Subsubsection: 14 October 2015 (Getting to Belize) Up Subsection: High Lord of Earth Subsubsection: 11 November 2015 (to the White Rose) 

28 October 2015 (Investigations in Belmopan)

The place is less than ten years old, built to be a new capital, but it looks like a combination of shabby and unfinished. There are groups of police or soldiers on most corners, at least in the middle of town, and everyone seems on edge. Thorfin attracts some stares; he’s the only non-human about.
The group goes to their hotel, then checks in with the embassy, where they end up talking to the “passport control officer” (who may possibly have another job). He reckons that this whole business is an unusual cover for a coup attempt by factions within the army, though he can’t say whether it’s been set up by them or whether they’re just taking advantage of it. There’s never been more than one murder per night, and the distribution seems to be fairly even across the population – though census data for the outlying poorer areas aren’t great, so it’s hard to be sure.
The group finds a tailor who can get them suitable business attire by the next day, then heads back to the hotel before curfew (sunset to sunrise). Diamond heads out by air, getting a feel for the town by night; it’s definitely not a shoot-on-sight curfew, and the few people still on the streets seem to get by with bribes to the cops and soldiers. There are even one or two bars still open, though they’re trying to keep it vaguely deniable. Stephen watches what he can see of the town from the hotel window; the police and soldiers are standing on street corners in groups of three or four rather than patrolling. While there may be a heavy mob waiting in the wings, they’re not being obvious about it.
The next day, the team collects their new clothes and heads for the mortuary to try to get a look at the bodies. The policeman on the front desk is clearly reluctant to let them in, even when suitably bribed, but when they mention talking to one of the medical examiners he offers to introduce them instead to Detective Musa, who’s handling the matter. Musa is a plain-clothes man, and initially unwelcoming, but when Thorfin agrees to share what information they have so far (and confirmed that the group does not consist of reporters) he opens up a little over lunch.
Musa has interviewed witnesses whom he would regard as reliable, who’ve seen the walking corpses. He reckons that there’s been an excessive number of missing persons (as distinct from murders), concentrated to the north-western side of the city. The general assumption is some sort of variant of voodoo, but his gut feeling says it’s something else. Charles Borren, at the Belize Free Press, is a reliable witness who should be happy to talk about his experiences.
After lunch he takes the team to the mortuary, where they examine the body of a man in his mid to late twenties. The initial chest wounds (the cause of death) seem fairly crude, though the actual removal of the heart was done more carefully. There are minimal defensive marks, and examining the man’s clothing shows that it was cut through rather than removed.
As they leave the mortuary, Stephen spots a couple of men in a faded blue car who seem to be keeping an eye on the group; he reckons they’re probably military rather than police. The Free Press is just across the road, so they head there next; the young man at the front desk is reading a lurid novel about “espías”, but straightens up as they approach. He hesitates a little when they ask for Charles Borren, but calls for “his boss” to come and help them. This turns out to be Enrique Carmina, who shows them into his office; he clearly doesn’t want to give out information for nothing, but is happy to trade. Charlie said he’d seen something strange to the north-west, near a rubbish dump site. He’d been doing some research for a piece about the slums when he came across a group of people surrounding a large bonfire, chanting in a language he didn’t recognise. Carmine reckons that this sounds like one of the local voodoo variants.
A few days later, two weeks ago now, Charlie disappeared, saying he was taking a few weeks off do to some thinking – but Carmina thinks he may have been abducted by the voodoo gang. The police are conducting an investigation.
The team’s thinking about going to that rubbish dump, but first they want to take a look at Borren’s flat, which turns out to be a dubiously-legal fourth-floor space accessible by an outside staircase. There are two cars shadowing them now, though they’re both of the same model.There’s a milk-based life form in the fridge that suggests Borren didn’t plan his departure; the place is messy, but in a lived-in way, not ripped apart as though by a search. There are some notebooks dealing with a social story about the slum dwellers, but no mention of the zombie problem; the last entry is three or four days before he vanished. There are some photos of the people he interviewed, and a couple of rolls of undeveloped film which Stephen snags and passes to Diamond. Stephen, Thorfin and David leave by the stairs, while Diamond flies from a window on the far side of the building, landing a few streets away before she’s spotted and then sneaking around to the chemist where she can get the films developed (they’ll be ready tomorrow).
When everyone meets again at the hotel, they find that small fires have been lit on their beds; there’s no major damage, but the staff are worried when they’re told about it. With a bit of persuasion, they say that this sort of thing is a warning from the secret police (military intelligence): “next time we could damage something you care about”.
 Subsubsection: 14 October 2015 (Getting to Belize) Up Subsection: High Lord of Earth Subsubsection: 11 November 2015 (to the White Rose)