Homicide Division: Interrogation Room - Chicago Police Department - Michigan Street: South
This room is sparsely furnished with a rectangular metal table and a quartet of matching chairs. The walls have been painted a plain, industrial grey. Two, long fluorescent light fixtures are affixed to the tall ceiling and give off a stark, buzzing radiance. A couple of track lights in the ceiling are on a separate circuit, beaming light downward in a tight, direct circle when needed. One door leads to the corridor and another is a locked, storage closet. One wall holds a long, smoky mirror.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, February 15th, 2010. 07:30 pm
The sun is down. The new moon isn't up. <10.0% full and fading>
The tide is low and ebbing.
The icy east wind howls, blowing about in savage night-time gusts. The sky is clear deep blue and the stars glitter, brilliant as diamonds. The winter Hawk wind is concentrated in the Loop. There is about 23.75" of snow on the ground. The average temperature is around Twenty-two degrees Fahrenheit, Negative six Centigrade.
Julien received a phone call from Eleanor in the afternoon of February 15th. No, it wasn't in relation to their awkward and preempted dance on Valentines Day. It was actual business. Marshal Jack Green collected a zombie wandering around the University Campus Grounds and turned it over to the CPD. It wasn't attacking anyone, and it seemed very passive, but the fact it had no eyes and had nothing but bone showing from the knees down was really freaking out the students. It has been in a catatonic state of sorts in lockup for the last two days, rapidly decaying without necromantic magic or a supply of blood or flesh to sustain it. After red tape was thrown around left and right, Eleanor somehow ended up with the case, and called the first animator that came to mind. So here they are.
The corpse has been brought into the interrogation room and left there with Eleanor, to wait for Julien to be escorted in by the guards. It is in a bolted down chair, slumped over onto the table with its shredded blond hair splayed out. Eleanor is in the furthest corner of the room from it, her back flat to the wall and her Glock holster unsnapped just in case it wakes up and decides to try to eat her. She is wound up so tightly that she could probably crack diamonds in her clenched teeth right now. Zombies are not her favorite things.
Far from his normal attire, Julien is dressed in a pair of blue jeans. There are relatively unremarkable, with the notable exception that there is the occasional small stain here and there. He is wearing a dark grey pullover with long sleeves. Clutched in his right hand is a large, black leather bag, not completely dissimilar to an old fashioned doctor's bag. In the other hand is a small cage with a nervous chicken. Not sure if he will need the chicken or not, Julien opted to bring it just in case. As he enters the room, he looks over at the zombie, then over at Eleanor. "Let me guess, an uncooperative witness?"
When the door opens, Eleanor's eyes flash to it, and for once she looks relieved to see Julien. Sort of. There's a sort of simmering anger underlying her expression. "Mister Sterling," she says crisply, "Thank you for coming on such short notice." She points at the dead thing with more disdain and disgust in that one finger than should be possible. "This is the animate dead that was collected by Marshal Green on the University Campus. It might be dead again, I'm not sure. But we need to find out where it belongs and get it put back there." She pulls a handkerchief from her suit jacket pocket and holds it over her nose and mouth because rotting corpses are not the nicest thing to smell. "You can do that, can't you? Put it back? It's what you do?" She doesn't get any closer to the zombie.
Okay, his joke goes completely unnoticed. That does not surprise him one bit. In a fashion that is completely unseen before, the joking smile that seems to be almost permanently etched on his lips fades away. He sets the cage on the floor just inside the door. He walks over to the table, setting the bag down. He opens it up and extracts a small document. He glances over at the corpse for a moment. "I should be able to do that, yes. If the magic animating it has faded, then it will need to be reanimated, which would probably be for the best, so that I can talk with it easier." He walks over to the detective. "But before I can even attempt it, I will need you or a superior that has the authorization to sign these papers, waving any legal actions against me for animating a corpse without the express permission of the immediate family. You can of course read it first, but effectively, it says that I am providing my services for the city or state or whatever and therefore any lawsuits or such will be directed to the governmental body procuring my services not to me."
Eleanor edges closer just enough to snatch the papers. She scans them briefly before stuffing the handkerchief back in her pocket and digging a pen out. She uses the wall as her clipboard to scrawl her signature on the pages hastily. "We'll compensate you for your services as well, Mister Sterling; whatever your normal rate would be for such a thing." She blows on the wet ink to dry it faster, then hands it back towards Julien before retreating to her corner once more. "I'm just here to make sure it gets done and no one gets hurt in the process," she states. She's nearly vibrating, and her eyes remain locked on the zombie like she might have lasers shoot from them to melt it into slag.
