Friday, July 24, 2009

Dark Blob

I wasn't thinking about much except driving as I meandered up the road. I was busy hoping a logging truck wasn't waiting for me around the next bend; and there were bends every hundred feet it seemed. Logging trucks were notorious for screaming down these single lane Forest Service roads without a care in the world. Temperatures had been well above the hundred degree mark for over a month now. The dust enveloped everything behind my truck like I was being followed by a brown monster. Hunting season has started a couple of weeks ago so the report of a dead body way up in the hills wasn't unusual and I didn't think much of it. I stuck to focusing on the road ahead, listening to the CB for truck traffic, and glancing at my GPS each time the dirt road forked.

My GPS signalled that I was close and as if on cue, the road abruptly ended at a small cul-de-sac with barely enough room to turn around. I immediately noticed 2 vehicles here, a Forest Service truck and a larger pickup with a camper on the back. As soon as I opened my door the smell hit me. It was the familiar smell of death but the intense heat seemed to enhance every quality of it. After the initial pleasantries with the Forest Service employee, he pointed to the camper and told me it was in there. "What do you mean, 'it'?" I asked. "You'll see", was his only response, given with a look of disgust on his face. I grabbed my latex gloves, gave them a big puff of air as if to create some finger-balloon, and slapped them on my hands. I headed towards the camper, my eyes scanning the ground, the smell of death stronger the closer I got.

I noticed a fresh patch of vomit in the dirt as I approached the camper door. A quick yell at the piss-fir (our affectionate name for Forest Service employees) gave me its source. I carefully twisted the door knob on the back of the camper and was instantly greeted by the worst stench I had ever encountered in my days of crime scene investigating. It was even worse than the accidental puncture of intestines or stomach at an autopsy. Even my seasoned nose was assaulted and caused my whole body to take a step back. I kept the door open and tried to figure out what I was looking at.

Time can do amazing things to a body. Now add to the mix extremely hot temperatures and an enclosed environment like this camper (all windows closed, of course), and time can do wonders. Towards the front of the camper was a converted sleeping platform in the area where seats and a table normally were. Straight out of a horror movie, a black blob was creeping towards me. After the initial shock I realized it wasn't really moving towards me (I later attested this to too many horror flicks) but was, in fact, moving. I tried desperately to grasp what I was looking at. The entire sleeping area was covered with this black gooey substance. A good portion had dripped off the shelf and fallen to the floor where even the dripping tentacles of goo were alive with motion. I wondered what the camper's owner could have possibly had in the back. The thought was short-lived as I realized I probably was looking at the owner, accosted by death and tormented by the heat and flies.

I retrieved some Vicks from my truck, placed a bit under each nostril, and returned to the camper. This time I stepped inside, careful not to step in any of the black substance. Writhing in unison throughout the black substance were tiny white maggots. This was how the mass of black became alive. They were everywhere and such large numbers made the black mass seem alive. Any semblance to it's original human form was gone. Imagine Frankenstein's Easy-Bake oven stuffed with black pudding and maggots. The heat and bugs had literally melted every piece of flesh and left behind a mess of black which the bugs still climbed through, searching for that last scrap to digest. I had never seen such an incredible account of decomposition. I had to poke through the black mess with a rod to confirm that there were bones within.

The investigation didn't take long. A carefully crafted note left behind revealed the victim's last moments and no other evidence suggested other than suicide. I wondered how we were going to get these remains out and waited for the coroner to arrive to help me figure this one out. While disgusting, the method was actually quite simple. We used flat-nosed shovels to scoop the remains into a body bag. Even the Vicks and the mask now on my face couldn't hide the overpowering smell. The maggots weren't bothered by the action and burrowed deeper into the mass. I pitied the coroner for having to drive the long winding roads with this in the back. The coroner was ready for such cases. The coroner brought something I had never seen before. Towed on a trailer behind their van was the 'stink tank'. The circular steel tank was airtight and evidently used for especially bad bodies. The bag was unceremoniously dropped into the tank and sealed from the outside world. Because the cause of death was known and no crime was involved, I never saw that stinky mess again except inside my head. The smell, however, would never leave.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dark Origins

The early morning phone call startled me; I wasn't used to being on call yet. I must admit the excitement of my first crime scene brought a peculiar elation to me. I quickly threw on some suitable clothes; jeans and a long shirt with a light jacket under my arm to combat the cold outside. I hopped into the truck I had just been issued a few days prior, the windowless camper shell concealing a plethora of tackle boxes and equipment few people would recognize.

A short trip through windy country roads ended in an old farm house, nothing made it stick out any different than the hundreds of other houses scattered throughout this country. Several vehicles were already here: two police cruisers, an unmarked detective vehicle, and my new partner's rig, a vehicle not unlike my own but a different color. A single officer stood outside and looked up as I stepped out of my truck, a knowing grin on his face. He joked to me about my first scene being a bad one as I approached but I didn't respond; my nervous head was already overloaded with the unknown.

Anticipation was building as I opened the door, instantly greeted by an unfamiliar smell, the smell of death. A tense energy was in the air. You couldn't tell anything had happened by looking around the living room. Family pictures in simple frames containing smiling faces and happy times lined the tables and fireplace mantle. The cleanliness only added to its seeming innocence. The furnishings suggested the residents were probably older, everything covered in an air of a time long past. Another officer was in the living room busy scribbling on a note pad, his radio crackling with unheard chatter. He glanced up and signaled towards the hallway leading to bedrooms in the back of the house.

