Deep Web (Leonard #4)

PLOT: The stern detective is introduced to the sadistic side of the Internet know as ‘the dark web’ after he comes across gruesome snuff films. Now, he must go on a trek to find who made these despicable videos-along the way he meets a calm and collected Jack Russel Terrier named Leroy and discovers what it means to be truly disturbed by a a case.

Leonard 4: Deep Web

Equus21

Chapter 1

The new car started beautifully as he pulled out of the garage. He decided to take a longer route home just to sort of relish in his new vehicle. The top came down slowly, the weather sunny and breezy, but summer had pretty much come to an end as the leaves were already starting to change and the chilly weather kicked up a tad bit. He poked his head out the window slightly as the brand new, grey convertible accelerated. The Charles River right along side him, a few furries and humans glanced at the shiny car and the sort of handsome looking black Labrador driving it. Apart from the red flannel shirt and faded jeans he wore-he also adorned a new, grey vest made of denim-which was something he had wanted to buy for a while. Upbeat jazz music by Dizzy Gillespie played from the radio-for once Leonard Keaton felt content. Not tense, not thinking about some other case-he felt ‘peachy.’ He took a few sips from his iced coffee and rested his elbow out the side of the window. He turned and he saw a sign, held by a group of furries and humans that read: Honk for Gay rights, without hesitation-he did so. Rarely did he do that sort of thing-but when else would he feel this at ease? He wanted to sort of take advantage of it, sure he didn’t crack a smile-but his body wasn’t ready to fight, a half hour before, he had hopped into a hot tub-which was also something he had wanted to do for a while.

As he pulled up to his home, Chris was a bit baffled to see his dad had bought new wheels. From a station wagon, to a convertible, of course, Chris wanted to take a quick ride in it-so the two of them did so. They both spoke a little bit of school, and Chris’ new aide-the bouncy and talkative kangaroo named Logan…who was actually the perfect fit.
Now, Chris didn’t have to worry about bullies or getting lost in the school, him having a one-to-one aide was awesome. Plus, Leonard could call him and give him a rundown of Chris’ day when he wasn’t talking much or when he was irritated.
Logan was more like the human’s best friend; he didn’t act like most teachers, or even dress that professionally. Logan was upbeat, took Chris out shopping to teach him about math and even drove him home a few times-which the school could not know about. Leonard felt extremely fine with letting the kangaroo take his son anywhere or to drive him home. Leonard and Chris ended up going out to the mall and out to eat-no drama had happened until the evening.

John Hulbert had clicked the link his boss sent him. The time was 8:00PM, John wore only pajamas. His badge and gun put away, the black and white husky scanned the site.
The background white, links were to one side of the page Really disturbing names like ‘furry / human torture’ and ‘human kidnapping live!’ Videos were located all over the page; he really didn’t want to click on anything here. He was hoping this link would be for illegal movies or something small, but no-this was a side of the Internet John had only heard of. As an officer, he had to look into this-if people are being hurt, then that’s not allowed. He knew Leonard would agree-and he truly looked up to his friend. He sighs deeply and click the top viewed video. The content is not only violent, but sadistic.
A poor human, screams for his life in a video that is sort of pixilated and the audio slightly muffled and three furries chuckle around him and perform horrendous acts, the video was about two minutes….two agonizing and terrifying minutes. The video is over…Hulbert’s stomach turns and before he knew it, he ran to the bathroom to vomit. He stays knelt by the toilet bowl for a while; the video seemed to replay in his head a few times. He felt lightheaded; he begins to take deep breaths. “I’ll be okay…I’ll be okay…” he repeats to himself. He stands up slowly and washes his mouth out with mouthwash, sends Leonard the link to the site and lies down-hoping to forget about the video. He shudders in terror a tad bit and can not sleep….

Chapter 2

The Next Day

He looked at the site for the first time; he only watched part of the videos as he did not want to poison his brain with too many bad images.
After skimming through about three videos, he understood what this was-and it needed to be stopped. A good portion of the individuals being hurt were missing person’s cases-Leonard really couldn’t believe what he saw.
He knew this side of the Internet existed-a sick and depraved side, but actually seeing it and knowing that more videos would come, made the lab wince a bit. Once the dog heard his son sneaking up behind him, he closed the browser. Chris lightly hugged his dad from behind. “You okay d-dad?” Chris asked in a very innocent tone, knowing that sometimes his father got stressed over things at work piling up. The lab glances at him and pats his son’s back gently. “Yes, I am content, ready for school?”
Leonard put on a white dress shirt, black tie, jeans and brown boots to complete his outfit. While at work, Leo tried tracing the website URL, but with no luck, who ever was behind this, knew what they were doing when it came to computers. The site not only had horrendous video clips, it also had do it yourself instructions on how to make Chloroform, gas, darts, silencers for guns, holsters and next to the ‘video link’, photo albums of every sick and twisted ideas a furry or human could ever come up with, which Leonard could barely stomach the thumbnails, let alone an enlarged photo. The dog rubbed his eyes slowly and closed out of the browser-he decided to get out and get some lunch, his office, but not before stretching and clearing his head.

