author:caiman feral jellenheimer poison police prostitution scar title:the_fuzz

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The Fuzz Pt. 5
Stumblin’ Man

Detective Vincent Ulrich was a creature of habit. He took comfort in the same sights, sounds, and tastes, especially ones that reminded him that there used to be a different man with the same name, 10 or more years ago, who liked the same things but had more innocence. If he knew the word “nostalgic,” it would have been the word he latched onto. Problem was, he was never much for words.

It had been three weeks since he had been transferred to what the rest of the precinct sometimes referred to as “The Fuzz”—the squad of detectives who specialized in cases involving fluffy ponies. Since the first three rather busy days, he found that the caseload had lightened significantly, a development that pleased his partners but not so much him. He felt restless, maybe anxious, like he was at risk of redundancy. Like the Chief was going to walk in any second and renege his “last chance” to prove himself worthy of keeping around.

They never were able to find the guy who killed off Bret Harvey, a fact that chafed Detective Ulrich’s ass something fierce. But there was something strange about how Ulrich felt about that case he wasn’t willing to admit to himself yet. The first thing that came to mind when he thought about the Bret Harvey case was Lemon, the fluffy pony who had been poisoned by either him or his killer. Ulrich had the nagging suspicion that it was Bret Harvey’s murderer who poisoned Lemon, and he based this off of little else but conjecture. Conjecture, and the fact that Bret Harvey once had a chance to kill someone in a knife fight, and according to the testimony of the guy he was fighting, he got cold feet and turned tail.

Ulrich was taking his second cheap convenience store pig-in a blanket out of the little paper pouch when he heard a noise near his feet. He looked down and there was a thin earthie fluffy pony with burnt orange fur and a black mane coming out of the alleyway behind—wouldn’t you know it—an Italian restaurant. It had a scar across its left eyebrow, slanting downward and making him look constantly angry. Its cheeks were puffed and it was in its best mimic of a battle stance.

“Gif nummies nao!” it shouted in a high, raspy voice, revealing that a couple of its front teeth were gone, “o’ get wowstest hoofsies!” On the last two words, it stamped its front hooves on the concrete as emphasis. Its hooves no longer hurt when it did that—it had managed to develop some pretty good callouses.

Ulrich bent down to stare closer at it, and the fluffy’s expression softened. Ulrich finished taking the pig in a blanket out of the pouch, carefully lifting it up to his mouth. He could see the fluffy’s lips moistening. The fluffy had no idea what it was Ulrich was teasing him with, but he knew it smelled good, and it seemed like twenty forevers ago since the last time he’d eaten anything that wasn’t a mystery smudge at the bottom of an overturned trash can.

The detective opened his mouth and moved the food up to it. It was beginning to pass his stretched lips when the fluffy suddenly let out a reedy battle cry and bounded up to him, bashing Ulrich’s leg with its hooves. It would hit it with one hoof, then put that one down as he hit him with the other. Once it was satisfied—about thirty seconds later—it took another look up at Ulrich’s face. He had taken the food out of his mouth and was staring blankly. His lips twitched, and then suddenly—and very loudly—he let out a big gut laugh.

The orange fluffy let out an involuntary “eep” of fear and backed away. If he had any poopies in him, they would have come out. He watched in confusion as Ulrich finished laughing, wiping his eyes, then Ulrich ripped the piggie in half, giving the fluffy the end that hadn’t been in his mouth.

“I like you, little dude,” he said as the fluffy sniffed the food in the human’s outstretched hand, “you got moxie.”

The fluffy took the food in his mouth and reveled in the salty taste. He set it to the ground and started nibbling away at it. A second human walked past the scene, staring in disgust at the feral shitrat eating food it had begged off of some square-jawed asshole in a suit. It was only when the fluffy heard those footsteps fade away that it went back at ease and ate with a bit more vigor. But that didn’t last. He felt something touch his mane, and he scree’d in fear, ducking down.

Ulrich withdrew his hand. “Whoa. Didn’t mean to scare you there, man.”

