Langley didn’t even break her gaze to look at Barnes. Her keen brown eyes swept the scene, picking over the details as crows pick over carrion. Barnes glanced at the creased paperwork clutched in his hand. He looked down at the broken body of a tour guide and gulped.
“Um, we got the report on Person Zero.” Barnes didn’t even know how they could identify the source of this blast among all the wreckage, but the boys in forensics could work miracles.
“And? Details, Barnes.”
“Her name’s Penelope Ann Fairweather. 35, mother of two. Phone records say she’d placed eight calls to the same number in the hours before the event, and she’d placed sixty three over the preceding four days.” Barnes stared at the paper, determined not to look across the atrium towards the figures in white suits. He knew they surrounded a body – the body of Ms Fairweather. At least, what was left of it.
“Any leads on the number?”
“Her therapist. She was being treated for –”
“Let me guess. Severe anxiety, paranoia, and possibly some form of depression.” Langley folded her arms and faced the remains. The white suits sifted and prodded, muttering between themselves in a language that was utterly alien to Barnes. Langley frowned.
“How did you guess?”
Langley pointed at several corpses on the floor. Two were spindly figures, more like skeletons wrapped in leathery skin. Skinny fingers ended in claws shaped like sickles, and serrated fangs lined their open mouths. Two more corpses were fat, white and limbless, the goo from their bodies forming pools on the floor where they lay.
“The gargoyles are anxiety reapers. Nasty buggers, but they don’t look as well fed as I’d expect. Those white maggots are paranoia parasites. You can guess what they do. And that pile of chalk white dust near the window was a depression demon – they disintegrate during direct contact with daylight,” said Langley, gesturing towards the dust heap.
Barnes looked around the museum atrium. He tried to focus on the twisted bodies of unearthly creatures, ignoring the humans caught up in the blast. Melancholy painted the walls grey, and despair tinted the remaining glass dark blue. Black streaks of anguish marked the floor like smears of ash in the aftermath of a fire. All of that emotion, repressed through time but unleashed in an instant.
“What the hell happened to her?” he asked.
“Something scared the hell out of her, Barnes. And based on this mess, I’d say it was a very personal kind of hell indeed.”
This flash was inspired by the line “it’s scaring the living hell straight outta me” from I Found Away by Alkaline Trio.