The circling birds told me everything about the scene.
As I worked my way into the woods, dry twigs snapped beneath me and whip-thin branches attacked my eyes. Above, a dark silhouette about thirty feet up spread its wings, showing its winter-lean body, feathers ruffling as it floated the crisp wind. The bird arched, slowing down. A flick of the head and it flapped twice to rejoin the prayer circle of birds.
“Another?” My breath cut the air like a white knife.
An officer near the body lifted the sheet.
“Got a name?” I slid beneath the yellow tape and knelt, my knees popping. The younger officers glanced my way, returning to their electronics when the silence became uncomfortable.
Another bird dipped to the treetops. Its shadow sliced across the girl’s throat.
“Not yet,” someone said from behind a computer screen.
Another officer tapped keys as she entered evidence. Damn things kept getting smaller every time.
I turned to leave.
“Detective?” A red-headed Freshie said. “Don’t you want to, yanno--”
“I saw all I needed to see. Put it in your fancy computers.”
I returned to my car. My coffee no longer steamed. I peered out the windshield; the circle of birds had tightened.
I sipped the coffee and noticed a bit of browning blood under a fingernail. Careless. Then again, with faces buried in gizmos, no one noticed.
I looked up once more at the circle of birds laying their silent prayers on the wind and drove away.