John’s peppercorn eyes widened, and he glanced fearfully at Sherlock, who had suddenly stopped pacing.
“Yes, one of the ones from Baskerville. Oh—Sherlock you ought to come quickly,” Molly squeaked, beckoning towards the rudimentary door of the beaver dam. Sherlock nudged John outside with his nose, where he sat quivering by the lapping water of the pond.
Molly scrambled across a net of tangled roots and branches and came to a stop on the opposite bank, waving them on frantically.
“You’re not going to like this—”
“Not going to like wh—argh!”
Sherlock had lifted John up by his striped jumper and started across the same path as Molly. John dangled irritably from Sherlock’s mouth, his stubby limbs suspended in a two-armed salute. As Sherlock loped after Molly in the tall, marshy grass, Anthea stirred far above in the tree overlooking the dam. She raised her head and hooted urgently into the dark woods behind her before swooping low over the sprinting procession.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Anthea called, soaring just feet above them. As Sherlock’s mouth was being occupied at the moment, John answered for him.
“Cr—crime scene!” He spluttered, a bit dizzy. Sherlock increased his pace as Molly skirted around the edge of the pond and raced down the curving lane towards Applegate. Anthea clicked her beak in annoyance and tailed them closely. Far off in the distance, they glimpsed the silhouette of Lestrade as he sniffed at a lumpy form on the ground. As they drew nearer, Sherlock could see the body of a young rabbit sprawled out on the dirt path. Lestrade looked up as they approached and sat back on his shaggy black haunches.
Sherlock set John gently down on the ground and padded silently around the body, sniffing occasionally. Lestrade eyed John curiously, his head cocking to one side. A silver tag was attached to the border collie’s collar of sturdy leather, flashing as it caught the moonlight.
“You’re a police dog, then?” John tried, feeling uncomfortable under his scrutiny.
“Something like that, yes.” Lestrade raised his rear leg and scratched the back of his floppy ear.
“Quiet, you two. I’m trying to think.” Sherlock was leaning over the rabbit, a paw suspended over its neck, which was dotted with bite-marks. Molly paused in her examination and cast a furtive look up at Anthea, who was perched on a fence nearby.
“These wounds are fresh, and small. Roundish, so---teeth, obviously. More specifically, canine teeth. The cervical vertebra is broken, as well as several ribs. If we’re assuming this was a hound of some sort, it would have braced its paw on her stomach and bitten down on the neck once she was pinned to the ground.” Sherlock moved now to the dirt surrounding the rabbit and squinted at the faint scuff-marks in the earth.
“There’s something odd about it—however,” He observed, glancing up at John, “It looks as if the attacker shied away after the kill—as if he was ashamed of the very act. Now why would a cold-blooded Baskerville hound feel remorse—?”
“It doesn’t really matter though, does it?” Lestrade interrupted, stooping to inspect the footprints, “The killer is out there right now! He’s a threat to Applegate and everyone who lives here!”
Sebastian crouched low to the ground, his brown eyes downcast as he chewed desperately on a birch branch. No matter how hard he tried, Sebastian couldn’t quite get the taste of the rabbit’s blood off his tongue. Disgusted, he shook his head and spat into the brush. The soft ground of the hollow squished underneath his paws as he turned on the spot and lay down. Sebastian would wait. Patiently. His creator would come soon and console him for the terrible deed he committed. For now, though, the hound licked his teeth and whimpered quietly into the black forest.