“What the hell was that?” Jet arrived just in time to watch the last remnants of light leave Detective Farris. There was a moment of panic as people scrambled to figure out what the hell just happened. Lens took lead and calmed everything down. They now had a fresh body and it confirmed what the ME suspected. It was already cold, making time of death impossible to tell. Could’ve been a few hours or a few weeks. They’d have to wait and see if the bodies still decomposed at their usual rate or if this “magic” would affect decomp as well. Meanwhile, Detective Lens would have to backtrack the victims’ to find out when they were last seen alive. Police took witness statements. The cleaners all claimed to have seen balls of blue light drain out of Farris and into the sigil on the ceiling. The monos saw none of that. They saw him pause then turn blue and drop to floor. Kratt sent the story with pics to the leaders of the cleaner council.
In all the craziness, Lillas pulled Lens aside. “You ok? You just lost your partner.”
He thought for a moment. He had expression as if she’d asked him something he hadn’t even asked himself. “You know,” he said after a moment, “between you and me…and Jet and Kratt. I know you three talk about me.”
“So what! You talk about me with all your little friends at the precinct.”
“Mik, calm down.”
“I am calm.”
“Uh, huh. Anyway, I feel guilty saying this, but…I feel… like I haven’t breathed and can take a breath.”
“That’s because your partner was a knight. If they can’t kill or possess you, they’ll drain you. They’re terrible people, Lens. I keep telling you this. You need to listen to me.”
Now that all three active cleaners were together, maybe they could get some real work done and figure out what the hell happened. The sigil literally sucked the life of all nine knights…well, ten knights. That much was clear. But what wasn’t clear was, “Why were they all together in the first place?” Jet asked.
The other two paused. “That is a good question,” Lillas said.
“Joe must’ve called them,” Kratt said.
“But for what at this time of night?” They began searching for clues.
Lens watched them fan out and chuckled. “Looking like the Scooby gang.”
Near the bodies of Joe, Sally, and Rachel a laptop sat on a small table next to the TV. Coaxial cable linking the two electronics. “Hey, guys,” Lillas called and was joined by Kratt and Jet. “So, I’m guessing lead muthafucka here and the two Medusas dragged everyone’s ass out here to watch a video or some shit. I can’t imagine anything else being so important.”
“He could’ve emailed it,” Kratt said.
“Depends on the size of the video, but probably,” Jet said.
“So, either it was too big or it was so important that it warranted discussion.”
“Okay, you three,” Lens cut in. “That’s enough theorizing. We’re going to wait until we have more information and evidence.”
“It’s locked,” Lillas said, trying to get into the computer and completely ignoring Lens. “I know people who can get into this.”
“So do we.” Lens unplugged the laptop and gave it to a CSI.
“Right, well, do you want us to ID these sons of bitches for you before we go?”
“No. And could you try being a little more respectful of the dead?”
“Lens, I hated them when they were alive. Four of them have hospitalized me. The only reason I didn’t kill them myself is because of Boyd and his stupid distract-o-magic.”
“Didn’t you take Sally’s arm?”
She giggled. “I did. I was aiming for her spleen. Boyd came along and hit me with some spell. So, I got her in the arm instead.”
Kratt’s phone beeped. Lillas continued relaying her ill feelings towards the knighthood. “We gotta go,” Kratt said. “The Council needs us to call them. It’s about the emblem. Detective, we’ll let you know.”
Lillas began sniffing the air. “Oh, God.”
“You don’t smell that?”
“Detective Lens.” A younger detective stormed into the room, shaking, out of breath. Two other officers followed. “You gotta come see this.”
“HA! Lens, remember when you told me to show respect for these dead assholes? Keep that in mind. Lead the way, hombre.”
Lens stood next to Kratt and Jet. “I hate working with her.”
“Yep, so do we,” Kratt said. “And for the same reason.”
“Y’all know I can hear for long distances, right?” Lillas yelled.
They commenced various forms of eyerolls and head shaking then joined her. Lillas, the detective, and a group of officers stood in front of a wall. On the side was what looked like a crack between two wall panels. Lillas was practically dancing with glee.
“What’s going on?” Lens asked.
“We found something.” They pushed the wall aside and that’s when it hit all of them. A muggy stench.
A flight of steps led down into what could only be described as a cave. The floor and walls were dirt. There was a ceiling made of wooden slats. It looked unstable has hell, but was good enough to hold up the lights. It was dug out and away from the cabin. An underground extension rather than a basement. “There were no light switches,” an officer said.
It didn’t take long for Lillas to figure out what happened. “Hale must’ve used magic to turn on the hanging lamps. There’s no way he’d turn these on and off manually.” Fortunately, she didn’t need magic. She could just manipulate electricity. As the lights turned on an audible gasp soaked into the dirt walls.
Low-level bookcases lined a few of the walls, all packed with more books than they were meant for. But what was troubling was the obvious source of the smell. In the floor, in the walls, hands, faces, and feet stuck out of the dirt. They were buried everywhere, all in varying shades of greys, browns, reds, and blues to mark the stages of decay. A woman’s mutilated body lay on a metal table like a science experiment. The only thing that could be heard was officers puking.
“I wondered where Hale did his work,” Lillas said. “Now, I know.”
Jet approached her and gently squeezed her palm. “Mik.”
He didn’t have to continue for her to understand. “Lens, we need to get everything out of here. Books, tables, everything’s gotta go.”
“Alright! Clear out! I know we have a lot of questions. Hopefully, some of the evidence will answer them. Let’s get this shit to the Tower.” His staff moved swiftly and efficiently. Boxing books, taking apart the shelves. Pictures of the body had to be taken before it could be moved at which point the medical examiner was there to bag her and take her. Kratt and Jet helped with clean up.
While the authorities cleared up, she left the scene and cabin. She limped outside, down the steps and up a small hill that would’ve been where the cave was. Grass and other weeds had firmly established roots and growth. Hale had been at this a while. To reveal the bodies, she’d need to move the earth to uncover the cave. There was no telling how many bodies were down there.
“Alright, Mik,” Kratt said. “Do it.”
Her eyes turned dark, almost black. Dirt moved, exposing the hole to those above. Then the next part. Like a machine, body after body was churned out of the earth. Up out of the ground, out of the walls, piling higher and higher. There must’ve been at least 60 bodies, some of them skeletons.
“Oh my God,” Lens said, disgusted.
Lillas stared into the mass grave, shook her head, and walked away. The authorities would be busy tonight.