"I told you before that I would be willing to offer the city a cut on my standard rate. We can discuss that later, if you like." Julien walks back over to the corpse, trying to discover if the magic has indeed faded or if it is just acting dormant. "When was it discovered again?" He circles slowly around the decomposing form, examining it from a slight distance.
The magic that raised the zombie is definitely absent now. It is pretty much just a corpse stinking up the room and creeping Eleanor the hell out. Considering how confident she normally is, there has to be a larger story behind this, but good luck getting it out of her. "It was reported at approximately 6:15 am on the 13th. It was passive and came willingly with the Marshal when directed. It hasn't spoken a word or done anything it wasn't directly told to do. Then a few hours after we brought it in, it stopped acting alive." The handkerchief is back out and the detective has once more backed up into her corner. Her eyes do not leave the dead thing for a moment.
With a slight nod, Julien walks back to the far side of the table where his bag is. "Okay, then I will have to reanimate it. The only way for it to still be animate is for the person who did it to be more powerful than I have ever heard of, and if that was the case, then I imagine he wouldn't have been wandering around aimlessly." He digs through his bag, pulling out various tools, including a silver knife, several candles, and a small bag of something that he sets on the table. He pulls a small dark bottle out. He moves over to where Detective Wickham is, offering the bottle over to her. "Here, you can put a dab of this under your nose. It will help with the smell." He glances over at the chicken, "Like I said, I'll have to reanimate the corpse, so it means that I'll have to make a sacrifice. I'll understand if you want to step out of the room. Not everyone has the stomach for it - nothing wrong with that."
The detective accepts the bottle and uncaps it, smearing a dab of the stuff under her nose as she puts the handkerchief away again. Eleanor shakes her head at the offer to step outside. "Slitting a chicken's throat in front of me isn't going to give me nightmares, Mister Sterling," she states in a forced calm tone. It really isn't going to be an issue, considering she investigates violent homicides. It's everything else she hates. "Please proceed at will." She hands the bottle back, then returns to her corner; this time drawing her weapon out to check that it's properly loaded, just in case something goes bad.
For his part, the once-zombie maintains its ex-zombie slump on the tabletop.
Julien rubs a small amount of the sandalwood ointment under his own nose, before walking back over to the table. he drags the table a little bit away from the corpse so that he might have easier access to it. With a slight grin, he looks over at Eleanor, "I'll skip the normal show for you." He walks over to the door and eases the chicken out of the cage. He holds the chicken for a moment, whispering to it, petting it. Once the chicken begins to calm down, the young animator reaches over for the silver athame. He puts his hand over the chicken's eyes, as he draws the blade across its throat. There is a brief, but violent, reaction from the bird. Setting the knife back on the table, Julien begins to draw a circle around the zombie with the chicken's blood.
Eleanor's jaw clenches, not when the chicken is being butchered, but afterwards, when the circle begins to be drawn. She keeps the gun out; pointed at the floor but out, and her eyes fix on the zombie as if she fully expects it to hurdle the table and try to chew off her face when it wakes up.
The corpse does its part by doing nothing and waiting for the ritual to be completed. It steadfastly seems to be refusing to provoke Wickham into shooting it repeatedly.
Once the circle has been drawn, Julien anoints his forehead, his hands, then rubs some under his shirt over his chest with some of the chicken's blood. He then smears some over the zombie's forehead. The rest of the blood is poured into a large jade bowl, which he sets just inside the circle. Then the young animator removes a large bottom from the bag. He dips his fingers into the ointment and rubs it over the zombie's head. He then closes his eyes and begins to chant softly in Latin. As he does so, his necromantic power begins to fill the area as he beckons the zombie to life.
GAME> Julien can Raise 6 fresh zombie(s)/night, with a 49% chance of a spare.
GAME> A 649% chance, with -1% per year post-mortem (and -100% after a raise)
Eleanor's whole body quivers as the magic fills the room, and bile rises in her throat. She forces it back down and focuses on the man and the dead thing instead, shutting down her fears in order to do her job. Sweat beads at her temples from the effort of holding it together, but she manages.
The zombie reanimates with a gentle sigh. It sits up and blinks its empty eye sockets, its forehead creasing in confusion. "Where am I?" a masculine voice rumbles out of its chest. "Why can't I see?" That seems to become redundant as the power of Julien's ritual actually rebuilds the dead man's eyes and re-fleshes his lower legs. What's left is a rather mundane-looking middle aged man. "Who are you? Where's Jenny?" he asks the animator, as his optical abilities return to him.
As the body begins to reform itself, Julien lets out a soft sigh. He looks at the zombie. "I am Julien, and I need to ask you a few questions. Do you know your name?" Julien looks over at Eleanor, "I won't be able to ask him about anything after or right before his death. They just don't remember it. What all do you need me to ask him?"
