Shanna was popular. Shanna was busty, a no-nonsense girl. Shanna had perfect hair and wore heels that made strippers proud.
Shanna fought crime, and took no prisoners.
History was inconsequential, superfluous. How she got to be a detective wasn’t important either, but she made it clear that her boss shouldn’t have hired her if he just wanted eye candy.
“I’m here for justice. Don’t make me bring it down on you.”
Yep. Shanna Dearborne was a certified badass in an undersized top. Her current prey was the pharmaceuticals industry, and through extensive investigation, she had considerable evidence that local companies and doctors were adding addictive ingredients to prescriptions. Addiction happened first, but what else could they be adding that the public didn’t know?
She had only been on the case for a few weeks, her first assignment after her promotion to detective, and possibly her last as they tried to dismiss the case altogether. She would have none of it, and people trying to dissuade her meant she was closer than ever. She could feel the heat of villainy nearby, coursing through the walls of the medical building she infiltrated that fateful night.
Well, superpowers were not the strangest thing to happen in this situation. She considered it a side effect of determination to do her job. After days of trying to make sense of the changes (physical and otherwise) after she dropped into the chemical mixing vat, Shanna came to grips with herself. She could see others’ hearts, whether pure and shining or shriveled and dark. She could see them pounding along in their daily routines, could sense who was hurting themselves and who was spreading their light to the world.
The hardest part was realizing how few pure hearts there were in this world.
Shanna didn’t like the new pink highlights in her hair. She didn’t like how her clothes didn’t seem to fit, that her chest was now bursting from her brassiere and her hips had swollen to a peach-like shape. She felt liable to snap in half, like a tree branch overburdened with snow. She couldn’t button her signature trench coat anymore. She couldn’t find jeans that suited the thinness of her legs and the swell of her rear. Those with shriveled hearts couldn’t stop making comments now, and she did her best to avoid them. They couldn’t stop her from getting to the truth of the crooked pill industry.
The hearts thing made it more difficult to tell who was the enemy, though.
So many broken hearts, inflamed with pain and abraded with regret. So many compacted, burnt little things that shined so brightly anyway. Even, other times, watching pain she never knew existed in those she loved, seeing what they had rebuilt after a foundation of mistakes. It was hard not to be distracted by every person she saw, and every one she knew. Her opinions changed, she saw darkness and cruelty in some of her acquaintances, saw a flickering glow from people who had given up. The enemy? None of them looked the same. She had to be careful.
Shanna called over Klaus.
Bookish, quiet, probably gay. She relied on him often for emotional balance and thinking things out. He had an extraordinary mind to offset her extraordinary handgun prowess. They shared glasses of white wine in her living room and she waited to open up.
“Something feels weird, recently. I feel like, ever since I had that accident at Pharmacorp… I feel like I’m seeing things.”
“Like what?” Klaus said, his fingers steepled in front of him.
“Like, a sort of judgment. I think I can see inside people, I can see who they really are. An aura, in a way.”
“Is this why you missed work last week?”
“How did you know?”
“I try to check up on you.” They worked in very different departments, Shanna sent reports over every few days. Why would he be paying so much attention?
“Yes. It was disconcerting, after noticing it. I’ve always had a level head, I think, but then I went to buy milk and caught a guy shoplifting…” She murmured her words into her wine glass, expression foggy recalling the memory, “He had such a dark heart that I just FELT like he took something. After I chased him out into the street, it turns out he hadn’t stolen anything at all. And I had hit him. I assaulted this man who had done nothing. He just looked… bad.”
“Do you think this will interfere with your work?” Klaus asked.
“I don’t know yet. It’s distracting. It’s preventing me from seeing a situation logically. Klaus, do you ever think…?” She didn’t finish, but slouched down into the couch cushions in thought. Her satin nightdress slipped up her thigh.
“Ever think what, Shanna?”
“Do you think that maybe these things happen for a reason? That maybe I’m meant for something else? Sometimes it feels like I’m doing the right thing with my life. Then others… like I’m built for entertainment. Like a puppet.”
“Has this newfound ability really changed you so much?”
Shanna sighed, “I think it has. I think I’m seeing things so differently now…”
The clock on the wall chimed eleven pm, and their attention snapped away.
“It’s getting late…”
“Yeah, you’re right…”
“I should be going…”
Through a series of quiet apologies, Klaus stepped through the door into the building’s hallway.
“I’m always here if you need me, Shanna.”
“Thank you, Klaus. Goodnight to you,” she said, turning away and beginning to close the door.
The door was still cracked, and she looked at it quizzically. Something felt wrong. Shanna peered back into the hallway just in time to see the silhouette of a masked figure leap towards her.
She braced the door to knock the stranger off balance, and he stumbled through the doorway, immediately turning back just in time to see the flying kick. Her leg swept across his neck, dragging his head to collide with the kitchen counter, which dazed him for a moment. The assailant caught Shanna’s leg and she tugged it back futilely, then flipped upside down to wrap her thighs around his head and drag him to the tile floor. They fell together, a cascade of sheer satin and coarse black fabric. Whatever weapon he had with him, she had found hers first, knocking over her purse on the counter and dragging out her police-issued Beretta. While he struggled beneath her, she arched back and delivered a sharp blow to the back of his neck, until he was slack between her taut legs.
The intruder had the slowly beating heart of a dark brutal life, but as she caught her breath and adjusted her nightie, she knew they wanted to silence her. That means she’s getting close. Her work was just beginning.