*THE FOLLOWING IS CHAPTER 1 and 2 OF MY UPCOMING NOVELLA. THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS.*
Special Thanks to: Reid the Deer for helping me with the editing.
Plot: Anthropomorphic animals and humans can now co-exist after being segregated for years. Now, a killer is kidnapping and killing humans.
CHAPTER 1- DETECTIVE RINGO
He didn’t normally brush his mane at 7:00AM, but part of being a police horse-well really a detective horse, was getting unexpected calls and answering to shouts of those who couldn’t defend themselves.
Ringo was a paint horse. Everyone liked his spots of brown and white, gave him a unique flavor if he was out with a bunch of brown or black horses.
He wore a purple tie, his wife loved when he wore bright colors, and a grey button up shirt with freshly pressed black slacks.
The brown mare was asleep, and he was good at being quiet.
He grabbed his gun and badge from a locked cabinet in the bedroom and stepped outside into a misty cool morning.
Normally he’d go to the police station in Worcester, but today he’d meet a few police animals near the town of Hicksville, which was a good hour ride.
With his leather jacket unzipped, he munched on an apple as 50’s jazz music played on the radio. Those old times calmed him. The days of black and white TV. He didn’t care for the segregation of anthros and humans much in that time, but the clothes and music were something he still liked.
Being about 30 (everyone went by human years since anthros were so closely related) he was a young horse, but not young enough to be super rebellious. He had calmed down a bit from that. That need to be a ‘wild stallion.’
The city slowly disappeared, humans and anthros crossed the streets less as he drove his way to Hicksville.
Going from the bumpy cement roads, to the backwoods where dilapidated homes were, and small shops was a huge change.
As Ringo drove, he did find himself a bit jumpy-as horses normally were. Specifically, at the large pickup trucks and loud anthros sitting on their porches yelling about how ‘stupid humans were.’ Yes, Ringo learned quickly that Hicksville wasn’t the friendliest unless you had a tail or were covered in fur or scales.
No sun peaked through the clouds; the misty air stayed thick as Ringo pulled up to the scene of the most recent crime. German Shepherds with combed brown and black fur and huskies with thick grey and white furs in blue police uniforms patrolled the area. Red and blue lights flashed rhythmically from various patrol cars, Ringo parked next to two vehicles, the police dogs all looked a bit nervous. Ringo was a detective, high in the ranks, had authority over them-even though he never really used it.
Once he had gotten out of his car, the stallion is greeted to a large field surrounded in yellow tape.
Some of the cop dogs chose to put their noses straight into the ground and sniff the grass, seeing it any small clues could be detected.
From a corner, Sheriff Higgins approached the detective before he could even get to the scene. His ears swayed left and right as he did so. His belly round, his fur brown and white, his eyes adorable and brown. He held a clipboard with a few typed papers.
“Detective. So sorry I had to call you early.” His southern accent unmistakable. His golden badge sat on his left breast, his short sleeve dark green button up shirt was pressed, tucked into a pair of jeans and large brown belt with a holstered revolver.
Ringo’s ears twitched as he approached the yellow tape.
“No problem, Higgins. How many humans have turned up dead in the last year?”
“This one of the fifth.” Said the dog in a depressed manner, dumbfounded by the fact someone-anyone regardless of species would want to torture and kill anyone.
No houses surrounded the scene of the crime, the field sat among a few large trees, not quite a forest, being that the actual town of Hicksville was quite close by.
Passed the yellow tape, the body was clear as day. Police dogs and horses surround the corpse, taking photos and writing notes, most looked melancholy, others had the expression of ‘this is sad, but I’ve seen worse.’
Ringo held his badge out as he walked closer to the body, the cops stepped back.
He brushed his black forelock out of one of his light blue eyes, the detective stallion knelt beside the body with a deep sigh, the leather of his coat squeaking as he did so. He slipped on rubber gloves.
The body lied face down in the grass, a female human. That was obvious. She had no tail, no fur, her naked body exposed to the elements.
Her brown hair was messy, her innocent eyes wide open with a look of terror, the body tense. She was young. Perhaps 21.
The scariest part? Thin needles were stuck in her back, surrounded by spots of blood. Hundreds of them.
“Needles. Again.” Ringo spoke as he took one of the sharp metal objects out of her flesh and examined it.
Higgins stood beside him, not looking at the body but keeping his eye on Detective Ringo.
“She looks so terrified. I can’t imagine what I’d do if I ever came across someone, especially an innocent human so scared for their lives.”
