It was a pack of Pebble-Puppies that found Vinnie's remains, out on a field trip from I.S.U., all with their hammers and collection bags, their notebooks, maps and compasses. Instead of finding notable rock formations, the young geologists stumbled across Vinnie's chewed bones. A few days later and there would have been a debate about how long they'd lain in the gully, but as it was there were signs all about that screamed 'recent'. Two of the girls dashed back to the transport to make use of the CB. The other girl and two guys waited by the remains - not too close though.
Serial killers, thought Jay, his mind following the exact same path his father's had a fortnight ago. Jay kept it from the others that his Pa' had made an equally grizzly discovery within three miles of here. Stevie's murder hadn't reached the nationals, and only rated a four-line filler in the local rag. Jay leaned against an outcrop, his legs apart and his upper body angled forward. His head lolled and he chipped aimlessly at the rock between his legs letting gravity and the weight of his geologist's hammer work together to find a rhythm. He wished for once that Dad was close by. His friends sat each wrapped in his or her own thoughts. Matt was close to tears and Terri slipped an arm about his shoulders, comforting herself as much as Matt.
Within an hour a State Trooper's helicopter landed a hundred yards away chucking up a hill of dust. Jay knew this place was way out of his old man's jurisdiction, but he still hoped against hope that somehow it would be Sergeant Nathan Seven Elks who stepped out the chopper. The door opened and out stepped the county sheriff.
'Idiot!' said Jay under his breath. 'God only knows what evidence that bird just trashed.' As the dust settled, the elderly lawman strode purposefully across to the gully, inadvertently kicking over the last trace of the tire-track left by the Williams boys' pick-up.
Technology was a wonderful machine, and money a fine lubricant. Put the two together and there was almost nothing that wouldn't run smooth. Rob Thacker knew just how to run things smooth. His target had now stepped a little closer to Rob's sights. Soon he'd be at the edge of the scope, then right in the cross-hairs. One of Rob's contacts in public service had furnished him with a very valuable set of targeting co-ordinates. His quarry's social security number had cropped up - on the Texaco payroll. It didn't take a genius to work out he wasn't likely to be drawing an executive's salary. No, he'd be pumping gas somewhere. Rob's contact was frustratingly non-specific about the exact gas station, but Rob enjoyed the chase, especially when the smell of blood was in his nostrils.