Theia lies sprawled across her bed, surrounded by the pillows and blankets that haven’t yet fallen to the floor. Her phone is blasting its ringtone, waking her from what would have been a nice dream. A frown squeezes her eyes shut as she pathetically slaps her sleepy arm on the bedside table trying to find the source of her disruption.
‘Williams, I need you working today,’ barks Chief Ericson over the phone.
‘Sir, this leave was approved weeks ago,’ murmurs Theia, wiping the sleep from her green eyes.
‘You’ll get double pay, I need you over here right now.’
Theia looks over at the double underscored “Lunch with Mum – 1:00” on her calendar, and sighs ‘Yeah, yeah, I’ll be over in half an hour.’
‘Texting you the address.’
‘Happy holidays to you too, Chief,’
The phone beeps as Ericson hangs up. Groaning, Theia sprawls out into a pained stretch before rolling out of bed.
Theia mutters as she texts her mother that she will have to cancel their plans.
As Theia walks through her apartment, she notices the soreness in her shoulders and legs. Making a mental note to not skip any more personal training sessions, she pushes down the kettle switch and waits as the water begins to boil. After she wolfs down a mere few slices of toast and her coffee, Theia ambles over to her closet. With a huff, after failing to get some jackets over her shoulders and skirts over her hips, she settled for some more casual clothes. Maybe missing her mother’s usual critiques wasn’t a bad thing. Taking some time to search through her messy apartment and wondering where her work clothes have disappeared to, she finds her keys, wallet, and badge. Hastily walking out the door, Theia heads down the long staircase to the garage. Scratching an ear as she walks up to her new pride and joy, a shiny new Yamaha sport bike. As the engine purrs like a tiger, she puts on her helmet and races off towards the new case.
As Theia storms into the apartment complex, passing under the yellow police tape, the first thing that hits her is the dreadful smell. The disorientingly horrid stench of rotting carcass fills Theia’s nostrils causing her to take a quick step backwards, reeling from the painful odour. An aged, angry voice snaps Theia back to the task at hand.
‘Williams!’ Chief Ericson coughs through a cloud of out-of-date cigar smoke.
‘Sir.’ Theia nods as she addresses her boss.
‘Some kind of animal broke in, tore up the place, ripped these people apart,’ Ericson mutters as he gestures around the room at the multiple shredded corpses. Three bodies lay in pieces, their dried blood seeping through the floorboards.
‘An animal big enough to do this, in Sydney CBD?’ asks Theia, glancing over with a raised eyebrow towards Ericson who shrugs.
‘What did the lab say about the results?’ Theia asks while crouching down to look at some fur.
‘Bite marks suggest some sort of canine, the claw marks suggest a bear or big cat, paw prints suggest canine again,’ Ericson explains while reading out the report before handing it to Theia.
Skimming over the information about the lack of witnesses and the strangeness of the encounter, until something catches Theia’s green eyes.
‘Aren’t these victims members of that drug ring we busted a few weeks back?’
Sitting down in a left alone armchair with a grunt, Ericson replies, ‘Yeah, just some of the ones who managed to skip getting locked up.’
‘What about the ones in prison?’
‘Completely fine. Nothing touched them, or even came near them.’
‘Right, okay,’ Theia takes a second to look at some organs that have spilled out of one of the dead dealers, ‘Are there any rival gangs that have fighting dogs?’
‘Not that we know of. I don’t think any of them would be dumb enough to unleash a pack of them into an apartment, and then take them back.’
‘Is there a local animal expert or something? I’m just trying to wrap my head around this, Boss.’
Ericson looks out a window grimly. ‘Heh, we even called up Taronga. They have no reports of an animal escaping, and apparently no bear or wild dog is going to walk eight Ks without being seen – let alone walk into a random apartment building, tear these dung heaps apart, and march themselves back home!’
Ericson’s beet red face begins to cool down as he fetches some pills out of his pocket. Another officer hands him some strange Hydralite knockoff to swallow them down with. Theia wonders in disgust why the Chief has to swallow things so loudly before she sits down to take some notes from the police and lab reports.
After pondering her notes, witness statements, and references from a canine expert, Theia’s stomach begins to growl.
‘Jesus Williams, you’ll lose those beautiful biceps if you never feed yourself properly. Go take a lunch break and then report back to me,’ Ericson demands before walking over to discuss something with officer Kent.
Quickly nodding, Theia hops up onto her feet and hurriedly leaves to go find something to eat. Thinking about the Chief’s comment, she finds herself feeling the muscles in her arm thinking that her workouts must have been paying off. Noting the time as Theia enters the elevator, she quickly texts her mother, ‘Hey is it cool if we still meet up for some food?’
‘Having lunch with Arianna, who remembered my birthday.’
‘Hey, work screwed me over.’
‘Why not try getting a nicer job then? Sarah is doing quite well for herself.’
‘I don’t want to be a lawyer Mum.’
‘Why not? It pays much better, and besides, aren’t men intimidated by police officers anyway?’
Letting out a sharp breath through her nose, Theia closes her phone and tucks it away in her jacket pocket before barging into the greasiest Hungry Jacks she can find.
