ASN 2.2: Troll Slayer

by Matt P.

Walter was always amused that deeply landlocked Border should run to quite so many bridges, the result of the river—a stream, really—having broken in to two different sections. The original settlers had decided to plant their nascent town right in the middle of the two forks—locals living there already notwithstanding—and had then grown out. The Market Street bridge was a decent example of the art of the bridge builder’s art, with an old style and a worn look to it.

The allegedly dismembered body underneath the bridge somewhat ruined the effect.

Walter stepped up to the police tape, beginning to reach for his badge before he was waived in by the patrol officer who was manning the perimeter. “You can go on through, Detective,” the woman, wearing a corporal’s rank on her sleeve, said.

“Thank you, Corporal,” Walter offered with a nod as he ducked under the tape. He gestured behind him to Morgan. “Do you know the medical examiner, Doctor Winters?” He asked, as Morgan drew out her own identification to hold up.

“Only by reputation, ma’am,” the Corporal offered, holding up the tape for Morgan. “Detective Richards, I just wanted to say…” the Corporal began hesitantly. “I was at the BPD building during the gang attack, and I remember seeing you. And my brother responded to the High School.” She let that hang for a little bit in the air. “Thank you.”

Walter reached up to scratch th back of his neck, offering her a little bit of a smile. “You’re welcome, I guess, Corporal…” He let the words trail off in an obvious invitation for her to fill in details.

“Corporal Fox, sir. My brother is Sergeant Fox, on SWAT,” she introduced herself with a grin, before looking back to the bridge and smothering the smile quickly. “I won’t keep you. Detective Shaw is under the bridge with the body—he was the first officer on the scene.”

Walter and Morgan nodded their thanks and moved back toward the underside of the bridge. It was drying from the recent rains but there was still a cold and damp feeling underneath, as if the warm tendrils of the sunlight dared not enter. Officer Shaw was standing next to one of the largest bloodstains Walter had ever seen, and he had become something of an unwilling connoisseur on the matter. The distressingly small pieces of various viscera trailing back in to the shadows did not bode well for whoever had been under the bridge.

“Julian,” Walter greeted, not reaching out to shake the other man’s hand because of the gloves he wore. Walter fished in to the pocket of his jacket to pull out his own pair; when Morgan came up to Officer Shaw’s side she was already wearing hers.

Julian Shaw was a tall, broad shouldered African-American officer who had been working the beat when he had happened to intersect with the Three Stripes investigation the year before. Technically he had stopped a Faerie terrorist from shooting Walter’s children, but that was neither widely known nor publicized. He was also wearing a BPD t-shirt and bright blue shorts with the University of Kansas Jayhawk on them.

Shaw noticed Walter’s glance at the shorts. “I saw the blood on my morning jog. I’ve got night shift. Guess I’m starting early,” Shaw muttered the last bit with a little bit of a scowl, but then shook his head. He scooted back a little bit so that Morgan could have better access to the…scene. “So what do you think happened?”

Morgan pulled a light from her coat pocket and shone it back a little bit down in to the underside of the bridge. For everything she had seen, even she blanched a little bit at what was back there. “Well, Julian, I’d say that whoever this was either went through a blender or got torn to pieces. Clothes and all.” She leaned down to reach out with a pen and turn over what could only be described as a gibbet. “And then was partially eaten, which explains why there aren’t nearly enough chunks.”

Shaw fished a small notebook from his pants. “That would be one Richard Carter, although pretty much nobody called him that. Friends and customers called him Troll, because he liked to sell under bridges.”

Walter winced as the light Morgan held trailed back over a series of irregularly sized chunks spread over a large area. Walter thought he caught a glance of something back under the bridge, shimmering with the dark green-black slickness of an oil slick, but then it was gone and he could no longer spot it in the darkness. He shook his head as he looked back down to the body.

“I barely managed to stop the chief from doing this investigation himself,” Julian offered with a chuckle. Even as messed up as it is, he wanted in.” Walter raised an eyebrow while Morgan continued to take notes on the body.

“He was here?” Walter asked, blinking as he stepped over to the other police officer. Julian chuckled, although it was a weak chuckle as he couldn’t quite use Walter’s body to fully block his sight of the corpse.

“Alexander still tries to take at least a murder case every year, keep his boots out in the field he says. I think he’s just bored with all the desk work,” Julian offered with a shake of his head. “He was a pretty damn good cop before they put him behind a desk. Still don’t know why he took it.”

“Appointment as Marshal is not something you turn down, Julian,” Morgan said as she stood up, carefully picking at the base of one of her gloves to pull it off, before carefully removing the other glove to not get any ichor on her hands. “Preliminarily I can say that our friend the troll was torn apart manually, rather than being cut apart. How, I don’t know,” she continued to forestall their questions. “But it was not done with any knife or blade, and it wasn’t an animal either. Whatever happened, it looks like he was pulled apart by people.”

Walter winced, and Julian blanched, as Morgan began to pack up her kit. “Could it be more of the Three Stripes? Retaliation for the shootout at the High School or something? You guys said some of the bodies last year were ripped apart,” Julian asked. Walter and Morgan both shook their heads.

“That was…different,” Morgan answered with a sigh. “Not that I’m a connoisseur of chunky salsa, mind, but this is different. Something new has come to Border.”

Neither man could resist joining Morgan in her sigh.