Second Sight - A “Trapper” detective story
Some people use alcohol to numb their senses, I use it to enhance mine.
I was born without the ability to feel emotions but as a child I quickly found out that a few sips from my father’s secret liquor stash levelled up my physical senses to the point where it seemed as though I had a sixth sense.
My mother calls it ‘second sight.’ My father calls it a curse. He would know.
I take another swallow of the amber liquid I keep concealed inside an old fashioned flask. No one uses them anymore, but I enjoy the feel of the slim metal container tucked inside my jacket pocket. I suck in my cheeks as the liquid burns my throat. It’s homemade liquor like my father used to make, but stronger. I cough and my eyes water but it’s still not enough.
”Dammit,” I mutter and twist off the Instant Sight Identification lens from my eye. Without the lens, we can’t physically see anything. No one can. And only the privileged, rich or those born to protect are given the option to purchase the ISI lens. But even blind I can feel him… rippling along my skin like the barest whisper against my neck or—
”Hey, Trap?” Dana touches my shoulder from behind and I jump.
I turn around and reattach my lens. My partner’s dark expressionless face shines slightly in the light of the moon, but I still feel the hint of a smile she’s hidden behind her stark professionalism.
So I’m not broken.
”Got anything?” She asks. I shake my head. The warmth of the alcohol has already dimmed. I want— no, need — another sip but I rake my shaky hand through my hair instead.
”He’s close. I feel him.“ I feel him like he’s a part of me. But I don‘t tell her that.
“I just can’t get any other read on him. And this damn thing—” I shake my ISI like I’m trying to dislodge a pebble in my shoe. The lens rattles in its frame attached to my eye socket, making my eyes water.
“—cost our department fourteen million to invest in.” She finishes my sentence with a wry smile.
I shrug. “Well, I think it hinders more than it helps.” I turn and watch our team with their ISI lenses focusing and refocusing as they walk in circles around the latest victim. She looks no more than 20. 25 at the most. She’s victim number fifty, but the Lens says she’s Jilly. She was found fully clothed but without shoes, curled in a fetal position on the asphalt outside an old fashioned ice cream shop. No blood. No sign of any struggle. And according to the ISI lens, no trace of any DNA. Anywhere.
”How do you know it’s a ‘him?’” Dana’s tone is curious. Quiet. I’ve learned how to read her through her vocal inflections since her face rarely betrays anything. Or maybe it’s just because I can’t tell. She doesn’t know about my disability but I know she suspects something. Her persistent questions make my brain ache but she’s my partner so I tolerate her more than I tolerate most.
”Just a feeling,” I tell her, but I know my answer won’t satisfy for long.
”Jacob Trapper,” she grips my forearm so hard I actually wince. ”Come with me.” She’s suddenly dragging my 6’3” frame behind her. I could pull out of her grasp or plant my feet but her insistence is pulsing along the arm she’s holding.
She’s on to something.
I follow her 20 feet or so down an alley away from our team. She finally stops beside a dumpster; the old fashioned metal kind with a hinged lid. The smell of rust and rot is heavy here, but it’s an old smell. Decades old. No one has used this dumpster in a long time. But someone was here. Recently.
My scalp prickles like it always does before I notice something.
“What is it, Trapper?” Dana lets go of me but keeps close. Her perfume nearly obfuscates the scent I‘m trying to lean into. I wag my head back and forth, like a bloodhound picking up a scent trail. I’m aware of how strange I look, I saw myself on someone’s ISI lens playback once, but I don’t care. Something smells familiar. No, not something. Someone.
I look down at Dana. In the darkness of the alley her face is almost completely hidden. The pit in my stomach grows and my mouth is cottony as my mind grapples with the identity of the killer. His form drifts in and out of my mind. An apparition.
”You need another drink?” Dana’s whispered question slams into me. She knows. Of course she knows. Even though my homemade liquor is crafted without its traditional telltale scent, she knows. She presses something cool and hard into my hand. It’s not the canteen from my jacket pocket, it’s much smaller like a vial.
“It’s over 90% proof,” she whispers. “Go ahead. It might help.”
I pop the top and down the contents in a second, scrunching my eyes against the acrid burn.
And then I see it. Or rather, I see him. The killer. The one we’ve been chasing for years. The murderer no one has been able to track, trace or even identify. Until now.
He’s evaded every detective and every Instant Sight Identification Lens because he’s like me. He doesn’t need one. He’s old school. Even choosing to leave his victims in locations like this old ice cream shop… places that look like they’ve been pulled from history books.
And just like that, the old scent of his aftershave washes into my mental focus, pulled up from my memories and pushed into the present where I can smell it right now. It co-mingles with Dana’s flowery scent and I suddenly feel ill. I’ve never fainted before in my life, but I think I might right now.
I manage a single word before everything goes dark.