Hamilton would always be the first through the window. He was lighter and more agile that his brother. Richard, a strong figure with his prosthetic, could make a perch with his hand that his younger brother stood on without fear of collapse. Richard would stand for five minutes or ten minutes waiting for the familiar click of an unfamiliar lock, faced with Hamilton’s face that told him what lay inside. Today there was blood.

“How old does it look?” He asked, hobbling through the door and receiving an answer through the harsh, sour scent of something long rotting in the summer heat. Now inside he could feel it contained in the air of the cabin. It was like cracking open a can of sardines that had gone past the date, though even bad food couldn’t attract this many flies. Hamilton struggled to keep them off his face.

“It’s fucking disgusting dude” he said, picking his way across an almost clean living room floor. “You’d think after the tenth time it wouldn’t smell this bad.”

“Rotting flesh is still rotting, doesn’t matter how many times you smell it.” In the light of the dirty window Richard saw the contents of a woman’s suitcase scattered along the floorboards. He kicked it with his plastic foot and saw a cluster of maggots in the musky bust of a dress. “There’s a girl then?”

“Yeah, mum and daughter probably. Father too. Three bodies explains the smell. It’s this way. Watch out, floor gets sticky.” The living room faded through ominous shadow into a kitchen. It was difficult to imagine how three dead adults could fit in a kitchen so small, but someone the Goya had done it. They both stood at the edge of the room. The glass of the broken window lay on the ground from initial entry; ground into finer dust from Hamilton’s feet. He stood looking on forlornly, hands held in front of him. Richard could see he was looking at the girl, naked from the waist down with a tangled, broken leg. “It’s a fucking shame” he said with eyes scrunching shut. “Look at her. She’s what, nineteen? Probably studying something. Could’ve been something before all this.”

“Yeah, it sucks.” Richard knew not to dwell. He cautiously entered the room, observing the situation before deciding what they would do. The father would be the worst to handle. The Goya had slammed his head in the freezer door until it had finally stuck through the ice and blood and measly wire racks. There was meat in the freezer, once frozen now raw and alive with buzzing. Richard carefully tried to open the door but it stayed shut. “We’ll need to replace the fridge. No restoring it after this treatment. Not just the blood, the welts in the metal too.”

“Thank the lord it’s tiles and timber floors” Hamilton remarked bleakly behind him, finally entering the room and crouching down next to the girl.

“Don’t touch her, Hamilton.”

“Jesus, I’m not an idiot.” His older brother turned around, watching him keenly as he picked fruitlessly at her bloody blouse. It was if he was attempting to piece together a vase smashed to dust. “Think she’s lying on the knife, or a blade, or something. I can feel it in her chest.” Richard went to the kitchen drawers and carefully began to open them. A well sharpened butcher’s knife sat comfortably in its leather. That was typical of The Goya. He shut the drawer hard.

“The whole scene’s been here at least…” Richard pondered, sucking on his loose tooth “A week, maybe even a week and a half. You can tell looking at the mother’s face, no eyes now. Goya’s long gone, probably already started another one already.” Hamilton released the all too familiar and annoying groan of a baby brother.

“Seriously?” His hand was still holding her blouse, red smearing on his fingers. “I… fuck. It’s just hopeless sometimes. I’m fucking sick of it.”

“We’ll catch it soon.” Though the older brother of Squeam couldn’t be sure.

 

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