Teaser Tuesday

The following is an excerpt from my urban fantasy novel, Road to Rune. (I borrowed this idea from Karen Duval, another urban fantasy author.) I’ll try to post a random excerpt every Tuesday.

We reached an area cordoned off by police tape. Police photographers snapped away while other investigators made extensive notes and measurements. Still others made casts of things on the ground. Footprints maybe.

The ME passed us and shook his head. “You’ll be sorry,” he said.

Bill stopped him and asked, “How long?”

“Best guess is 24 hours.” He looked at me. “You’ll swear off meat after this. Maybe even eating altogether.” The ME chuckled to himself as he walked back to his car.

Cops have a rather morbid sense of humor. Having seen some of the things I’ve seen, I can somewhat relate. It’s a way to release the tension or horror of the moment.

As we crossed the line of tape my scalp began to itch. There was something supernatural about this area; I couldn’t tell what it was, but it was strong, palpable, and cloying. It felt like I waded through something thicker than air. I had to stop a moment to acclimate to the residual magic.

Bill misinterpreted my hesitation as apprehension. “You OK?” he asked.

I nodded even though I wasn’t. Something made the hair on my arms tickle as though ants crawled on my flesh.

He led me to an area that looked as though someone had dropped a weather balloon filled with red liquid on the spot.

It was blood. The whole area was covered in it, smelled of it. It hung in the air like an effluvial mist, so overpowering that when I swallowed I choked against the thick bitter coppery taste that filled my mouth. That struck me as unusual since the ME had said the deaths had occurred nearly 24 hours ago.

In the center of the splash was a small flatbed trailer, the type I imagine old man Koepsell hooked up to his tractor to haul bails of hay.

Only there wasn’t any hay on this trailer, instead there was a body, a human body. Or at least what was left of one. I squished as I walked through the ring of blood and gore. I didn’t have to look down, didn’t want to look down, to know that without the footies my shoes would have been ruined.

The body, naked and tied spread-eagle to the trailer, was that of a girl, maybe 15 or 16 years old. I moved closer and looked at her face. It was frozen in an expression of horror; I’d seen that expression before on other teens that had messed with forces beyond their control or comprehension. I found this somewhat disconcerting, after twenty-four hours her facial muscles should have relaxed, yet her eyes were open and pleading, her lips still contorted in a silent scream of fear.

Was it her psychic scream I’d heard yesterday?

Despite the fear-distorted features, I could tell she had been pretty. Most likely a virgin, I guessed, because the scene had the look of a sacrifice and really, what else are virgins good for? There was a gaping knife wound in her chest, just below her left breast.

I glanced further down at the rest of her, or what was left of the rest of her. I swallowed again and this time the copper taste made me gag. Her chest cavity looked as though something had scooped out all of her internal organs and broke several ribs in the process. All that was left below her ribcage was her spine. It looked like an obscene tail.

It reminded me of the carcass of the roast pig my family had at my Uncle Mickey’s birthday picnic one year after most of the flesh had been stripped off of it and all that remained on the bones was some hanging strips of flesh and skin. I immediately regretted that thought. The bile rushed up and I put my arm to my mouth as I struggled to keep it down.

Bill had the common decency to not say anything as he waited for me to recover. I cleared my mind of all unrelated thoughts and once I had myself under control, I continued with my observations as dispassionately as I was able.

Her hips and legs were further down on the trailer torn from her body and twisted in natural ways. White bone pierced the torn flesh of one of her thighs. I didn’t bother to look around for her guts; I knew I wouldn’t find them. They were most likely a snack.

“That’s not the only one,” Bill said. That surprised me because generally you only need one virgin per ritual. Bill held a handkerchief against his nose and indicated something on the other side of the trailer with a tilt of his head.

We squished through the blood as we moved around the trailer until we came upon another body. This one was a man and if I had to guess his age I’d say in his thirties. His face didn’t have a look of horror on it like the girl’s; instead it had one that was a mixture of fear and surprise, as if what had happened to him had been unexpected. It probably was. Demons often don’t follow the scripts we lay out for them, especially the powerful ones. And if my suspicions were correct, this one was powerful and I’d met it yesterday several times.

Like the girl, he too had his torso ripped open and the internal organs scooped, or maybe sucked, out. His legs were askew as though he had died in mid-step and collapsed like a meaty marionette whose strings had been cut.

-30-

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