Micro Face: The Purple Dead
The thing in the cage let out a growl and crashed his body against the bars. It had been doing this relentlessly for the last hour save the times it just stood and howled. However, despite its best efforts, the cage continued to hold. And, despite the pain and punishment this must cause to its body, the thing seemed to show no signs of slacking the ferocity of its attempts. Across the room at a desk sat a doctor with his back to the cage engrossed with making calculations and notations; completely oblivious to the excitement behind him. A small clock on his desk rang and he looked up from his notebook for the first time in the last hour.
"Oh, its time already? Alright, lets get you your medicine."
He got up and went to his umbrella stand in which stood something not too dissimilar to a harpoon. He checked the end to make sure it was still full of the chemical compound. Even though he had just filled it an hour ago, the man was thorough. Satisfied, he approached the cage.
The thing warily eyed the approaching doctor and backed away from the bars. As the doctor stuck the long pole through the bars, the thing snarled and slapped at it, carefully avoiding the sharp tip. It took the doctor a few tries, but he finally succeeded in sticking the needle in its shoulder. It screamed, charged the bars and the doctor instinctively jumped back. The thing backed into the corner of its cage and whimpered before slowly slumping to the floor.
The doctor entered the cage as the thing lied there, breathing heavily. He first listened to its heart and then drew a blood sample. The thing looked up at him with searching eyes. It opened its mouth as if to speak but a raspy "wwwhhhuuu" sound was the only thing to escape from its bruised mouth.
"Shhh," went the doctor. "This is very promising. The refined pills seem to be working great. Your hearts racing, but not dangerously so. And youre exhibiting far fewer side effects than those inferior specimens. Just go to sleep now, while I record this new data."
With that the doctor exited the cage and Officer McLaughlin, naked and battered, fell asleep in the corner of his cage.
Early Monday morning, Tom Wood arrived for work at the radio station. He went about his normal pre-broadcast duties, checking connections, microphones, speakers and so on. For the most part he succeeded in putting both his weekend with Priscilla and the mysterious dead woman in the back of his mind. He enjoyed putting his mind to things that made more sense: wires, fuses, and tubes. As he worked, the station slowly came to life. Tom continued his work, as part of the background he was practically invisible, even in as small a station as this.
Once the shows started, he took his usual place in the control booth monitoring the broadcasts. During the first month, he was enraptured with the process of doing the shows and meeting the actors and actresses behind the voices. After a year, the bloom was off the rose. As the people became more real to him, the fiction they produced became less so. Which was an aide to his work. He no longer cared to listen to the shows or even watch the actors, he concentrated on his part of the process such as could Miss Atkins voice be heard over the sound effects?
When the second engineer, an older man by the name of Jimison, arrived, Tom decided to hunt down Marcus Barnard, the chief news announcer. He found Barnard in the blue room, a not too big lounge area with a sofa, some tables and chairs, an ailing ice box and most importantly, coffee. Toms entrance into the blue room startled Marcus who was adding a little "Irish" to his morning coffee. When Marcus saw it was just Tom, he finished fixing his coffee and sat at one of the tables to go over his morning scripts. Tom sat down to join him.
"Marcus, a woman died near my neighborhood the other night. I was wondering if you heard anything."
Marcus didnt even bother to look but he did reply with a tired, " Im not surprised. Its not news."
"Ha, ha. This was an unusual one though. She went beserk and then turned all purple when she died."
"Puple huh? Sorry, still not news. Look Tom, instead of worrying about that, you should just get yourself out of there and into a decent area. Why, you insist on living there is beyond me. The place is full of undesirables and criminals. Its a wonder you dont get mugged or pick up a disease just walking down the streets. Now, if they manage to kill each other completely off, thatd be news."
"Spoken like a true newsman," came a feminine voice. This third voice came from a woman standing in the doorway. Susan Paige. Some time reporter and fill-in script writer. "The fact that she turned purple and there were reports of Micro Face on the scene just doesnt strike you peculiar enough to be news?"
"That spook?" retorted Barnard. "There you go, Tom. Proof that its probably some run of the mill suicide-heart attack-murder death that is blown so out of proportion that they are now saying that some make believe boogeyman is behind it."
Susan said, "Really? Then what about the other purple deaths that have no mention of Micro Face whatsoever, Mister Newsman?"
Marcus in an unbelieving tone said, " other purple deaths? Where?"
"If youd actually read the news I gave you instead of crossing out whole chunks " "If youd actually write stuff that was worth reporting and people would care to hear.." " youd know that one woman was found about 3 blocks away earlier in the week and another close to the dock areas on Front St.." "Oh, so no one important."
