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12 November 2017 @ 06:37 am
_Stone_ part 5  
 

Chapter new discovery

K

Monday and Tuesday

The desert was littered with old gold mines. Just holes in the ground, abandoned a century or more ago, a hazard for hikers, a dangerous attraction for the curious.

"At least these are old." The Sheriff's deputy glanced over at the FBI forensics team, down the hill, some of them down the hole. "Surprised you boys are out for this."

Kris shrugged. "Frankly I doubt there's any connection to that kill site over in Pima County, and this is even older." He shrugged, as the Standard Response rolled off his tongue. "But all the conspiracy theorists love this stuff."

"Yeah, and with all the animals having a feast, it superficially resembles a massacre." Deputy Nunez eyed him sidelong. "Dismembered bodies . . . charring . . . "

"Yeah, keeps the forensic people in business. And Coroners get a thrill at seeing something unusual." Kris refused to meet his eyes. That wide circle over there, with no older, taller brush . . . they'll find the filled in postholes for those five poles dropped into the mine. The fire pit.

And once they get all the bodies out of the caved-in parts of the mine, there will be five female skeletons. First guess from the state of the forearm some stupid dog dug up and brought to his master to play fetch with . . . she died six years ago.

Four mass graves. So far. Keeping it quiet isn't going to last much longer.

He walked out to the tarps where they were laying out bones, dried mummified flesh and skin covering many. But not all. Cannibals. I'm just glad this is an old site. The three week old one at Forty Acre Rock was . . . gruesome.

He shook his head and walked back.

"I remember being an idiot, like this. I was just luckier."

"Around here? I thought you were new."

"I grew up in Tucson, the bureau's sent me around to a few different field offices. Last year they threatened me with a transfer DC, so I begged for Arizona."

The deputy grinned. "And here I'd heard the J. Edgar Hoover Building was goal of every agent."

"Well, yeah, if you can deal with politics, the cost of living, and the commute. Nicole was delighted that the next adventure in being married to me was going to be strange, exotic and not political." Kris glance at the deputy. "A bit of diplomacy when we tromp all over the locals' business, comes in useful, however."

That got a grin. "I'm a touch claustrophobic. I'm quite happy to sit out here in the sunshine and watch a pack of Feds risk their lives collecting what needs to be collected from a six-year-old tragedy. Underground, in a half collapsed mine."

Kris nodded. "When you put it that way . . . and for some reason I just haven't found a compelling reason to check out the collapse site up close and personal."

A snort from the deputy. "Well, I'll leave you high-and-mighty Feds to your tasks. I'm out of here."

Kris walked over to the broad circle of lower growth.

Agent Brad Cohen walked over to join him. "What's up?"

"From up there, I could see that this circular area has no tall brush. Once you're done with the bone retrieval . . . "

"We start the dance floor. You got it, boss."

"Dance floor. Well, I suppose it's as good a thing to call it as any." Kris shook his head. "You found five poles?"

"Yep. You betting on five victims?"

"Yeah. Damn. I can't figure these guys out. They aren't drug users, but there were traces at the more recent sites. Transporters, maybe? But they've never been ratted out. Not once in twenty years. Are they just regular guys with regular jobs who get together occasionally to satisfy their kinky urges? A family of several hundred perverts?"

"Genetic? Those extra genes messing up their socialization?" Cohen wrinkled his nose.

"And they're raised this way? Eh . . . A religious cult of cannibals is my guess." Kris looked back at the mine, where the guys below were handing up their latest finds.

"It's weird though, that there's never been a deserter, no one has ever talked. For all this time."


Chapter Seven

R-College

Monday

"Good god! What happened to college tuition while I wasn't looking?"

Rachel looked over her sister's shoulder . . . "Yikes! I've heard that the when the government stepped in with student loans the universities all decided the sky was the limit. But that is just flat out obscene . . . Uh . . . That's per year isn't it? Not per semester?"

She glanced the other way, and started laughing. "Looks like Stone's shocked too."

Nicole grinned. "Even shocked the poor dog, eh? Well, you don't have to worry about room and board. Let's check out the campus, see what it looks like."

Rachel nodded. "And then check out online classes. Because, yowch. And I'd better start looking for work, too."

"Woof!"

They cracked up laughing, then hunted around the internet a bit. Stone lost interest, and went and read the mail on the desk.

Rachel giggled.

Because really, it probably just smells interesting, but it looks so much like he's reading . . .

"All right, Stone. Back into the laundry room with you, and this time I'm going to make sure the outside door is firmly closed and locked. No, big begging brown eyes are not going to get you the run of the neighborhood. I need to find this owner of yours, or give up and admit I have a dog. And get a gate latch you can't work."

She checked the outside door. Locked. Jerked it. Definitely closed. Poor Stone was giving her the whole ears down, head down, sad dog slink. She hardened her heart and shooed the dog into the laundry room. Closed the door firmly.

Nicole was snickering. "That dog's a manipulator."

"I noticed. So let's go check out the campus, first, and then figure out where I'm going to get over twenty thousand dollars a year to attend college."

***

A quick shower, dress and hike to Walmart for their cheapest pair of khakis, and I was ready for my second day of work.

Stocking shelves was kind of boring, but I gave advice, loaded lumber, bags of cement, learned the cash registers—virtually identical to ones I'd used before—then back to fetching things off tall shelves, mostly for people who seemed to know what they were talking about. All-in-all, a nice long work day. I walked home in the dark, stopped in a shadowed area to change, and trotted the rest of the way . . . where the guy—Kris Kovac if the name on the envelops was right—was working over the gate latch, with both women observing.

Drat. I guess camping out here isn't going to work. Maybe I can squeeze out one more day, then start camping . . . somewhere that won't land me in the dog pound.

I slunk around, staying behind parked cars, got over the fence and into the other side yard to drop off my clothes, then jumped back over.

I trotted up behind them. Sat down and perked up my ears. "Woof!"

And grinned and wagged my tail as they jumped and cussed. At least Rachel laughed with me. It was enough to make me wish I was normal. Or had the nerve to risk . . . well, I mean, what sort of children would I have? No way was I brave enough to find out.

Never.

"Well, we might as well leave him in the backyard tonight. Then find out if he can still get out of the fence." Kris shook his head. "And I'll see if I can locate this Leonard Stone from Atlanta."

Good Luck! I haven't lived in Atlanta for five years now.



Chapter Eight

K-Found NM Bodies

Wednesday

"The New Mexico State Police have found two bodies out in the desert. Preliminary cause of death dog or wolf bite injuries. No other indication that it could be related to the Forty-eights—victims are male, no dismemberment and so forth—but we're keeping an eye on it until the DNA results rule it out."

"More like drug gangs clashing. They keep pit bulls for guard dogs, and sometimes those huge cane corsos. Teach them to attack and maul." Steven Chen shrugged. "Bet they find gunshot wounds as well."

Nods around the table.

Bren Masterson was the Arizona District head. He glanced over at Kris. "Senior Special Agent Kovac has information on the new site. Kris?"

He told them all about the six new victims, the usual dancing floor. "I think I'm going to hate that name. But it's all been sent off to the national data base."

"Unfortunately, we have nothing new from New Orleans. Unfortunately the two boys, or young men, we don't have an age for them, were released due to their apparent youth and the minor charge. Long gone before they got the preliminary DNA results. Forty-eight chromosomes." Kris filled in the details.

They all studied the pictures again.

"I'm running them through facial ID, see if we can find some family members with police records. Cousins that look this much alike, I'm hoping there's a strong family resemblance. We need a break before they kill again."