If you haven’t read the rest of the free chapters of MKPI Odd Case Files: The Cow & The Coven, you can find them here:
“The Cow & The Carcass”
Since my people skills are negative five on a scale of one to ten, I gladly accepted the task of returning to the scene of the mutilation. I cranked up the radio, put in my favorite Stevie Nicks mix CD and headed out of the lab parking lot. I immediately began looking for the nearest convenience store to pick up water, ice and some trail mix. Booze was tempting, but it was just the middle of the day, and I was working a case. My better judgment won over as I zipped into the parking lot of a rather colorful looking store.
They were having some kind of promotional sale and a hot-air camel was floating above the store. It had a sign in its mouth that said ‘My humps are full! Stop in and buy!’ Really? I stopped just for the laugh, got my supplies and headed back to the field where the cow had been found. Getting there wasn’t so bad; most everyone was still shut in their jobs and it was beginning to get so cool outside that people were not out walking.
It was still muddy in the field, so I kicked it into 4-wheel drive and eased through the muck to the site where the cow was found. I refused to call it “the murder site” until I found evidence that an actual murder of a human took place in that spot. Sure, the preliminary necropsy findings were probably pretty accurate, but I didn’t want to mentally process that until it was an absolute certainty.
I parked a few feet away from where we had been earlier that day and got out, leaving my truck running. I got out my camera, a couple of bottled waters, evidence bags, swabs, tweezers, latex gloves and my sketch pad. I didn‘t know why I grabbed it, but it felt right. I shoved everything into my duffel bag and began walking a circle around the area very slowly, looking for clues or even energy left behind.
My strategy was to walk a circle, then move in a few inches and make the circle smaller and smaller until I had combed every inch of the ground. There were only minute traces of blood compared to what should have been there if a cow and human had been massacred on the spot. Strange. Why didn’t I see that when I was there earlier? I swabbed the blood spatters and placed each swab in a separate evidence baggie. More than likely, Zeph and I wouldn’t have to pay for evidence processing—we rarely did—but it was good to have physical evidence if every other avenue ran dry.
It was late in the afternoon and it was cold. But the humidity was what one would expect in North Central Texas—horrible. My shirt was soaked through and my hair was a wet mop under my hat. You don’t know miserable until you’re cold and sweaty. Fortunately, I had finished my circle. Unfortunately, I had found nothing but blood splatters.
I had killed both bottles of water and decided to make my way back to the truck. I had left it running and the air conditioning was going full blast and raised goose bumps on my sweat soaked skin. I eased back in the seat and drank from the bottle of water I kept in the front seat cup holder.
North Central Texas—what is the best way to describe the weather? In early Spring, it’s cool and breezy and can be downright pleasant—if you don’t mind ruining your hairdos. During Summer, you may as well resign yourself to the fact that it will be either super humid and hotter than Hell or hotter than Hell and dryer than an old woman’s cooch. Fall is usually pleasant, but once again, you’ll get blown away. Winter—you usually get cool and rainy or cold as Hell and black ice to keep you on your toes. You can’t really win.
Closing my eyes, I began meditating, trying to clear my head and open my mind to see to what I was missing. I breathed in slowly and exhaled slowly thinking of a sandy beach in Scotland that I had only seen pictures of, trying to relax my mind. I almost immediately heard the answer I was looking for rather than seeing it or thinking it. Above a grove of trees to the south of my truck were birds circling and cawing—and we all know what that means.
I sat up, got my gear ready, and pulled my shotgun out from under the seat. I made sure it was loaded, grabbed some extra shells out of the glove box and crammed a few in my shirt pocket. I parked about 30 feet away, killing the truck this time and took the keys with me just in case some freak was hiding out there and tried to jack my truck. I was not gonna be stranded there. I grabbed the shotgun and I approached the canopy of trees cautiously, scanning my surroundings, looking for any sign of trouble.
I stepped into the shade of the trees and felt as though I had been swallowed up by the whispering leaves and swaying branches. The hair on my forearms was standing straight up and I was tense with fear. I cocked the 410, ready for trouble.
I found an old footpath and began following it, not sure what I was going to find at the end of it, but not liking the situation one bit. I could sense evil—taste it—and I could smell decomposing flesh as I went deeper into the grove. As soon as I stepped through the trees into a fairly large clearing the smell and the evil hit me strong and I stumbled from the force of it.
The smell of decomposing flesh and the evil feeling was just everywhere and strong. I knew magick—correction—dark magick had been performed here recently. An altar had been rudely constructed and candles strewn about haphazardly. Ritual drawings in the dirt around the altar had been partially brushed away by either natural or unnatural means.
My approach had caused the birds to fly up, but not away. As I approached the crudely constructed altar, I could see what was causing the smell. A human foot with just the toes fully exposed and swollen many times their normal size was protruding out of the dirt. I leaned the shot gun against the altar, opened my back pack and got out my camera.
I snapped lots of pictures of the altar and the surroundings and the etchings in the dirt and then began looking for more clues. I stepped to the space at the bottom of the protruding foot to get a different perspective and it became instantly obvious. I took a small whisk broom out of my back pack and began just slightly sweeping away dirt. My assumption was correct—this was an effigy, but made with human remains.
I found both feet, both lower legs, both thighs, the abdomen, torso, both arms, both hands and the, obviously man‘s penis. But there was no head. Thirteen body parts all lay out to resemble a person without a head.
Suddenly something was screaming and swooping down towards the exposed flesh. Without thinking I grabbed the shotgun and fired, taking down a huge nasty black bird just as it was about to snatch up the person’s most private of parts. I laughed to myself thinking I saved the pecker from a pecking. Morbid I know, but still funny. I picked up the bird and chunked it far away from the body parts, hoping it would draw the other birds to it and not the dead body.
Why would someone do this? What ritual was being performed that required this kind of brutality? This time, though, I did notice there was hardly any blood. That meant only one thing—the victim was not killed here. What about the cow? Why would you kill a sixteen-hundred-pound bovine elsewhere and drag it back to the field? Something was not adding up.
I let it go and decided my next course of action would be to take more pictures and swabs. Maybe once I had all this information in one place, Zeph and I could go over it and figure out what was really going on. It became apparent that I had better call in Lieutenant Dan Wilson.
He was not going to like this one bit and I had to make it look like I had disturbed the crime scene as little as possible. Cops get a little touchy about their crime scenes and feel private investigators are not qualified to examine them. Private investigators that also work with paranormal cases were even less qualified in their eyes. I don’t think we are even considered human.
As I was finishing up my pictures of the clearing, I went back to the body. Luckily the birds were busy picking at their not so fortunate friend and had left the body alone. One of the forearms had kind of shifted or rolled and revealed ‘emet’ carved into it. Strange. This was not looking good at all and that nagging feeling was back.
Too many symbols floating around…I snapped photos of it and finished covering my tracks. I got out my phone and hit my speed dial for Lieutenant Dan.
“Yeah?” He answered brusquely.
“You need to get out to the cow mutilation site now with the CSI crew and Kojack quick. I found a human body for you.” I replied evenly.
“Don’t touch a thing!” Lieutenant Dan spat out and hung up.
I hurried back to my truck to wait on the cavalry and to store away my spoils of the day.
And don’t forget that The Great Book Giveaway 2018 is still going on. We’re in week #2, and a hardback cozy mystery bundle is the prize this week! Check it out here!
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Until next time…