• Published 24th Aug 2012
  • 5,169 Views, 238 Comments

Murder on the Mind - totallynotabrony



Vampire Cheerilee tracks down a serial killer

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Chapter 2

Upstairs in the apartment building was the room where the murder had taken place. Cheerilee had seen a few pictures from the investigation report. It was less a killing and more of a slaughter. Blood decorated everything, and the victim had been partially dismembered. Nothing like it had been seen in Fillydelphia, or for that matter in all of Equestria, for quite a long time. The tabloids were still talking about it, close to a month later. There were no suspects, and no reasonable motive.

The door to the apartment hung open. Like the rest of the building, it was in the process of renovation. The stains had been removed, but Cheerilee detected the faint odor of old blood. After so long, however, it was unlikely that she would find anything the investigators had missed. The construction certainly didn’t help.

With a sigh, the schoolteacher made her way back to the window she’d entered through and quietly left the building.

On her way back home, Cheerilee happened across a sickly cat that was nosing around in a garbage can. It did not appear to be housebroken, and certainly wasn’t healthy. While not Cheerilee’s choice for a meal, blood was blood.

The animal did not struggle much. The pony carefully broke the cat’s neck beforehand to minimize any pain suffered.

Morals and vampiric feeding habits often clashed, but Cheerilee had learned to live with herself. It was all about frame of mind. Even now, she was still learning things about her capabilities that she would have never thought possible.

Deciding to take a different route home, Cheerilee glanced at a fire escape that hung one story above street level. She sprang up and landed on the platform silently. The next level was a similar jump, and after a few more leaps she made it onto the roof of the building.

There was a moderate breeze that high up, and Cheerilee glanced at the quarter moon. It wasn’t as dark as she would have prefered, so she would have to move faster to stay out of sight.

Cheerilee took off at a sprint and easily managed to clear the gap to the next building. It was simply a matter of getting the right timing in order to to jump roof-to-roof as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The schoolteacher enjoyed the wind on her face for a moment. While she considered herself cursed, there were a few upsides to her condition, like speed and power. The expense account Princess Luna had authorized didn’t hurt, either.

Still, if given a choice, Cheerilee would rather go back to being just a teacher. It was what she’d gotten her cutie mark for, after all. It would be wonderful to walk into a classroom full of students and not see a buffet.

▼▼

“Any evidence that might have been there was wiped away by the construction,” Cheerilee said, not making eye contact.

From the other side of the mirror, Princess Luna nodded. “You’ve never failed to get results eventually, Cheerilee. Just keep working.”

The schoolteacher nodded. In the past, Luna’s reassurance had turned around her mood more than once. She didn’t know how the Princess maintained her composure so solidly. Perhaps it came with Luna’s millennia of experience. Cheerilee wondered if she would also gain such ability. After all, vampires did not die of old age.

“I know what I want to check next,” said Cheerilee. “I’ll do it tonight.”

Luna smiled. “Very well. Have a good day at school.”

“Thank you, Princess.” Cheerilee bid Luna goodbye and put down the mirror, turning to leave the house. The sun was just over the horizon, and she slipped on a pair of sunglasses for the walk to school.

Note was again the first student to come in in the door. He took his seat quietly and opened a book. Cheerilee remembered that during introductions the day before, the young pony had said that he enjoyed reading.

“What book is that?” Cheerilee asked.

Note glanced up. “Oh, it’s a directory of historic sites in Equestria.”

Cheerilee knew it was not typical reading material for a pony his age. “You like history?”

“Well, maybe not so much, but it gives me ideas.” Note appeared to be opening up a little.

“What sort of ideas?” said Cheerilee, continuing the conversation.

The young stallion suddenly looked like he regretted what he had said. “I, uh, write. Historical fantasy, mostly.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” the teacher reassured him. “You can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.”

Note nodded, and ducked his head back down to the book, apparently wishing Cheerilee wouldn’t ask him any more questions.

More students entered, and an older stallion poked his head into the room. “Ms. Cheerilee?”

The mare smiled. “Hello Dr. Beat. Please come in.”

The students were unused to visitors in the classroom, and hurried to their seats to see what would happen next. Cheerilee introduced the doctor. “We’re going to continue talking about health, but today we have a guest.”

Dr. Beat somehow managed to summarize the field of cardiology into just a few sentences. He smiled and held up a stethoscope. “I’m sure you’ve all seen one of these before. Does anypony know why it’s important to listen to a heartbeat?”

A mare that Cheerilee remember was named Golden Ring responded. “It’s an easy way to tell if the heart is working right.”

“That’s right.” The doctor turned to Cheerilee. “Could you help me for a moment?”

“Sure,” she responded, unable to think of an excuse quickly enough. Dr. Beat put the tubes of the stethoscope in his ears and applied the receiver to Cheerilee’s chest.

“That’s rather muffled.” The doctor frowned and turned to the class. “That’s what I get for turning my music up when I was a colt.”

The sudents roared with laughter. Dr. Beat turned away, putting away the stethoscope. He was apparently as deaf as he said, because he failed to notice Cheerilee’s heartbeat was artificial.

While Twilight was searching through her library, she’d discovered that vampires were anaerobic, without need for air. With no reason to breathe, there was also no reason to circulate blood. It was only by careful control of certain muscles that Cheerilee could simulate the sound and feel of a beating heart in her chest.