Having had more than enough stress for one day, the small creature grabbed its food and scampered away into the dark of the alley, leaving Ulrich behind to reflect on the strangeness of the encounter. He remembered seeing a lot of fluffy ponies when he was a kid, but his parents forbade him from interacting with them. They were barred from schools, and janitors and other groundskeepers often just killed them on sight, so he and other kids never interacted with fluffies during school hours. Ulrich’s few encounters with fluffies when he was grade school-age were short, and usually consisted of him running from them for fear of being infected with some kind of horrible mutant virus. It was easy to see ferals as monsters, with their scars, busted-up teeth, hair falling out from stress and fighting/abuse, tracking blood from having to walk on hard ground with soft hooves.

By the time he was old enough to go out on his own, the fluffy population had dropped enough to where it was finally once again possible to go out for a day and not see one. This was just before the fluffy bills—his parents hated them. They predicted—correctly—that the fluffy population would quickly bounce right back. Multiple times, they told him, “you ever see a fluffy pony, you stay away from it, no matter what it says to you. Those things are disease-spreading vermin.” In other words, Ulrich thought they were monsters as much as they thought the same of him. It was only in adulthood that Ulrich began to see them as something besides a half-assed Biblical plague.

He stuffed the rest of his food in his mouth all at once, seeing what looked like another fluffy a couple blocks away. It was early in the morning, the sun was just barely up and casting a dim glow through cracks in the clouds, and the faraway red shape looked increasingly unfamiliar to Detective Ulrich. Maybe it was a fluffy. He wasn’t too sure. It was in profile, facing across the street, just staring. Completely still. The closer Ulrich got to it, the less sure he was, and by the time he was on the same block, he was confused and more than a little unsettled.

The creature Ulrich was looking at was a fluffy in all but face. It had the same squat build and its fur was a deep red. No mane or tail, just solid red fur. Its face was oval-shaped, and consisted of only two large solid-black eyes and a big, grinning mouth. No snout whatsoever, just a grinning humanoid mouth. Ulrich was reminded of a frog by the way its mouth stretched so large over the bottom of its face.

Ulrich pulled his phone out and poked in his office’s digits.

---

A ring of the telephone was greeted by Detectives Michael York and Willie Olson with disdainful groans. “Yeah?” Detective Olson grunted brusquely into the receiver. He knew it was unprofessional but fuck it, they were The Fuzz.

“Yo, it’s me,” came Ulrich’s voice. Olson felt both relief and annoyance, saying, “You know you can call my personal number, right? What is it?”

“I just have a question,” Ulrich said. “I’m on Gribble street right now, across the street from an Econo Lodge, and there’s this fucking… I don’t know if it’s even a fluffy or not. It’s all red and it’s got a really fucking bizarre face. It’s not flinching when I curse, either, I just noticed that.”

Olson sat up in his chair. He put his phone on speaker and motioned York over, taking out his personal phone and laying it on the table with his other hand. York noticed that Olson’s hands were trembling a bit. Olson cleared his throat and spoke as authoritatively as he could. “Send a picture to my cell phone. Now.”

“Yeah. Sure.”

“Send a picture,” Olson said, “but back away from it. I’ll be able to tell from pretty far away.”

“Uh… okay.”

The phone was silent for a few moments, then it vibrated. An alert came on Olson’s phone screen that a picture had been sent. He opened it and immediately let out a loud “shit!”

“What?!” Ulrich said. “What happened?”

“Vince,” Olson said, standing up as he did so, “stay the fuck away from that thing, whatever you do. Don’t let it out of your sight, but don’t fucking get close, neither!”

“What—what the fuck—”

“Mike and I are on our way, just sit still until we get there!”

Olson slammed the phone down and threw his jacket over his shoulder, sauntering out the door as a bewildered Detective York followed closely behind. Olson threw the front doors to the precinct open, heading straight for his truck.

“Willie, what the hell is going on?” York asked. “It just sounds like he saw a deformed fluffy.”

