Super Heroine (with an e, so it’s legal)
Murder – yes that was it! “One key death,” wasn’t that what he’d always said? Maurice looked at the body at his feet, its cooling blood staining the white shag carpet. The letter opener was still sticky in his trembling grasp. Had he done it? Had he really done it? Maurice stepped around the body, giving it a wide berth. Certainly, he’d imagined – but that was where he stopped: in his mind. When he tried to spool through his memories, the last thing he remembered doing was locking the door to his house. The analytic side of his brain noted how interesting it was that he’d blocked the entire event from his mind, but the rest of his mind screamed to turn tail and run. The rest won. He dropped the letter opener and walked as calmly as possible through the reception area, turn right and called for an elevator.
In his panic, he didn’t notice that he never heard the letter opener hit the ground.
Angela Marks knelt over the body of Carl Grant, feeling the shag carpet squish like mud beneath her shoes. Five holes punctured Grant’s shirt and chest, one of the stabs obviously hit the sod in the heart. Yep, there it was, just below the solar plexus. If Marks had to guess it was a lucky shot, rather than a trained strike. The wounds were semi-circular, smooth. She wanted to say he’d been done it with a pen, but the holes were too big – besides, Grant only had fountain pens in his square steel pen trough. With a red-nailed finger, she prodded the wounds, sending a short dribble of crimson down across Grant’s white shirt. Blood was nothing new to Marks. She’d been doing this job for ten years, more or less – mostly more. Of course, no one else knew she was doing the job – that was the real problem of being dead, no appreciation.
Contrary to popular belief, “crossing over” doesn’t grant any sort of extra sensory perception, besides the ability to see other ghosts, but people saw them all the time in real life. They just didn’t know how to contextualize the sightings. Americans discounted the sightings as floaters in their eyes, or a sudden shift in the light, or just a reflection off a mirror or window. Now, according to one of Marks’s friends, in South America, certain groups revered ghosts as signs from their gods, or a blessing from a favored saint. That was enough of a kick for some that they stayed around. Those ghosts rarely got noticed in life, so earning a sort of spooky celebrity brought them joy. Marks just thought it sounded deadly dull. No, she needed satisfaction, the satisfaction only work could bring. Besides, the perks of being a god didn’t do much for a ghost: watching sacrificed food rot wasn’t her idea of a good time.
Marks shook her head and focused on the task at hand. Shaking her head didn’t give her the same satisfactory sloshing of the brain that it did in life, but it was an ingrained habit, why bother to change now? Carl Grant was still warm to the touch, which meant very little to Marks, since her average temperature was around 32*F, but the blood on the floor was still fairly fluid, not too sticky, sort of like warmed honey. Grant must have died only an hour or two before she got pulled there. She rifled through his wallet and pockets again. California ID, even though he’d been in New York for several years, judging by the general state of “settled-inness” of his office. The chair had been sat in enough to show a perfect mold of his bony ass. A silver ring stained the teak desk, presumably where Grant habitually kept his coffee mug. His pockets held three door keys, one presumably for a loft, the other two for the office. A separate keyring held a key with “Ferrari” etched into the guitar pick-shaped head. That was a crime in its own right, but Marks doubted anyone would kill a man for having a racing car in a city where the top speed it would likely ever see was thirty miles per hour. She checked the wallet a third time. Something was missing, she was sure of it, but how she’d figure out what was beyond her. Four credit cards, probably all near their limit, judging by Grant’s lifestyle; no cash; no receipts, which didn’t concern Marks, since he likely paid for all his business expenses with plastic and tracked the receipts online; no photos; four sticky-notes where normal people kept cash, each with a PIN disguised as a receipt MCdonald’s: $44.12, AMerican Dental: $32.55, V-charge: $17.17, Discovery Channel.com: $77.90, all of which would be more convincing if Grant actually carried any other receipts. Marks was always impressed when only marginally clever people ended up making as much money as Grant did, and judging by the crystal clock next to the stainless steel pen trough, Grant had incredibly expensive taste to go with his money and probably went to the cinema too often. His silver Omega watch matched the one from the latest Bond film, his shoes were tailored white and black wingtips like Denzel Washington’s shoes in American Gangster. Marks smiled ruefully. Clearly, she spent too much time at the cinema. Although, there were a surprising number of murders in cinemas around the country, so at least she could write off some of that as work-related.
The clock said it was about twenty past three, so Marks had maybe another two hours to figure out who killed Grant. She sat in the chair and steepled her fingers. Her job would be a lot easier if she could just leave the room, but if she did that she might randomly teleport to a different crime scene. Even after ten or eleven years (time was pretty relative to ghosts) of working this job, she wasn’t quite clear on the rules. If the door had been open, she could leave, but since it was closed, she was limited to this immediate area. Something about the space being closed, limited her mobility. Marks shrugged and rifled through the desk drawers. Notebooks and files sat at right angles, perfectly centered in the drawers. Grants was organized, she had to admit that. She looked at the pen trough again. It was slightly askew, but the clock beside it formed a perfect right angle with the edges of the desk. Something had been taken out of the pen trough – and not by Grant.
In the bottom left-hand drawer, a square laptop lay under a tightly wrapped charger. Marks pulled both out and ran the plug to the cleverly hidden socket under the desk – she couldn’t use it, but the local PD certainly could. She’d tried using a computer once after she died, but all that did was scare the bejeebas out of the next person to use it in the public library, since the only thing the machine would do afterwards was play the movie Whitenoise on repeat, which would have been bad enough, but the movie hadn’t even been filmed yet. That public library closed a year later.
Marks looked over the rest of the room. A small camera lens glinted just above the potted plant in the corner near the window. It was a good place to hide a camera, with the sun always off to the side, glare from the lens would be minimal.
Just then a portly man with a weak mustache opened the door. He stared at Marks, then at the laptop. A bloody letter opener was caught in the cuff of his khaki pants. The wild look in his eye, said that he didn’t know where his murder weapon was. He gaze shifted from Marks to the laptop, then to the body. A feminine shriek escaped his lips. He made a mad dash to the video camera by the potted and pulled on the lens with both hands. The only thing he succeeded at was upsetting the plant and himself. The letter opener slid from his cuff, bounced once on the shag carpet, then stopped. The man looked around to make sure no one noticed.
Marks smirked and walked over to the door. The man still hadn’t noticed another presence in the room with him apparently, or he was too worried to consider that he wouldn’t feel a camera watching him. Marks toed the door shut and took a step nearer the man.
He yelped, scrambled to his feet, and ran at the door. Gingerly as she could, Marks set her foot in front of the running man and shoved him in the back. He landed head first with a crash, moaned, then was still.
All in all, it wasn’t Marks’s finest work, but she’d set everything up that the PD would need; if they wanted more, then they should find a way to get her a more permanent body.