I passed one bedroom, took a left, and was at the threshold of another bedroom. What confronted me didn't seem real. Immediately visible and covering an entire wall and ceiling was some gruesome Picasso painting. But the red was unlike any color I had ever seen, complete with small chunks of debris stuck throughout, some hanging by an unseen thread, waiting to fall and join their companions on the ground. I wondered what could possibly have created this blood and flesh painting. I never had time to formulate any emotions, my eyes were too occupied in awe. After fully entering the room I could finally see the the artist, or what was left of him.

There was nothing special about the body. It was laying on the ground sideways next to the side of a bed, dressed in jeans and a flannel top. Any semblance of humanity ended at the shoulders. What should have been a head on those shoulders was a twisted mass of flesh and bone, resembling a clay sculpture which had gone seriously wrong on a pottery wheel. The entire area where should have existed a face was gone. In fact everything that should have been behind that face was gone as well, leaving only an empty cavern of flesh. A partially coagulated pool of blood rested under this head, mixed with tints of dark and bright red. Across his lap lay a shotgun, amazingly clean for such a messy task. Already busy with their various tasks the detective and investigator informed me of the cause of death: suicide by shotgun in the mouth.

It was incredible what a shotgun at such close range could do to the human head. It wasn't the tiny shot that caused the damage but the powerful gases escaping from the end of the barrel. Brain was instantly pulverized into nothing, leaving behind only small pieces of tissue, all scattered across the wall and ceiling like swatted flies, smashed into oblivion. After asking if I was all right with this scene, I was told to begin picking up what was left of the skull. I hadn't noticed these upon first entering but now I could see them. There were several fragments of skull on the bed, floor, and even on the dresser against the wall. Each fragment varied in size and each had varying degrees of flesh and blood on them. Some were surprisingly clean of any blood or flesh. One fragment was the size of a curved dinner plate while more numerous were smaller, quarter-sized pieces. My latex-covered hands picked up each piece and placed them all into a paper bag. If I had actually thought about what I was collecting I might have had a harder time but I didn't think about it.

Usually I would have been tasked with photographing the entire scene but this chore had already been done. After everyone was satisfied no foul play was involved, it was time to move the body into the blue body bag waiting nearby. Thankfully my partner let me take the legs while the seasoned pro was at the 'head'. As we lifted the body slowly, a sound emanated from the head area that could only be described as a slurping sound. What remained of the head didn't want to leave the pool of blood easily and when it did the suction from the blood created a sound I will never forget. Blood matted hair followed reluctantly as we carried the body a few feet to the bag, now open wide and waiting. An easy zip and that was the last I saw of the body, the waiting coroner now taking over and taking the body to the hearst outside.

There was little left for us to do here since no real crime had taken place. I asked about the mess which now had transformed a bedroom into a nightmare. It was no longer our problem, left for an already traumatized family to clean up on their own. This brought the first emotion upon me. I couldn't fathom how a family already faced with such an horrendous act could face having to clean this up. I was glad the family wasn't around for me to see their emotions. I was glad to be leaving this tragedy, even if only to be waiting for the next, possibly even more horrific scene, always waiting around the next corner.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Night Bliss

I was hot with desire. Even the cool night air couldn't quench my passion. My hairs were on end, electric energy coursing through my veins. Each exhalation created a new pattern in the air, mesmerizing me until the next one came, repeating like a slide show that only my imagination understood. The changing forms were fed from within, deep in my body, deep in my soul. Tonight was the night; tonight was my night.

The window had been open long enough that my room might have been mistaken for a meat locker. Soon, soon. My naked body should have felt the coldness but it was obsessed with other things this night. If the two candles were giving off any heat it was quickly abducted by the cold. The candles did add to my mood; a mixture of sexuality, resignation, and pure bliss. The circle I sat within encompassed me within it's world, carefully created specifically for this moment. My moment was approaching. Tonight was the night.

Reflections of the moon were like reflections of my life. Each glimmer another moment in time. The moon came streaming through that open window, eager to play witness. I welcomed the company with open arms, understanding why the night was its domain. Because in the darkness all things of the mind could breathe life; all things were possible. Those endless possibilities the reason I was here now. Tonight was my night.

The outside world was dead to me. No one would be there to mourn my passing; passing from one place to another. This was between me and the next world, no one else. Lack of the outside world in this life freed me from concern of what might be left behind. I could focus on the task at hand. I could fulfill my destiny and join my other brothers in a world beyond. Tonight was the night.

As I grasped the cold steel I could sense my warmth spreading along its length, seemingly shimmering with the same excitement I felt. The sharpened steel knew its purpose here and was eager to proceed. The intricate patterns along the shaft had twins within the circle, mirroring each other, dancing their ritual within my head. As the moon's light was grabbed by the edge of the blade, purposeful cuts were made to each of my wrists. The next moments only existed within my mind, inwardly finishing the ritual that would take me home. As conscious thought faded, the moon grew within the red pools beneath me, seemingly caught in the ritualistic circle. Tonight was my night.