“Three weeks on detail,” Olson said, “three weeks, and he finds a fucking jellenheimer!”

“A what?”

---

Detective Ulrich tried calling the office. He tried calling Olson’s personal number. When neither of them worked, he cursed the fact that he hadn’t ever gotten York’s number. He looked back over at the mystery creature and felt his blood start to chill in his veins. It was staring right at him now. Its body had moved to be facing directly in Ulrich’s direction. It had the same placid, vacant grin as before.

Ulrich’s first instinct was to shoot it, but discharging a service weapon at a deformed animal that was just standing there smiling at him would probably finish off what was left of his career. The beast turned its body and started to walk toward him, its head never shifting away from Ulrich, beady eyes fixating on the detective’s face. Ulrich knew he was supposed to back away from it, but he felt silly. What could this thing really do to him? He pictured it opening its mouth and having sharp, piranha-like teeth, glistening in the sunlight, but even if it did, there was no way it could chase him down.

“Don’t let it out of your sight!”

“Yeah,” Ulrich said to himself, “I don’t think this motherfucker’s going to let ME out of ITS sight.”

Over at the hotel, one of the guests was outside having a smoke when their eyes happened to drift to the scene unfolding. Ulrich had his hand at his hip, seemingly ready to draw his gun, and the creature just kept walking towards him. By now, it was well within kicking distance of the transfixed detective. The beast then opened its mouth, revealing little more than a series of uneven, jagged teeth, and a long, thin tongue that swept across its bottom lip. Ulrich felt like he was on a swing, being moved rapidly back and forth between feeling foolish and unnerved.

“What is it you want?” Ulrich asked it. “I’m out of food, so you’re shit out of luck on that front.”

It didn’t speak. Ulrich pulled out his chip-scanning device, having just remembered he had one, and beamed it directly at the creature’s face. Not only did it not read a chip, but the beast didn’t even avert its eyes. Its pseudo-fluffy face just stared unflinchingly upward.

“If you’d just wait for my partners to get here,” Ulrich said, “I’m sure we can get you off the streets. You’d like that, right? Way you were staring over at that hotel—”

---

“I thought they found and killed all those things in the early ‘90s, but someone must’ve figured out a way to make more.”

Olson was driving his truck like a maniac, barreling through stop signs and speeding through red lights going almost double the speed limit. York held onto the passenger-side armrest tightly and tried to focus on his questions rather than his very justified fear at the madly out-of-character way Olson was driving.

“So what is it that you’re so scared of with this thing? Is it some kind of fluffy version of a bear or hippo?”

“No,” Olson said, “more like a frog.”

“What?!”

“There are some species of frog that can secrete toxins as a self-defense mechanism,” Olson explained, swerving into another lane to dodge a turning car, “Jellenheimers have that ability. They’re basically little man-made assassins. Same as fluffies in most other ways, fragileness, stupidity and whatnot, but if you shave their fluff away their skin is all black with yellow spots all over it.”

York shook his head. “This is crazy, how come I’ve never heard of them?”

“They were like the whole anthrax scare right after 9/11. People were only worried about them for a year or two, then they were all killed off. There were less than a hundred of them to begin with, and as long as you shot the bastards on sight you were fine. But nowadays, with all the fluffy protections… I don’t know. I don’t feel comfortable telling Ulrich to just shoot the thing. Especially when we don’t even know where the hell it came from, or who made it. It might be worth trying to keep it alive just to run tests.”

“You said they were man-made?”

“Like fluffies, yes. Difference is, these things are fucking man-made weapons.”

Olson and York swerved into the parking lot of the Econo Lodge on Gribble. Olson double-parked and jumped out of the truck, sprinting across the street where a gun was laying on the sidewalk. “Son of a bitch, that’s got to be Vince’s service weapon. Where the hell did he go?!”

