Dreams of a Marionette

Salvadore hunched over his desk, chin tucked against his palm. He drummed his fingers across the desk as he eyed the paperwork before him, eyed the lines of dark ink running down the pages. For a time he stared at the weeping trail bleeding through the sheets. 

Along the edge of his vision, a flicker of bending light and color shifted. Bloodshot eyes flickered to the photographs tacked to the corkboard, the edges fluttering as a gentle breeze swept through the room. The distorted images drew his attention from the reports at hand, each photo a dark stain against humanity. The one at the center was shadowed, a dead child’s gaze unyielding.

Across the room, the office voicemail beeped. Sal rose to his feet and stretched, wincing as his back popped. Cracking his neck, he made his way across the room and through the open door. Behind him, the voicemail beeped once more. He ignored the beckoning call as he rubbed a hand over his tired face.

The phone rang. After a moment, the voicemail cut in: “Sal, I know you’re there. Answer the damn phone, man. We need to talk…”

Sal opened the mini-fridge and swipped a can of cola. He popped the lid, a light frown pulling at the corners of his mouth. The metallic taste wet his dry mouth as surely as it soothed his throat.

The phone rang again. The answering machine came again, the same message as before. Sal ran a hand through his hair as he made his way back into the office. As he passed the machine, he hit the speaker and said, “I’m here, Brett. Talk to me.”

“About time, Sal,” Brett went quiet for a moment, the sound of shuffling papers carrying between the lines. Brett swore and then said, “Another body was found. Chief wants you on the scene, Sal. Dry Creek. Be there in sixty.”

The line went dead before he could answer. Sal sat at the desk, his gaze shifting to the sketch resting innocently on the table. 

A murder, a girl held high by silk and string. Was this it? Was this the “Dreams of a Marionette” he had once seen? Sal rose, grabbed his bag and left his home with a sense of unease.

He was no apprentice, not now. In the shadows of the town, the light of lit lamps casting shadows, Sal walked. In the back of his mind was a girl, body pale and shroud in veils of light as she swung by silk and thread.

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