The victim was splayed out in the short grass next to the cornfield, just short of a grove of trees. The scene buzzed with activity as half a dozen people swarmed around the body, taking photographs, making notes, occasionally looking away as the view became too graphic.

Dr. Theodore Danna was onsite, moving slowly through the tumult and dispensing observations and advice. The group was raw, no doubt about that, but they went about their work with a wet-behind-the-ears enthusiasm that brought a thin smile to Danna’s face.

Rusty brakes squealed behind him as an official-looking vehicle move up the farm’s long, winding drive. Danna quickly pulled one of his crew aside, wanting to look busy. Whenever the higher-ups could bring themselves to visit (it did take a strong stomach), it was always best to be talking to someone, using plenty of scientific terms, so the interloper would be quite sure Dr. Danna was on the job instead of kicking back to watch corpses decompose with a tall drink at his elbow. After all, somebody who worked with them had to enjoy the gore on some level, right? Nevermind that TNT showed worse on its movie-of-the-night.

“So, Paula,” Danna said to a young woman hovering near the head of the victim. “What’ve you observed so far?”

Paula was always uncomfortable in the field; she’d come in with visions of sexy adventure right out of TV’s CSI, and the mundane yet alien quality of corpses seemed to shake her. “Well, I’ve noted quite a few Sarcophagidae, a few Staphylinidae, and Calliphoridae on the clothing. Flesh flies, rover beetles, and blowflies, if you want layman’s terms.”

“Always better to keep the two together,” Danna said. “It helps you sound smart without losing people. What would you estimate for the post-mortem interval? How long since the little guy bit it?”

Pamela squirmed, and Danna saw an approaching figure in a uniform from the corner of his eye. “I’d give a PDI of sixteen to eighteen hours.”

Danna was about to reply when he heard someone clear their throat behind him. Turning, he saw a thin, pasty-looking man in a Department of Natural Resources uniform a few paces away.

“Dr. Danna?”

“That’s me. And you are…?”

“Shapiro, Nate Shapiro, Tecumseh County DNR. I’m…not interrupting anything, am I?”

“No, no, of course not. Just letting the kids have a go at a murder victim.”

Shapiro glanced at the figure on the ground. “It’s a monkey in a track suit.”

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