“Did he just carry the thing off and leave, you think?” York asked, scanning the sidewalk and the street for any signs of either Ulrich or a “Jellenheimer.” York didn’t know Olson as a man who liked to play pranks, but he found it very hard to imagine such a thing as a Jellenheimer existed. Even in a world where fluffy ponies were a thing, something like what Olson had just described to him sounded utterly ludicrous, from the name right down to the threat it posed.

“I hope he just left,” replied Olson. “If he tried to take that thing with him, God knows if we can save him anymore.”

Olson started to search his pockets, then for a second time that day he screamed “shit!”

“What now?”

“God damn it! I left my phone at the precinct! You have yours, right? Call some unis, tell them to be on the lookout for Detective Ulrich, he could be anywhere, alive or dead! And get one of them to bring me my cell while they’re at it, I’ll try calling him with it!”

York fumbled for his cell phone in his jacket pocket. A couple of people were staring at them from a gas station down the block. The whole situation seemed surreal to the younger detective, but Olson’s fear was enough to deeply unsettle him in turn. He had never seen his mentor on this detail quite so shaken before.

---

“I just saw the weirdest shit just now.”

A woman sitting in a chair smoking gazed over at the man she’d rented a hotel room with. This guy wasn’t much of a conversationalist, so whatever he had seen must’ve made quite an impression. She put her cigarette out in the nearby ashtray. “Yeah, hon? Tell me about it.”

The man, her client for the past night, sat at the foot of the bed and started to put on his socks and shoes. “It was this guy and a fluffy pony—or at least, I think it was a fluffy. It was all red.”

“Ugh, fluffies,” the woman sneered. In her line of work, it was all too common to encounter fluffies. As she and the other ladies stood along the sidewalk waiting for johns, fluffies would typically show up from the back-alleys, behind boxes or trash cans, and beg off of them at least once or twice during the night. And lately, it was getting worse. Some of her co-workers accidentally wound up naming the creatures, resulting in fluffies named “Filthy” or “Piece of Crap” wandering the streets begging for food or shelter. One time she and another girl took a foal off of one of their backs and started playing keep-away with it, which was fun until the thing sprayed shit on one of them and ruined their best outfit. Then, of course, it was spiked unceremoniously into the street, bones, blood and waste splattering the hard ground and being mashed in thoroughly by passing cars.

“I think it was a fluffy,” repeated her john. “The thing had a really fucked up face, though. Maybe it was a mask. But—no, it didn’t have a tail or anything either. It was creepy. I went outside and it was staring, like, right at me. Then this guy, I think he might have been a cop, showed up and…”

“You saw a cop?” was the prostitute’s reply. “Fuck, we better both get the hell out of here, then.”

The two of them hurriedly put the rest of their clothes on and grabbed their things. The sun was starting to beam a little through their window. The whore’s house was just a few blocks down the road, but this guy was an out-of-towner, and by the looks of him he was old enough to be either currently married or divorced a few times.

“Okay, I’m ready,” he said, flinging the door to the hotel room open without turning any of the lights off. “Let’s—”

“Excuse me, sir.”

The john’s expression went blank. He closed his eyes. He was nothing but a traveler who’d had a one night stand. The cop had no reason to suspect anything. He turned right to face the man who just addressed him, a tall thin guy in a suit. Definitely another cop. “May I help you?” he asked, perhaps a little too politely.

“Couldn’t help but overhear a little of what you were saying through the door,” the cop said. “I’m Detective York, and see, I happen to be looking for a ‘cop’ friend of mine who had a run in with a deformed fluffy. A lot like what you described.”

“You were listening?!” The whore shouted from inside the hotel room. “You can’t just do that! We have a right to privacy, y’know!”

“Look, whoever you two are, whatever the fuck you’re doing, not my problem,” said York. “But I need to know what you saw the fluffy do to the cop. Did he do anything to the cop?”

The man looked back into the hotel room where the whore was standing by the window, ready to try and bolt if needed. “I mean… I’m pretty sure I saw the fluffy spray something at the cop. Like, it sprayed something out of its face at the other guy.”

“Sprayed something out of its face?” York repeated.

---

“That’s not fucking good, Detective.”

