ZOEY ALSTON Interacting with DS Black, & Olivia @Nallore
Despite how much Dr. Alston loved her job and the very interesting aspects of it, the last thing she expected to be doing this early in the morning was dragging herself to the human equivalent of a rat’s nest to investigate a three-day-old body found nestled in the rubbish there. But with Professor Carlisle on a study trip to Munich that didn’t finish for another 48 hours, Zoey was the next sucker in line to examine the body in its environment, and then perform the autopsy some three hours later.
By the time she made it back to the cutting room with her disgruntled Detective and rotting cadaver in tow, she’d perked up a bit with the help of some tea and a sneaky red bull. Detective Black was still looking as sour as the corpse, but that wouldn’t deter Zoey from a throwing about a bit of morgue humour throughout the autopsy. Had to keep things light somewhere, even for someone as empathetic as she was.
“Body is that of a middle aged Caucasian male, probably between 55 and 65, entering the second stage of decomposition. Abdomen is distended, but whether this is due to a buildup of gases or trauma related to death is unclear until we open him up.” By now, enough morgue techs had been called in early for them to help out in performing preliminary blood tests, taking fingerprints, and examining x-rays of the bones and teeth to aid in finding an identity for their John Doe – unless the police got there first, that was. The external examination was always the quickest bit to do, unless she was looking for something in particular. Just by searching, she could draw conclusions about this man’s life. For one, he was a drug user. Track marks in the crooks of his elbows, his groin, and inbetween his toes were still visible on his mottled, discoloured skin. Another note was that he was overweight, with a sizeable beer gut. She could make bets now to say he was – or should be – taking aspirin, but by the state of what he looked like and where he was found, over the counter blood thinners probably weren’t all that high on his list of preferred drugs. ”Hehe… high.”
“He was beaten before he died?”
The question from Detective Black quickly stopped her private inner monologue of jokes. She looked up at him from where he stood in the viewing room connected to the autopsy room, his gravelly voice sounding even deeper as it came through the intercom.
“What makes you say that?”
“He’s got two massive shiners. Don’t tell me he tripped and hit both of his eyes on something at the same time.”
“Stranger things have happened.” She retorted with a smile, before going to examine the man’s face. Even after three days the bruises were quite swollen, though again, decomposition could have something to say about that. “But I’d say a skull fracture is more likely. The trauma from something like a skull fracture can cause blood to seep into the spare space around the eyes, causing it to pool there. No beating necessary for a bump on the head.”
“You have to wallop someone to cause damage like that, surely?”
“Oh, come on Nick. You’ve been in the game long enough to know how fragile humans can be. I’ve had bodies in here who’ve bumped their heads going down some stairs on a double decker and dying a day later with no symptoms.”
“Who says he’s human?” Although said gruffly, she could hear the hint of a joke in Nick’s voice. Still, he made a valid point. As far as she was aware, there weren’t really many tests out there for her to test whether someone was human or not. Did a werewolf show up as human while in their human forms? What about the rest of the supernatural? Witches like her, or the various others walking about?
Deciding to ignore Nick and continue with her work, Zoey had her techs take photographs of all the noticeable and possibly relevant signs on Mr. Doe’s body. Contusions scattered around the body, old and new track marks, his twin black eyes, and some pink-ish dried froth in the corners of his mouth. Could be drool from his last night asleep, but she’d done this enough times to know nothing could be taken lightly.
An hour later Nick had disappeared and reappeared twice now, each time with a fresh cup of coffee and having finished an exasperating phone call. As Zoey peeled back the corpse’s scalp and left it folded over his face, she held back on the oscillating saw as Nick began to speak.
“Apparently he had a roommate. Came back to the scene, fled like a rabbit when he saw all the coppers there.”
“Do you think he has motive?”
“Does a faerie shit in the woods? They’re druggies, Doctor. It doesn’t take much for one to bludgeon the other to death for their last bit of heroin."
“Oh, you have such a sweet outlook on life, don’t you?”
“I’m as sweet as my coffee.” If most were to look at Nick, they’d think he’d be one of those miserable bastards who always had coffee black and strong. Well, he was still a miserable bastard, but he liked good coffee. Plenty of cream, plenty of sugar, and usually trying whatever sweet caffeine filled treat that Starbucks had whipped up this time. Except he didn’t like Starbucks and their prices, so he went to the local coffee shops and tried their own cheaper knock-offs instead. Whatever the case, he drank too much of the stuff.
