September 17

Here’s a little something that I’ve been working on to try and meet my 20,000 word goal. This is unedited, rough draft stuff. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Kate had been afraid, when the police took her, that she would be placed under arrest and thrown in jail for Sarah’s murder. Jail was not a comfortable proposition for the coywolf on several levels and definitely not in the city where she would be tossed into the general population if they decided to search her.

It turned out that she needn’t have worried. Inspector Allen, the terrier who’d followed Sarah’s stretcher out of the abandoned house’s basement, had turned out to be a very kind soul, one truly interested in finding out about the Jane Doe he’d only just come to know as Sarah.

Kate sat now in a functionally comfortable chair in the inspector’s office, her tears having dried up a half hour past. He had just stepped out to fetch her a cup of tea before continuing to question her about what she knew. The thought of English style tea made her nose wrinkle, but for the moment it was likely the best she was going to find. She couldn’t well ask for something in the Irish manner, after all.

The part that nagged at her insides was the idea of being questioned about what she knew. Thing was, she didn’t know how much she knew. Not really. Sarah was a prostitute, there was no denying that given where the murder took place and the state the body was found in, plus hiding information wouldn’t help catch her killer, and that, more than anything, Kate wanted to see done.

The office was simple and orderly, just in the way an official’s office should be, she felt. Simple desk, a bookshelf and a filing cabinet, and a small closet in the corner.

She knew what she had seen in her visions and nightmares, but to make the police understand that would require a lot of explanation and a lot of luck on her part. For that, she decided, she would have to dance lightly around the edge of the true facts. She had the information that Mick had given her. She could give them that. No need to tell them about bleeding cracks in walls, or corpses coming to life to speak to her.

Her ears pricked up at the sound of the door closing behind her, and her nose picked up the wafting scent of tea. Jasmine, in fact. Very nice, and unexpected for a police officer.

“Here you are, Miss Mather,” said Inspector Allen, proffering the cup and saucer.

“Thank you, inspector. It’s lovely.” She took a sip and let the steam and the weak bitterness draw her focus.

“Now this is going to sound insensitive, and rude, but would you tell me about Sarah’s…er…” He paused. Kate watched the wheels turning in his head to find the proper euphemism to convey his meaning.

“Work habits,” she offered.

“Er, yes. Did she have any repeat clients, or any new ones she talked about recently?”

Kate shook her head. “Not recently, no. She was peculiar that way. She always wanted to tell me about the big ones, but not until after. Always said she’d jinx it if she talked.”

The fennec had been superstitious. Kate knew that. Not in any particular way, just that any old-wives’ tale or myth that crossed her path she would fold into her belief system. Fennecs were largely a nomadic species, and their storytellers incorporated the stories of those they encountered. Kate supposed it was in their blood, in the same way that the glamour was in hers.

“Now, miss, what do you mean by the big ones?”

“I’d appreciate you not calling me ‘miss’. M’name’s Kate. You can call me that. Just Kate.”

The terrier stumbled over his words for a moment, jumbling them like a seer’s bag of runes, before he was able to continue.

“Ah, yes, er, Kate. Could you tell me what you mean by ‘the big ones’? Any information could be immensely helpful to us.”

Kate sipped the bitter tea, wishing she’d some honey to sweeten it. She loved honey. It tasted of nature, and not of backbreaking labor and sorrow.

“The ‘big ones,’ that was how she described her patrons who kept her around a few nights. She was as close to a true courtesan as we come in Whitechapel, Inspector. Sometimes she’d snare a rich beau, or sometimes a lady—“

Allen nearly choked on his own tongue. “N-now, miss, er, I hardly think that’s appropriate—“

“Do you want to know, or not, Inspector? Don’t turn all blushing moralist on me now. We’re already talking about a lady of the evening. What does it matter to you which of the sexes she took pay from? Anyway, yes, a rich male—or female, if it was the right one,” she relished throwing the word in his face, hoping that it would sting him again for his thoughts about her sweet and vivacious Sarah,  “would sometimes take her into their home for a few days, where she would live by day as a cousin or old family friend, or some such fiction. She was a born actress that one.

“Anyway, by day, she lived the role, by night, she was the client’s toy. She didn’t often go into the details of that part of the job, and I never asked. It was her business, not mine.”

Inspector Allen nodded and sipped his own cup of tea. Kate observed that his paws trembled despite his attempts to hide it.

He’s worried about this case, she thought, letting her gaze soften. The anxiety in the terrier radiated out from him. It was clear in his movements, in the tension her superior ears could detect in his voice, and in the scent of nervousness that poured out from under his uniform. If she was going to press her luck, now was the time.

“Inspector, before we continue further, I must see her.”

“I’m afraid that’s out of the question Miss…Kate. I’m sorry, but—“

“You want to solve her murder?” she asked, setting the teacup in the saucer and putting it aside, on the inspector’s desk.

“I do.”

“Then I need to see her. I need to see that it’s really her. For all we know I could be telling you all about Sarah when she’d not even the victim, and I don’t want to waste the precious time of justice. I note that you’ve already spent a great deal more time on this murder than any of the other girls in recent memory in the same area.”

“Now, just a minute, Kate. Scotland Yard—“

“Treats all cases with due diligence, dignity, and respect. Yes,” she snapped, rising to her feet. She wasn’t so tall, and yet she still managed down at the inspector. “I know all the platitudes, Inspector. But this one, this case has you genuinely scared. You want what information I have, if any, I want to see Sarah’s body in the morgue. If nothing else I can act as next of kin for identification’s sake.”

The inspector’s face tensed as he considered his options. As Kate knew he would, in the end, he acquiesced with a resigned nod.

“Very good, Miss—“

“Kate,” she reminded him with a smile and a friendly flick of her ears.

“Kate. But I warn you, I’ll not be responsible if you faint or go into hysterics again.”

“I’ll be fine, Inspector. I give you my word.”

“Then let’s go. It shouldn’t be busy at this time of the day. Less likely to raise hackles.”

Inspector Allen stood and held open his windowed office door, waving her through ahead of him. When it closed behind, the glass rattled in its frame.

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