York was on the phone with Detective Olson, sprinting down the road in the direction the witness he’d just spoken with claimed Ulrich went. “I guess not,” replied York. “He said Vince was all stumbling around and shit. He did pick up the Jellenheimer and throw it, though. Vince, I mean.”

“That’s great and all, but a Jellenheimer doesn’t feel pain the same way a real fluffy does. Unless he broke its leg, that thing’s still wandering around somewhere. And as for Vince… I’m sorry, but the way it’s sounding, the best we can hope for that poor fucker is that he didn’t suffer too much.”

“Aww, Jesus,” York said. He felt a knot that had been tightening in his gut all morning get dangerously close to snapping. “Are you sure? Has no one ever survived the thing’s poison spray, or whatever the fuck it is?”

“Not to my knowledge. I’m sorry. I never thought to tell him about a fucking Jellenheimer. It never even occurred to me to warn him about those.”

“Well, I mean, you did think they were dead,” said York. “Look, I’m going to get off here, see if I can’t spot Vince on my own. Give me a call back if something changes.”

“I will, you too.”

York shoved his phone back into his pocket and quickened his running pace. His breaths were coming out ragged, and the cold morning air felt like spikes going down his throat. Finally, at the end of the block, he had to stop for a moment to catch his breath. No sign of Ulrich down the street. He leaned against a wall and took a look down the other side of the road where he had been running. To his embarrassment, he had only put two or three blocks behind him. All the time on the Fluff Squad must’ve wrecked his endurance.

“Mistah!”

York turned to see a fluffy pony round the corner nearest to him. It had a scar on its left eyebrow, and orange fur with a black mane. The first thing to come to York’s mind was Scar from the Lion King.

“What?” asked York between breaths. “I’m busy.”

“Gif mo’ nummies!” it said insistently. It stamped its front hooves.

“More?” York repeated. “What are you talking about?”

“Wike befo’!” it said. Then its expression changed a bit. “Nu haf mo’?”

“No! I never…” York suddenly crouched down to the fluffy, who scampered backward, nearly dropping off the curb. “A man who looked like me gave you food?”

“Yu no haf nummies,” said the fluffy, disappointedly. York rolled his eyes. That great fluffy single-mindedness made them a real treat to try and question.

“Why yu igno’ fwuffy?”

York smacked his forehead. “I didn’t ignore you. I’m asking you a question.”

The fluffy squinted, then gasped. “Diffwent! Diffwent hoomin!”

“Yes! Now tell me more about the other one!”

“Nice hoomin gif fwuffy nummies, bu’ when he come back again, he nu wisten to fwuffy… jus’ wawk and bweave funny…”

“Can you tell me where he walked? Like, in what direction?”

The fluffy pointed its hoof rightward, past the corner it had just rounded moments ago.

York stood straight up so fast the fluffy yet again jolted back in terror. That time, a bit of diarrhea burst suddenly out the back of it. York, having smelled enough fluffy diarrhea to get used to it ten times over, just smiled at the creature. “Hey, if I can, I’ll bring some food by later. As thanks for helping me.”

“Yay—” The fluffy began, but stopped itself. “Gud! Dummeh hoomin bettew feed fwuffy!”

At that, York’s expression darkened. He withstood the impulse to grab the creature’s tail and swing it around a bit. If there was anything that pissed him off, it was a smart-mouthed fluffy. Instead, he turned and ran down the street, hoping Ulrich may still be alive.

---

Olson sighed deeply. It was afternoon, around 1 PM, and still no sign of Detective Ulrich. Strangely, that fact made him less certain that the detective had died. He was no scientist. He had only heard of how dangerous Jellenheimers were the same way the rest of the country heard—through mass media. It was possible, Olson reckoned while he continued to drive his truck slowly up the street where Detective Ulrich lived, that a Jellenheimer’s toxicity could be lived through. Or maybe the thing never zapped him at all—maybe Ulrich just ran. But that didn’t make sense, seeing as how Ulrich wasn’t answering his cell phone.

