A coroner with a dark past. (I am not a scientist things are likely wrong but they fit my story) Please review if you like this. I might eventually post more... I rated this high to be on the safe ...
Archard was never considered the most attractive of people but then again he was anything but ugly. He had a vaguely odd appearance that made him look naturally intimidating and the line of work he dealt with made it even harder to look past his appearance.
Archard had black hair with a very bright natural shine that in some lights was silver. He had very deep black eyes with a tiny rim of green on the outside, perfect vision they had just been a defect at birth. They had also become a good reflection of the mood he was in.
Apart from this he was finely toned with no fat on his body from years of practising martial arts and keeping slim. He had to for his health but no one knew the reasons behind it, and he would never sit down to tell them. Archard just turned up for work and went out with women, to him it was a simple life but for the women involved it was always an emotional roller coaster.
He stepped into the car and turned on the music, Carmen the Opera he was due to go to that night. Now who was it this time? Oh yeah, Jessica, the nice girl from next door with the expensive outdoor garden furniture for cocktail parties. She would be a nice easy... err, simple girl to talk to, something in common that was it.
He drove to the site he was given and stepped from the car he took out the papers and wandered slowly towards the group. They were the four funeral directors and the Exhumation team of three. He flashed the badge and stood next to the family, F.B.I should at least mean they would feel something was happening even if to him it would more likely be a pointless exercise to appease lawyers in a disputed case for the inheritance.
The crew immediately set to work with the spades and Archard walked with the two members of the family, son and daughter explaining that they might not really want to watch the whole process, as it wasn't very nice. The women kept trying to figure out if his eyes were really that odd and if he was being sincere, in the end they realised he must be and they left asking for him to call if they found anything out. He assured them he would and once they had left he walked back to the fast working team.
"I wouldn't rush, if he hasn't moved in three months he won't go much further in ten minutes. Unless of course you think he's been expecting us and has dressed for dinner?" He told them and leant on a large headstone nearby reading the name. "Do you think she'd mind me loitering?"
"Agent Vortigern I should have guessed, if it smells and rots you're usually there." The Exhumation supervisor remarked with a slight smile. "He's making his appearance soon. You think he'll want to borrow my aftershave?"
"You know I somehow think he'll have his own unique odour." He said smiling back, the coffin was pulled up and bagged quickly. He followed the van to the office and they hauled it to the table.
Eagerly he opened the bag and let the stench fill the room, this was an easy job and he could probably get a shower and change into his evening suit from here. He got the crowbar and opened the box. He began to hum some of the opera and as the satisfying pop of the wood came to his ears he turned on the air conditioning and let the air clear.
After a few minutes he pulled back the lid and then slowly the semi-biodegradable sheeting, it would be at least another year before that would fully breakdown. He peeled it back with a slight sound of suction as the skin and plastic separated before peering in at the newest working partner. He often wondered if he'd ever take up a different profession but the anticipation of getting to work with another mystery gripped him and he guessed he probably wouldn't.
The male was once white but the rotting beige to grey tones of his flesh took that away. Archard yawned and using the winch he lifted the body and shoved the coffin to one side. He lowered his new friend down and took out dishes, syringes and swabs to take the samples before sending the rotting corpse to X-Ray. Not that he guessed an x-ray would be much use, half of the damage would more likely be caused by the burial and now the upheaval, there would be less chance of spotting something minor after this long.
Once all the samples were done and the X-rays finished he bagged up the victim and sent it to the cold store for reburial the next day. No sense keeping it out when he had the stuff he needed. He went and showered in the main cubicles and was half-asleep against the wall when the pager went off. He stepped from the shower and looked down as he rummaged through his lab coat to find the pager, it hadn't registered as work but he could have sworn he'd heard it go off. Cursing the early cut off from the break he got dressed and checked the samples.
He looked at the machine that was pumping out the report and pulled off the top sheet, well no obvious poisons, they were good if they had done it. He decided to run a few more thorough tests and then put the report aside until morning. There was nothing more he could do right now. He found the electric razor and began to look for an empty socket, choosing the endoscopes to pull out and using the back of a steel dish as a mirror.
He heard the beep of the final report and the pages started to print off as he finished shaving and searched for the aftershave in the bottom drawer. He finally straightened his clothes out and walked to have a look at the report. He then pressed the intercom for Benniton and waited for the reply as he finished straightening his tie in the fumigation cupboards glass reflection.
