Aberly glanced around. “This is well outside my hunting range and on private property. That’s why I never ran into the boys or Lloyd. I wonder how he knew when to take the boys. He had to have been skulking around town…”
The Sheriff nodded in agreement. “Well, if he was wearing a disguise like the boys said, posing as Floyd. It could have been easy enough to do. They were identical twins. No one would have noticed, and it’s not like anyone voluntarily kicks up a conversation with Floyd. Most avoid him, and he, everyone else, other than a polite nod and some grumbling in response on his part. As a matter of fact, that might explain how and why that social service woman suddenly showed up out of the blue. Lloyd may have set the whole thing up. Maybe he intended on having the boys taken from Floyd then adopting them himself as their uncle, but then took advantage of the situation when Floyd told the boys to go hide in the cave.”
Aberly knew that Lloyd hadn’t followed the boys or he would have picked up on another scent along the way, as a matter of fact, he was kicking himself for not having noticed Lloyd’s scent around town five years ago, but then again, he hadn’t been looking. Still, he would have thought it might have stood out a time or two if the man had been hanging around town. The only logical explanation was that Lloyd rather than hanging around had indeed set up the social service encounter and had kept his distance, only to respond when the opportunity struck, and from what Aberly recalled it had been raining that day. So that would explain the lack of scent. That was also why Aberly hadn’t been able to track the boys from the cave that day.
Aberly grunted in annoyance at what had been done to the boys and his inability to have found them. “Maybe. Sounds the most likely scenario. Well, either the man’s dead inside or lying in wait. You ready?” The Sheriff pulled his gun out and nodded. “Ready.”
Aberly suddenly stopped as they approached the front door of the cabin, putting an arm across his nose. “He’s dead.” He stated as a matter of fact. The Sheriff glanced over, speaking in a low tone. “How you know for sure?” Aberly gestured with his other hand, the arm still across his face. “I can smell it. I have a sensitive nose… Kind of an anomaly you might say. That’s how I knew we were still on the right trail after the dogs lost the scent. Trust me. He’s dead and been that way for three days. You’ll know too as soon as you open the door. Better go in though, to be sure and to check the place out.”
The Sheriff gave Aberly a curious stare, as they had brought bloodhounds with them, which they had left back a little way, tied up and muzzled so as not to alert Lloyd if he were still alive. How could a man have a better sense of smell than a dog? Though he trusted Aberly, he still held his gun ready. Just in case…
The moment Aberly opened the door, however, the Sheriff knew he was right and he too covered his nose at the sudden onslaught of death and decay. If it hadn’t been for the cool October weather, both would have smelled Lloyd’s decaying body from outside. “Be glad it ain’t July or August,” Aberly stated as he held the front door, allowing the Sheriff to lead the way with his gun. There was no doubt in Aberly’s mind that Lloyd was dead, but he knew the Sheriff had to go by procedure and had to use caution upon entering an unknown situation. However, a quick perusal around the one-bedroom cabin revealed not only no danger but no body.
Aberly went over to a heavy bureau that was standing slightly off from a wall in the corner of the main room. “Over here. The body’s got to be beneath the house, a basement. This bureau is pulled away from the wall.” Aberly gave the bureau a push, easily moving its weight, but realizing it must have been heavy for the boys to have moved. It had to have taken all three of them.
“Smart boys,” Lance commented as he stared down at the trap door which had been revealed. “Even if he had survived the stabbing, no way could he get through that trap door. That bureau looks heavy.” Aberly nodded as he opened the trap door. “It’s solid alright.”
The Sheriff gagged at the increased scent, making Aberly smile slightly at his reaction, though he himself pulled a handkerchief from a pocket and tied it around his nose and mouth.
Aberly and the Sheriff both stared down at Lloyd’s dead body. “There’s got to be two or three dozen stab wounds… Mike wasn’t kidding around,” Lance said.
Aberly shook his head. “Sure, once the beast was out, there was no stopping it. Those boys have been through something terrible.” Aberly glanced around what was very obviously a torture and perhaps kill room, his eyes settling on what was very apparently a trophy shelf containing skulls.
The Sheriff followed Aberly’s gaze and widened his eyes. “A serial killer?” Aberly half-shrugged. “Appears to be. Could be a collector, but considering the conditions the boys were in and the nature of this room, I’d have to go with your guess.” The Sheriff said under his breath. “Jesus…” He glanced over at Aberly. “Think we can sweep this one under the rug, Abe?
Aberly looked around the room. “Going to be quite the circus if this gets reported. I have to admit I’m torn. The people Lloyd killed, if he killed anyone, might have relatives wondering and worrying, who’d like to know what happened to their loved ones. But if we report it, there’s going to be some questions and serious repercussions to us never reporting those boys having gone missing. Though seeing the condition those boys are in, I’m not sure we don’t deserve some serious repercussions. We did those boys wrong by not reporting their disappearance. The outside authorities might have found them and avoided all of this. Five years those children suffered under this psychopath’s hands. And how many people died as well? Maybe it’s time we stop keeping so much to ourselves, Lance.”