Reskin

Sovel leaps from the narrow arrow straight path formed out of boring grey slabs to the small deck that is out front of the old suburban house, bypassing the twin steps that link the two. At one time this address would have been at the edge of the city but since the seventies the city has expanded much further out. It’s why the paint on the wood is peeling and flaking clean to expose countless other layers that are equally faded and dirt covered below. Most of the houses in this neighbourhood look much the same. The inhabitants tend to fall into one of three categories and that is they’re poor, elderly or criminals. From what the detective pulled up on the drive out here Cornelius Long falls exclusively into the latter. He has a raft of petty theft and minor drugs charges. Not the sort of guy you’d expect to jump to murder but perhaps his need has… Sovel doesn’t care. He isn’t about to reason away as to why he skinned someone in an apartment downtown and then murdered a coroner in her lab. Rather, he tightens his grip on his weapon, a fourteen shot semi-automatic pistol that is dark grey in colour. The barrel of the weapon is pointed skyward or what would be skyward if not for the overhanging roof that provides shelter over the small deck and its creaking wooden boards. If it was daytime the detective would be concerned he’d be heard but it’s the middle of the night. If Cornelius is up he’s likely stoned out of his mind but more than likely he’ll be spark out, if he’s at home at all. He might be dealing. That’s some of the charges to his name. Still makes him low level though.

Sovel should wrap on the door, announce his presence and all that jazz but there is no way he’s risking that. So instead after having listened for about a minute plus some change and hearing nothing, he steps back and with all his might delivers a hard kick right next to the lock. The strike has the desired effect because the lock explodes and the door swings violently inward. It hits something with a bang shortly after the initial boom of shoe meeting door. Sovel ignores the noise. It’ll wake the neighbours but that isn’t his concern. He’s here to find a perp and bring them in.

Now over the threshold and inside the house he finds the interior is just as rundown in appearance as its exterior and from the faint smell in the air, it is clear that Cornelius is more than just a drug pusher. No surprise there Sovel thinks as he carefully heads for the first room. It’s off to his left. His gun is levelled and his finger over the trigger ready to fire. He can hear his heart. It’s loud but steady. Some comfort, he thinks knowing that for him that is entirely normal. It had taken a good deal of the drive over for his rapid fire pulse to ease and had only done so after he’d called in the body he found in the coroner’s office. He even added that he was pursuing a lead. Captain Hu had not been thrilled by what he had to say and advised Detective Bhura waited for backup. Sovel had cut the call at that moment. He hadn’t wanted to hear it. He knows he’ll get a bollocking for his actions but thinks it’ll be worth it if he gets to arrest the piece of shit he’s now in the house of.

It’s been years since Sovel felt this passionate about making an arrest. It’s not lost on him as to the reason why. It’s obvious. Kelly Holliday might not have been an officer but she did work with them and so by extension, in Sovel’s mind, she was one of them and no one crosses law enforcement without considerable repercussions guaranteed to follow.

The first room, what likely should be a dining room but is littered with literal garbage as well as obvious signs of having housed addicts for at least a time, is clear and so the homicide detective moves on. Once he knows that at least the ground floor is secure he can take a closer look encase he’s missed anything important. He hasn’t a clue what that might be.

The next room is a kitchen, if it can still be called such seeing as it is devoid of any kind of cabinetry and is instead occupied by a sink atop a simple box made out of wooden supports and a yellowed fridge/freezer combination that is making an unhealthy whining noise. In fact the fridge/freezer sounds as if it is about to blow at any second.

This room more than the last stinks of weed but unlike the last has no signs of drug paraphernalia and so Sovel returns to his search. He has one room left. He doesn’t count the corridor that links the front door to the room he first entered, the kitchen and the last room as something that needs to be searched. It’s obvious it’s empty, especially with it only being wide enough for one person, save for where the stairs break off that is, to pass in a given direction at a time.

The detective has, in truth, paid little attention to the stairs that ascend upward, other than to ensure no one, Cornelius Long most likely, is about to hurl themselves at him.

Sovel sidles into the last ground floor room. It actually looks lived in by comparison but not in a positive way. Apart from a couple sofas which are stained and have burn marks in their cracked brown leather there is a small television sat atop a couple mouldy looking cardboard boxes that are stacked haphazardly, some faded pictures which are dotted about, heaps of discarded takeaway packaging that is well into the festering stage and needles that are scattered everywhere.

Sovel wonders how many people use here. It can’t just be Cornelius surely. If it is then he should be dead from all he’s been taking. Maybe he is upstairs because he sure as hell ain’t down here, Sovel thinks feeling some of the tension in his shoulders ebb. The detective sighs. He needs to check upstairs just to be sure but it looks as though the place is empty. He resists grinding his teeth together in irritation while doing an about and heading back towards the stairs. However, Sovel never ascends any of the steps. Rather, he spies something in the low light. He recognises it immediately, skin. It’s in a pile. He wouldn’t call it neat, but he doesn’t shudder. Sick bastard, is what goes through the homicide detectives head but that is all. Soon after he takes note of the presence of a light, or he should say a sliver shining through a gap. The gap is a thin long line in the wall. The detectives’ brow furrows in the moments before he dares to take one hand off his gun and reach for the crack of light. His hand meets the wall; it’s cool to the touch and surprisingly smooth for the state that this house is in with its peeling wallpaper. His gun remains aimed up the stairs just in case. However, he largely forgets about the potential dangers when his wall running hand catches something. Instinctively his fingers dig and then wrap around whatever it is. His guess is a catch. A couple of short fumbles follow prior to Sovel getting a low click in response. His heart stops, only for a second, as does his hand. Anger boils up from deep inside. He wrenches the door back. To his surprise he isn’t presented with a room but a set of stairs. They’re wooden, bare and by looks of things steep. The detective doubts this leads to an original basement. More than likely it was added later. Whether by Cornelius or not he cannot say, not that it matters or changes what he does next, which is to descend. After all, it makes more sense to investigate the only active source of light in the house. Sure it’s risky but Sovel prefers to follow his gut and his gut tells him the basement is the play. If he goes upstairs Cornelius could slip out. He isn’t inclined to let the bastard be anymore slippery than he has already been.

Several steps in and the staircase kinks to the left ninety degrees but offers no glimpse at the room it leads to. For that Sovel is forced to wait until he is off the stairs and able to turn back on himself. The space is smaller than he would have anticipated but is blindingly lit. He is surprised by that and forced to shield his eyes as a result. One they grow accustomed to the brightness he sees what he’s been able to smell for a good while, weed. There’s a full growing operation in full effect down here, but by looks of things that isn’t all Cornelius has been up to as there is a chemistry set sat nearby the stairs. From a quick glance it seems as though all the equipment is present to make crystal meth and a decent quantity of it to boot. Sovel feels a new font of disgust well up inside him but continues deeper into the basement. Moving past leafy green mature weed plants until he reaches an open area at the rear of the basement where he finds the body of Cornelius Long lying dead on the cold concrete stone slab that is the basement floor. “Shit!” Sovel exclaims prior to lowering his gun instinctively. There is no guarantee he’s alone but his gut tells him he is and anyway he needs to call in this discovery while backup is still on its way. No need for a swat team to turn up when they’re only suspect is stone cold dead and by the looks of things has been for a good few hours, at the very least. The detective wonders who will be called in place of Kelly, if anyone. Right then he is hit with a giant slap of remorse as he recalls the loss of Kelly and how quickly he’s moving on when her body is barely even cold.

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