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Title: Mantis
Author: Vanessa Finaughty
Published: Something Wicked, Issue 2

Please note that this work or any part of this work may not be published or reproduced in any format without the author’s written permission.

Detective Cassandra Beckett shuddered. It felt as if hundreds of tiny spiders with icy feet were scuttling up her spine.
She wasn't one to feel queasy at crime scenes, but this latest spate of murders was particularly gruesome and had every detective in the force losing sleep. Turning to have another look at the latest corpse, she froze.
“Okay, who the hell moved the head?”
All eyes in the room automatically focused on the body. The victim's head, which had barely been attached by a small piece of skin when they'd arrived at the scene a short while ago, was gone.
Realising that none of her team was about to say anything, Cassandra lost her temper.
“Is this a joke to you lot? Do you think it's funny to play around with the dead?” She snarled at her colleagues, her emerald green eyes blazing.
More silence followed, as each of the other three officers in the room studied his colleagues with suspicion.
“Right. So this is just one big joke. I can't believe this! Whoever you are, you've quite possibly screwed up our chances of gaining any clues off this body!” Cassandra glared at each person in turn.
Nervously clearing his throat, short, blond Carl finally spoke up: “I've been standing next to Darren since I last saw the head. I can vouch that he didn’t touch it.”
Darren nodded in confirmation, the repulsiveness of the flapping skin under his oily chin quite alarming to Cassandra, who then raised her eyebrows at John, who in turn shook his head, “I just got here, Beckett.”
Quickly thinking back through the last few minutes, she realised that she'd heard John enter the room for the first time just as she'd noticed that the head was missing.

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