A Morbid Impression

“What an intriguing image by Digital Solacism on Unsplash. It makes for a great prompt from Sadje at Lifeafter50forwoman.com too. Let’s see what I can write for it.”

A Morbid Impression

Ashes floated within the smoky chemical-heavy air. Detective Keene held a breathing mask to her nose as she entered the apartment. Everything was charred black, coated in soot or burned yellow in the ferocious fire.

“Come through, detective. It began in the lounge,” said a firefighter carrying an extinguisher in case of flare-ups.

“Seems it was quite a conflagration,” Keene remarked having seen a melted mattress leaning against the remains of the bedroom wall. The balcony doors were open in there.

“No kidding!” the firefighter nodded to a colleague and entered the lounge. “The sofa seems to have been the epicentre. There was a phone charging on the arm; we think that was the cause. However, that’s why we called.”

Keene followed his direction and gasped. The front window was burned shades of yellow and black. Within the residue was the perfect silhouette of a man pointing to something above him. The lights of traffic glowing through the shadow figure were somehow unsettling. “I was informed the apartment was empty when the fire ignited?”  

“That’s correct. We found no bodies in here.”

“Then how in the fiery depths of hell is that possible?” Keene looked from the window to the remains of a wall unit, television and sofa, all were burned almost beyond recognition amid piles of ash and debris.

The firefighter shrugged, “That’s why we summoned you.”

“Bodies don’t burn away to nothing in fires, do they?” Keene looked at the foot of the window. The carpet and floorboards were burned away and heavily charred, yet there was no evidence a body had ever been there.

“Well, it can happen if the body reaches a temperature of more than 760 Celsius for a long enough time. That couldn’t have happened in here though, the glass would have shattered.”

“I was wondering about the glass,” Keene mused. “What was he pointing at?”

The silhouette seemed to indicate a bright area at the top of the pane.

“Ceiling sconce maybe.” The firefighter said from beneath the charred remains of a chandelier.

“Wrong shape.” Keene left the room; she entered the adjacent bedroom and carefully picked her way through piles of ash and debris from what used to be the wardrobe. Out on the balcony, she took a deep breath of fresh air and glanced back toward the lounge. She was surprised to see the covered balcony curved around to the mystery window.

“Seen something?” asked the firefighter joining her.

“Maybe.” Keene approached the lounge window, crunching glass beneath her shoes. She pointed to the balcony ceiling. “He was doing something to the light out here, look.”

The domed cover of the light was hanging open.

“So, he was out here changing that light bulb. And —”

“He fell.” Keene had looked over the railing. Three storeys below, within a dense circle of bushes, lay the body of the apartment owner.

“Ouch!” said the firefighter.

“More like zap!” Keene looked at the silhouette on the glass. “Seems he got electrocuted changing the bulb. That shorted everything in the apartment, causing the phone cable to ignite and burn the place to ashes.”

“Right, his impression in the glass was made like the flash effect of a camera then?”

Keene glanced toward the darkening sky, “That’s my assumption unless little green men hit him with some kind of x-ray gun.”

The firefighter chuckled, “I knew I should have called Mulder and Scully!”

“Maybe you should, but I’m going with short-circuit as the cause of death unless the body has something shocking to tell us!” Keene winked and left the building. Her report would read as she said. However, the real cause of the man’s death and the silhouette in the window may never be known.

The End

Thanks for reading my friends.

There’s more in the Poetry CornerPoetry Nook, and the Short Story Collection

Have a great day!

23 thoughts on “A Morbid Impression

Add yours

    1. Hello, Marla.
      Thank you for reading. I’d hoped it would leave a little wonderment as to what really happened especially as a fan of the x-files. What do you reckon Mulder and Scully might find?


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