Leonard decided to take the extra walk and go to Faneuil Hall Marketplace. He wasn’t too interested in the jugglers, but he did enjoy the singers sometimes. He also did like to ‘furry and people watch.’ He loved seeing how others react to the various clothing stores and prices. He decided to go the extremely crowed eating area and get a salad and listen to quite a nice singer, he needed something laid back like this.
The sun bet down on him, crowds of people spoke and laughed, aligned on the sidewalks of the market place, a comic book store, peculiar named restaurants and bars and some venders. Suddenly, his phone went off, John Hulbert’s face showed up on Leo’s iphone.
Leonard quickly answered as he tossed out his salad once he was finished and walked back to the office. The furry spoke, a lump was surly forming in his throat. “Hey dude, c-can I talk to you privately?” Whether it was true or not, Leonard felt he needed to protect John a bit. John was his partner, younger, more naïve to the world, and certainly a lot more bubbly in personality obviously. John felt like a little cousin sometimes, Leo deep down knew that because he was a police officer-he may get shot or hurt or ridiculed.
That feeling of being a protector just sort of ‘happened’ when the black lab was around the husky. It couldn’t be helped, he knew it-so he went with the feeling and because of this-went to John anytime he needed to vent or let off steam after work.
Hulbert also made Leonard feel good, something about his optimism and bad, but well meaning jokes made Leo sort of have more hope for others. Knowing that this sort of kindness existed, with these thoughts Leonard entered Hulbert’s office and went to John’s side

Hulbert’s office is bland, apart from some photos of family members on his desk and a ‘Support Human and Furry Rights‘ mini-poster on his wall. Hulbert looked at his feet, his paws folded, his pointy ears slightly drooped. Leonard waited for him to speak, he knew he’d have to offer some piece of advice, sort of have the mind of a psychologist. One of Leo’s many talents ever since adopting Chris and having to extend a helping hand more so than he had even as a detective.

John looked at Leonard, sounding as distressed as he did over the phone. “Leo, I-I’m going to be honest with you. I can’t work on this case…” The black lab felt a ping of surprise-John the loyal husky cop everyone could trust…not being able to finish a case had never slipped from his mouth before. “It’s that damn site Leonard…seeing those videos. H-hearing the poor furries and humans scream-I got NO sleep last night. All I heard was the muffled screams and the clips repeating….i-it’s killing me inside.” Just saying these words, made Hulbert sniffle and get a bit teary eyed. Leo placed a paw on his shoulder, and John knew exactly what sort of answer he’d get.

When you came to Leonard for advice, you of course didn’t get the hugs or the sweet nothings or the patting like with 80% of furries. You would get a somewhat empathetic, calm, collected and realistic answer. You’d get options, you’d get a choice, you’d perhaps get a free lunch or drink or a ride home, but nothing to the extent of that the majority of the time. To John, Leonard was a guide-perhaps not a good choice being that Leo also had a lot of weight on his shoulders. Leonard now had his arm around the husky, in a sort of ‘man-to-man’ talk way. “John, if you really feel the need to take a break, do so. I also have to be honest with you though, you’re going to come across sickos like this. It’s our job to stop them or in the very least, slow them down. If that’s something you can’t handle, then….I would highly recommend a job change. You don’t want to go through life depressed-I’ve been there. I understand how you’re having trouble. I won’t fault you for taking a leave of absence….” The husky still felt ashamed, the feelings John had towards the videos only prompted Leonard to want to look further into it, really look closely at details and see if anything comes up. It wouldn’t be easy, he’d have to mute the sound since the sounds of pain were even a bit too much for Keaton to handle.

That Night

As soon as Chris fell asleep, he realized he had forgotten his jacket in the back seat of the patrol car. As he opened the front door, he removes the small pistol from his coat pocket and placed it in the glove compartment where it should be. Was Leo getting that forgetful due to his case? Seemed unlikely, but very true.

He would only watch the videos late in the evening, if someone should see him looking at horrible videos, a person may get the wrong idea-or worse, his son would see it and be traumatized. One thing the lab noticed about these videos is that the setting was always the same, a creepy large barn, the walls seemed to be grey colored, but it was hard to tell because of the film quality. The camera man, was sometimes shaky, sometimes steady. All the victims were put on a metal slab, strapped down with leather belts.
Of course, the furries causing harm to these humans were well hidden, there voices disguised-all appeared to be male however. All Leo knew now was that the videos were filmed in some barn and that the killers were male-doesn’t seem like much, but he didn’t give up.

