Doctor Strangehold, Ectoplasmic Detective
Doctor Strangehold parked his car outside of the medical examiner’s office. The square block of a building sat next to Middleton University’s Medical School, and the hospital the university used to train their students. A few visits to the morgue went with that.
Strangehold frequently visited both to keep his training up so he could keep his license as a doctor. He admitted he had forgotten more old techniques with the advent of newer practices.
The guard on duty waved him through to the working part of the morgue. He nodded as he walked back to the colder part of the building.
“Strangehold,” said Doctor Robert Fern. He had on an apron and hair protector. “Burly said this was one of your cases.”
“How bad does it look, Robert,” said Strangehold. He knew it was bad from his reading and from the way Fern winced at the question.
“It’s worse than some of the car accidents I have seen,” said Fern. He waved for his visitor to follow him back to where the bodies were kept in a walk-in refrigerator before they were released, or turned over to the city for burial. “The autopsy was short because of what I had to work with.”
Strangehold nodded. The cause of death was obvious. The only thing that needed to be reported were physical injuries. The injuries themselves would look like some kind of animal attack.
It would be put down as a big animal like a grizzly, or some kind of panther. The speed of the attack would be unknown to Fern so he would only think about some kind of wild animal, or an escaped zoo animal. He would never think of anything like a werewolf, or a skinwearer.
Before Stranghold started hunting monsters, he would have never thought about anything like that either. Time and experience had changed his position. It was hard to deny something, when you had killed its cousin several times.
Fern opened the refrigerator. He led the way down the rows of shelves full of bags. He paused beside one and checked the tag. He opened it up and stepped back. Strangehold looked at the remains of a body in the bag. It was hard to tell if it had even started out human. He noted the remaining arm and hand. He frowned at the
damage. Not even werewolves did this much damage.
“This is the worst I have ever seen,” said Strangehold. He stepped back from the bag. “I have seen several attacks like this, but nothing so drastic.”
“I know,” said Fern. He closed the bag up. “Whatever did that was moving fast. That and that it was big are the only things I can testify to in court. The rest is pure guesswork.”
“I have to agree,” said Strangehold. “Most animal attacks I have seen aren’t that thorough. Usually to get to that requires days, and a horde of scavengers raiding the body.”
“How did a wild animal get to the guy’s apartment to do that?,” said Fern.
“I’m going to say somebody brought it in the building, and took it with them when they left,” said Strangehold. “I have to do some errands, and then check on my grandchildren. I’ll let you know if I find anything to contradict your findings.”
“Good luck with that,” said Fern. He followed his colleague out of the freezer. He locked it down with a padlock when they were both outside.
Strangehold nodded as he walked down the hall. He wouldn’t be bringing any evidence to show what they were dealing with to be given to the general public. He would simply go about his business and make sure Burly found enough evidence to close the case.
The culprit would never see the inside of a human court the way things looked at the moment.
Strangehold got into his car and drove back to the apartment building. There was a chance there was enough ectoplasm left in the scene to give him some kind of clue.
He needed more to put a face on his quarry.
He parked where he had parked when he had first arrived at the apartment. The sun had gone down, and dark shadows dominated the street in a way that made the street lights look dim.
He went inside and headed up to the apartment. He tried the knob. Burly had locked the scene up to keep out rubberneckers. He thought that was a good precaution in case their culprit came back for whatever reason.
He summoned up the free floating ectoplasm in the air. It was enough to summon his extra arms. He concentrated on the lock. One of his spongy hands squeezed into the lock. He felt around until he was sure he could push the tumblers out of the way.
He stepped inside the apartment and started going over everything with his normal senses first. Nothing had changed as far as he could tell. He didn’t envy the person having to clean this up and trying to get rid of the smell.
He exhaled a breath. Solid wisps danced through the air. He concentrated on the door. He needed a clearer view of the murderer before the change. He could get a picture for Burly to post as part of a newscast.
He frowned as the ectoplasm warped when it reached the door. It refused to give him anything more than a blank. He had seen that before. Usually the person was also using ectoplasm in some way.
Maybe it was someone creating a monster from inside. Ectoplasm could be used to build a body.
It put a more human motive on the murder, unless the murderer was a cannibal instead of someone using a weird murder method. He would have to look at people who knew the victim and work his way outward. Somewhere they had crossed paths. He just needed to find that point and work his way back to the killer.
Burly would have a small background check done by now. He should get a list of names from the detective and start working on it.
Just because he had killed his target, that didn’t mean he would stop.
And being human didn’t stop him from being a monster that needed to be put down.
Strangehold pulled in his ectoplasm. He should see if Burly was still at his station house. Then he needed to get home. He had to check on the kids to make sure they had their homework done.
He could start looking around for his murderer in the daytime.
He locked the apartment behind him, and walked down to his car. He checked his pocketwatch as he went. He had time to check in with Burly, and get home before the kids’ bedtime.