Ulrich’s apartment had, of course, been empty. To Olson’s amazement, they didn’t have to bust in since the fool had left it unlocked. If Olson wasn’t so worried, he’d have been laughing. Vincent Ulrich was the only motherfucker he had ever met in his life who could die on fluffy duty.

And then, Olson’s phone rang. The sound jolted him out of his deep thought. “What, did you find him?”

“Yeah, I did,” came York’s voice. “You aren’t even going to believe this shit.”

---

McMillan’s Pub—which looked jack shit like a pub--was one of the earliest-opening joints in town. They knew the kind of neighborhood they were operating in. There was no “only after 5 PM” rule with the drunks and other desperate, sad fucks who liked to prowl the streets looking for something to take their minds off the refuse that surrounded them. When people really wanted drinks, they could go to the nearby 7-Eleven, sure, and pick them up some cheaper shit. But that didn’t offer the neon lights and atmosphere of a decent bar.

York sat beside Detective Ulrich. He was muttering something indistinguishable to himself. York had been told by the bartender that the detective came stumbling in two minutes after they opened, asking if they had some Steel Reserve, to which the bartender replied, “no, never.” He then proceeded to mutter something that sounded like Budweiser, and the bartender brought him a single bottle, which he’d barely touched. “You’re lucky you got here when you did,” said another one of the bar’s employees. “We were probably about to throw that dude out.”

“Maybe you should have,” replied York. Ulrich was resting his head on the bar, whispering into the sleeve of his shirt. He had halfway taken off his jacket, it was hanging to the floor off one of his arms. York put his hand on the man’s back and winced. It was drenched with sweat.

“We need to go, man,” said York. “You’re sick. You should be resting, let’s get out of here.”

“I used to come here…” Ulrich started to say, and then his sentence trailed off into babble. He had tilted his head slightly off the table, and now that his head wasn’t covering his right arm, York could see that half of the right sleeve of his shirt was gone. It appeared to have been eaten away by something. York circled around Ulrich’s chair to look at the right jacket sleeve. It too had been destroyed. York smelled something like sour chemicals coming off of it, and he promptly backed away. He wasn’t sure if it was because of his fear or because of the chemicals, but he was starting to feel very nauseous.

---

“This is such bullshit.”

The owner of McMillan’s Pub, Sean McMillan, stood with his hands on his hips, watching from across the street as his business was put under quarantine. He got a call from someone who tended bar saying two guys came in and basically brought in some kind of weird toxic chemical, so now the whole thing had to be shut down and deep-cleaned. He was going to be out thousands of dollars behind the shit. Standing next to him was a black police detective who apparently knew the two guys who came in and fucked his bar all up. He seemed way too happy for someone whose police partner was in the hospital.

“Mr. McMillan, with all due respect,” Detective Olson said, “this couldn’t have gone much better for you. None of your employees are showing any symptoms. Hell, the only person who’s confirmed to be showing any symptoms is Detective Ulrich.”

“Was that the guy who started throwing up?”

“No, that was Detective York. He probably just had some kind of panic attack, or a placebo reaction. Your bar will be up and running again in about a week.”

Sean scoffed. “Only a week, huh? All because your shithead cop buddies tracked in some weird fucking chemical? You know, just because I own a business, it doesn’t mean I’m rich. You get that, right?”

Detective Olson turned his head and gave Sean a glare that could make concrete sweat. “I never said you were. But if you didn’t shut the bar down, someone else might get sick. Someone with a lawyer. And since you aren’t rich, my guess is you wouldn’t be able to get good legal defense. So how about you shut your mouth, enjoy your week-long vacation and your toxin-free bar when it opens back up. Sound like a plan?”

Sean met Olson’s glare for a few seconds, then gave another hearty scoff as he walked away. Olson had to fight back the urge to call out, “that’s what I thought!” A younger, angrier version of himself may have done that. Besides, after the morning he’d had, a fight was the last thing he was interested in. At this point, he was equally as worried about Detective York as he was Ulrich.

