Sparkletown 015 remix
THE GHOST PARK KILLING
A murder has taken place. This much we know.
The body of the singer lies a short distance from the haunted tower. One rumour calls her the exiled queen of some far-off land. Tales were told of her life, her mysterious past, of the troubles that fuelled her art. Another story claims her as the child of an alchemist, a creation herself.
Sparks flicker around the victim’s mouth: the vapour of a song still clinging to the blue, frozen lips. It shimmers in the last of the moonlight.
The evidence collector searches the ghost park, looking for clues. He finds a strange pattern of dust on a wall. It looks like the image of an angel’s wing brushed against the brickwork and burnt there by heavenly power.
The magpies roosting on the park’s transformers have tracks of blood on their feathers. Ectoplasm sizzles around the bare wires of the contact nodes.
The collector bends down to the corpse to collect the vapour in the hybrid channels of his salvage device. He listens back: hearing amidst the melody something else, a distant scream, a wasteland of echo caught in the lyrics, the breath. Final fragments. A scattering of notes.
Glowbugs flutter along the canals, feeding on spectral dust, that fine silvery powder the ghosts leave behind as they move from space to space. The collector shivers. Mist rolls in, dawnlit. The tower casts a shadow, the tip of which touches the left hand of the corpse. A ring sparkles on the third finger.
A magpie descends, starts to peck at flesh. He wants the ring for his nest, this glittering emerald object.
The city’s extractor crew turns up, hoping to remove the body before the first customers arrive at the park gate. The crew’s foreman has the necessary paperwork. The collector shoos the errant bird away and pulls the Magus ring off the victim’s finger. Whatever spell killed the poor woman, its residue lies in the green stone.
The young apprentice park keeper starts his early morning cry, calling the ghosts into their day cages.
Later that morning the collector visits the central library where the city’s sleep maps are kept. He traces the pathways of the night’s dreams, hoping to find there a reason for the crime. The vapour song plays over his headset. He finds separate images recorded in different skull patterns. Taken together they form a nightmare that corresponds: the park, the damaged tower, the magpie and the strange wedding ring. The vocalist still alive, her song tempting apparitions from the shadows.
The murderer is a dark figure glimpsed in the moonlight. His face is covered in dream static, flickering with light. He wears a ring of his own, formed from the other half of the gemstone. The two fragments click together, lock.
The collector watches the killing taking place. His own face flickers with the same light, the same green sparkle on his hand, his trembling hand, the fingers bloodstained.
And he realises then: the dream is not yet done, the map of sleep is still being drawn.