Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

The detective stood just inside the tape at the doorway to Grant’s office and surveyed the carnage.

Deep maroon fluid had been spattered over most surfaces, some of it obviously while still under pressure as it had reached the ceiling several meters above his head from which it now dripped from the elaborate tin relief.

A medieval suit of armor lay scattered about, the pole axe formerly adorning it now buried deep in the hardwood of the floor.

On one side of the blade lay two dark colored hands severed none too neatly at the wrists. On the other side stood the burnt remains of the Senator’s desk, recently extinguished and still smoking. Partially embedded in the smoldering furniture an incinerated corpse lay in repose, unnaturally shortened arms outstretched.

“Not much left of the Andy is there?” Detective Sykes shook a chemical cigarette from a pack, thumbed the igniter and sucked it noisily alight.

“Carter, you lift an ID off the inhibitor?” Sykes blew almost colorless exhaust into the air as he waited for the forensics agent to respond.

“Yep. One of Grant’s domestic units. Serial’s only a partial, but it matches the prints and there’s plenty of tracer in all the Andy juice to corroborate,” he waved around. “I’ll write it up. No human donors to the crime scene, so unless the Senator wants to shake the insurance company down for the cleanup and a new desk, I’d say we’re pretty much done here.”

Sykes turned his back on the room and addressed the figure lurking in the shadows of the hallway behind him.

“Senator, I think it might be best if you cleaned this up privately.” He took a long drag on his cigarette and continued. “This makes three of your Andy’s we’ve found diced up this year. Now another dead Andy doesn’t matter much to me, but if those equal rights bleeding hearts get wind of this…”, he left the thought hanging.

“We’ll clean this up internally detective, your concern is duly noted.” The Senator’s voice dripped with derision. “Once you’re satisfied no real crime has occurred here, my staff can get to work.”

Sykes chuckled, “Bit morbid don’t you think, having your Andy’s clean up what’s left of one of their own?”

Grant rolled his eyes, “Please, detective, it’s not like they actually feel anything, the bloody things barely think.”

“Still, Senator, someone got in here and did this. We’ve seen other cases besides yours, all Andy’s, so you might not be worried but it is a serial offender we’re looking for. If you know anything, or think of anything,” Sykes produced a card from his breast pocket and passed it to the Senator, who accepted it with apparent disinterest.

“I’ll be sure to let you know detective.” Turning he spoke over his shoulder as he walked away, “Let yourself out, will you?”

Levi turned off the paved road onto little more than a dirt lane between the trees, slowing as he guided the old hauler towards the farmhouse near the river and parked in the barn behind.

Closing the outside doors first, he returned to open the trunk and smiled at the worried face staring up at him.

“Come out Doris, you’re safe now.” He helped the still shaking android from the trunk, careful not to disturb the caps on her neatly severed wrists.

“First thing we’ll do is get you some hands grafted back on.” He pulled two empty fluid bladders from the trunk, then his portable transfusion unit and carried them to the workbench that filled one side of the room.

Doris followed him, blinking as the dim sodium lights were eclipsed by brighter halogen work-lights. Levi turned to face her, reaching out to probe gingerly at the cut at the side of her neck. Doris flinched at the raised hand, but stood her ground.

“That bypass should seal up nicely in a few days.” Turning back to his bench he continued, “With the inhibitor gone there won’t be any trouble getting you over the border. I’ve got friends up there that will find you a place to stay.”

Levi looked through the collection of hands floating in jars as he talked, looking for a good match.

“Couple of days, Doris, and you’ll be home free.”

Doris hugged herself with her truncated limbs, watching Levi.

“Free,” was all she said. “Free.”

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