“We’re a nice town, the type of place where everyone knows everyone,” said Sheriff Tank Adolphus. “Nothing ever happened here. Nothing until the outsiders came.”
Agent Tess Morganna turned from the view outside the passenger window and gave the policeman serious side eye.
“Don’t give me that look. You think I’m being racist. I’m not being racist. I’m okay with all people even humans. I’m simply stating a fact. Things were better before the Robinsons—ow!”
Tank yelped as a neon spark sizzled from her finger, struck his thigh, and then ricocheted into the police car’s dashboard. Tank’s eyes flashed from dark chocolate to wolf.
“Canine the next time you tell me what I think I’ll grill you like cheese sandwich” said Tess.
With a low growl, Tank turned to the gray ribbon of Route 32 leading from the airport to Zeus, PA. The federal agent, in her trim black pants, thin chain, and sensible kitten heels, returned to her view of the speeding scenery. She hadn’t been back in Pennsylvania since she was a child. Tess and her family had lived nearby in Upper Gwynedd before Zeus was founded. Until they were outed as witches. They had escaped with nothing, leaving too much behind. Tess remembered that Lycanthropes can smell strong emotions. She felt Tank’s eyes creeping up her nape.
Magically, Tess thumbed through case report on her lap. Her supervisor a sweet Walter Brimley type cougar shifter with a heart of stone had hand chosen Tess for this assignment. The Federal Bureau of Supernatural was less than a decade old. All eyes were on them to oversee their preternatural municipalities since the Unveiling. Their communities had to be peaceful. Zeus the oldest supernatural town had been flipping Mayberry. Until the first poison pen letter arrived. Now there was graffiti and vandalism and fist fights. And when lions and tigers and bear shifters fought things really escalated. The local resources of a sleepy hamlet couldn’t handle anonymous threats and a crime wave. The FBS had to fix this fast.
Ignoring Tank’s furtive glances, Tess got lost in the rolling hills and strip malls as she reviewed the photos of the letters in her mind. Violent, perverted, and weirdly personal, these letters were the key.
“Welcome to my hometown,” said Tank.
Graceful ash trees sheltered picturesque streets. Zeus, formerly Brownsville, was postcard pretty. Tess smiled. A sprinkle of grape hyacinths sprouted on a vintage-style lamp post. The police car pulled in front of the town square. There should have been a brass band or an ice cream social. Instead the agent and peacekeeper were facing the burnt remains of an upside-down scarecrow hanging from the turn of the century bandstand. Officers Kodiak and Thunderbird greeted Tank.
“We secured the scene and waited for you and the FBS agent to come from the airport. This happened overnight, ma’am. There’s nothing on any of the traffic cams or local business surveillance cameras,” said Officer Kodiak.
Officer Thunderbird watched Tess cautiously. Glowing dark blue, the cop shimmered in and out for a second.
“Chief there is something you should both see,” Officer Thunderbird said.
He held up an evidence bag.
“We found it pinned to the scarecrow,” Kodiak said. She was giddy with excitement.
Tank and Tess leaned closer to the out-stretched bag. Inside there was a tarot card, the hanged man. Mirroring the burnt scarecrow the card had a man hanging upside down one leg crossed at the knee with an insipid look on its face. The card had a message. Written in a Spensorian hand it read: Welcome Home, Tess