Elizabeth and Martin slowly moved through the suspect’s apartment. Dirty clothes and dishes were piled on everything. The skittering of tiny claws signaled a mouse running past Elizabeth. She shook her head. ‘How can anyone stand to live in this squalor? Especially when they don’t have to?’ She pulled on a pair of latex gloves. Green this time. She glanced at her partner. Martin riffled through a stack of mail when a king cockroach ran over his hand. He gave a yell and shook his hand.
“You went high-pitched,” Elizabeth said with a smirk.
“So not funny,” he said, “Did you see the size of that thing? I swear, I’m gonna be dreamin’ about Creepshow, tonight.”
“Really?” Martin said with a grin. “Nineteen eighty-two movie. Directed by the legendary auteur George A. Romero. Written by horror master Stephan King. You’ve never heard of it?”
Elizabeth shook her head. “Nope.”
Martin shook his head. “You need to get out more.”
She cocked her left eyebrow. “Nineteen eighty-two was a long time ago.”
He chuckled again. He tossed the mail back on the stand by the front door and moved further into the suspect’s den. Kicking apart a pile of dirty clothes at the end of the couch, and recoiling from the eruption of roaches from within, he called, “Do you really think we’ll find anything linking the costumed man’s victims in here?”
Elizabeth walked into the bedroom, which was even worse than the rest of the apartment. In addition to the dirty clothes and dishes, food cartons littered the surfaces of nearly everything. Some of them had leftover – things – which were no longer recognizable. The room had a putrid stench about it. She carefully picked her way through the mess and threw open the curtains and window. She turned and the sight of a squirming mass of maggots on the bed made her gag. Just then, she heard Martin’s question.
“I sure hope so, and it’s quick,” she called in a thick voice.
Tearing her eyes from the mess on the bed, Elizabeth looked under it. ‘Odd.’ The space under the bed was perfectly clean.
Marin smirked, hearing the distress in his partner’s voice. ‘She sounds like she’s gonna hurl.’ He walked into a small room off the main one and spotted an old wooden sea chest. ‘That’s got to be over a hundred years old. I wonder if it’s unlocked.’ He squatted before the large trunk and experimentally flicked the thumb catches. Both popped open with satisfying sniks. Slowly raising the lid, he was disappointed to find the chest appeared to be empty except for a wadded up bundle of red crushed velvet. ‘Well, that sucked.’ Pushing to his feet, Martin looked around the room. Unlike the rest of the apartment, this room was immaculate. No longer distracted by the chest, the scent of orange oil could be detected. He sniffed, and then tilted his head. ‘Where is that coming from?’ He looked around the room, only now noticing the gleaming white walls and sparkling woodwork. The hardwood floor was polished to a high sheen, showing his reflection. After the rest of the apartment, this room was like an oasis. “Hey Lizzy! Come check this out! You’re not gonna believe your eyes.”
Back in the bedroom, Elizabeth spotted an old looking ring. She reached under the bed and pulled it closer to her. The tip of her green glove snagged on a jutting splinter of wood and tore. The splinter drove itself deep into her finger. Instinctively, she jerked her hand back. Unfortunately, this rammed the rogue piece of wood further in. She looked closely at the splinter, cussing under her breath. The sharp pain caused her heart to race and her breathing to shorten. The wood rose from the pad of her finger like an exclamation point. She lifted it out of her skin with a hiss of pain and further swearing. Her finger throbbed. She pulled the glove off and stuck her finger in her mouth. Just then, she heard her partner’s call, so she left the room.
Elizabeth picked her way carefully through the trash, debris and clothes until she reached the doorway of the room where Martin stood. Just as she came to a halt outside the room, a king cockroach scurried under where her foot was coming down and died with a loud pop. Martin whirled with his gun drawn. She didn’t even see him move. One second his back was to her and he was relaxed, and the next second, he was facing her with his weapon in her face.
“Be careful with that thing,” she said. “It’s not good to receive a rapid discharge in the face.”
“Really?” he said. “A premature ejaculation joke?”
She smirked. “What did you want me to see?”
Martin holstered his gun and waved his hand at the room. She looked around. ‘This room is as spotless as under the bed. I wonder why?’ Elizabeth crossed over to a bookshelf beside the bed and scanned the titles. While she did so, her partner returned to the chest.
