Prints

prints

Newly decorated columns greeted Detective Finees as he crouch-walked under the tape. Faded yellow stripes, neat in lines on both the floor and support beams of the old parking garage, now drenched in some poor bastard’s buckets of red.

“Most of…it…is over there, Detective,” a pale-faced uniform directed him. Finees’s partner, Al Marius, tip toed through gore congealed between the 420 and 422 spots. A department photographer, face behind a mask, stood some distance off, studying his LCD screen. A few spots down, a blood-spattered Ford Explorer sat with its windows shattered and driver’s side door dented. Passenger door hung open, and Finees supposed somewhere in this mess lay a set of keys.

Finees paused at the edge of the mess to tug on his gloves. “So what’d this guy do to deserve this?”

Marius spared him a glance from his dance through the muck. “Somebody was dedicated.”

“Something,” Finees said, emphasizing the last syllable, and Marius nodded.

“We got some clear claw marks on what’s left of the torso. Had to be something big. We’ll check with the zoo and see what got out.”

“Check this out, detective,” the photographer called, his voice muffled through the mask, but still sounding like someone choking back his lunch. Still consulting his LCD, the photographer knelt and pointed at the floor. Finees stooped to look, and frowned. A small puddle of blood, just a couple inches wide. He dipped his fingers into the pool, and found a shallow indentation, then several others next to it. He wiped away at the blood until the shape became clear. A dog’s paw print, indented into the concrete. There were others, all around, now that he was looking for them. Small cracks webbed out from the prints.

“Not something big, Al,” said Finees, “but something heavy.” He looked at his partner and nodded.

Marius squinted at the print and rolled his eyes. “Goddammit.” He waved at the uniforms clustered at the garage entrance. “Call in the Geiger Squad!” he yelled. “We got another one of those fucking atomic hounds running loose!”

“I thought people knew not to keep those as pets?” the photographer said, shaking his head.

“These jackasses think they’re safe as long as you stay with a sub-transuranium breed,” Finees told him. “Never know when they might transition up on you, though.” He pointed at the battered SUV, the event playing out in his mind. “Owner comes in, parks, dog is in the back seat. Opens the door and this happy excitable pup leaps into his arms. Only mid-leap he throws a few electrons in the wrong direction and bam!” He waved to encompass the bloody scene.

“This is why I keep a cat,” Marius said.

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