11 Mar Fantastic Fridays: Blood Red
This week, Fantastic Fridays features the incredible Kathryn Cottam. After many years as a screenwriter, Kathryn turned her talented ways to prose writing.
Several novels and short stories later, she is taking the world by storm with her gothic fantasy tales! This fairytale is a noir favourite: Blood Red.
The girl is covered in blood.
It stains her hands, knees, and calves. There is a solitary smear of it across her right cheek as though one bloody finger bumped along that pale flesh while tucking aside a stray strand of long red hair. There is more blood on her skirt and coat, but the deep crimson of the wool camouflages whatever drops found their way there.
She sits on the front step of the house, her arms locked about her chest, her chin tipped towards her collar bones, rocking as though to comfort herself. Strange sounds emanate from her throat. She will be taken from here to a tiled room and be stripped of her red coat and skirt, white blouse, tennis socks and running shoes. Her hands will be photographed. The blood on her fingers will be swabbed. The grit under her fingernails is headed for a microscope. Her fingerprints will no longer belong to her alone. They will be bathed in black ink and captured on a white bureaucratic form. She now belongs to the system. And when all of this is finished, someone will take more photographs. This is the start of a very long night.
My partner has confirmed her identification, informed me she’s married, in her mid-twenties; but right now she looks no more than a frightened child. As though the world she once knew has proven itself to be no more than a lingering childhood fairy tale.
She’s either a magnificent actress or her shock is real.
My partner and I are first on scene. We are originally called to a break and enter two miles up the road. But when we arrive, that house is secure and the owner is annoyed; I didn’t call no police, he grumbles. We do a walk-though regardless, finding nothing of course and are about to head back to town when the next call comes in. An apparent 10-96, but the dispatcher speaks with a soft catch in her voice. I get it. Neither my partner or I believe it.
This town has never had a murder. It’s a rural posting. Aside from the chicken farm, logging, and tourism, there isn’t much here. For the most part, the job consists of rounding up those who drink too much, speed too much, beat their wives too much. With the occasional summer boating accident that involves booze, bikinis and a one way trip to the bottom of the deepest lake in the province. Another false call, my partner growls. I don’t mind, though. The anticipation of such a call, allows me to rehearse my training, at least in my head.
Anyway, it beat sitting in the office tapping out tombstone information on a keyboard, writing occurrence reports, or shooting the shit with a Staff Sergeant who wanted to relive the good ol’ days when you could lay down a beating without being hauled before a review board. I pull up the long curving dirt road that is the driveway to a clearing where a house stands. It is one of the older properties that line the lake; a one-story rambling rancher made of wood and glass. Old money. I bet the view from the back of this place — in the light of day — is stunning; it would have an unimpeded view of the water. I radio dispatch that we’ve arrived and park next to a large hollow stump. Together, my partner and I step out of the vehicle.
The girl is seated on the front stairs.
In the dark, all we can see is the pale moon of her face —white and still. As we approach, a motion sensor light flares in the dark, lighting the space where she sits and trembles. And we see the red. So much of it.
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