“Zachariah Nettle. Body was found about an hour ago by the landlord, who was responding to a noise complaint from the tenant downstairs. Time of death is placed at around 10 p.m. No sign of forced entry, but that doesn’t mean much; the window was open when we arrived, and a fire escape runs down to street level.”

        “So he knew the person, or someone sneaked in.” Brennan rubbed at his scalp. “That doesn’t exactly narrow it down.”

        “He was sitting down when it happened,” Bishop said, “and the television was still blaring loud when we got here. It’s possible he never heard it coming.”

        “All right, then I’m leaning toward a sneak. And he was playing a video game?”

        “Right.”

        “Imagine that would be difficult without eyes.” Brennan frowned and walked toward the body. The tabby hissed from atop the wardrobe as he passed. He crouched in front of the corpse; it smelled worse from up close. He looked at the pale face of the late Zachariah Nettle. Rivulets of dried blood trailed from the empty eye sockets. There was some kind of irritation around the dark, sunken holes, and the mouth was agape in a frozen scream. Noel was speaking from somewhere behind him.

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© 2015 by Tom Shutt.