Police cars surrounded the house on Cherry Parkway, their red and blue lights flashing, but their sirens turned off. The crowd buzzed with chatter, pushing against the yellow tape to get a closer look at the house. News staff made islands in the sea of people, trying in vain to get some space for their camera equipment.
Dustin opened the car door and got out, dumbfounded. Didn't the cop say that it was open to 'grieving family members', not the whole damn town? He thought as Tracy swore and got out as well. Dustin stood there for a moment, but a low-flying helicopter swooped by and startled him back.
"... The hell happened here?" Tracy asked to no one in particular. An obese, white t-shirt wearing man from the crowd took it upon himself and pushed his way through the crowd to get to Tracy.
"-Teh cops said some bastard's killed by his phone! He-"
"-What? Pfft, right..." Dustin interrupted.
"No! Itz true! They said! Hu-manatee's doomed unlez they-"
Dustin pulled out his phone to check the police statement, there was no way they really said that...
The sweaty man smacked Dustin's phone to the ground. "-Stahp! You can't do that! It'll kill ya-!"
"-You're out of your mind!" Dustin snapped back.
"Fiiiine, if you want to be part'v hu-manatee's down fall..." He turned and ran back into the crowd, preaching his message.
"... Is you're phone ok?" Tracy asked once the lunitic was out of earshot.
"... I think so... But-" Dustin picked it up and hit play on the video of the statement.
"-We are in the process of investigating the incident... Foul play is almost certain." A stressed police officer on the video said. He had a thin face, tan and wrinkled from years of smoking, but he stood tall and straight, probably in his mid-fourties. His uniform's top button was undone, a stained white t-shirt under it. Dustin recognized his voice as the one from the phone yesterday.
He continued. "... The victim wasn't known to be depressed or suicidal. There are no suspects we are pursuing at this time, we don't have enough evidence for a warrant. I'll turn it over to sheriff McKlowski..." He turned and walked away from the podium, putting an unlit cigarette in his mouth.
A cleaner looking officer stepped up. He was younger, probably around his thirties. He was sweating profusely, and was incredibly nervous. There was no way this wreak was the sheriff, Dustin thought.
He spoke. "... L-Ladies and gentlemen of the press... We have no further infomation to- to give. Our f-forensics team hasn't found any prints at this time, and- and we're not pursuing any suspects at this time- Thank you."
Reporters from the crowd all spoke up at once, asking questions. Sheriff McKlowski nervously pointed to one of them off screen, and Dustin heard an undistiguishable question.
"-I'm -I'm sorry, we have no other info r- right now..."
Another reporter, another question. Same respose. Three or four questions went by, all with the same answer.
"I'm sorry, we- we have no other info right n- now..."
The reporters asked fewer and fewer questions. They couldn't get anything out of him. No weapon, no cause of death, no circumstances, nothing. The press grew quiet. It was useless. McKlowski nervously glanced about the group, and no one asked any questions.
"A- Alright, thank you all for-"
"-One moment sir." A reporter asked, barely audible in the video.
"A contact of mine just informed me--" the voice went quiet on the video. "-- and the victim sustained massive facial trauma--" "-- use of a smartphone device?"
McKlowski visibly gulped. "... Y- Y- Yes. A-All of that is t- true." He glanced about like a caged animal. "I- I can't say my personal s- suspicions in a conference..."
The media grew vigorous once more, hounding him with questions in a dull roar.
McKlowski snapped. "Al- Alright! My personal belief is that his device killed him! Th- There was no prints, no ballistics, no indication of a struggle, n- no nothing! All evidence points to his phone blowing his face off! Th- Thank you!" He grabbed his hat and darted from the podium. The video ended.
"... What the hell?" Tracy said. Dustin stood there, staring at his phone.
"B- Battle Era..." Dustin whispered.
"Battle Era. That fucking app, Tracy. That fuckin' app... No, it couldn't have..."
"-You fuckin' agree with this lunitic?! Dustin, it's an app! A - GOD - DAMN - APP!"
"Shut up! I never told you about the text I got last night! It- Just..."
The crowd erupted into a histerical roar suddenly. Dustin and Tracy forgot their argument and turned to look.
A stretcher was being wheeled from the house by two paramedics, a body bag situated on top. Dustin dashed forward without thinking, pushing his way through the crowd.
"Dustin! Get- goddammit..." Tracy tried uselessly to call to him.
Dustin weaved through the crowd, one destination in mind. The face... He had to see the face. That sheriff could've been crazy, but Dustin had to know. This wasn't all a figment of his imagination, he was sure, but Dustin needed the validation.
He wasn't crazy. This had to be real.
Dustin shoved people aside as he leapt from the crowd, breaking the police line. He tripped, falling to his knees on the pavement of the driveway, and the paramedics stopped in their tracks.
No one moved, time stood still for a moment. Dustin could only hear his heavy breathing and his heart beating out of his chest. A drop of sweat fell from his forehead.
He wasn't crazy, he told himself. Him and the sheriff had to be right.
He stood up and ran towards the body bag. The paramedics rushed after him, trying to hold his arms back. Dustin yelled, and reached for all of his might for the zipper of the body bag. He couldn't be wrong.
He wreched the zipper loose.
He flicked the bag open.
He was right.
But he wished he hadn't have been.
The skin of the corpse was a sickly white-yellow color, caked with blood. But that didn't catch Dustin's eye. The area where the face occupied simply didn't exist, a massive gore-ridden crater in it's place. Bits of shattered skull dotted the organ-red, horrific mess. He was sure the brain had splattered out of the crater, but the mass of indistiguishable body matter made it impossible to tell. The rotting stench of blood and organs shot through the air.
Dustin choked. That- That used to be a human being... The shock and horror shook him as even the paramedics tackling him disappeared into the background. A human being... With a normal life. And it was taken away from her(?) in the most... disgusting and horrific ways imaginable... Dustin couldn't breathe.
Everything started fading into blackness as he felt himself being lifted away from the nightmarish corpse. But he couldn't take his eyes off of it till the very end.
Why wasn't I wrong? He thought.