For the Flash Fiction challenge on Chuck Wendig’s blog
The Incubus’ Tale
He sat, head down, under the lights, the harsh fluorescent glare casting sullen shadows on his face. Steam curled from an untouched cup of coffee. He was not handcuffed, but he sat like he was, wrists resting next to each other on the table.
Officer Schneider leaned forward. Her nicotine-stained fingers twitched slightly against the table; it had been far too long since her last cigarette, far too long since her last meal. Her own coffee cup had been drained to the dregs, with a few escaped grounds swirling in the remaining drops of liquid. She felt a headache coming on. I’m getting too old for this shit, she thought, and this time the sarcasm was tinged with the rueful thought that it might, at last, be true.
She breathed, once, not quite a sigh through her nose, and said, “Let’s go through this one more time.”
“She wasn’t supposed to die,” the boy began, but Schneider interrupted.
“Start at the beginning,” she said. “Start with how you met.”
“It was a club,” he said. “Hairspray.” The name of the club. “Goth night.” His black t-shirt and skinny black jeans, Doc Martens and eyeliner, seemed to support this, as did the silver rings and wallet chain that had been confiscated when he was brought in – not that the night mattered. “I was dancing. She was dancing.”
He looked up, and Schneider saw a little bit of light come into the boy’s dark eyes, so black it was nearly impossible to tell iris from pupil – or maybe that was these ridiculous lights. She rubbed a finger across her temple. “Go on.”
“She just looked so, so alive,” he said, as though being alive were a marker of great beauty, the way other boys might talk about a woman’s hair or eyes or smile. “And I went over to where she was, and we danced, and then we went out to the tent, and had a cigarette.”
The mention of a cigarette made Schneider’s fingers twitch again. God, she needed a break. “The tent?” she prompted, instead of walking away, turning the whole thing over to someone else, and going home to have a whole pack of smokes for dinner.
He shrugged. “It’s just a tent where people go to smoke. It was cold, though, so we went back to her place after that.”
Officer Schneider had seen the place. Small, reasonably neat with a clutter of city living – takeout boxes in the trash, high-heeled shoes dropped casually near the door. Except for the body, there hadn’t been anything unusual about it.
“What did you do when you got back?”
He shrugged again. What do you think we did? he seemed to ask. “Went to bed.” A flush crept into his pale face, not like a blush of embarrassment, but a warming, as though he had been the corpse, and the thought of sex had brought him back to life.
The boy dropped his eyes again. “I guess I kissed her too hard,” he mumbled. Now he blushed with shame. Not guilt, not like he felt bad about killing her, but like the kiss had been a mistake, like if he had kissed her properly she would still be alive.
After hearing the same story six times, Schneider was starting to wonder. They got caught on this point every time. “Are you telling me,” she said slowly, “that you killed this girl by kissing her too hard?”
He nodded, and Schneider’s fingers twitched again. “There was no bruising around her mouth, and no signs of asphyxiation. How you could you kiss her hard enough to kill her? How could a kiss that hard leave no sign?”
She had hit the end. She did hit the wall, reached out to the gray-painted concrete and pounded the side of her fist into it.
“I could . . . show you?”
“I could kiss you.”
“Is that a joke?”
“No! I just mean, um, I think you would understand if you felt it.”
Schneider wondered. This kid could not be the world’s best kisser. She could lose her job for kissing a suspect. Would it tell her anything about how the young woman had died? She decided. She would let the boy kiss her, and then she would put the fear of God into him for wasting police time on a horrible accident, and then she would go home. There would be cigarettes, and maybe some ice cream, and sleep.
She turned back to the boy. “Okay, kid. Show me.”
* * *
The door to the interrogation room opened to reveal two suited men, who watched Officer Schneider’s body slump to the floor. The boy looked up in chagrin.
“Twice in one night?” asked the older of the two men. His shoulders strained the fabric of the expensive jacket.
The boy looked down again. “Sorry, dad.”
The younger, slenderer man patted the older on the arm. “Now, Luce. He’s just feeling his age. It takes practice to suck the life out of a woman and leave her alive. This happens to every young incubus.”
A wisp of smoke escaped the older man’s nostrils as he sighed. “I suppose you’re right. Clean up this mess for me?” As the second man nodded, he gathered the boy in with a wave of his arm, and shook his head. “Two in one night.” He sounded a little proud. “We’ll have to tell your mother.”