tagSci-Fi & FantasyBlood & Magic Ch. 04

Blood & Magic Ch. 04


"You look rather chipper today." Alan said to Kirstin as they rode together towards U of M campus.

'Hmm?" Kirstin wasn't paying attention, she was too busy thinking about Sakeena and what she said the night before.

"Just knock next time..."

"Oh, uh, I guess I just got some good sleep." she said, laughing nervously as she parked the car against the sidewalk. "The past couple of nights haven't been great if you know what I mean." she didn't like reminding her peers about her embarrassing night, but Alan was unlike most of the others in that he didn't stare at her with lust filled eyes.

"That's good. So how do you want to handle this?" he asked as he unbuckled his seat belt.

"Just keep an eye on her and I'll do the talking. I want to see how she responds, my guess is if she did know anything she's going to be highly anxious about us."

"What makes you say that?"

"If you were in another country whose laws you didn't entirely know and the police approached you about a dead body would you be able to keep cool?"

"Good point." Alan held his hands over his eyes as he surveyed the area outside of the Education building. Located on one of the busier streets in Ann Arbor, University Ave, the sidewalks were already overflowed with students walking to their next class. "So the good news is that there was only Helena with a last name that sounded French, the bad news is there's a good chance that it could be the nine other Helena's enrolled at U of M if it isn't her."

"What's the last name?"


"Well at least we have her picture." Kirstin said, looking down at the copy of the profile pic they printed. She looked up to Alan and leaned close to his ear, "You didn't...tell anyone where we were going right?"

"No, wwwhy?" he asked slowly, raising an eyebrow as to why she was being discrete all of the sudden.

"Hillier again." Kirstin said with a roll of her eyes. "I think she's trying to beat us to it, so this being on the down low would be best for us." and for Kirstin. Alan approached her early with the list of names and Kirstin felt if they left now, Hillier couldn't grill her for details. Besides, hopefully after today, the blackmail scheme would be a thing of the past.

Alan raised his eyebrows as he shook his head. "Seriously, the less she has to do with homicide the better. Bad enough she racially profiles black people for drugs, I don't even want to think what happens when she wants to arrest them for murder. She has to be the only cop in Ann Arbor who gives a shit about people smoking pot."

"When their not white though correct?" Kirstin chimed in as they walked towards the Dept of Education building.

Alan nodded. "Mmmhmm." he mused, "Little Miss Confederate, savin' Ann Arbor from one pot-smoking criminal at a time." he said with a laugh.

Kirstin chuckled as well, stepping past Alan as he held the door open for her. The sight of students in their 20s brought Kirstin back to her own time in college, making her think again of all the interpersonal connections she missed.

Ahead, they spotted campus guard dressed in a dark blue uniform leaving a nearby cafe. he was in his mid 40s, black hair turning grey and gut starting to hang over his belt. He had a cup of coffee in his hand. Kirstin nudged Alan and then walked up to the man who blew on the top before taking a sip. "Excuse me, officer, do you regularly patrol this area?"

The man stopped and nodded as he stared at Kirstin and Alan. "Yes I do, may i ask who you are?"

Kirstin reached for the badge on her belt and said, "I'm Detective Delaney, this is my colleague Detective Howard. I won't take up too much of your time, I was just wondering if you have ever seen this student around campus?" she held up the photo of Helena.

The officer leaned closer, squinting his eyes as he got a look at the picture. "Hmm...I believe I've seen her around maybe. I dunno, they all look the same to me you know?"

Sighing, Kirstin nodded. "Indeed sir, her name is Helena. We believe she might be a first year student. Do you have an idea where we might be able to locate her?"

The officer held his free hand on his belt. "That depends, may I ask what this is about?"

"We were hoping to ask her some questions pertaining to a case that is involved on campus. She is not a suspect, just a person of interest."

"It's the murder that happened two nights ago isn't it?" he asked as he drank his coffee, watching Kirstin nod her head. He looked away from them, weighing his options in the ethics of giving away a students' whereabouts. "Well if she is a first year, she's probably in the Kaufman-Gail Residence. That's an all women's dorm. She's bound to be in and out of there if you wait outside. At the very least, one of the RA's could point you to her."

"Where is that dorm located?"

