Two boys skipped through the woods, a shortcut, while they headed to their respective homes they passed the day away playing tag. Low and droopy branches caught the taller boy, snagging his shirt and slowing him down. The littler one had a marked advantage able to maneuver better. Picking up speed now the little boy laughed turning around to see if his opponent had caught up with him yet. The pair raced over leaves snapped and crunching, startling and waking Devon’s injured Wolf who had concealed himself in the decaying refuse.
Devon yawned and stretched, perking up from a dream filled fog, had he been asleep all day? The sun high in the sky told him the answer, yes. A raucous noise right next to his makeshift den engaged his curious nature. He snuck up on the two boys.
“You can’t catch me!” the little boy shouted breathlessly.
He did not see the flies buzzing around, the wild mice feasting on the flesh or the snakes feasting on the mice, a whole ecosystem beaming with life because of death. The boy fell directly into the middle of the carnage, his face and body covered in gelatinous body fluids released by the decaying human corpses.
In just four hours the serene woods with peaceful wildlife noises grew into bustling chaos with blue uniformed bodies and yellow crime scene tape since the discovery of the two mauled corpses. The boys that found them stood white faced, wiping away tears from their cheeks and behind the crime scene, the taller one still clutching the cell phone, the screen glowing 911.
Capt. Rogers had just finished getting the boys’ statements when he peered over his shoulder to see Amy Anderson. His chin creased in frustration, but he couldn’t suppress a smile, “great.”
Huffing, Capt. Rogers jogged through the uniformed officers. He let out a groan; knees popping as he bent ducking under the caution tape careful to secure his officer issued 9 mm and his Taser. Straightening up and dusting his uniform off to meet the journalist behind the crime line.
“We’ve got to stop meeting like this.” Amy joked and wiped away her red hair from her green eyes grinning, “No seriously… I missed you, what? It’s been over two weeks since I’ve seen you last.”
“It’s no laughing matter, Amy.” He scolded, his expression all business like. “And no, you were there at the trailer murder/arson only a day ago, what are you doing here?”
“Oh yeah, good times,” Amy placed a flirty hand on Capt. Rogers’s bicep, “To answer your question I have a police scanner, you know. What’s the scene here?”
She was looking over Capt. Rogers shoulder to the half-eaten corpses on the ground her digital recorder in hand. She was casually chewing a Nicorette gum and blatantly ignoring Capt. Rogers disapproving looks.
“Nothing much here of interest to you Amy, animal attack, that’s all.” Capt. Rogers said trying to appease her curiosity.
“You don’t find it curious that huge canine prints were found at each crime scene you have investigated?” Amy was staring at one of those prints as she spoke.
“You know Amy; I’m getting awfully tired of talking to you and I am misrepresented in your joke of a paper. What have you done to sink so low?” He seemed to ask her a variation of the same question every time he saw her.
“Look Mac,” she laughed “I told you before… I had a cushy job but the editor and I had creative differences, I quit.”
Amy sheepishly smiled “Besides, if this pans out the way I think it’s going to this would be my ticket to the big league papers or maybe even a book deal.”
Amy put her hand on his shoulder and flashed a kittenish smile. Her flirtatious mannerisms were almost too much for Capt. Rogers to bear but he secretly could not get enough of her flirty repartee, leaving him beaming and feeling younger than his thirty eight-year-old self. When he saw her, he become irritated and irate but after talking to her he felt boyish and nervous as if he was talking to a schoolyard crush.
Amy shoved some photos in to his hands, “I’ve got pictures at the Sellers, Asher, Traiteur, Lux’s homes all of paw prints. Hell, even the hospital…”
Capt. Rogers would die before admitting it, but remembered all their encounters in excruciating detail. In fact, though outwardly he resented Amy’s presence he secretly enjoyed their encounters but he felt guilty as if he was continuing an affair in his head even though the affair which had been broken off cooled before his wife grew suspicious.
Capt. Rogers glanced at each and every one of the photographs deliberately before looking into Amy’s eyes giving the photographs back, “I think you’re way off base with this. You’re looking for a legendary Sasquatch, a bigfoot, chupacabra or imaginary vampire angle that is not there.”
He could see the energetic, hopeful light drain out of her eyes; it pained him to the bone, “But… At every scene there were huge prints everywhere.”
Capt. Rogers interrupted her, “I shouldn’t be telling you this but all of our manpower is tied up in the disappearances for several hospital patients and most of the people of Royal Bay. I know, Royal Bay had just a handful of residents but it’s really a ghost town now. There is nobody to work in the post office, gas station, or general store even. Personally, I’m going to devote all my attention on the disappearances, to hell with an animal on the loose and the fucking murders, I don’t want to be sidetracked by fairytales.”
