Friday, 22 July 2011

The Body

When the call came over the radio, Detective John Larson almost didn’t take it. Some eerie instinct tried to warn him off. He hadn’t slept all night, but a body had been reported and he was up. He took the call.

It was out of town, open countryside, and miles from anywhere. Considering the location, it was a surprise to see so many people already there. They stood at the gate to a field in a tight group. Seeing no other police cars, he realised he was the first on the scene. The crowd watched his car approach slowly along the grass-spined track. They looked young. He sensed their mood immediately; it was buoyant, almost celebratory. Larson radioed base that he had arrived, but waited a few moments before turning off the engine. Something in the way the people waited, something akin to déjà vu, suggested an unfamiliar and awful ceremony.

He shook off the presentiment and got out of the car. As he did, a man appeared among the mob and came down the hill to meet him. He was in his late fifties, bearded and ruddy-faced, and wore a yellow raincoat. He was smiling.

“Morning officer.”

Frowning, the detective took the hand offered him, noticing dirt under the fingernails, a calloused palm.

“We got a call about a body.”

“Yes, that was one of my assistants. It’s her first.” The man winked and leaned close. “She’s a bit excited. Everyone is.”

“I’m sorry,” said Larson, drawing back a little, “who are you?”

“Oh, excuse me. Doctor Fred Durren. I’m in charge here. This way, please.”

He led him to the gate and through the people waiting there. They were lively, chatting and smoking. Larson found their attitude inappropriate, yet they cowed him, with their youth, their numbers.

“Who are these people?” he asked almost in a whisper.

“Just my little gang. They’re up from London for a few days.” And with that, the doctor set off across the field. Larsen hurried to catch up. As he did, he saw that quite a lot of earth had been recently excavated.

“Is it a grave?”

“Oh, undoubtedly,” answered Durren. “We found the cattle first. There were so many of them. Possibly as many as a hundred. Mind your step there. All killed at once. And then we found him.”

Larson was shocked; the doctor was speaking with an unconcealed relish. He was about to say something but his attention was taken by the size of the grave. Durren reached the edge and proudly pointed down at something inside.

The detective drew near and looked into the pit. The first thing he noticed were the wheels, two of them, they looked like wagon wheels. Then he saw the skeleton.

“Marvellous, isn’t it?” said Durren, wistfully.

“It’s … it’s been here for some time.”

Durren regarded the other with a strange expression. “Well, yes. At least three thousand years. Late Bronze Age … you were told this was an archaeological site?”

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4 comments:

storytreasury said...

Obviously he wasn't! (wondering they they called the police?) Didn't see that end coming!

Anke said...

Thanks for the laugh. XD

Simon Kearns said...

Cheers, Anke

@ storytreasury ... they have to call the police when remains are found.

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

Humorous. Love it.