“Any signs of sexual assault?” Ringo asked still looking at the single needle.
Higgins shuddered at that question. It needed to be asked, but the image of an anthro raping a human was something he really didn’t want to think about.
“No. She’s the same as the others. I don’t think this sicko is motivated by sex.” The dog looked over his notes as he spoke.
Kneeling at the victim’s head, the horse eyed a purple collar which was fastened tightly to her neck, a golden bell hung from one end.
“The needles I expected. Not a collar.” Ringo ran his hand over the thick cloth of the item around her neck and stood up, towering over the basset hound sheriff. “A collar could signify a few things. In evolutionary times, dogs wore collars when bought by a human. Maybe this killer is power hungry? Looks down at their victims as objects?”
“But humans and anthros are equal. Could-could someone be that depraved?” Higgins rubbed his eyes slowly. A small-town dog wasn’t used to the evils of the world it would seem.
“Easily.” Ringo nodded walking away from the corpse and back to his car, Higgins followed closely.
The basset hound wrote notes as the horse continued. “If the killer feels humans are beneath him, why wouldn’t he treat them as objects? Heck, some humans enjoy being tied up. However, I don’t think this woman had a choice. She was forced to wear it. I’m almost certain. The needles? Probably poison. A slow and sad way to go. Just like the other four.”
As the sun began to burst through the clouds a chilly wind still blew through the town, Ringo put on some dark aviator sunglasses from his pants pocket.
“So maybe he or she enjoys killing humans because they’re weak?” Higgins asked as he checked some boxes on his worksheets.
“We don’t even know if the killer is an anthro or human. They’re good at covering their tracks. Human on human violence is common.” Ringo added.
“Don’t most killers want to end up on TV? Wanna be all famous?” Higgins asked, both stood across from each other, the sounds of radio chatter and car doors closing acting as white noise.
“Maybe. Maybe not. It is true that whoever is killing these humans wants us to find the bodies. Whether human or anthro-we need to catch this bastard. Humans are in danger.”
“We could send out a curfew. How are you doing on your end?” Higgins asked in a monotone.
“We know that all the victims are humans, all of them are stuck with needles. That’s it. Autopsy reports say there is bruising and cuts on all the humans. Maybe the killer is angry? Maybe he or she is just enjoying seeing humans suffer.” The horse rubbed his neck.
“Well Detective, thanks for your help. I’ll call ya if anything else comes up.”
Sitting at his office alone, the stallion looked over all the earlier victims of this odd ‘needle killer’. All nude, all vulnerable. All look scared, all haphazardly dropped off outside of a wooded area in Hicksville.
Fear controlled the horse’s life. They were prey animals evolutionary wise, but now being a detective, he was extremely satisfied with battling the darkness. To not let his pounding heart and need to run away dictate his life, to ignore anxiety and to go into the dark rooms with a flashlight and gun in hand.
Beside him, sat an office phone, with piles of papers and a few pens scattered about. He didn’t care much for computers or cellphones. He did own one, but it was a flip phone.
The detective leaned back in his leather chair and looked up at the ceiling, the stallion, inhaling and exhaling slowly through his large nostrils.
He knew who he wanted to call. He felt bad, but this was after all a case that needed solving.
Before placing the call, Ringo stood and locked the door to his office and dialed a number he hadn’t in a while.
Ringo didn’t have to hold the phone super close to his large head, horses had good hearing, so he held the phone in one hand and spoke through it like a radio.
A familiar gruff British accent entered his triangular ears.
“Yes?” The voice on the other end said tiredly.
“Didn’t mean to wake you, Leonard. This is Detective Ringo. Look, uh-the PD is really at a standstill with this case. Five human’s dead. This new one had a collar wrapped around her neck.”
“I know of the cases. A collar? Huh. Well, I don’t know, Ringo. I left the department a while back.” Leo spoke, presumably getting out of bed and shaking quickly as dogs typically did.
“Humans are going to die, Leo. I know you care about that.”
Leonard Keaton sighed; Ringo proceeded to tell Leo of his plan. “I’m going to let you do what you need to, to catch this guy. Once you do-I’ll handle him. I’ll even pay you in cash. We’re desperate here.” Ringo put one hand on his hip and pacing his office.
