The body was only a few steps away from the sheriff. A couple deputies were taping the area off for the crime scene unit to go over once they arrived. It was still uncovered, so the discovery had to be pretty fresh. One glance and I had to look away. The victim was bloated, so he’d been out here a few days. It was also obvious he wasn’t whole. I glimpsed some ragged tears on the swollen flesh. My bet was, the feral hogs in the area had taken a few bites of the poor guy.
Thank goodness I didn’t need to breathe. From the way the officers held their hands over their noses, the guy was pretty ripe. How Grayson could stand there so stoic was beyond me. But then, Grayson has seen some messed up stuff. As small as Fulton Falls and Ford County are, we still have our share of murder, much of it the messy variety.
I steeled myself to take another look. It wasn’t morbid curiosity. I needed to see the dead man’s face. I walked over and stared into the upturned face.
He’d been a hog shifter. The snout and small tusks were a giveaway. There had been five werehogs on the missing list. I inspected the shape of his wide staring eyes, the color of his hair, the jaw structure.
Dan had come over with me. I told him, “I’m not sure because of the shape he’s in, but this man may be one of Levi’s instructors. He looks vaguely familiar, similar to the picture Levi gave me.”
Behind me, Grayson spoke up. “Charlie, you said you smelled nitro coming from the body?”
A werehog deputy paused putting up the tape. “Pretty sure I did, Sheriff, though the decomp is kind of overwhelming the scent. I’d lay odds he was shot. Smelled like some Russian import stuff. Or low-grade domestic.”
“Shot with nitro?” I asked Dan.
“He must be referring to nitrocellulose. It’s the propellant used in bullets.” Dan looked over the scene and shook his head, his face long with dismay. “Man. What an ugly way to die.”
I saw what he was talking about. The body was at the end of a trail of blood, which wove a path deeper into the woods. He’d been hurt elsewhere and made his way only steps from the road. If I had to judge from the amount of blood in his wake, he must have suffered awfully.
I looked around my surroundings again, suddenly spooked. Dan noticed. “What is it?”
I licked my lips. “It kind of reminds me of where my body ended up after I was killed.”
No release date set.