Immoral Immortal | PART SEVEN | Flash Fiction

Click here to read Parts 1 – 6. 

PART SEVEN:

Irving tried to blink several times before his eyes would fully open. They felt as though they had been glued shut for weeks. As he would later discover – it had been six days. Six days since he had been gunned down in his own home; his sanctuary. It wasn’t his first flirtation with a fatality, but he didn’t care for it all the same.

Reality came shuddering back around him; the sound of nurses busying about their day in the corridor, the distant screams of a woman in labour. A building in which life and death both fought a daily battle; contending for the populace. Irving had always felt safe in hospitals; the familiarity of a medical environment, but waking up alone in a dimmed and empty ward, hidden behind the blue screens took the comfort away. He was very much on the back foot. He pushed his palms into the hard mattress, raising himself up in the bed until he found a vaguely comfortable sitting position. His legs seemed heavy and led-like and utterly no use at all, and Irving presumed it was the fatigue.

The curtains around his bed were drawn shut, but he could make out the human-shaped shadow approaching his bedside. The woman who emerged was altogether alarmingly unexpected. She greeted him with her usual sweet smile, tinged with a deep sadness that could not be ignored.

‘Kathy? What on earth are you doing here?’ Irving didn’t know what else to say.

‘You never allocated a new next of kin, so they contacted your old one instead.’ Kathy bent slightly and kissed Irving’s forehead. She wore a soft, grey roll neck jumper that forgivingly clung to her gracefully aged curves and bootcut trousers that exposed a pair of black kitten heels. Irving could smell her perfume lingering in the air; sweetening every breath he took as if in a field of daisies.

‘I’m sorry they bothered you. It’s nothing to worry about.’

‘Nothing to worry about?’ Kathy looked confused and outraged all at once, but that sad smile never vacated her lips. ‘You were shot at.’

‘Yes, well it was a tad unexpected. But I’m right as rain, just a bit tired is all. You really don’t need to be here. I’m sure the doctor will be round to discharge me soon.’

‘Irving.’ The confusion on his ex-wife’s face melted away and left something else in its place. Pity. ‘They told me the doctor would have already spoken to you before I got here.’ Irving had Kathy had lived very separate lives for over ten years, but he still knew every inch of her face.

‘Not good?’ His voiced piqued.

‘No, not good.’ Kathy hastily wipes away a year and sniffed; attempting to curtail the oncoming cry at bay.

‘Tell it to me straight, love.’ An old familiar affection slipping from his lips as naturally as air escaped his lungs. They were both older and wiser now, but as she sat perched on the edge of his bed, stroking his hand with her thumb – it was if the pain and heartache of their divorce had never happened. Instead, of a world-worn middle-aged woman, she was the matter-of-fact young solicitor with a closed heart and an open mind who he had been charmed by all those years ago.

‘It shattered a rib, punctured your right lung, and there is shrapnel embedded in your spinal cord.’ She took a deep breath and tried to keep it together for a moment longer. ‘Operations would probably paralyse you from the neck down, and leaving it will eventually kill you if it decides to move. There’s nothing to be done, my love. Stalemate.’

‘Bugger.’ Irving knew that if Kathy said it was hopeless, then that was that. She would have called in favours from the best doctors in the city. Everyone who was anyone owed Kathy Stiles a favour.

‘I am truly sorry.’ She squeezed his hand, unsure what else to say.

‘I’ve got a question for you.’

‘Anything? What do you need? What is it?’

‘Is my apartment in better or worse shape than I am?’

‘Your apartment can be repaired and replaced. You cannot.’

‘Know any good workmen? I might need a bit of help fitting the wheelchair ramps.’ Irving smirked, swerving to dodge a swat from Kathy. He became worryingly aware for the first time since opening his eyes just how little of his body he could feel. He stretched his arms out to test them; bending, twisting and wiggling everything possible. All seemed to be in working order. Then he moved onto his toes, commanding them to dance under the thin blanket. Nothing. Irving asked his knees to bend, but there was no response. Nothing Irving asked of his lower body was permitted. He was communicating, screaming internally at anything below his hips to move – even a little – but nothing happened, and nothing kept happening. His jokes about a wheelchair ramp now seemed naïve.

