Short Story
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                         MIRROR, MIRROR
                                                By Patrice Batyski


Elise Racine, dressed for a rare Saturday night date, slammed the squad car
door.  As she strode to the crime scene she had been called to, she was
attracting many admiring looks.  But they were quick, not the lingering leering
ones, which sent her professional hackles up.  Subtle sexual references were
not in the average cop's vocabulary.  This must be a bad one.

She reached her partner Tim Clarke; he gave her a nonchalant look, then
tossed his head
towards the small group of officers near a copse of trees.  They were looking
everywhere but directly at the scene.  Their mouths were tightened,
complexions pale greenish.

Delaying would accomplish nothing.  Walking to a pile of leafs she looked
down, seeing
the small body.  She then did something she had prided herself on, something
she had never done, she turned around and lost her dinner.  There were no
comments or snickers from any of the male officers.  This apparently had been
the prevalent reaction from the crime scene responders.  

She wiped her mouth, took several deep breaths and, bracing herself: turned
back to the scene.  Lying in the pile of leafs, for all appearances looking like a
broken, discarded baby doll, was the body of a human infant - headless.  She
gulped, forcing herself to look closer at the pitiful body.  By this time Clarke
had come up to her side.  They stood together in stunned, grieving silence.  
Her tears fell by the tiny body.

She wiped her eyes. ''Not an animal attack?" she pleading inquired.

Clarke shook his head "Doesn't look like it.  An animal would have taken an
arm or leg or chunk of the body."

She studied the surrounding area. "I can't see any blood. This had to be done
somewhere else."

They stood in respectful silence as the Medical Examiner's Office bagged the
body for the ride to the morgue.  Sighing, they walked to the car. "Sometimes I
really hate this job", Elise commented for herself and everyone on the scene.

* * * * * * *

After a sleepless night of what amounted to chasing their tails, Elise and
Clarke found themselves at the morgue, getting the initial results of the
autopsy.  This case had even affected the Medical Examiner; she was not
munching on a donut or sipping coffee as was her usual machisma habit.

"How did someone manage to take the head off?"

“Babies are fragile - it could be someone strong, someone in a rage.  It wasn't
cut off'” she shrugged her shoulders in helpless frustration.  "However, the
cause of death was not decapitation."

The two detective turned to her in goggled surprise.

"It was exsanguination.  The blood was drained before the head was - taken
off."

Elise and Clarke groaned.  Mouth tightened, she turned to Clarke.  "This
reeks of a serial killer. "

Another groan.  This meant dealing with the FBI, which with cops ranked right
up there with having root canal without Novocain.  This day was just getting
better and better.  As they walked out of the morgue Clarke muttered "They
didn't tell us at the Academy there's be days like this."

"Strange days indeed."

* * * * * * *


The next day, having conducted a great paper chase and finding nothing,
they sat in a Barnes and Nobel's Starbuck Cafe, Clarke having black coffee,
Elise her favored Caramel Macchiato.  She looked around at the people with
normal problems and normal lives, wondering what that was like, when her
attention was caught by a huge poster promoting the next romantic vampire
book.  Sighing, she leaned back.

"Oh joy.  Another vampire book - of course he's handsome, sensitive, angst-
ridden.  The fact that he's a blood sucking fiend who steals souls doesn't
count for much.

"It sells."

"Yeah, but I don't get it.  It's like those groupies who are into death row
inmates.  For Christ's sake, Scott Peterson is getting marriage proposals.”

"Obviously there are women who can't or won't deal with the reality of
romance and are looking for a fantasy - a dark one."

Elise widened her eyes. "You just sounded profound.  Don't ever do that
again."

As they were leaving, Elise checked the poster more thoroughly.

"That's odd.  This book's written by a man - Nathaniel Lussac.  It's usually
women who write the romantic novels; the men write the bodice-ripping, blood
gushing ones."

"What makes you such an expert?"

"I did a term paper on the book Dracula."

Clarke's eyebrows almost shot off his head.

"I got an A+".

Clarke shrugged, walking away.  Elise was still studying the poster.  Clarke,
becoming aware that he was talking to himself, turned back, getting annoyed.

"What?"

"He's coming here for a reading and book signing."

"And?"

"I wonder if he knows more about bloody vampire lore than he's let on in his
book."

Clarke looked at the picture. "I smell hormones stirring."

Elise rolled her eyes. "Yeah he's good looking, but maybe he could tell us
something.  I've got a gut feeling about this."

This silenced Clarke.  One thing all good cops respected was a gut feeling.


* * * * * * *

Wednesday night, after the reading, questions, gushings, sighings and
signings, Elise found herself face to face with Lussac.  He was about to ask
who he should make it out to, and then he looked skeptically at her.

"You're not here for a book are you . . . . . .?"

"Det. Elise Racine" she answered, flashing her badge.


"How may I help you?"

"I'm investigating a case that we think has a connection to vampirism."

"Don't you know that vampires are all sunshine and light now?"

"And the taking of souls and blood doesn't enter into the equation?"

