“My god…” Johnson shook his head in disgust as he surveyed the mangled corpse. “You never get used to it, do you.”

“No, sir,” Andrews replied distractedly, jotting down notes onto a small pad of paper. He raised his eyes from the paper and watched as Johnson circled the scene, taking pictures with a Polaroid camera. The detective yanked each photo out, shaking it rapidly in the dank forest air, then stared fixedly at the image as if memorizing every detail.

“Andrews,” Johnson ordered without looking up from the sixth photo, “I want you to get measurements of the footprints on the northern slope and then retra–” His words were cut short by another voice barking sharp, succinct orders.

“Okay men, let’s get the body wrapped up and back to headquarters. I want samples sent to the boys down in the lab by three.”

Johnson whirled around with an irritated growl to face the owner of the voice.

“This is a closed crime scene under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Parks Service. Just who do you think you are and who the hell gave you the authority t–”

“The United States federal government gives me the authority,” The man flashed a glossy badge in Johnson’s face. “Daniel Kearney. National Parks Service. We’re taking over this investigation.”

“What the hell does the NPS want with a small-town case like this?” Johnson demanded, skewering the uniformed agent with what he hoped was his best glare. Kearney dismissed Johnson without a reply, though, and turned to his men. He gestured towards the dead deer.

“Let’s hurry up and get through here! And get these civilians out of here; I don’t want them tramping around on the evidence.”

Johnson sputtered with rage.

“Civilians? Tramping?!” He was about to unleash the full rage of a Washington State park ranger when Andrews sidled up and grabbed his arm, tugging him towards the edge of the clearing.

“C’mon, Sam. It’s not worth it.” Grumbling under his breath about the ‘goddamn NPS’ and their ‘goddamn high horses’, Johnson allowed himself to be lead from the scene. I’ll get you for this, Kearney, he thought bitterly. Mark my words.


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