Should he just try to call from the house?
He decided to drive by the station on the way home. It wasn’t that far out of his way. If Burly wasn’t there, he would try again in the morning.
He got behind the wheel and pulled away from the curb. He crossed the center of town, pulling in a visitor’s slot in front of the station. He headed inside, waving at the desk sergeant. The detective squad had a room upstairs they used as an office. He doubted everyone would be out on calls.
He pushed into the squadroom, taking in officers working on cases. He knew they would be heading home as soon as they finished their reports. He spotted Burly in a little office in the back of the room. He was typing up a report on the typewriter the city had given him when he made detective.
Strangehold walked back to the office and knocked on the frame of the opened door.
Burly waved him in.
“I don’t have long, Sergeant,” said the doctor. “Do you have a list of colleagues for the victim? I’m going to have to look at them in the morning.”
“The only thing I got for Crenshaw is his workplace,” said Burly. “The landlord said he didn’t have anyone over ever. Went out every night.”
“We’re dealing with someone who wanted him dead,” said Strangehold. “I did another examination of the apartment. We’re looking at a person who can manipulate the air. The monster was an affect instead of something you would see in the wild.”
Strangehold didn’t want to get into an explanation of ectoplasm, how it worked, and what it could be used for in the hands of an expert like himself. He didn’t have the time, and Burly didn’t really care.
“That’s good and bad,” said Burly. “It’s good because he might stop with this one murder, and let things die down. It’s bad because he might do it again and we have no idea who he is and what he wants.”
“Without a motive, we have nothing,” said Strangehold. “The weird manner of the murder strikes me as significant, but I can’t see how it’s much better than a gun. I guess it confuses the issue which can only help our suspect.”
“It also narrows things down for us too,” said Burly. “The only thing we have on the victim is his name is Adam Crenshaw. He lived at the apartment building for the last ten years. He worked for a printing service. No wants, nothing more than a traffic ticket on his record. Never been married. I don’t have a line on relatives yet. He might
not have any.”
“So we have to start at the printing service if we want to find out why he was killed,” said Strangehold. “I guess I can go by tomorrow and look around.”
“We’ll go by,” said Burly. “They don’t have to talk to either one of us, but at least I can get a warrant and seize anything we might need.”
“That’s fine,” said Strangehold. “If we trigger our murderer, I would suggest you move away from the scene. You don’t want to get in the way if he can stop bullets from going through his monster.”
“Silver bullets?,” asked Burly.
“They might not work,” said Strangehold. “On the other hand, they can’t hurt either.”
“All right,” said Burly. “So looking around and asking questions at the printing service is the next step.”
“They might have a contact to call in his personnel file. That will help us find any relatives,” said Strangehold. “If he has anybody, they should know they won’t be able to see him again.”
“Good idea,” said Burly. “I have to type in this status report, and then I’m done for the day.”
“I have to get home and check on the kids,” said Strangehold. “I don’t want them to have problems because I am chasing things in the dark.”
“I know,” said Burly. “I’ll pick you up in the morning, and then we’ll hit the printing company. It should be a snap.”
“You know better than that,” said Strangehold. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
He made his way out of the station. He put the problem out of his mind. He didn’t have anything to work on except he was facing another ectoplasm user. Methods to disrupt the process could be used.
Strangehold drove home, listening to a station specializing in classical music. When he was younger, he never imagined this piece would be with him so far in the future. He didn’t think that it would last longer than his generation as new people were born and forgot what had happened before.
It was funny how life worked out.
He pulled the Packard into the garage he had constructed behind the main house. It had started as a cottage, but he had added on to the building until it loomed over the street. When he had settled in, there hadn’t been that many houses around. Now they stretched as far as the eye could see.
He entered the back of the house. The kids had toasted sandwiches on plates, and milk. He raised eyebrows at the dinner.
“I’m teaching Tim how not to burn baloney,” said Tooty. She picked up a chopped section of her dinner and took a bite.
“I see,” said Strangehold. “Homework?”
“Still working on it,” said Tooty.
“Done,” said Tim.
“Do you need a review?,” asked Strangehold.
“Mrs. Franks will go over it tomorrow,” said Tim. He took a bite out of one of his sandwiches. “Any mistakes I made will be corrected in class.”
“All right,” said Strangehold. “I’m done for the day. I have to go out with Burly and talk to some people tomorrow. So far we have nothing to go on in this case.”
“Is it bad?,” asked Tooty.
“I don’t know,” said Strangehold. “It’s a weird murder weapon for sure. I haven’t seen anything quite like it.”
“We can help out,” said Timmy.
“No,” said Strangehold. “There’s nothing to help with at the moment. I have no idea how to find this person at the moment. And you still have to be ready for school tomorrow. I’ll let you know if I need help with anything.”
“I never get to have any fun,” said Timmy.
“And you never will,” said Tooty.