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The Dark Edge


Taken by Force


Hidden from View


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THE MURDER OF UTRILLA VESS

The dumping lasted for forty minutes. By the time it stopped, the early streaks of dawn had already begun to appear in the sky. A pearly, rosy light touched the topmost pinnacles of the Western Metropolitan Zone, reflected from orio-glass and carbo-steel, skybridges and megadomes, rising two thousand metres high in the distance. On the other side of the Uds, the artificial lights of the Nightgardens went out one by one.

The Uds itself remained in shadow. It was like a flat grey plain surrounded by towering mountain ranges. And on this morning, it was a plain of devastation.

Everywhere was tumbled metal and shattered polypore. Many of the Udser's shelters had been destroyed, many more damaged. In some places, the ground had caved in over large areas. Paths were blocked and overground pipes and cables snapped. The massive blocks of compressed garbage stood out above the ruin like proud conquerors of a defeated territory.

Gradually the light filtered down lower and lower. Over in the Western Metropolitan Zone, a rising tide of noise signalled the beginning of the new day. Whirrings and rumblings and throbbings and beepings -- the million clamorous sounds of a million activities starting up. Everything was sharp and clear in the early morning air, before the inevitable urban haze set in.

But all was silent in the Uds. The Udsers crept out into the dawn and stood surveying the effects of the dumping. In twos and threes and fours, they gathered around the worst of the wreckage, pointing and shaking their heads and talking in low voices.

But a larger group began to form in one corner of the Uds -- in the Depot area, in the square open space where the body had been found. The site itself had been sealed off with fluoro-green tape strung between tripods, to a distance of ten metres around the bloodsoaked ground. Eddon and Heffel-Dan remained inside the tape, along with Criven and Amphister.

Eddon had called Heffel immediately after the gruesome discovery. Using his signaller, he had given instructions about the various kinds of equipment to be collected and brought from the outstation. He had also called Ryle and Recka, and the forensics team at Zone Headquarters. As usual, the team was busy on other cases -- they would arrive in approximately sixty minutes time.

Even without forensics, Eddon could make some estimates of his own. The state of the blood indicated that the woman had been killed at least two hours ago -- that is, before the dumping had begun. She had died almost instantly from massive blood loss, probably in this very place where they'd discovered her.

 

 
   
   
   
 

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1997 - 2015

Richard Harland.