The morgue extended into an open examination area with a steel table
in the center of a linoleum floor. A white sheet covered a corpse on a
table. The examiner went to a computer monitor and tapped on the screen
to bring up her files.
Johnson walked to the table and grasped a corner of the sheet. “We
found Jane Doe this morning. Hopefully you can give us her real name.”
Carmen looked at the corpse. “Why are you asking me?”
“Just take a look,” he answered.
Carmen and I stood alongside the table directly opposite of Johnson.
He pulled back on the sheet and uncovered Jane Doe’s head. The eyes
were clouded marbles recessed into the dark, wrinkled pits of the eye
sockets. A delicate nose pointed from a face molded of spotty, darkened
flesh pressed against a skull. Black hair jutted from her scalp in matted
tangles. As an amateur specialist in corpses, I guessed the woman had
been dead three days. Too bad, alive she must have been a looker.
Something had left ragged edges at the lobes of Jane Doe’s ears and
the loose skin of her throat.
I looked at Johnson.
“Crabs,” he said. “They had a munch fest.”
Carmen’s foot nudged against mine and pressed. The movement was
deliberate yet secretive. What was she trying to signal?
Johnson leaned against a file cabinet and drummed his fingers. “Well?”
Carmen pulled her foot from mine. She returned Johnson’s gaze and
shrugged. “Who is this?”
Johnson stopped drumming his fingers. His eyebrows slanted downward
and wrinkled the skin over the bridge of his nose. “Your missing guest was
Marissa Albert. This isn’t her?”
Johnson pulled the sheet back but kept his attention on Carmen. “Are
The knobs of Jane Doe’s shoulders were splayed back as rigor mortis
had arched her spine upwards. Her breasts lay flat against the ribcage like
a pair of rotting apples. There were more spots of hamburger lacerations
where the crabs had fed.
“Holy shit,” Carmen pointed, “what happened there?”
In the center of the woman’s sternum was a deep, thumb-sized hole
lined with charred flesh.
My fingers tingled as my vampire sense went on full alert. The wound
was identical to Gilbert Odin’s. Jane Doe had been killed with an alien
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