The Lorelei Signal
Sigyn Hanta and
Brownwyn Dulcea Speranza
Written by Patrick S. Baker / Artwork by Lee Ann Barlow
“Cause of death?” Detective First Grade Sigyn Hanta asked the medical examiner, Guzman, as they looked down at the young man’s dead body. It lay on the sidewalk of a quiet street, sightlessly eyes pointed skyward. The three-inch wide circular hole in the chest the only obvious trauma.
“Gaping chest wound is my prelim finding. Once the autopsy is done, I’ll know more.” Guzman responded flatly.
“Like the others?”
“Yes, as far as I can tell. If this is the same weapon, then my answer is the same; a silver blade with a spiral pattern about eight-inches long. Can I take him away now?”
“Sure,” Sigyn said.
“Avi,” the detective turned to Goldman, the uniformed sergeant in charge of the scene.
“Yep, Robert Holder, twenty-six years-old, about forty in cash, cards and ID still on the body.” The sergeant went on to describe how his officers had secured, and searched the crime scene and what they found.
“Hoof-prints?” Diane asked.
“Yep. A cowboy vigilante?” Goldman asked.
“If he used a Colt, maybe. But he stabs them instead.”
“Literally a white knight?”
“Hopefully someone would notice that,” she said.
“At least we have a witness this time,” Goldman pointed to the young woman sitting on the curb a few yards away, with a watchful female officer.
“I’ll talk to her. Run our victim.”
Sigyn strode over to the witness. She was aware her size; six-foot-one and 170 pounds of muscle tended to intimidate people. So she sat on the curb to make the witness as comfortable as possible.
“I’m Detective Hanta,” she introduced herself. “Do you mind if I ask you some questions? While Officer Caldwell sits with us?” Sigyn indicted the uniformed officer.
“No, I guess you kinda have to. I’m Virginia Logan, my friends call me Ginny.”
“Can you tell me what happened, Ginny?”
“I was on a date with Rob. I’m only seventeen, I’m not supposed to see guys as old as him…” the teen started to tremble.
Sigyn put her hand on the girl’s shoulder and told her to go on.
“We had a pretty good time. The restaurant was nice, the Cellar Bistro, it’s just across the park. I even had some wine, though I know I’m too young. I felt so grown-up. Anyway, it was getting late and wanted to get home, so I wouldn’t get in trouble with my mom. So we cut through the park. My house is about two blocks that way.” The girl pointed. “About halfway through the park he kissed me, and I let him, then he started to grab me tight and to get rough. He grabbed my wrists when I tried to pull away.”
Ginny showed Sigyn her wrists. They were bruised.
“I kicked him hard right in the junk and broke free and ran. He chased me. I got across the street and he caught me from behind. He fell on top of me. Then he wasn’t on top of me anymore. I rolled over and saw…” the teenager’s voice trailed off.
“Saw what, Ginny?” Sigyn asked.
“You won’t believe me.”
Ginny took a deep breath. “It was a white horse. Or at least horse’s legs. I’d been crying so I couldn’t see too good. But a white horse charged by me and knocked Rob over, I guess. All I saw were white horse legs. Then the horse was gone. I yelled for help and I guess someone called 911, because it wasn’t too long before the police showed up.”
“Did you see anyone riding the horse?”
“No. Now that I think about it, I didn’t.”
“I’m going to have Officer Caldwell take you home now. Unless you want to go to the hospital to get checked out. We have your address if we need to talk more,” Sigyn said.
“Take me home, please,” Ginny said. “What am I going to tell my mom and dad? I’m a good girl.”
“I’d tell them the truth. You went out on a date, you thought he was a good guy, but he wasn’t, he tried to hurt you, but you fought him off and then the police showed up when you shouted for help.”
“That’s the truth,” Ginny said and started to weep. “He was a nice guy, but then he got mean. I was so afraid. I’ve never been with a guy. I want the first time to be special, not…”
Ginny leaned into Sigyn and she waited for the younger woman’s sobs to fade. Sigyn turned the girl over to Caldwell so the officer could drive her home.
“Our victim had a record,” Goldman told Sigyn. “Two arrests for statutory rape, both times the charges were dropped.”
