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Back on Main the next morning my clothes were spectacular, my hair extra spiky and all was well with the world. Except that the hyperdrive was still off-line, we were one stiff away from losing the Earth feed forever and there was a murderer on the loose. But, as they say, every cloud has its hi ho silver lining, and my horizon shone like a flying V Gibson in mother-of-pearl and chrome.

All I needed was confirmation from Twig.

A confirmation that came through an hour later.

"How did you know?" she asked.

I love it when people ask me that.

"Because I’m the Major who loves to shop."


I took the stairway down to Velvet, bopped a block or two with ‘Sweet Jane’ then switched into dénouement mode for a run-down with the perp. I was feeling great and looking even better.

External Communications looked much the same as it had the day before, minus the Kay West bag.

Two hatchling heads bobbed up as hatchling heads always do. Sometimes I think their necks are suspended by elastic from the ceiling.

"I think it’s milk break, boys. Time to leave."

They looked nervously toward their boss. I flashed my badge. They scuttled.

"I see you’ve dumped the bag, John."


"Your Kay West bag, the one you put the silver mirrors in."

"I don’t understand?"

"Heads don’t go shopping at Kay West, John. No black T-shirts. So when they buy silver mirrors they get noticed."

He hit nervous-guy mode in record time.

"I don’t know what you’re talking about."

"I’m talking about murder, John. When I see a suspect doing something out of character, I investigate. Here's your till receipt from Kay West."

I flashed the piece of paper. "One bag of silver mirrors: clothes for the decoration of. Do you want to see the video footage from the store?"

He backed away, I advanced.

"Why did you kill Christine, John?"

"I didn’t! It was Len and Vinny. They were threatening her."

"Len wouldn’t kill his own pod-sister, John."

"Len?" He looked confused. "No! Christine would have told me."

"Yeah, like everyone wants to share having Len for a pod-brother. Besides, you left Pituli oil on the mirror you planted in Pete’s hand. Nice attempt to frame Vinny but here's a tip - if you use a cloth to wipe away your fingerprints, use a clean one. Not one that's been in your pocket for half a century."

He'd gone quiet. A startled black T-shirted rabbit in the headlights of my detective genius.

"Pituli oil and skin cells," I continued. "The mirror was covered in them. Don't you ever wash your handkerchiefs? Or did you clean the mirror on the edge of your T-shirt? Your genetic data's on file. It didn't take long to find a match. But what I don't understand is why? It's got to be something to do with the Earth feed but what?"

His mouth opened and closed. I could see indecision and fear arm-wrestling for his soul. What would he do? Confess, run, blame it on the boogie?

"OK, I’ll tell you everything." The words poured out, manic and impassioned. "But just you, no one else. Understand?"

He swallowed twice, steadied himself … and hit me with the bombshell.