"My name is Garrett Simmons," the zombie replies in the same confused tone. He has eyes only for Julien, as if Eleanor doesn't exist, even when she speaks.
"Ask him who Jenny is. And ask him where he had specified to his family that he wished to be buried," Eleanor says in a voice that seems thicker than usual. Her eyes are wider than her norm. She's pressed back against the wall a bit tighter than she should be, but she hasn't run screaming at least.
Julien nods slightly. He returns his attention to the zombie of Garrett Simmons. "Well, Mister Simmons, you asked where's Jenny. Who is Jenny? Also, Garrett, do you remember if you had ever mentioned to your family where you would like to be buried?" He takes a seat up on the table, across from the zombie. "Though he still faces the zombie, Julien calls out to Eleanor, "You can relax a bit, Detective, he cannot cross the circle."
"Jenny is my little girl. My youngest. She's three," Garrett responds with a smile of pride. "I thought she would be here. I could have sworn I heard her voice just a little bit ago. But it seemed so far away. So I tried to find her." His head cocks to the side, as if listening for the child. The second question has him straightening and pondering. "North Point Cemetery, in the family plot of course. Grandfather Simmons bought plots for all his family before he went. Why?"
Eleanor pulls out her phone and taps a number in. "Murdoch, give me a search on the name Garrett Simmons. If there's more than one, look for one buried in North Point Cemetery. I'll wait." She holds the phone to her ear as the person on the other end goes about tapping her request into the computer system. She watches Julien and the zombie with intensity blazing in her eyes as she mops at the sweat on her temples with her handkerchief. His assurances just make her give him a sour expression, as if her faith in that assurance doesn't hold much water. "Ask him about his relation to the University of Chicago," she demands.
There is an almost gentle smile on his lips as he speaks to the man's shadow. Julien has a slight bit of pity in his eyes, "What year do you remember it being, Garrett?" He looks over at Eleanor, then turns back to the zombie, "My friend was curious if you had any type of relation to the University of Chicago, Garrett? It seems you were found wandering around there, incoherent." No there is no need to point out to the poor thing that he is dead quite yet.
"It's 1999, isn't it?" Garret asks, "What an odd question. I was wandering around the University? Why would I do that? I can't seem to remember why I would be doing that. I mean, I had set up a college fund for Jenny to go to U of C just a few weeks ago," Garret responds, again looking perplexed at the question. "But I don't remember having a reason to go there, I went to Notre Dame. My wife said we had to start saving early for Jenny's college, because the costs were going to go up so high by the time she was old enough to go there. We are already having to triple what we were putting into David's. He's my son. He's eight."
Eleanor's attention snaps back to the phone and she mutters something about phone numbers of next of kin. She pulls out a small notepad and pen and jots some notes down against the wall. She looks over to Julien. "I think we have what we need. How do we get him back in his gra-," she cuts off, realizing the man has no idea he's dead. That seems to disturb her more than anything else. "Back to where he belongs," she corrects with a grimace.
Turning to look at the detective, Julien's voice softens a little. "Are you sure you have all the information that you need? It's not likely, but it is possible he might remember something about who woke him up. Chances are, he might not, and it will upset him to ask, but if you want I can try." As he is talking to Eleanor, he reaches over and grabs the leather pouch that he had pulled out earlier.
GAME> Eleanor rolls 62 against 10% <+20% +15%> : 17% failure
"See if you can get him to tell you that. If he gets upset, is he going to get violent?" Eleanor asks with a scowl. She stares at the zombie with a carefully controlled expression that only twitches occasionally around the edges. "If I make a phone call, will he hear what I'm doing? Will he react to it?" She looks like she sincerely hopes he won't.
Garrett continues to look at Julien like he's the only thing in the world that exists.
Shaking his head, "No, he will react like someone getting really bad news, agitated, confused, possibly aggressive, but he can't leave my circle. You can make your phone call. For the most part, I am his world. His existence is tied currently to mine." Julien looks at the zombie, "Now, Garrett, I have a question for you, and I need you to think about it very carefully. The last time you went to sleep. After your last thought and memory of your wife and daughter, who woke you up? Who interrupted your peaceful sleep, Garrett?" Not that he is worried, but just in case, Julien's fingers of his left hand dip into the opening of the pouch, curling around the salt that is within.
Garrett's face bursts into a broad smile. "I heard Jenny's voice. She was talking to me. Telling me how much she loved and missed me. I was confused because I was right there. But she seemed far away and I couldn't see anything, it was like her voice was muffled. I thought maybe I was sleeping and hearing her in the next room, so I followed the sound of her voice." Or what he thought was the sound of her voice at least. "I was having so much trouble catching up. I kept tripping over things. I think maybe there was a blackout, because I couldn't see anything. Was I sleepwalking again?" He looks to the animator for answers, his expression almost heartbreaking.
