The dark doesn't bother me. It's soft on the eyes and allows you to concentrate more fully on your other senses. When I walk into a room where I've been asked to perform an investigation, often I'll close my eyes and listen as the air currents move around the walls and sniff at the air. It's interesting how, with your eyes closed, the other senses translate themselves into a visual sort of representation. With my eyes open I can see with only my eyes, but with my eyes closed I can see with my ears, my nose, or the tips of my fingers.
I'm a detective for the Collected Provincial Administration, the CPA, which is in charge of loosely governing most of the outlying planetary systems in our region. I enjoy it because I get to travel around more than most planet-bound constables do, and since it's considered that I do an adequately professional job, I usually get to have my pick of the really interesting cases. Like the present case I'm on.
I rode a cargo transport from Brelton Hub to Janston five days ago and from there hired a small planet hopper taxi to ferry me out to a little backwater gravity well called Hooper's Point. My taxi driver only spoke English, like most of them do, so I couldn't make out much of what he said about the little sponge of a planet except that it had lots of green trees. That sounded good to me after having spent the last five months on a frozen desert planet investigating a series of rapes. I caught the guy but before we could get him to trial he somehow stepped outside an air lock without any warm clothing on. We found his naked body frozen to the lock handle still trying to get inside even in death. Most places I visit are like that. I find the bad guy and the locals take care of him in their own way.
My taxi driver (he said his name was Mike, but that's what they're all named) orbited Hooper's Point a couple times before dipping into the well, and I found myself looking down on a jewel of a planet. Blue oceans, small ice caps, and nine major continents all covered in green.
"Nice place," I said.
Mike nodded and said, "Jyeah."
I did my best not to smirk at him. I think I've been in too many taxis.
Once down, Mike wedged on a baseball hat, grabbed my luggage, and jumped out of the hatch. From the open door I felt a wet heat roll into the cabin with a musty green smell to it that spoke of trees, swamps, and masses of living things. The local constable was outside waiting for me, listening to Mike jabber on about unfair tariffs.
I paid Mike to make him go away, and the constable led me into a small reception and decontamination area.
"Name's Jaffey," he said. "Been here six years, almost since colonization."
I nodded and said, "Nice to meet you. I'm Chen Klein, CPA detective."
Jaffey nodded, "I've been expecting you. You heard anything about the case?"
I shook my head and answered, "Not much. Just that a bunch of women are either dead or close enough to it that it doesn't matter."
Jaffey nodded again and said, "I would say that those who died had it easy. It's the living that I feel sorry for. Feel sorry for their families even more."
I waited for him to go on, but he stopped and looked uncomfortable. He fingered his collar and turned a bit red, and then said, "Well, why don't I show them to you so you can see for yourself. "
I shrugged and said, "Lead the way."
We went to the morgue first. In my last job, bodies were just piled outside an air lock and within half an hour or so, they were frozen solid as a rock. But here in the warm, humid air, that would be a very stinky mistake. The morgue was cold and dry. Jaffey pulled open a drawer and wheeled out a very dead young woman in her twenties with long blond hair and a tight sexy little body. She was heavily bruised on her lower abdomen, and her crotch was shredded into ragged strips of skin. I winced at it, wishing I didn't have to see things like this. Her breasts were bruised, especially around the nipples, and on her face, where I expected to see an expression of agony, I found a look of ecstasy. She died with a smile on her face despite the damage to her body."
I asked, "Was she raped?"
Jaffey shook his head. "No," he said, "She did this to herself."
He looked uncomfortable. "Some of the dead have passed on quickly," he said, "but she was one that hung on for quite a while."
From there we went to the local planetary hospital to see some of the ones that were still among the living.
Jaffey stopped in the waiting room and introduced me to Dr. Shonka the physician attending the women. She shook my hand in the old fashioned way, and said, "Call me Mell. Dr. Shonka always makes me cringe." She was lovely. She stood just taller than my shoulder with long, wavy, auburn hair that framed a perfect face. Her eyes caught me. They were golden colored, almost metallic, and they sparkled as she moved them between me and constable Jaffey.
