Io pulled back the top sheet and let it slip from her hand. There was a tinge of disappointment in everything she did. She hadn’t cleaned her teeth or brushed her hair or any of the little pre-sleep rituals women do to prepare for bed with her usual gusto. Nick knew he wasn’t a very good judge of most people’s emotions, but through their years together he could tell she was mad. No, she wouldn’t say anything or even admit to it, but it was clear she was disappointed.
She only saw the fun of the chase. Something to pass the time until we reached Mars, Nick thought. He only saw the peril. “What if the murderer is not done?” Nick thought. What if there is some list–real or imagined–that exists for this killer? What if this fiend were to discover we were investigating? Would this madman decide to add us to the list of future dead?
No, there was nothing for it. Nick could see that now. The only thing to do was to stay well clear of the whole affair. Try not to get noticed.
Nick looked up from his fraying copy of The Knight in Panther’s Skin at his wife. Damn.
“I’m not wearing a deerstalker,” Nick said suddenly.
“I doubt you’ve got a Webley hidden in your luggage, but you’ll have to be Dr. Watson.” Io smiled, and Nick continued, “So make a record of what we do.”
Io did not speak.
“What? Now you don’t want to play Watson and Holmes?”
“Just so long as you don’t take up the violin.” She patted the bed beside her. Nick moved toward the bed putting his book on the shelf.
“Oh, no. I can, however, in a pinch play the kazoo,” Nick slid under the covers.
“I hate to tell you,” Io kissed him, “everyone can play the kazoo.”
In the morning Nick circled the habitat with a bit more vigor in his step. Who could it be? Who would be driven to murder and a murder in this fashion? To snuff out a woman’s life was one thing, but to desecrate the body and to remove select organs… that was something else altogether. Suddenly he found himself back at his berth and flung the door open.
“Right, if we’re to do this properly we must have a plan.”
Io called from the bedroom, “What?” Nick closed the door and began pacing.
“A plan. I don’t want to go blundering about guessing about who did what to whom and make a mess of everything.”
“We need access to the crew records, the background information about the passengers, and the security feeds from the day the murder took place. Data! We need data!” Io entered the sitting room.
“I can talk to the passengers and see what they know.”
“I’m not sure-” She put a finger to his lips.
“I will be discrete. I am a travel writer after all. It’s the perfect cover. I’ll just say it’s for the folks back home. Perhaps the killer will even give us a message.”
“Yes, quite,” he paused for a moment thinking, “Some serial killers want their crimes known. They want fame. They want to be understood.”
“While I’m out is there anyone else I should talk to?”
“Oh, what about?”
“Two things. Bat your pretty eyelashes at him and see if you can get him to pay us.”
“Dear! You’re becoming so mercenary.”
“Hmm. Perhaps, but if we’re going to do this I’d us to arrive on Mars in some luxury.”
“I like the way you think, my love. And the second thing I should chat with the captain about?”
“Pistols. I’d like us to arrive on Mars alive.”