Short story by Iris Carden
It was the third body in three days. All were exsanguinated, all with their throats ripped out, but minimal blood at the scene.
I looked at the Head of Security, Stockton. She shook her head. No. They’d found nothing to say who or what was doing it.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d say…” I began, but stopped myself.
“You can say it, everyone else is saying it.”
“That’s not possible.”
“There was virtually no blood. There should have been more blood. There should have been a lot of blood.”
“It’s insane,” I said. “There are only three thousand people on this station. How do we have a serial killer in a population this small?”
Stockton shrugged her shoulders. “That’s not exactly what my staff are saying. But it’s a good question. We haven’t had a resupply ship from Earth in months. We had one cargo ship from a mining outpost stop for supplies on the way to Earth, with an ore shipment this week. They weren’t allowed to leave the dock because they had a crew member down with an unknown illness. So there’s no-one new here, and no apparent reason someone who lives here would suddenly do this.”
“That was before the first murder?” I asked. I knew I was clutching at straws.
“Yes, but no-one left the dock. They had no direct contact with anyone except the dock supervisor, who’s been in quarantine since then. He personally did their loading so no-one else was exposed. There’s no chance there were any stowaways who sneaked into the population. Dock security’s too good for that.”
Stockton was efficient. I’d give her that.
“Tell me at least that the dock supervisor didn’t catch whatever the sick crew member had.”
“He quite possibly has. He’s not well. But he was already quarantined when he started showing symptoms, and medical staff have been wearing full personal protective gear to attend to him. Apparently, he’s not keeping food down, vomited blood yesterday when they tried to get him to eat. Tests haven’t shown what the illness is, but we did the right thing by not letting that carrier crew access to the rest of the station.”
“So we have a serial killer and a mystery illness. Not the best week we’ve ever had. Reporting this to Earth is going to be interesting. Do we have any evidence at all on the murders?”
“Just fingerprints at the last scene, but they had to be old. They couldn’t be the killer.”
“The prints belong to the dock supervisor. The one who’s been in quarantine for five days and for at least three of those days has been too sick to go anywhere.”
“The sick dock supervisor, that’s Moreson, right?”
“Adrian Moreson, yes.”
“I know him, always the life of the party, everyone’s friend. If Adrian Moreson knocked on the door of your quarters during the night and said he needed help, would you let him in?”
“Well, probably yes, I guess, but he couldn’t have knocked on anyone’s door.”
“Is he quarantined in his own quarters or in Medical?”
“So there are cameras?”
“Yes, but they’re not really monitored, for privacy.”
“I know this sounds weird, but go over those recordings, for the times when the murders took place.”
That conversation was five hours ago. I’ve just received the call I’ve been expecting.
The recordings showed Moreson, got up and just walked out of Medical, as if he weren’t sick at all, then came back, return to his bed, and resumed being ill.
After seeing that, and knowing the ridiculously bizarre thing her staff had been muttering, Stockton, checked the Moreson’s teeth against the victim’s wounds. Of course it was a match.
Then, to be thorough, she had the blood he’d continued to vomit whenever he attempted to eat tested. It matched the victims.
We don’t have the facilities for a trial or imprisonment here. Moreson’s being held in a secure room, until the next craft stops by on its way to Earth, and will be sent securely. All the evidence, except the bodies, is being sent with him.
Just to be sure, I’m having the victims’ bodies cremated and jettisoned into space. This tiny population isn’t the place for new vampires, who can’t control their impulses. The control it takes to live in a place like this takes centuries of training in self-discipline. I remember the destruction of my own wild youth. I can’t have that here.
I’m in my quarters, sipping on a bag of O positive, always a good drop after a stressful day. That slightly rusty metallic iron aftertaste always soothes me. As I look out of the portal into the vastness of the universe, I wonder if my kind will ever find our true place anywhere.
This story was written in response to the Saturday Writing Club prompt, to write a mash-up horror/science fiction story.