"Off of State Street." he set down his coffee and pulled out a notepad. "Let me get you the address." he scribbled it down and handed the note to Kirstin. "Good luck.

Kirstin and Alan had to walk across town to Central Campus where the dorm was located. It was a three story building, a clash of light blue paint and bricks, while new, still gave the dorm its old look, hundreds of years of history standing still while places around it rose and fall.

Kirstin held the door open for Alan as they stepped inside. The faint sound of a piano could be heard in the distance and Kirstin was reminded of a private school as she looked at the hardwood floors and old portraits from the 1800s on the wall. Two hallways stood on either side of Kirstin and she nudged her head towards the side where the source of the music came from.

The music got louder, the keys striking in an upbeat motion, the notes cutting off so fast that it didn't seem like it was a classical piece. They stopped at the end of the hall, staring at the open room where several couches and chairs were laid out in a semi-circle. On the other end was a large Steinway piano, the lid left open to showcase the hammers striking the strings.

Sitting in front of sat a woman wearing a long black skirt under a brown knit sweater. Thick, black rimmed glasses sat atop her face and her curly brown hair was tied in a bun. Upon standing several feet away, Kirstin could see freckles across the front of her face. The student looked up and adjusted her glasses, "Um..hi?"

"Hi there. Sorry to bother you." Kirstin began. "We were wondering if you could help us locate a student." she held open her jacket to showcase her badge.

"What for?" the student asked, her body frozen as she stared at the badge.

"Just to ask some questions, she's not in trouble."

WIth a shrug, the student said, "I can try."

Alan produced the picture and handed it to the woman. She took one look at it and bit her lip. "Umm..that's my roommate. Why do you want to speak with her?"

Kirstin took a deep breath to contain the excitement from her luck and said, "We're investigating the murder of a student and we're trying to investigate who may have had contact with him. Do you know if she's home?"

With a sigh, the woman handed the photo back. "She might. you're sure she's not in trouble?"

Both detectives nodded. Kirstin said, "We just have a few questions to ask her, if we had reason to believe she was, we would have came in with a warrant." Kirstin watched as the student's agitation showed, her slumped posture and foot that started to shake as it was crossed over the other.

"Okay, let me take you to our room." she said in a dry tone. She bent down to pick up her bag and stood up from her bench. She led Alan and Kirstin down the hall towards the other end of the dormitory where a flight of stairs led them up to the second floor. The halls became narrower as they were only corridors bridging the distance between each room.

The student, whose name was Maggie, stopped at a door on her right. "hang on just a second." she grabbed her keys and unlocked the door while Kirstin exchanged glances with Alan, a tacit reminder to their original plan.

"Helena? You home?" Maggie asked. No response came and she gestured for the two officers to come inside. She led them down a small corridor that opened up into a small kitchen adjacent to a tiny living room space.

Watching Maggie walk into the living room and turn to the left, Kirstin could hear a squeal and then a loud thud, causing both Alan and her to rush into the room. "Oh! There you are. Did i scare you?" Maggie asked .

Kirstin rushed in to see a small room containing two beds on either side along with two desks. Laying down in the bed on the right was a young woman with long jet black hair, the top of a white t-shirt peaking out above a red bedsheet that was gripped tight under her fingers. She had a look of terror on her face as she looked from her roommate to Kirstin and Alan. Sitting on the floor in front of the bed was a laptop, the lid open with a black screen. Kirsten could see a crack form on the back of the screen, even at small distances they were useless in withstanding impact.

"Wh-what is this about? Who are they?" the student asked. The accent and the appearance made Kirstin happy that they had found their mystery student, but it didn't explain why she had a slight shade of pink to her face.

"These are cops. They said they wanted to ask you some things."Maggie assured her. She turned to Kirstin and Alan, "She's um nervous, she's actually a student from France so she's not used to talking to police in America.

"That's understandable." Kirstin said as she held up a hand before addressing the nervous woman in bed. "Helena? I'm detective Delaney, you aren't in trouble, my colleague and I just wanted to ask you some questions. Is it okay if we do that?"

With wide eyes, Helena looked from Kirstin to Alan. "What is this about?"

"Just about a student we'd like to know if you had contact with. Are you...okay? You seem upset." Kirstin asked, wondering why Helena's hands were shaking, as if letting go of the covers would result in loss of life.

