Pieces of the house were strewn everywhere, from half a wall to tiny splinters. The green grass was dark where blood marked it. People wearing white coveralls walked around with black buckets, picking pieces of the dead up. The air was thick with the smell of blood.
The whole scene seemed surreal, placed in the middle of a nice neighborhood, with white picket fences and flower beds. A place where families lived. Where kids played. This piece of the suburb, though, was transformed into a scene from a horror story. It would be a long time before the kids in the neighborhood would be let outside to play again.
The air carried the stench of human waste, and I decided that breathing through my mouth was the smart thing to do. Even if I had to ignore the taste of copper that covered my tongue. With a last deep breath, I ignored my surroundings and all the neighbors that peeked out from behind the curtains, and focused on the task at hand.
I walked among the debris, careful not to step on any of the bloody pieces, doing my best to be objective about what I saw. I did a great job of ignoring the truth my brain tried to tell me when my eyes made sense of some of the bloody pieces.
There had to be some kind of clue.
I took the long way around the garden and ended in front of the house, or what was left of it. Most of the roof, the front wall, and half the south end was gone. It had been a one-story house. The section I stood in front of was painted in a soft pink tone with tiny purple hearts. I turned my back to the ruined house, it was too destroyed to tell me anything, and I wouldn’t be of any help if my anger took hold of me. Slowly, I picked my way into the garden and stopped one of the bucket-carrying people.
“I need to look in that.”
The eyes over the white mask got bigger. The man turned to look at Kansas, who carefully made his way over to us.
“Just let her have a look,” Kansas said.
The man handed over the bucket.
I placed it on the ground and picked up the biggest piece in the mess. It was a lump of meat, blood, and skin. Too ruined to identify, but big enough to give me some clues. The teeth that gnawed on it hadn’t been made for this kind of big prey. They were small and rather dull, made to crush bones, not take big bites. I picked up a piece of bone with some meat still attached and studied it. Definitely crushed.
I carefully placed the pieces in the bucket and got to my feet again. Kansas handed me a wet cloth, and I wiped my hands as clean as they would get without soap and a stiff brush. I handed the cloth to the guy in white, who got back to picking up meat from the ground.
They had to work fast because when night came, all sorts of interesting creatures would find the smell of fresh kill too inviting to ignore. The whole place would probably get sprinkled with Penny Royal dust and watered. The plant was popular in gardens and was poisonous as all hell. Most creatures would stay away from it.
I walked further into the garden and looked at the different pieces of the house around me. “How many people lived here?” I didn’t want to know, but somehow my mouth asked anyway. Stupid mouth.
“Four.” I nodded and tried to imagine a family of four sitting at their breakfast table, being a family, until a dragon ripped them all apart.