"Well you found anything of use?" His partner asked.
"Well depends, I found a used rubber condom on the left hand side of my car tyre." He told him grabbing a brush and running it through his hair. "Or did you just want the autopsy report?"
"Don't get smart it just means I know you found something. So what did you find? Anything I can give to the family or did you promise to work your charm with them?" The sarcasm was thick in his voice but then he knew Archard better than anyone and he could be just as sarcastic when the mood took him.
"Right well it is definitely an odd concoction but whoever did was a smart ass. The first is that the cause of death is poisoning, oh shock horror." He said tying the shoulder length hair back. "He was killed by Sodium Monofluoroacetate, I would say that the dose was around 300mg, it could have been brought from a pest controller it's for rats..."
"I know what it's for." He answered bluntly.
"Sorry, and then the odd one, there is a detectable amount of another rather oddity, Dimethyl Sulfoxide." He told him and didn't explain it he waited for Benniton to ask. "Right well it isn't a poison it is more of a vector for poison. It seems to have been used to make the poison filter in more effectively. That's someone that really knows what they are doing and has access to a chemical firm." Archard looked in the mirror he was all right. It would do for an Opera and he wasn't planning to keep his clothes on for that long, just long enough to ply the woman with drink and drive her to his apartment.
"Yes well you're not a detective so you are done with it now. Thanks Archard ring the family tomorrow and he can be put back in the ground." Benniton clicked the off button and watched as the coroner left moments later.
The opera was just another excuse to get out of the apartment and get laid. Archard had no real vested interest in the one she had picked having seen it three times but it made her feel wanted and like he had made an effort so he would just enjoy the wine and the pre-paid box.
Jessica had moved into the apartment next door and had been putting out two chairs on her balcony when he had wandered past half dressed, shirt half buttoned and jacket flying because he was running late for work. He had ended up running over an hour late as they talked about the area and he finally offered to take her out. He had left the place and date to her and gone to work wondering why his next door neighbour would bother to place any interest in him. Oh yeah, she didn't really know him yet did she? He smiled to himself at that thought.
Jessica had sat in the car and cheekily rummaged through the glove compartment to find a CD that wasn't the opera, she found an odd techno album mix. She had dressed in a long black evening dress, he had noted that it fitted her curves perfectly and matched his own colours, black on black. He wondered if he came across as morbid all the time? Did he actually care?
She had hung off his arm in the queue proudly displaying her catch. Women thought he was wonderful because of the confident air he displayed more than his looks and then as they were waiting had begun to ply him with questions. This was the part he usually dreaded as he was particularly private and they always seemed to miss the major hint of his silence as they tried to prise the information from him.
"What do you actually do then Mr Vortigern?" She asked smiling at him and watching as women looked at her as they walked past.
"You don't want to know, believe me." Then with rather too serious a look to her he had remarked. "If I told you I would have to kill you."
Jessica had looked into the eyes of the man before her to try and determine whether he was playing or not. In the end she settled for him joking, he had to be right? Then he had smiled very faintly with only the tiniest curve of his lips and she had grinned back.
The half time curtain call had prompted a demand for Ice Cream and Jessica had disappeared into the crowd to buy it in favour of him demanding it from a sales assistant that was taking orders. In truth she had wanted to stretch her legs and cool her face. Archard had decided on a soft drink, he had only had a couple of glasses of wine but he was driving. He meandered around and sat waiting for his date to return. Jessica sat down and leant to kiss his cheek. Archard took the kiss and then relaxed back into his seat. He felt the buzz in his pocket and pulled out the pager.
'Call the office', he made a small fake whoop of delight and left his seat.
Benniton explained that there had been a call to state a homicide victim in the Bolling Air Force area. He was not prepared to let the cops sit there any longer so could he please go down, give a cause of death? He said he could be home within a couple of hours. The doctor on scene had refused to sign anything fearing that if it was wrong there would be several forms of hell to pay and the state coroner had driven his wife to the hospital. It was more of a favour than a defined assignment but Archard thought it would look good on his reference sheet.
Archard wandered back to Jessica and handed her a fifty dollar bill, she took it and he explained that he had been called to work. He would ring her the next day and could she leave him a message at his house to tell him that she had got in safe? She said she would and left him with another kiss to think about.
