"My god this doesn't get any easier does it." Sargent Fletcher clapped his hands over his nose as he pushed through the heavy plastic sheeting covering the doorway.
"Aye son and how many does this make now?" Fletcher turned to the Inspector still holding his nose. The resulting nasal tone in his voice gave a comic edge to a decidedly joyless scene.
"Five sir. All the same, all like..." Fletcher paused, sucking in breath through his mouth, still unwilling to let the smells of the room and its lone occupant enter his nose. "All like this poor girl." They both fell silent and stared at the figure on the bed in the centre of the room.
"Look Fletcher, why don't you go and talk to the lads from forensics and see what you can prise out of them." The Sargent looked relieved to be given a reason to leave and shuffled back through the door. When he was gone the Inspector took his first real look around the room. The apartment was dark and gloomy, as you would expect being far from the sun on the lower levels of one of Whitechapel's massive tenement blocks. The small room contained a bed, wardrobe, bathroom cubical and kitchen niche. A modest, modern hovel. The aged flat screen monitor on the wall was broken, smashed at the centre and obscured by the word "Whore" scrawled in what the inspector could only guess was the poor girl's innards. The site would have made him sick, if he hadn't seen it four times before in the last month. He took one last look around the room his eyes darting over the figure in the bed and passed back into the hallway.
Sargent Fletcher broke off his conversation with the forensics technician as the inspector pushed through the plastic sheeting.
"Same as the last four sir. Prostitute, known to the Sex Workers Bureau, but not registered. I don't know when these girls are gonna learn."
"You get more money if your unregistered Fletcher. Plain and simple."
"Yeah fat lot of good that extra cash is gonna do her now. If she had been licensed the punter would have been screened, ID'd and logged." The inspector let out a huff of amusement.
"Precisely the reason she gets paid more Fletcher. The punters she sees don't want their names popping up on a SWB register or their credit card bill."
"You would have thought with that extra money she have got a better place." Fletcher said staring back into the apartment.
"Stop being so naive lad. Anyway we're not here to judge her. We're here to find the sick bastard that killed her."
"Sir." Fletcher replied sheepishly.
"So what did the tech have to say about our unfortunate victim's last visitor?" The inspector said, changing the topic.
"Well as you would expect there were hundreds of DNA samples in the room. She kept the sheets pretty clean though and there were only three samples on them; hers, a punter well know to the local police who was locked up in their nick all last night and an unknown."
"Unknown? You mean there wasn't enough to get a solid match?"
"No a genuine unknown. No record. A bonified nobody." The inspector shook his head.
"Just like the others. Any chance we are dealing with an illegal immigrant?"
"Unlikely. Have you seen the Ministry of Identification's budget this year? It could fund a small country!"
"True, which leaves us with one of The Returned."
"That is my guess sir and I am expecting the lab to get back to me soon on weather this unknown sample matches the one picked up from the other scenes." Fletcher finished hopefully but the Inspector still looked doubtful.
"But knowing that doesn't get us any closer to this guy. He could be anywhere. He's a nobody." They stood in silence for a moment then Fletcher's phone let out a few shrill tones, he raised it to his ear and listened intently. After a rapid exchange he returned his attention to the Inspector.
"Your not going to believe this sir but the MXA are on their way, following an Angelus that has been seen heading in our direction."
"Now what are the odds that this is a coincidence."
"Stupidly small sir."
"And for the last time Fletcher don't refer to those light bags as Angelus. They're aliens, not angels!"
"Yes sir, sorry sir. Its just my girlfriend is a believer and some of the stuff she says, well it makes you wonder."
"Aye, they're freakin' miracles." The Inspector didn't even try to hide the sarcasm in his voice. A few minutes passed and sure enough the air began to hum with static. Sparks lept across bare metal fittings and the full glowing form of an Angelus pushed its way through the walls of the building into the small corridor. The two men stared at it, waiting for it to acknowledge them. The Inspector very much doubted it even knew they were there. A few moments later a group of black clad figures came jogging down the corridor towards them. The lead figure, a much-too-young woman by the inspectors estimation, pulled off her head-mounted vision gear and addressed the pair of them.
"Inspector, Sargent. I'm Agent Jarrow of the MXA. Could you fill me on what's going on here? We have been following this Xenoform since dawn and it has been making a bee line straight here." On hearing this the inspector let out a loaded huff.
"Huh, I would have thought an operative of the Ministry of Xenological Affairs would have all the latest intelligence?" Jarrow ignored the Inspector's tone, obviously having experienced the resentment of many a law enforcement officer.
"We know a non-reg sex worker was murdered and that a unknown may be responsible." Sargent Fletcher who had again been listening intently to his phone returned it to his jacket pockets and turned to the agent.
"Not an unknown M'am it must be one of The Returned. The lab has confirmed that the unknown DNA profile indicates an English male most likely from the London area. Old London at that. So he is not an immigrant, unless the Ministry of Identification have slipped up and we all know how unlikely that is." The Inspector turned to the floating cloud of light at the end of the hallway.
