At the Widow Barker's house the Sheriff looked slowly and carefully across the back yard and the back porch. He did not see anyone. Knowing the last gun shot came from the other side of the house he proceeded one step at a time. He had seen many crime scenes but never this much blood.
As he came around the corner of the house, his heart sank. Mike was lying on the ground with blood on his head and chest. Before he could do anything, there was another gun shot. This one was over his head and the Sheriff instinctively ducked. Before he could move he saw something run cross the back yard. It moved so quickly, he could not identify it.
The Sheriff pulled his phone out of his pocket and called for back up. Then he ran to Mike. To his relief, Mike was still breathing. As he tried to evaluate Mike's state, he noticed Mike's eyes open. Before he could react, Mike raised up on his elbows. "What the Hell?"
"You tell me. I still haven't seen anything. Obviously you have."
Mike replied, "Yeah, the Widow Barker with a shot gun."
"Seriously? So she shot you?"
"No, I didn't get shot."
"Then what's all the blood?"
"Blood?" Mike said as he looked at his shirt. "Oh, my God. I don't know."
"If you're OK, I'm going to see what the Hell is going on. You stay here, I've called for help."
The Sheriff returned to the backyard. Where did all the blood come from he thought? It was everywhere - splattered on the side of the house, on the porch, across the lawn, on the lawn furniture. He knelt down to see if a different perspective would help. Then he saw it - or rather them. Strewn across the back of the lawn were a dozen carcasses of deer. From where he stood it looked like they had been gutted. Suddenly there was a ghastly scream. He turned to see the Widow Barker standing on the back porch, her clothes drenched in blood, her hair a mess, and holding a shot gun.
The Sheriff heard someone yell "Drop the gun". He turned to see Joe standing with his gun drawn. The Widow Barker gave one more blood curdling scream then threw the gun down. "Put your hands in the air," Joe said. She did as she was told. Joe walked up to her and cuffed her. By this time the Sheriff was beside him.
As they took the Widow Barker to the Sheriff's car, Mike walked into the backyard. He was amazed at the sight of the blood and the carcasses. For the first time he noticed the amount of blood that was splattered all over him.
After all was said and done, it came out that the Widow Barker had a mental breakdown after the death of her husband. She started seeing visions and hearing voices. For some reason one of the voices told her that covering herself and the yard with fresh blood would keep the daemons away. Then paranoia set in. She feared that the souls of the butchered deer would return to haunt her. The shotgun was her husband's.
Mike's memory began to slowly come back. He remembered being hit in the head, but the last thing he remembered seeing was this floating body in white throwing a bucket of blood on him. The next thing he knew the Sheriff was with him. Mike could only assume the hit to his head made him think he saw some 'floating' figure. At home, he was quick to take a hot shower with lots of soap and dispose of his clothes in a dumpster on the other side of town.
No one could figure out how who slaughtered and gutted the deer or where they came from. The mystery continued when Chief Pyre called the Sheriff at 2 the following morning to say that the Barker's house was on fire and he feared his men could not save it. Luckily, Dr. Magill had taken the Widow Barker into his clinic, prescribed medicated for her, and admitted her for observation. Just to ensure nothing happened, he had his night time nurse stay in front of the door to make sure she did not wander off. The window in the Widow's room was old, painted shut, and locked.
The following morning the Sheriff came to check on her. The nurse told him that Dr. Magill had examined her and prescribed some medication to make her sleep. The nurse added that given the Widow's clothes were soaked with blood and it seemed she had not bathed in a while. The nurse assisted the Widow with a good bath, gave her a clean hospital gown, and the prescribed medication. Then the nurse put her into bed and stayed in the room until she knew the Widow was sound asleep.
"Is she up yet?" asked the Sheriff.
"I haven't heard any stirring in there yet. But, let's check on her," suggested the nurse.
The nurse knocked lightly on the door and stuck her head in to make sure the Widow was sufficiently dressed, in bed, and ready for a visitor. She turned to the Sheriff, "Just remember she has gone through some traumatic time, she may not be responsive."
