It was eerie, Inspector David Holscom decided, peering into the room, but he didn’t have to be a goddamned detective to feel unsettled. The floor was littered with blood and spent ammunition, but that wasn’t too upsetting; this line of work had a way of desensitizing you to violent crime scenes over time. What was really troublesome was that six automatic weapons had been completely unloaded in this tiny apartment, and there was nary a bullet hole or ricochet in sight. This much firepower should have reduced the walls and door to splinters, but forensic evidence seemed to suggest that every bullet now lying on the bloodstained linoleum had simply fallen to the ground upon leaving the muzzle.
For all the lack of gun-related damage, the source of the blood was actually more disturbing. The six seemingly useless weapons had been fired by six burly men—the six corpses now decorating the floor. Every single one of them lay face down, his throat slit with surgical precision. There were no other injuries to be found. Holscom recalled what he had been told during the briefing: “Looks like some joker brought a knife to a gun fight and won.” Eyeing the bodies on the floor, he didn’t find this amusing in the slightest. “Looks more like a goddamned scalpel than a knife,” he muttered under his breath, still trying to wrap his head around what the hell had actually gone on in here.
The call came in about three hours earlier, some old biddy ranting and raving about a howling monster and gunfire in her apartment complex. Only two officers had been dispatched to the location, fairly certain that they’d end up having to sedate some lunatic grandmother who skipped her meds. The call back to headquarters had been an urgent and entirely unexpected one.
This “howling monster” was the most unnerving thing of all. There was simply no trace of any such thing, but the lady who placed the call, one Missus Grace Alburn, was quite adamant that she’d heard it, describing it as a combination of a steam train and a wildcat. She seemed to have her wits about her, and at this point it made about as much sense as anything else in the room, but Holscom couldn’t find any way to piece it together with the rest of this absurd crime scene. There was no destruction or carnage—just six dud firearms and six slit throats.
The dead men all had criminal records long and intricate enough to round out an encyclopedia, so there was no real loss there. But the Inspector found himself thinking he would rather be locked in a room with these six clowns than with the “howling monster” that ended their lives. He turned away from the gruesome scene, trying to fathom the sort of person that could strut into a room, safely ignore a minor battalion of automatic weapons, and murder the men wielding them without leaving a single fingerprint or trace of evidence. The kills looked like the work of a trained professional, but getting into the room without being riddled with bullets would have been impossible for even an assassin of the highest caliber. “What a fucking mess,” Holscom sighed, massaging his temples as he stepped back into the dim lights of the corridor outside apartment #602.