The air in the apartment was stale. Detective Louis, his VISORS in his hand, walked into the dim bedroom. The space was littered with markers left by forensics drones who had already catalogued the scene. Louis still liked to look things over manually, though. A pale body was lying on the floor, its bare eyes wide open.
“The only eyes we can see are dead eyes”, Louis said absently.
The voice of his partner, Detective Grant, burst into the room. Unconsciously he turned. She convulsively recoiled, holding her hands up to her eyes, though they were hidden by the mirrored lenses of her VISORS. Alarm bells sounding in his head, he looked down at his hand, which was still clutching his VISORS. Turing away, he fitted them to his face.
“Sorry,” he muttered. His body pushed forward as he felt a punch against his shoulder.
“Bozo! I don’t want to have to train a new partner!” Grant said from behind him.
Louis was about to say that HyPED couldn’t be activated by corpses, but Grant punched his shoulder again, “Just keep your VISORS on, okay? What do you think happened here?”
“I don’t know. This one seems odd.”
Louis looked at his grim smile reflected in Grant’s mirrored lenses. Ever since HyPED (Hyper Psychotic Extrasensory Disease) had spread globally VISORS (Viral Infection Suppression Optical Reflection System) became mandatory. No one ever saw another person’s eyes anymore. HyPED was a virus that lived in the brain, taking up residence in the optical and frontal lobes. While highly infectious, it started off dormant. When activated, a cascade of increasingly real hallucinations manifested until the infected became detached from reality. Activation was triggered by the neural signals that happen when people look into each other’s eyes. It was unclear how long it took for activation to trigger, but the consequences were so great that no one was allowed to take chances anymore. Getting caught not wearing VISORS was punishable by immediate imprisonment. No questions asked.
Part of the problem was the disease’s early stages were hard to recognize, and if not caught early would eventually lead to the infected falling into a kind of coma. It was theorized, based on brain wave analysis, that they were trapped in a dream like state. HyPED colonies had been established. Isolated islands where people were hooked up to life support, and kept alive in hopes that one day scientists would be able to break them out of their dream realities. Louis wondered how much of them would be left, having seen his brother in the latter stages. The hallucinations, while different for everyone, seemed to accentuate paranoia and fear. If that was the dream world those millions of people were living in for such a long time…
“Earth to Louis, come in Louis.”
“Sorry, I was thinking about … well, it doesn’t matter. I didn’t find any VISORS, which seems odd.”
“Scavengers maybe? From the looks of the place, I doubt they would have gotten much. Come on, lets go.” Grant patted Louis’ shoulder, and left the room.
Louis took a last look at the corpse and the messy room. Corpses were rare, and potential murders even more so. A glint of mirror caught his eye, just underneath the corpse. Shooting a glance towards the empty doorway, he pulled on the corpse’s belt, lifting the body. Tucked underneath was what looked like a piece of a shattered VISORS. How had the drones missed that, he wondered.
“You coming?” Grant’s voice called from the other room.
“Yeah, just a second!” he called, securing the fragment in a small plastic bag, and stashing it in his pocket.
“How many inquiries have been placed before this one?” Louis asked softly.
“No previous inquires recorded,” the robotic voice squawked in his earpiece.
Closing the connection, Louis frowned, and glanced over at Grant who was sitting at her desk flipping through personnel screens on her terminal.
“Hey, did you get a chance to check up on that last case?” he asked as casually as he could.
Grant glanced at him, “yeah, I thought told you. There was nothing to follow up on.”
“You ran the inquiries?”
“Of course I did. I trained you, remember?”
“Yeah, I remember.”
Louis turned away, unable to maintain his forced smile. Damn it! he thought. It wasn’t unheard of for officers to turn to the VISORS grey market for supplemental income. Inventories were tracked, but it wasn’t hard for someone as smart as Grant to siphon off supply. Tapping his pocket, he tried again to mentally piece the puzzle together. Grant had been first on the scene. She called in the drones.
Muffled yelling broke into his thoughts. Across the room, he saw Grant in one of the glass walled conference rooms in heated conversation. Standing, he started walking closer, stopping when he saw the Chief. Without warning, they both looked in his direction. Not just in his direction, but directly at him. Grant punched at a screen on the glass wall, and the panel turned opaque.
“What’s up?” Detective Davis’s voice replied.
Louis had managed to walk right up to Davis’ desk without even realizing it.
“Nothing. I just, um, I need to go get something outside. Later.”
Feeling the edges of the VISORS fragment in its plastic baggie secured in his pocket, Louis made for the door. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Grant and the Chief hovering at Davis’ desk. Davis shrugged, and pointed in his direction. Louis didn’t wait for them to look up, and broke into a hard sprint.
His legs collapsed beneath him and his body crashed to the ground as the bean bag drove into the small of his back. A thundering herd of feet echoed all around him. Instinctively he reached for his weapon.
It was Grant’s voice. Looking up, he saw her standing a few feet away, a bean bag shotgun braced against her shoulder aimed directly at him.
“You don’t understand,” he panted. “I have evidence! Let me show you. It’s in my pocket. I’m going to reach into my pocket.” He started to slowly move his hand down his side.
“Slowly Louis, slowly.”
That was the Chief’s voice. He prayed the Chief was clean, otherwise he was screwed.
Pulling the baggie out of his pocket, he held it up in the air. The shattered fragment of blood flecked VISORS glinted in the harsh lights of the hallway.
Her body tense, Detective Grant stared at the plastic baggie lying on the small coffee table in front of her. Inside it was a piece of torn cardboard.
“You were saying something about his brother,” the Doctor said.
“Yeah, I think that was the first real sign, and I missed it. We’d been partners for about a year, but it wasn’t until I looked up his personnel file that I realized Louis didn’t even have a brother.”
Grant looked up at the Doctor. His mouth was expressionless.
“Do you know which colony they’re sending him to?”
“I’m sorry Detective, we’re not allowed to disclose that information.”
She watched her hand, reflected in the Doctor’s VISORS, reach up to her cheek and wipe away another tear.