Seller’s house, the old Lux house, and the Traiteur trailer
The rain had largely put an end to the raging fires at the Asher house. The fire trucks had little more left to do than put out the stubborn brushfires that had not realized their time was up. As soon as it was safe to move about, police and reporters swarmed the scene.
For several months’ arsons plagued unincorporated trailers, shacks and houses. Seller’s house, the old Lux house, and the Traiteur trailer burned to the foundations. Now the Asher house burning and abandoned. The weeds had grown to the top of the windows and a sea of grass engulfed the rock driveway, long neglected by its owners.
Captain Rogers surveyed the area, pushing his shades down low on his rounded nose. He had hard, stern features that showed little proof of his age. He was a shapely man in his late-30s. His light brown eyes were grim as he surveyed the scene.
“Oh brother,” He shook his head in frustration; Captain Rogers already juggled the shooting and bizarre disappearance of the nudist for his friend, detective Jenkins. This latest arson weighed heavy on his shoulders.
He headed toward the charred, badly damaged door. Let me guess, sigils drawn hectically all over the wall. Then there would be one silver slug in the victim’s decapitated head. Accelerant poured in a perfect circle all over the body and lit, so inefficient. The marks and sigils upon wall then the ritualized corpse worried Captain Rogers. He suspected that there is more than one suspect in Pointe Coupee Parish. He should have been used to the carnage. Alex Seller and Tracy’s disappearance and the arson crime scenes of the Lux family, the children missing and the parents decapitated, all in his parish. However, Captain Rogers knew this and missing family and the victim, Nate Asher; he went to high school with him and recognized the mouth full of gold fillings right away.
Rogers brushed the sheen of sweat from his forehead and prominent chin with a handkerchief from his pocket. Damn the heat, late summer, Deep South on a lonely dead end road the sweltering swamplands in the distance were boiling up hot enough to fry eggs, he could hardly breathe in his bulletproof vest and dark blue uniform but he had a job to do.
He noticed the face of Amy Anderson in the corner of his eye and cringed inwardly. She was a young reporter, rather petite, with fiery red hair, a narrow face and straight nose. Her unique looks set her apart from the other reporters. Amy, lately, had relentlessly followed him to every crime scene. She wasted her talents with writing for a hometown newspaper turned garbage tabloid called The Eclipse.
He had joined the Louisiana state police department for the best interests of his wife Susan, because of her failing health, ill from leukemia and his young daughter, Hannah. The pay was outstanding and he got the medical benefits his wife so desperately needed, benefits which his last job had refused him, racking up extreme debt. Irritable and preoccupied with the astronomical medical bills he found a release in a steamy physical affair partly due to the lack of intimacy that his wife could not provide. But he neglected the needs of his young daughter. Thankfully Suzan’s chemotherapy and surgery was a complete success, so much so she went into remission, was cancer free, and came home two months early, forcing him back into a sense of normalcy. He even broke off his love affair with the young reporter.
He was certainly in no mood for her constant badgering. Not today. He ducked past a volunteer uniformed fireman as her shrill voice called out his name. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and froze like a deer caught in the headlights. She had him. Grumbling under his breath he turned to face her.
“Captain Rogers.” she huffed, nearly out of breath. “There were some questions I wanted to ask you.” She flashed him a smile,” how about it?” holding her digital recorder up.
Amy often wondered what choices’ brought her to this point in her life. She’d always loved to be a writer, but she wanted to be a fiction novelist, not a person that wrote fiction-based news reports for The Eclipse. She had even left town for a while to pursue a journalistic career, but she just wasn’t happy with the dull facts and specifics. She needed a more creative outlet for her imaginative mind. She stumbled onto The Eclipse. It was a well-respected newspaper in its time until the digital age made the printed page a dinosaur, about extinct. Until a shift in their format to sensational news on the net brought it back from the brink. She could come back home and work from her house and just mail in the stories, rarely having to make an actual appearance there herself.
That smile, Captain Rogers thought, got her into more restricted places than he could count, even his heart. He looked up and his eyes flashed hot with anger. The last bit of information he had given to her she’d turned into a fictional tale of man-eating monsters and full moons. In certain circles it had even been suggested that all these recent murders were done by some kind of cult. He despised those who twisted the right of free speech and used it to write such trash; still, seeing her again made his heart skip a beat…
“Captain Thompson Rogers, do you have any new leads on the identities of the savages?” She turned the recorder uncomfortably toward his face.
Capt. Rogers cringed at his horrible first name and Amy Anderson’s casual use of it. Her question had not changed since the arsons began. She had almost seemed interested in stopping this assumed cult that had first appeared in the area several months ago. If not for the smut that she wrote, he’d almost believed her to be sincere.
He fixed a blank expression to his face and remained silent, stewing. The answer was obvious, but she still stood at the ready, recorder in hand, and eyes watching him closely. A couple of months had passed and no closer to having a suspect.
