Issue 1 Review

Midnight Nation 1 Synopsis

"Living in the Material World"

Lieutenant Grey takes in the crime scene with clinical attention to detail. The young black man was shot through the heart execution style in an alley. Grey is disturbed by the rainwater pooling in the open, unblinking eyes.

An officer informs him that the medical examiner's office will not arrive for another twenty minutes. This will make it even more difficult to determine the time of death. The rain has already washed away most of the evidence.

Grey questions the officer about the bystanders. The officer says one person claims to have heard a gunshot at two o'clock. Grey reprimands the officer for not taking the claim more seriously. Often the first lead the police get is from the killer himself hoping to mislead them.

Grey memorizes the crime scene and muses about the bystanders who are enjoying the show. As he moves off down the street he is signaled by a flashlight in an alley.

He meets another young black man, a friend of the victim. The man says the victim's name is Toby, but he won't give his own name for fear of being killed himself. He says Toby was a crack dealer who got too big and was causing trouble for Jaeker and other dealers who are under protection. The young man is afraid to reveal who is providing the protection but is incredulous that Grey doesn't already know himself. When Grey becomes frustrated, the informant finally reveals that The Men killed his friend.

Before Grey can find out who The Men are, a van screeches to a halt in front of the alley. Grey fears a gang banger attack, but the van takes off again. When he turns around, the informant has disappeared.

Back at the station, Grey talks with Velinsky, his superior. He says he couldn't chase the van because homicide detectives are always assigned the worst cars. Velinsky thinks it's good progress that the death rate among drug dealers is higher than last year and suggests that Grey find an innocent victim to work on.

Grey doesn't think much of Velinsky, particularly his theory that there are good deaths and bad deaths, with drug dealers comprising the good deaths. It also bothers him that Velinsky eats all the time.

Grey says that this protection racket could mean that there are new criminals in town, which could lead to turf wars. It would be irresponsible to not check it out. Velinsky thinks the protection scheme is just a story to make the dealers sound like they have powerful connections. Grey trusts his instincts because of how scared the informant appeared.

Velinsky reminds Grey that he has two other cases that take priority. Grey relents and promises to take care of the white victims first. Velinsky gets angry, and Grey backs off.

Grey is called to another case. He remembers his father's words about homicide detectives. They always have work, and eventually they've seen it all. This case, however, is different. On the stairway to the apartment, Grey passes retreating officers who are about to vomit. Grey takes a brief look at the crime scene and retreats to the hallway himself.

He notices that this time there are no bystanders. The other tenants are too frightened to be curious.

The victim has been dismembered, and his body parts are dispersed throughout the house. The arms are on a chair, a hand is wrapped in a cloth on a table, a foot is in the toilet, and the head is in the refrigerator. The officer searching the apartment hasn't found the eyes. Before Grey opens the refrigerator door, he knows what he will find. The head belongs to the informant from the alley. On the back of the refrigerator the words "talks too much" are scrawled in blood.

As the medical examiner's office takes the body parts away, Grey reviews the case. The murder was obviously revenge for talking to much, but the dismemberment was a warning to others. That's why there are no bystanders this time. Suddenly, Grey realizes that the positions of the body parts are a play on words: armchair, handkerchief, footstool, and head cold.

Grey spends the next two days working on the criminal identification computer system. Velinsky no longer bothers him because a third murder by the same culprit would mean a serial killer. The forensics team finds no physical evidence at the second crime scene, and the computer turns up no references to The Men. Grey has more luck with the name Jaeker. Arlan Jaeker has a long criminal record. Grey leaves a request with data retrieval to check for outstanding warrants and heads home.

Grey looks through the mail at his apartment. He has tried to cancel the Victoria's Secret catalog since his wife, Margaret, left him, but they keep sending it. There is a letter from Margaret. He hasn't missed any alimony payments, and he doesn't expect her to have anything nice to say to him, so he tosses it on the desk unopened. He heads for the shower.

A voice wakes a young woman in an undefined place and tells her it's time. She thinks she has done enough, but the voice says no, they all must sacrifice.

Grey's phone rings with news from the records department that Jaeker has a warrant in Seattle. Grey returns to the station and reminds the officers that Jaeker doesn't know about his connection to the murders so his guard might be down. They drive to Jaeker's apartment and head up the stairs. Suddenly the lights go out, and the point man screams.

Grey rushes to the top of the stairs and finds a severed arm. There is no sign of the second officer. A trail of blood leads to Jaeker's apartment. Grey kicks the door in.

The woman asks if there is another. The voice says he's alone, and the woman says we're all alone. The voice says he doesn't know what he's facing, but the woman asks, "Who does?"

The brutalized bodies of the police officers litter the floor. Jaeker stands against the far wall casually smoking a cigarette. Above the bodies stand four translucent apparitions. They appear to have white skin with black tattoos and are dressed in black robes. They grin maniacally as blood and organs drip from their hands. Jaeker calmly orders them to kill Grey.

Grey fires his gun repeatedly. Jaeker is hit in the chest and thrown through the window. The creatures lunge at Grey. The banister cracks under his weight and he lands hard on the floor below.

The woman says he's a fighter, but the voice says he can't fight alone. The woman doesn't want to participate. She is afraid of facing the pain again.

The creatures stand over Grey. One says that Jaeker was expendable but Grey is more interesting. It reaches into Grey's chest as the detective screams and loses consciousness.

The voice says that pain is inescapable, but the woman says she can escape pain if she stays where she is. The voice says that only substitutes one kind of pain for another. The woman says she does not want to die.

Grey is rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. His condition is unstable, and he is in shock. He thinks he is dying.

Suddenly, he awakes in a hospital bed. He calls for a nurse, but there is no answer. After ten minutes no one has come to his room, and he can't even hear any noise from outside his room. He gets out of bed, pulls his fluid and monitor lines, and heads to the door.

The voice can't force the woman to go, but it asks her if she will. She says she will go. She is ready for the pain.

Grey walks into the hall and is shocked by what he sees. The other people are translucent just like the creatures. He can see right through them. Grey believes he is still unconscious. Then a woman's voice says it's not a dream and wonders why everyone believes that it is. Grey turns to the speaker.

It is the woman. She is leaning against the wall and seems very real and solid to Grey. She says her name is Laurel and that Grey is in the place in between. She is his guide until they find him and kill him or until he turns and she kills him.