“So that is three. The other two victims had been actually convicted of sexual assault.”
“So a horse-riding vigilante that targets sexual offenders. Hard to care much about the victims.”
Sigyn looked hard at Goldman.
“We don’t judge the victims. Those first two were simple murder. This one might be justifiable defense of another, but the vigilante should have stuck around.”
“Sergeant Goldman, Detective Hanta, we’ve got something,” a uniform officer named Hosten called from up the street.
The two joined the younger man as he pointed at the ground.
“See, the horse came off the street here and went through the grass into the woods,” Hosten said. “I followed the tracks to the tree line. Odd thing is the horse is rider less. It’s about twelve hundred pounds and about sixteen hands high and not in a hurry. It was traveling at the cantor, not a gallop.”
Sigyn and Goldman looked at Hosten, amazed.
“My grandfather was a guide in Arizona. I grew up around horses and learned how to do some tracking,” the younger man smiled and shrugged. “Never thought that skill would come in handy on this job.”
Sigyn got out her phone and pulled up a map of the area.
“Okay. These woods run all the way to the interstate. Goldman, get some units on the highway to block that. The rest of us will form a skirmish line and sweep the woods.”
“We should wait for more back-up,” Goldman stated.
“No, he might slip away,” Sigyn said.
Goldman nodded his agreement.
Sigyn entered the woods where Hosten said the horse had. She moved quickly. On her right was Hosten, no one was on her left. She went ten feet when she drew her Sig Sauer P220 and flipped on the tactical LED light.
A will-o-wisp shimmered, waved, and danced. Slowly it solidified into a white horse with red-roan forelock and a single silver horn. Sigyn blinked hard and shook her head. She turned to ask Hosten if he saw the unicorn. He was motionless as a statue.
The unicorn walked up to her, head down, non-threatening and nuzzled her extended weapon hand.
“This is taking place in the moment between moments,” the unicorn announced, in a soft, somehow genderless voice.
The detective holstered her weapon and thought: Either I’m dreaming or hallucinating. Or this is real and very strange. In any case, she had to handle the situation like it was real. If it was a hallucination, then no harm done. If it was reality than it had to be dealt with like reality.
“Please stand still and let me read you your rights…” Sigyn recited the Miranda rights from memory to the mythical beast.
“Did you kill three men?” Sigyn asked.
“Indeed, my maiden protectress,” the unicorn answered. “They were evil; rapists, attackers of women. I could do nothing else and nothing less. The last was going to defile a maiden, I could not let that happen.”
“How did you escape detection until now?”
“Only women who have never known a man may see me. That is how I know you’re still a maid.”
“What am I going to do with you?” Sigyn sighed. “I can’t take you into custody, but I also can’t let you keep killing people, even if they are ‘defilers’.”
“Not to worry, my warrior damsel,” the unicorn said and somehow smiled. “Now that we have met, I know my cinniuint, my destiny, is to be with you.”
“Wait a second!” Sigyn started.
The beautiful horse form shifted and danced; shrinking, changing. In a blink of the eye, the unicorn was gone and now a woman stood.
The woman was breathtaking in her sheer loveliness. Long auburn hair with a single silver streak, startling green eyes, flawless skin, full lips. She was Sigyn’s height and weight, with softer curves. Just the kind of woman the detective was attracted to.
“I am Bronwyn Dulcea Speranza,” the former unicorn said. “It means fair-breasted, sweet hopeful one.”
SIX MONTHS LATER
Unable to close the vigilante slayings, Detective Hanta-Speranza requested a transfer to the Special Victims Unit. She had a special affinity for the work, closing 90% of her cases. Her spouse, Bronwyn Speranza-Hanta, worked at a riding academy; she had a special affinity for horses.
Patrick S. Baker is a U.S. Army Veteran, and a retired Department of Defense employee. His nonfiction has appeared in New Myths Sci-Phi Journal and Medieval Warfare Magazine. His fiction has appeared in Astounding Frontiers and Broadswords and Blasters Magazine as well as the After Avalon and Uncommon Minds analogies.
In his spare time, he plays golf, reads, works out, and enjoys life with his wife, dog, and two cats.