As Matters Stand

The day had dawned, but it was not quite time to turn off the streetlamps yet. The body was bathed in an eerie creamish light that made it look even paler.

Sergeant Fathom prodded it with her foot. The oracle sitting next to the body with his crystal ball resting on the dead man’s chest looked up.

‘Time of death?’ Sergeant Fathom asked.

‘Five hours ago,’ the oracle said.

‘Midnight.’ Fathom scratched her cheek. ‘Ritual?’

‘Almost certainly. The identity of the murderers – plural – has been blocked. Also, look at this faint scar. This bit of flesh is older than the rest of the body. By 75 years.’

‘Dimensional scarring. Something has been birthed here.’

Fathom sat down beside the oracle. ‘Did you at least get his identity? We have to inform his family.’

‘You’re not going to like it.’

‘He’s an aristocrat?’

The oracle shook his head. ‘Worse. A royal.’

‘Shit.’ Fathom got up and lit a cigarette to wake herself up properly. Political matters always fucked up investigations.

‘We have four hours before the inspector gets in at the station, yes?’

The oracle looked up at her. ‘You’re not—?’

Fathom smiled at him. ‘Give me three.’