A Photocopier In Reverse—Chapter 5
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I march into the morgue, take a look at the rows and rows of cubicles, and march back to the reception area to get directions to Beanbaum's body. That taken care of, I march in.

There's Harris there, and the Beanbaums, looking understandably squeamish and nervous, and Walter and Rosenthal, and a few nameless Security goons. And us, of course. All according to plan; I'm glad the mainframe caught on. Otherwise we'd have to stand here for a few minutes while everyone gathered. The perks of having to walk the longest way.

I want to give a big buildup speech. It burns in my throat. I decide to indulge myself a little.

"I bet you're all wondering why you have been called here," I begin.

Caldmann shoots me a death glare. I sigh. Time for the magic trick, I suppose. No proper buildup though. Philistines.

Without further ado, I walk over to the body and pull off its face. There are several gasps, even from the hardened Security personnel. The Beanbaums retch. Caldmann looks pale. I hold it up like some perverted identification and look down at the head. I was right. Thank god.

Rather than muscle and fat, there is another face. Not one that I've ever seen before, at least in person, but I think I can put together the pieces.

"Newman!" Rosenthal cries, and runs over to the body. "Oh Newman! Newman!"

"I'm sorry," I say, placing what I hope is a comforting hand on his shoulder. "He's dead."

"What's going on?" Diol asks, looking a little dazed. I look around. Everyone is in various stages of confusion or horror (except for Caldmann, who appears to have gotten the gist of it. Or maybe he already had…either way, he walks over to Security and starts whispering into their ears).

"What…what's going on?" Harris asks, looking hideously drawn and terminally pale.

"Oh, come on," I say. "There's no need to keep up the act."

"W-what are you talking about?" Harris whispers.

"The whole thing's fallen apart," I say. "It couldn't stand up to much of the wrong kind of scrutiny, after all."

"No…" Harris says.

The Security goons come up behind him and place restraining hands on his shoulders.

"What's going on?" Diol asks, looking between Harris and the weeping Rosenthal in confusion. I force myself to take a step back. Metaphorically. I actually step closer to Harris.

"You were right, Doctor Rosenthal," I say. "Newman was cheating. But it wasn't on you; it was on Doctor Harris here. Isn't that right?"

Harris can't even say anything at this point; his face just distends. All trace of professional composure is gone now. How must it have felt, to be forced to labor over your dead lover, knowing you were the one who did the deed, but forced to hide it? Never letting anyone see? No need for floorboards here…

"Let me guess," I say, going out on a limb. "You found out. You confronted him one night. Not in his office, no; but in his rooms. Or your rooms. In the heat of the moment. You started arguing. You felt betrayed. And then you grabbed something sharp…"

"We were cooking dinner," Harris whispers.

"A kitchen knife, then. And there you found yourself. Standing over your boyfriend, your love, knife in hand, blood everywhere…and what did you decide to do? Double down. Hide the body. How did you store it?"

"Bathtub full of ice…"

"Right. You stick it—sorry, him on ice for a few days. You prepare the office of some poor sap. I don't know how you decided on Beanbaum; maybe you already knew each other (small community, after all) and figured twins would be more effective for your purposes; maybe you knew that he and Rosenthal had dated; maybe you just chose some random office close to Newman's. And then, one night, you took Newman's body out of cold storage, swapped the name plates, and, well…"

"But what about the blood?" Diol asks.

"What about it?" I say. "Nobody ran a DNA test on it to see if it was from the victim. Why wouldn't it be? You find a corpse with its neck cut and blood behind it, you usually tend to put two and two together. It was probably animal blood. Maybe you "borrowed" some human from the blood bank. Maybe you even used your own, collected over several days. Who cares? The DNA couldn't have been hard; I'm sure there were skin flakes or hair samples in Beanbaum's office perfect for your use. You were the one collecting the samples from the corpse, after all; you made sure of it. The only difficulty must have been making the mask look convincing. How did you do it?"

Harris doesn't answer.

"Employee photos," Caldmann says. "Freely available. High quality enough, and the program can fill in the blanks. Nobody would be looking too closely, after all. Except for you."

"Right," I say. "There'd be a trail, of course; a record of the mask being printed. But who cares about some mask being printed? Even someone who could theoretically see everything might miss it. Or think it inconsequential." My phone buzzes in my pocket; I surreptitiously check it.


"There wasn't any time shenanigans, or anything interdimensional," I say. "Just a betrayed doctor, and a good 3-D printer."

The room is silent. A printer is just a photocopier in reverse pops into my head, and I have to bite down the urge to laugh.

Harris starts crying. I feel for him. I really do. Security leads him out of the room. Rosenthal still sobs quietly over the body. Everyone else is silent. Stunned, I hope.

The case is solved, justice is served. What more can be said?

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