"As a detective you must have seen many gruesome things.  Do you truly
believe mankind has a soul?"

"I'll go with the man who knew everything.  'There are more things in heaven
and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'"

"Who am I to argue with Shakespeare."

At this point a non-descript man who made Elise break out in chills came
scurrying over.

"I think you've taken enough of Mr. Lussac's valuable time."

Elise was about to deliver a withering retort, but Lussac held up his hand to
stop them both.

"Charles I am assisting the police in an investigation."

He stiffened with suspicion. "May I ask what investigation?"

"Go right ahead" she replied, folding her arms, standing in silence.

Amused Lussac told Charles it was all right, from which he seemed to take
strength.  He  walked away.

Elise turned to Lussac "As a writer I'm assuming you've done research and
have come across more bloody aspects.."

Lussac studied her, and then seemed to come to a decision. "I'm have a small
but formal gathering at my place on Saturday night.  I can let you look at my
notes then."

"Thank you.  Here's my card.  If there is anything before then that you can
think of that seems relevant, feel free to call."

"It would help if I knew what that particular something would be."

She hesitated, then gave in. "It involves the death of a baby."

"Tragic".  His off-handedness jarred Elise. "At least that gives me a direction.  
Good evening Detective."

Elise nodded and strode away, uncomfortably aware ofLussac's gaze
following her.

* * * * * * *

Friday night, after more running in circles, she did come up with something -
poison sumac from the crime scene.  She took a long hot bath, lathered up
with Caladryl.  She drank a cup of herbal tea and took a Benadryl as she
waited for the lotion to dry.  She wasn't bothering with any pajamas, wanting
the least amount of anything to touch her.

As the Benadryl put her to sleep, she tossed restlessly in her sleep, the case
and the more disturbing bits of vampire legends haunting her sleep.  In a few
minutes she reached a deeper, more still sleep, courtesy of Nathaniel Lussac,
who had placed his hand on her forehead, leading her into that sleep.  
Assured she was not likely to be disturbed he tossed back the covers.  His
senses and bloodlust were stirred.  But they had to be severely curbed.  
Saturday night would be the perfect time for total possession.  He bit her on
the ankle, amidst the rash, taking much less blood than he desired.  As he
finished, he again put his hand back on her forehead to let her subconscious
know she was his.

* * * * * * *

Saturday night, Elise put on a very attractive, slink black dress.  She was
about to put on her St. Michael's medal, but put it back down, trying to
convince herself that it didn't go with the outfit, but uneasy about it
nevertheless.  She went to the closet, getting out a daring pair of 6" metal
heels, put them on practiced walking.  She watched herself in the mirror to
making sure she was doing it straight.  She stood in front of the mirror for a
moment, studying herself, nodding.  She was putting her off duty gun into her
purse when the doorbell rang.

She sashayed over to the door, unable to do otherwise.  To her great
astonishment, excitement and some unease, she found Nathaniel Lussac,
briefcase in hand, which put her cop guard down as Lussac had intended.  
After she invited him in, he put his briefcase on her coffee table and turned to
her.

"I found some disturbing facts in my papers, which apparently my personal
manager Charles Whitehead was aware of also.  It seems that he got the idea
that a human sacrifice would ingratiate himself to the master." He paused for a
moment, then continued in a matter-of-fact tone "He will be found outside of
his condo.  He lives on the 20th floor and he left by window.  I hope that
satisfies you."

He allowed himself a self-satisfied smile, his eyes slowly raking her, foreplay
for him for  the bloodletting.  She nodded, coming more under his thrall.

"One more thing, call your partner.  Tell him you're letting up on the vampire
"thing".  That you're going to rest this evening and perhaps go to Central Park
on Sunday to get away from everything."

She did as he 'requested', coming off totally believable.  She put the phone
down and Lussac took her in his arms, his hands roaming over her dress and
body.  After several minutes of this, he brushed back her hair £rom her neck,
ready to sink his teeth into her ever so inviting neck.  He realized that her
shoes gave her an almost even height to him, which his ego could not accept.  
He wanted total domination over her.

"Take off your shoes" he whispered against her neck.  She took her left shoe
off: almost as if she were removing an intimate piece of clothing.  She looked
down to take off her right shoe and happened to catch her reflection in the
mirror - just hers.

With sudden fierceness, she brought the shoe forward with incredible
strength, impaling him with the metal heel, screaming as she did ''Nobody
takes my soul."

Then two unexpected things occurred.  As Lussac widened his eyes in
stunned surprise, he vaporized into a pile of dust; then Tim Clarke bust
through the door, his gun drawn.  During the phone conversation he had an
attack of instinct, causing him to rush here immediately.  He put her on the
bed, and then gently sat next to her, both of them staring at the remains, then
Elise looked pittingly tearful at him.

He signed, got off the bed and brought her vacuum cleaner into the room,
cleaning up Lussac's remains in a relatively short period of time.  He took the
vacuum bag and put in the large garbage bin outside her apartment.  He then
made as if to take the cleaner with him, but Elise stopped him.

''No, now when I'm cleaning, I can put my soul into it."