Purdue stepped out of her squad, lighting the cigarette she already had between her lips, “Here we go again.” She muttered.
“About time you got here.” Officer Whitehead gave her cigarette a dark look. “We gotta block off an entire street just because some psycho likes to finger paint with his victim’s blood.”
“A pleasure to see you as always officer.” She said cheerfully, “Where’s the victim?”
“Victims.” He corrected, “There’s three of them down there.”
She followed him under the police tape and looked around at the area as they walked. A dusting of fresh snow covered everything, there were several sets of footprints on the sidewalk and a single set of vehicle tracks that went in and out. The vehicle had stopped a hundred feet from the bodies and a single set of footprints walked to and from the bodies. There were no other footprints that came near.
“These are from the person who called it in.” Whitehead said, “Nobody else has been here. How the hell the perp managed to get them here without leaving any marks is anyone’s guess. I’m just a beat cop, you detectives get the fun job of figuring out the details.”
Three men’s bodies were laying in a triangle, their feet almost touching, their hands over their eyes and bloody wings almost touching where they unfurled from their backs. Two of them were wearing clerical collars and the third wore an Armani suit.
“Any ID on these guys?” She asked, walking carefully around the corpses.
“We got orders not to touch any of them.” He said acidly, “They all got the wings. That means hands off.”
Purdue pulled on her gloves and removed the tweezers from her breast pocket. Kneeling, she opened the mouth of the man in the suit carefully. Under his tongue was a familiar piece of parchment. This one had a portion of a word on it. She bagged it with shaking hands and repeated the extraction from the other two.
After pocketing the evidence bags, she found the men’s wallets, put them in their own evidence bags and handed them to Whitehead, “Get these to the lab please.”
“I ain’t your delivery boy.” He grumbled, but took the bags and stalked down the street back to where the forensics van was parked.
Purdue was about to take her necklace off when one of the men’s hands twitched. She quickly knelt and put fingers to his throat. There was no pulse.
‘Don’t touch that.’ Nebecenezer said, ‘It’s dangerous.’
“If you don’t tell me what you’re talking about I’m going to ignore you.” Purdue muttered, “I don’t see anything dangerous here.”
‘What’ll ya give me?’ He asked.
“You’re the one who wants something.” Purdue said, reaching her hand out again, “What will you give ME?”
‘What?’ Nebecenezer exclaimed, ‘That’s not how this works!’
“Yeah, it is.” She said, lighting another cigarette, “Just because the tables have turned doesn’t change the nature of the relationship.”
The demon paused, making a high-pitched keening sound. ‘Fine. I’ll give you one favor if you don’t touch them.’
“Excellent.” Purdue said, “I have just the thing. I’ll tell you about it later. I won’t even ask why.”
‘Wait, no! You have to make the deal right now!’ Nebecenezer protested, ‘I can’t have something like that just hanging over my head.’
“Oh, you’ll get used to it.” She said. “Some of us have had to deal with that for years.”
Purdue took the evidence bags from her pocket and held them so the tears all matched. She shuddered as the symbol drawn on the whole piece of parchment was revealed. The random-looking lines resolved themselves into an outline of a rosebud on one side and a set of roman numerals on the other.
The numbers XII-XII were significant. They represented her birthdate and one other anniversary. December twelfth was also in three days.