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2. After a Criminal buys it...

1. Altered Fates

After a Criminal buys it...

on 2010-06-29 04:16:28

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Detective Allen Arne stood over the dead body.

"We finally got you, you sonnova bitch."

It was late November, a roughly six months after a mysterious man had left a package at some family's yard sale. Arne had no way of knowing about the yard sale; what he did notice was the streak of similar murder-burglaries by a number of seemingly unrelated people. The perps had always been similar. A string of ten white Caucasian males, aged maybe in their twenties, who had seemed rather careless in covering up their tracks. Hell, it was almost like they wanted to be caught.

What struck Arne as odd, though, had been how all of them had come in ranting about how they were the wrong person and their body had been stolen. Arne had only noticed the pattern when he was staring at three of his unsolved cases late at night. In some whiskey-fueled stupor, he was started imagining the consequences of them telling the truth. A few days and chats with co-workers later, Arne had uncovered five similar cases.

Eerily, Arne could string most of them together--one man brought in for a burglary in June said that he was actually the man brought in for murder early in July. And that man claimed to be the man arrested later in the month. Arne could lay out the cases into two chains of crimes, and he suspected that the nut job whose case had been given to Detective Ramirez might be the missing link between the two.

It's as if there's some disease, he'd remembered thinking to himself. As if something's just surfing through their bodies, committing crimes, then hopping to another. Arne personally thought that the "disease" was somehow the mind of a once-petty thief named Kurt Hammer. Hammer's body was first in the chain of perps claiming to be innocent and in the wrong body.

Getting to where he now stood, on top of this dead body, had proved a bit harder than putting the pieces together. The next-to-latest perp claimed to be named Guy Walters--which hardly matched his actual IDs. Arne had seized on this, though. He went straight to the chief claiming that Guy Walters would soon commit a crime. After Arne explained his reasoning, Commissioner Freeman had stared at him blankly for a minute, then told him to get out. It was only after Walters was arrested--although, as he screamed, he was actually salesman Lawrence Osterman--that the Commissioner would hear him out and give him other officers to work the case.

Arne and the men he had spent the month tracking Osterman. Or at least the body named Osterman. Osterman had kept to himself for much of the time they were observing him.

Then one of the boys under Arne's supervision had managed to screw up. Osterman--or Hammer, whoever he was-- had noticed. The salesman had managed to vanish for three days, and Arne's team had only managed to find him because of some tip they received after releasing Osterman's photo to the public.

It had ended here--the house of Paul Jackson, white male, age 23. Osterman had been acting erratically, waving a gun around wildly. One of Arne's subordinates, more trigger-happy than the detective himself, had taken this as a sign that Osterman was crazy and dangerous. He shot and killed Osterman. The officer would probably be put on review for that. Arne didn't particularly care at the moment.

Instead he went to Jackson. The kid, unsettled by the dead body in his living room, was instead waiting in the kitchen with his girlfriend. Arne approached the two and held out his hand.

"All right. You," he said, pointing at Paul, "let's see some ID."

The kid flipped out a wallet, which Arne promptly snatched. "Hey!"

"Don't worry, you'll get it back." He turned to the girl. "Has he checked this since you two got in here?"

The girl shook her head. No then. He couldn't have checked. Good.

"All right, kid. What's your name?"

"Dude, what the hell? You have my wallet in your--"

"What is your name?!" Arne yelled, pounding the table. The two people at the table looked at each other.

"Paul. Paul Jackson?"

"Middle name?"

"Carter."

"Age?"

"23."

"Are you marked as an organ donor?"

"Look, why are you asking me questions about myself?"

"I need to make sure you're you. Are you an organ donor?"

"Wha... Yeah, I said I could be."

"Fine. What about her?"

"Sarah?"

"Yeah. What's her birthday?"

"March...12. Yeah."

Arne waited for the girl to nod in agreement. "Fine. You're still you. I'll get the boys out of your house as soon as possible." He handed to wallet back to Jackson. "Have a nice day, Mr. Jackson. We may need to contact you later, don't leave town."

"Detective?"

"Yep?"

"Why did you need to check that I was...myself?"

"Stuff that's bigger than you, kid. Can't talk about it right now."

Arne left the house with a triumphant feeling. He'd finally solved the case. As he and the other officers loaded the van, no one paid particular attention to the scratched-up old medallion in an evidence bag. The van doors closed. The police officers drove off into the night...




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