. Jittery, already boiling at mother for bringing up the candle incident, jumped at her as Baritone scrambled to his feet.
Shades have no control over their tempers and instead of paying attention to Jules, they were each in a desperate struggle to reclaim some sort of honor. Arms and legs flailed wildly as the body of Mother was being punched and kicked mercilessly by Baritone and Jittery. Jules knew the shade inhabiting it would have to flee or die with the body. He fumbled in his pocket for the penlight he carried on his keychain. He twisted the top. Nothing! He shook it violently and the penlight flickered to life just as Jittery came down on mother shade's head with a broken table leg. The shade disengaged from the woman's body an instant before the head was crushed.
The shade was about to head toward Jules but seeing the penlight, shot off toward the left looking for the biggest spot of shadow, for it was a very large and powerful shade. As an experienced shade chaser, Jules knew not to follow the shade with the light; he would never catch it. He instinctively aimed the penlight between the shade and the biggest area of shadow just as the shade attempted to slide under the couch. It went through the beam of light and fizzled to nothingness.
Baritone and Jittery, seeing what happened to Mother, instantly turned on each other, each wanting the reward for itself. Jules couldn't believe his fortune. He pulled his revolver from the holster aiming it at Jittery and the
Hoping to distract the shade, Jules threw the useless penlight at it and with a combination leap and roll he grabbed the camera the photographer had left behind. Pain shot through Jules' body as he rolled over a fallen candlestick. Still in motion and with a precarious grip on the camera, he swung it in the direction of the shade and pushed the shutter hoping, with every fiber of his being, that the flash was still charged and would go off. It did.
Momentarily blinded by the intensity of the flash, Jules heard the fizzle before seeing that the shade was gone. He made sure to delete that last photo and retrieved his flashlight from under the couch.
"The family snapped and turned on each other. They started arguing violently. I've never seen anything so bizarre!" Jules lied. As a shade chaser, bizarre was becoming the norm.
Baritone was alive, dazed and remembering nothing that had transpired while his body was inhabited.
"It's hot as Hades out here. Let's wrap up this statement under that tree over there."
Jules looked at the sweat glistening on the face of the officer taking his statement and wiped at his own perspiration with a soiled handkerchief. He looked over at the shaded area under the tree, inviting to all but himself. "I prefer the sun."
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About the Author
In addition to being an author, Adele Davis is a Computer Specialist and the mother of two adult daughters. When she isn't writing, Adele can be found piddling in her garden and is rarely seen without her two Maltese dogs at her side. She loves hot weather and currently resides in the vastly enormous state of Texas.
Visit the Author at:
Official Page: https://adele-davis.com