The car journey had been a fairly easy one and as he pulled up to the sidewalk as directed he saw a large gathering of uniformed police, including his favourite Officer, Officer Dutso, who had origins in the native American's and had always found it a past time amusement to point of Archard' rather mixed heritage.
"Agent Vortigern, it would appear you have come from a dinner party?" He said smiling as he looked at the suit and the rather peeved expression on the Agents face.
"No Opera but well spotted, I can see why you work for the police." He told him putting on a pair of gloves and grabbing his bag. "So how long have you all been here?"
"Well the first officer on the scene was here approximately 21.45." He told him and offered a cigarette to the officer. Archard took it and shoved it in his top pocket, he looked at the officers milling uselessly around and told Dutso to get rid of anyone that wasn't necessary, meaning everyone but them and the removal crew.
Archard was careful with everything when he investigated a crime scene, he was fully aware of everything around him and it was because of this he had been promoted so quickly, the quick mind of this man meant most things went detected from the outset.
As he walked to the scene he began to trace careful steps on the sidewalk and then as soon as he reached the body looked up at the wall. There were two very bloody smears that indicated the body had impacted on the wall at some point and then ended up in its current position.
Archard checked his watch and made the notes, time of arrival it was Friday 04.15.03 and it was 23.03. Yum! What an interesting evening this would be, clearing some stiff who'd got himself shot in a fight. He asked Dutso for the warrant and was told it would be five minutes.
He could have been driving home Jessica; hand on leg, maybe up skirt. Slight thought of her stockings being silk and the idea that the rich bitch would actually find him remotely attractive. Goddamn idiots and their guns.
Right back to the stiff, one that wasn't contained within his trousers at any point would be a good start. He looked round the area, it was an alleyway that looked out onto a main road and the familiar white sheet covered the body. He looked at the area and wondered why it had not been spotted, sure it was a dark alley but they said he was cold. Cold took a long time to happen to a body.
He looked at the officer who was smoking next to Dutso and the pair watching for the reaction. It had become the Dutso team thing to guess if the stiff would get to him. Archard had so far never reacted to any dead body. He seemed oblivious to the fact that these people had once been alive. Just treat them like tissue and mass, never like once living people. That must be why he was so good at his job.
"It's a gruesome one this time." Dutso offered. "Sure you'll be all right? I mean what's the betting you have the weakest stomach being French, Archard. Or is the cast iron stomach from the sheep shagging Welsh line?" The other officer beside Dutso sniggered and Archard looked to them both.
"You know the very last victim that sticks in my mind, where you were concerned Dutso," he said taking out a plastic bag for any evidence, "Was that child murder case. I distinctly remember it because I was sure that you would have been a little more coherent, I mean it had only been flayed. Or perhaps the most upsetting thing was that he had a teddy that looked remarkably like yours?"
Archard returned to the bodies with a relatively new silence from behind. He peeled back the sheet and took a deep breath before crouching down. He looked to the body and then to the clothes it was wearing wondering what the hell the guy was doing in Bolling.
He was a coloured man in a suit and he was missing a few vital parts of his body, namely blood and an eyeball. Okay he stood up and looked at the officers who were finding other things to look at apart from the body.
"Has he been moved?"
"No, his pulse was checked for. Procedure before you get smart and then left as he is; you think people want to move that? For Christ's sake he would loose half his brain or something."
Archard knelt back down and took a good look at the body, choosing to crouch over it and make sure he looked from every angle. The head had been involved with a heavy impact, a blunt object and the force of whatever the blow was had left him with a crushed skull and eyeball to one side, the jaw bone he guessed was also somewhere in the region of broken beyond recognition. The shoulders had also received a large blow, possibly at the same time and the eyeball that has been on that side of the face was hanging out attached to its optic fibre. The eyeball had similarly been crushed and the jellified mess was resting on the shoulder.
Archard then checked the suits coat for a wallet, finding one he pulled the sticky coat a little further open and removed it. He opened it and took a look to get identification.
"Vincent Shaw, Assistant C.E.O, age twenty-eight and not likely to get any older, as he is no longer breathing. Single and staying that way. I hope you got laid last night son. Nice expensive suit too, not something you would easily associate round here." He read out the driver's license number and then passed the wallet to Dutso. "Well I think we can rule out natural death."
