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It was dark, not a glimmer of light or shadow but still a sense that something’s watching. Something that can see in the dark. Something that can move in the dark, something that was moving now, getting closer, quietly closer. Breathing sounds, not panting, just regular breathing – in and out, in and out – getting closer, so close that now the air is gently disturbed and the breath can be felt. It’s pleasant, clean and minty like freshly brushed teeth. Teeth, a feeling of teeth, not touching but there, right in front, in the dark. Teeth on skin, on the clavicle, a bite, chewing chewing chewing, the feeling of warm liquid, blood and saliva, pain now, chewing chewing chewing, screaming but there is no sound, trying to pull away but the teeth are strong. They are grabbing and shaking the flesh.
Rough hands on both shoulders shaking “Wake up, wake up!” a panicked voice “wake up, come on, you’re dreaming, it’s just a dream”.
“It was real, it was real, the teeth, they were real” breathless, leaning forward in the chair, one hand on the neck, feeling sick, really sick “I’m gonna puke”. Grabbing the waste can and heaving but nothing came out.
“Here” a hand, a pretty hand with pale pink nails and a long thin scar between the index finger and the thumb thrusts a bottle of water forward, taking the waste can and setting it on the floor to the side the desk.
“I could lick that scar, lick it lick it lick it” a muttered whisper as the water bottle is accepted and opened.
“What, what did you just say?”
“Huh?” glancing up into pale green eyes, “Thank you, I said thank you. For the water.”
A frown as she turned away “Okay” a slight hesitation in her voice. “You’re welcome. I’ll leave you to it.”
Her footsteps faded across the office floor, one glance thrown back over her shoulder, the frown reappearing.
“Have you been here all night?” concerned and slightly accusatory.
“Yeah, I guess” a shake of the head followed by a long drink from the water bottle, “I was reviewing the report about the bite. Bites. I must have fallen asleep.”
“Figure anything out?”
“Yeah, but first I need coffee, let’s get out of here.”
Standing and grabbing the forensics report they headed to the stairs, to the fresh air and away from the remnants of the dream.
Three blocks from the station, seated at a window booth in the local cafe with steaming cups of coffee, one black and one with enough sugar to fuel a kindergarten class the conversation resumed.
“Want to tell me what happened? In your dream.” The question was matter of fact, but shared history was behind the asking, giving it a heaviness not normally found when asking someone about their dream. “Is this a repeat of last time? Did it feel like you?”
A pause, coffee being sipped, then eye contact.
“It was dark, I couldn’t see anything, but there was something there, I could smell its breath, it was clean. Then there were teeth, biting that bone, here” touching the bone below the neck “the clavicle, and they were strong, really strong, and there was blood and spit.”
Another pause, another sip of coffee and another brief moment of eye contact.
Through the dusty window the day was bright, people strolled the street, heading to work, doing errands, meeting friends. In the café there was the continual clatter of dishes and cutlery, the murmur of conversation, the occasional laugh. Just a typical day for almost everyone.
“Whose blood, and whose spit?” the question was asked quietly and firmly, the most important question.
“My spit, it was my spit, I could taste.. I tasted blood, it was my spit and I tasted blood”.
“No!”, said quickly, cutting off the question. “It was different this time, at first it was in me in the dark but then it wasn’t, I was the monster, but when you woke me up it was me again, just me, no connection. Nothing.”
“What about the teeth? Did you get anything? You read the report then had the dream, it must mean something, do you understand the bite-marks?” the tone of desperation and slight fear was new, the feeling of not having a single understandable clue to move the case forward meant that it would happen again. There would be another victim. It would be their fault.
“Docs report says there are multiple teeth marks, two separate humans and one definitely an animal. Based on what he can see it’s probably a small dog or maybe a cat, cos the marks are smaller than you’d expect from something like a coyote or bobcat, and there’s some kinda bacteria in one of the bites, not what a human would have. He’s sent it to a colleague who knows about animal bites to get more information. A cat or dog might have found the finger after it was put in the snow but I don’t think so, there were no paw prints or any disturbances on that snow, it was like the finger had been placed there very carefully right as we got the call.”
“So, he’s saying we have two humans, one with extraordinarily small teeth, one with an oversize eye tooth, and a cat, taking people and cutting off hands and fingers, having a little snack, and then being able to dispose of the rest of the body, clothes, everything?” said with a slightly sarcastic emphasis when speaking of the cat.
“No, that’s why I stayed to re-read the report, I also talked the Doc last night. It’s not a human with small teeth, it’s a child. The bite marks were made by a child, no more than 10 years old based on the measurements. A child chewed on that finger. After the adult.”
“Oh, man. Now I’m gonna puke. A kid? a little kid…he’s sure? Rhetorical, I know he wouldn’t have put it in the report if he wasn’t sure, now what?”
Before the question could be answered a phone rang.
“It’s yours” Glancing around and gesturing to the server for top-up of coffee with one hand while reaching for the forensic report with the other.
A quick look at the phone screen to see who was calling and a deep breath before answering “Sir, what’s happening?” already knowing what would be said.
To be continued.
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