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"You know smoking's bad for you."

I wanted to blow the smoke right into his lungs and kill him. The same way a burning house makes its victims submit to its intoxicating fumes. Slowly, then eventually. But I couldn't bear how much of a piss-off Anthony was today.

"So is your need to bother people. It'll kill you sooner than it'll kill me," I rasped. I actually thought for a moment of putting down the cigarette. But the dry grass would light, probably killing our whole team. The ashes would be easier contained on the end of the rolled paper.

If the blood pouring out of John Wilkson's body were wine I'm sure I'd have drunk myself to death. Scenes were never fun. I could handle photographs. With pictures it's like a wall between the bitter smell of flesh and the nerves in each nose. It's more fiction like a movie rather than reality with fear. Maybe that's why newspapers use pictures.

I suggested a simple pistol. I wouldn't expect the killer to have an upgrade since the last body. John’s eyes weren’t as glassy as prior victims, as if his torture was meant to exist past this life.

Last cigarette. The last of that nicotine left my lungs. Burning fields didn't seem so bad.

Homicidal tendencies. That's what Dr. Robert called them. He said it rooted from my experience with nut jobs. And my smoking. Both were addictions I preferred to keep.

The body last breathed with the name John Wilksons. He had been beaten prior. Maybe for about three or four days. The bruises were just beginning to depart. It might have been the lack of blood, but I'm sure our suspect wasn't the kindest host.

I could hear the surrounding hurry to get the information through a mental separation. I heard every word and broke every sentence down to meaning, yet without a simple feeling of effort. Though I happened to find meaning with every sentence, regardless of diction or tone, I didn’t comprehend a single one. Gibberish. Absolute gibberish to me. It was the same with smoking. I could breathe in the smoke and feel the fumes break down my lungs to their will, yet every time I did it, I felt nothing. The smoke would only tinge the nerves of my nose, yet I think I lost it some years ago. The only senses I’ve never lost are my touch, taste, and eyes. Even then, there are times where my eyes deceive me, as they separate my sight from my eyes from my mind. Even sitting next to the broken body of John, I could feel apart from it all.

I had existed in this departed existence for too long.

Within the ribcage of John, my fingers could feel some sort of protruding object. I figured a knife, but the dullness made me reconsider. My lips whispered to something regarding it and Anthony wrote it down. He’d probably give it to the coroner, who would figure it out eventually. But I already decided the shape and density of the object had determined itself as a tumor. Lung cancer? Possibly. It was ironic enough to make me chuckle. Right next to a dead body.

The heat didn’t hit me until I needed the windows down in the car. I could feel the beading sweat. It was more impressive for me than disgusting. I never sweat more than most and feeling the rolling salt down my face intrigued me.

Paperwork never helped me. Every detail was needed to be put down and I really didn’t like writing. Attorneys and other officers were always on me about writing better. Jane always told me I could write chinese better than english. The station was never comfortable anyways, since the surrounding hurry of lab monkeys asking for me to take a little personal time with a cup. Something about having police information.

Time never passed slowly for me anyway. At least not often. My days were 12 hours at most. Even sleep scarcely took my time for dreams. This lack of time spent sleeping made me exhausted to just walk. I only found an escape from this double time through the mental stress of crime. It felt good. I enjoyed the constant connections being made.

I had been investigating the killer since last year. We hadn’t linked all his holocausts to one person until one of the lab monkeys linked some unknown DNA between all scenes. It was our only unnamed file. That’s what was so unexpected: he never showed promise for future crime, since he hadn’t shown a past.

What interested me about this one was that it had to have been prepared, yet so improvised. The lumps of flesh that were formerly human were all unrelated. His motive reached only to the point and willingness of unfamiliarity. Yet despite this, it was also reaching beyond a point of violent and horrific familiarity with the variety of suffering he was willing to inflict. John Wilksons had the easiest punishment, in that he was killed quickly and without much suffering. A few days of simple beating in comparison with the mutilated meat from other scenes. A bullet to the chest rather than being hung for hours with certain hope.

My phone barely alerted me. Being called for a case can only mean two things: new body or big discovery.

The clammy, yet freezing, coroner’s office had only been known to me twice prior. I figure if I see a body once, I shouldn’t need to see it again.

“Besides the tumor there’s something incredible going on.”

I examined the body again. Excluding the lack of clothes and the change in temperature, nothing had made itself different from the scene. John’s eyes still showed reflection and it seemed his suffering only continued to extend.

“You can rub it in and wait or just tell me,” I heard my lips whisper.

The coroner (I had never learned his name) smirked while looking at John.

“You may work here for decades and I still think you’ll never forget this or see anything like it,” he said. “John why don’t you blink for us?”

John blinked.

“Just so Dr. Bru-” he began.

“Don’t. Just detective.”

“Just so Detective Bruten can understand I’m not messing with him, would you mind blinking several times.”

It could only make sense of some sort of drug. The fluttering eyelashes showed John’s tortured existance continued.

“Paralysis drugs?” I guessed.

“Something like it. I have some toxics in the lab. I was about to drain him too. It’s good we got him down here. Almost died from the lack of blood.”

He’s useless. I could question him but I’m sure his eyes could only show the fear and terror he had already suffered. Seeing it in the mirror was hard enough.

“I don’t suppose it will wear off?” I questioned.

“It hasn’t lightened up so far,” the coroner whispered glancing at John. I don’t think it would ever lighten up. It was clear he was meant to suffer down here forever.

“Is he capable of thinking or answering questions?”

“I’ve only asked him to do things.”

I came close to John’s face and looked into my reflection. It seemed like an eternity mirror. His eyes only showed the same fear, if not a sort increase.

“John I want you to blink twice for yes. Got it?”

Two.

“Do you know the man that did this to you?”

A bit of hesitation, but clearly not two.

“Do you think he intends to completely kill you?”

His eyes only watered. His silence only explained he couldn’t answer.

“John, I want you to really focus on the question. Was there anyone else with you?”

None.

“Are you afraid for your life?”

Two.

“Have you seen the killer within the time you’ve been in here?”

Two.

The gun within my jacket pocket beckoned to my hand. If steel only brought comfort to my shaking hand. Lockdown was imperative. An escaped killer only meant an inside job.

It was only once the carnage had subsided and only officers were left in their bloodied state that I felt content. Despite the blood leaking from the vein broken on my skin, I could still feel so close to everything. The smell of the blood is often overlooked. The taste is even further misunderstood. Sodium. I could see it everywhere. Throughout the entire building. Leaking off the table from which John previously breathed. Perhaps it was better. He was suffering. I should’ve just finished the job.

Metal on the joints of the wrist is never comfortable and I found myself smiling. It scared me.

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