‘I’m never going to walk again, am I?’ It was a question but he didn’t want to hear the answer, and she didn’t give him one. Kathy had told him plain and simple that he was paralysed, but his mind had chosen – much like his legs – not to listen.  She sat silently holding his hand, and finally, let her own tears flow. Irving’s tears soon followed suit.

They were eventually interrupted by his doctor, an hour too late to break the news to Irving himself. Irving was deaf to his commiseration and feeble strategies for recovery. Nothing in his medical toolkit could make walk Irving walk again. He just wanted to go home and fix his apartment, to have a large glass of whisky and to keep helping young Ric with the mystery of the long dead. Perhaps even return to work with witty quips about his new wheels and recant brave and elaborate tales to his eager students. Instead, Irving politely let the doctor say his piece, nodding every twenty words or so. Once the doctor had left him, and Kathy had said her goodbyes – promising to return later on – Irving closed his eyes to the world and wished he had never opened them.

Immoral Immortal (Part 3) | FLASH FICTION

Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here. 

Ric stepped into Irving’s apartment and the lift doors slid quietly closed behind him. On the coffee table in front of the professor were piles of paperwork scattered all over the place, and a screen projection hovering a metre above the table with images flickering across it.

As he walked towards the living room, he glanced at the standing bar with a glass of whisky already poured and waiting. Irving had an identical one a hand’s stretch away from him on the table, but he was more concerned about the paperwork than the drink. Ric picked up the glass and swilled the dark liquid in the crystal glass and took a sip. He welcomed its rough heat. Ric took another sip before placing the glass down in a gap on the table and picking up the closest file to him. Each file seemed to be old police reports – all the pages had faded and yellowed with time. He could taste the dust in the air as he flicked through the papers.

 

WITNESS TESTIMONY

NAME: SIMON TIMOTHY ST. JAMES

DOB: 21ST JUNE 2055

OFFICER MCNALLY: Can you describe the assailant?

ST. JAMES: She was wearing a bright red dress and purple heels. And she had really red hair – like orange-red. I only saw her quick – so I didn’t see her face or nothing.

OFFICER MCNALLY: What did you see happen?

ST. JAMES: She walked down the alley where I’d seen a bloke in a suit go ‘bout five minutes before. Then there were loads of noise and she came out and he didn’.

OFFICER MCNALLY: Did you witness the crime?

ST. JAMES: Love, I jus’ told you – they went in the alley an’ only the lass came back out.

OFFICER MCNALLY: So, if you didn’t see a crime being committed, why did you call the police?

ST. JAMES: Saw the body though, didn’ I? Big ol’ hole right in his chest. I tell you what – I recons it was them heels the devil ‘ad on. Stabbed him through the heart, she did.

OFFICER MCNALLY: Did you see any other evidence that the woman in question was the one to commit the murder?

ST. JAMES: Well, I didn’t need any did I? She’s that Jessica Rabbit killer, aint she?

END OF INTERVIEW

 

Ric looked over to Irving, who had is head in his hand and was watching him closely.

‘They’re all the same. No one ever saw her close up, they never witnessed her actually committing the murders. There’s no proof it’s even the same woman – just the same clothes. Not that they would have been easy to get hold of. Even back then – they weren’t making items like that anymore, the uniform structure was already in place unless you were an elite or a Ward.’ Irving looked defeatedly at the mess of paperwork on his table and started scraping it together to make what vaguely resembled a pile.

‘No, she’s not dressed like a Ward. She’s… different. People try not to look at Wards – but her, well you just sort of can’t help it. She doesn’t belong somehow.’

‘What exactly did she look like?’

‘Like this.’ Ric said, waving the witness interview around. ‘Red hair, red dress, purple heels.’

‘But did you see her face?’

‘She looked right at me, Professor. The face of an angel. Except-.’ Ric stopped halfway through his thought.

‘What?’

