Lying over about half an acre were the remains of about twenty cows although it might have been more but was difficult to tell with the absolute state of carnage. Legs strewn haphazardly here, heads and frozen entrails there, while stacked in the centre of the field, almost like some macabre joke, three of the unfortunate animals lay side by side as if placed there for consumption later. Not even the frigid air was enough to mask the revolting stench of offal and faeces.
Messenger retched until he collapsed to his knees exhausted. Finally he rose and tottered over to Hendry who had not copied him only with extreme self control. He’d seen this before both with animals and people but knew he’d never become hardened to such things.
With reluctance he examined the carcasses as best he could. Everything he remembered was there. Bodies smashed and torn open, entrails torn out and missing with internal organs chewed and littering the ground. Yet something was not right, if anything about this grizzly scene was right. For several more minutes he scanned the carnage before finally realising what it was.
‘Look.’ He pointed a quivering finger at the nearest corpse. With reluctance Messenger came over but not too near.
‘Animals dead and torn apart, and the most repulsive sight I’ve ever seen. Did your cryptids do this?’ Hendry resisted the impulse to remind him forcibly that they were not his animals but the hideous sight surrounding them would not let him.
‘They do all this, but there’s something wrong.’ He pointed to the nearest animal. ‘They don’t usually, in fact I’ve never seen them leave such perfect holes in the bodies. They do this,’ he pointed to the dismembered remains, ‘but they don’t do this.’ Next he pointed to the long strip of skin peeled away from another body as if cut with a scalpel. ‘I just don’t know. And look at the eyes.’ Messenger cringed but did so.
The eyes of every animal stared dully, or grimacing in a rictus of frozen agony.
‘These eyes. None of these eyes were burnt out. Do you know what I think?’ Messenger nodded.
‘Yes I really would, since that’s why we’re here.’
‘It’s possible that some passing cryptids did the tearing apart of the corpses, but I don’t think they killed them.’
‘So we’re no nearer finding out where they are, or are going?’ Messenger kicked the ground in fury before beckoning the second soldier over. ‘How long has it been since his animals were last checked?’ The soldier unearthed a blood smeared notebook.
‘About a week.’
'About? What kind of farmer leaves animals out in this kind of weather?’
‘He likes to drink, a lot,’
‘Very well, pay him, bribe him with a thousand gallons of his favourite tipple, or put him in isolation but not a word of this gets out. Refer the local police to the number you were given earlier. Then burn the lot. Not a trace is to be left. Do you understand?’ The soldier nodded obediently then turned reluctantly to the awful task ahead. ‘So what do you think?’ Messenger blew onto his fingers while Hendry turned away.
Of course some or all of the above might not make it to the final cut, but in the meantime I'm going to have fun.