The time is eleven thirty, Leo had been scanning through the torture videos for about an hour, and frankly-was getting a bit ill.
There’s only so much of that shit he could watch before he’d begin having nightmares and worry about his son and so on and so on.
The lab stood up and went to the bathroom, leaving the website opened. He came back to the site-with a shocking realization, a new video had just been uploaded! He began to sweat a tad bit, new video meant new evidence of course. He immediately clicked on it, the duration of the video four minuets. This video did not open inside the same creepy barn, but outside on a dirt road. Whoever had uploaded this, perhaps wanted to give his sick viewers a bit of a prologue to the violence that would sadly happen.
The camera man shaky, the sky pitch dark, on top of the camera, a flashlight to light the scene. Nothing but trees surrounded the road, the cameraman said nothing…just a bit of heavy breathing. It almost felt like a first-person horror video game.

Leonard sat silently, the creaking of his house and the sound of the air conditioner hum, seemed to go away.
He didn’t blink, he listened for every detail, leaning in further to the screen. The camera pans up-and for a brief moment, Leonard gasped. The camera had gone high enough, and for a split second, a street sign could be seen. As the camera made this jerky motion, the one filming cussed. Leonard re-wound the video, then paused it as the sign showed.
Presumably, the camera man tripped on his own feet-Leo did recognize the sign alright. It was a bit of a drive, but he could do it. He knew he had seen the dirt road before, just about a month ago. He wrote down the sign, then continued the video. A bit more walking was shown, same dirt road-it killed Leo that the barn was THIS close by. The scene cuts and Leo was treated to yet another violent scene-the lab unhappily watched the rest of the bloody mess.

Leonard laid in his king sized bed, still fully dressed, even his boots were on.
His front paws behind his head, all the lights off.
The sounds of crickets could be heard, the dog tired to sleep, being at the computer and focusing so hard had made him tired. He wanted to go to the damn barn though-he needed to see what was in there.

What if someone was being tortured right now and he could stop it? Unlikely since a video was just posted-but Leonard couldn’t get it out of his head that it would be stupid to wait until morning. The black lab looks at the alarm clock beside him, 5 in the morning.
He cussed out loud then leaped out of bed to make himself some coffee.
His mind races hyperactivity as he briskly walked to the dimly lit kitchen. He splashes some cold water on his face, straightened out his tie a bit and sipped the sugar filled substance as he dialed John Hulbert’s number-he was the only one he could count on.

The husky had been asleep as to be expected, his cellular phone went off, he rubs his eyes-his tone not annoyed, but tired. “John here…” The lab sounded perky, but dead serious at the same time. “John, I need you to come watch Chris.” The husky stood up quickly. “Is everything okay?” Leonard tucks his shirt in and grabs his badge, hooking it on the left-front belt loop of his blue jeans as he speaks. “Yeah, but I have location. I want to go to the barn now, where the videos were shot. End this shit load of fuck now.”
John sighed a bit, he threw on light blue sweatpants and a grey t-shirt “Leonard…you’re going out, in the middle pitch dark night-to catch a killer. You’re crazy!” Leo smirks, knowing how to annoy John a bit. John had really hoped for him to say ‘yeah, you’re right. sorry.’ Leo instead spoke with a bit of sarcasm in his voice. “Like a fox..get your tail here.”

During all the commotion, Chris had woken up. The human came out of his room, shocked to see all the lights on in the living room and his father getting ready to go out. “D-dad? Everything okay?” The lab nods, making sure to let his son see that he’s not too anxious as he puts on a fresh pair of socks and slides his feet into his brown cowboy boots. “Yes, but I’m going out. John is coming over to watch you-you can either go back to bed or stay up with him…” Chris cocks his head in confusion, what was going on? The young man sits on the couch, eagerly waiting to see Hulbert. “You going to c-catch a bad guy?” The black lab looks at his son. “Yup.” Chris now became interested. “Don’t get hurt.” The dog scoffs. “Don’t be daft, I’ll be back in a few hours.”

Chapter 3

John Hulbert sat with Chris, Chris was fast asleep, his head rested on the husky’s shoulder. The teen felt content, but he always preferred his own dad sitting next to him.
Not just because they loved each other of course, but because Leonard was more experienced in fighting, he had a certain commanding and protective presence John did not have-John was a cop, and if something bad happened, the human knew Hulbert would be right there, Chris was like a little brother to him-but still Leo’s son would really get good shut eye when he knew his dad would be back home. John watched TV, yawning a few times, resting his eyes a bit, then re-awakening. The sun now was coming up, looks like he’d have Chris for the morning.

The clock on the dashboard read six-thirty in the morning. Leonard had a certain perkiness about him now that the coffee kicked in, the chill had called for him to get his trademark brown leather jacket on-he drove his patrol car for about an hour. The sun was blinding as it popped from the clouds, Leo through on some shades. Not many furries or humans were on the roads at this time, maybe a few school buses making there way to gas stations to fill up for this Tuesday morning. Leonard’s focus however, was on this road sign he had seen before. He knew where to go, he had been on this abandoned road before-so now it was a matter of finding the barn, which presumably would be close by. Dammit, it was so close.

