“Hello, Detective, do come in,” she said in a husky, sweet voice.
My steps faltered at her words. I really was surprised that she had me figured out, she was far more cunning than I’d expected. But I could use that to my advantage. I was the bait, after all, and it hurt every single time.
The woman grinned, showing off rows of perfect white teeth. It was a predatory smile, and her eyes narrowed just a bit, a gleeful spark darkening their hazel color.
“So, the cat is out of the bag,” I said, stepping further into the studio, my gaze never leaving her. My hand itched to hold the gun, and my instincts told me to defend myself; she was a murderer after all. But I had to be in control now. I had to let death happen.
It was amazing how looks could be deceiving. She was a beautiful woman. Her toes were painted a deep blood red, and she wore a pair of those high-heeled, fuck me pumps. A black pencil skirt, with a velvety red trim, hugged rounded thighs and hips. Tucked into the high waist was a white, fitted, silky blouse. Its sleeves were short and puffy, and an elegant scarf was wrapped around her neck, the same color as her toenails. Her dark chocolate hair was pulled back in a neat ponytail.
“Oh, it is most definitely out, Donna,” she said and locked the door. “It is meowing, and hissing and has its claws out.” Again, she wore that predatory smile.
I reached for the chain around my neck. Her smile disappeared, and she narrowed her eyes.
With two fingers, I pulled out a badge from underneath my black, cotton t-shirt, and let it rest between my breasts.
She relaxed. Her heels clicked on the hardwood floor as she made her way to the desk. She leaned against it, facing me, and crossed her arms.
“I’m here just to talk,” I said.
“We’ve got visual, boss. Sound as well. Let’s do this.”
She snorted. “Talk then, I don’t have time to chitchat.”
I took off my brown leather coat and set it on a nearby chair. My gun was now displayed, holstered under my arm. She tensed again, ready to pounce, but I turned my back on her and perused her paintings. I hoped she wouldn’t jump me right away. I needed her to confess.
Hands stuffed into the pockets of my jeans, I observed her paintings, letting my team video the evidence.
“Interesting range of styles,” I said as I glanced back over my shoulder. She was still leaning against the desk, scrutinizing me, trying to figure out my angle.
“They look familiar, though,” I taunted further. Of course they were familiar. Each style fit the style of six murdered artists, including the last, a fifteen-year-old prodigy. I blocked out her face; I couldn’t afford to get emotional now. But, we found her body just yesterday. I bit the inside of my cheek, drawing blood.
She smoothed the front of her skirt. “I have many talents.” She grinned, not even attempting to hide behind the lies. She licked her lips as she looked at me over. Pinpricks of unease slithered down my spine. She would kill me, I was sure of it.
“You got her hooked. Glad to have you working this case.”
I couldn’t respond to my team, but they knew the drill. They recorded our conversation, the evidence, and ultimately my death. I would eventually get to testify, but she didn’t know that. She didn’t know my powers, what made me special. She thought me just another human. I wondered what she was as well. How did she steal their talents? Surely, she was a Special like me. Otherwise, they wouldn’t read me and my team in on the case.
Humans always needed a Special to deal with one of our own.
She pushed away from the desk and swayed her hips over to me. Her shoulder brushed mine as she stopped by my side and observed her artwork as well.
“I loved … discovering my last style. It came to me so … naturally. Don’t you think it just marvelous? It will bring me a lot of cash.” She chuckled.
“We will catch you; you know that?” I faced the paintings again, and anger surged through me. I only saw the faces of the artists. First alive, then their faces morphed into those lifeless, tortured shells. Fisting my hands at my sides, I held back from lashing out at her. My own talents were unique, but fighting wasn’t one of them. Also, I wasn’t sure if my gun would have any effect on her.
She shrugged. “Either way, I will be left with the fame.”
“No, you won’t.”
Her gaze snapped to me, but mine stayed on the paintings.
“No one will ever know you painted those. That you even existed. Not really. We will either arrest you – and I suggest you play along nicely – or you will die trying to escape us. We will not release your name to the press, and your … art? It will be bagged and tagged, eventually destroyed.”
She scoffed. “You have no proof.”
I looked down at my watch, hoping she would take the bait. I barely suppressed a smile as she spoke again.
“Oh, my dear detective. Are you trying to buy yourself some time until your backup arrives?”
I stayed silent. Let her make her own conclusions.
“That is such a shame. I won’t have the time to play with you.”
“We are all set and ready. Her fire sprinklers are on. You have the green light.”
“What’s over there?” I pointed to six covered canvases. People like her loved to brag and gloat. It might buy me some time, and it might give us more answers. As my death sentence drew closer, the more anxious I was. My belly fluttered, and my heart drummed faster.
Her gaze followed my finger.
“I guess it wouldn’t hurt showing you since I don’t get to… entertain myself otherwise. But first…” she leaned closer, invading my personal space. I let her. It wasn’t the right time for her to strike out. Crazies were predictable like that. And her scent was so intoxicating, nudging me closer, her lips so ripe for kissing.
A second later, my gun was in her hands. Shit! Fortunately, if anyone could afford to be careless, it was me.
“Hold it together, play her game.”
They were right. It would soon be over anyway. I bit my lip, suppressing a few choice words, and I dug my fingernails into my palms.
She smirked. Keeping the gun behind her back, she ran a finger from the hollow at my throat, down between my breasts, pulling away once she brushed past my bellybutton. She took a few steps back and then trained the gun on me.
I sighed. Fucking great!
“I wouldn’t want you to try something… brave.”
The dramatics of her speech were starting to grate my nerves. She pointed the gun toward the mystery canvases, and I followed the unspoken command. The sooner, the better.
