Redcross Pt 7

Redcross

Sarah Redcross made her way over to the doctor’s office but the door was closed and locked. Not surprising at this hour but usually, Marion was still up and reading one of her books. Either the newest medical texts she could get her hands on or tales of adventure. There were no lights on in the windows but in the darkness, Sarah saw a note pinned to the door. She walked over there and lit a match near it and smiled to herself. It seemed that the good doctor had visited the undertaker after all.

Sarah headed in that direction of the undertaker. The sound of the rough dirt under her boots seemed extra loud in the chilly night. Even in the middle of the night, she felt vulnerable as if something would jump out of the darkness to tear her to pieces. The skirmish with those men, those things, earlier still had her shaken. She still had no idea what they were but either the other two had dragged the dead one away or, well, she did not want to think of any other possibilities. Gunfire still rang through her imagination and she could not make it stop. It made her touch two fingers to the revolver at her side.

Essex was a quiet town to be sheriff of. Sarah had witnessed her father breaking up fights, accepting or tracking bounties and busting the occasional cattle rustler. He mostly made people feel safe and almost never had to pull his gun from its holster. Even rarer was when he actually fired the thing. Sarah had kept up that tradition in the short time since she took over as sheriff. She was sure her father would have disapproved and would say something about going out and doing something worthwhile with her life. Secretly, he would be thrilled she took after him. Sarah felt that being sheriff of this little town was worthwhile and she could not imagine living anywhere else.

She knocked on the undertaker’s door and waited. She had her sheriff’s star clearly visible even though every single person in town knew who she was. After a moment or two, the door was opened by Raina Chilton, the wife of death himself. Her sunny smile even at a late hour was a welcome sight and Sarah could not help but smile back. The smiling actually made Sarah feel happier.

“I suppose you are here to meet with the academics, Sheriff?” Raina asked. Even after so many years, there was more than a trace of the kind of accent that came from south of the border.

“I suppose I am. It’s not too late is it?” Sarah asked in return.

“Of course it is, but that has yet to stop them. Go on in,” Raina said and stepped aside.

Sarah tipped her hat and then took it off before entering and heading toward the back. She took a deep breath quietly before entering so Raina would not see her nerves. At that moment, she would rather be facing down ten more gunmen than heading back to where the dead bodies were kept. She swallowed and pushed through and into the back room. Marion Schaefer and Warren Chilton looked up from the card table they were sitting at. There were several papers and diagrams in front of them and Sarah was glad to see the body had been covered up.

“Sarah,” Warren said, “It is good of you to visit. Can I get you any tea? I think we still have some coffee as well.” He was the very face of kindness as usual.

“Sheriff, this case you have is a strange one,” Marion said. She preferred to get to the point quickly which Sarah actually really appreciated at the moment.

“Case?” Sarah asked. She had never heard her father use the word before.

“That’s what Mr. Holmes calls them in the books when a mystery is on. It seems appropriate here,” Marion explained.

“This isn’t one of your books, Marion,” Warren said with a disapproving look.

“You are as difficult as this case, Warren. It might as well be. There is so much we still do not know and so much that does and does not make sense,” Marion said with an exasperated look followed by her rolling her eyes.

“Why don’t you two tell me what you’ve found? We can go from there,” Sarah said. She needed the two of them working together rather than sniping at each other. On any other day, she would have been amused by their banter and playful rivalry.

“As we went over earlier, the man was mauled by some sort of animal but was killed by some bladed weapon,” Warren said.

“Like a sword, for example,” Marion said. “I believe it was a sword which, while strange, explains the wounds on the body. However, it does not look like the wounds I saw from a calvary blade or a bayonet from the war.”

“I would agree with that second option. It is not a bayonet. I am not fortunate enough to have experienced a wound from a calvary blade so I trust the doctor in this instance,” Warren said.

Sarah nodded. “I would call that the opposite of fortunate. So we don’t know the exact weapon that killed him or whatever animals did this to the body,” She said.

“I believe the wounds were made very close together as the claw marks did bleed a little bit,” Marion said. “Animals working so closely with man, it makes me think of all of the horrible creatures I have read about. Perhaps even werewolves.” The last was said with a touch of excitement and a touch of fear. The look in Marion’s eyes made Sarah actual consider the possibility for a moment.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Marion,” Warren said. “We are a little frustrated because that is all we know for sure. We are working on a few other things to help you match a weapon or perhaps we could confirm an animal by its claws.”

“I do think the claw marks might be feline. They seem to fall into that pattern,” Marion said.

“Have you found anything else that might help the case? You certainly came over at an odd hour just to check on our progress,” Warren said.

“I was hoping the key was still on the body, somehow,” Sarah said. She had been working on the idea during most of the walk over after she had sent Holly home.

“I can assure you that there is nothing left in or on the body. We checked,” Marion said. “We sewed him back up.” She offered when Sarah made a face.

“I was thinking it might be more metaphorical,” Sarah said.

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