He takes a deep breath as he reached the dirt road, his heart pounded a tad bit. Memories of the videos came flooding back-he knew it would be hard to actually be in the location where they were shot. The ride is bumpy, gravel is squished beneath the car tires. The trees seem large and ominous, even in daylight. He takes his shades off, the trees covered the sun now. It was impossible for Leo to enjoy the nature, since such despicable things happened not far from here. The sky is grey, dew is still present on the little grass there was here. The lab knew what he was doing was right, he sits silently, just driving straight ahead. He remembered where he had seen this dirt road-when Chris was first adopted, Leonard took him here on a nature walk. He hoped this place would only bring happy thoughts, not thoughts of bloody snuff films-but here he was, here he drove.

The sign was to the left, broken a bit, rusty, the lab stared at it. The barn, where was it? Would he have to take some sort of detour? It wasn’t obvious, frustration hit him like a hammer. He thought and hoped the barn would be close by, but it wasn’t. Well, he couldn’t take the cruiser through the godforsaken woods, if he walked, who knows where he’d end up? He got so caught up with the sign-he stupidly thought it would be the magical cute. Everything would pop out at him. He TRULY didn’t want to turn back. He turned off his car, sat and thought. Not even his GPS knew where he was. Suddenly, something rustled in the woods, Leo’s ears perk and he cocks his gun….

Chris smiled at John as he left for school, the husky felt proud-he had never had a kid, but was able to get Chris up, have breakfast and help him zipper his coat before the bus arrived. The husky sent Leonard a text: Hey Leo! Chris is at school, will stay until you get back-hope all is okay. John decided to go to his car, grab some paper work, sit on the couch and begin writing up various projects he had to do for his office. He turned on music, Billy Joel to be exact and get himself focused…

He raised his gun slowly, using it more as a warning than anything else. A slight breeze was in the air, the wooded area smelt of pine. He stands in the middle of the deserted dirt road, trees are on both sides of the lab. Most of them tall and leafy. Birds tweet a tad bit, the area feels dry, desert like. Leonard stared at the rather large bush, he sniffed a tad bit, someone was definitely among the shrub. Leo’s favorite part about being a lab was his sense of smell, no doubt about it.

The furry slowly came out of hiding, Leo aimed the gun not so much at him-but in his direction. He is a Jack Russell Terrier, about as tall as Leonard-but not as muscular.
He was good looking, the first vibe he sent off was ‘cool dude’, maybe a bit conceded. His build not muscular, but not too bad at all, certainly not overweight. It was good that he naturally looked more handsome than the average furry-because this fellow looked a bit shabby as far as clothes though, he wore a grey tank top with an unzipped, dark green military-style jacket, faded ripped blue jeans and large sneakers. As far as his face, he looked like the classic Terrior. A white stripe went down the middle of his scruffy face, brown aligned the edge of his eyes and face, his ears small, and flopped a tad bit.
His fur stuck out a bit-not smooth, but sort of like ‘bedhead’ or spiky.

He looked at the detective as he stood up from kneeling behind the plant, he didn’t seem scared-but his paws were in the air as if Leo asked him to ‘freeze’.
The terrier spoke in a calm, smooth, Boston or New York style accent.
He appeared to be maybe 30 years of age, his movements calm and collected.
“Did I do something wrong, man? Not quite in my comfort zone to have a loaded gun pointed at me.” The lab quickly lowered his weapon. He secretly kept the safety off should an attack happen. He looks at the dog in the eye, telling exactly what kind of personality he had. Killer? Not likely, but looks and voice can be deceiving. No bad vibes hit Leo though, he usually could read others well-he had that ‘sixth sense’ about others.
Leo flashes his ID to the pooch. “Who are you?” The dog lowered his paws and reached into his jacket pocket and fetched a cigarette, he lit it with precision and quickness, his lighter flicked smoothly and he brings the lung killer up to his mouth.
“Name is Leroy-what seems to be the problem officer?” Leonard didn’t crack a smile at his little cliche quip, instead he folded his arms, Leroy seemed to be far from the kind of psycho that would tie up humans and film them bleeding out and seemed more like James Dean-and pulled it off perfectly in fact. “I am looking for a barn-I assume grey colored.”
Leroy took a puff and sadly sighed, right as he mentioned it-he knew why the detective was around. “Oh man…you don’t wanna go there. I have seen a barn, but not gone anywhere near it. I hear screaming sometimes too…fucked up dudes in there. Couldn’t report it cause I don’t own a phone.” What are the chances he would know so much?
Leonard kept his slight excitement of new evidence very well hidden. He prayed his tail wasn’t wagging. New evidence did that. “How far is the barn from here?” Leroy did not hesitate to answer-he obviously knew his way around here. “An hour and half, go down this wrecked road a ways, then make a turn to the left at the fork. It’s in the middle of a field.” The black lab nodded and looked at the complexion of Leroy, he seemed a bit dirty and a tad bit too thin after looking at him for a bit.
He cleared his throat. “One more question-when was the last time you ate?”
Leonard wasn’t at all surprised he had the nerve to ask-Leo was someone with a tough exterior, but really-would want to be the first to know if you were in any sort of pain and would address it. He looked the detective straight in the eye. “Calling me fat? Nah! Just kidding…erm…two days ago.” Leonard nods slowly. “Come here…” He does so and opens the passenger door of the cruiser. Leroy is sort of baffled. He hadn’t been in a car in a long while, it felt amazing to sit in a comfortable chair again. Leonard starts the car and he hands Leroy a bottled water from the back seat and some crackers. He did often keep snacks like Wheat Thins or Ritz Crackers in his vehicle for stake outs and it was better than nothing if he didn’t have time for breakfast. Actually, Leonard kept his car quite clean, snacks were the only sort of mess you may find. “Uhh…wow…thanks man.” The lab nods as the car moves forward.