Realizing she wasn’t going to take the hint, he turned to her. “Miss Anderson.” With his professional visage to mask his love for her, eyes vacant, he said in a monotone voice, “No leads.” He fumbled for a pair of latex gloves and put his right hand up to signal her to stop.
“This area is a restricted!” He yelled turning and entering the residence.
Immediately inside he choked from the soot, ash, and smoke-filled room. His eyes watered as he caught the acrid smell of urine. A flat screen TV hung, relatively undamaged, on the back wall of the living room. Two couches and a love seat, though smoke damaged and singed, also survived. He scratched his head in confusion. It looked as though The Asher’s hadn’t moved anywhere. That or they had left everything behind.
The walls were filled with graffiti, arcane images and languages that he didn’t understand. Fuck, he thought, it was going to be the same. He made his way down the steadily darkening floorboards leading to the bedroom, knowing what he would find. The corpse was badly burned, so much so it was hard to make out if it was male or female. Its arms were outstretched, appearing to reach out to Rogers. The skeletal remains of the head rested on his hips. He quickly cupped his palm to his mouth in an effort to stop the vomit coming up from his throat. After a brief moment of slow breathing, he was steady enough to take his digital camera from his pocket, to document the crime scene. The beheading, arcane images and a clear view of a gun wound to the head, Déjà vu all over again. A couple of quick flashes with his camera and he then he got on his radio to put in a call for the coroner.
Amy watched as the new coroner brought out a body bag from the blackened structure. Her mouth dropped open slightly as the burnt remains were loaded on the ambulance. Impatiently waiting for the Captain to finish, she reached a shaky hand for her cigarettes and lighter.
Her nerves were steadier now as she exhaled smoke out of her lungs. Flicking her cigarette, she saw something and paused. What was it? She wandered closer was it a large dog or maybe a wolf’s paw print. Carefully squishing down the butt of her cigarette, being cautious not to disturb the crime scene, she hunched down to get a closer look. The recent rain made the earth soft, soft enough to preserve tracks. One, two, three, four and five...She fumbled for her cell phone and snapped a picture as Captain Rogers came out the door, surprising her.
“Captain Rogers!” Her voice cracked as she ran to catch up to him.
He reluctantly stopped and sighed, under his breath he said, “Say, Ms. Anderson, what is it I can do for you now?”
She suddenly gotten tongue-tied, she didn’t tell him about the animal tracks leading off into the woods. She was briefly entertaining the thought of letting him view the prints but thought better of it. He was looking for men, not their pets. Still, she couldn’t shake the felling that the paw prints were involved in some way or another.
She steadied her nerve, “Do you think it’s the same suspects?”
Against his own better judgment, he answered her. “I’m not supposed to comment on any ongoing case, but your rag doesn’t have any readers anyway,” she could hear disdain in his voice,” yes, it seems to be the same people.”
“Look at this.” And against her better judgment she showed Capt. Rogers the paw print photos hoping it would grease the wheels of conversation.
He took the cell phone halfheartedly from her hand. He examined the photo then hesitated before finally giving back her phone. He hated to admit it, but the silver bullets, cutting off of heads, archaic symbols... and now dog tracks, he could almost see why she wrote what she wrote in her last article. And he’d die before admitting it, but he thought she had written in an extremely professional manner, in his opinion she wasted her time writing for that rag The Eclipse.
Captain Rogers looked out beyond the woods, deep in thought, unaware of watchful eyes staring back at him. “Maybe you’re right…. Maybe they’re religious fanatics but do me a favor and postpone your next story until I say so.” It was more of an order than a request.
Amy had a funny feeling like she was being watched. A white albino wolf fervently stood in the distance and watched as the policeman went about their business unaware of him. Montezu’s wolf form had caught a whiff of the reporter three houses back and instead of meeting up with his pack he observed the reporter. Crouched on his haunches taking in the information in front of him, careful not to wag his tail or switch an ear from flying pests circling around his body.
Montezu’s powerful limbs, stout shoulders and immense chest made the prey plentiful and easily available to him through the years even with the drawbacks of his brilliant white fur from muzzle to tail. As soon as Aticus’ howling began night after night, his lupine nature took over and so did a fiercely loyal pack mentality. He headed off to the Gulf of Mexico region, tail wagging all the way eager to be socially accepted after years of self-imposed isolation.
A continuing low-pitched aria caught Montezu’s attention in the south Texas area between the Mexican and United States border. He had just recently crossed the Louisiana border and entered into Pointe Coupee Parish when he had caught the scent of his blossoming pack but curiosity got the better of him. He had seen three houses now lit like kindling with the strong aroma of an alpha male left behind at the scenes of all. The aria made it quite clear what his duties and obligations were as well as the plans.
The white Wolf shadowed over bushes and overgrown branches jockeying to get the best view of the crime scene across the street. A taxi cab struggled to make its way along a dirt road full of potholes obscuring his view of Captain Rogers and Amy Anderson. The team wrapped up without spotting the brilliant white Wolf hidden in the brush.