Thursday, September 8, 2011

Natural Selection Excerpt

The detective’s brow furrowed, and he glanced at the female officer. She shrugged picked up the folder in front of him, walking around the table towards me. “I want to show you a photo taken of the victim’s room. I'll warn you the image is graphic and might be alarming. If you don’t think you can handle it, we’ll understand. I know Garret can be kind of awkward, but I assure you he’s a good detective. He just wants to figure out what happened to your friend.” She gave the detective a hard glance, and he grimaced and looked away. “Once you see the pictures you’ll understand...” She paused, shooting a disapproving frown at the detective. “…unorthodox behavior.” She glanced at Mrs. Soberlo and waited for her nod, then turned back to me.

After that build up there was no way I could say no. I owed it to Mariah to give whatever help I could. I nodded, and she set a black and white 8x10 in front of me. A lump filled my throat, and I tried not to see the blood. The body wasn’t in the photo, but I could tell something horribly violent had been done to my friend. It could have been a still from a horror movie.  It took a moment before I was able to see past the blood. Lead settled in my stomach as I realized why they’d been asking about the occult. A strange symbol had been painted on the floor.

I recognized the ankh at the top, but the other symbols I didn’t know. There were remnants of a black candle in each point. I felt sick to my stomach and light headed. My hand shook as I shoved my hair out of my face. Officer Simms gripped my shoulder trying to comfort me, but I had to get out of that room. Iciness pulsed through me, and I tried to push the horrible picture away. When my hand got near it, it felt as if I was attempting to reach into a fire. I had no idea how a simple photograph was making me ill and weak, but it was. I looked away, however my eyes kept skittering back. I couldn’t understand what I was sensing. I tried to glance at other things in the picture, but my eyes were repeatedly drawn to the black lines. No matter how much I wanted to look away, that symbol was all I could focus on.  Whatever it was had power. I wondered if someone was harnessing that power for their own sick purposes.

             I licked my lips nervously, unable to meet the detective eyes. A thick, waxy feeling settled into my belly, and I struggled not to retch.  I placed my hand over my mouth and tried to breathe deeply. “That’s not the Mariah I knew.”  Mrs. Soberlo placed her hand over mine, and I tried to smile. I wanted out of that tiny room and away from the terrible picture. Instead, I fidgeted and pressed my lips tight, fighting the oily surge in my stomach.

“I don’t think Miss Hoffman has any information for you, do you Amelia?” Mrs. Soberlo met my eyes, her brown ones soft and kind giving me a little strength.
“We were kind of friends, but we rarely hung out except at school. I wish I could help you, but I really don’t know anything about this.”
“Thank you, Miss Hoffman,” the detective said, eyeing me oddly. I wasn’t certain he entirely believed me, but I think he was afraid to push me with Mrs. Soberlo there—which probably made him a smart man.
As I opened the door I turned back to him. “Should I be worried, Detective? Is there a psychopath out there stalking teenage girls or did Mariah get caught up in something awful?”
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out, Miss Hoffman.”
-Elizabeth Sharpe

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