He lifted out the pile of velvet and felt something oddly shaped within the material. He squatted and unwrapped the object. “Holy crap, Lizzy! This nut has a metal replica of Aladdin’s Lamp!”
She turned. “No way.”
Her partner gently tossed the lamp underhanded to her. Startled, she through her hands out, forgetting that she’d pulled her glove off her right hand. She fumbled at the lamp before gently cradling it in her arms. Elizabeth paused to throw a glare at him, before turning her attention to the lamp. It looked to be of a silvery bronze. ‘Odd. I’ve never seen a metal colored like this before.’ The lamp had an odd looking script running along the part where oil would be added. She turned the lamp, trying to figure out the writing.
ثلاث رغبات لا تتلقى، ثم يتم التنازل عن روحك. الدم تعلق هذه اللعنة.
“Any idea what this writing is, Marty?”
Marty shrugged. “Maybe, ‘Oi! Ten thousand years will give you such a crick in the neck?’”
She raised her eyebrow and looked over at him. “What?”
“Genie of the Lamp? Aladdin? 1992 Disney movie?”
Elizabeth laughed. “You watch Disney movies?”
“I watch all kinds of movies. I’m not an Oscar snob.”
As the two partners chatted, blood continued to ooze from Elizabeth’s finger. Some landed on the ring and was absorbed by it.
“I guess I should put this in an evidence bag.”
“You know you’re gonna catch hell from the captain for bleeding on it and touching it with your bare finger, right?”
Elizabeth looked at him blankly. “What?”
“Look at your pretty hands.”
She glanced down, eyes blinking rapidly. Her right hand was clad in a green latex glove, her left hand was bare. Further, her blood was getting all over both the ring – which she’d forgotten was in her hand – and the lamp. Her eyes flew open and she gasped, “Shit!” She hurriedly set the objects on the floor and stepped away as if they were hot.
Martin chuckled. “I wish I had a camera right now.”
She sneered and wiggled her head in disgust. Her partner laughed harder. She rolled her eyes. “Bag this for me, would you, Marty? I want to see if I can find a band aid, or something.”
“Do you really want to trust anything in here?”
“Good point. I’ll get one from the car.”
Five minutes later, finger freshly bandaged, Elizabeth returned to the dump that doubled as an apartment. She spotted Martin staring intently at something by the window. He was so entranced, he didn’t hear her approach.
“If only you were real, I’d wish for-”
“What would you wish for Marty?”
He started, actually coming off the floor a couple of inches, his body rigid. His arms flew wide, and the object he was holding popped into the air. It was the lamp, securely in an evidence bag, her blood dried to a rusty brown. Once again, he whirled around, and pointed his weapon at her heart. Without looking, Martin caught the lamp. “Are you trying to get yourself shot, Lizzy?” He holstered his weapon.
She smirked. “Come on, you have better control than that, partner.”
“Great so you’re trying to give me a heart attack. So much better.”
“So, what would you wish for, if that were a real magic lamp?” She rolled her lips inward to hide her smile.
The lieutenant tried to ignore the sparkle in her eyes and the way his heart turned over. He shrugged. “I’d wish for telepathy,” he said blithely . He tossed the lamp underhanded to her. “How about you?”
She laughed. “Oh no. I’m not gonna get into that.”
“You wouldn’t wish for a stud muffin to warm your bed at night?”
She narrowed her eyes. “No.” She tossed the lamp back to him. “Seriously. What do you wish you had?”
He caught the lamp, and looked down at it. Martin missed Elizabeth stepping over to him. “I wish I had telepathy.”
The lamp flashed quickly. His partner slapped the back of his head.
“That’s for the ‘stud muffin’ crack.”
“What?” His patented lopsided grin flashed as he rubbed the back of his head. “Put this by the door.” He handed her the lamp again. “I told you my serious wish. Your turn. Fair is fair.”
“No.” She shook her head.
“Aw, c’mon!” She continued to walk away. “Spoil sport.”
He spotted a latch hooked rug near a beat up cabinet. ‘That’s odd. Everything else in here looks fairly new. What is in there?’
Elizabeth placed the lamp on a table near the from door. Judging by the scratches on its surface, it was where their suspect had tossed his keys. “I wish I had Superman’s powers,” she murmured. “Then I could have saved all of those people in the Convention Center earlier.” She quickly turned and headed to the back of the apartment.
The lamp flashed a crimson light. Some of the fresher blood on its surface vanished.