It’s one of my gifts, if you could call them that, to hear human emotions as music. I thought everyone could do it until I got to school and realised I was a freak. That was what they called me. Freak. It took me fifteen years to fully embrace what I could do. Fifteen years to realise that I’m not a freak. Vertigo City just produces strange people. We thrive here.
Wagner stops dead, cut off mid-crescendo. I speed up, sprinting through the streets, but I already know I’m too late. Vertigo Central Station sits at the crossroads of Vertigo Avenue and City Boulevard. It’s a cathedral of transport, a cavernous hall of marble and cold stone from the old Windspit Quarry in the Hills. The rush hour throng flows through the main booking hall. People hurry home at the end of a busy day. Bankers, receptionists, lawyers, doctors - all of them oblivious to the anguish and resentment simmering outside.
The throng flows around a small circle of people near one of the booking office windows. A woman sprawls on the floor, her beige overcoat soaking up blood. I assume it’s hers. A man crouches beside her. He wears too much hair cream and his leather gloves smell new. Blood spatters his shoes.
“Look! It’s The Hero!” shouts an onlooker.
I look down into the woman’s not-unattractive face. She looks like any one of the hundreds of poster girls plastered across town, selling hand cream or soda or products guaranteed to achieve domestic bliss. Pretty, but generic. Pretty, generic, and dead.
“I don’t know, one minute I was behind her, next minute there was a bang, she screamed, and she fell to the ground,” he says. “I think she’s been shot.”
“You didn't see anyone?" I ask.
“No. There were people everywhere. It took me long enough to get people to step over her," he replies.
“Anyone know who she is?”
“She’s got a Council ID in her purse. Says she’s Ida Willcott. Justice Department,” says a blonde woman.
She’s holding the dead woman’s bag, guarding it from view. The dame is dead, and this stranger still wants to keep her purse private. Stupid, really.
“Well, Ida…what’s your story?” I ask.
I pull off my gloves, press my index fingers to her temples, and let her start talking.
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