"Nice to meet you, Mell," I said, smiling. Working with her would be a pleasure.
Jaffey coughed. "You wouldn't mind, sir, if I waited down here? I'd rather not go up."
Mell patted him on the shoulder and said, "I'm sorry Jak, I know how hard this is for you. I'll take Detective Klein up."
Jaffey's shoulders hung and he mumbled, "Thanks."
"Call me Chen," I said as she led me into the hospital. "Why's this hard for him? Is he related to one of the victims?"
Mell nodded. "You'll see her in there. His sister was one of the first victims."
She led me along a hallway, stopped at a doorway, and turned back to me. She was biting her lower lip and considering my face. "This'll be pretty intense," she said. "If we can't figure this out, some of these women will die. These are all good women, most of them my friends. Chen, be kind to them please."
She pushed open the door, and I was met by a wall of sound. All the voices were of women in ecstasy. Moans and sighs and cries of pure pleasure were all mingled together into a tapestry of erotic music. The floor and walls were padded, and covered with naked women writhing and slithering against each other. Mouths and tongues and fingers and toes were madly rubbing and pounding crotches and breasts. It was a thirty woman orgy. All of them were young and pretty. All of them were covered in bruises, self inflicted, or caused by a hands or mouths of other women as they gave each other pleasure.
Mell pointed to a pretty girl, tall and lithe, with nice large breasts that she was tweaking while another woman licked and chewed on her pussy. Her eyes were closed, and her mouth was open wide as she cried out in orgasm. "That's the constable's sister, Jerah. Go touch her on the shoulder and see what happens."
I waded through the room, careful not to step on any bare body parts and touched Jerah on the shoulder. Her eyes flew open, and she screamed out something intelligible. She let go of her nipples and grabbed the woman licking her by the hair and mashed her face into her pussy. The woman sucking her redoubled her efforts, licking and nibbling, sucking and kissing Jerah's pussy lips.
Mell was right about this being intense. I felt myself getting hard as my vision was filled with naked women having sex. Mell must have noticed that I was reacting, so she led me back out into the hallway where we sat down on a bench.
"This isn't a virus?" I asked, "Or some kind of drug or chemical imbalance? Could it be a native fruit they're eating or an insect that bit them? Why am I here, Dr. Shonka?"
"It's not a virus," she answered. "It's not something they ate or something that bit them, although it could be some kind of drug. If it is a drug though, it hasn't left any trace in their system. According to all of our tests, those women in there are perfectly healthy and fine. Their only symptoms are their sexual activity and their state of catatonia otherwise. Their skin seems to be in a state of hyper sensitivity. That's why I had you touch Jerah. None of them would have noticed you otherwise."
"What about the dead ones?" I asked, "What did they die from."
Mell shrugged and shook her head. "Maybe they wear out, and die from exhaustion. Maybe it's something that kills them. The ones that die usually go into a frenzy much more intense than what you saw in there just before they collapse. I'm still working on figuring out the mechanics of this. Your part, the part we need you for, is to find out what they have in common so we can pinpoint the cause."
I nodded. "I'll do what I can, but this isn't something that I normally deal with. I'm mostly just a police man like your constable."
"You come with very high recommendations though, Detective Klein." Her smile was sad and tired.
She gave me the list of names and addresses of the women and led me back down to constable Jaffey.
"Let me know how you get along, Chen, and I'll keep you up to date on my work." Mell smiled and shook my hand again. "I'm glad to have met you."
"My pleasure," I mumbled, and kissed her hand in the proper fashion. I think she blushed. Well, different places have different styles.
Jaffey took me down to the constabulary office and we went over the list of names together.
"The doctor said that your sister was one of the first." I said gently.
Have you found any connections between her case and the other women?
.... There is more of this story ...