Black Slug

Image 06 Meanwhile at the harbour: Michael Chan is having a difficult time getting the information Sunny has asked him to retrieve. A lot of the boatmen in Tristram’s Bay think of themselves as sea farers, not land dwellers, and as such believe that they have extra rights and freedoms – mainly to not be interfered with by the land dweller’s institutions and regulations. It all harks back to an old Cornish belief that they have descended from Celts, not Anglo-Saxons – and so, to a man like Gandalf, the record keeper for the harbour, a policeman coming in and asking for everybody’s information is a form of imperialist invasion. He is outright refusing to comply without a warrant; dead girl or not.

Carter pulls up to the gate of the Jones’ property in a patrol car and pips. Sunny opens his eyes, smiles gratefully at the view, stands up and walks over to the vehicle in a casual and satisfied way.

“Remind me never to go on a walk with you again,” says Carter.

“Walking is good for the soul.”

“It isn’t good for my knees.”

Sunny laughs and gets into the car.

“You should try yoga.”

Carter lifts an eyebrow at him and represses a smile.

“Any revelations whilst you were sitting on the grass?”

“Only that cat’s eyes reflect light. They don’t create it. So, if the light was my own, perhaps the force that my intuition perceived was actually a great darkness, cloaking itself behind the reflection.”

“I’m sorry I asked.”

“Tell me, Carter. What do you think it says about a person if their cat is fat?”

“They love their cat too much?”

“Or that they need love from their cat too much?”


“Interesting, isn’t it?”

"But not particularly relevant."

"Everything is relevant. Everything."

They drive up the Northern peak as far as the road goes and then park with the other police vehicles and set off to the crime scene on foot. They traverse the woods along a half-trodden path to an opening on the town-facing side of the peak; the spot where Sarah Jones was found dead.

“Wow,” says Sunny, looking out over the bay. “It’s just view after view in this town. Sublime.”

He moves to the place where the corpse lay two days earlier. Two men in white jumpsuits walk away from their careful analysis, knowing from experience that their detectives like to think that they're solving the case all on their own.

“There’s no blood on the ground,” says Sunny.

“No blood,” confirms Carter.

“Curious. Can I see a picture of her? As she was found.”

“Now you want to look at the file?”

“Just a picture.”

Carter takes a brown file full of photographs out of her police satchel and passes a picture to Sunny. In the image, Sarah is naked with her arms out at right angles and her ankles crossed. Her face is aloft, her eyes closed and her lips and eyelids blue. There are no visible puncture wounds, no bruises and no signs of struggle. Sunny rubs his chin, passes the photo back and sits cross-legged by a little yellow flag marked “A”.

“More meditation?” asks Carter.

“At this stage, it’s an important part of my process.”

Sunny clears his mind, closes his eyes and begins to meditate, guiding his inner eye to the image of Sarah Jones’ corpse. Once he has found her, he imbibes her with life. She floats in his mind’s eye, flirting and provocative in her nakedness. “Your beauty is a powerful tool,” says Sunny’s inner voice, “but why do you come to use it on me?” At this, Sarah’s face spasms and explodes into eight ugly jelly legs which expand and then shrink. A slimey black hood scoops up over her back, swallowing her and the now hundreds of tiny jelly legs that are growing from her front. She flops down, transformed into a giant black slug. Two antennae protrude from her head. She taps them on the floor, begins to turn away and leaves a gooey trail behind her.

“Gooey trail,” says Sunny, opening his eyes, returning from his meditative state.

“What’s that?” asks Carter, looking down at the empty space where the body was – where a young woman’s life was taken away.

Sunny stands up.

“Carter, I do not believe that the motive was sexual.”

“She was dumped naked in the woods. That’s not male violence to you?”

“No,” says Sunny, getting down on his hands and knees, carefully scrutinising the ground.

As Sunny’s head moves closer to the grass Carter gets impatient.

“What is it you’re looking for that you think my guys and your guys haven’t found?”

“A black slug.”

“A slug? How did you know about the slug? You said you didn’t read the file.”

Sunny's eyes catch the glimmer of a trail on a single blade of grass.

“You know of a slug?”

“Have you been lying to me? Did you read the file or not?”

“I told you, I don't read files. They obscure the facts.”

“Sunny, I’m serious. How did you know? We haven’t released that information to anybody. It’s in the file we sent to you. Nowhere else. No one else knows.”

Sunny retrieves a rubber glove from his pocket, puts it on his right hand with professional ease and a little elastic snap. He takes out a pair of tweezers from his inside jacket pocket and then carefully pinches up the shiny blade of grass. He stands up and holds the blade up to the sun.

“I have no idea,” he says. “My guided meditation seems exceptionally clear up here.”

“But you knew there was a slug. A slug.”

“Perhaps my mind’s eye had seen the trails before I sat down. Are there any signs of them in the photograph?”

“She did have trails on her arms," says Carter, taking the photograph back out of the file and looking at it carefully. "But you can't really see them here... It was in her left hand. The black slug.”

“In her hand? Dormant?”

“Yes,” says Carter. “Dead. And there was another one in her right hand. A yellow one.”

“A yellow one, you say? Interesting.”

“Why is that interesting?” asks Carter.

“I didn’t see a yellow slug.”

“But you saw a slug.”

“Yes a big black slug, as big as Sarah herself. Consuming her, actually… Black and yellow. Black and yellow.”

“Sunny, you’re beginning to creep me out.”

“You,” he says, pointing at a young man in a white jumpsuit with MCB stamped on it. “I want to you take samples of the substance on this blade of grass. Check it for poisons.”

“What kind of poisons, sir?” he asks, dutifully presenting a sample bag for Sunny to drop the grass into.

“I’m not sure. Is there such a thing as a poisonous slug?”

The young man shrugs, sealing up the evidence bag.

“Find out if there is. If not, just check it for poisons, any poisons.”

The young man looks at the blade of grass in the plastic baggie.

“Not much to go on, sir. We’ll only be able to do a couple of tests.”

“Just do what you can,” says Carter.

The young man nods and goes back to his kit bag.

“You think she was poisoned?”

“I don’t know what to think. But I do know that some kind of ritual has taken place here. Look up there, the way those branches are twisted, and the notches on that tree trunk over there.”

Carter looks up.

“Can we get these branches dusted for prints?” she calls out.

The two men displaced from their work by Carter and Sunny's arrival quickly move into place beneath the tree and start pointing up at them.

“That won’t work,” says Sunny.

“It’s worth a try.”

“Do you know the thing about rituals, Carter?”


“They occur inside of a system of belief. The individual or the group of individuals who murdered this girl were following rules. We have to find out what those rules were.”

“You think it was some kind of cult?”

“I don’t know. Was all the grass stepped on like this when you first arrived?”

“Hard to say. It was dark.”

“Can you take me to see the body?”


“A black slug,” he says. "Amazing."

Carter flashes a suspicious glance at him.

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