"Well I mean there are what someone like you, I mean a well trained F.B.I agent may well determine as signs of violence." He told him.
His next step was to take the outside body temperature, check the body where it was laying and then get an internal temperature. He put the thermostat to the outside and got what he expected, a cooled skin with no perspiration. Then he rolled the body over and checked the blood sediment.
The blood had settled onto the back giving him an indication of lividity, the fresh red colour to the flesh meant that he had died and fell where he was, one good thing. He then took the internal temperature and rechecked it three times. It didn't add up, the results were just too wrong. The body was showing up as having an internal temperature of five degrees Celsius and the average for a corpse a few hours old was around 18-20 even in the conditions of cool shady avenues. He looked at the readings again before trying to come up with an explanation.
"Okay I am taking this guy back to the lab, he's off my fucking charts for weirdness." He admitted. "There are a few anomalies I need to resolve that I cannot do on the streets."
He leant and pushed his hand to jaw and prised the lot open, there was an impact that looked as though a ten-ton arctic lorry had fallen onto his face. Having prised the mouth open he took a look, noting to himself that at least he wouldn't have bad breath.
The brain was still inside the skull and he could see that as he lifted the skull back it was crushed into place and staying there. So he pulled the neck into place with a snap and had a look at the teeth. There was a denture there that looked like it may have come from puberty and both of the upper canines were gone.
"Any vampire fans round here?" He quipped pushing the lips up so that they could see the missing teeth. "Right well give him a chalk line and I will err..."
Archard stopped and checked his gloves before taking a closer look at the body. There was something strange about him and there was something in it that he recognised. The man had a missing fingertip. It had happened after his death judging by the effect the blood was having around the injury.
"I can't take this case." He said and stood up. "I'll arrange for someone else to take it on."
The officers looked at Vortigern and the smiles left their face. It was unheard of for him to retract from a case. He was the kind of person likely to keep it open against the Attorney's wishes just because he knew he could get more information.
"Vort, it's really not that bad surely? You've seen worse. I mean he's been whacked with a jack hammer or something but it's nothing you haven't seen before." Dutso finally broke the ice.
"I can't take this on because I can tell you already who did it. It's too high profile for me to get involved on this one. I cannot risk it." He pulled out his phone and called Benniton.
Benniton was a faithful partner and about the closest thing to a friend that the frosted Ice King would get. He never asked about his personal life and he never made it a deal when Archard made a cutting remark. If Archard was in a bad mood then it was not his problem and generally it never lasted too long before he'd get stuck into work and be silent.
"Benniton I need you to come out to my site. I can't take the case on." He told him bluntly. Benniton listened and asked for the address. "Look it's because of the nature of death. I can tell you what you'll need to know but I cannot get involved. It's going to sound really odd to you too. It's Japanese gangs that are doing it and they probably targeted him for a reason but it could be high profile and I cannot be exposed to it."
"Archard you don't need to tell me why just wait until I get there. If it's personal it's yours not the offices okay?" He replied a little dumbfounded and headed out of the office.
Archard waited until there was the familiar sound of Benniton's over sized family car and leant back on his own to watch him arrive. Archard took the cigarette out of the top pocket and lit it before walking over to meet Benniton and hand him some of the collections of samples he had already taken. Benniton took them without another word and let his partner go.
Archard got into the car angry with himself for not daring to take the case but he couldn't risk exposing himself to that. He had been through it once and he knew the score. They probably had nothing to do with him but he wasn't prepared to take the chance.
He pulled off and headed back to the apartment. It was a cold and lifeless place to walk through at night. There was a dim light for the residents to park their cars by and then a swipe card system to allow them into the building late at night. Archard's apartment was next door to Jessica's and they both had the privilege of having the floor to themselves as they had brought the larger of the apartments available.
He opened the door and heard the excited squawk of his only classified companion left, Cheya a beautiful large black raven. The bird had been discovered on an investigation into smuggling. They had talked about having it put down as it was ill and too much of a hassle to keep as evidence. Archard had offered to take her and paid a small fortune to get the bird well. They had flown over a veterinarian from London to look at her and she was never happy to be left away from him for long anymore. Archard wandered through to see her with a smile and then sank into the couch as he relived the night. Why was it coming to the surface all of a sudden?
Why couldn't he just move on?