Nickie opened the folder containing the images. “Yuck! Why would anyone want to remove the eyes?”
“Maybe the killer believes the eyes held the last image of what the victim saw when they died. As for the heart, some believe a person’s soul lives in there.”
Curious about the other evidence, Nickie checked the other photos. She gasped at one photo. “Lennie, come look at this!”
Lennie sat beside her, and placed an arm across her shoulders. “Isn’t that interesting? I see you found something at the crime scene no one reported to The Archive.”
He winced. “We will report it after the lab is finished.”
“Damn it, Scott! The your lab techs don’t know what the hell they’re doing when it comes to artifacts! When you found it, you should have called The Archive!”
She grabbed her phone. “This is Archivist First-Class Lenara Lenquil. I wish to report the police are in possession of an artifact. This might be part of another artifact found in the same location.” She hung up, and then dialed another number. “Yes, this is Lenara Lenquil Archivist First-Class. I’m requisitioning an exploration team for a building located at 1530 Harbor Street.” She listened. “Three. One of them has to be Shannon Leary. If she’s on another assignment, transfer her. James Leary and Ryan Jones should be on the team as well. Thanks.” She hit the end button.
Scott’s jaw dropped. “Lennie! What the hell are you trying to do? Ruin my career? I was planning on making a report to The Archive once we were through investigating the building.”
“You know the law! You must divulge any artifacts or runes found immediately. The Archive has to document every strange event or item so we can discover what is going on! You know we’re trying to find answers to what’s happening! These orders come from the federal government!”
Scott slammed the bottle on the table. “Give me a break!”
“Not when it comes to my work. There’s no telling what those techs messed up.”
Staring at the photo, something clicked in Nickie’s mind. She hurried to her room and returned with the picture from her notebook. She compared the two; the pieces would fit together. “Lennie.”
She glared at Scott. “Now what?”
“Look at the picture on the screen and the one I have in my hand.”
“Damn. How did I miss that? I was right about you, Nickie. You’ll make a first-rate Archivist! Well done!”
A pleasant warmth filled Nickie when Lennie gave her a hug. “What do we do?”
“The three of us are going to the police station to pick up the other piece.”
“What if I refuse?” Scott stared at her.
“Then I’m calling your superiors and telling them what you did.”
“All right. Are you going to help with the investigation?”
“I don’t have a choice. Nickie, get your shoes on.”
“I’m sorry for screwing things up. My job is to find murderers. I’m not used to the new federal laws and regulations. It’s making my job harder.” He rubbed the back of his neck.
“Apology accepted. I’ll drive.”
I hate this place. Nickie stuck close to Lennie’s side as they walked down the corridor.
“You all right?”
“No. I really hate this place,” Nickie whispered. “A year ago, a member of the city council was murdered in an area frequented by the homeless. The police hauled in all the homeless people from the area for questioning. I spent three days in a cell before they got around to questioning me. After an eight-hour interrogation, they let me go. As compensation, an officer gave me a meal ticket from the church he belonged to. I tore the ticket into tiny pieces in front of him and tossed it in the trash. He called me an ungrateful little bitch. That church makes you sit and listen to a two-hour service before you can eat. While you’re eating, members sit and preach to you about God and other religious crap.”
“When we get back home, I’ll let you have another beer. I know I wouldn’t have been able to make the connection as fast as you did.”
“Thanks. I’m glad you’re my Keeper.”
“So am I, Nickie.” Lennie rested an arm across the younger woman’s shoulder.
A delightful warmth flowed through Nickie at the touch.
“You’re upset with me, aren’t you?”
“Can you blame me, Scott? The laws are in place for a reason. We need to find out what is going on. The runes, artifacts, and ruins are the only clues we have. The work we do is important.”
Scott punched in a code on the keypad for the Lab door. “I realize that, but it makes it harder for us to do our work. We don’t like the strangeness any more than the rest of the citizens, but we feel left out of the loop when The Archive takes over.”
“There’s not much I can do about that. I’m doing the work that’s expected of me.”
At a full glass door, Scott entered another code and waved for them to follow. The occupant ignored the women. “Good evening, detective. What can I do for you? Another homicide?” He removed his glasses and set them on the desk.
“You need to turn over a piece of evidence to Archive. The piece of metal we found,” Scott said.
“This couldn’t wait until tomorrow? I don’t want to fill out those stupid forms tonight.” He ignored the two females.
Lennie shoved her ID in the man’s face. “You are required by federal law to hand over any artifacts found at a crime scene. Failure to do so could lead to your arrest, a hefty fine, and jail time.”
His eyes widened. “Archivist Lenquil! Forgive me! I’ll get the item from storage.” He bolted through a door behind his desk.
Nickie snickered. “You sure got his attention, Lennie.”
Scott grinned. “He’s a pompous little ass, more concerned with his reputation than work. I think he’s related to one of the higher-ups, which explains why he has this cushy job.”
A few moments later, he returned with a clipboard and a sample jar. “If you would sign this, I’ll be happy to turn over the object in question.”
Lennie grabbed the clipboard and signed her name, accepting the jar in return. “Next time you find an artifact at a crime scene, you would do well to turn it over to The Archive immediately.”
“I will, Archivist Lenquil. I apologize for any inconvenience. Detective, is there anything else you need?”
“Did the techs finish processing the evidence from the second murder?”
“Not yet. Most of the lab work should be completed tomorrow morning. The techs who worked both crime scenes said they’re having nightmares and feeling nervous. Like someone is watching them. A few have requested sick leave.”
“Thanks for the information. The two scenes bothered me, but no nightmares.” Scott led the women back to the parking lot.
Lennie and Nickie were thinking of what the man said and spoke at the same time. “There must be something…” They stopped and stared at each other, Lennie grinning. “Great minds think alike, Nickie.”
“Will you be getting copies of the autopsy reports of both victims?”
Scott answered. “Yes. I’ll email the reports to Lennie as soon as they are in.”
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Check out Chapter 11 of The Archivist, by Anna Dobritt