They slid open the door to the warehouse, and immediately something smelled wrong. Not just the musty staleness of a space left closed to the outside for too long, but undertones of decomposition, of rot tinged with sweetness. The smell you never forget – the smell of evil. The smell of death.
“Cameras outside show two men enter about twenty minutes apart,” said Detective Cooper. “Door closes, nobody leaves. That was two months ago.” He took a few steps in, then turned and looked back at the door. “There’s no handle on the inside. It’s rusted off. If you slide the door shut, you’re stuck.”
A body lay several metres away from the door, face down, soles of the feet towards the entrance. As they approached, they saw that it was a man dressed in a pinstripe business suit, covered by a dark brown coat. His head was a mess, skull crushed. Blood had gushed onto the floor, spread and then dried. The smell was unspeakable. Flies leapt into the air as they approached and circled angrily above.
A few steps away, a briefcase lay open. Someone had rifled through it – papers and a laptop computer were spilled around. Next to the briefcase lay a metal pipe with ugly dark red decorations.
“Murder weapon,” said Cooper. “Bashes the guy’s head in, then searches his stuff. According to the video, this was the second guy to arrive.”
A few metres further in, a small knife lay on the floor. Sharp blade, black handle. Bloodstains.
“Okay,” said Cooper. “Second murder weapon. Maybe a second body. Molly, look around. See if you can find anything.”
Finally, a bit of searching to do. Searching was her favourite part. First, she inspected the floor around the besuited corpse, moving in ever-widening circles. Nothing found – no trails leading outward. Next, the perimeter. She walked over to the nearest warehouse wall, and started to walk around the edge, clockwise. Towards the back of the warehouse, large piles of empty crates loomed high. Hundreds of metal pipes, just like the first murder weapon, stacked on top of each other, left to rust. She walked between the crate towers, examining surfaces. Cobwebs aplenty, dust everywhere. Dust – disturbed or undisturbed?
Disturbed! Dust smudged and a hand print, marked out in red, on a crate that lay in a smaller pile against the back wall. And the smell – away from the body near the door, it had lessened in intensity, but here it began to build again, cloying around the edges of her nostrils.
She sniffed, turning her head this way and that, trying to find a direction to… a tarpaulin that lay against a large crate, covering something…
She backed away. The smell was beginning to get overwhelming. She turned and went back to the entrance, where Detective Cooper stood, silhouetted in the sunlight streaming in from outside. As she approached, he looked over at her expectantly.
“What is it Molly?” he asked. “You got something?”
She led him into the back of the warehouse, found the tarpaulin again, grabbed a corner and pulled it away. Underneath, the body of another man was curled against the side of the crate. Also in a suit, but shabbier, old shoes, unkempt hair. He had died clutching his hands to his stomach, flesh torn apart by a knife wound.
“Okay, I get it,” Detective Cooper said. “So they arrange to meet here, and shut the door once they’re both inside, so they can argue without disturbance. Argument gets out of control. Pinstripe guy stabs shabby guy, shabby guy bludgeons pinstripe guy. Shabby guy searches the case, but he’s wounded, then realises he can’t get out. He comes back here, hides under the tarpaulin, hoping someone will open the door, and he can escape. But he dies from his wounds. And you found him! Well done! Well done, Detective Molly!”
Ah, Cooper was pleased. Doing a good job and being praised for it – the best feeling in the world. Detective Molly swelled with pride, and wagged her tail.