"Could you give me a moment?" Helena asked.

Looking to Alan, Kirstin raised an eyebrow and turned back to Helena, "I suppose so."

With a scoff, Maggie reached forward and grabbed the covers. "Helena just get out of bed and talk to them."

"No don't!" Helena cried but it was too late. The bedsheet was ripped off, exposing the rest of her body. Her shirt was rolled up, revealing a taut stomach and long pale legs under a pair of white panties with bunny rabbits printed on them. They were slightly curved, not a full bikini but not exactly boy briefs.

While the panties were white, Kirstin noticed a darker shade form around the base of the crotch, a stain spreading out over the rest of Helena's vulva. She was not entirely without pants, her jeans were pooled down around her ankles. "Oh no!" Helena cried as she folded both her hands over her underwear, turning her head away to conceal how red it was turning. "I'm ..sorry!"

The three of them gasped as they were at a loss for words, but it Maggie who broke the silence. "What were you doing in here?"

"I-i was just...I'm sorry, I thought I was alone." Helena whimpered, her legs rubbing against each other as the embarrassment made goosebumps form over her skin. Her right leg bent as it slid over the left, doing what it could to maintain modesty. She had nothing to be sorry for, but lying there with her pants down in front of authority figures made Helena feel more ashamed, like the U.S. Government was staring at her state of undress, wondering why an adult woman would wear something so infantile.

Maggie's face scrunched up as she stuck her tongue out. "Ugh, Helena...TMI! Okay, yeah pull your pants up and then talk to these guys!" she turned to leave the room but not before whispering, "I'm sorry."

With her mouth open, Kirstin felt her own face get warm, not at all suspecting she would be walking in on an undressed college student, particularly one so attractive. "Um..sorry ma'am." she said after clearing her throat. "We'll give you your privacy." she turned and walked into Alan who was still frozen as he looked at Helena's bare legs. "Oh come on! Give her some privacy!" she shouted as she pushed Alan into the hall.

As she pushed her partner away from the room, Kirstin could hear Helena and her roommate arguing over the lack of boundaries. While they argued, Kirstin could hear the rustling of clothes, the metal teeth of a zipper meeting again as the metal buckle of a belt fastened to keep tight. The sounds reminded her of a morning after sex, slipping back into reality one pant leg at a time.

While they waited by the door, Alan smirked and gave a whistle, which resulted in receiving a slap on the face by Kirstin. It was at this time that they saw Helena standing in the hall, jeans covering her rabbit printed underwear. "My laptop is broken. It fell off the bed." she said, one hand holding the others' wrist as she felt awkward standing up for herself.

"Oh..I...sorry.' Kirstin said looking to Alan. "Um, Detective Howard, would you try to see if you can get it working again while I ask Helena some questions?"

"Sure." Alan said, nursing his cheek as he passed by.

Kirstin waited for him to be out of sight before smiling at Helena and saying, "I'm sorry for barging in like this. I assure you this shouldn't take long. I actually wanted to ask you about this gentleman." reaching into her pocket, she held up a print out of Matthew Varnes' profile picture. He was sitting in a kayak on the Huron River, smiling as he held up his oar.

Without taking two seconds, Helena's eyes widened as she said, "Oh him, I know him on okcupid." the excitement in recognizing the familiar face faded when another realization hit her. "He...he was mentioned in the news? He was killed?"

Nodding, Kirstin said, "Yes ma'am that is correct. We had reason to believe you two were planning on meeting for a date the evening he died?"

"Yes we were." Helena said, folding her arms as she looked away. "We were to meet up at a bar but...I don't remember what else happened that night."

Kirstin almost laughed, she refused to believe she had gotten this far just to hit an absolute road block. "You mean you don't remember whether or not you met up?"

Helena shook her head, "No, it's strange. I remember texting him to confirm the date the night before, and going to class during the day. But nothing about that night. My roommate asked me how it went and I was puzzled because I couldn't remember at all."

"So your roommate can't corroborate whether or not you were here or out meeting Matthew Varnes?"

Helena avoided eye contact as she shook her head again. "She had a night class. I'm sorry I can't remember." her hands touched both sides of her head, "I don't know why everything is a blank. does that mean I'm a suspect?"

