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 Reality Skimming Blog

  • Writer's pictureLynda

Death in the Underdocks - Week of Aug 2, 2021

DRAFT SCENE from a work in progress: Finding the first body

"See, didn't I tell you, m'lord?" Sergeant Taff gave an expansive gesture toward his discovery. "Your very own murder. No need to worry you'll be short of work doing justice for commoners down here on Gelion!"

Braz glanced at the officer assigned to him by the Justice Ministry. The shorter man's crooked-toothed smile looked eerie in the gloom of the alley way. It was too readily given and too broad, as if Sergeant Taff had chosen to grin away whatever life hurled at him. Braz found him impossible to read.

"We'll need better lighting," Braz said, stumbling over the choice of a collective pronoun suitable for encompassing their team. In Gelack, pronouns measured status.

"On it," Taff replied, tactfully avoiding pronouns.

Braz swallowed down an unwelcome discomfort in his throat as he returned his stare to the thing he'd been fetched to see. She looked like so much rubbish jumbled into a layered heap of debris at the back of a cheap boarding house where something that might once have been a modest, fenced-in garden had fallen into disrepair. The whole alley smelled of stale rot. And yet, at the front of the building, the street was reasonably well maintained although to Braz, who was raised on a green world, all the air on Gelion had a heavily recycled flatness to it.

"And we have light!" Taff declared, demonstrating he had noticed the pronoun mistake, earlier, by appropriating the implied gain in status for himself and his team in his choice of "we".

But the flood of light claimed all of Braz's attention.

The body was fresher than the jagged metal fence post that impaled her. She might have been 40, or a weathered 25 if she'd been a space farer. Blood stained her mouth and chest. Her clothes were good, for the area, and her boots hadn't been stolen. One side of her face, and a clawed hand in her lap, were bruised in a distinctive, radiating pattern of burst blood vessels. The hand was particularly badly disrupted.

"Control rod!" Taff declared, and turned to Braz. "Since you may not know, being from offworld, I'd better point out the only people down here with license to use rods would be palace errants. Which would make this a case of Sevolite on commoner action, for sure, and hence our jurisdiction, m'lord."

"Probably," said the sole woman on the team, a lean, gray-eyed youth with long straight hair who looked startled by the attention her remark drew from both Braz and Taff. Her name was Esa. A student from the new science academy launched by Heir Gelion.

"Explain," Braz ordered. Esa flinched, and froze. "Please?" he added, making Sargent Taff cover a chuckle with a fake cough.


This scene is part of a work in progress set in the Okal Rel Universe. To take part, make suggestions or ask questions you can comment on the blog, here, or join our discord. See contact page for how to connect.


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