"So it was one of your pleasant gifts from the past that did this! Thanks you so much for yet again enriching our lives!" Jarrow's head snapped round to face him as he shouted, her face flushing red.
"Inspector that was out of order!" Before she could continue her protest the Inspector cut her off.
"Listen here, Miss Jarrow. These floating light-bags have caused us no end of trouble since they arrived. You know there are 20 people still waiting for new arms and legs to be grown for them after some medieval knight was dropped off in what he thought was hell and started slaying daemons, who were of course shoppers on Kensington High Street!" The air began to hum around them, cutting the inspector off mid rant. The Xenoform had orientated what the international scientific community agreed was its head towards them. It was in the process of turning back towards the victims apartment when, with a barely perceivable increase in luminescence it began to glide forward into the scene. The inspector started after it, with Fletcher and the MXA operatives in tow.
"Seems I might of hurt its feelings." The Inspector's jibe seemed to turn Agent Jarrow an even deeper shade of red. The Xenoform was now fully into the victim's apartment. The pursuing troop of humans broke through the plastic covering the door just as it reached the bed. It was hovering directly over the body of the victim with its "head", barely identifiable in the cloud of light that was its body, darting backward and forwards examining every inch of the macabre scene before it. Many minutes past and just as the Inspector was about to complain about an anticlimax, light filled his head and a single word burned brightly in his mind.
As the light faded from his brain and his senses came back into focus, he saw that all the others in the room, and probably all those for a mile around if previous communications were anything to go by, had had the same experience. He felt a familiar anger at having his head violated and could not contain his fury at the aliens understatement of the situation.
"Aye! Disassembled. Torn apart! Sliced, diced and ripped! All by one of your lovely ex-abducties. What's his name? What does he bloodly look like!"
Jarrow's high tone cut him short. "That is enough Inspector, It doesn't understand you. It takes a massive effort for them to bring themselves down to our level of communication." The Inspector waved a hand at her dismissively.
"Well if they are so highly developed how come they can't tell the difference between 14th century Wessex and 21st century London?" Jarrow was obviously trying very hard not to loose her cool with the sceptical CID officer.
"Inspector, the Xenoforms do not see time as we do. They return all their samples back to the exact location in space but to them it is practically is the same time." The Inspector again waved his arms in dismissal. The air began to hum once more and the Xenoform moved off into the cool London air, not troubling to acknowledge the Humans or even bother with doors. The MXA operatives filed out of the room, heading off to their vehicles to resume the chase. Jarrow paused by the door turning to the Inspector.
"I will expect your report Inspector. The Xenoforms are taking great interest in the recent spate of murders around this area. This may be a new avenue of communication." The Inspector let another loaded huff pass his lips.
"Oh aye, people have to be slaughtered all so we can have a chat with ET." Jarrow didn't answer and simply left the room. Fletcher inhaled through pursed lips.
"Bit hard on the poor girl weren't you sir? She is just doing her job."
"And I'm just trying to do mine Fletcher. I certainly don't need alien worshiping scientists getting in the way." Fletcher having now got a firm grip on the Inspector's mood stared towards the door.
"I best be getting back to the Nick Sir. Forms to fill out. You coming?"
"No I'll stay here for a while. Get a feel for the place without today's esteemed guests." Fletcher nodded and left, leaving the Inspector alone with the rooms unfortunate occupant. He stared at the victim unable to comprehend the special kind of madness needed to do something so brutal to another human being. Except it wasn't brutal, there was hardly any blood anywhere other than the bed. The organs were arranged neatly around the body, even the word "Whore" painted across the opposite wall had been done deftly, almost artistically. Whoever had done this had taken time over it. They had enjoyed it.
Chilled. The Inspector made his way out of the apartment. He was heading round the corner at the end of the corridor on his way to fetch the constable who would guard the scene when something caught his eye. A shadow flitting along the corridor. He stopped, backing round the corner for another look, the plastic covering the door looked disturbed.
"Who's there? This is a crime scene!" No reply.
He reentered the room. Everything was still. Nothing had changed from the few moments ago when he was last here. That was until the knife plunged into his back. He would have cried out but a leather clad hand clamped around his mouth. He felt the knife plunge in 3 more times as he was lowered, gently to the ground.
"You've been looking for me haven't you!" The dark form of the man swam in the inspectors tear filled eyes. "I've seen you at all the other whore houses, observing my work! You know the angels always come to see too, I knew my work was heaven sent, I knew the Lord wanted me to cleanse this city!" The inspector tried to speak, but his lungs were filling with blood, only a soft moan escaped his lips.
"Who?" Was all he could manage. The dark figure knelt down next to him and started drawing a number of implements from his jacket.
"Who am I? Ha!" He plunged a knife into the Inspectors chest. "They couldn't find me all those years ago with their ink and paper and you got no closer with your boxes of light. They did give me a name though." The inspector sucked in one last gasp as the black clad man began to slide the knife further up his chest.
"They used to call me Jack."
The Returned - Thomas Cooper