Mysteries in the Morgue

The Morgue

A sterile environment, the morgue is all chrome and ceramic tile. It's not, however, all that new and shiny. Yes, it's clean. But it's worn.

Along one wall is a line of body refrigerators. In the center of the room are three autopsy tables, lights overhead and implements on stands near-to-hand. A trolley or two, left over from the last shift, is slotted over to one side, out of the way.


at01.jpg Wade.jpg
Alexandra Wade

Wade is at work. His work space hasn't changed much, still clean, polished, no messes except the ones that lay in slabs across the room. He called in the most recent incidents a day or so after they came in, let the department know there were things to see.

Today's thing is a man, middle aged, complete with hole in chest that looks like it was cooked inside of an oven. Wade himself is perched at a desk at the far end of the room, leafing through folders with various images of tourist hotspots across the globe plastered on their sides.


"Alex," the M.E. on duty greets Alexandra as she passes through one of the forward exam rooms.

"Ellen," the bio-researcher replies amiably, "You're well?"

"Oh, aye. Real cooker in there for you." Ellen replies lightly. "Lunch sometime?"

Alexandra's tone is light even as she nods acknowledgement. "Monday. I'll call you."


Now, Alexandra pushes through the doors into the autopsy room itself. She notes Wade and gives another easy smile, though her steps slow as she passes by corpse with the gaping hole in his chest. "Oh, now, that must've hurt."


Wade's eyes flicker upward, peeking away from the monitor he'd been staring at a second before. There's a small bob of his head at his guest, a drab smile that touches at the edges of his lips. "We're thinking improvised incendiary device," He offers, sagelike nod following. "Clearly a Molotov cocktail gone bad. Or maybe a can of hair spray and a lighter."

He rises after a moment, taps a few more keys before winding his way around the desk. "At least, that's what I'm going to tell people who could put me under some kind of psychiatric review."


"Yes," Alex agrees. "And providing they don't bring in a ballistics or high temperature energetic materials expert, you'll probably get away with it, too." She gives the younger man a charming smile. Walking slowly around the corpse, evaluating only what she sees, her face takes on a characteristic 'studying' look. "But, just for the hell of it, why don't you tell me what you really think it is." A beat. She raises her right hand in affirmation. "I promise, I won't turn you over to the shrinks for it." Her blue eyes dance a little at that.


"Well it's not like they'd tell you that somebody probably threw a fireball at him," Wade complains. "They'd say the exact same thing. For the exact same reason, I might add." The man scoots, shuffles a few steps over to take a glimpse down at the body. He points, index finger rising to jab at the spherical mess of burnt flesh at the man's chest. "Promise?" Another short grin and he proceeds. "Like I said, fire. Too hot and concentrated in one place to really be natural. Some kind of magic probably, since nobody was seen touting a flamethrower around the train station. Which is where he was found, and probably not moved from."


Alex nods to that, interested, as always, in his take on things. And, no. She doesn't dismiss the talk of magic. Been down this road too often. "Any photos available?" she asks. "I'd like to see him in-situ, as well. The train station's a Crossing. Could be any number of things: Eldritch fire, infernal fire, a mageball… Or, unlikely as it seems, even a high-powered laser." Why that last would be unlikely when the others sound absolutely crazy is anyone's guess. After all… a telemechanical psychic could probably manage it.

She steps back, now, and moves towards the cabinet where the smocks and gloves reside.


Out of all of that, it's lasers that get a raise of brows. Just a slight one, then Wade is off to fetch things. Photos mostly, a few reports, all laid down near the corpse. Not much information on it, just a few photos of it at the scene, inconclusive reports, bits here and there. "There was a bus crash too, recently," The man chimes. "Nobody dead, so I didn't get to have any fun. Something strange about it though, there was some energy passing through the area. Strange stuff."

A pause after that. "Have any good mysteries lately? I mean, other than this one."


Alex barks a soft laugh, pulling on a smock and tying her hair back before she scoops up gloves and safety glasses. "There are always mysteries, Sumter," she replies easily. "Especially in the work we do."

Crossing back over to the corpse, she glances to the living man. "Why don't you tell me a little more about the bus accident, first. What sort of strange energy? Do you think it had anything to do with the crash?" He must have, else he wouldn't mention it.

In the meantime, she picks up some of the photos and starts flipping through them. She may choose to share another mystery or two with him in due course. But, there are now two mysteries right here that look like good candidates to start.


"Well, you understand it's harder for me to figure out these things when I don't have time and tools." The man lingers at the edges of the table, spends a second more examining the wound in the body before eyes flicker up to regard the woman again. "But it was a line," He decides. "Like something was drawn across the area. Traveling somewhere, maybe. I lost track of it, and it sort of went away."

The paperwork is sparse, there's a name, but it doesn't seem like anything important. The man was found in the early morning, no witnesses, nothing on camera. Probably killed on the spot. "The driver and passengers experienced either a minor hallucination or a brief lapse in consciousness. Nothing too exciting."


"What was the hallucination?" Alex asks. Those sorts of details could be important. "That narrows the suspects for…" She checks the file, "Mr. Rawlins, here."

As for the bus crash: "Did you see any sort of mark of the line you're talking about, or was it just a fading sensation?" The witch has seen both in her time.

How she juggles two separate puzzles at once is no doubt a testament to her longevity with the Department. Or a testament to the sheer number of Weird Cases she deals with at one time.