The click of her heels followed behind me.
Once again, I did as told. Six new paintings displayed before me.
“Now, these are my very own masterpieces.” She beamed, her finger never slipping off the trigger.
I observed her masterpieces. Again, the same style as the murdered artists, but all in the same color. Red; bright red, deep burgundy, velvety, cherry… As if… I gasped and took a step back. That’s it! That was exactly what we needed! I would bet my savings that it was their blood. Each painting for each artist, their unique styles drawn in their own lifeblood.
“Oh, don’t be so shocked, Donna!”
My gaze snapped to her, and she rolled her eyes.
“Wrap it up. We’ve got everything we need. Now give us the crime.”
“Why?” I asked.
She rolled her eyes again. “You wouldn’t understand.”
I took a step forward, but she raised the gun and aimed straight at my head. I stood my ground, wanting nothing more than to have the ability to rip off her head.
“Nobody understands. Well, maybe they did.” She waved the gun toward the paintings again. “But that’s digressing. The question is, what do I do with you? I guess your backup will be here soon. I should just shoot you. Then again, I’m hungry.” Her voice lowered, transitioning from that husky caress into a deep, raw rumble.
Hazel eyes turned pitch black, the whites as well. Her lower jaw extended down to the top of her breasts, mouth now filled with multiple rows of keen teeth. The gun slipped from her fingers, the long fingernails, now transforming into black claws, unable to hold the weapon anymore.
I scrambled back, never blinking until I hit the wall. This was it. I was ready, but still, my heart threatened to pound its way out of my chest.
“I do wonder what you taste like. Is your flavor just as sweet as your scent?”
I opened my mouth to argue, but she was upon me in the blink of an eye. Her teeth sunk into my neck. Excruciating, burning pain burst from the bite. She pierced my skin, sinking deep into my flesh, through my tendons, and grazing bone. A scream tore from my mouth. I raised my hands, but she just pinned them back, digging her claws into the wall. I had to at least try and fight back. My legs were still free. I kneed her groin to no effect.
She tore a chunk of my flesh and spat it away. That would fucking scar.
“Holy fucking shit! We’re coming, boss.”
I struggled, trying to fight her off. With my legs, my knees, my hips. Nothing worked. As pain spread through my body, blackness reduced my vision.
She grinned, my blood painting her teeth red, and it dripped down her chin. She bit once more and sucked, draining every bit of life-giving liquid from my body.
My eyes closed, body sagging. The pain was torturesome, and I lost control of my limbs. Coldness seeped into my bones. Once my heart stopped beating, my body disintegrated. Ashes returned to ashes. The darkness beckoned me forward, deep into its depths of sweet surrender. I reached for it.
Three blinks of an eye later, I was yanked back, bursting into flames. I was reborn, risen from the ashes. Head and arms thrown back, I levitated. A halo of fiery red hair surrounded my head. My eyes snapped open, and I gasped. I was high on life as adrenalin and fire surged through my veins.
Invigorated, I dropped into a crouch.
An alarm wailed. Water sprinkled over my naked body.
She stood before me, stunned. “What the—”
Glass shattered and burst inward. Backup was here.
Like a well-oiled machine, my team had her subdued, not killed, before she had a chance to sink her teeth into someone else. I hurried over to the blood painted canvases, covering them up, then stashing them under the desk. I didn’t want our best evidence ruined.
Brian approached me with a stack of clothes. “Great job, boss. That was one crazy, freaky…”
“I get it. Just secure her.”
He nodded and joined the rest. They had her unconscious and bound.
I pulled on the sweatpants and a spare t-shirt, before grabbing my leather coat. Brushing wet hair from my face, I called out, “Watch for her claws if she wakes up, and her mouth! Gagging this one won’t work.”
“We got it covered!”
I walked back to my ashes, now quickly turning into mush, and dug out my badge.
I smiled. Another case closed.
©2021. Maja Škvorc
Maja is a writer, geek, animal lover and a gamer. Sitting at the table and rolling dice she has lived the lives of a mage, an oracle, a goth pathologiest and a Star Wars rebel. In real life she lives in Zagreb with her family, 4 cats and an unkown number of fish, slugs and prawns. Reading and writing are her passion, so you can offen find her typing a new story or reading new books. She writes in English too, under the pseudonym Maya Starling, and she has published two novels, Dragon’s Treasure and Dragon’s Prize. Recently, she founded the small creative writing business Starling, mostly focusing on Narrative Desing for interactive visual novels.
The story Crimson Crime was published in the first issue of the Morina kutija magazine available for free download here.
Maja je spisateljica, geek, ljubiteljica životinja i gamerica. Sjedeći za stolom i bacajući kockice proživjela je živote magusa, oraklice, gotičarke mrtvozornice i Star Wars pobunjenika. U stvarnosti živi u Zagrebu s obitelji, 4 mačke i nepoznatim brojem ribica, puževa i kozica. Pisanje i čitanje su joj strast, tako da ćete ju često naći kako tipka novu priču ili čita nove knjige. Inače piše i na engleskom, pod pseudonimom Maya Starling te je objavila dva fantasy romana Dragon’s Treasure i Dragon’s Prize, a nedavno je otvorila i obrt Starling, za usluge kreativnog pisanja, prvenstveno Narrative Design za interaktivne, vizualne novele.
Priča Crimson Crime objavljena je u prvom broju časopisa Morina kutija. Časopis je dostupan za skidanje na ovoj stranici.
Urednički komentar: ovo je jedna od onih seksi urban fantasy priča za koje želite da su cijeli serijal romana.