It was during this barrage that Tom snuck out of the blue room. He had heard these arguments before and had no desire to get in between them. He was halfway down the the hall when he heard Susans voice, "Tom, wait up! I swear that idiot wouldnt think Jack the Ripper was worth reporting."
Tom sighed and turned around. He took a long look at Susan and subconsciously compared her unfavorably to Priscilla. Pris was tall and leggy, Susan was practically a foot shorter. Pris was always up to date on the latest styles and full of laughter. Susan just prattled along when she wasnt being argumentative. She was the most unladylike woman he had the displeasure of knowing. Just how old is that outfit that shes wearing?
"Hmmm? Oh sorry. I was thinking what a nice hairstyle cut it yourself?"
She reddened and looked at her feet and then back up at him locking his eyes with hers.
"Listen, Mr. Silverspoon, I thought you might want to see my notes on the purple deaths, but if you want to talk fashion, Im sure you can find one of your brainless society beauties to occupy your time."
She turned on her heel and walked down the hall towards her office. Tom ran his hand through his hair. Why did he always act like that? Now, if he wanted to see her notes, he had to apologize. Fortunately, the station manager was always making her write stories on the people of society. And, with his family Tom had connections and knew the rumors. He looked at his watch; he had a few minutes before he had to report back to the control booth. He mentally girded himself for the unpleasant task and walked towards her office.
It was late in the afternoon and Father Simon was lost in thought as he entered the sanctuary from the back. The neighborhood was troubled. Attendance was down, most of his flock were getting up in years. He knew most of the kids were running numbers and packages for the syndicates. The police werent much better. There were a few good souls like the doc on the corner that ran the free clinic, and the old Buchanans who ran the market. But it was a losing battle. As always he stopped before the altar and
"Hello, Father Simon."
Father Simon spun around and faced an empty church. "Alright, whos there?" he yelled defiantly.
The voice chuckled. " How do you know its not God talking to one of his loyal subjects?"
" I dont." Father Simon rubbed his chin. "I assumed God would talk to me in Latin or Greek or Hebrew, or even Irish. Never figured him to have a Yanks accent. Now the devil on the other hand "
The voice let out a deep laugh. "Very good, Father. I like you and I have a great deal for you. Youll find a gift in the confessional, courtesy of the leeches who are bleeding this city. Im relying on you to get it in the hands of those who need it."
Father Simon looked around the empty sanctuary. The voice seemed to be right by him, and he started probing the empty air with his hands. "Do I not get to see the face of our benefactor? Where are you?"
"You live up to your name. But, no, you dont get to see me yet. Tell me,did you know the women Gina Amerosa, Mia Falcone, and Sonya Gorsky?"
Father Simon crossed himself. "Poor souls," he muttered to himself.
"Tell me about them"
"Exactly what do you want to know?" The priests eyes narrowed and he added, "and why?"
"For the noblest of reasons, Father. I am hunting their murderer. And I want to know everything."
"Mrs. Amerosa and Gorsky were married, Ms. Falcone had a husband of sorts but nothing recognized by the Church and she was the youngest of the three. She was pregnant by a few months with her first. Mrs. Amerosa had three kids, a boy and two girls. Mr. and Mrs. Gorsky had no kids. She was expecting once a few years ago but she had a miscarriage. I dont think she could have any more.
The husbands, Mr Amerosa worked down at the docks. A tough man, but a real soft spot towards his family. I dont think hes been back to work since. Mr. Falcone did small odd jobs and always seemed to have money although he drank and gambled it away as fast as he earned it. Already has a new girl. Mr. Gorsky has his own truck and does deliveries. He was about twenty years her senior."
Father Simon stopped and took a deep breath. The voice prodded, "Is that everything, Father?"
"Everything I know as fact."
"Tell me, Father."
"I think all three women were prostitutes. At least on the side every so often to get some extra cash. There were rumors that Mr. Gorsky was not the father of Mrs. Gorskys baby, but after the miscarriage, thats irrelevant now. There are similar rumors about one of the Amerosas kids." His voice began to get a little hysterical, "But, none of that is fact its just rumors. In my job, you hear all sorts of things! You wouldnt believe the tales I hear about you!"
"Patience, Father. Do you know if these women had doctors?"
"Most of the people here go to Doctor Trotters clinic. They cannot afford to go elsewhere. And, of course, there are the mid-wives and healers who have their own little businesses. Ms. Falcone, though, when she came to me about her pregnancy I told her to see Doc Trotter." Father Simon looked at the floor and added, "Hes a good man. He cant be mixed up in this."
The voice took on a cold tone. "I dont think Im hunting a man but a monster. Youve earned the money tonight Father. Good-bye."
