( iii )
Within an hour the bodies have been packed into cadaver pouches and have been stored inside an armoured truck parked outside the premises. The woman’s purse, the man’s wallet, and other items related to them were recovered from the scene. Red took out their credit cards and gave them to one of his agents, instructing him to use them sporadically at random gas stations while heading south. The remaining agents dispersed to find the woman’s head.
“Did you find anything?”
“I ran scans on multiple spectrums. Nothing weird.”, Leila said on the other end of the line. “What about you?”
“We’re looking for it the old fashioned way. It’ll take time.” Red kept looking for any odd pattern or anything out of the ordinary. “What do you think it is? A sleeper waking up all of a sudden in the cemetery and got hungry?”
“Highly unlikely. That would usually require a feeding accomplice. Could be an accidental exposure, maybe? Or, you know…” Leila hesitated. “Another case like mine?”
“Let’s hope that’s not the case. The council is already walking on thin ice. It could become a major political disaster.” Red frowned. “Either way, if it really was another case like yours, we wouldn’t see an incident at a graveyard. In a hospital, maybe. But not here.”
“It can also be a case of unauthorized feeding.”
“Well, that’s punishable by death. I doubt if…”
Red’s conversation was cut short by a nearby scream. He ran to the source immediately and discovered an agent with one of his legs buried deep into the ground, groaning in agony. Red and his subordinates grabbed the man and pulled him off the ground. There is a clear sign of fracture, as the whole lower part of his leg below his knee kept dangling. While everyone else was tending to the injured man, Red started investigating the hole in the ground. With minimum precaution, he put his hand inside to assess the depth.
“Put him on a stretcher and take him away. And bring a shovel.”
Once his subordinate was sedated and taken away, he started digging into the hole. He put his hand inside again to assess the structure underneath.
“Snake cam! Now!”
One of his men pulled out a screen hooked to a wire. The wire had a small camera and a light source at its extremity. Red put the camera-end into the ground and started inspecting.
“Just what I thought. It’s a tunnel. Could be a whole network of them. We need to be careful with our steps.”
“A tunnel? Under a cemetery?” Leila asked, perplexed.
“It could be groundhogs, you know?” Red replied with mixed confidence. “They do dig up bones from cemeteries sometimes.”.
Red put his nose close to the hole.
“My nose is a bit stuffed up. But…” Red took another deep breath. “It smells a little funny here.”
“I can almost swear that I smell a subtle hint of… formaldehyde?”
“Are you sure?”
“No really. I could be wrong.” Red got up, dusting dead leaves off his coat. “Either way. That’s not a priority right now. This could be a feeder-related case. It’s worth looking into all the immortals in the area. Could you send me a list?”.
“On it. Am I needed on site?”
“Not yet. But you never know. Stay put. The problem is that we have a potential rogue loose in this town. In case it’s a sleeper just mindlessly roaming around, I will tell the agents to put a live animal in the middle of the cemetery as bait.”
“Whatever you do, close this case fast. I haven’t seen Jean-Pierre stressed like this in a long time. Good luck!” Leila hung up the phone.
Red ordered his agents to guard all the exits of the cemetery. He gave each of them false documentation and phone numbers to call if a curious citizen or even worse, a member of the Press, becomes too nosy. The injured agent was sent to a private facility to be treated. A headquarter was then installed inside the parish. One of the agents already contacted a nearby farmer to buy a sheep from the livestock. With all the agents deployed, Red took two of the remaining agents and left the premises with the tissue samples gathered from the scene inside a polycarbonate heat-sealed carrier and the bodies of the unfortunate couple in bodybags.