Just Me Again

Summary: Now and then, a detective awakens to find his own dead, naked body somewhere in his house.

Detective Justin Daniels never had reason to explore forensic pathology until he found his own body last year. Before then, the only exposure to fatal crime he had been exposed to in the small Washington town he lived in was a domestic case. He had arrived to examine the house where a drunken man had strangled his wife to death, and then crudely tried to dismember the body. The scenes from that bathroom had been enough to send him to therapy for a year.

As he dragged another stiff into his tub, Detective Daniels reflected how much that had changed. A year ago, he awoke to find a naked doppelganger with his exact same hair, face, and body lying on the sofa. Despite aiming his sidearm at the body for a long minute, he overcame his apprehension to feel the lack of a pulse in his neck. He first thought it was some practical joke, but the fact the body had the same scar on his middle finger that he bore since a childhood whittling accident was enough to give him second thoughts. The disconcerting lack of cause of death was another.

Detective Daniels had kept the body under an old mattress cover in his basement until it started to stink. He took DNA samples, which all came back identical to him from the lab. Unsure of why a dead clone of himself would be lying dead on his sofa, he decided to dispose of the body. One trip into the deep woods later, the source of his problems rested in a shallow grave beside a river.

The next body came a month after that, only this one was sitting on the toilet. Daniels' dismay only grew after the corpse refused to disappear after splashing his face in cold water. He approached the second one more scientifically, taking more samples of it, and comparing his dental records against it. Like before, the body was an exact match in all ways he suspected, and some he didn't, such as having exactly the same fillings in his teeth.

Daniels began looking up case files on murders where bodies had been found, and resolved not to make those mistakes. He started hunting casually, so his purchase of skinning tools would not attract undue attention. He started taking regular excursions into the woods for hiking. He started learning where people did and did not go, and where bears, wolves, mountain lions, and other carnivores lived. Bits of the second body had been left reduced to chum, his gift to nature's carrion eaters. When the third one showed up after that, Daniels looked into pickling corpses in acid before dismembering them. As a result, they were a fine slurry he could pour down the drain.

Daniels sometimes wondered about their origin, but he had no means to test his hypotheses. The bodies simply appeared in random places around his house, even when all the windows and doors were locked and the burglar alarm was set. He wondered if perhaps he could donate the organs or blood, but it would be hard to explain why he had an unlimited supply of hearts, lungs, and kidneys to the nearby hospital. He wondered if he should break the law, by selling the remains to organ traffickers, where at least the organs would do some good.

Daniels got a scare when he was sent out on a particular call. A hiker had found a human skeleton in the woods near the river, and he knew exactly where the bone was from. Fortunately, scavengers had already made off with most of the remains, and a few broken bones were left by the time he got there. Due to being the first on scene, he took what samples he could, but he could not stop the forensic investigators from doing genetic tests on what non-contaminated tissue they found. He was later disciplined for contaminating the scene with his genetic material, and the John Doe case remained unsolved.