Social Schizophrenia

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Something Strange (Seven Deadly Sins)
Fictionland: Team Mystery
Title: Something Strange
Author: eponine254
Fandom/Character(s)/Pairing(s): Original (Theodore)
Genre: Fantasy - urban
Rating: PG13
Words: 988
Challenge/Prompt: fictionland #25: Seven Deadly Sins
Warnings: Gore
Notes: Sins used in this story: sloth, gluttony, wrath and envy.
Summary: Theodore investigates a potential muti killing, but something about it isn't right.

Something Strange


The police weren’t in the habit of employing specialist services – and it had already been made clear to me that I would be receiving only a very small consultant’s fee – but some enterprising young police officer had Googled “Johannesburg magic detective”, which was how I’d ended up being called in to investigate.

I’d spent the last few weeks loafing around and watching old episodes of The Mentalist and eating chips, thereby adding sloth and gluttony to the already long list of things likely to send me to hell. Not that I could afford to be too worried about that – after all, witchcraft, as I understood it, was pretty high on the no-no list.

But I’d been suffered to live so far, and today I’d even suffered myself to change out of my pyjamas and leave my office (which was, incidentally, where I lived, on the grounds that paying rent for two rooms was an extravagance I couldn’t quite afford, just at the moment). The case seemed interesting – but as I hadn’t had a case in months, I would have jumped at the opportunity to find lost coins down the back of the couch.

As it happened, this was far more interesting. And far more sinister.

I stood looking down at the body, feeling faintly ill. I wasn’t squeamish, but that didn’t mean that I was au fait with dismembered corpses.

This wasn’t my usual thing. My usual clientele were more interested in having me find small lost objects of pets, with the occasional wayward child thrown in for variety. Jo’burg being what it was, there was also a growing market for magical security systems, and I was brushing up on my basic protection spells in my all-too-ample free time. Unfortunately for me, the bulk of my potential clients arrived clutching flyers they’d been given at the robot, hoping that I could offer them a cheaper alternative to Dr Raymond’s many services (banish debt, increase size of member, remove evil curses, cure infertility, cure HIV, etc. etc. etc.). I had to explain to them that they would have to go elsewhere to be ripped off – in fact, they would have to go to Dr Raymond’s office in Sandton, which was, incidentally, far nicer than my own dingy little room on the bad side of Braamfontein. Not that I’m jealous, or anything. (But what the hell, chalk up envy, while we’re counting.)

“Muti killing?” asked the officer, in a bored tone which suggested that he had seen far worse today, and would see even worse tomorrow. And to think people say Jo’burgers are jaded.

It looked like a classic case. The body was small enough to be a child’s, and children and old people tended to be targeted by the sort of sangomas who gave the whole magic community a bad name, harvesting their organs for use in muti.

Crouching down, I forced myself to look back at the body. I gave it another once over. It certainly looked like a muti killing. But then again...

I wasn’t very good at magic. To an extent, my lack of real talent was useful – if I actually had phenomenal cosmic powers, instead of just the itty bitty living space, spending hours watching pirated tv series on my laptop would be out of the question. Magic and technology don’t usually mix. The fact that I managed to place my own ads on Gumtree should have warned off prospective clients straight away (but I wasn’t about to tell them that). But I had enough of a magic sense to be able to detect the presence of magic – and I wasn’t getting it here.

To be fair, it wasn’t as if the crooked sangoma had magicked the kid to death. But what was odd was that there was no trace of magic anywhere, not even lingering faintly in the background, which it almost certainly would have been doing, if a practitioner had been involved in the death. But there was something there that I couldn’t identify, like the metallic taste in your mouth when you bite your tongue. The moment I tried to focus on it, it was gone. Whatever it was, it wasn’t magic.

Turning my attention to other possibilities, I noticed that the body had not been sliced cleanly – it had been hacked, as though in a fit of anger. That certainly didn’t gel with the muti interpretation.

“You finished?” asked the officer.

“Yes,” I said slowly. “I don’t think this was a muti killing. Whoever did this was seriously pissed off. My guess would be revenge, or something like that.”

The officer’s grumpy silence spoke volumes about his opinion of crackpots who wasted valuable police time with stupid theories.

I shook my head. “Not my beat,” I said. “No magic here.”

The policeman muttered something under his breath. I doubted it was very complimentary.

I turned to go, but as I left the dump, I couldn’t shift the image of the murdered child from my mind.

That weird sensation I had picked up on still bothered me. It hadn’t felt like magic, but that didn’t stop the nagging feeling that there was something I missed. I wasn’t going to be able to let this one go easily.


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