by Briana Lawrence
I only ask that you treat me kindly, then I will do the same for you.
The words of the invitation whisper gently into your ear, speaking of rare and exotic animals unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. To detective Alex Sampson, however, that invitation speaks of something else. Death. Attendees at a prestigious animal auction are turning up dead, each murder more brutal than the last. The only clue to each crime points to a different animal, but when did birds and butterflies go from being aphrodisiacs for fairy tales to deadly mass murderers?
Well, this is new.
Alex Sampson is rarely speechless at a crime scene. He likes to think that he has ‘seen it all,’ if you will, but just in case, he reserves some space in his brain for the extra weird and morbid.
Seeing a man’s neck crushed like a tube of toothpaste takes up all that extra space and then some.
The man’s eyes stare blankly up at Alex, wide and pale, and when Alex leans in closer they look ready to pop out of their sockets. Claw marks brand him, carved into his crunched up neck, the marks so deep that the skin has become loose and flabby, damn near falling off the bone. There’s blood splattered all around the man, across the floor and racing up the wall and over the furniture like a modern piece of art.
Then there are the feathers, bright yellow and stained dark red and brown, scattered in the remnants of a small tornado.
Alex wants to ask questions, but he doesn’t even know where to start. He quietly watches the forensics team takes pictures, followed by quiet murmurs of “what could have done this?” It’s his job to figure that part out, to piece the evidence together. At the moment, his brain can only offer lame, piss poor answers. Some sort of animal attack? Right, because the parakeet next door suddenly had a taste for human blood and sprouted Godzilla feet to
trample the man’s neck.
“Sir,” one of the officers—Tony, he remembers—walks over. The kid looks pale, a ghostly shade of white as he fidgets in front of Alex. “You should come take a look at this.”
Alex feels for the unlucky rookie who went from the quiet death of a washed up rock-star to this massacre. He puts a hand on his shoulder as they head to the bedroom, Tony jumping a little before he offers Alex a hollow, half smile. Kid’s not going to make it. Alex can tell by the look in his eyes. He’s ready to go back to checking the parking meters on the street and hearing stories about those gruesome homicide cases instead of actually living
The forensics team swarms the bedroom, camera’s flashing and evidence markers being placed all around the room. The bed is a disaster, a thick comforter skewered and the wooden headboard broken apart into a couple pieces. There’s a trail of blood leading from the destroyed piece of furniture to the closet, with more yellow feathers accompanying the specs of blood that stain the hardwood floor.
“Just like out there,” Alex mutters. He follows the trail, careful not to disturb the forensics team as they continue to take pictures of the blood, the feathers, and the bed. The trail leads him to the open closet door.
He lets out a startled gasp. He can’t remember the last time he’s done that at a crime scene.
The closet holds a crumple woman, her mouth wide open and stuffed with yellow feathers. On further inspection, feathers fill her entire, naked body, her stomach plump like a Thanksgiving turkey and her breasts saggy and limp against her round belly. A few feathers burst out of her body like a teddy bear whose cotton has started to show through the stitching.
“She’s the one who made the call to 9-1-1,” Tony says, looking through his note pad, desperately trying not to look at her body. “Her name is Tamera Haile. The man in the living room is her husband, Kevin Haile.”
Alex nods, not able to tear his eyes away from her body.
Stepping closer, he slips on a pair of gloves as he carefully grabs one of the many feathers that nest around her body. “First a butterfly and now this?”
“There’s no way to know if these murders are linked,” one of the people on the forensics team says. The woman walks over and takes the feather from Alex, tucking it away in a small, clear bag. “We need to run some tests first. The medical examiner will be here shortly. We need to lay the body out onto the floor.”
Alex has morbid images filling his head consisting of the woman’s stomach bursting open like a piñata. Alex steps away from the body and watches the team move forward, whispering to one another. “How should we do this,” and “We need to be careful.”
“Sandi is going to love this one,” Alex says to no one in particular, but he gets a couple of soft ‘ahs’ of agreement from the team before one steps into the closet and carefully maneuvers the body out of it. Thankfully, they manage to lay it on the bedroom floor
without any catastrophic stomach explosions.
Alex steps away, leaning against the wall as he takes a long, deep breath. Behind him, outside the window, he hears a bird chirping. He glances over his shoulder to look at it.
The bird keeps chirping, a cute sound that’s a harsh contrast to the disaster taking place in this house. “You’re lucky you’re out there,” he mutters. “You wouldn’t want to see this mess. Especially the part about the bird feathers, that would be unsettling.
Possibly extinct butterflies and now death by bird feathers. There’s not too much else that can happen to top this one.
That is, until, Alex’s cell phone rings.
The author is giving away a copy of the ebook to one lucky winner! To be in with a chance to win, please comment saying which format you'd prefer - epub, mobi or PDF :) Winners will be chosen on July 19.