Kirstin bit the inside of her cheek. "Not exactly ma'am. While it would be important to establish where you were the night of the murder, not remembering where you were doesn't mean you were there. Are you certain you remember absolutely nothing? No text from him saying that he cancelled? Where you two were planning on meeting?"

"Again I'm sorry but no. We were going to meet in the Diag and go from there. But I'm not sure if he cancelled or not."

It took everything Kirstin had not to rest her head into her palm. the Diag was a walkway from one part of downtown Ann Arbor to the other side of town. Many people walked through that area as a shortcut. This meant it would be next to impossible to place Matthew there if he did in fact show up. "Have you had problems with remembering events before?"

"No, that's why it's so strange, I've never just completely forgotten an entire night."

Kirstin's head tilted as she leaned closer to talk in a quieter voice, "Do you recall drinking or taking any medication that night?"

"No. I was in class all day so I don't think I would have drunk anything and I'm not on any medications."

By now Kirstin couldn't resist scratching her forehead, her nails sliding across her brow to take the edge off her frustration. Her eyes remained on Helena and not once did she see the European woman steel her resolve. There was a nervousness in her posture but not from fear of being caught. On the contrary, Helena seemed more distraught by her loss of memory than Kirstin was.

"Let's try this then." she said with a sigh, "Do you recall what Matthew was studying or if he had a job? I trust you talked a little bit more deciding to meet in person."

It was the first time Helena nodded, her head bobbing up and down in a fast manner as she was relieved she had an answer. "He mentioned working at the Football Stadium in the box office. He was studying business."

"Did you talk about anything else?"

Helena's cheeks turned pink as she smiled, turning away to hide her embarrassment. "We...did but I don't feel comfortable talking about it."

"I understand that it's personal miss, but anything you can offer even if it seems minor could be helpful in finding his murder, particularly since we can't establish where you were." Kirstin said in a dry tone, losing patience at her only witnesses lack of memory.

Helena looked back towards the room where her roommate and Alan were and then she leaned closer to Kirstin, "We were talking about...the stories I write and what...makes..me feel good." By now her face looked like she had a fever based on how red it was. "I write erotic stories and so he asked about them. That was all, he just said he liked the ideas I had."

Kirstin didn't realize it but she too was blushing, the close intimacy of officer and citizen sharing the most basic of secrets was enough to give her the sense that this was inappropriate and it almost made her forget that this was all part of the job.

"I...see." Kirstin said, "Well then...um...unless there's anything else, I'll give you my card and if you happen to remember anything about the night of the date, please let us know." She pulled her card out of her pocket and gave it to Helena, who was still so uncomfortable that she couldn't look at Kirstin as she accepted the card.

"Okay, again, I'm sorry I don't remember, I'll try really hard to think and get back to you." Helena said as she pocketed the card.

"Well the Ann Arbor police and Matthew Varnes' family would appreciated it. Alan?" she called down the hallway.

"COMING!" Alan shouted, so loud it made Helena and Kirstin jump. He hurried down the hallway, face dark red as he said, "You're um, laptop is fixed. The screen was just out but I managed to get it to come back on. I didn't mess with what you were working on."

Helena smiled as she said, "Thank you for fixing my laptop. You have no idea I-" she paused and then held her hands over her mouth has she blushed again. "Y-you didn't look at the screen did you?'

Alan lowered his eyes and mumbled, "I did but..it was only a quick peek I swear I didn't read anything else. Sorry."

With a raised eyebrow, Kirstin exchanged glances with Alan, wondering what it was he saw. His eyes shifted to the door and rather than grill him in front of Helena, she said, "Well we should get going. Ms. De La Forge, thank you for your cooperation. Please keep in touch."

Helena was so embarrassed, she didn't speak, only nodding as she held open the door for them. With a forced smile, Kirstin waved goodbye and waited until they were outside of the dormitory to ask, "What the hell did you see? Anything important?"

Alan laughed as he scratched the back of his head. "It er...no not really. Just some story she was writing about women losing their clothes. Kind of ironic considering how we first met her huh?"

Kirstin didn't answer, she was too distracted at the horror of her past nights, wondering how something like that could be a form of entertainment for people to read. She wasn't the only one who lost her clothes and that reminded Kirstin she had another person to report to. "I'm going to talk to Dr. Fakhouri again."

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