Chapter 12: A flaw was revealed

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A blood trail led Max back to the shed, similar to a littering of bread crumbs. He could see a lot, making it appear like a can of paint had leaked. The bright red was mixed in with the dirt, on branches and the odd stricken tree stump. He knew Red's injury had to be quite severe. This killer was obviously nicked by one of Grant's bullets. The predator had his wing clipped.

It was quiet and peaceful back at the shed. Max's face was puffy and crimson red, partially from the heat, but mostly due to his epic chase. He could see no signs that a gun battle had just taken place, but as he entered through the door a solemn sight awaited him. A pool of blood was soaking into the concrete. Its rich, thick coating had drifted further into the room and invaded its clean space, making it look like a river of red. He saw footprints etched through it, leading a path to a long object covered by a sheet. His vision locked in on two other small blood pools isolated nearby, belonging to Bruno and Drago, lying motionless where they had been slain. A single chair now stood alone, revealing only tethered rope, spots of red and tarnished wood. The victim's body was no longer there.

"Why did you move the body?" he asked his colleague straight away.

"Thank god you're safe," Grant responded, standing sheepishly in the corner, "I'm sorry but I couldn't look at him anymore."

"It's a crime scene," Max growled in an uptight tone, "you know you can't move the body?"

"The vacant look in his eyes was killing me," his colleague admitted, "I found it hard to be alone in the room with him, so I covered him up."

These words perplexed Max, causing him to speak quickly.

"You've seen thousands of crime scenes. Why did this one bother you?"

Grant took a second to consider the question, before responding finally in raspy, solemn tone.

"I guess because it could've been you. You were tortured in this very room. When I looked at the body, all I could see was your pale face and your battered body. It creeped me out."

Max motioned to speak again, wanting to verbally remonstrate with his colleague for being so stupid. His actions could have severe consequences for the both of them. Any questioning minds would assume that they were covering up the scene, because their presence here was already suspicious enough. He instead relented and softened his voice.

"It's okay Sam, I understand."

Max walked towards the covered sheet and lifted it up, staring down on Roberts's mangled frame. His dead face was hollow, like he had not eaten in months and decomposition had already started in spite. There was blood everywhere, almost like he was covered in paint with deep contusions to his body, still seeping with a red, oozing liquid.

Max spoke again, needing to know something, "just please tell me that you at least examined the scene before you did it?"

"Of course I did," his colleague admitted, "I don't have much to report though. It's pretty much as we thought."

"Just give me the short version," Max suggested, shifting the sheet back over the victim's face.

"From what I can gauge he was tortured like you," Grant revealed, "his feet and hands were both hacked up and he had burn marks on his chest. They look like iron marks, due to the oblong nature of the wound. It appears the killer blow was a slice to his neck. It was a right to left cut, meaning that it came from a left-handed killer. The carotid artery was severed, which is why we have so much blood in here."

The information swelled around Max's brain, allowing him to mentally picture the crime. This image reminded him too much of his own torture, so he was quick to move on from it.

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