Heat began to rise, the temperature was about 90 degrees outside, but the car kept the two cool enough. Leroy removes his jacket and props his feet up on the dash bored, which Leo this time didn’t mind-he only stopped someone from doing that if he was in a really bad mood. Leroy and Leonard made quite a bit of small talk while on the long drive, he spoke of his son for the most part.

Leroy Emmerson was born and raised in New York city, his family extremely kind, but not well off-poor in fact. His two parents died of illness and the Jack Russell Terrior was sort of left to fend for himself at a young age, he had made money by playing pianos and singing at bars. He traveled quite a bit and met a lot of nasty furries, who tried to get him hooked on drugs such as heroin and cocaine. He admitted to Leonard that he had indeed done these drugs once, but that was it. Sure, he smoked a bit here and there-but actually was quite adamant about telling street kids to stay off that kind of thing and instead get them into hobbies of interest. What was amazing to Leonard was that Leroy was generally good spirited, he didn’t seem down and out due to the fact he was practically homeless and only did odd jobs once in a blue moon. Leroy admitted that he used to be uptight and negative while on the street, being generally rude, but he learned quickly that being rude meant no one would give him a chance or let him stay at a cheap place for a night. So, he worked hard and Leonard would consider this pup to be laid back, a bit of a rebel maybe-but really, not a bad guy. He even risked his life once while joining a group of furries who fought for human rights. Leroy’s interest in humans was mild at best, but he believed everyone deserved equal rights-so he fought for them.
Now, in his long life and many travels, he was thrust into a detective’s cruiser and hunting for a serial killer. Something he thought would never happen…

Once Leo pulled the car over next to the giant field, the two of them look at the ominous grey barn. It stood a few blocks away from the car, in the middle of a grassy field, so grassy in fact that weeds about a foot high adorned it.
Flowers of all different types were scattered about as well, the sun beaming hotter onto the car now. The black lab hops out of the vehicle. “I’ll be back.” The Terrier looks at Leo, leaning out the passenger side window. “Ugh-man. Don’t get killed, want me to come with you?” He shook his head, pulled his gun out and headed for the creepiest looking cowshed ever.

The toned detective was sweating bullets, even with his tie undone and his dress shirt rolled up past his elbows. Flies buzzed about the dead ground and attempted to nip him. The sun got brighter, Leo threw on his pair of dark shades and walked ever so slowly forward, his ears perked and sensitive to even the slightest movement from a mile off. Another good reason he was a lab-dogs hearing can actually go to 1.5 miles in a rural area like this. Should anyone be hiding in this massive space, he could easily pinpoint it and head for it-fearless as always. Leo really just wanted to leave, the heat was getting to him, the nervousness of having to go into a serial killer’s den, he wished desperately he was home with Chris reading or napping by him. The dog takes a deep breath, he had one chance to figure this all out. If the furry caught him off guard, holding a camera-it would all be over.

The barn is two floors high, great..more investigation into this creep fest. The walls breaking apart, the door held by one hinge, the windows almost all cracked. A few bees hit Leo’s ears, causing great irritation-they didn’t seem mad, just minding there own business-he wondered where they came from until he noticed he was about to step on the biggest wasp nest he had ever seen. Oval shaped, grey colored and filled with honeycombs.
About 500 or more stinging insects must reside there. He swiftly moved to one side-sighing in relief that he watched where he was going. Okay, no more delaying the inevitable, the quicker this is over, the sooner he could get home. Leo briskly walks up to the barn door and with a slow movement, sneaks in.

Chapter 4

John and Chris escaped the heat by going to an air conditioned mall, they ate at the large food court, Chris without hesitation, filmed the whole thing on his cellphone, gosh-John was like a cousin to him. Of course, they talked about Leonard, school and life in general. John did not send Leo any texts, due to not wanting to bother him. He would call him if he wasn’t back by the time they got home however.