Eleanor dials one of the numbers on the notepad and paces in her corner, keeping one eye on the zombie. "Mrs. Catherine Simmons? This is Detective Eleanor Wickham of the Chicago Police Department. I'm calling concerning your deceased husband, Garrett. Can you tell me, have you visited his gravesite or the University of Chicago recently? Uh huh. No, no nothing wrong ma'am. Just a small situation regarding North Point Cemetery. Uh huh. Oh, well thank you. Yes, of course. Have a good day ma'am." She hangs up the phone and looks almost amused, if a little perplexed. She waits for Julien to finish his work.
With a gentle smile, he nods. "Yes, Garrett, you must have been sleepwalking again." Julien pulls his hand out of the pouch. With a casual motion, he slings a small spray of salt at the zombie's chest. "With salt, I bind you to your grave." He reaches over and picks up the athame, kissing each side of the blade, then Julien looks up at Garrett and with a gentle voice says, "With blood and steel, I bind you to your grave, Garrett Simmons, be at peace, and walk no more." As he opens his eyes, he releases the energy that holds the zombie to this false reflection of life.
The light fades from Garrett's eyes, and he slumps onto the table once more, in a state of true death.
GAME> Eleanor rolls 17 against 20% <+20% +15%> : 38% success
"Is there a school for you people or something?" Eleanor asks Julien awkwardly. "The kind who do what you do, I mean?" She makes a faintly flailing gesturing encompassing him and Garrett, trying to contain her revulsion. "He died in a car accident in 99. Drunk driver hit him head on while he was driving home from work. His wife Catherine, son David, and daughter Jenny, ages 42, 18, and 13 respectively, paid his grave a visit on the afternoon of the 13th, before they accompanied David to the University of Chicago for a tour of the campus as one of the ones he's looking at attending next fall." She smirks faintly and props a hand on her hip, gesturing at him with her phone. "I had another one of you people tell me her dead cat climbed out of its hole in the ground and into her bed with her when she was a kid when her hoodoo started up. Want to bet his little girl is the same way?"
For a moment, Julien is silent as he studiously cleans and puts away his gear. Once it is done, he looks over at Eleanor and with a faint nod, "For some, there are schools. Most are just trained under the guidance of another animator. Often it becomes kind of an indentured servitude to the company who trained you for so long." He hops up on the table, as if there was not a dead body three feet away. "There are some who it comes more naturally, like myself. For me, my dog was hit by a car. It hopped up five minutes later, as I cried. I was ten years old, I think." He pauses for a moment, "My father taught me what to do, for the most part. Like I said, for some it comes naturally. It's possible that she might have some innate talent too."
Eleanor rubs at her forehead wearily, before she begins punching in the number for the morgue. "Do you have a card I can pass on to the mother, and can I tell her to call you for advice for her daughter?" She barks into the phone, "Yeah, come up and get the zombie, it's dead again and needs to be reburied. Plot 5426 at North Point Cemetery. Call the director ahead of time and let him know you're coming to replant a corpse that got out." She looks back at Julien. "We'll have your check for your services mailed to you. You can tell Candice out at the front desk what we owe you and give her your info and such. Thank you for your assistance." The cop looks like she wants nothing more than to get the hell out of that room right now. She has goose bumps all over her arms.
Pulling a black business card from his wallet, Julien offers it over to Eleanor. "You are more than welcome to pass it on to the mother." He sighs glancing down at his watch, "Detective Wickham, at some point, soon, I would like to talk to you further about the thing with the ghouls." He holds up his hand to stop her before she even starts, "I know you cannot discuss it with me, but I can offer you a bit more of my thoughts. I have been doing a little digging of my own and doing some research. Unfortunately, I have an engagement very shortly, that I cannot miss. That is unless you decide to charge me with something." He offers that last bit with a grin. He picks up the chicken's body and sets it back into the cage, as he prepares to head out.
Eleanor takes the card with a frown. "Once the administration lets us move forward on the ghouls case, I'll get in contact with you. Right now, my hands are completely tied in that regard." She bangs a few times on the door, and the guards open it to let them out. The detective wastes no time in doing so, and fleeing back to the security of her desk.
Julien gives a slight salute to the detective. "I understand. I just had a few more ideas for you. Well, anyway, good evening, Detective Wickham." Picking up his bag and the cage with the dead chicken, he heads on out as the door opens. The soft click of his shoes resounds as he walks down the hall.