The heat in the office was stifling. The fan in the corner did nothing but push hot air around the room, a lot like the lukewarm ideas that ran around in my head.
Another body found this morning. Two in the last week. The death toll was up to six now. Or was it seven?
I had nothing to go on. Just the bodies. No suspect. No motive. Nothing. Just the victims.
I went over to open the window and try to let some air and fresh ideas in. Pacing back to my desk, I sat down and put my feet up. There had been the possibility that the first few victims had been accidents, but as the toll mounted, that theory evaporated. There are coincidences, but that was out of the question.
I stared at the door, knowing full well that this is where, in those stories, some leggy dame would walk in with a large brimmed hat that covered one eye, her face streaked with tears, and some sob story that I wouldn’t believe, but couldn’t afford to ignore. Eventually, as I dug around her story, I’d break the case but find out she had a hand in it somewhere.
It took me a while of staring at the door to realize that there was no dame in this tale. There wasn’t even one in the building.
The open window hadn’t done any good, and I was still baffled by the details- what few of them there were of the multiple deaths in the same spot.
I had to go for a walk.
I left the office and started to wander the darkened hallways of the building. There had to be some connection between the bodies, but what was it?
One of the rooms across the hall overlooked the spot in question. I keyed in and leaned out the window, staring downward at the empty parking lot at the base of the hill.
The latest body was still there. I could see it from here. Its decomposing corpse being made light work of by an army of ants. to the left, at the base of the stairs is where I’d found the last one, being eaten from the inside by beetles that made the body twitch and writhe like one of those zombie films that end up being survived by two beautiful people left to do nothing but repopulate earth the old fashioned way.
My eyes wandered as my mind did, looking for something….anything that could tie the killings together.
The parking lot, empty but for my battered car. The stairs, with their chipped and decomposing concrete. The steep hill above the wall ringing the parking lot, overgrown and lush with low-growing vegetation. The mound of dirt dead smack in the middle of the hill….
Hold the phone Gertrude, what exactly was that mound of dirt doing there? I squinted my eyes, as if the mere act would answer the question. No, this would require some looking in to. Not filled with much hope, but with literally nothing else to go on, I let myself out of the room and headed outside.
I would have to be careful here. If what I was looking for had anything to do with the deaths I was investigating, I could end up next. The hill was steeper than it looked, and the undergrowth deeper. Picking my way over the treacherous ground, I came to the pile of dirt I’d seen from the window.
All at once it hit me- like a goon with fist the size of a ham that I once knew. To be clear, I knew the goon, not the ham.
The dirt surrounded the mouth of a hole. A big one.
The more I looked at it, the more two things became abundantly clear.
1. Whatever lived here had to be responsible for the deaths.
2. I didn’t want to be here when the killer returned.
Snapping a picture for evidence, I went back to my office to piece it all together. I had my answers now, regrettably without the aid of a beautiful dame with weepy eyes and shady connections, but no story is perfect. A bit more thought, and that was it. Case closed.
Some of you will remember back a few weeks ago, I posted a few times about the “Stairs of Death” which is a set of stairs outside of my office where I’d been finding dead animals for some time. I’d found a bird and a few mammals, but as of today’s date, there are two birds, and four small mammals, for a total of six. I can’t explain the birds, but I think I’ve solved the mystery of the dead rodents. I managed to solidify my theory that I have outlined in the “Stairs of Death” post. The finding of the hole above confirms that there is a predator living on that hill. That hole is too big for a woodchuck. We could be looking at a fox or some other medium-sized meat eater.
To recap, the theory was that something is chasing small mammals through the undergrowth on the hill. They’ll run away until they run out of ground at the top of the concrete wall which is at least ten feet high that surrounds the parking lot at the base of the hill. You see, the top of the wall is level with the bottom of the hill, so any small creature being chased is going to transition from running on ground to briefly running on concrete before there’s nothing left to run on and gravity takes over. Refer to the overhead view sketched out by one of the great artists of our time:
The hole is in exactly the right place for something that lives there to come out and start hunting. In the event that there is something that it wants to eat, said prey will undoubtedly want to not be eaten, so it will run. Given the slope of the ground, the prey will more often than not, run DOWNHILL….to the top of the concrete wall. If its running quick enough, it is going to go straight over the edge and hit the bottom of the parking lot or on the stairs themselves.
Granted, this isn’t scientific proof, but a bit of deductive reasoning which adds up. Now, this doesn’t explain the birds, so I’m just going to assume they’re dumb and crash into the building somewhere…at least until I trip across an explanation in my next “Wander around because you’re bored” session.
Thanks for coming along, and if anyone wants to call my OIC and tell him I need to be promoted from beat cop to detective, let me know, I’ll give you his number.