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Bunga Bangkai

By J. D. Roxburgh

Action / Thriller

Chapter 1

Maura could still see the body crashing to the floor, over and over again. As she raced over to the crumpled form the emotions swirling inside her were a potent mix: anger, love, sadness and betrayal formed a torrent inside her that physically hurt. The stabbing to her heart and the steep drop in her stomach made her head feel like it was swimming. As she gazed as the bloodied face beneath her every cell in her body trembled and shook.

"Don't touch him! No, I mean it! Don't you dare touch him!"

Those words and the unbridled emotions that hardened Maura's face would forever haunt Jane. Those soft hazel eyes glared at her with an ice cold quality that still somehow managed to burn with the fury behind them. Since the argument outside the warehouse Jane hadn't seen her best friend. It made her feel nauseous and empty to know just how much Maura hated her. It was impossible to decide which made her angrier, the fact that Maura refused to talk or see her or the fact that Jane's gut was still insisting she did the right thing.

Maura was sat next to her mother in the hospital when the ringing of her phone snapped her out of her daze. "Doctor Isles." Her usual greeting was short and snappy, the events of the past few days having worn down her habitual politeness born out of the upbringing Constance had insisted on. She barely listened to the voice on the end of the phone as her mind wandered back through her childhood with Constance. Tears formed in her eyes as Paddy Doyle came to the forefront of her mind and she shook her head rapidly to concentrate.

As Jane made her way toward the address Frost had text her near the old harbour she couldn't help but replay the events of that day back in her mind. She felt her chin begin to tremble as she thought back to the moment when Maura turned her back on her, the stern almost cruel look in her eyes sent a chill down her spine. Jane took a deep breath and stalked her way toward the cordoned off area where Frost was waiting for her. As she took in the large building memories did their best to flash before her eyes, the building was an old one, similar to the warehouse where... she stopped herself and dug her nails into the scars on her palms, the short sharp pain was enough to bring her into the present and she set her jaw and ducked under the police tape.

Maura frowned as she took in the sight of the body. Something felt awfully familiar about it but she gave a small shake of her head, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her breath caught in her chest as she heard those familiar footsteps echo in the large room. She took an extra moment before she opened her eyes, gritting her teeth she forced herself to focus solely on the body in front of her.

Jane had initially thought it odd that Frost was waiting outside for her and hadn't followed her in but as the almighty stench hit her and rolled her stomach she fully understood. Jane grimaced, she had always had a strong constitution when it came to stuff like this but the smell was so overpowering it was difficult to think of anything else. Her attention was stolen, however, as she made her way further into the large room following the smell and was greeted by the sight of Maura crouched over the body, no one else in sight.

The medical examiner would have paid to let Dr Pike take this case but according to Cavanaugh she was the only ME available. The last thing she wanted was to be in the same room as Jane, let alone in an otherwise empty room because no one else could stand the pungent smell. She pressed her lips into a thin line and reprimanded herself, this was work, nothing more and she could be professional. Her determination faltered slightly as she remembered it was Jane...professionalism wasn't exactly her strong suit when it came to personal matters. Her thoughts flashed back to their confrontation over Tommy and she felt another sinking feeling in her stomach. Keep everything to the point, don't give her an opportunity. In and out.

As Jane got closer to the body she saw the grim expression on the ME's face and she would have bet her life savings, if she had any, that it had nothing to do with the body but her presence. She felt her anger and irritation begin to bubble up and prickle behind her eyes but she clenched her fists and jaw simultaneously and took a deep breath which let the smell of rotting flesh seep into her. She could feel herself wanting to gag but the last thing she was going to do was give Maura the satisfaction of being the only one able to cope with the odour. Breathe through your mouth Rizzoli, get the facts then get the fuck out.

Maura frowned as she examined the body in situ, decomposition had not begun, rigor was in its very early stages and the temperature of the body indicated the time of death somewhere around three hours previous. There was no evidence of any larvae nor eggs that would speed decomposition. As Jane came closer Maura noticed something sticking out from under the body. She attempted to roll the corpse over but struggled, the victim, a Caucasian male who appeared to be in his 40s, had an incredible body mass and was very heavy.

Jane saw the medical examiner attempting to roll the body over and she sped up to reach her, snapping on her gloves. "Need a hand?" she may as well have said nothing for all the response she got. Maura neither replied nor even glanced her way. Jane sucked in her top lip and bit down on it to stop herself from snapping at her. Inside she just crouched down and assisted in rolling the body onto its side, pulling it closer to her own body and holding it there.

The tremendous reek that surged out from under the body brought tears to Maura's eyes that she blinked away rapidly not wanting to humiliate herself, this worry was quickly vanquished however as she heard the detective opposite her try to hold back a gag. She felt a small sense of satisfaction in spite of herself. Surveying the back of the body it was clear it wasn't the corpse itself, as she looked down curiously at the object lying on the floor she felt her head begin to spin. She tried to blink away the dizziness but the more she gazed at the unusual article the more she could feel faintness approaching.

Jane glanced at Maura as soon as she gagged and ground her teeth when she saw a flash of smugness on the medical examiner's face. She was about to say something when she saw the ME's face pale completely. Maura blinked rapidly as she began to sway, Jane looked down at the squashed thing lying under the body and back up to Maura. She couldn't understand it, Maura had seemed fine, so why did she look like she had seen a ghost? As Jane looked back at the medical examiner she saw her eyes roll back into her head and cried out as Maura fell back onto the hard floor. Jane dropped the body and raced over to Maura's side trying to rouse her.

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