The bloodhound's strength almost pulled Greg Jordan off balance, and the leash bit into his palm as the animal lurched forward, having again caught the scent he followed. A three-year-old child had gone missing, and determination surged through the off-duty deputy. Although Greg looked forward to his days off, finding the little girl was far more important than watching sports and guzzling beer.
Lack of sunlight made it hard to see, and the foliage grew denser with each step. On both sides of him, the footfall of other searchers trampled through the thick grass and their voices called the child's name. The dog stopped at the edge of a large pond or Greg might have walked right off the bank. Fog drifted from the surface like steam from a heated kettle and a musty smell hung heavy around him. He swallowed hard when the bloodhound sat with eyes fixed on the body of water and whined. Greg turned his gaze to the sky. "Oh, God, please tell me she didn't drown."
Horizontal rain lashed Peter’s face and icy cold water seeped down his neck. The leash slid through his fingers and the dog broke loose to career toward a neighbour's fishpond. Peter swore loudly, confident no one would be out in this weather to hear him.
Now what? He'd have to be some sort of hero to go in after her. Was any woman worth this? He didn't even like dogs, especially not leggy, slobbery ones who refused to obey basic commands. Going back without the animal wasn’t an option, or his chances of a date with Miranda would be non-existent.
Following the flash of a waving white tail, Peter stepped from beneath the eerie sulphur fog of the streetlight and plunged into near darkness. His foot sank into sticky mud at the pond’s edge. He swore again as the mutt bounced in the water like a goat, mouth open and tongue lolling in glee.
Peter eyed the wood beyond the neighbour’s garden. It would be dark soon, and if the daft animal took off in a bid for freedom, he would be tracking her through the trees all night. Taking a deep breath, he eased closer, one arm extended.
'Here girl. Let's get you out of there and back to Miranda's blazing fire.’ Steady rain pattered the surface of the pond forming ripples. His hand closed on the drenched, scrawny neck and the dog crabbed sideways into deeper water, whimpering.
'Now you're scared aren't you?' He hooked a hand beneath the dog’s collar and hauled her upwards into his arms. Furiously paddling paws scrabbled against his chest as he searched for the trailing lead and slipped, cursing again as icy water soaked his jeans up to his thigh.
Was shaggy dog-drowning a crime?
Something bumped against his leg and tucking the squirming bundle of soaked fur beneath one arm, he shoved away the object with his other hand. Peter glanced down, then leapt backwards, his grip on the dog tightening until she yelped. His gaze fixed on a stiff, white hand that bobbed in the water – attached to an arm, on a body.
Dog Day, Fog Play
Some hero! Sim thought, as he pawsed in the fog.
I’m not a bloodhound or a real tracking dog.
Why should I care for detection of crime?
or splashing through water in autumnal time?
And why, when I time-travel into the past
am I stuck in a fur-form? A canine is fast
but a human can interview suspects at least
and no one tries putting a man on a leash…
There must be a reason to make me a dog
and send me a trekking and tracking in fog.
They’re wanting a hero, or so they aver
But damn it, a hero should never wear FUR!
It was the fog. That’s how he was getting away with it, how he had gotten away with it—so sparodically, so randomly—for so long now. He did his killing at night, under the cover of mist. He wasn’t fixated on a certain area or location; this killer didn’t restrict himself to a certain town or state. It was a specific setting that attracted him: a remote bridge on a foggy night. The cops who had been tracking this guy over two decades across several states called him the Troll, and they weren’t wrong—the man was nothing if not a monster. His M.O. was simple and savage, his victims all young males, handsome, college-student-age, their mutilated bodies found in the shallows of small rivers and streams. As Josh Parker drove the car through the soupy veil, he swallowed hard, suddenly feeling way in over his head. He wasn’t doing this to try and be a hero, he was just your average Criminology student with too much passion for his chosen path. Exactly what made Josh think he could solve this crime was a mystery even to him. Was he following a hunch? A student’s suspicion? What the heck was he doing, daring to drive through the dead of night toward a lonely river that was renowned around campus for its late fall fogs? Whatever it was, Josh drove slowly through the blanket of mist as he neared the river, and slower still as he steered onto the rickety old bridge, the buckled, weather-worn boards groaning under the weight of the car until he feared the entire bridge might collapse. He stepped on the brake and cut the engine. Then, against his better judgement and driven more by his undying curiosity than any rational thought, Josh took a deep breath and stepped out of the car and onto the bridge.
Through the swirling fog that filled the beams of the car’s headlights, he saw something up ahead. At first he thought it was a sack or a bag of trash lying on the road in the middle of the bridge, but as he moved slowly closer, he realized it was an animal. A large black dog, lying dead on the road. The river trickled and giggled far below. The planks bowed and moaned as Josh stepped cautiously around broken boards towards the lifeless animal. When he reached the dog, he knelt. Warily he placed one hand on the dead animal. That’s when he felt a whimper escape the beast. It wasn’t dead at all. In fact, laying there in the veiled beams of the headlights, the dog didn’t even look injured.
Suddenly alarm bells rang, and a thought slashed across his mind—while Josh had been busy working out the profile of a serial killer, he forgot to look at his own profile.
He never saw the hand reach up through the broken boards of the rickety old bridge. All he felt were those gnarled fingers lock around his ankle and his head crack against the wood as he was pulled through the splintered planks into the giggling, fog-covered waters below. The last thing he heard was the savage barking of the Troll’s pet dog, now jumping back to life on the bridge above after pretending to be dead. Then the swift current of the river filled his ears and the black water filled his lungs. Cold at first. Then flooding with warmth. The warmth of his own gushing blood.
So similiar, yet all very interesting and attention grabbing. Now it's your duty to vote for the BEST of the BEST using the voting Poll on the left-hand side of the blog. I'll announce the winner on Friday, after my wonderful Thursday Tourist, Danielle Thorne.