WIP Excerpt from Along Came A Spider

The beginning of my dark fairy tale / Steampunk short story. Warning: it is very dark.

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“Miss Muffet, step aside,” detective Humonds barked.

Molly jerked her gaze from the heart laying in the dirt. The forensic team waited impatiently for her to move. She stepped to the side, dust swirling around her skirts as she moved.

Humonds’ gruff voice could be heard over the cracklings of the camera and the soft conversation of the team. “Second body in as many weeks. These damned low-lives can’t seem to keep themselves out of trouble.”

Molly took a dainty step towards the alleyway and leaned into the darkness. She peered into the gloom through her rose-tinted glasses. The weak dawn rays seemed hesitant to break the shadows draped along the walls and crouching in the corners.

“Miss Muffet!”

She snapped to attention.

“Have you lost your hearing, girl? Write my notes. You’re wasting my time.”

Molly adjusted her glasses and grabbed the ink pen from her pocket. She wrote 09 September 1888 in small, precise letters on the top of the page, then stated, “I’m ready, sir.”

Detective Humonds began pacing around the crime scene and musing aloud as Molly wrote. “Female. Age estimate 20. No identification. No witnesses. Occupation: Prostitute.” He spat the last word as if he had bitten into something rotten. “Murder. Sharp object not consistent of a knife. Mutilation. Organs removed.” He stopped and addressed the team. “Any missing?”

Some discussion followed. An officer Molly didn’t know answered, “Uterus and kidney.”

Molly swallowed hard. It had been hard enough to see the bodies. The entrails displayed, the faces disfigured. Having to stand there writing the gruesome details as Humonds continued made her hand shake.

“Miss, are you alright?” One of the young men on the team asked. “You look a bit peakish.”

Humonds turned in his tracks and roared, “If she had a weak stomach for this sort of thing she should have never gone in to be my assistant. No more interruptions.”

Molly flashed a faint smile at the man but didn’t dare say another word. She kept writing until Humonds finished his thoughts. She carefully did not watch the multiple trips the men had to take to place the body in its entirety into the bag. No, not its entirety. Like the other two, there were organs missing.

The team then poured something that smelled so sharp her head ached onto the dirt to sterilize it, then scattered fresh dirt from bags on top of the crime area.

Humonds bowed his head, shook it, then straightened. “I’ll get my rounds in before coming back to the precinct. Please have fresh coffee ready in an hour and a half. File that with the other two.”

He strode away without another word.

“Where are the other two filed?” the young man asked.

Molly turned and gazed into his gray-blue eyes. For a moment, she forgot he had asked her question. “Hm?”

“I know I’m just a lowly officer sent out to deal with the …” He cleared his throat. “Cleanin’ up. I were just curious where he’s filed the first two.”

Molly bit her lower lip. The rest of the team had moved towards their vehicle, carrying a black, lumpy bag. “Humonds thinks the cases are unrelated. They are filed as unidentified.”

“Unidentified?” He repeated, cocking his head.

“Humonds believes the murderer will never be identified, but he cannot file these as closed.”

“Collins,” someone from the team called.

Collins touched the brim of his hat and smiled. “Miss.”

She nodded in response, and he ran to the vehicle.

Molly backed up against the brick wall and stood still. She listened to the sounds of the waking city. Doors slammed, whistled shrilled in the distance, and a low-passing airship thrummed above her. She breathed in deeply. The chemical smell stung her nose despite their attempt at covering the area with new dirt. The ever-present scent of soot mixed with the sweat, grime, and smoke of the city covered any new scent she may have noticed. Perhaps this was a regular murder after all. A poor woman found by a man who could not pay her for what he wanted.

What are your thoughts?