Crime Scene

Mary Schellenberg

The intrusive air makes her way through the ceaseless forest, running her fingers through the dying arms of each tree, and pursuing such motion until she sees sign of life. There, the chilled front meets her victim, caressing the otherwise motionless body.

A hundred feet from the edge of the road lay a deserted corpse, solely identifiable by the brown hair protruding from its dirt covering. Contradicting the cold sensation radiating from this Jane Doe, the headlights of a single police cruiser flood the scene with yellow light, pleading the air for permission to provide its warmth. The crouched officer in the midst of the illuminated scene quickly takes note of the lack of evidence before him—but before he can stand—his stomach unleashes a growl so unexpected, a wolf in the distance may just howl in response. With this disturbance, the officer grinds the rubber sole of his boot into the dirt, as these circumstances were reason enough to return closer to the warmth of the running cruiser.

As the night had crept upon the scene, the corpse was left increasingly ghostly. Surrounding the body now stood the bright yellow placard “1”—but it stood alone. With no footprints, tools, or meticulously placed branches to be identified, the officer sat stumped, unknowing of where the crime scene began or terminated. At the knowledge of this newfound puzzle, the wind blew one of her gusts to send shivers down the spine of the officer, sending him deeper into the loneliness of the woods. The only thing more distracting than these interruptions of the hush air, is the pounding of the officer’s heart that could be heard from a mile away. Although adjacent to Doe, the lack of feeling of someone’s presence is what really petrified the grown man.

With the officer slowly abandoning the sight of the cruiser, the forest devours him. Now he stands within the trees, his head tilted back to peer at the sky, studying the moon and stars above him. He begins to note the unimpressive number of stars that signifies he isn’t lost, though there are just enough to signal he’s far from home.

But, before he could further study the sky, the invasive wind blew back through the scene, alerting the hairs on the back of his neck to rise. Its rush persuaded him further into the woods, where he immediately began to falter, and the ground beneath his feet lost all solidity.

Beginning to tremble, he clutched the radio attached to the breast of his uniform as he examined the ground beneath him. A familiar brown, stringy protrusion extended out of the dirt, waving lightly with each gust of the wind’s blow.

He had found John Doe.