What did the death houses have in common?

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A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental

Chapter 24

Angus and Skeeter were staying late at the office.  They had photos from sweeps of the death houses spread out in front of them on tables in the conference room.  They had talked Dave and Justy into staying awhile to give them separate opinions.

“We have photos set up on different tables.  We need to find out what was in each house that was in common with the other house—or anything unusual that jumps out at you.  I suggest just going along and jotting things down on a pad or notebook.  In about an hour, we will go over your answers and see how they compare with ours.  Okay?”

Dave and Justy nodded and got to work.

*     *     *

     “The kitchens,” Dave started.  “They both had mace, cardamom and crystallized ginger.”  These are not terribly rare spices, but most kitchens don’t have all three of those.”

“Magazine subscriptions.  They liked National Geographic, Smithsonian, Archaeology Today and similar magazines.” Justy noted.

“They had aquariums with tropical fish.” Dave added.

“Oh!”  Justy thought of something else.  “The books were similar to the magazines.  They had atlases, encyclopedias, archaeology, geography, biographies and literature.”

“Good,” Angus said.  “Maybe we could even pin that down to authors in common, later.  Keep going.”

Dave pointed out, “As far as knick knacks go, they liked objects from around the world:  masks, hangings, India prints, carvings.  They both had those thumb pianos!”

“Thumb pianos?” Angus asked

“Yeah, you know those things that used to be on the Seven-Up commercials, long, long ago.  They are from Africa.  They look like little metal pegs in a wood block and you use your thumbs to play tunes on them,” Dave explained.

“Oh, yeah, those things,” Angus grinned when he remembered.

“They both had reproductions of Giacometti sculptures.”  Justy said.

“And they had fondness for impressions and abstracts, which they had hanging on their walls,” Dave added.

“Both houses had pianos in them, either upright or a keyboard.”  Justy pointed out and then he added.  “And they both had miniature drums.  They liked jazz.  Both had at least one Ornette Coleman album.  They liked tropical houseplants.  We should check to see if any of them are rare and poisonous, or produce poisonous spores or something.”

“Your lists are pretty much what we came up with,” Skeeter concluded.  “Can we keep them so we can compare notes?”

“Sure,” Justy answered.  “We will be glad to help you anytime.  This is going to be tough on all of us.  We need to get it solved.”

“Thanks!” Angus said.  “We’ll see you two lovable guys tomorrow, good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, or something.”

*     *     *

     “What do you think, Skeeter?”

“I think that we have got a pretty good clue somewhere in all of these notes, ours and theirs.  All we have to do is ferret it out.”

“I was thinking pretty much the same thing,” Angus said as he tried dialing Dr. LeBraun in Dallas.

“Have you got any new info on these brainless bodies, Doc?” He asked when the call went through.”  He then explained about Branford Cooper.

“Incubation period?  Or something similar?  Hmmmmm.  Now that would make sense.  He had a delayed reaction.  What is the most common incubation period you are coming up with after examining all of these cases, and I know you have been?  Three or four months?  That is putting a whole new spin on it, Doc.  How can we fast track Brad on the transplant list?  Is there any way, legally?  I see. Very interesting, and thanks a bunch.  I will see if I can get that ball rolling.”

“What did he say about the transplant list, Angus?” Skeeter asked when he hung up the phone.”

“We should send out a memorandum among all FBI and Police networks that if someone is killed in the line of duty…the family can make a private direct donation of the organs.”  Angus answered.

“You know, I never even knew that was possible at all.”  Skeeter shook her head.

Angus then said, “It isn’t advertised—you can only imagine the implications.”

Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.

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