It is the start of autumn and thus spooky season. Just a heads up that the the writing is going to get darker. If that is not your cup of tea, feel free to skip this story. This piece of writing is a bit longer so I’m going to do two separate posts for it.
Prompt: Write a story or poem where the issue appears to be magical but is actually mundane.
TW: This story does involve murder and gore.
Short Story Part I
The detective stepped down off the train car onto the aged platform. The station was old but well cared for, despite the energy put into it, the effects of time were showing through. He sighed, he knew this gig was not going to pay well but when an official request was received at the Paranormal Detective Agency and no one else wanted the job, well then, it was up to the new kid. He wanted to get this done and get back to the city. He might work in the paranormal world but small towns gave him the creeps.
Finding the town hall and the mayor’s office was easy. He didn’t even need to ask directions, it was the grandest building around. A young woman looked up as he entered, she frowned briefly before smiling at him. Strangers weren’t common around here, check.
“Can I help you sir,” she asked with more than a hint of curiosity.
“Yes,” he replied, “I’m with the Paranormal Detective Agency. We received a letter…” He didn’t even get to finish his sentence before she was up.
“Let me get the mayor!” She called over her shoulder as she hurried down the hall.
The detective stepped into the mayor’s office and the man hurried to shake his hand, “I’m Mayor Tim, thank you for coming so quickly!”
“You’re welcome, I’m Detective July. How may I be of service?”
“We need you to confirm the identity of a suspected werewolf. The town has had 12 deaths in the last 5 years, all on the full moon. Ever since the son of the man in the big house returned after his father’s passing. Not to mention all the howling. It’s enough to chill the blood.”
July coughed, “um, this seems more like a job for the Slayers Guild.”
Now it was Tim’s turn to look uncomfortable, “yes, well, you see the town doesn’t have a lot of money and well the Paranormal Detective Agency is what we could afford. Just confirm the wolf’s identity and we will chase the man out of town.”
July sighed, he needed this gig. “Alright but I’m going to need to see the wolf’s latest victim and read reports on the autopsy.”
The mayor smiled, “speak to my secretary, she will tell you how to get to the undertaker’s.”
The sign creaking from the gate over the poarch read, Spellman Undertaker Since 1793. Charming. The man that opened the door was older and balding with patches of salt and pepper hair but the muscles in his arms looked well honed.
“I’m Detective July,” said July, “are you the undertaker?”
“No,” said the man in a deep voice, “I’m the cemetery caretaker, the gravedigger, if you will. Call me Dig, everyone does.” July didn’t like the hint of humor in the man’s voice. “Let me take you to Mr. Spellman.”
Mr. Spellman had abnormally long white fingers, like spider legs. He was too pale, as if he rarely left the funeral home that also served as the mogure. July was less and less inclined to like this town. Despite July’s dislike, he had to hide it as the undertaker was more than happy to allow him access to the photos and autopsy reports.
“I want these murders stopped as much as anyone,” Mr. Spellman purred. “It is unpleasant, sewing friends up for their funerals before their time.”
Detective July had studied animal attacks to get his licenses, both normal and supernatural. The wounds in the grainy black and white photos looked like they were caused by an animal raking the victim with their claws but something felt off. Reading through the notes and looking at the gruesome images a few thoughts dawned on him. One, there was no bite component to any of the victims. Almost all predators killed to eat or would savage with their teeth and there was none of that here in the pictures or the notes. Two, all the claw marks appeared to have been made by a right handed paw coming up and raking the victims neck, chest, and belly as if from behind. Three, listed in the personal effects for all of the victims, were only clothes and shoes, no jewelry, watches, wallets or anything else of value.
July thought back to his first case as a junior detective working with Detective Harry. It had been a werebear, nasty case. The werebear had eaten all the internal organs of each of the three victims. The shifter had also killed every time he shifted, not just sometimes as this werewolf appeared to. He sat back. These didn’t look like maulings by a werewolf, these looked like murders and robberies. Flipping to the last few pages in each victim’s file, past the autopsy reports were the costs of the funerals. July whistled, none of them had been cheap.
Someone was targeting wealthy victims on full moon nights and making it look like a werewolf slaying. The question was, how to prove it and how to catch them. The next full moon was in two days. This case was finally getting interesting.
I had a ton of fun writing this detective story and I can’t wait to share the second half with you! Let me know what you think in the comments. Have a good start to the autumn and spooky season.
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