Chapter Four: Morgues and Motives
Part 4: Morgues and Motives
Morgues, basically, all were the same. Creepy to the average human who had the choice not to spend time around the dead, but nice and clean and normal to them. Certainly nicer then dug up graves.
The clerk was helpful and extraordinarily calm, as they often were. You had to be, really, when you worked with or near dead people. They'd split up, Sam and Xander did the acting-as-officials routine and distracted everybody while Dean got to check out all the other victims still in the morgue.
The latest victim's cause of death was exsanguination. Caused by his tripping and falling straight into a bear trap. It had maimed his entire neck.
The others died via a clean shot of a hunting rifle to the heart, by being clubbed over the head and a broken neck, or by being completely skinned.
Only there was never a murder weapon found. In the case of the shooting victim, there wasn't even a bullet, nor pellets. The club or bat was never found. There wasn't a bear trap, it had somehow got lost and disappeared as soon as the men recovering the body got it loose.
The man's skin, turned inside-out, had been expertly tied up to a human-sized facsimile of a rabbit fur skinning frame.
Dean had shot pictures of the bodies and, now, at seeing the skinned man, Sam got nauseous and hurriedly clicked the picture away. Xander made him click back to it.
Dean was a bit weirded out just how much interest the guy invested in a skinless wasted man, as Xander was bend over to the screen and looked at the picture intensely. The lack of emotion on his face, also made him slightly uncomfortable.
"See, there, from ankle up to, well, torso and back down again? This huntsman was skinned exactly how you skin a rabbit."
Yeah, well, duh, of course! "Man, you ever seen any other differently skinned critters?" Dean said.
Xander had his eye closed. "Yeah," he said and the tone and pitch of his voice were pregnant with emotion, making both brothers keep silent. Xander cleared his throat and went back to his observation trying to leave the memory behind him as soon as he could.
He cleared his throat, "You hang up a rabbit by its feet, cut like this and then upend the fur right off the body. This has been done to our guy, except it should not work on a human being."
"So," Sam said, "it's definitely magical in nature. Just who would... what kind of grief could someone have to kill huntsmen like they are game or fowl?"
"Other huntsmen? Jealous lover? Hate crimes?" Xander offered. Maybe it was that simple. If they were lucky. "We'll conduct interviews with the people that hunt around here. There probably is a local bar that those folks meet up in."
Sam nodded. Dean lent over his brother's shoulder and pressed the arrow key to switch through the images again. "Or it's not a possession of a human at all, and it is the animals getting revenge."
Sam and Xander's replies interfered with each other, "Well, who wouldn't?", "Dean, too much Steven King for you."
Dean thumped Sam and smirked at Xander.
"If it is the forest animals, then something, or somebody has to have helped them."
Sam nodded. "Yes, could be a spirit. Or something disturbed the forest. New houses built maybe. Trees cut down. Desecrated ground."
"Just who exactly reads too much King? Pet Sematary
much?" Dean murmured, then spoke louder, "Or it's a human, or a cult, doing some nice little sacrifice rituals in the woods and the energy bleeds off to the animals. Or, what do you know, maybe it's a rabid, bloodthirsty, save-the-whales, hug-a-tree greenie."
"Dean. Please." Sam got the annoyed teacher inflection down pat. Dean let his arms, raised to the cliché zombie shuffle gimme-brains gesture, fall to his sides again. Dean pouted, Xander pressed his fist against his lips to hide his grin and Sam rolled his eyes.
That night, after dinner, they walked a perimeter around their cabin. Xander had painted the anti-possession symbol and some general safety runes on Sam and Dean's chests using an ink made of freshly plucked back currant, blackberries and ashes of some branches of the trees surrounding their shack.
The forest looked normal. Felt normal. The EMF meter did not ping even once. The only scare they had that night had been an owl getting itself a mouse.
The three men returned to their cabin and got ready for bed while discussing their plans for the next day.