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13th Precinct: Issue Eleven
Bob Yosco

The night was clear. The stars sharp blinking crystals that shone far brighter than I’d ever seen, as if they’d decided to once and for all reclaim the Manhattan skies from the skyscrapers that polluted the darkness with their unnatural light. What had been a crazy day had turned into an insane evening and for once even Flo seemed on the verge of losing her cool.

"You told us that this Archer of yours was still trapped, or whatever, so what changed since just this morning?" She whispered.

"I was wrong."

Five or six hours ago I would have done a double take at Vic’s response, but was just too numb now. The thing on the roof, the chase through the Chinese restaurant, and oh yeah, let’s not forget the autopsy.

"This man has no kidneys." Dr. Sunanroja Thupon said as Flo and I came through the door to what the guys at the house liked to call the reeses-pieces room.

"Are you trying to say someone here lost his kidneys?" Flo asked, her eyes trying not to dart here and there over the small, medium, and large forms hidden under the old linens that had been washed countless times and would never see white again.

"No one here lost anything from this man." The Doc replied. "I opened him and no kidneys."

Now, I’m no MD but it seems I’d heard that at least one kidney was crucial to a fella being up and about, so there really wasn’t much to say to the pretty lady with the spiked red hair. After all, she was her country’s number one pathologist and getting just as famous here in the Apple ever since being sent to us on that chop-doc exchange program, and if anyone should know about people’s innards it should be her.

"No kidneys." She continued. "Not taken from him, at least not recently. There are no scars to indicate an invasive procedure, and no internal damage to tell us how they were removed."

Bangkok. I’d never visited the place myself, but Boyd had done an R&R there back in the late 60’s and told some wild stories about friendly Thailand.

"You bring me an impossible task." She continued. "No obvious signs of life-threatening trauma, and while the blood work will tell us more I will say right now that there are only two answers. Number one, he was kept alive for many years by dialysis, a long enough time during which a remarkable person with amazing recuperative powers could heal from the physical indications of surgery."

"Sorry, Doc, but that’s not the case." I told her. "The old guy was a fixture in his neighborhood and probably hundreds of people saw him from week to week right up until this morning when he was murdered. And while it’s still to early to get the full picture, the landlady says she’s known him over 20 years and he’d never been sick a day in his life."

"You said there were two possibilities?" Flo asked.

"Oh yes." Doc answered as she went back to digging inside the body cavity of Ozmand the pigeon-guy. "The only other reason for such an anomaly would be the fact that he is not human. Nor mammalian, nor any other variation that could describe a relatively large, seemingly warm blooded biped from this earth."

* * *

"Nice of you to admit it, Mr. Tepecio, but that sort of puts a crimp in your idea to jump in and put out his lights while he’s asleep, so what’s the fallback plan?"

"For now, we punt." Vic said to Flo as he fieldstripped his cigarette in a motion too fast for the eye to follow. "I don’t know where he is or what his next move will be. I’m not even certain that he’s awakened, just that he isn’t where he once was, so the only thing we can do is to seize one of his thralls and take it from there."

"Or we can tell our Lieutenant the whole story, and even if they fit us for straightjackets they’ll still send a SWAT team down that hole if there’s half a chance of finding the Slasher." I chimed in.

"I can assure you he is no longer safely asleep under City Hall, John. All your police commandos would find is a very deep, very empty cavern. A cavern from which most of them would never return, not alive."

"Back up some, Mr. T, if he isn’t there then what could possibly harm…"

Have I mentioned how fast this guy could be? One second Flo was in mid-sentence and the next his hand was covering her mouth. Gently, or so it seemed, but covering it nonetheless. Quick hands or not, I was about to yank his arm away when a reddish-green glow caught the corner of my eye. We were camped out on the same section of the roof that the kidneyless Mr. Ozmand had called home; three tired people amidst the jumble of coops, antennas, and satellite dishes but suddenly I had the feeling we were not alone. Careful to not totally ruin my night vision, I turned to face the light but I didn’t see it coming, not like in the movies where people shoot arrows that lazily plunk down into their targets. Didn’t see a thing, not even a blur right until a quivering shaft was sticking out of my chest, dead center. I was squatting down on my heels so I didn’t have that far to fall to the cool tarred roof and for the second time that night I had the chance to wonder at how bright the stars were.

[ END ]

©2002 Bob Yosco



Bob Yosco - Once again, Bob Yosco takes us on a tour of the strange streets of 13th Precinct...

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