Leonard walked through the busted furniture, rotting floor boards, crushed beer cans and dried blood. His first instinct was to call for back up-however, he was doing such a great job sneaking about and didn’t want to alert anyone who might be home to his presence. Like everything else, he’d deal with it on his own unless he was hurt or the perpetrator of the videos revealed himself directly. Tucked in one dark corner, a large closet, which was half open-with a thudding heart Leo opens the door, half expecting Leatherface from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” to jump out and slice him in two. Inside were large, blinking hard drives. So strange that any Internet access would be here, let alone a computer.
From his back pocket, the dog grabbed rubber gloves and a nearby clean trash bag and began to unplug them slowly and put as many of them as he could into the bag for evidence. Afterwards, Leo places the bag at the front door and proceeds to snap pictures of the awful looking place with his phone-he felt quite proud of himself, but of course still leery. He was in villain territory, and the idea of some maniac popping out of nowhere occurs to the lab more than once.

He then enters a kitchen type area, the smell that hits Leo’s nostrils is unbearable and coming from the filthy looking fridge. He snaps more and more pictures, getting too caught up in his work to check any new texts of course. Now, what’s in the fridge? He’d have to open it sooner or later-so he decided now would be a good time to check it out, again-with a swift nervousness-he yanks the door open with tug and barks a tiny bit in terror. The cold storage is not actually cold at all, but hot and mucky like everything else. On the plastic shelves, pieces of human flesh and limbs are crammed. Leonard actually felt faint-his stomach seemed to push and shove, he holds his breath, takes a photo of the gruesome happening and slams the door shut. He leans against the nearest wall and takes deep, rhythmic breaths-feeling like he could vomit. No..not here…not now. The dizziness hit him again, a slight ringing pierced his ears. He knew he was having a slight panic attack-he read the signs clearly-he closes his eyes, opens them and feels confident enough to move on. Panic attacks can’t kill-no big deal. he reasoned.

Every creak on the staircase makes Leo leery, he raises his gun-he speaks not a word, he still felt sick to his stomach-but pressed on. Dammit, he could do this! He knew he could.
His gun loaded, more sweat poured from him, soaking his shirt slightly. The upstairs smelt awful, the only two rooms up there were bedrooms, the beds unmade and more dried blood gruesomely plastered on the cracked walls. He snapped photos-suddenly a loud and deafening BANG filled the room.

It was the sound of a shotgun blast-the black lab drops to his stomach, the shots could be easily identified as coming from outside. He crawls on the floor and uses a nearby window as cover, the shot goes off again-breaking the glass of the window he was hiding next to.
Leo fires exactly three shots in the shooter’s direction. Leo picks his cellphone up-battery is nearly dead. Leo cusses softly and makes the phone call for backup…the black lab is then grazed by another shot gun blast, his right arm bleeds a tad bit. His phone runs out of battery. The shooting abruptly stops…sirens approach the building.

Two police cars pull up in front of the house, and two officers-a doberman and a snow leopard, both dressed in identical blue uniforms-burst into the barn-but the shooter is gone. A worried looking Leroy, a female officer-snow leopard, the doberman- macho male and Leonard all stand out front of the place. Leo does not speak-of course this is odd. Not like the lab was a talker, but for cases-he seemed always so direct and to the point. He places the plastic bag of hard drives into one of the vehicles-the snow leopard named Lia approaches him lovingly, truth is-she has a major crush on Leonard. She speaks softly.
“Detective-please talk to us. We’re all so worried about you, going out in the middle of nowhere to hunt a psycho.” The stomach pain hits the lab again, this time-nothing can be done. He staggers over to one corner and vomits into the woods. He then vomits again. Twice was all he needed. He was embarrassed-but too bad he thought.
Lia found it weird to see someone she looked up to so much be in this sort of state, she holds his paw and leads him to her vehicle. “Whoa… detective we need to get you back to the office.” His breathing is heavy, he nods-even he admitted he needed rest.

Leroy sits in the back of the car with the lab, his right arm bandaged and stinging a lot-Lia spoke a tad bit as she drove, careful not to hit bumps quickly-but really she let the two do most of the talking. Leonard sat gloomily and pale faced. Leroy saw his new friend was sickly-so much so that the Terrier almost felt like hugging him, but resisted. Leo of course is not the usual furry and would probably prefer just to lean his head back and be calm. He spoke like he was speaking to a sick kid. “Hey big guy, you did a good job back there! Haven’t had this much excitement in my entire life, dude!” Leonard spoke softly, he didn’t feel sick anymore, but sure sounded exhausted. “Leroy-come back to my place and I’ll let you stay for a bit if you need it.” The Terrier holds Leo’s paw and smirks. “Hey man-thanks. Just erm…don’t get sick on me, okay?” It was amazing to Leonard that Emerson had never been through something like this, and yet-he kept so cool and thoughtful. Leo did not sleep in the car, he just sort of looked out the window, watching the trees go by swiftly for hours…