“What is that, your seventh coffee this morning? You can overdose on caffeine as well as heroin, y’know.”
“Listen, I got dragged out of bed at 3 AM to investigate this dead arsehole who may or may not have been murdered by his shitey friend. If I don’t keep the coffee flowing, I’m passing out on your damned floor.”
“Well don’t do that! We might get you confused for one of ours and stick you on the slab.” Zoey darted Nick a grin, and before he could retort, he was leaving the viewing room to answer his phone yet again. Now she could refocus without listening to Officer Grumps, no matter how entertaining he was.
As she came to discover, the fellow’s black eyes weren’t from a skull fracture or brain hemorrhage. His brain was in quite nice shape actually, considering it was three days dead. From there she moved on to the main body, planning to examine each organ until she found her answer. A heart attack wouldn’t be surprising considering the state of the guy. However, she didn’t have to go very far to find her answer.
“Ahh… pulmonary edema.” Hefting the heavy, fluid filled lungs from the man’s chest cavity, Zoey placed them into the scales nearby. “There’s our cause of death… now how did you get it?” There were countless causes of pulmonary edema – or excess fluids in the lungs – some were natural, and some could be evidence for potential murder. Taking into account the guy’s lifestyle and general health, it could be either.
“Have we got our prelim bloods done?” Turning to one of her techs as Zoey moved to the heart, aiming to look for symptoms of CAD. Looking through the various test tubes, the tech nodded. The prelim’s would let her run specific tests for chemicals present in the blood, but not the amounts of them. For now, she’d had them run tests for the usual suspects – heroin, cocaine, meth – and even threw aspirin in there are well. Just to see if she was right.
“Positive results for heroin and aspirin.” Well, her hunch was correct, but it still wasn’t a solid lead. Nick would have to wait and see for this fellow.
When Nick returned in the next hour, John Doe’s body had been taken apart and put back together again, and his Y-incision was being sewn shut and Zoey leaving the room as he re-entered it.
Catching up with her as she headed towards the locker room, Nick switched his phone off as it rang yet again. “Have you got a diagnosis, doc?”
“He died from a pulmonary edema, but until I get toxicology back, I can’t say for sure what caused it.”
“You can’t even give me a hunch?”
“If it helps, I went through the checklist of things that’ll cause it, and I couldn’t find much to assign it to a natural death. There were no signs of CAD, I highly doubt he went mountain climbing recently, there was no evidence of drowning, and his lungs were lacking trauma, clots and toxins that can all cause it. It could have been caused by pneumonia, but a heroin overdose seems more likely. But as I said, I need to wait-“
“-for toxicology, got it. If it is heroin, can you prove if he was given it forcefully?”
“Nope. There’s no bruising or signs of a struggle that would indicate he didn’t give it himself, or allowed someone else to do it."
"What about the black eyes?"
"It probably wasn't caused by a major fight. He took aspirin, which thinned his blood and made the bruising more prevalent. I wouldn't put it down to an assault. More likely a fall. So, if you want someone for murder, it’ll be down to you now, Detective.” Offering a sympathetic smile to the sleep-deprived copper, Zoey shooed him from the room so that she could get showered and changed in peace. With how rushed she had been this morning, a shower had been out of the question. She just hoped she hadn't woken poor Jack up.
Keeping the shower short but sweet, by the time Zoey had replaced her scrubs for her clothes, dried her hair off and made her way to her desk, Nick had left the building and Olivia had entered it.
"Morning Liv." Smiling at her younger co-worker, Zoey leant back in her chair and stretched, groaning as she thought about the day ahead. There were tests to chase up, police to deal with, and of course, a brand new John Doe report to write out.
"You wouldn't make us a cuppa, would you?" She asked the American, digging through her bag for her phone as it dinged. Scrolling through her local news app, a frown began to build on Zoey's face. A hijacking of a small time radio station didn't seem all that important, but with the current anti-Other climate going around, this was worrying."Oh, if I get a vision because of these arseholes I'm going to hex them so bad."