"Something psychedelic from what I hear. From anyone who didn't just blank out for a few seconds. Enough to cause a minor accident." The man shuffles backward, allows the doctor to examine. "It wasn't visible, no. It just set off a few instruments, and I tried to follow. I got distracted." He makes a dour face at that. "I need to talk to Emily about that."

A small shrug, then back to the topic at hand. "I don't think the two are related. Though, I suppose it's possible. I'm waiting until the case is closed and you've all had your fun before I go running down more. It's a little bit high profile."


"I'm fairly sure they're not related," Alexandra agrees. She picks up a probe and begins examining the hole in the corpse's chest. Shame Sean isn't here. If the corpse could talk, it might be easier to find out what killed him. She frowns faintly. "It doesn't feel like Witch or Sorcerer magic," she says of the crater. "So, while I won't rule that out, something eldritch or infernal may be more likely." A beat. "Unless it magery. But, you'd be a better judge of that than I, I expect."

Stepping back from the corpse, she returns to look at the photos.

"You say in the bus accident it was some sort of psychedelic light show?" She considers that. "Again: Could be fae. Could be infernal. Could be something else again." SHe purses her lips a moment. "I should tell you, speaking of other mysteries, there's upsurge in magical happenings, lately. It's got almost every community I've spoken with on edge — even the Vampires. The Department hasn't called it a full-scale crisis, yet, but you should keep your eyes and ears open. At this point, anything strange, anything we can't trace back to its source is particularly suspect."

She gives a wry smile. "I'd give you more information, if I could, but…" She shrugs eloquently. She simply can't say — either it's classified higher than his pay grade or she really doesn't know.


"You'd think that, but it's hard to tell. If it was someone like me I'd have better luck if I saw what they were using. We can make very compact flamethrowers, though." There's a thread of amusement with the words.

"Seems like these fall under that category," He mentions, "Just like almost everything else. But that only makes things more exciting for me." Pause. "Also, twice as much paperwork than usual."

That last part is just given a lopsided grin. "Why do you tempt me so? It's a terrible burden, being so low on the totem pole."


Alexandra chuckles again, this time apologetically. "Actually, in this case, it's 'all hands on deck'. We really don't know what's going on. Most of it's rumours. A lot of it will probably lead nowhere. But, the more people 'in the know' that keep listening, the more likely we are to find something." A wry smile. "Just don't go broadcasting it, eh? There are still some factions we'd rather not know we're asking questions."


"You're the only people I talk to. Nobody else really asks." One thin metal rod is plucked from the table, tapped once against the side of the body before it's dropped carelessly aside. "I would like it if you kept me updated about any dead people, though. I do occasionally miss one or two, and I'd hate to be left out." Another quick smile with that, infused with that same dry humor.


Alex actually grins, now. "The only dead people I've been dealing with that haven't been duly processed through a morgue are the long dead variety." A chuckle. "Undead or otherwise."

She considers something for a moment. "Still, if you want something to keep you busy in your free time, you might try researching magical cabals circa 1850 to 1925. Particularly those with intercontinental ties. I'm particularly interested in Magician Conclaves, but I'll take anything. Again, I wish I could be more specific, but…" Again, she screws up her face and shrugs. "I honestly don't know. Still, look for references to someone known as 'Imef', the Suez, Napoleon, and occult-linked political figures no matter how obscure."


"I'll see what I can do." A nod from Wade. "Those doesn't sound like my usual topics, but I suppose I have too much free time already." All the papers are gathered up, nudged back into their folder and ferried off to be stuffed into cabinets. "Vampires," He comments, "I'm still working on those. I don't have a lot of exposure, unfortunately. And I hear they aren't very nice, so." A slight shrug, grin after.


Another barked laugh. "No. No, they're not. My personal rules of thumb for dealing with Vampires: Never look one in the eye and always keep a fireball handy. You'd be wise to do the same."

She shakes her head, returning to look at the fire-balled corpse. "You should be grateful you've not had a lot to do with Vampires, really," she says after a moment or two. She's had way too much experience with them, far as she's concerned.


"From what I understand," The man mentions, "Fire is a good thing to have around. I've gathered at least a few helpful tidbits from working with you and reading. I'm still curious about a few of the older legends, though. If I ever meet one of them I'll have to ask. Maybe they'll indulge me." A somber nod, and then he slinks back to his desk. "Or you'll have to share someday. But for now, that's all I've got for you."


Alexandra nods at that. "Right…" She exhales a deep breath and flips a hand toward the corpse on the table. "Well. I think we're going to need to have this one transferred to an in-house facility. I think we need a little more information on just what happened to him, and that'll require specialists that really shouldn't be seen here." Like one Dr. Sean Watson, for instance.

As for the rest, she gives Wade a smile. "If you really want to know about the oldest legends, try speaking to Dr. Watson. He's good with that stuff. You can find him in his offices over at the college — Antiquities department. Just tell him I sent you."


"Fair enough, but you can come up with an excuse. Don't steal it, it'd make me look bad." Not that they have before, but it seems like a joke more than anything. The other offer just draws a nod as Wade sinks down, hands folding over his chest. "I'll see about that," He adds. "I'll make it a project. Hopefully I won't make you look too bad."


Alex smiles. "I'm sure you'll be fine." She tucks the photos away and slips off the gloves. "I'll do up the paperwork, sure. Don't worry about that." The gloves are put into a bio disposal unit. The probe and smock are put into the wash storage designated for them. "A pleasure, as always, Mr. Sumter. Don't be afraid of the professor. He can be a little scattered, but he knows more about things that go bump in the night than any other academic I know."

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