“How does it end?”
“I don’t know. I never do. I just write and it comes to me along the way.”
“I don’t understand. How can you do that? Don’t you do an outline or something?” Renata asks, taking a long slow drag on her Gitane. The blue smoke hangs in the air above their table outside Le Café Marly.
“That would be no fun.” Inspector V strokes his goatee and sips his espresso. “I like to be surprised.”
Renata gazes up at the cloudless blue sky, unusual for Paris this time of year. The sweet scent of honeysuckle drifts by. “But you’re a bestselling author. I don’t get it.”
“When I sit down to write I never know what’s going to come out. It’s like I’m in a trance and the pen moves on its own.” V says.
“You’re a strange man.”
“I think the stories bubble up from my subconscious. That’s why I write in the mornings, closer to my dreams.”
“You also write early in the morning because you work for the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Intérieure. What are you working on today?”
“You mean what are we working on today. That’s why you’re here and why I asked DHS Director Little for your help. We have another reported suicide. The victim called 112 and she claimed to be possessed just before blowing her brains out with a .38.
“How many does that make this week, six?”
“Actually eight. This is an epidemic and it’s different, something really evil. I believe it’s bodyjacking,” V says.
“Bodyjacking? My specialty is forensic psychiatry. I was in the middle of a terrorist investigation in DC when I got yanked away for this. Besides, I’m not sure how I can help.”
“My apologies for the inconvenience. Mademoiselle.” V’s sarcasm is not subtle. He puts down his cup and leans forward, “Bodyjacking is when another soul, usually of someone who’s dead, takes over the body and mind of an unwilling victim. The idea goes back to the classic story of the Golem, a soul in another’s body.”
“Sounds like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
“Very different, actually. These are not aliens, they’re other humans stealing and taking over these bodies. It gets worse. We believe that there is a criminal or terrorist organization behind this whole scheme.”
“But why suicide? I don’t get it. If somebody carjacks a car, they don’t get out and destroy the car. They either sell or enjoy the car they stole.”
“That may be true in some cases. Those we can’t track — the living are still out there. We can only detect and report on those who have died. And in most cases, like these, it’s suicide.”
“OK, I’ll ask again, why suicide?”
“Our experts’ theory is that there is some kind of conflict, like a multiple personality disorder. The body’s owner fights the invading personality until she can’t stand it any longer and offs herself. Now you know why you are here.” V’s phone vibrates. He checks the screen. “We must go. May have a lead on the lab where they hold the bodies and implant the new souls. This may be the break we have been waiting for. Allons-y.”
Renata stubs out her cigarette and heads for the Renault. V drops 10 euros on the table and jogs behind her. “OK, I’m in,” Renata says. “This lab — is it like a chop shop?”
“Yeah, except it’s bodies, not cars. In these suicide cases, like the Golem, it’s the wrong soul in the wrong body,” V says.
They head down the Rue de Tivoli towards Sartrouville. Renata thumbs through the case files V had given her. She closes the files and studies V’s crevassed face. ”Let me ask you a question. Based on what you were telling me before about feeling possessed when you write, how do I know you haven’t been bodyjacked?” Renata says.
V grins, “You don’t. But maybe that’s why I’m a good writer.”
– END –