The money! Father Simon had forgotten all about it. He stood there for a few minutes but seeing (of course) and hearing no further sound of the mysterious voice, he ran into the confessional. As the voice claimed, there was an envelope stuffed full of money, the money Officer McLaughlin collected on his rounds. He was ruffling through the bills when he heard the narthex doors open and close. Father Simon stepped out to investigate but found no one there.
Hours after the last light went out at Doc Trotters clinic, the weird figure of Micro Face paused before the front doors. He produced a few skeleton keys from a pouch and within minutes he was inside the clinic. He made his way through the dark clinic, his special lenses allowing him to see at night almost as well as he could during the day. Finding the office door, he again put the skeleton keys to work and just as quickly and quietly he was inside.
Rifling through the records, he found the sheets of all three women. The information corroborated what Father Simon had told him. Mrs. Amerosa had three kids, although there was a record of her coming in once last year, possibly pregnant. But latter visits did not refer to it all at all. Mrs. Groskys miscarriage from a few years back was there as was Ms. Falcones current pregnancy. A meticulous record keeper, Trotter had marked all three as deceased with a little note as to the reported cause. According to Susans notes, the police had reported drugs as being a factor in the womens deaths, but according to Trotters notes, only Ms. Falcone had any drug history, although Mrs. Grosky was noted as a heavier drinker since the miscarriage. Furthermore, there was no record that Trotter had prescribed any questionable drugs or medicine to the women.
Micro Face started scanning the other records. As far as drugs and medicine were concerned, he could see nothing suspicious. But, Trotter had a lot of women patients and many of them pregnancies Maybe he should have a chat with this Doctor Trotter.
Doctor Albert Trotter woke with a start to only see the bizarrely garbed Micro Face standing over him brandishing an automatic. A terrible sight normally, but in the middle of the night with Trotters myopic vision, Micro Face loomed terrifyingly over him.
"Good evening, Doctor. Although I use that term loosely. I am Micro Face and I want to know exactly what you are doing at this clinic. There are three women dead and you are their common link. Did you think that because they were simple prostitutes, no one would come looking for justice?"
Doctor Trotter stared at Micro Face vainly trying to guess at the meaning behind his words. "I run a simple clinic to help out the people of the neighborhood. People come to me sick and my nurse and I "
"They come to you with more than disease dont they, doctor? I noticed you have a large amount of pregnant women that come to you "
"Theres nothing wrong with that!"
" and a high number of miscarriages."
"Theres nothing unusual there! Have you seen the lives these people have? The babies they do have come early and are undersized these kids are born with the odds against them to making it to the age of three."
"Or they come to you with a problem, a problem you can solve. Or you know someone who does it cheaply, perhaps. Tell me, doctor, when did you get tired of mutilating them and decided to start deforming and killing them? Maybe, when Ms. Falcone came to you an unmarried young woman in the family way seeking an abortion. She was the first to die, wasnt she?"
A steely look came over Doctor Trotters features. "Just what are you accusing me of? Do you have any proof of any of this?"
Micro Face stood there in silence. Trotter stared at the passive face and gathered the last reserves of his courage. "If you are going to rob and kill me, do it. Otherwise, get out. I dont have the answers you seek."
Micro Face holstered his gun and walked towards the bedroom door. He said, "pleasant dreams," and then was gone. Doctor Trotter let out a breath of relief. There was no way he was going to be able to go back to sleep tonight.
On his drive across town, Tom Wood chastised himself. Trotter was right. He had no proof, no evidence. It was obvious that something was done to those women but there was nothing out of the ordinary in Trotters clinic. He shouldnt have let his passions get the better of him like that. Now, Trotter was on the alert. He could watch him, wait for a mistake, but that could wait. Tom wanted, no, needed more information. He knew what the police were telling the public was the cause of the purple death, but what was the medical examiner telling the police?
The M.E.s offices proved no more difficult to break into than Doctor Trotters. It wasnt long before Micro Face had the autopsy reports in front of him. He was puzzled though. It was almost verbatim with Susans notes: heart attack brought about by drugs. Of course the M.E. was more specific, listing the various drugs but nothing unusual or more exotic than heroin. Micro Face knew he could track the drugs to their probable source, but to track them down to the person who provided them to the three women Of course, if Trotter was the link and he was dealing that could be easily verified. The clinic would be a good cover or the money from the dealing could be what kept the clinic afloat. Maybe he should go through Trotters place a little more closely.
Tom was driving across town running it all through his head. He was working up a good anger towards Trotter. The man played him like a sap. He looked at the M. E reports again. "Of course, none of this answers how the women died. Three healthy, normal women " he thought to himself. "I need to take a look at those bodies." He turned right at the next light and steered his auto in the opposite direction from Trotters clinic.