---

Detective Ulrich awoke that evening feeling like he weighed a million pounds. At first the world looked like a series of colorful amoebas, like out of a science textbook. Everything was coated in fuzz (fluff?) and sounds seemed to be coming from very far away. He blinked. He blinked again. Each successive blink brought the world into greater clarity. He realized, with some horror, he was in a hospital with no recollection of how he got there. He felt strange, like he should have been more scared than he was. “Have I been drugged?” he asked out loud, and the slurred, drooling manner in which those words left his mouth told him all he needed to know in response to that question. Outside, he heard people talking. He was barely able to make out what they were saying.

“…about two weeks, maybe longer…”

“…lucky to be alive…”

“…some minor hallucinogenic effects…”

Ulrich’s head tilted over to the left. There was the door. Hanging off of a chair next to it was an overcoat he recognized as… someone’s. Someone he knew, but couldn’t yet recall.

---

In another part of the hospital, Detective York was in triage, sitting on a surface that could barely qualify as a bed. His nausea had subsided, as had his anxiety. Apparently, whatever toxin had been squirted onto Ulrich had not affected him significantly, if at all, and much of what he had experienced at the bar as far as nausea and vomiting may have just been a panic attack. He was to be sent home within the hour with some nausea meds and a recommendation that he kick back at home for a couple days.

Detective Olson pulled back the curtain. “You holding up?”

“I’m being held up,” York said. “You’d think they could just give me my shit and let me get out of here.”

“You think you’re pissed now, wait until you get the bill. You’ll be lucky if your health coverage with the precinct pays half of it.”

“Eh. Can’t be any different than dealing with student loans. Did you check up on Vince?”

“They had him good and knocked out when I visited. They finally got in contact with some family member of his, they’ll be down soon. I’ll have to go back, though. Left my coat in there.”

“You’re a real mess today, Willie.”

“Don’t I fucking know it,” Olson grunted, causing York to laugh. Olson’s phone rang in his pocket and he answered it. After a long pause, Olson simply said, “alright, thanks,” and hung up.

“Can’t talk to your girlfriend any better than that?” York asked jokingly.

“That was an officer,” said Olson. “They found the Jellenheimer.”

---

Whoever had encountered the animal last had done a fair number on it. It had a large gash in its right side and both of its legs on that same side were broken. It was making croaking sounds that could have been its own interpretation of chirping. The first time York heard the thing croak, his face went even more pale than it had been at the hospital. He assured Olson he was fine, but he wasn’t. He just hoped he could pretend to be for a little while longer.

He and Olson were standing across the street from the very same Econo Lodge as earlier, watching two men wearing full Hazmat suits in the motel’s parking lot put the Jellenheimer into a large plastic container and place it delicately into the back of an unmarked white van. A news crew was on scene, pestering anyone they could find, clearly torn between excitement and fear at the prospect of a Jellenheimer resurgence. Olson managed to “no comment” them into oblivion when they sauntered over to himself and York for an attempted interview.

“What a fucking day,” said Olson. York just stared blankly at the white van with the Jellenheimer in it as it slowly drove away, followed by a couple of desperate news reporters.

“I’m gonna hit the restroom over at that convenience store down the road,” York said. “Didn’t have time to use the hospital facilities.”

“Your prescription is still in my truck.”

“I know, I’ll just be a minute.”

York power-walked down the block, into the convenience store—the blinding lights and floor-cleaner smell enough to make him actually feel nauseous again—and into the bathroom. He locked the door. Once he was sure it was firmly locked, he made a call to somebody who had a lot of explaining to do.

“Come on, motherfucker, pick up…”

Voicemail.

“Dr. Knowles,” York said after the tone, “you know that ‘package’ from a couple days ago? We need to talk.”

To Be Continued
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Tags author:caiman feral jellenheimer poison police prostitution scar title:the_fuzz
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Fluffy_Angst: Ooooh, very interesting! Can't wait to see how this all comes together.