185. A Murder of Crows

WARNING: Not for the squeamish

When Laura arrived at the crime scene, she saw an officer curled up and crying in the passengerseat, and another one bursting through the entrance just in time to lose his lunch in a series of lurches. As she walked past the vomiting officer and into the building, leaving behind her the sound of sick pelting against the ground, she knew that she had stumbled upon something good.

Jenny was going to be so pissed that she passed on this to cover Amber Chia’s book launch.

She made it up the narrow, dingy stairs, navigating her way through the darkness (the 60-watt bulb didn’t do much to light up the place), and when she heard the sound of low murmurs, she knew that she was getting warmed. She climbed the sixth and final slight of stairs, and after pushing through the crowd of residents (“Excuse me, I’m a reporter; excuse me, please”), she stepped out to the front of the crowd, just beyond the yellow police tape.

Laura stood there, stunned for a little while, as her mind struggled to comprehend what she was seeing; and there was a voice telling her that she should forget about all of this, take the rest of the day off, and spend the rest of the day wrapped in blankets watching The Big Bang Theory with a cup of hot milo in her hands.

This is what she saw before the bile rose in her throat and nausea clouded her vision:

There was something strapped to a crucifix set up on the rooftop, something that might have been a human being. Its wrists were tied to the horizontal bars of the crucifix, and its ankles to the vertical pole – a crude recreation of the crucifixion of Christ. Whatever it had been, it was now a bloody mess: deep red strips of flesh hung off the bones, the remnants of guts and a mixture of organs settled in the hole that used to be its stomach (the rest of these, it appeared, had spilled onto the ground), the skull hanging uselessly, barely supported by its neck, if that mess could even be called a neck.

“Charming,” she heard Sheldon’s voice in her head.

Laura might have imagined it, but she could have sworn that there was a wet sound when the first eyeball fell out of its socket. The white orb, trailing a bloody optic nerve, bounced twice on the ground before settling into a lazy roll, and came to rest among black feathers.

It was like a fuse tripping. Laura simply fell. She wasn’t conscious when she hit the floor.

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