THIS STORY HAS ALL IMAGINARY CHARACTERS THAT THE WRITER HAS BUILT VIA OBSERVATION AND IMAGINATION.
The first tragedy occurred on July first, down at Old Bayman’s Farm. Fawn Nolan, who had been jogging through the fields early that morning, was the first to witness and call the Sheriff, who, luckily, happened to be driving nearby.
“I-It looked like the works of a cult.” She stammered, cheeks bloodless and eyes bulging. “There were fi-five rows of pointed sticks, all stuck deep into the dirt. A-and stuck on the sticks at the end of the rows,” her breath caught as she struggled to choke out her next words, “w-were rotting animal parts.”
By the end of the day, Rainsville, typically a quiet and uneventful town, become abuzz with the news:
“I swear, it’s Mrs.Mayfly! She’s been off her knockers for as long as I can remember!”
“Please, it’s got to be Fawn Nolan. You think anyone would actually go jogging in this heat? She’s spun a pretty unconvincing lie, if you ask me.”
“Well, I think the Sheriff’s suspicious. Seen him several times wandering the streets in the evening for no particular reason. Wouldn’t even look at me when I waved to him the other day.”
Rumors about who committed such an peculiar deed and why spread like wildfire carried by a whirlwind; soon before the end of the week, neighbors were found casting suspicious glances at neighbors and friends were found pointing fingers at friends.
Pressured to make a decision before the entire town went mad with premonition, the Sheriff decided to cuff Guy Winston, the local troublemaker.
“But officer, I swear, it wasn’ me!” He contended, his chest and face pressed against the bitingly cold metal of the police wagon. “I wasn’ even at Old Bayman’s that day! You could ask me mama!”
The Sheriff tightened the cuffs and growled in his signature throaty voice, “Tell that to the five townspeople who claim you were at Old Bayman’s just last weekend.”
“But that ain’ true!” Guy Winston persisted, glowering. “Them people are lying!”
The Sheriff scoffed and shoved him brutally into the wagon, “Give me a break, Winston. It’s five against one, and you’re on the losing side.”
The second tragedy came the Monday after the first, this time striking the expansive estate of the town’s wealthiest citizen, John Roams.
To his friends and family, Roams histrionically declared the offense as “the most horrendous, the most deplorable—oh! It’s enough to rival even the event from earlier this week”.
Fawn, who lived only a few houses down from the Roams Estate, went and viewed the spectacle for herself. She discovered that Roams’ assertions were true: the second incident was just as gruesome as the first. Laid sprawled on the freshly chopped lawn was a large, dead horse, its body stiff with rigor mortis and its hide bloodied by multiple long knife-slashes.
She was present still when the Sheriff arrived. “Whew! It smells awful.” He yawned, shaking his head in exasperation. “‘scuse me. Been having trouble getting a good night’s sleep lately,” he yawned again, “—always tired. Get me anymore stressed, and I might just start sleepwalking like I use to as a kid.” He rubbed his eyes and moved to erect police tape around the carcass.
This time, the town was found equally divided in their accusations. Half of its citizens believed that the deeds were of an escaped madman from the nearby state penitentiary. The other half held that the deeds were done by some of Guy Winston’s cronies as another lousy attempt at disrupting peace. The Sheriff doubted that it was either.
Early the next morning, Fawn Nolan received three sharp knocks at her door. Upon answering the knocks, she was greeted by the Sheriff, wearing a somber expression and wringing a pair of handcuffs in his hands.
“Fawn, this isn’t easy to say,” the Sheriff grunted, his voice throatier than ever. “but I do have reason to believe that you are the culprit.” He seated himself across from her at her kitchen table and rubbed his fingers over the spot on his chest where his badge would normally be located. Hesitatingly, he lifted his eyes to meet Fawn’s.
Instead of melting into a torrent of sobs or erupting into a slew of vehement defenses, like the Sheriff expected her to do, Fawn simply sat and stared, so stolidly, in fact, that the he became conspicuously uncomfortable.
He picked at some red paste wedged beneath his fingernails (How did they get there? He wondered) and cleared his throat. But before he could muster a word, Fawn interrupted, “Dave, you’re my brother. We’ve done everything together up through high school. I even trust you with a key to my house! How could you possibly blame me? If it’s anyone, I swear it’s John Roam. He’s never respected anyone who’s not as rich as him, anyways.”
Shame blossomed in the Sheriff’s cheeks like blood from a fresh wound, and he opened his mouth to make a reply.
At that moment, one of Dave’s deputy officers poked his head into the scene and called, “Uh, Sheriff, we’ve got some news.”
Breathing deeply, the Sheriff answered, “What is it?”
“Someone called late last night—left a voicemail at the station. They claim that there’s been another offense.” The officer paused for a beat. “And this time it’s in Fawn’s house.”
The Sheriff leaped out of his chair, the crimson in his cheeks giving way to a sickly paleness. “Take some officers and scour the whole precinct—.”
“We don’t have to.” A second officer appeared by the side of the first.
In the hands of the second officer was a blender, brimming with chunks of dripping rodent innards. But what made both the Sheriff and Fawn gag in incredulity was that taped to the handle of the blender was a police badge, the name “Dave Nolan” gleaming patently on the polished metal.
“Wha—?” Fawn gasped, shakily lifting herself to her feet.
The first officer cleared his throat again and snapped open his phone. Immediately, the drowsy, throaty voice of the sheriff permeated the room: “Fawn’s house…going there…soon…now…raccoon…need a raccoon…fresh meat.” Beep.