A Murder of Crows (Part Three of Nine)

An excerpt from Descendant
Available now from Belfire Press


Martin Crowe’s attention was focused on the mosquito that had landed on the back of his hand. He watched as it became fat with his blood, only partially annoyed by the subtle itch that tingled from where its proboscis penetrated his flesh. The insect began to convulse and the blood seeped out from its fractured abdomen before falling away, twitching in silent agony, at the agent’s feet. He knew that the female mosquito drew blood from its victim to supplement their diet with much needed iron and protein as a part of their reproductive process. What this particular mosquito didn’t know, didn’t sense, was that his blood wasn’t the nourishing kind. Moral of the story? Stick your nose in where it doesn’t belong and you end up dead. That was something that Martin Crowe was more than aware of.

“It looks like Dispatch was right about this one.”

Crowe turned his attention to his partner who was descending the steps of the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office. He admired her and the easy way she had with people, especially the locals. It was something he struggled with, preferring to lose himself in the work itself. She had a knack for looking them dead in the eye and telling them exactly what they wanted to hear. She had charm, that was for sure. He, on the other hand, did not.

“Throw enough shit against the wall and some of it’s bound to stick,” he grumbled, fishing out a cigarette from his inner pocket. As a Special Agent attached to the FBI’s Paranormal Operations Division, one of the hardest things for him to swallow was the way most of their cases were assigned. He had a general distrust of psychics, and depending as heavily as they did on Dispatch to divine paranormal events with their crystal balls and Ouija Boards, or whatever they used to get a line on where the agents would be sent next, didn’t sit well with Martin Crowe. “What are we looking at?”

“On the surface, nothing.” Selina Wolfe joined her partner by their flat black SUV. “We’ve got a twenty year old male missing for forty-eight hours. Not so out of the ordinary, but he was last seen at a Hallowe’en party on the outskirts of town. Plenty of witnesses to his being there. He snuck off with a local girl and hasn’t been seen since.”

“She a suspect?”

“Sheriff doesn’t think so. In fact, he’s not concerned at all. Why would he be? The kid in question, William Craft, is a college drop out and has a reputation as a small time drug dealer, moving a little grass and the occasional litany of recreational drugs. Not unlikely for someone like that to just up and move on.”

“So why the red flag from Dispatch?”

“Because he’s not the first young man to go missing a few days before All Hallows in this area. I’d say this has been a fairly common occurrence stretching back at least twenty years, maybe far longer.”

“Ritual sacrifice?”

“It’s got my spider sense tingling.”

“You read too many comic books.”

“You don’t read enough,” she said with a smile.

“So, what’s the plan? Track down his little girlfriend and put the screws to her?” Crowe had a distaste for following leads and questioning suspects, especially young girls. He was generally the heavy and preferred a straight on fight to playing good cop – bad cop, particularly with a bunch of stoned kids who probably didn’t know their asses from a hole in the ground anyway.

“Not yet,” Selina replied, sensing her partner’s frustration. “Interestingly enough, the name Potter came up in the Dispatch file as a possible lead and, lo and behold, the secretary shares with me that if anyone knew what Craft was up to it would be a friend of his named Brian Potter. The sheriff questioned him, but got nowhere.”

“That’s because he doesn’t have our sparkling personalities.” Crowe flipped his spent cigarette butt into the street.

“Exactly,” she said, climbing into the passenger seat of their Grand Cherokee. “If this is ritualistic in nature and William Craft’s been marked as a sacrifice for some sort of Samhain ritual, then we’ve got less than twenty four hours to put a stop to it.”

“Nothing like being under the gun to inspire our best work.” Crowe pulled the Jeep into traffic and made his way down East Second Street, past the typical Italianate façades that were so prevalent throughout these small, Midwestern towns.

Return here next week for another Wicked Wednesday installment of
A Murder of Crows

Chapter Four will be posted on September 21st

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