Chapter 151: Big Footprints

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◇◆◇ (Human Point of View)




“Why do they have to fight on a day like this?”




 A man mumbled to himself in the snowy night sky.
He is wearing a long coat and a scarf.
A small badge gleams on his chest.
It's the badge that represents the law enforcement in Fort 88.








 The dog at his feet let out a bark.
The dog was well-trained and didn't get jumpy in front of the snow, but one could tell from the wagging of its tail that it was itching to run.
His name is Lestrade.
The man's sidekick.




“So, this is the work of Sand Brotherhood right?, Inspector McLaren” 





 A short, fat man asked over the yellow KEEPOUT tape.
The man was young and wore a beanie.
He had a stern look in his eyes and, despite his sullen voice, he was holding a pen and his notepad.





“A gunshot at a gang office.
What else do we have besides a gang war, Eugene?”







“Are there any significant gang conflicts within the last few days in your note that you're proud of? I'd buy it right now.”






 McLaren sighed sadly at the seemingly unmotivated reply.




 Why is it that so many unlikeable people are working as journalists? I always wonder when I see this man, but McLaren knows.
You can't always tell who someone is just by looking at them.




 According to him, using a notepad and a pen instead of using the terminal's memo function is also a matter of necessity.
It's overwhelmingly faster and more memorable, he said.




“So, Inspector.
What's it like inside the office? From what I heard earlier, it was all destroyed.
If you don't mind, can I take a picture? If there are any photos of the crime scene, it will stimulate the human tendency to want to see scary things, and the article will sell well.”





 This is a slum near Pig's Haven.
The armed police rushed to the scene after receiving a report of gunfire earlier and were stunned when they stepped inside.



 Normally, even in a gang war, if there are a few deaths on either side when the fight is over, but this time, the office of the Sludge Club was on the verge of destruction.





 McLaren has seen many incidents in the slums of Fort 88 over the years, but he had never seen anything so horrific.




“…..No pictures.”




“Oh, really? Is it that bad?”



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“Yeah, I can't let you use it in your article ……
Well, I'll give you one piece of information, then you can leave it at that.
No picture,  The gang's reputation is at stake.”





“What kind of information?”




 Eugene scribbles down his notes on McLaren's story.




 He is a journalist for a newspaper.
Although it is just a tabloid for the masses, it mainly covers entertainment, sports, and gossip.
Among these, Eugene's articles are mostly gossip and occult, but sometimes he uses his connections to write scoops that ordinary reporters would have avoided, which is why he has become so popular in recent years.




 In particular, the article on the war maiden the other day was a big hit.



 Not only from Fort 88 but also from other forts, Stronghold, and the mainland, he received requests to quote the article and permission to use the photo.
However, since we didn't photograph her as promised, all we have left is an illustration that I had a friend of mine drawn.
It was a terrible mistake, and Eugene still regrets the deal he made.





All the gang members were killed by gunshot.
There are no Sand Brotherhood bodies, despite the heavy gunfire that left its mark.
There's an autopsy going on right now, but it looks like the only side that losing blood is the Sludge side.





 Eugene, who had been making notes, asked, “Well, So was that one hell of a hitman doing or something?”




“There are no cases of hitman murders here at Fort 88.”



“Not even in the case files.
So was it a retired soldier?”



“That's a strong possibility, But I'd say…….”



“On duty?”



“That's right”




“So what was the purpose of the attack? Is is for 'cartridge' “




“The safe was broken into.”




“How many kilos?”




“You're asking too much.”




“You're so stingy, Inspector.”




Eugene's voice was accusatory, but McLaren shrugged and turned on his heel.




“Oh, by the way, Inspector.”



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“What? We're about to finish.”




 Eugene stopped him and he turned around.



“What's going on with the case downstairs?”







 McLaren's face turned bitter.




“I have to admit you got some good ears, even for such a lazy bastard.
It's military-related.
I don't want to get into it too much, Well…..”




To be honest, I don't know either.”




“You don't know?”




“The military is reluctant to let the police in.”



“Oh” he crunched.




 Eugene stopped his hand and stared up at him with a glow behind his languid, narrow eyes.




“Only the location, please?”








I don't want to work at the end of the year, unlike the Inspector who's passionate about his work.
I want to go home now.”




 When Eugene whined, McLaren gave him a sigh.




“This is the last time.
Don't write about it.”





“Yes, yes.”




“Ammunition depot.”




“How many?”








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 When McLaren called out the name of the police dog at his feet, Lestrade barked as if he had been waiting for him.



 After scratching his head, Eugene turned his back to me and said, “Thank you, have a nice holiday.”






“Oh, Inspector.
I heard there was an assault on a woman in a slum somewhere today, and the woman's testimony sounded interesting.
According to the other side, it seems that the woman was kidnapped by a sludge master named Hustler.
She also soaking in blood.
It might have something to do with this.
It's still a common rape case, so I doubt Inspector hear about it yet.








“Is there any connection to the serial disappearances in the slums that you are currently investigating? In the rape case, the owner's sister and brother are missing.
Maybe they're all connected.”





how come your information is so much quicker than me?”






 Eugene entered the alleyway of the slum, humming along with the Inspector's complaining voice playing in the background.




 He opened his notepad and was about to summarize today's findings when he heard a bird chirping, “Hoooot…….”



“Huh? an Owl ?”




 Even in the concrete jungle of Fort 88, there are at least wild birds.
But the owl is rare.
Tonight is a night full of unusual things.
This could also make some nice scoop.




 A murder at a military facility, a murder at a gangster's office, an assault on a woman with blood all over the room.
The more other unusual things that happened, the more money I make.




 There have also been a series of disappearances in the slums over the past few years.
McLaren is the police inspector who is investigating these cases.
He and I got to know each other through such a relationship.



 But judging from the look on his face earlier, McLaren seemed to think that today's series of incidents were related to the serial disappearances.



 –It's going to be a busy New Year.



 Just as Eugene was smiling, he suddenly saw something out of the corner of his eye.




 Instantly, his hair stood on end.




 At a store facing the street.
He saw something reflected in the window.



 It was only for a moment.
It looked like Santa Claus.




 But it wasn't a person.



 That is not human.



 How could there be a person with such a fearsome face?

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 Eugene immediately started to run.




 Maybe it was the sense of smell of a reporter that always sniffing around for a story.





 Suppressing his heart that was about to explode, he came to a sudden stop, slipping on the snow.
set up the camera, huddled around the corner of the alley where he saw something, and slowly turned his head back.



“…..Did I mistook it?”





 It was a quiet, snowy alley, and no one was there.



 Eugene felt as if he had been gripped by a ghostly, eerie feeling.
His heart was beating restlessly.
Even though he hadn't run very far, he was breathing hard.





” Phew…….”




 Yes, I was wrong.
There are even cosplayers who wear monster masks.
It must have been a young man heading to a friend's house planning for a prank on Christmas.





 A mistake, a prank, a costume.
Eugene, who had been thinking about such possibilities, dropped his gaze and gasped.








 Shocked, he quickly took a picture.




 It was a picture of a completely unremarkable alleyway.
It was uninhabited, and there was a light dusting of snow on the street.




 Footprints had been left there.




 Big footprints.




Almost twice Eugene's size.




 He thought it might have been a bear's, but the shape of the footprints was clearly closer to human.




 The footprints were left in many places on the road and disappeared behind a darkened building.




 I didn't feel like chasing after it.
I need to believe the tension and fear that tingled through my body.




 Soon, the footprints disappeared under the falling snow as Eugene stared at them.


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