Rogers was no longer looking at Amy’s eyes he was looking down at her breasts. She had on a white tank top, a man’s “wife beater” he thought and her black bra was visible on her shoulders. He was getting hot but it was not the temperature that made him sweat through his uniform it was Amy’s too short to be legal pair of jean shorts. Amy noticed Capt. Rogers noticing her and shyly smiled, she had him where she wanted him.
“But really look at my pictures before you pass judgment.” Amy said.
“I think the large tracks are the work of an opportunistic scavenger. The smell of an easy meal was too much for it. We’re checking leads now about Wolf-dog hybrids escaping from their homes or wolves that got loose from their sanctuary from St. Louis or somewhere else but okay, I will look at your photos more closely.” He relented, stopping for a moment. “Where do you live these days? When I get off work I can come by and look at your evidence.”
She was already writing down her address and phone number on a spare piece of scrap paper, the delight washing over her as she handed him the address. His face was flush with excitement and guilt, “I’ll call you before I come over.”
Twigs snapped somewhere in the vicinity whipping Amy’s head to the left. She could not help but gasp her hands instinctively covered her mouth. What she saw tested her sensibility and modesty. The conversation meant for Amy’s ears fell by the wayside, Capt. Rogers, gesturing with his hands obliviously staring down at the scrap of paper carried on about the lost years as she stared at the as yet undiscovered, unclothed intruder hiding nearby.
Amy strained her eyes to see the mysterious man. Wild close cropped white hair, the style of which reminded her of a Japanese anime styled haircut. His almost animalistic eyes seemed to glint in the sunlight and they locked on to Amy’s eyes. He had bright red sigil tattoos running the length of his forehead, cheeks and long wide nose. Reminding Amy of an Iroquois soldier or a Wotan warrior, the painted people known in history for their dyed faces or tattooed visage that struck fear in the hearts of the opposing tribes. She thought of the distinguished former heavyweight champion of the world, his tattooed face made famous. Even with the ominous sigils he had an almost innocent childlike expression to his face. It reminded her of the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Tarzan. She smiled at the thought, you Tarzan, I Jane…or uh, Amy.
Amy couldn’t understand the phrase; “She went weak in the knees” until she saw Devon and she had to grasp a branch on a nearby tree to steady her shaking knees. Amy looked him up and down to try to gauge how old he was but there were no true markers to speak of. Amy noted his skin and there was a lot of it being naked, smooth and pliable. He had no imperfections on his form save that of four glowing rosy and healing scratch marks that scored from his neck to the bottom of his ribs. She couldn’t help but stare at his ribcage, thin fine pitch black hairs upon his well-defined pecks down his powerfully built milky white torso that made a diamond configuration.
She bit her upper lip until she could taste a warm metallic copper fluid, suggesting her teeth had punctured her inner brim. It took all her self-control and restraint to not reach out for the mystery Tarzan but it brought unwanted attention from Capt. Rogers who immediately unlatched his safety holster to his Taser.
Capt. Rogers no longer ogled Amy’s figure. He put on his black plastic rimmed glasses to get a better look. He finally noticed the stranger partially concealed by the Cyprus trees, a white haired young man intently staring at the journalist.
“Hey, you,” Capt. Rogers completely forgot about the red headed reporter, “Freeze! Get down on your knees, police!” The man turned to flee.
Capt. Rogers instinctively rested his free hand against his Taser running into the woods without backup. The Bald Cypress gave way to weeping willows with branches that looked like an old Confederate soldier’s graybeard flowing to the Earth. Using the whip like branches of a willow tree for stability Capt. Rogers muddles through buttonbushes, thicker scrubs and heavier thickets in pursuit of the interloper.
Like a skittish feral animal the white-haired nude suspect leaped, hopped and evaded the Captain. He avoided capture as he traversed the harsh terrain. Out of breath, Capt. Rogers pulled out his nonlethal stun gun and lined up the shot.
The leads and length of conductive wire burst forth and travel several yards in the blink of an eye until they were tangled up in the leaves and branches of a willow tree. A miss, the wires fell harmlessly in the grass; Rogers put his hands on his hips catching his breath. Once caught his breath he run after the subject again. The pair traversed through the weeping willows, Capt. Rogers’ sliding on moss and the thick weeds slowing him down in the process.
A volley of curses came out of Capt. Rogers’s mouth as he inspected the overgrown vines and weeds for foot prints. Only barely visible foot tracks and the broken and disturbed branches on a windless day were visible, the stranger eluding capture.