About an hour later and ten minutes outside of town, he put the Micro Face mask on and then killed the headlights. He drove for a half mile further before bringing his sedan to a stop. Micro Face silently made his way across the back yard to a dark house. He circled the house once, trying to decide the best way to enter, and tried not to think about the fact after the city morgue, this was his fourth break-in tonight.
He entered the house through the kitchen, careful not to make a sound. With his mask, hed make a great crook he thought. He cranked up the hearing on his hood to avoid accidentally coming up on anybody and able to see in the dark, he silently made his way through the house checking the rooms on the first floor. The third door he came to was locked, which was what he was looking for. A minutes time and he was walking down stairs to the cellar.
In the cellar he found the evidence he needed. Practically another whole floor, the main room was a laboratory with cabinets full of books and chemicals lining the walls and a large cage in corner. The stench of body waste was foul and Micro Face was glad there was one sense his hood didnt amplify. The cage itself was empty but showed evidence of being occupied recently. He could pick up ambient sounds, a low growling perhaps, but he could see no dog. Maybe it was locked up in one of the other rooms; a hapless victim to the mans research. Micro Face walked to a desk that had several notebooks sitting on top. He began leafing through one when behind him one of the doors opened and the lights came on. Into the lab walked a middle-aged man with a a thing.
Micro Face let out a low laugh and in his mechanical and slightly disembodied voice said, "Doctor Fields, Medical Examiner for the New City Police Force, I assume."
The man nodded and said in a honey dipped voice, "Aaaah, and you would be that bane of the police, Micro Face. You were foolish to think you could get to my lab undetected. Alarms went off as soon as you set foot on my grounds." He turned to the thing at his side, "I believe the two of you have already met." With a start, Micro Face recognized the thing as Officer McLaughlin, naked and practically on all fours like a beast.
"My concoction works wonders normally," he drawled, "but when combined with the hypnotic agent it turns deadly. As poor Mr. Gorsky found out when I sent his wife on a trial run." He turned back to the thing and snapped, "McLaughlin, kill."
The thing leapt towards Micro Face faster than he expected and the two crashed through the glass doors of a cabinet. Gasping, Micro Face wrenched away and tried to gain his feet. He was straightening when the things fist smacked down, sending him sprawling to the floor. He rolled across the floor, kicked his leg out, upsetting the thing. Micro Face managed to gain his feet first and began to hammer the thing with his fists. However it managed to stand and reached for Micro Face. A simple judo move sent the creature off balance, and Micro Face brought out his gun. He swung the butt crashing down on the things thick skull and it bellowed and charged him. He managed to side step and brought it down again. And again. The thing fell to its knees but struggled to stand back up. Micro Face swung the gun down a last time and McLaughlin fell to the floor, blood seeping from his temple.
He looked up to see Dr. Fields reaching in a drawer for a gun he presumed. He let out a warning shot that dug a hole into the plaster wall by Fields head. Fields slowly took his hand out of the drawer and turned to face Micro Face.
"Do you have any idea of the research youve interrupted? Youve seen the results: an extraordinarily strong and fighting fury for a limited time. Ive even managed to work out the proper combination so it doesnt kill the user although its still powerfully addictive. Mighty Bill Wallace is willing to pay a fortune for this super drug."
"So, hes funding your little mad setup here. And, of course, your job allows you to keep the police from becoming too nosy. A few fake autopsy results and a lazy police force on the take. You shouldve done the autopsies for real Fields. Maybe then you wouldnt have left off the fact that Ms. Falcone was pregnant. I then checked Mrs. Gorskys body. Want to tell me how you did an autopsy without a single incision? Youre getting the chair for this Fields."
So intent was Micro Face on the danger in front of him, he was taken by complete surprise when 200 lbs of a maddened cop leapt on his back. He struggled to disentangle himself, spun around and slammed McLaughlins body against the wall. He felt the arms tighten around his throat and his senses spun. He was dimly aware of hearing a gun bark. He wrenched himself free as he heard another shot fired and the thing that was McLaughlin howled and fell back. Micro Face saw a maniacal Dr. Fields bringing his gun around for another try but Micro Face beat him to the shot and Dr. Fields fell back against the wall and slumped to the floor. Behind him he could hear McLaughlin whimpering not unlike an injured animal.
Micro Face gathered up the doctors notes and poured the chemicals down the drain. McLaughlins physical wound was superficial but he wondered about the mans mind. How much would the man remember when the drugs wore off? Once back in his sedan, he could use his mask and radio setup to call the police. He was sure theyd find it all very interesting although he doubted much of it would reach the public. Why should it when by and large, they were unaware of the murders that led up to it? And it was another strike against Mighty Bills organization. Beneath his mask, he smiled. He was sure Susan Paige would love to have this story. A pity she settled for news of the latest debutante romances.