A grisly homicide. Gloria’s stomach turned as she surveyed the scene carefully, already compiling her report in her head- One victim, bone structure says male. Bone structure because the flesh had been burned, thoroughly. Probably gasoline or something similar.
Murder scene as follows: A canopy-covered grove surrounded on all sides by browning leaves. The clearing had once been covered by thick grass- recently, even. This had of course been scorched and burned away to the dirt. Gloria frowned. In a circle, a damn near perfect circle, with a crisp skeleton in the center. Definitely a propellant involved.
What Gloria wanted to be doing was sitting at her desk, clacking away on her keyboard until a brilliant explanation for a body in the middle of nowhere sprung forth from fingers controlled by her subconscious.
What Gloria was doing was stumbling through some surprisingly deep woods on the edge of town, trying to write on a notepad that insisted on bending when her pen dipped past the side of the pad she was holding. She cursed colorfully enough to embarass herself as her frustrations were given physical form in the shape of a particularly large root that stopped short of sending her to the dirt, but succeeded in forcing her to drop her pencil.
Roots don’t make leathery, hollow thumps when you kick them, Gloria. Another corpse? A head? She stared straight forward as she worked up the resolve to look down, bracing herself against the reassuring weeks of paperwork to make up for actually kicking a body. But alas.
A suitcase, tossed so callously to the ground. Gloria chided herself for letting imagination run wild, then scanned the ground for the lost pencil.
A suitcase, in the middle of the woods, looking brand new save the dirt. An idea begins to take form.
A suitcase, in the middle of the woods, half-buried under hastily piled dirt by an unknown assailant. A smile, then, as she retrieves her pencil and sets to write, bracing the pad against the sleeve of her father’s jacket.
A suitcase, full of assassination contracts, hidden away from the murder scene as the assailant makes a hasty retreat, fearing discovery. Yes, it’s got legs now. An elaborate plot to murder an ex-lover, perhaps. Some revenge scheme or another. The killer is probably one of the state’s most wanted. In an orange forest, Gloria opens her phone and starts making calls.
Evidence tags and lockers. Chains, both of custody and command. These are the arcane and eldritch of Gloria’s job. They are not her concern. Evidence is tagged, bagged, and stored by people whose jobs are a necessary delay. The chains cannot be broken, as they bind a far greater beast: Responsibility, and so they have been woven with care. Having navigated these passages both checked and double checked, the suitcase is delivered to Gloria with not even a grain of dirt untaken, over a week later.
With a greed for clues and stories, Gloria slid on a pair of gloves and eased the case open with ginger fingers. It had been examined by other hands, of course, its contents examined for prints, fluids, and other identifiers, but not read. This was Gloria’s domain, into which she embarked gratefully.
Contents: One (1) sheet standard sized printer paper, blank save a spiral drawn in black ink. One (1) sheet yellowed paper, torn, of the sort generally found in a diary. Contents scanned and faxed. Five (5) sheets with the words “We wait for the crown.” written in precise block letters, over and over, with very little variation. Scanned, faxed, and saved, for handwriting analysis. One (1) pair black leather gloves made by popular men’s retailer. Does one pair of gloves count as one item, or two? Three (3) black ballpoint pens, empty, presumably used to write the diary entry, the spiral, and the sheets of crazy paper. Please refer anything related to these items to me. Signed, Gloria.
A crazy box, is what it was. Those were always interesting, if not particularly telling. Or was someone trying to get the police to believe they’re crazy? A red-herring, perhaps? Gloria drummed her fingers against her desk and tried to put a new shape on an idea that had already become very solid in her own mind. Alright.
She began to type, weaving a story for herself of cultists, myriad and unassuming, on a mission to purify the apparent deserving. She saves this, makes a careful note to not email it, and closes the window. There was still the diary, after all. Dimming the light of her office, she slips the diary page into a plastic sleeve so that her gloves could be removed, and began to read.
Halo : Escalation Issue # 11 Cover Art by Anthony Palumbo
“Exposure” part 1 - Spartans Ray and Thorne set out on a secret mission to uncover the origin of a monstrous new bioweapon … but is it too late to prevent total catastrophe? Halo lead writer Brian Reed (Amazing Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel), Duffy Boudreau (BlackAcre), and Ricardo Sánchez (Green Arrow) team up to present one of the most dangerous Spartan ops yet !
A short film comparing the treatment of those in the Occupy Movement and the treatment of the protesters in Libya, Iran, and Egypt. I’m afraid, without a central purpose and leadership of this movement, there will be a spark that will escalate to higher levels of violence on both sides.