‘Eyes. Her eyes! Fuck sake – I knew she looked different!’ Ric touched his index finger gently to his left eye and as he pulled it away, an artificial lens came with it. ‘She’s not wearing lenses.’ He stared at the glint of the lens. If he looked close enough, he could see the coding scrawling across the top. They recorded everything, they showed you everything. You could even link them with ear pieces and use them as an entertainment system. But Ric could never afford that. He put the lens carefully back in his eye and blinked a few times.

‘But everyone wears them – even the Wards. Even the President of the World wears fucking lenses. It’s the law. If you’re caught not wearing them, you’re arrested.’ Irving searched through the papers and pulled out the only sketch of the woman. But there was no face depicted in the image, just her signature outfit.

‘I know, but I’m telling you she wasn’t wearing them.’

‘You can’t get anywhere without them. One of the murders was committed in a Public Library – they do retinal scans to check your Clearance.’

‘So how did she get in?’ Ric asked, picking up his drink and taking a swig.

‘Someone’s helping her.’

– End of Part Three –

Immoral Immortal: A Fantasy Crime Flash Fiction (Part One)

What would you do if you met a serial killer from the past that looked just like Jessica Rabbit?

Here is Part One of my new Flash Fiction – let me know what you think in the comments, and if you would like a Part Two. 


Immoral Immortal – Part One

As Ric looked up from the floor, a flash of deep crimson caught his gaze. He no longer found his shoes satisfying enough to ponder, and instead set to task trying to work out what he had glimpsed. A longer look intrigued him even more. He had seen pictures in the info stamps of old of the image before him. A woman in a svelte red crushed velvet dress, long auburn waves tumbling over her shoulders and black heels that would pierce even a giant’s skin. Ric often thought the shuttles in his hive were some of the cleanest, but she was out of place, making it seem dingy and dark compared to her.

Ric tried not to gawk as he attempted to remember the tale. Back in the 20th century, there was a film with a cartoon woman called Jessica Rabbit – who was apparently rather pretty and illustrious – and decades later a serial killer emerged, dazzling her victims dressed as this character. She was never caught in the twenty-five years she was active – she just disappeared one day and was never heard from again. Ric knew it couldn’t be the same woman, nearly 300 years later, but it made him wonder what would compel a woman to dress like that these days. It was hardly inconspicuous – only Wards wore red in public, and they were never left unaccompanied.

A Ward or Wardling was a member of an elite group of women, said to be the most beautiful and alluring women from all over the world. They would be chosen from their hometown as a young girl and trained and transformed into Wards. Men would pay a whole year’s wages just for an hour with a Ward. They were said to be multi-lingual, excellent dancers and able to charm men into abandoning their wives and children with just a whispered sentence in the ear of a willing man. But even Wards didn’t wear dresses like that.

Ric’s brain noticed before the rest of him had time to catch up, but the woman was slowly slinking towards him, and before he could close his mouth, she was sat on the seat next to him, her legs daintily crossed over one another. He attempted a casual nod but felt he probably looked like a seal pup begging for fish. Ric looked at his shoes again.

They were standard issue black shoes, leading to the plain black trousers and a black polo shirt. Some people chose to buy clothes themselves, but Ric had never much minded the government-issued wardrobe. He had seven of each item of clothing – in case they needed to be washed or mended. And every year he received a new pack in that year’s chosen colour. This year was black in tribute to the cenotaph of the Fallen Founders – the legendary warriors that had overthrown the monarchy and tragically lost their lives in the battles that followed.

Most people on the shuttle were wearing the same thing or had the additional black jacket for warmth. Ric was glad he hadn’t grabbed his before work that morning, as he could feel the heat swelling through his body as the woman glanced sidewards at him with a slight smile on her red lips. Several minutes passed before the shuttle began to slow and the conductor announced the next stop. Ric snuck glimpses to his left every now and then, pondering her clothes. She truly looked the part of the Jessica Rabbit killer, although he couldn’t remember the real woman’s name.

She stood up as the shuttle came to a stop and the doors slid open. Just as she reached the doors, the woman turned to face him, smiled and said, ‘Her name was Ruby Bennett’, and stepped off onto the platform.