“Caw! Caw! Caw!” The stillness of the morning broke with the crows sending out their call.
Ben and Fred glanced towards the old barn on the edge of their property, Ben shaking his head. “Hells bells! Want to bet it’s another body?” He watched the scavengers wheel in the air, diving toward the ground, and then climbing without landing.
Fred smiled wryly. “No bet, brother mine. Maybe we should call cousin Cassie this time, instead of the sheriff. At least she won’t haul us in for questioning.”
“True. She knows more about the weirdness going on than the police.”
“It’s possible the body is some animal, instead of a human.” Fred drained his coffee mug.
“Nope. The crows refuse to land. Whatever is there is like the others,” Ben said.
Fred stood. “We should go check before we call anyone.”
Nodding, Ben followed his twin down the back steps and across the fallow field.
Above their heads, crows continued their spiraling dance, the calls incessant.
At the barn, the brothers stared at the body sprawled face up in the weeds.
Ben studied the slack face of the young woman, noting her short blondish brown hair and unseeing blue eyes. Parallel slashes crossed her throat, the ground, and weeds soaked with blood. “You recognize her?”
Fred nodded. “Jilly Mason. She’s Sue Anderson’s cousin; works part time at the feed store.”
From his pocket, Ben pulled out his cell phone to call Cassie. Movement caught his eye and he stared at the mist emerging from clumps of dirt and weeds. “What the hell is that?” He smacked Fred’s arm to get his attention. Within himself, something snapped, sending him to his knees in pain and grief. He no longer felt the twin bond. A soft thump caused him to turn his head, blinking away tears. Fred lay beside Sue’s body, blood streaming from the wounds in his throat.
The mist coalesced into the form of their older brother Tim, murdered by their stepfather twenty five years ago. “Leave well enough alone, Bennie. If you don’t want to end up like Freddie, don’t call Cassie. Call the sheriff and let him try to figure things out.” Hollow laughter filled the air. “He doesn’t have a chance in hell of solving these murders.”
“I’m sorry, Tim.” He scrambled to his feet, finding blood on his jeans. “Damn. I better take a shower and burn these clothes before I make the call. Wouldn’t do to stand before Sheriff Jamison with blood on me.” He met his dead brother’s fathomless gaze. “What’s the count now?”
“Twenty five. My master demands the souls and this is the easiest way to provide them.” He grinned. “Besides, you’ll get triple payment this time, money you can use to build that new fence and hire some new farm hands.”
Nodding, Ben trudged back to the house, the hollowness within his heart filling with darkness. Need to make sure the new farmhands stay away from that barn.
Caw! Caw! Caw! The crows swooped toward the ground and the awaiting feast.