Chapter 20 - Suspicion
It was a clearing in the woods, not a natural one but what looked as if a two thousand pound wild boar had decided to make its nightly bed in. All the shrubs in a circular area with a diameter of ten yards had had been torn from their roots and tossed in all directions, the low lying branches of the pines, some thick as a mans arm broke and twisted from the trunks like someone breaking a tooth pick. No boar had caused this havoc though, every tree had been slashed open, its bark stripped like so many banana peels. Every leaf, every blade of grass, every inch of this clearing had been doused in blood. Next to the largest tree at the edge of this ghastly clearing lay the remains of what could barely be made out as a body. One supple arm wrapped around the tree, the fingers of that hand dug into the bark, was still attached to a shoulder and part of a torso, the head and right shoulder and arm gone, the rib cage and spinal column bones where the neck was once attached, shining white in the afternoon sun. That upper body was nothing but a bloody stump, from the waist down everything was missing, the entrails spilled over the ground resembling the roots of some old swamp tree. Just to the right, the head of a woman just barely connected to the right arm and shoulder by a strip of skin. Her face was turned up as though looking over her shoulder, the left side just a flap of facial skin where it had been torn from behind her ear and peeled forward to her nose.
It was a woman, her long hair matted to the ground around her in a pool of blood. An expression of fear could be seen in the way her mouth was slightly open the one corner turned down, the good eye wide open and the dried dirt on her cheek streaked with trails of the tears that must have streamed down her face just before death.
It wasn't so much the sight of her upper body that had the hair on their arms stand straight but that of her body from the waist down. It lay over a heap of brush, branches and dirt in the middle of the clearing, strips of what must have been leggings of some sort the only remnants of clothing torn and tattered around her shins and feet. The buttocks in the air, its legs spread wide, what was left of the groin could only be described as a large bloody hole of torn flesh from which portions of the internal organs could be made out, some feet of the small intestines dangling from that gap and entwined in the branches that supported those grisly remains.
"Holy fuck!", Jack had seen many killings, put cuffs on plenty of crazy demented bastards, been privy to the information of many a gruesome crime scene but never, never had he ever been confronted with the likes of what lay before him. Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, all those that have ever been infamous for their betrayal of the human kind had nothing on what was at his feet. The disregard for human life, the disrespect for the bodily remains, the absolute animalistic glee with which that corpse had been stripped apart, the pure evil that must have been pulsating in the veins of the person or thing that did this was unbelievable. "Holy fuck. Are we in some kind of horror flick? This just can't be real."
Mark looks at Sheriff Wheeler, an expression totally serious and full of sincerity, "Jack, this is not the result of a movie that we are looking at, we have an animal on our hands that does not belong to any mammal that science wants to recognize."
"What are you talking about Mark?", Jack's unbelieving gaze turning a bit sour as he turns from the corpse to look at his deputy.
"I am talking about something no one wants to admit, I am talking about a werewolf. And don't go getting pissed yet, hear me out." Mark fidgets a bit with his weapons belt, nervous not only about bringing this taboo subject up to the very person that could end his career at that moment but also because if what he thinks is occurring is the work of a werewolf then they are in lots of trouble, everyone in this area is in for a whole lot of hurt. "Look at the prints in the soft dirt where the leaves had been kicked up, there look."
The Sheriffs eyes follow Marks fingers and there, big as day, was the same print they found in the parking lot, the same print that Mark described finding up near the dead hunter.
"Look at the trees where the bark has been torn away, see those gouges? There are five digits, there four fingers and that one the thumb.", Mark pointing out the scrapes in the tree closest to them attempting to justify his suspicion of the supernatural.
"Those are fucking claw marks Mark, are you blind?", Jack replied, his short temper beginning to reveal itself.
Mark, becoming desperate and in fear of losing his job also loses a bit of his cool, "Then name me a fucking animal that leaves five claw marks behind on a tree where the bark hangs like the leaves of a giant tulip, has foot prints resembling a man walking on the balls of his feet, can tear a human body apart as if it were a sheet of paper and has a god damned dick the size of a two liter wine bottle? It sure as hell ain't no fucking bear or mountain lion."
Not once in the last six years of service with Deputy Otto had the Sheriff heard him speak in such a tone nor use the colorful words that he had just spit out.
Mr. Zeckler stood a bit apart but was just as surprised by the conversation taking place as the Sheriff, the rustling unease of his feet in the debris attesting to his nervousness.
"Son, if you have more to say about what is going on here then I want to hear it. I won't lie, I have never seen anything like this before nor have I read about it. Get pictures of everything, I am taking Mr. Zeckler and we'll search around for any clues where this thing has gone." Jacks' faces softens for a moment before he takes his mic in hand. "Lars? Lars can you hear me?" All professionalism is put aside in the light of what is transpiring, he continues, "Where the fuck is Dr. Baker and Old Mr. Johnson? I need them out here right fucking now before it gets dark."
The radio at his waist crackles and Lars comes over loud and clear, "Boss, they got here about fifteen minutes ago, the doc is covering Curly's body as we speak. He says the cause of death is obvious, blunt force trauma to the head and certainly caused by cracking it against the light post. Mr. Johnson is here too but without his dogs, says they are no good in town. It's too late and that any tracks that might have been here have been disturbed."
"Shit." The Sheriff mutters the words with disgust. "Those F-ing vultures are definitely monitoring the radio and I went and flubbed up."
Clicking the talk button on his mic the Sheriff almost yells at the device, "Send the two out here right now. Doc's got to have a look at this body before all hell breaks loose, you send for the coroner as soon as they are out of sight. Did you get any help to close off that parking lot? Those reporters are going to be there any minute now."
A short burst of static and Lars voice booms back, "The school principal came in about half an hour ago, I had him get some his biggest teachers in. 'They aren't police officers but they know how to deal with unruly kids', those are his words." A short burst of static then, "The doc and Old Man Johnson are heading your way now."