The doctor went on to explain the basics of the cardiovascular system and what was required to keep it functioning well. When he was finished, Cheerilee and the students bid him goodbye and resumed their normal lesson plan. The teacher observed Note talking to Golden Ring about something, but she seemed disinterested.

Blossom stopped by at lunchtime. Cheerilee was sitting quietly at her desk, contemplating the gift basket that had been dropped off a few minutes before. It contained some fruit and sweets, along with a card welcoming her to the school.

“Oh, I remember when I started here and they gave me one of those!” exclaimed Blossom. “It’s all great stuff.” Cheerilee smiled. “I’m sure. I’ll have to hide this or the students will be distracted all afternoon.”

Blossom watched her place the basket in a desk drawer. “A couple of us are having a night on the town Saturday evening. I’d like to invite you.”

Cheerilee thought about it. A single evening’s work could be significant to her hunt for the killer. There was no guarantee of that, though. Also, she might be spending the next few years in Fillydelphia. It wouldn’t do to make everypony think she was a shut-in so quickly after arriving.

“Sure,” she told Blossom. “I’ll come.”

The other teacher’s face lit up. “Great! I’ll see you then!”

Cheerilee sighed as Blossom left. Saturday was tomorrow. She had one day to figure out how to graciously to get out of the invitation without drawing suspicion.

▼▼

Night had fallen and Cheerilee was on the move again. Her destination for the evening was a small house in a nicer part of the city. The previous resident had died suddenly, apparently from a fall.

The pictures from the incident showed a lot of blood. The old mare that had lived there had certainly gone out in dramatic fashion. The report showed that she’d hit her head on the sharp corner of a kitchen counter - or perhaps had been pushed.

The house was dark as Cheerilee approached. She circled slowly, looking for an entrance. There were several windows open on the second floor. She bent her legs carefully and explosively leaped to the porch roof, landing lightly.

The closest window was on the sheer side of the house. Cheerilee jumped up to the next part of the roof. She set her hooves on the edge of the shingles and swung down through the open window.

It was a bedroom. There were several boxes stacked around as if somepony was in the process of moving in or out. There was also a foal sleeping under the bedsheets.

Cheerilee froze, thankful for the thick carpet that muffled her entrance. It was hard to believe a family would move in so quickly after a gruesome death.

Moving carefully, Cheerilee left the room. The floor outside was hardwood. She had the patience to move slowly enough to negate any sound. Checking the other rooms, she discovered another young pony and two parents.

While the stallion and the mare slept, Cheerilee stealthily went through their drawers. They turned out to be Mr. and Mrs. Handy. They operated a hardware store a few blocks away.

Leaving the two sleeping ponies, the schoolteacher crept downstairs to inspect the kitchen. The smell of cleaning supplies was strong, but there was a faint scent of blood still left.

Cheerilee didn’t want to doubt the Princess’ information, but an unfortunate fall onto a sharp surface could have been the explanation for the incident. However, the wound the victim had sustained was massive, and something about it made her feel that an accident was not responsible.

After a moment’s thought, Cheerilee unlocked a downstairs window and slipped out, closing it behind her. She had a plan, but needed to pick up a few things first.

Back at her house, the mare collected a sponge, a bucket, and soap. The Handys might notice if she used their cleaning supplies. She also took Princess Luna’s mirror.

Arriving in the early morning, Cheerilee squeezed her way under a bush in the Handys’ backyard. It was a tight, scratchy fit, but she needed to be able to watch the house.

For several hours, nothing happened. The sun slowly rose, and along the street ponies began to wake up. Cheerilee heard the small noises as they got ready for Saturday.

The mare wasn’t carrying a timepiece, but she estimated that at about eight o’clock the Handy family exited the house. The husband and wife kissed and went their separate ways, the children going with the mother. It was exactly what Cheerilee had been hoping for.

She pulled herself out from under the bush and approached the house. The window she’d exited earlier was still unlocked and it was easy to get inside.

In the kitchen, Cheerilee set her supplies down. She carefully examined the corner where the previous owner of the house had impacted. Judging the angles, the mare got into position and let herself fall.

The skin on the back of her head tore, but the skull held its shape. Cheerilee slid to the floor, clenching her teeth against the pain. She turned to look at the mirror. Even to an old mare, it would not have been a fatal injury. Sighing, she picked herself up. The damaged flesh and tissue began to knit itself back together.

For her next attempt, Cheerilee kicked out her feet, as if slipping. It produced a harder impact. On inspection, however, she had only received a mild skull fracture.

Cheerilee grimaced and pushed the mirror away. She could keep going as long as her body kept healing itself, but that didn’t make her task any less pleasant.

She tried falling from a chair and a flying leap, both activities that seemed unlikely for an elderly pony to have performed, but produced a more damaging injury. The method that came the closest, however, was when she simply slammed her head against the corner as if cracking a walnut.

Cheerilee dragged herself to the mirror. The wound certainly looked close to what she’d seen in the pictures, complete with shards of bone and exposed brain material. She put her face down on the floor for a moment, resting.

When it felt like she could stand again, Cheerilee slowly got up. The experiment had been a success, but the results were troubling. Whoever the murder was, they’d used a lot of force on the victim. Cheerilee wasn’t sure if that indicated a crime of anger or sadism.

She was able to mop up the obvious gore with her tongue. The cleaning supplies helped sanitize the rest. The corner looked somewhat worse for wear, but that was too bad.

Cheerilee let herself out and headed home to prepare for meeting with Blossom and her friends. The schoolteacher groaned. She’d rather have her skull cracked open.