The Book of Enoch
Chapter 5 – Autopsy
Beth’s phone rang four times before she finally slipped out of sleep enough to realize it and picked up the receiver.
“Detective LaHeron,” she said, her voice choking a bit. She had taken naps at her desk before, but lately she just couldn’t seem to get enough sleep.
“Hey, Beth. It’s Larry Stiles. You said you wanted a call as soon as the autopsy was completed?”
She forced herself fully awake. “Yes. Is it done?”
“Yeah, do you want me to send the report to you? It’s kinda weird.”
“No, I’ll come pick it up. I may have some questions. You still at the lab?”
“Yup. I’ll wait for you then.”
The hike down to the south side of the station gave her a moment to prepare herself. She really hated the crime lab, but it was part of the job, and frankly something she couldn’t do without. Mostly, it was the smell. Formaldehyde gave her nightmares.
Larry was waiting for her just outside the door, and having done work with her before, handed her a mask and a pair of latex gloves as they went in. She had to stop for a moment and steel herself before walking into the autopsy room. Sister Laura Clemens’ body was laying on the table, mostly covered.
“Okay Stiles, what have you got for me.”
“Well, not a whole lot, which is itself something since this is a rape case. There was vaginal stretching consistent with multiple rapes, but no semen. Either the guy or guys were wearing condoms and disposed of them, or never got off.”
“What about other DNA?”
The tech sighed. “That’s another odd thing. You would have thought that a gang bang in a pool of lubricant would have left a little debris, a hair, some flakes of skin… something. But aside from the girl’s, the only other DNA found was very old stuff from the previous tenant, and he checks out.”
“Nada. The junk in the tub pretty much made anything on her disappear, and there was nothing on the surface of the tub save for hers.”
“Damn, is that it then?
“Almost,” he said brightening. “There were some pressure marks on her arms and legs. Too big for ropes. Maybe a large plastic hose of some kind. She was definitely restrained though. The real clincher is the cause of death. Care to take a guess?”
“Nope, get this…. She drowned. That and overheating.”
“Huh? Was the lubricant heated or something?” Beth was glad she had passed on breakfast that morning a she looked down on the dead nun.
“It might have been warm, but mostly from her own body heat. No, the temperature rise was caused by muscle fatigue. She must have been struggling for a really long time. When you exercise really hard, your muscles start producing lactic acid. Normally your body can remove the stuff when you rest, but if you keep on going it can build up and actually become toxic. That’s one of the reasons you get cramps on a run. Push it hard enough and you could theoretically kill yourself except that your body would shut you down by overheating long before it reaches that level. By looking at the level of lactic acid in her tissues, we can somewhat determine how hard she was exerting herself when she died. Our subject here must have been really fighting, right to the end.”
Beth frowned. “So what about the drowning?”
The technician grinned and moved to the top of the table where the girl’s head would be. She fervently hoped that he wasn’t going to show her something under the sheet. She wasn’t sure she could handle seeing a dissected head that morning.
“It wasn’t the lubricant that she drowned in.”
Beth looked up at the tech. “Come again?”
“This girl literally drown in her own bodily fluids. There’s a condition known as hyponatremia that occurs when the the sodium concentration in the plasma drops too low. Normally you only see it in long-distance runners and the like who try to overcompensate for heat exhaustion with a lot of extra water intake. But in our case, the cause is slightly more interesting… or rather, stimulating.”
“You lost me, Stiles.” She could tell the man was enjoying this part of his job. She figured it was better to allow the guy his moment rather than question the appropriateness of his rather jovial mood.
“Okay… hyponatremia can be brought on by excessive water intake during exercise, which we already know was going on… not the water, the exertion. But it can also be triggered by the presence of a certain hormone known as oxytocin, which is released during human orgasm. It’s thought to be involved in bonding and lactation, among other things. Normally, it has a shelf-life of about three hours in the blood stream, and in the quantities found during normal sexual activity is harmless. But traces found in the blood of our nun here indicate that her oxytocin level was approximately thirty times high average at the time of death.”
“Whoa…” exclaimed Beth, looking back to the sheet covered figure on the table.
“Regardless of the situation, this girl was seriously getting happy when she died, if you understand me.”
She considered that. “Stiles, just how much sex are we talking about here? I mean, how many times would she need to have an orgasm in order to generate those levels?”
The tech shook his head. “It would have to be a lot. A hundred maybe, possibly more. There aren’t a lot of cases, obviously. And the ones that do exist are always caused because of an imbalance or malfunction of the hormone system. But that’s not what was going on here.”
“A hundred orgasms? Shit… How long would that even take?”
“Well, assuming that you could even have them as often as every two or three minutes, that would still be three, maybe four hours of continuous stimulation.”
“Oh my god!”
“Yeah. I suppose if you had to choose a way to go…”
Beth turned back to the technician with a slightly disgusted look on her face. Internally, however, she was thinking something similar.
“What about the lubricant itself. The lab said it wasn’t anything they recognized, but that it seemed organic. Did it effect her body in any way?”
“Not really. The stuff is remarkably inert. It’s also slippery as hell. But it would make for a really fun bath.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s about it, the rest is in the file.”
Beth sighed. Another dead end… unless… “Hey, where would you go to get that lubricant?”
The technician’s brows rose and hey eyed her more appreciatively. “You looking to do a little… private research, Detective?”
“You wish. No, I thought it might be a lead.”
“Like you said, it’s organic.”
She frowned. “So… what? Did it grow out of the walls or something?”
He just shrugged his shoulders. “Who knows. All I can tell you is that it’s not man-made. There’s a similar product sold in some sex shops, but it’s cellulose-based. Kinda hard to get in the U.S., but I might have a contact if you’re interested.”
“Get your head out of the gutter, Stiles. Damn. I was really hoping for a break.”
“Sorry to disappoint.”
“Don’t worry about it, it’s not your fault. This is a really weird case.”
“That’s for sure.”
“Thanks, Larry.” With that, she left the lab, tossing the gloves and mask in the bio-hazard bin on the way out. She’d need a shower to get the smell out of her hair, but the oily feeling she had picked up staring at the nun’s covered corpse would take more than a little soap and water to remove.