“You’ll let me do anything I want?” Leo asked in his typical stern voice which Ringo missed, frankly. Most dogs in the department were either stoic or overly friendly, but Leo was someone you never wanted on your bad side. On his good side though, he was loyal and fearless and never hesitant to help. The retried cop had a lot of personality. Had traits most Labradors didn’t.
“Yeah. Anything.” Ringo’s heart skipped a beat as he spoke his last words on the phone that day.
CHAPTER 2- GARETH FENTON
The deer wasn’t used to the hustle and bustle of the city. The neon lights that flashed in the darkness, a multitude of taxis and cars driving by. Some going to slow, and some way to fast.
Stuck in traffic, Gareth casually hung his large arm out the window-waiting and wishing for a human to fall into his grip.
Tonight, he opted to comb his brown fur neatly and shined his antlers with polish. Wearing a black button up shirt and slacks, he wanted to give off a soft and sophisticated look.
Originally, Gareth was from the country, hence his ever so slight Southern accent, but tonight he played the part of a well off anthro.
Mark Douglas wasn’t deterred by the fact the world now had drastically changed. He realized these walking, talking animals were now a part of his life and the 30-year-old would act kindly to them, and expect the same in return.
He exited the doors of the lavish hotel and quickly grabbed his cellphone and hailed an Uber ride.
The night sky was lit by streetlights, rain poured, spattering the dark roads, and caused thunder to rumble in the distance. Luckily, Mark could hang out under the awning of the hotel and not get to wet, apart from tiny splashes on his trench coat.
Walking around the streets were various anthro animals and humans of all ages, some were tall, some were chubby, some were dressed nicely and others not.
The colors of their fur were sometimes natural, but other times were completely cartoonish. Different colored eyes, large tails, big paws, some said ‘hi’ randomly in a childlike manner. Frankly, Mark liked this friendly approach to living.
Pulling up near the curb of the sidewalk is a black four door car, the window to the driver’s side slowly rolled down and a brown deer poked his head out, his antlers not super huge, but noticeable for sure.
“You hired an Uber?” He said in a voice smooth as silk.
With a nod Mark hopped into the back seat, his brown hair soaked in rainwater, his jacket damp as he sat in the heated vehicle.
The seats were fine leather, grey, and soft.
Inside looked extremely clean, not a single discarded cup or fast food bag in sight.
“Where you headed?” The buck asked cocking his head slightly to the backseat.
“Visiting my cousin.” He nodded with a kind smile. He’d admit he was a bit nervous with a deer behind the wheel, but he tried to hide his feelings. He didn’t want the animal’s heart saddened.
“So, what’s it like-being a human?” The slender but muscular driver asked glancing over his shoulder again, the car increasing in speed. Cars on the left and right sides drove at a similar speed. Stores zipped by; the rain didn’t seem to let up.
Windshield wipers suddenly moved back and forth as the rain came down faster.
“Oh, that’s tough to describe. I really don’t know. What about you? Being a deer?” Mark liked the smell of this car, it was expensive.
“Evolutionary wise we animals experienced such a different existence. Hunting and gathering, being leery of humans. The new way is much preferred.” His stubby tail wiggled cutely as he spoke.
Mark thought it was cool that pants were made specifically for these new and interesting animals, tails must get in the way at times. Made sense from a marketing standpoint. Things needed to be adapted always.
“You want a drink?” The driver asked handing the human a bottle of water.
“Sure. Thanks.” As he took the large gulp of the cold beverage, his cellphone vibrated.
A text on the screen read- Your Uber is now ready. White hummer.
“Um. Sir? Mister Deer? C-could you pull over?” Mark swallowed hard. His stomach tightened. He placed a hand over his gut, sweat poured from his forehead.
The car accelerated.
Mark thought he could trust any cute, fuzzy animal-especially one as innocent as a deer who looked a bit like Bambi grown up but, on this night, he was proven wrong.
Casually, Gareth smiled.
Everything had fallen into place rather perfectly.
“Now, now-why don’t you just relax?” The deer had a soft, calming tone for someone who was doing something so extremely evil-well nothing extremely evil had been done yet as far as Gareth was concerned.
Music began to play softly from the radio, folk music from maybe the 60s.
“P-please I need to-I need to go.” Mark leaned over and tried to open one of the two doors, but they were locked. Locked not in the usual way, this car had been adapted for kidnapping.
With his head pounding, his body began to loosen-it wasn’t something he could control, but it was happening none the less.
The deer’s ears twitch as he heard Mark fall across the back seat of the car in a deep sleep.
Gareth smiled softly for the final time that night.