Lukewarm Murder

INCOMPLETE: My entry for the Sherlock Feature Week Competition.

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Chapter One

 

    I had only just realised, through intense staring at my cereal bowl, that the cornflakes formed a shape that was an almost exact isosceles triangle. I poked them around a bit with my spoon, straightening out the edges to make it more perfect. Of course, what I should have been doing was eating them, as I had only four minutes allocated to this meal, and that included pouring out the cereal and adding milk, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to do it. 

    The timer next to me beeped, signalling the end of breakfast. I gave a world-weary sigh and tipped now-soggy cornflakes into the bin next to me. It would probably start to smell, but the Chinese fast food place downstairs would cover it. This morning they were cooking…peking duck with soy sauce? No, with crushed garlic. I suppressed a shudder, then wondered why I’d bothered. I lived alone. Even if I suddenly broke out into interpretive dance, no one would know or see. Or care.

    “Ring ring, Ransom!” A shadow fell on the floor in front of my door, ghostly black hand raised in an otherworldly salute. “Ransom, your doorbell ain’t working! C’mon, let me in!” 

    “Just a moment, Simon.” I still had to do my morning maths equations (I had a constant and nagging fear that if I didn’t do maths regularly my brain would rot), and then I had to clean and tidy, spray the surfaces, dust everything, check the locks, floss my teeth one more time—

    “Bollocks. I’m comin’ in, Ransom!”

    “Simon, don’t you—”

    Ever unprofessional, Detective Simon Arkwright slammed his boot into my rotting flat door. It burst open in a shower of wood shards and mould, carpeting my bare floorboards in a green and white paste. I recoiled, sleeve over my mouth. 

    “Well, at least you’ll just let me in in future, eh Ransom?” 

    Sometimes, I was not entirely sure why or how Simon Arkwright had ever become my best friend. He was crude, pushy, narcissistic, and seemed to have a fetish for kicking doors down. It probably originated from trying to elicit attention from his estranged mother when he was a child, but the last time I’d brought this up he’d cursed to the high-heavens and thrown his drink in my face.

    “Future? Do you really have to come here at all?” I was aware that I sounded petulant, but I really didn’t care. 

    “Well, I do if there’s been a murder, don’t I?”
    “Shit, Arkwright! You could have said!” I spun round, one hand flying to my unknotted tie, the other scrabbling for my briefcase.

    “Yeah, well. Murder-schmurder, amiright?”

    “No, you’re not right, and if you ever hope to succeed in life you’ll realise that you’re very rarely right, and that trying to get this across without using words that are largely recognised as English will not get you any further!” I stormed past him, ignoring the remnants of my shattered door. There was nothing in my apartment to steal, unless an aspiring thief was particular to blunt pencils.

    I could hear Simon’s cheap Primark shoes thudding on the wet concrete behind me as he jogged to keep up. “Something got your panties in a twist, Ransom?”

    I didn’t answer him.

    “Ransom. Ransom. Will. Ransom. Will. Will. Will—”

    I threw my hands into the air in exasperation. “What?”

    “Car’s over there, mate.”

    “I knew that, I was just…oh, damn you Arkwright.” I executed a sharp 120° degree turn and stormed off, ignoring my partner. 

    “Pfft, I know you love me, you cold-hearted bastard.” Simon’s battered red Audi squatted in a damp parking space to our left.

    “In your dreams, Arkwright.” I leant my elbows on its roof, ignoring the paint chips that rubbed off on my shirt.

    “Don’t flatter yourself, Ransom. The only people who appear in my dreams are hot chicks.” The car beeped. I gave a sharp tug on the door handle and slid inside, tucking my briefcase down by my feet.

    “You women-molester.”

    “You closet asexual.”

    “You—oh, be quiet and drive.”

    Simon grinned in his perceived victory, artificially whitened teeth flashing. As the car’s engine spluttered to life, the radio began screaming, nicely summing up what I sometimes felt like doing whenever Simon was around. He was like that one friend everyone except me had seemed to have at school—he didn’t care for authority, got shit-faced every other night (and sometimes day), yet still managed to be one of the best detectives in the city. This annoyed me sometimes, but I knew he was no competition. That would be like comparing a digital alarm clock to the most intricate clockwork timepiece. Simon cut corners. I didn’t.

    “So, you gonna ask what the poop is Ransom?”

    “No, although I may ask you who’s been murdered and what the conditions of the murder were.”

    “If you did that I wouldn’t answer you.”

    I pinched the bridge of my nose. “I could wait until we get there and ask Ernie.”

    Simon’s grin was threatening to engulf his face again. “Aw, come on, Ernie Ear? When’s he even gonna tell you the truth?”

    I was going to have a bruise on my nose tomorrow. “Fine then. What’s the…poop.”

    Simon slammed the steering wheel with the heel of his hand. “I, Simon Arkwright, got William Ransom to say the word poop! Ha!”

    “You are pathetically juvenile. Now tell me what I want to know.”

    Simon didn’t answer for a few moments, intent on weaving his way through the traffic jam. A few agitated Monday morning drivers beeped their horns at him. He beeped back and kept driving. 

    “The victim is a female, twenty to thirty years of age. They found her in a freezer at the back of that dingy pizza place with the leprechaun on the roof. Remember that place?”
    “The one where you commented that it was the sort of place to hide bodies in the back fridge? Yeah, I know the place.”

    “Well, apparently it’s a pretty new body so they’re taking it over to the morgue already. I thought we’d leave them to it and check out the crime scene.”

    I rolled my eyes, leaning back into Simon’s worn cloth car seat. “For the pizza?”
    “For the pizza.”

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