Neddy sprang forward, lunging at Doyle from his spot on the floor, knocking him over and holding his head down against the floor with the palm of his hand. Doyle screamed out in pain, feeling his forehead begin to burn, and his body growing weaker. He tried to push the thing off of him, but he was pinned under its weight. And then the weight was lifted, and Davies was standing over him with his baton in hand, having knocked the beast aside.

The leech recovered and took a wild swing at Davies, throwing him across the room into the front wall. He felt the wind knocked out of him and slumped to the floor, trying to catch his breath as he watched the thing crawl toward him. It looked crazed, like a man starving to death, but no starving man could have thrown him like that. He could smell the rot in the room, it’s body was starting to go. It was almost on him when a loud crack rang out, Doyle’s baton bouncing off of the back of the leech’s head and clattering on the floor. It turned to hiss at Doyle, giving Davies a moment to shift away from it. The thing seemed to hesitate a moment, unsure of which target to follow, but the choice was taken from it as Doyle pulled his pistol and unloaded into its chest, knocking it to the ground. It continued to twitch for a bit before coming to its final rest.

In the quiet the two just looked at each other, and then at their surroundings. The room was empty aside from them, certainly not lived in. There were strange markings around the door, but no other indication that it was occupied.

“I think I owe Andy a drink,” Doyle panted, dropping to his knees and sitting on the floor. “Can you believe this? An actual leech. What a day.”

“Not exactly run of the mill,” Davies said, distracted, staring at the markings. “Let’s get back to the morgue, tell him what we found.”

“That’s amazing!” Andy said, half an hour later as they brought him up to speed. “All the classic signs of a leech. I can’t believe you actually found one.”

“Catching killers is what we do,” Doyle shrugged.

“Actually, I’m not so sure this time,” Davies said, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Paul, you were there. You can’t tell me you don’t think Chalmers was a leech,” Doyle said in shock.

“Oh, no. I’m with you guys on that part,” Davies said, waving his hand to dismiss the idea. “I’m just not entirely sure he’s our killer.”

“What? Why not?”

“Well, you saw him, Gary. The guy looked about a minute away from dead when we got there. Andy didn’t you say you’d found other cases?”

“Sure, Davies,” he replied, “I looked back through some of the other recent murders, I found the same marks on three others from the last couple of weeks.”

“Right, so four leech deaths in a few weeks. Chalmers should have been looking healthy as a horse, well fed. Instead he was starving. The first thing he did when we came in was try to drain your life. I think those odd markings on the door were a warding, keeping him locked in the room.

“Ready to be found and used as a scapegoat,” Doyle huffed. “So we have another leech out there?”

“Actually,” Andy said, “we may have something worse. I noticed something odd about the wounds about an hour or so ago. Now that the swelling’s gone down a bit you can see a pattern, like an imprint in the burn. It made me wonder if we were actually dealing with a bloodstone, but when I heard you caught the leech I dismissed the idea. Now?”

“Bloodstones,” Davies said, “I didn’t think this could get worse. The thought of having a leech running loose was bad enough, but living people doing the same thing?”

“The leech could have been one of their early victims, they may have kept him locked up to take the blame if things got hot.”

“Come on, Davies,” Doyle said, cracking his knuckles. “It sounds like we’ve got work to do.”


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