Chapter 5

Once Chris met Leroy, he seemed to be better than he was-John had sort of told him what happened. Leonard’s stomach pain went away, but now he just felt dizzy and in desperate need of a nap. He had after all been up since about 5 in the morning. “Leroy-you can have whatever else you want to eat or drink, Chris can help you. I’ll sleep on the couch and you can have my bed.” Leroy nodded as he sat with Chris at the kitchen table with a turkey sandwich. “Sure thing man-you sure you want to give up your bed?” The lab nodded. “Yeah, I’d feel better. Thanks, keep Chris company.” Leonard stripped his sweaty clothing off, threw them in the wash and hoped into the shower. The cool water felt amazing after feeling like he was in an oven for so long. Leroy and Chris really spoke of music-they did share that common interest. The human felt extremely safe around this happy pup-which was rare. Normally the human took time to warm up to people, but something about Leroy was instantly trust worthy, he even felt cooler when he was in the room with him. The black lab sat on the edge of his bed, trying to get the image of the disgusting fridge out of his head. He had never seen anything so twisted and vile in his life-and he had been doing this job for a long time. This would be one of those unforgettable cases, he could feel it.

Evening fell, Leroy had taken a shower as well and was even given fresh deodorant and mouthwash, the three of them went shopping for fresh clothes-Leroy now wore new dark blue skinny jeans with a studded belt with a metal chain hanging from one side, a white t-shirt with the words “Today Has Been Ruff” written in black lettering and bright red sneakers, topped off with a new black leather jacket.
Leroy had certainly never expected this and had never came across so much kindness. After, Leonard felt like he could crash anywhere-he threw on pajamas and curled up on the couch with a soft blanket and took no time falling into a deep sleep. Upstairs, Chris and Leroy sang a few songs together-which was sort of adorable.
Leroy had quite an amazing singing voice, and it’s sad that no one but a few drunks at the bars he preformed at knew this. The human just loved listening to Leroy’s rockish tone and even filmed him singing to keep it as a memory. Leonard was in such a deep sleep, he heard nothing of it.

TWO WEEKS LATER

Leroy ended up staying at Leonard’s place for a while, just until he could earn enough money to move on. He worked in slightly more upscale bars than before-and what was good was that Leonard could drop him off on the way to work.
He wore the same outfit he had bought with the lab two weeks earlier, Leo wore a blue dress shirt, red tie and black jeans with his boots-the two of them wore there leather jackets. “Leonard, I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done. Truly, this all has been a dream come true-even if…ya know, a psycho was involved kinda.”
The lab glances at the Terrier just before pulling up to the bar. “Yeah, well-that’s what I do. Change lives.” Leroy pats the detective on the shoulder. “Have a good one, man!” Leo watches him leave-suddenly, a thin, tight wire wraps around the lab’s neck and only gets tighter as he struggles. A deep and eerie southern accent sneaks into the lab’s ear.
“Drive fuckhead…” The detective does so with no hesitation, he breathes calmly, the wire does loosen a bit-but not by much. The furry behind him is a paint horse, almost all white with brown splotches all around his eyes and nose. A strong stallion. His arms ginormous, he obviously knew how to handle himself. He wears a flannel shirt and blue jeans, he smiles as he now has Leonard under his complete control. His voice, is like what a rattlesnake would sound like just before jumping at his prey.

“One rule-do not reach for anything-keep your paws on the top of the wheel, if I see ONE out of place movement-this wire can slice through your little furry neck like butter. Anyway, where are my manners? Pleasure to meet you Leonard, my name is Billy. You broke into my farm. You have it all, you found out more than any living furry or human. You probably even watched my videos-hope you enjoyed them. But you know what-I’ll be honest with you and tell you everything. Why? Because I like you, you’re the one who adopted the human. Speaking of, I want to be able to talk to your son after I’m done with you-so we have stuff to talk about.
Chris does look mighty tasty…especially that fucked up brain of his.
Sucks that he’s so dumb, fun for me though to stick him in his first movie. So I can say ‘KID! I KNEW your father and watched him bleed out all over his own car’…but that’s for later! Really, there’s not much to tell-I’m a sicko who enjoyed everything he did. Boom. That’s the answer. Ohhh..but that’s not how detective thriller should end! I’m a filmmaker, we need to cover all of our bases! We need to know MORE! Why is this psycho the way he is? Weeeeell….I came from a middle class family-I wasn’t abused, mommy didn’t hit me, daddy didn’t throw me in some closet. I just picked up a camera one day and began…filming things I liked. Suddenly, I became bored and jumped in on the action…the videos I made of those humans were amusing, especially once I got a pack of wolves involved in my little games. Then, I wanted to share my passion-so I discovered the deep web and found out I could make money off of this stuff, so I did.”

Leonard swallowed hard and continued to drive down a major highway. “So, you shot me, you got others involved in your matters. Plus, the going after my son cliche. Hm, typical serial killer shit. I’m not impressed. What a coward.” The patrol car cruises down a long bridge, hardly any cars are upon it. The horse grows irritated. “Too bad you feel that way” he tightens the wire more. So much so that Leo’s breathing is cut off ever so slowly. He gasped for air. His eyes began to water. The lab then began mumbling something-the horse quickly leans into hear what his final words would be.

