Ne Plus Ultra
A ray of light spills through a slight gap in the curtains, a slash across Anna’s face, like a glowing blindfold. The quality and color of the light suggests it is artificial light and still dark out.
Anna is heaving, as another wave of nausea washes over her. She will never get used to the state in which she wakes up, almost every day, lately. The void in her head, the sickness in her gut.
She fumbles for the light switch on the wall and the room is instantly bathed in bright incandescent light, which momentarily soothes Anna. This momentary respite is cut short the moment she spots a man’s suit, on the armchair, across the room. It is a pearl grey, sharkskin suit. She hurriedly hurls the covers off the bed. It is clear from the indentation in the mattress and pillow, next to her, that someone else had been in bed with her.
She leaps out of bed, naked, except for her flaming red ponytail and a pair of leather panties constructed entirely of intertwined leather laces. Her arms and legs are exceptionally long. Although she has a slender build her breasts are round and full. She looks around the room, it’s a hotel room, nowhere to hide really. Did the mystery man leave without his clothes? She can’t remember a thing. She stumbles towards the washroom where she violently vomits. She rinses her face, then takes a hard look at herself in the mirror, she rips off her red mane, to reveal a bleached blonde. Next she rips off the false eyelashes and removes her contact lenses to expose steely, sharp, blue eyes which had been masked by the lush green lenses. The transformation is notable.
As Anna heads back into the bedroom she spots a pair of feet protruding from underneath the bed. Her initial reflex is to jump back. She takes a deep breath, then haltingly approaches the bed and crouches. She gently touches the left foot, there is no movement, then she shakes the entire foot, still no movement. The palms of her hands are sweating. She is uncontrollably shaking as she wipes her hands on the bed covers, then latches on to both feet and starts to pull with all her might.
Anna’s sympathetic nervous system has been activated by the sight of the dead body under the bed. She is experiencing accelerated emotional, psychological and physical changes. Emotionally, she feels intense fear. Psychologically, her senses are heightened enabling her to make fast decisions. Her heart rate has increased and blood flow diverted to essential parts of her body, furnishing Anna with increased strength and stamina.
She has dragged out most of the body from under the bed and can see it is a white older male in his late fifties, privy of clothing. The corpse’s face is still hidden under the bed. Anna gives the body one last pull. The corpse is stuck. It appears the dead man’s chin is lodged against the lower edge of the bed frame. Anna leans in and attempts to turn the man’s head on it’s side, so as to clear the bed frame. The body has stiffened. No matter how hard she tries, the head is not budging. Rigor mortis begins with the eyelids, neck, and jaw.
Anna is resolute as she stands up and positions herself with one foot on either side of the body, she then leans over and with gargantuan strength, lifts the front end of the bed just enough for her to use her feet to push the body outwards and clear of the bed. She is careful not to make any noise as she slowly places the bed back down.
Who is this man? He seems familiar to her. She feels his pulse, no sign of life. There is no blood. Did he have a cardiac arrest? She then spots the angry red markings on his throat. Strangulation?
Anna fetches the suit jacket and goes through the pockets where she finds the dead man’s ID. A dark realization wipes across her face. Of course when you’ve never seen a person naked, it’s possible not to recognize them immediately, should you find them dead and naked under your bed. Anna turns back towards the naked corpse, “Judge Czerny, now how the fuck did you end up dead under a bed in a hotel room and what am I doing here?”
Judge Czerny had presided over one of the cases Anna had interpreted, on behalf of a plaintiff and the plaintiff had lost. Anna had secretly disagreed with Judge Czerny’s deliberation and final judgement, that still did not explain what he was he doing dead under the bed in a hotel room, with her. She had quit legal interpreting once she started modeling, almost two years had gone by.
A calmness has descended upon Anna, the initial fear has been replaced with alienation. She throws on a bathrobe and hurriedly steps out of the room, carefully and quietly shutting the door behind her. Her emotions have flattened, she has gone into automatic mode. When someone finds themselves faced with an unavoidable task, as in Anna’s case, a certain mechanical involuntary reflex kicks in.
She may have had sex with the Judge, either way her DNA was certain to be on him. She would have to shower and scrub him to make sure no trace of her could be found on his body. She would need to clean the room just as meticulously and leave Vancouver at once.
It is 5 AM, the hotel is deserted as Anna silently creeps down the hall in her bare feet, she checks and is relieved to see there are no security cameras in the hallway. She quietly makes her way to the end of the corridor where there is a storage room. She finds an empty laundry cart and hurriedly fills it with towels and bed sheets that are all neatly folded on shelves. She grabs rubber gloves and industrial strength cleaners and a scrub brush, hurriedly throwing everything into the cart.
Once she is back in the room Anna proceeds to drag the judge into the washroom. She struggles to set the body into a sitting position which is proving to be impossible. She would need to break his back to bend him. She gets an idea.
She runs out of the washroom and into the bedroom, where she grabs four decorative, weave rope, curtain holders and runs back to the washroom.
She struggles as she pulls the body up from the armpits and into the shower stall. In order to stop the body from sliding down, she leans into it hard with her own body, keeping it in place, as she proceeds to tie the judge’s wrists to the safety bars, with the curtain holders. A tub would have made the entire process so much simpler.
She puts on a pair of rubber gloves, grabs the cleaners and a brush from the cart then steps back into the shower. She begins fiercely scrubbing down the judge, using a brush which is normally used for scraping stubborn stains from floors and floorboards. She instinctively turns away when she reaches the judge’s genital area. She is relieved there is no blood, just a dead body.
Once she’s done scrubbing him from head to toe, being careful not to break his skin, she dries him. Although she had used force, the skin had not changed color, it hadn’t turned red as it would have, had he been alive. What strange thoughts are these, Anna asks herself as she hurriedly wraps the dead man’s body in the sheets. Once he is all rolled up, she ponders how to get his dead weight into the laundry basket. He is too tall to fit unless she can manage to fold part of him.
She decides to go for the knees. She rolls the dead body out of the sheets. If she can manage to get the knees in a praying position, it would work. Luckily for Anna, in most rigor mortis cases, the manually perceptible resistance is not only related to the intensity of rigor mortis but also to total muscle mass. The judge’s legs were thin and lacking muscle mass.
Once Anna has successfully bent both legs at the knees, she proceeds to use the curtain holders to tie his legs in this position. She then wraps the body up, sets the cart on its side and rolls the stiffened corpse in, tosses in sheets and towels to conceal the corpse. The Judge’s clothes and wallet she would dispose of elsewhere along with the sheets that were on the bed.
Next she sets to the task of wiping down the room and furniture, she would leave no trace of ever having been here. Once she is done, she removes the rubber gloves and places them in the bag she will dispose of. She showers, dresses, makes the bed up with a set of clean sheets so as not to awaken any suspicion when her room is being cleaned. She grabs an overnight bag which she had brought along and quietly exits the room. It’s now 6.30 AM, she is able to safely dispose of the body and leave the hotel unseen.
What delineates good people from bad people? It is not always clear who is the aggressor and who is the victim.
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