There wasn’t much left of the body when they found it, if it could even be called a body in the first place. No head, no arms, nothing that remotely classified the pile of meat on the ground as a “body”, but still…no one was in the mood to argue semantics. Dead was dead, human features or otherwise.
Sherriff Anderson prodded the sack of gore with his foot. He tried to pull up the feelings of surprise or horror that he knew he should be experiencing, that normal people would be experiencing if they came across a three-hundred pound carcass in the middle of a rainy city street, but nothing happened. Maybe it was the job, the day after day parade of homicide and crime that had dulled any of the weaker emotions one might expect, grinding them down until the only thing left underneath was coldness and iron. Or maybe it was the fact that this…thing…wasn’t the first. Not by a long shot.
A black Chevy Nova turned the corner, momentarily blinding Anderson with its headlights. It slowed down, as if assessing the view, and then silently pulled to the curb. Two figures in trench coats stepped out and talked quietly to each other. Anderson couldn’t make out their faces, but they came off as complete opposites. One of them, the driver, was tall and lean, with tightly cropped red hair that ended just below the ears. The other was…round. There wasn’t another was of putting it. Beside his domed bald head, the trench coat, easily able to cover a twin bed, looked practically small in comparison. The figures, apparently coming to some sort of decision, turned and headed towards Anderson. As they approached, he felt a dual wave of relief and unease. If these two were who he expected they were, it meant help had arrived. It also meant that for the first time in years, he was in way over his head.
The red head spoke first. “Evening. So you’re Sherriff Anderson.” It wasn’t a question.
Anderson nodded. “Detective Rex Jade, I’m guessing?”
“In the flesh. Sorry to keep you waiting. You’re not exactly easy to get to.”
“I got nothing else to do tonight and it’s not like this is going anywhere fast,” said Anderson indicating the mound.
Jade smiled grimly and took out a pair of rubber gloves. “Point taken. May I?”
“Go ahead,” said Anderson. “Fair warning though, I’ve been Sherriff here for 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like these.”
“Yeah, well,” said Jade. “If it was something you’d seen before, they wouldn’t have called us in.
Jade began shifting through the pulpy mass, occasionally pulling out segments, possibly organs, and laying them on the ground.
“Jesus,” said Jade. “Looks like something I would feed my dog.”
As Jade worked, Anderson used the opportunity to get a better look at the two detectives. Jade was all angles, with a sharp nose and hard jaw that clenched tightly in concentration. Anderson’s first thought was of a bird, like a crane, but that seemed lacking, or harsh. There was still an element of sly playfulness in the way Jade’s eyes opened slightly wide at each bloody new discovery that was pulled out from the body, like a child unwrapping a Christmas present.
Jade’s partner was standing a few feet away, hands in his pockets, as if he was bored to be there.
“So what do they call ya?” asked Anderson.
The man slowly turned his head to Anderson, as if only just realizing the Sherriff was there. “Fat Solomon.”
Anderson laughed. “Why do they call ya that?”
Fat Solomon just blinked.
Jade stood up and removed the gloves, tossing them down a storm drain. “Well, I got good news and I got bad news. This isn’t-“ Jade was interrupted by a cell phone going off, playing Bonnie Tyler’s “Eternal Eclipse of the Heart”. They both looked at Fat Solomon, who casually flipped open his phone. After a few seconds, he handed it to Jade.
“What do you want? We’re in the middle of something,” said Jade. “No, screw that. I told you last time; we don’t do missing kid cases. It’s always some C.S. Lewis fantasy bullshit.” Jade paused, the voice on the phone got increasingly louder. “Fine, fine. Jeez. But the sheriff here isn’t going to be too happy.”
Anderson stiffened. Not too happy about what?
Jade snapped the phone shut and tossed it over to Fat Solomon. “We’re heading out. Got an emergency.”
“What about this?” said Anderson. “You said something about good news and bad news?”
Jade sighed. “Bad news is, the body isn’t human. Not by a long shot. And if this is the third one so far, you’ve got a lot more coming.”
“Not human? So, what? These are animals? Bears or some shit?”
“Sure, let’s go with that.”
Jade was lying, not even trying to hide it.
“Well, then what’s the good news?” said Anderson.
“Good news is that the only people who can save you have arrived”.
“But you’re leaving.”
“Well…” said Jade. “Guess there isn’t any good news then.”
Jade and Fat Solomon turned to the Chevy.
“So what am I supposed to do then?” said Anderson.
“For now you’re fine. Doesn’t look like they can hold themselves together in this genre. But if you start seeing any roaming the streets…I’d suggest leaving town until we return.”
“If we return,” said Fat Solomon.
“You’re a real ass, you know that, Fat Solomon?” said Jade as they stepped into the car. “Anyway, I’m starving after all that dissection work. You think there are any good burger places around here-“ Jade’s voice trailed off as they slammed the doors.
“Hey, wait!” called Anderson, but the Chevy was already pulling away. He stared at the empty street, the impossibly large mass of flesh falling apart in the rain.
He told himself it was just the cold.