Sharks. Sharks. Of all things. Emma didn’t even think there were sharks in Maine.
Weren’t shark attacks something that only happened in, like, Florida? Warmer places? Places that weren’t Maine. Places that weren’t fake towns that didn’t really exist because all of the residents were fairy tale characters!
But whatever. Emma was the only other cop in town besides David — and the only one for now, really, what with little Prince Neil still unable to sleep through the night (sometimes she was glad about some of the things she’d missed in raising Henry); so Emma was on her way to the docks to see about this alleged “shark attack.”
She was half-expecting to get there and find a couple of colorful fish witnesses getting distracted halfway through their testimony to ask her if she knew how to get to P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.
Luckily, or … whatever, that wasn’t the case. Instead, Grumpy was there waiting for her, already talking to the group of fisherman and dock workers surrounding what she could barely make out behind them was probably the body. She parked, gave them the long-suffering, “Alright, alright, settle down” until they quieted and separated for her, and then ducked down to take a look at the victim.
She took one look at the way the person’s torso was sliced open and the rib caged cracked and gaping, and then looked back at Grumpy and the crowd.
"This wasn’t done by a shark."
That apparently warranted a roar of protest and she sighed, waiting until Grumpy loyally calmed them back down.
"Listen," she said, "I’m not exactly a shark expert, but I’ve seen Jaws and watched Shark Week as much as the next guy and there’s no way that this was a shark attack.”
"But we found him floating in the water like that," one of the sailors said.
"Yeah," another chimed in," he got caught in our net when we were hauling it in. If it wasn’t a shark then how’d he get out there in the water?"
Emma stared at them.
"Let me get this straight. Because you found the body in the water, that’s proof that he was killed by a shark." She waited while they sheepishly nodded their heads. She shook hers, "Grumpy, will you get these guys out of here. And call Doctor Wale, tell him to send an ambulance. No rush."
"You got it," Grumpy said and started herding the men over to the dock offices while Emma examined the corpse a little more closely.
No teeth marks, no other sign of trauma anywhere else on the body. Just that clean cut and … the missing organs.
Emma’s first thought, of course, was Regina. But she was trying to stop accusing Regina of every crime that went on in the town and besides, Regina had proven that she’d turned over a new leaf, even if this murder did have any of her MO’s on it besides the missing heart. But even the Evil Queen had never gone in for livers and intestines; and even if she had, Regina had way cleaner and more sterile ways to do it.
Nope, it looked like they had another killer on their hands. A serial killer, if the three more subsequent kills over the next week were any indication.
The autopsies confirmed Emma’s theory that it hadn’t been a shark, but a person who’d killed all of them. Someone with some sort of medical training probably, which immediately got Wale on edge, defending himself before anyone even had the chance to accuse the good Doctor Frankenstein. He immediately dragged Emma and David to the security office to show them the security footage to prove his alibi that he’d been in the hospital during the estimated time of the murders.
David wasn’t entirely convinced, but Emma knew that he was telling the truth and dropped it, asking instead about the other hospital staff.
Was there anyone acting suspiciously? Or maybe, since the hospital staff was so meager, it might just be easier to get them a list of the people who weren’t working or couldn’t be accounted for during that time.
Fifteen people in total fit the bill, and Wale went through and gave them a further idea of who might be the most likely suspects.
Emma and David ruled out all of them.
Welp, back to the drawing board.
With two more victims turning up during the investigation, they were starting to get desperate. David pointed out that the hospital was having a fundraising festival over the weekend and suggested that they stake it out since pretty much the entire town would be there and it would be the perfect place to grab a victim unnoticed.
Emma agreed and deputized Mary Margaret, Grumpy, Granny, Ruby, Henry, and Regina to help them keep a look out at the festival. Meanwhile Emma did some more research into the victims.
No one had been able to find any sort of connection between them. But it turned out that they just weren’t looking far enough back. It turned out that each one of them had had an organ transplant at some point. And each one of their surgeries had been financed by a local insurance company called GeneCo. And each one of them had been unable to make their insurance payments and been dropped from their plans.
Emma tried to call them up, but spent fifteen minutes just trying to navigate their phone tree, and spent the next fifteen on hold listening to their simpering “Genterns” telling her to ask them about their proprietary pain killer.
So Emma headed to the festival with suspicions, but still no real answers.
At least not until she got to the festival and started following around the GeneCo representative.
He was wandering around the festival grounds with more intention than a guy just looking to find a few random people to hand out flyers to. Mary Margaret insisted that he was probably just looking for someone specific.
"See? Look, he found her," she said, watching the man — Nathan, Emma had found out — greet a woman on line at Granny’s food stand.
They watched as Nathan spoke to her. And watched the growing look of horror on the woman’s face. She slapped him and he grabbed her, pulling her away from the crowd and into the woods behind the festival grounds.
Emma, David, Mary Margaret, and Regina followed, catching up with the two just as Nathan had slammed the woman against a tree and brandished a large scalpel.
"Freeze!" Emma shouted.
"Mary Margaret, David, you take care of her. Regina, let’s get this bastard."
It ended up not taking much to chase the guy down. He was only human, after all, he had no magic or anything, just an oversized scalpel and a sleazy contract with GeneCo.
Mag, the woman who’d been attacked, told Mary Margaret and David that Nathan had explained that he was there to collect on her missed payments, according to GeneCo policy.