Sergeant Lynn Bouchard’s plastic covered shoes stuck to the hard wood floors, creating a suction sound that followed him from room to room. He wiped a bead of sweat from his brow as he made his way through a maze of empty solo cups and glass bottles. The overhead fans were trying their hardest to keep the air moving, to cool the uniformed police and techs that were working diligently to catalogue hundreds of pieces of evidence. Lynn silently cursed global warming and the fact that most houses in Western Washington don’t come standard with air conditioning. No one used to need it. But now, the Pacific Northwest was dealing with a heat wave of unprecedented proportions. Triple digits in Seattle, on the waterfront? Hell had officially arrived on Earth.
Lynn made his way to the back of the house; to the reason for the PD circus. Mr. and Mrs. Richter had been away on vacation, and their son, Jason had done what all teenagers do when left alone: he threw a party. That had been three days ago. When Mr. and Mrs. Richter returned home, they found the house in utter disarray, but their anger was quickly replaced by abject terror when they’d discovered the pieces of what forensics thought to be dozens of bodies. The smell in the house was overwhelming, despite all the windows being open. There just wasn’t enough of a breeze outside to help usher in fresh air, and the stench of fetid decay had been simmering in the unprecedented heat for three days.
He watched as a uniform exited that last room, face a pale grey, a sheen of sweat covering his face. The uniform made the sign of the cross from his head to his chest and to each shoulder. Lynn could count on one hand the number of times he’d seen a cop fall apart at a scene, and they’d all happened in the past two years. Part of that was because of what the public called the Great Awakening; the revelation that all the things that go bump in the night are indeed real. Five years ago, the preternatural community and collectively revealed itself to the humans. Now, vampires owned night clubs, and werewolves worked in the cubicle next to yours. There were those among that community that believed that they were monsters and wanted everything to go back to the way it was, when they slid through shadows unnoticed, the stuff of nightmares and fables to keep good little children in line. They were small in number, but they were loud, and not afraid of violence.
The other part of the reason that Lynn had seen more cops fall apart in the last two years than he had his whole career was because he was the Sergeant in charge of the Washington State Preternatural Investigation Squad. What he did to be put in charge of what the cops called “was piss” he didn’t know, but he hated it. Most departments in the state thought WSPIS was a joke, and apparently the legislature did too, because the funding was abysmal. But Lynn Bouchard didn’t think WSPIS was a joke. He took his job seriously, and his team had one of the best solve rates for preternatural crime in country. He’d even been invited to speak at national events.
Lynn took that final step into the back room and stopped dead. His eyes couldn’t make sense of what he was seeing. The whole room gleamed red and shining, and lumps were strewn about the room in a haphazard manner. He blinked forcefully and shook his head. The room had become a shallow pool, flooded with blood. He was thankful someone had been smart enough to put out the little booty covers. He had understood from the techs that “pieces of bodies” had meant the victims had been dismembered, but understanding it in theory was a whole lot different from understanding it in practice. Lynn had never seen such carnage, and he struggled to see past the big picture of so much death and zero in on the details he needed to do his job.
Lucky for Lynn, Detective Lillian Reyes was already in the room and making her way across the floor to him. She was WSPIS’ resident witch and boasted a double degree in Comparative Religion and Magical Forensics. She was from the first class that could even graduate with a degree in preternatural or magic anything, which is why she carried the rank of Detective despite being a rookie. Lynn wouldn’t admit it out loud, but Reyes was the best rookie he’d ever had. She was calm under pressure, a fount of knowledge, and never seemed to feel the need to unload her guts at a gruesome crime scene.
Even now, Reyes managed to give Lynn a tight lipped smile. “You’re not going to like this,” she said, voice even but eyes dancing with just a hint of mischief.
“I already don’t like it,” he replied. “Just get to the point, Reyes.”
“Aye aye Capitan.” Reyes gave a lazy almost salute. Lynn knew he was going to hate whatever she had to tell him. She used humor and teasing as a coping mechanism. A lot of cops did. You have to be good with the dark humor, or you’ll run screaming for the hills.
Reyes led him to the far wall and pointed to a series of symbols that had been drawn on the wall in black ink. They meant nothing to him, but he could tell from her shining face, that they meant a lot to her. “This is a spell,” she said.
“Summoning a demon.”
“You’re telling me that a demon was summoned here?”
“Well I can’t guarantee that. But I think it’s probably pretty likely that these kids thought they were being funny and dabbled in something far outside their understanding. I think they succeeded in summoning a demon.”
“You think the demon is what killed all these kids?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Great. Just great.”
Hell really had arrived on Earth.