The nurse and the Sheriff walked in the room. The Widow turned to face them. Her face was streaked with black ash and the gown, at least the part they could see, was ripped and also smeared with black ash. The nurse turned to the Sheriff with a look of dismay. The Sheriff just started a very friendly conversation with the Widow as to not upset her. The Widow had no idea why her gown and face were dirtied with ash.
Before he walked out of the room, the Sheriff went over as if he were looking out of the window. He wanted to check the paint and the lock. The paint seal was undisturbed, no part of the window was broken, and the lock was secure. By this he knew little more than he did when he first entered the room.
He asked the nurse,"I know you were out here all night. But you didn't see or hear anything?"
"No sir, for the remainder of the night, I stayed outside the Widow's door finishing my paperwork and reading up on some medical journals I had no time to read earlier. I have been working the night shift for years. I never went to sleep. Just to make sure, I placed an alarm on the outside of the Widow's door. If she decided to come out of her room, the alarm would sound before she even knew it was on the door."
The Sheriff did not look convinced.
"Sheriff, most of the night I was working on my college courses. I'm trying to get my BS online. The courses are interactive. I just don't log on. I have to respond to questions asked by the moderator and present my homework to the class. You can check with the college. I am sure they have a record of my participation."
"Oh, I don't doubt you. The Widow Barker is the mystery."
With that he thanked her and walked out. On his way back to the station, he called Chief Pyre,"Chief, have you been to the Widow Barkers' home this morning?"
"Can't say I have. The fire was put out last night. I'll probably get over there later today to see what I can find."
The Sheriff shared the condition he found the Widow in the that morning. "I am stumped as to how she got out of the room. And we searched to see if there was anything in the room that would put that type of ash or dirt on her gown. There was nothing - the room was clean."
The Chief and the Sheriff exchanged some other information then rang off.
At the station, he was surprised to find Mike in. "I expected you to stay home today."
"Well, do you remember yesterday or did that knock to your head cause more mental stress than we first thought," the Sheriff laughed.
Mike assured him he felt fine and was better at work than at home. Besides, he was seeing Dr. Magill later in the day.
The Sheriff shared with him his visit with the Widow earlier that morning.
"Wow," said Mike "there really must be Voodoo or witchcraft involved here. We have copious quantities of blood, a Widow off her rocker, dead carcasses, whatever 'vision' I had, and now the mystery of the ash smudged nightgown. You just cannot make this stuff up."
"Yeah," said the Sheriff not seeing the humor,"but we need to find out what the Hell is going on. Halloween was last month."
The station phone rang and Mary Lou answered, "Sheriff's office, Mary Lou here, how can I help you." She paused. "And, when did this happen." Pause. "Was anyone hurt?" Pause. "And no one could identify it?" Pause. "Really. Well they returned what happened?" Paused. "Empty, completely empty? Exactly what was taken?" Mary Lou said a few words as she made notes. She got the phone number and other information. She rang off.
"Well", said Mary Lou. "This is interesting. That was Axson McDermott of Liggett's Wild Game Company. Seems day before yesterday 2 of his guys were driving the company's large refrigerated truck down Rt 4. Something went across the road and to avoid it the driver went off the road over a ditch and hit a tree."
Mike asked,"Was anyone hurt?"
"He said not. He said that neither guy had a cell phone with them so they left the truck and walked up the road to Grice's Gas and Go to call for help. When they got back to the truck they found the back door open and all the contents gone."
"What was the truck carrying?" asked the Sheriff.
"A dozen large freshly killed deer."
"What ran in front of the truck to cause the incident?"
"Well, that's the interesting part. They could only describe it as a floating body in white. At first they thought it was a large bird, however as they got closer they said they could see through the thing."
"All they are missing is a bucket of blood," laughed Mike.
"Well, I think we now know where the deer came from."
"Quick question Sheriff," asked Mike."Did anyone find a knife or anything in the backyard someone could use to gut those deer?"
"No, no one found anything like that. Struck us as odd also. Those deer probably weighed 150 to 160 pounds each. There is no way the Widow could moved them. She had to have help."
Mary Lou spoke up,"Perhaps the 'floating body in white'?"
"The last thing I need now is a comedian," said the Sheriff.