Dead or Alive

This was the start of my 2012 NaNoWriMo disaster. This is seriously bare-bones and who knows if I’ll ever sit around and finish or edit this. So here we go. Have fun 😛


Her shoe nudged the dead body. She knew he must have been dead for hours because he didn’t even budge.

The rain clattered against the tiled roof, a harsh staccato booming through the silence of the room. She prodded his hand with the tip of her wet boot. Nothing.

It was so strange how a body can become so heavy and lose all that life the moment the brain goes dead and the heart stops beating. No spark, just suspended animation.

She shook her head, blonde hair falling into her eyes before she pushed it off her forehead and stared down at the body again, noticing for the first time that he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. In fact, down to his clean clothes, expensive haircut and shiny brogues, he looked like a well-to-do guy. But good guys don’t end up dead on a church floor.

She sighed, mentally noting the small things – ironed clothes, cross around the neck, clipped nails, his hands looked soft and unused… Bending down to examine the body more closely, her phone went off, blaring Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive. Oops. Probably the wrong song to go off at a crime scene. Apparently the medical examiner thought so as well, because he shot her a dirty look.

Straightening up, she gestured a “sorry, sorry” with her hands and backed away from the body and headed towards the door. Her breath misted as she hunched under the church awning, carefully trying to avoid the snake of water winding its way closer to her feet. She tugged the hem of her t-shirt down and pulled her leather jacket closed in the front, avoiding the cold fingers of air trying to get at her.

“Colt,” she answered, not even bothering to check caller ID. But even if she had, she wouldn’t have recognised the number. In her line of work, private or unfamiliar numbers were more common than none.

“Oh Gabi, I’m so glad you answered,” began a blubbering and sobbing woman. Gabi pulled the phone away from her ear, frowning at it as she continued to hear the hysteric noises on the other side. What on earth?

And finally, half way through a very teary monologue, she figured it out.

“Monique?” She probably shouldn’t have sounded so surprised, but at least it worked. All crying stopped. Even Gabi held her breath, just leaving the sound of the torrential downpour hitting the pavement. So, this wasn’t awkward at all.

“Good God, how long has it been?” Gabi started, trying to break the silence.

“Gabi, don’t say the –”

“Yes, yes…” Gabi had forgotten that Monique was religious. Hell, she was religious enough to want to dedicate her body and mind to the –

“Church…” Gabi finished her thought out loud. It clicked then. Why else would a girl she hadn’t spoken to in over ten years be calling? Not just any girl, mind you. She was a church going, communion wine and cracker eating, super involved crazy person. “You’re not calling about this –”

“Murder. At the church I belong to,” Monique finished.

Oh dear. With the phone still to her ear, Gabi peered around. It was one thing talking to Monique on the phone, but it was a whole different story seeing her in person. Monique was one of those larger than life types. How she ended up taking this career path was completely beyond Gabi’s understanding.

Gabi and Monique always had a presentable friendship. You know, the type that looked good on the outside but was completely rotten when no one else was looking. It was all barbed words, and sarcasm, hissing and claws. Of course, Monique would never admit to this. A woman of her stature, of her belief could never think a bad thought. Ever.

Snorting, Gabi cancelled the call, remembering precisely why she had walked away from that relationship. She had no time for holier-than-thou nonsense. To be fair, though, maybe time had changed Monique. Time had definitely changed Gabi, though for the better… who knows.

Ducking under the crime scene tape again, Gabi headed toward the group of police hovering around the body. Their quiet muttering ground to a halt when she got closer.

“Boys.” Gabi nodded her head towards them. Some of them looked up and smiled, but most of them shot her daggers. Yeah, she seemed to have that way with people.

“Damnit Gabi, what on God’s green earth are you doing here? This is the third time this week I’ve found you at my crime scene!” And then there was that.

David was the type that could stop hearts in an instant. Or, if anything, this super power only really worked on her. He had the ability to make Gabi bite down on her bottom lip and try her damnedest not to picture him naked in front of his team. But she supposed all things considered, he was a weathered man. He was at least two heads taller than she was, with skin that looked warm and smooth. But it was his eyes that really caught her breath every time. He wore that same expression she’d seen on so many other cops’ faces, the same one she had seen on her father’s face as well – the look of someone who had seen too much and didn’t trust anyone.

Well at least he could count. And could a man named David really say “God’s green earth” out loud in a church without some serious smiting?

Gabi looked up towards the ceiling to check for any signs of lightning, thunder, wrath, whatever. She had to hide a smile when she noticed David doing the same thing.

But on second thought, was David even allowed in a church? The things that man did with a pair of jeans… It was surely a sin in itself. Oh my. And mentally undressing a man while standing under the cross of Jesus Christ probably wasn’t allowed either. They were both doomed at this rate.

Before Gabi could give the usual snarky reply, she found herself choked nearly to death by an exceptionally ample chest and way too much black fabric.

“I’m so glad you’re here!” And Gabi was squeezed tighter.

A cough sounded from behind Gabi and finally she was placed back on her feet and her vision cleared. Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no.

“Monique…” Gabi began, but the crying started before anyone could say another word.

This is the problem with death. It’s also the problem with working with people. They have a pulse, which means many of them do a lot of crying, especially after seeing a dead body, or talking about a dead body… The list really does go on. But a crying nun? Gabi was not ready for this.

David cleared his throat again, and moved his hip away from the edge of the altar. Guess he didn’t think too much about all this church business either.

“Um, Sister…” David began, but Monique pulled away from Gabi and wiped the tears from her cheeks.

“I can’t believe it, Gabi. They’re saying he…” a hush fell over David, and he awkwardly stepped back and looked away.

“Saying he committed suicide,” she whispered and crossed herself.

Gabi pulled a face and put a hand on Monique’s arm.

The rain had finally stopped, and the drumming of voices and feet grew in volume. Quite a crowd had started gathering outside and Gabi had a feeling it would only get bigger and louder as the morning wore on.

The grey light was slowly brightening, and Gabi was sure if she went outside and stood on her tippy toes, she would see the sun just peaking out from behind the mountain. She should still be in bed. She would have still been in bed if she hadn’t flicked on the police scanner. Damn, insomnia. Thoughts of coffee started filtering into her head as she patted Monique like someone who had never owned a pet. Or a proper friend for awhile. Whichever.

Luckily David was more adept at handling emotional situations. He led Monique away to a room off to the side. Even though all she could smell was Monique’s soap and washing detergent, she could finally breathe again.

The smell of rain gusted through the open church door, smelling like freshly turned soil and grass. Fresh, and crisp, unlike the stifling heat in the room from the jam packed bodies. If they didn’t get the dead guy out of there soon, they’d have a lot more to worry about than just the humidity.

Getting back to work, Gabi started taking notes, sketching the scene in her little notebook, and wandering around the scene, talking to constables and police officers. It was only by the time she reached her car that David caught up with her. Or in this case, she caught up with David.

He was leaning against her black beat up car, staring into space. In that moment, he looked content, relaxed. He usually stood around looking tense, his muscles coiled and ready for attack, with a scowl placed firmly between his eyebrows. Yup, she liked him better this way.


About sonneillon

Avid reader (of sometimes dubious literature), word-lover and crazy TV series watcher. If I could live in a library, I would.

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"We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

- T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1917)

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