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The Investigator

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Who lives in a bog under a thicket of pines and spruce? The alligator. But this gator isn’t like any other. He thrashes and bashes in the water in the bleak summer day. Ignoring, above his head, the pale cloud vale between mire haze and stuffy air. Air here itself more like a choking void. Trash in his way, tanks caked in rotting rust splurged along his path, turret and gun halves protruding from the primeval soup, tracks and wheels half drowned in water. The aurora gleam of pink and green and blue shimmered above all. The alligator shook off mild dew from his gaping maw’s tip, brandishing razor fang rows to the insects zipping and zapping about. He floated forward, his submerged claw tips scratched by the weeds, the overgrowth below. His tail lazily flowed behind as it propelled through the fen.

Noon waned as he reached the public official’s office, venomous long-winded scaly Agkistrodon. Her long body spiralled around an ashen birch, head sticking out as if it were a branch, hovering over the gator. And she hissed, hissed again until the gator’s eyes focused on her. Upon a lone island on which the single birch stood, grass swathes shook, spurring a dozen buzzing bugs into flight. Mrs Beaver jumped out onto the alligator’s back, her webbed hind paws slid a little until her claws dug into his leather hide.

Mrs Beaver screeched. The oily fang toothed Agkistrodon hissed some more, causing Mrs Beaver to cease talking. Who could the alligator trust? Why, there wasn’t even a body anywhere—no evidence of murder having taken place mere moments ago. Allegedly. Until Mrs Beaver jumped off the alligator’s back, diving into murky depths, fetching them a shiny long tail, a body—the victim, Husband to the grieving Widow hissing atop a birch. Cause of death? It appeared to be a small wound. Nigh surgical in nature, with a black powder ring surrounding the reddening meat and blood-spilling hole in the Husband’s body. Never mind how, the question in the alligator’s leather noggin was who, and why.

All he’d get out from Mrs Beaver or the Widow, were wild imaginings. A fly so quick in flight, it pierced through the unlucky Husband’s scales. Or some jealous heron swooping into the dank pit to strike at the unsuspecting slithering shmuck. Frankly, it was too much to listen to their babble. It was clear, unlike the boggy brew below, the alligator wasn’t going to get any useful info here. For a moment, he closed his eyes, pondering. But those animals kept screeching and hissing. He had to raise his tail to the putrid air and smash it against rippling water. He left, having said what he wanted to say.

Following the potential trajectory line of the jealous heron or the fastest fly who ever flew, he grasped at long weeds growing out from the bog’s stew. So, the alligator had a victim, though the motive remained shrouded in fog, and the suspects list thickened like swampy shrubbery surrounding him. He considered leaving it all, to swim until this mire maze receded into clear flowing rivers, where the skies were bright and the aurora above crystal clear. Until all bitter mud and pesky land getting in the way was gone, until he reached that fabled big pond.

Revelation! A dragonfly zapped past the alligator’s head, and upon hearing its zap-pity zips, this gator got his lead. But the sweet-talking dame commanded commission. A hefty price for being in the know, though the alligator leveraged his maw and trapped this would-be confidant inside his gullet. Such a dragonfly-fatale seemed too proud to beg for life, at first. His intuition proved true, and the insect saw everything: The strange creature standing on its hind legs, with long arms protruding from its thick stem body, holding a shining stick. As the Dragonfly told it, the creature holding the stick did something, causing a fiery flash, loud and fierce. Thus, the Husband who bit the creature’s leg in response to being stepped on, was dead. He only had to follow the red trail, blood in the grasses and on tree barks. It wanted to show him the way, to make sure they find the murderer. But he didn’t need a navigator. This alligator, after all, knew well the ways hidden and not, of his bog. Opening his jaw, he let the Dragonfly zip away.

From afternoon to evening, time was spent swimming, following the blood trail sometimes right in his snout, other times obfuscated by trees and bushes. The alligator found the creature matching the Dragonfly’s strange description. A pale skinned thing draped in rags. Blood which once poured from every orifice, now dry on its skin. The creature was half submerged in water, half holding onto a piece of stray land, refusing to drown, portions here and there hollowed out by yellow maggots. Its mere sight made him sick to his innards. How could such a creature exist? He was sick, but not from what he saw. He was sick of this world, the animals running this show.

He’s quitting.

Maybe he’ll move into the city ruins. Those sewers, beneath the city ruins. Maybe he’ll go into stocks.

Next time, on Investin’Gator…

In a while, crocodile.


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