Billy got quite a shock when the lab SLAMMED on the break of his car, the two were projected forward, Leo turned around with lightening speed and fired a bullet into the horse’s throat. Blood sprays out of his neck like a sink faucet, the car screeches to a halt.
As the horse leans back in the seat, gasping for air and getting over his pounding head injury from the brutal car stop-he began thrashing about like a mad man-the entire back of the car is covered in thick, red fluid. The back windows, the back seat and the floor is a massive blood puddle. Leo hit an artery for sure. His throat is wide open, a gaping bullet wound like a throat operation gone horribly wrong. Leonard watches his slow movements-his breathing becomes more shallow, his eyes glaze over as the sound of muffled hyperventilation is heard. Leonard takes a deep breath, watching this psycho who tormented so many humans finally get the fate that was probably coming to him.

Chris got to visit his dad at his office and hugged him tightly, he cried just a little.
The news of what had happened in the car was such a shock to everyone. Leonard told John all the details. Leroy sat with Chris in the front of the office while his father went over all the case details. The human was shaken up. The Terrier stayed by his friend. “Leroy? I l-love dad, he’s amazing…b-but too often he gets in trouble.” The white and brown dog nods and places his shoulder around the human boy. “Well Chris, I can understand that. Having a loved one in danger is never easy, you’re an amazing human who really goes with the flow, you’re cool.” Chris shrugs. “I-I guess, but should I worry a-about dad?” The terrier shrugs as well. “Well, I think it’s understandable if anything, eh-it’s natural.”

“Leroy, you never worry.” He smirks. “Some are more prone to it than others-but be yourself. Keep your dad good company, you both are just too awesome.” Chris hugged Leroy for the first time, the pup really put a lot in prospective. Leroy did help Chris not too worry so much-I mean, when you’re dad is in danger like that day, sure-worry would come. Leroy had spoken to Chris about the ‘little worries’ and how to shake them off, would it work? Somehow, Chris related to Leroy-perhaps more so than John Hulbert or Logan, his aide. Leroy was ‘just a guy’…not a mentor or officer of the law, the two were sort of in the same league. No doubt Leroy had changed Chris’ outlook on certain life aspects though, especially about being happy in your current situation and just being glad to be alive. That’s who Leroy was-if you can groove and breath-then you’re great and life can offer you a lot. He was poor, but he played in bars and got to sleep in a warm building sometimes-it was enough for him. He secretly hoped deep down maybe Leroy taught Leonard the same thing-jeez, Leo could be depressed with a full roof over his head and a bed. Leroy had never been depressed in his life-not anything overly serious anyway. Maybe when his parents died of course.

The farm in which the snuff films were made, was torn down-but the lab would truly never forget the spot where it all happened.
The hard drives full of snuff films were put in lock down, never to be viewed by the public, the deep web account was also taken down and destroyed by the government. At the end of the day, Leonard happened to over hear that perhaps a film would be made about this entire case-as long as he wasn’t in it, he didn’t care. Leroy chuckled at this news as all our main characters ate at a restaurant. “I know who can play you Leonard! Christopher Walken! Plus, they better include your kick ass convertible as well.” The dog scoffs, knowing full well Leroy was teasing again. Leonard was engaged in conversation, John and Chris were sort of nattering all at once to the lab, he gladly answered questions.
Would the case fully disperse from Leo’s mind? No. He remembered details of every case he ever had.

Those damn video clips would haunt him-but he supposed the most telling sign of the entire thing was a bit of a mark around his neck.
Normally-no case left identifiable scars like this one had-perhaps a bruise or broken arm which would heal in time-but this was most likely permanent.
As Leo ordered his drink and looked amongst John, Chris and Leroy-he had felt glad, which was shocking. He speaks in his monotone, everyone stops talking. “I think I’m going to take a few months off…do some teaching and be with family.” He even sounded tired as he spoke, like he finally realized all the hard work he does for the FBI and innocent lives in general. John smiled and nodded. “Wow buddy! Nice to hear that, you’re like-the only one who hasn’t taken days off unless ordered too.” Leo had done it for his son mostly-after seeing how shaken up he was about the car incident. Putting the two through more stress in a short amount of time would be awful-the videos gave Leo a sort of deep pause for reflection especially.

How easily a son or daughter could be taken by a mad man-all those humans had families, aunts, uncles, friends-all of it was taken away by a few furries, all for some sick website.
That’s what bothered him about the case the most and that’s what would stay with him.
Not so much the gruesomeness of the clips-but knowing that all those humans had something to live for-Leo wanted to embrace life with his son…and maybe for the first time in a while, actually feel like the father Chris deserved. For the first time in a long while, right before Chris went to bed that night-Leonard gave his son a genuine hug.

END

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