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The Heifer Mystery

Havermouth, Present Time

The house looked sad, Cameron thought as he parked in front of it. It was too much house for just Jules Edison, his father being more focused on the land around it than the architect designed mansion. The curtains were drawn in the rooms that Cameron knew his father did not use, the internal doors shut as if in doing so Jules could shrink the house to something more manageable.

Cameron had begged his father to employ a house cleaner and grounds keeper to maintain the property, but it was the Edison way, it seemed, to let their empty houses decay around them, to shut off what they didn’t need or want, and to focus entirely on what they did. It was, after all, what the Edisons had done to the river house. Simply closed the doors and walked away from it, and all the history that it contained. 

Jules had employed two new field hands instead. 

Cameron headed to the stables and found Tim mucking out. “Hey.”

Tim looked up and grinned. “Hey. How’s your lady?”

“She’s out of the hospital,” Cameron was pleased that Tim asked. Many in the pack tried to ignore the Triquetra’s relationship with Aislen Carter. “Back to her normal feisty self. Thanks for asking.”

“She’s a hero,” Tim leaned on his shovel, his expression fascinated. “Ran towards the shooter rather than away.”

“Yeah, I know,” and that gave him nightmares that he knew Rhett shared as his dark-haired mate had crawled into his bed the first night after, something Rhett did rarely, preferring to sleep in his own bed. Rhett had spent the night wrapped around Cameron, also something that rarely happened, and had woken Cameron twice muttering Aislen’s name, soothing back to sleep when Cameron had stroked his hair. “Scares the shit out of me how brave she is. Where’s my dad?”

“Usual place,” Tim continued to shovel. 

“I’ll saddle Chester then,” Cameron moved into the stable where the gelding watched Tim’s effort with a mildly amused expression on his face as if he were thinking: Look at that human slave shoveling my poo. “Hello Ches.” 

Jules Edison believed that ATVs caused damage to the land and frightened the cattle, therefore he either very slowly drove his Ute around the property to distribute hay into the fields or rode his favorite horse. As the Ute wasn’t parked by the house, Jules would have taken it, which meant he was expecting to need to use the tray.

Cameron rode Chester through the fields, scanning for his father. He could see a tractor doing the rounds to the left but knew that his father would have delegated that task. He rode towards the hilly terrain, thinking height would reveal his father’s location to him, and, sure enough, spotted him towards where the river snaked through the land. 

Cameron frowned. He could see the path his father had taken, dropping hay into the fields for the cattle. The Ute was off the track however, and the cattle were behaving oddly around him – not moving. “Ah, f-k,” he groaned. “Not again.”

He headed towards the Ute. It took a good thirty minutes to get there but Jules had spotted him and waited, leaning against the bonnet. The Ute had been parked with the tray toward the river and Cameron could see that Jules had the winch set up. 

Cameron looked at the bodies of the cattle that were laid out on the grass. “I’m sorry dad,” he said automatically as he dismounted. He released Chester’s reigns, knowing that the horse wouldn’t stray, and walked around the Ute to see the damage firsthand. “Ugh.”

The heifer’s ears, eyes, and tongues, their udders, genitals and arses had been removed with eerie precision. There was very little blood on the grass considering the amount of mutilation, and Cameron knew from experience that the corpse had been drained of blood. 

“What the actual f-k?” He put his hand on his hips. He could count four corpses. 

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Jules drawled, his expression neutral, which Cameron knew hid the fact that his father was very disturbed. The more he felt, the less Jules showed on the outside. Jules’ had been raised in a family where men did not cry or show affection, they did not complain, express anger, or sorrow - they endured.

When Catherine had killed herself, Jules’ face might as well as have been carved of stone and it was only then that Cameron realized the true sorrow of his parent’s marriage – Catherine had grown increasingly depressed believing that Jules had taken her as his mate in order to lay claim to the land that he loved so much, but Jules had loved his wife all along, he had just never had the ability to express his love, having spent so much of his life suppressing his emotions.

“Must have happened overnight,” Jules continued. “They were here this morning when I rode at first light. I’ve been moving the herds closer to the house as a result. Was about to winch them into the tray and move them to the burial ground, but seeing as you’re here, you can help me.”

“I’m so sorry, dad,” Cameron repeated. “This is f-ked.”

“Been happening for as long as there have been cattle on the land,” Jules sighed. “No one’s ever worked out what or who the f-k does this to them.”

“No scent?” Cameron knew that Jules would have shifted when he’d discovered the bodies in the morning and searched the area for any sign of the culprit. 

Jules shook his head. “Let’s get this done then.”

Between the two werewolves and the winch, they managed to get the first heifer into the tray without spilling her entrails and creating a bigger mess to clean up. The grass beneath her body was yellow and brown, although that around it was lush and green. Jules and Cameron exchanged a grim look. They both knew that the grass would turn to ash now that it was exposed, and that the spot would remain bald of growth for at least three years, and then only grow sparsely for ten more. 

They drove to the area which the Edisons and Cartwrights had long called “The burial ground” and threw the cow into the pit there. The area was naturally rocky and had no purpose to the farm, therefore the Cartwrights had begun to use it first as a midden for the household rubbish, then as a dumping ground for vehicles and farm equipment that were no longer of use, and as a spot in which to cast the unpleasant corpses of cows killed in such a manner. 

The pit was filled with cattle bone, testimony to the quantity of death that had been hidden there. 

Four times they made the trip, before going down to the river and scrubbing their hands and arms in the water – an unspoken ritual to wash off the toxicity of the corpses. 

“There are many things in this world,” Jules said as they made their way back to Ute, carefully skirting the yellowed grass that seemed to wither further every moment. “That we do not understand. Many other creatures exist other than werewolves and vampires, creatures that are far less able to hide amongst the humans. We don’t know who or what does this, and we don’t want to know. Whoever it is moves constantly and passes through this area regularly. Whilst they are here, we lose some cattle, occasionally a camper or hiker, and then they move on. We don’t hunt them. We don’t trouble them, and they move on.”

Don’t say anything, was what Jules was telling him. Don’t let others know about the loss of the heifers. “It would just frighten people,” Cameron agreed. “Start a panic.”

“And if some fool gets it into their head to try to find who it is,” Jules stepped into the cab of his Ute and closed the door, leaning his arm in the open window. “Whoever it is that does this might retaliate against us.”

Comments (1)
goodnovel comment avatar
Christina Bones
yes that's true but don't it make you ever wonder wha it really is why not put cameras with motions affected
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