After tearing through three entire burgers in between grumbled curses directed at her mother and sister, while gathering some concerned onlookers, Theia leaves in a huff. Reminding herself to stop skimping on breakfast, she stomps back towards the crime scene.
‘Ah Williams, good,’ Ericson states in between a heavy breath, ‘I’ve been going over your notes, what do you think happened?’
‘Well, according to local animal shelters and experts, there is no missing animals or animals that would intentionally seek out and murder these people.’
Looking down at the trampled remains of a kitchen table Theia continues, ‘However, I do find it strange that a rival gang could let loose some sort of black market animal in here, and then be able to recapture it, but it does account for the bite and claw marks.’
‘Hmm, it’s a little far-fetched, but I can’t think of anything else either. So, we don’t really have anything else to go on,’ Ericson grumbles.
‘Sir, I am still trying to figure out who would go to these lengths and I would like to look into other known associates of the victims.’
‘Before you get onto that, another site has been reported.’ Ericson says, pulling up his phone which is far too small for his sausage like fingers before showing the recent messages.
‘The representative of Haymarket?’ Theia’s heart begins to quicken.
With his shoulders sagging, Ericson continues, ‘Mr Clark has been reported dead as of a few minutes ago, when his assistant checked on him at his apartment. I’ve managed to stop the boys from messing up the place because I want you to have a look while it’s still fresh.’
Lightly stamping a foot Theia interjects, ‘Sir, wasn’t this the creep who did everything he could to obstruct the drug ring’s prosecution?’
Slowly sighing, Ericson hands over an aged set of keys, ‘Yes, so I want to see what you can sniff up, and I’m hoping this doesn’t get turned back on to us.’
Within minutes Theia is racing across Sydney CBD on her motorbike, thoughts rushing about in her panicked mind.
‘What the hell is going on!? Who or what is targeting these people, is it someone in the police force?’
Theia arrives at the older styled apartment complex, a refurbished abandoned mansion. The few apartments scattered about, all house affluent individuals who seek to live in some memory of a forgotten age. Looking up at the aged brickwork and wood features, Theia spots a shattered window. Heading to the broken window, Theia passes by the police guarding the entrances, arguing with the other occupants of the building. Ignoring the familiar noise of complaints, she crouches down to take a look at the remnants of the window scattered amongst the perfectly sculpted lawn. Glistening with crimson against the midday sun, the shards of glass are stained with dried blood. Amongst the disarray lies a few small clumps of long black fur. Whistling over to the nearest officer, Theia says, ‘Get these blood and fur samples over to the lab right now.’
While the attending officers begin to meticulously gather the DNA evidence, Theia strides into the old building. As she walks through the hideously decorated staircase, she feels a drop in temperature as though the solemn paintings are leeching heat from her body. Approaching the busted door of Mr Clark’s apartment, Theia pulls out her notepad.
‘Door has been forcibly opened, marks indicate the same animal has been used to damage the door enough to be opened.’
Walking past the splinters, Theia enters the remnants of the apartment. A table and chairs are scattered amongst the room, and a couch is digging half into a wall. Trails of blood litter the apartment, leading a trail to the horribly damaged corpse of Mr Clark. Flesh torn in four clawed segments, large bite marks that ripped through skin and crushed bone. The remains of a corrupt politician now scattered about, as his dried blood stains the expensive carpet.
Theia chuckles to herself, ‘Smells a bit like a butcher’s shop.’
Among the disrupted room lies an expensive looking cricket bat that has been shattered in half, with some team’s signatures a little runny due to the blood splatterings. To Theia’s left is a cool breeze, and looking over she sees the expansive shattered window. From the base of the window leading back through the apartment is a trail of blood. Treading carefully around the smattering of blood and broken furniture, she follows the blood into what still exists of Mr Clark’s office. A computer that looks to have been smashed on the floor a few times and then had its insides ripped out lays strewn across the floor. A filing cabinet has had its drawers torn apart, paper lays shredded around.
‘Whatever this was, they were looking to destroy Clark’s work.’
Tracking the rest of the blood trail into a suffocating room with no windows, a few small chairs, a filthy glass table, and a completely smashed suitcases that has bags of white powder scattered about.
‘And that’s why the warrant to search this place was always denied.’
After taking some notes and strolling around the rest of the apartment, Theia returns back to the living room. That is where she finds it, staring directly at her with big green eyes. The thick black fur covering the hulking musculature all the way down to the long, razor sharp claws. The long, snarling snout filled with teeth threatens to tear her to pieces. But it doesn’t. The ferocious creature just stands there breathing, and staring back at her through the fireplace mirror.
Theia glances down at her clawed hands, her clothes laid in tatters around her feet. A burning feeling in her chest goes off as she sprints across the apartment, and leaps out of the broken window. Landing in the lawn, Theia salivates and begins her next hunt. The poor police officers carrying the blood samples don’t even notice the feral beast charging at them on all fours, hungry for bloodshed.
Scarlett Dawn Lavender is currently a student at Macquarie university, who hopes to go on to postgraduate studies once she finishes her degree. Favouring writing within fantasy and science fiction, Scarlett hopes to write stories about strong and intelligent women who pilot spaceships, or battle dastardly monsters.