Slaying The Siren
Sirens blaring, the vehicle
carrying Inspector Jacqueline Juve weaves through the evening traffic, racing
against murder. She focuses on the streets, mind projecting and magnifying the
urgency the sirens should convey to the drivers ahead of her. A life is at
stake, and they need to know it and get out of her way. In spite of this, she
still has to steer around dawdlers.
It has been a puzzling
that would be strange in another city, but not in Crystal, the first
psykopolis. Five deaths, the victims all drained of life. Not blood, but life,
the essential energy that fuels the human machine, that naturally dissipates
throughout the years unless the machine is damaged or diseased. In a typical
murder, Juve can, for the first few hours, read the fading electrical impulses
in the victims’ brains, piece together the final fragmentary thoughts to gain
clues as to why, how, and who. The more freshly dead, the stronger the
impulses. That wasn’t true of the victims of these particular deaths. They all
were devoid of any kind of spark. Their life force, down to the cellular level,
had been completely drained.
Vampirism and parasitism
nothing new in Crystal. The psychetecture used for most of the city’s buildings
enhance the natural psychic inclinations of most of the city’s inhabitants.
Some become geniuses, healers, prophets. Others become madmen, succubae,
saboteurs. New marvels are invented every day, as are new crimes. In this case,
it’s a new variation of the new crime of vampirism. Never has Juve seen energy
drained so completely from the victims, their bodies rotting so quickly
autopsies were almost impossible. They were all male, and, Juve discovered
through her investigation, all connected to Alicia Bayton.
A woman of robust body
hair that literally shimmers, Bayton had been intimate with each victim. At
first she was the main suspect, but her fellow members of the commune she lives
in accounted for her presence during each murder. One of them mentioned another
paramour, Ronald Daughtry, with whom Bayton had broken up before the murders. Bayton
gave Juve a mental image of Daughtry, a thin dark man with angry eyes, but Juve
asked for a physical photograph instead. She had learned in this job that you
can’t trust how others see a person because of the biases that color their
perception. The photograph matched the image, except for the eyes. This led
Juve to Daughtry’s apartment, earlier today.
He lived in a studio in
Park, a growing neighborhood of new structures showcasing the latest advances
in psychetecture. The buildings gave off bright subliminals, impressions of
serenity that belied the presence of a possible killer. Juve and her partner,
Jerome Rambert, were searching Daughtry’s room, scanning for any psychic
traces. In the bathroom, she felt a chill in the air. Her breath steamed. A
compulsion brought her to the bathroom mirror. She breathed upon it. The steam
settled on the mirror, then words were spelled out on the condensation as by an
THE SIREN WILL BE SLAIN
called, sending him
a snapshot of the message to his mind, in case it disappeared before he entered
the room. He saw it just before it faded. “Scan this room, inch by inch! I’m
going to Bayton’s place! Hopefully I’ll get there first!”
She now drives into Franklin
Heights, an older neighborhood of first and second generation psychetecture.
Bayton’s commune is a large two-story house, with many bedrooms. Juve pulls up
and runs out toward the front door, using her mind to pick the lock, as she had
learned from a thief who is now one of her confidential informants. She enters
the house, hears the voices.
dead! You can’t be
“I am now, thanks
to you. I told
you I’d end this.”
Juve recognizes the first
as Bayton’s. The second is a man’s voice. It has to be Daughtry’s. She rushes
up the stairs, gun out, to Bayton’s bedroom, yelling, “Police! Don’t move!”
What she sees inside the
burns into her memory till her dying day.
Bayton’s hair is
by red tentacles wrapping around Daughtry’s face, pulling it closer to her open
mouth, from which extruded a tenacled tongue.
Daughtry says through clenched teeth as he brings up the knife to her throat. Blood
splatters on him as he hacks away at her, the tentacles sliding off him as she
falls. She coughs more blood as half the tentacles change back to hair, then
softly gurgles as she dies.
“She killed them
says to a still stunned Juve. “I know, because she tried to kill me too. When
she kisses you, you get lost in the sensation. It feels good as she drains you.
I would’ve been her fourth victim, but I fought back. I knew somehow that it
wasn’t good. Something felt…off. I escaped, barely. Pulled away from her at the
last moment, but she had taken much from me. I lay in my bed for four days.
Then she killed again. I heard it on the newscast. I thought about going to the
police, but I guess the energy she stole also connected my mind to hers. She
found out somehow and told her commune I was coming to kill her. She convinced
them to kill me at my home. That way, you’d think I’d done her murders.”
Juve shakes herself out
shock, points her gun at Daughtry. “You have to come with me. Put the knife
down. We’ll go to the station and get your statement, settle all this.”
you have to do that
by yourself. Thanks for the boost you gave me at my apartment. Believing I was
alive made me so, for a while. You’ll find me in the Regent Park Lagoon.”
He vanishes, the knife
to the ground.
The commune members are
for killing him in his bathroom, then dumping the body. Later, Daughtry’s corpse
is found in the lagoon. Watching it being put in the coroner’s wagon, Juve
can’t help but think of how much life force he must’ve had. Maybe Bayton
wouldn’t have needed to kill anyone at all if she had realized this.
Copyright © September 25, 2021
by Dionisio “Don” Traverso Jr. - All rights reserved.
Traverso Jr. currently
lives in middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin with his partner
and muse, two children, and a cat. His stories have been published with the
byline of Don Traverso, in Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Magazine,
Aberations, Midnight Zoo, Aphelion Webzine, and Armageddon
recently his stories have appeared in Cheapjack
Pulp and Black Petals. He currently has a
weird horror collection out, Tales From Walken County. He also
makes rhythmic noise as Mekano 46.
W. Jack Savage is a retired
broadcaster and educator. He is the author of eight books including Imagination:
The Art of W. Jack Savage (wjacksavage.com). To date, more than fifty
of Jack’s short stories and over a thousand of his paintings and drawings have
been published worldwide. Jack and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, California.