The Corpse Pickers Episode I: Bones In The Desert

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Chapter 2

“We got a call.” Stated Mr Angle, his tone indicating that he was in no mood for games. Alec Muir sat across from him, in no mood to play them. It was 2.30am and the two men were in a small office with one small window running along the top of the back wall. The room was dark, lit only by a tiny desk lamp. The walls were lined with filing cabinets, the desk littered with books and forms. Mr Angle leaned forward, bringing his face into the light. He was completely bald, bespectacled and slightly wrinkled, though the creases spoke more of stress than advanced age. He wore a navy blue suit with a faded red tie. There was a small tie clip hanging about halfway up, askew, depicting a bald eagle.
“Not good news, I imagine?” asked Alec, picking at his fingernails. Alec was just shy of forty, with facial hair too unkempt and irregular to be considered stubble, but too short to be considered a beard. His hair hung just past his shoulders, dark brown with tinges of grey throughout. His attire was a degree less formal. He wore ripped jeans and a t shirt, black with a faded design for a long defunct metal band, its logo all but illegible.
“No. Not good news. But not altogether bad news either. Could have been worse – we might have never heard about this. One of our sources in the confederacy has marked a location for us. Apparently the Archaeologist left a couple of victims out there. The source suspected that it was Rico Estabilez and, pay attention, this is the important one...A Mrs Ellen Deckard.”
This got Alec’s attention. He stopped picking his nails and looked up, eyebrow raised.
“The president?”
“Yes. Well, not any more, obviously. Mrs Ex President. We need to check it out, but with your good old King landing in Quebec...”
“He’s not my King...”
“...and The Confederacy taking The Mid-Eastern Republic, we have our hands full. Mr New President doesn’t want to spare any military or special forces. He told me to put the police on it.”
Mr Angle steepled his fingers. He fixed Muir with a hard stare. Alec shuffled uncomfortably, then pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. He fumbled with the lighter for a second. He was missing his ring finger on his right hand, as was the top half of his little finger.
“Where do I come in? I’m not police any more. Haven’t been for a long time. Even so, I was a policeman in a land far from here. What do I know about the law in this...fantastical land?” He finally got the cigarette lit and took a deep inhale.
Mr Angle sat back, returning into the shadow. The light reflected in his spectacles.
“I’ve decided to grant your request. The team.”
Muir stopped mid draw and let out a stream of smoke.
“What request?” he asked, confused.
“When we met in July, you put forward a proposal. The team of specialists. To solve the Philadelphia case.” Replied Mr Angle.
“What the fuck are you talking about...wait. The hooker murders? Are we talking about that?”
Mr Angle nodded. Muir could only tell by the reflection in his glasses.
“That wasn’t a proposal, it was just an idea! I had found a bunch of old discs with some show on it, from before the wars. A bunch of guys would solve crimes by looking at evidence and interrogating suspects and shit. Something about investigating crime scenes and the like. It wasn’t a serious proposal!”
Mr Angle returned to the light. His mood had not changed.
“Well tough shit, scotty. I liked the idea. I thought about it for quite some time. Congratulations. You’re a police officer once again. We’ll give you a nicer sounding title, but be under no illusions, my young friend, you are a cop once again.”
Muir’s mouth was hanging open slightly, his cigarette only clinging to his lip with the moisture of his lips.
“Need I remind you of the conditions of your asylum?”
Muir shook his head after a moment. He put out his cigarette and leaned forward so that he was very close to Mr Angle.
“I was beginning to like my desk job. Didn’t have to deal with any unnecessary bullshit. Like people.”
Mr Angle cracked his first smile of the night.
“Well, vacation is over, Muir. Pack your bags. There is a dossier waiting for you at your new office in Boston DC. I’m sure you’ll like most of the names on the list. We have already found your first officer, who will be filling the role of Assistant supervisor. He’s waiting outside.”
Muir didn’t move. He just stared at Mr Angle. A few seconds passed before Mr Angle tapped a button on his landline.
“You can come in now.” He ordered.
The door opened. Muir turned around in his seat. He raised his eyebrows again.
“Morbid?” he asked, the faint trace of a smile revealing itself.
“Aye, Alec, ya daft old bastard. Thought you’d seen the last of me?”
Muir looked round at Mr Angle, who had faded back into the darkness.
“He was granted asylum earlier this week. Managed to sneak across with King Cohen’s forward platoon. Escaped with a few deserters to Old York and somehow made it across the wasteland. President Harrison granted my request that he be put to work with you.”
Robert “Morbid” Montgomery walked over to the desk and put his hand on Muir’s shoulder.
“Morbid and Muir, back together again. How long has it been, buddy?” he smiled, revealing several missing teeth. He was a portly, balding man with a shaggy beard and a long scar winding from his forehead to his chin.
“You got fat. And ugly. The fuck happened to your face?” asked Muir, in a compassionate piece of communication possible only between two Scotsmen.
“The King, fuckin cunt that he is. Spent several years in the Tower of London. Glad to be out of that shithole city, I tell ye that. Did manage to persuade our old friend to utilise my services eventually though. Helped keep the rowdy northerners under control for a while.”
Muir’s face darkened a little.
“So that’s it then? There’s no more...?”
Morbid nodded. Muir was silent for a long time. Eventually, he made a move to light another cigarette.
“Don’t light that in here. Smoke and walk. You have a chopper waiting for you.” Mr Angle motioned towards the door.
Muir ignored him and lit the cigarette anyway. He got to his feet and gathered his things, a jacket from the back of the chair and a small backpack from the floor by the desk. Morbid and Muir began to walk towards the door.
“And Muir?” Mr Angle’s voice was cold.
Muir turned around and waited.
“Mr Montgomery’s asylum conditions are the same as yours. No running off. Strict deadlines. Or you lose your rations.”
Both men nodded and left the office.


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