“Patrol Car 54, do you copy?”
Tom glared at the radio, defiantly taking a sip of his coffee before picking up the hand set.
“What do you need, Betty Lou?” he asked, exasperated. The regular night shift dispatcher had been out for almost three weeks on maternity leave and for reasons he didn’t even what to know, the Chief had hired batty old Betty Lou Harris to fill in during the duration. Betty Lou was closer to eighty than to sixty, and had watched an awful lot of cop shows during her many years as a home maker. Tom knew this because the old lady was very fond of trying to quote them over the radio. It wouldn’t be so bad if she were getting the quotes right, he mused.
“Well, Tom sweetie, I just got the strangest call from some out of towner who called in on the official line—” Tom had learned that when she said this, she meant it came in on the 911 network rather than the local police dispatch phone number— “He sounded pretty upset and was saying something about there being a unicorn laying on the side of the road. He said it looked like it had been run over by a Mac truck or something.”
“10-4, Betty Lou, a bystander spotted road kill. Can you give me the location?”
“Oh, sure!” she gushed. “That young man on the phone said he saw it down by Carver’s Road, on the left hand side between the shoulder of the road and Schitt Creak.”
“OK, Betty Lou, I’m on it,” he replied as he tucked his go cup into a cup holder and fastened his seat belt. This was not sounding very good. For one thing, unicorns were pretty much invisible to mortals—unless they were, in fact, dead. Second, the only way a Mac truck could have hit one is if it were, you guessed it, already dead. If you startle a unicorn, it pops out of phase with reality, rendering it invisible to the naked eye and insubstantial. A shifter’s nose could still identify them when out of phase, and magical weapons could still hurt them, but that’s about it.
Despite not being in any great rush to get to the scene, it only took him about 5 minutes. Talbot’s Peak just wasn’t that big of a place. What he found when he pulled up made him wish it had taken him longer. Parked on the side of the road the neon green Toyota Prius belonging to that pair of Seattle nut-jobs who’d come to this part of Montana to “commune with nature.” Most of the guests who stayed at the Wilk Pack’s commune were a little odd, just like the Wilks themselves. This pair were more than odd, though. They were obnoxious and had made pests of themselves over the last week and a half.
“Just so you know,” the loud-mouthed male said as Tom stepped out of his patrol car, “I already called the news stations and reported it to them, too. I’ve seen what you back woods rednecks call justice in this town.”
Tom shut his door and slowly ambled over to the pair. As he did so, he sampled the air very carefully. His heart plummeted when he picked up the scent of a unicorn. Damn. There weren’t very many of them around and every one that was lost was a kick in the gut. But he also picked up the scent of wolves, specifically Mooney McMahon and Moon-Moon, who’s proper name was Josh, but every one called him Moon-Moon because of that internet meme that started a few years ago about the stupidest werewolf alive. He looked around for the dead unicorn but didn’t see it.
“So where’s this dead animal you guys called in?” he asked with every ounce of professional curtesy he could muster.
“It’s right behind you,” the female yuppie said in a superior tone. “We saw it running around with some hunter’s cruel arrow in it. And then it dashed across the road and got hit by a mac truck!”
“Let’s see you bill billies find a proper hunting tag for that!” the male added loudly.
“Well, I need to see the carcass first,” Tom said as he turned and began looking around, sweeping the beam of his Maglight is wide arches. He honestly didn’t see it. He could smell that it was there, or at least had been there, but he found nothing but churned up grass.
“Well, it was here just a minute ago,” the male yuppie said, sounding confused. “I tried to get a picture of it but my iPhone’s camera wasn’t getting enough light to get a good shot.”
“Can you point out the blood trail for me at least?” Tom asked.
“Phu, blood trail,” the female said dismissively. “Everyone knows that unicorns don’t leave blood trails! You need to look for glitter!”
“Ma’am, I’ve never seen anything that left a trail of glitter when it’s shot with an arrow,” Tom replied very carefully.
“Unicorns do,” she replied stubbornly. Tom just looked at her for a moment before turning back toward the area the pair had pointed out earlier. He walked though it carefully, looking for any signs of a struggle.
It had been long enough that he probably would find something. After all, the SOP in town when a non-resident found out-of-the-ordinary road kill was to sneak the unusual dead body away and replace it with something normal. He’d picked up the scent of the two wolves that usually took care of clean-up duty for the McMahon Pack. That pack owned the local paper, so it made sense that the McMahons had responded first. It didn’t really matter if anyone got pictures of the unusual animal because thanks to internet hoaxes and Photoshop, no one believed cell phone photos if there was no body to present as proof. The question was what he’d find. And then he found it.
The beam of his Maglight slid over the body briefly before he realized what he’d seen. The female yuppie’s shout of excitement when he found it again was joined with the male’s shout of triumph. Tom just stood there staring in total disbelief. How the hell had those two knuckleheads gotten it planted in the right spot just in time to fool the yuppies???
Just then, the Butts & Guts news van pulled up to the side of the road, Lamar and Jamie hopping out almost immediately. Jamie had his camera out and was snapping pictures a mile a minute while Lamar raised the portable light boom on the van, flooding the whole area with light. The yuppies' shouts of triumph chocked off as their trophy was fully illuminated--the biggest freaking stuffed unicorn doll he had ever seen.
Tom squinted at the harsh light and looked back at the yuppies. “Is this what you all saw?” he asked, not really trying to hide his smirk. He was totally going to have to track Mooney and Moon-Moon down to find out how they snuck that monster in right under the noses of the moronic yuppies!