It was morning when Bogo brought the car to a stop and climbed out from underneath the wailing sirens in time to see Officer Hopps stagger out the entrance to Dr. Lemming's practice and vomit onto the pavement.
"Hopps!" He raced over, at the same time signaling for McHorn and Higgins to go ahead and investigate. The rhino and hippo released the safety on their weapons and entered the building.
If Hopps weren't so small, Bogo would have put a hoof on her back. "What did you find, Hopps? Talk to me!"
"He's… Lemming's gone!" Hopps wiped her mouth, staring at the mess with a haunted look in her eyes.
"Gone where?" Bogo had a sinking feeling, but he had to ask.
"In the kitchen! He's dead!"
Bogo cursed under his breath. "Was he alone? Is there anyone else in the building?"
"I-I don't think so." Hopps stood up. "The kitchen was one of the last rooms I checked. I was able to search the remaining rooms after that before I…" She closed her eyes looked away. "I'm sorry, sir."
Bogo shook his head and slipped on some gloves. "Don't be. I threw up at my first cadaver, and all the victim suffered was cyanide poisoning."
His radio crackled. "Captain, we need the call the ME! Jesus Christ…"
"What is it, McHorn?"
" Dr. Lemming's DOA. Homicide from the looks of it. We've swept the building, but no-one else appears to be home. Be advised, sir, Higgin's on his way out to throw up."
Higgins burst out a second later, and unlike Hopps managed to hold it in long enough to reached the garbage can nearby.
Bogo made the necessary call to Precinct One. "Higgins, Hopps, McHorn and I will finish securing the crime scene. You two stay out here and make sure no-one goes in."
"Wait, sir!" Hopps said as she put on her own tiny pair of gloves. "The back door was unlocked. That's how I got in."
"Did you touch the handle?"
"I didn't need to, sir. The door was slightly open, so I just pushed. Maybe we should secure the back alley as well."
Bogo looked up at the grey clouds above. "That'll be your job then, Hopps. It may start raining soon, so collect any evidence you find."
"Yes, sir!" Hopps saluted him and took off to follow her orders.
When Bogo reached the kitchen, he had to swallow back bile himself. The dead lemming on the kitchen bench was not a pretty sight, even if he didn't have several chopsticks protruding from his exposed brain and the lower parts of his body. McHorn was shining a flashlight into the sink, looking more collected than Hopps and Higgins put together. "There're drops of water in the sink, sir. Maybe something was washed in here."
"It might have been whatever the killer used to scalp the victim. We'll need luminol to confirm that, though."
"Hopps said the backdoor was unlocked. Neither of you touched the handle without gloves, did you?"
"It was wide open."
Bogo had seen the open door on his way to the kitchen. "Good. From now on, nobody goes in and out that way. That goes to you too, Hopps!" He shouted.
"Yes, sir!" He heard Hopps shout back.
"And don't forget to photograph evidence before you collect it!"
McHorn snorted as he turned away from the sink. "The bunny's finally learning."
Bogo eyed his old partner. "She's learning to work as part of a team. Can I trust you to do the same?"
McHorn looked humbled. "Sorry, Mansa. I didn't mean anything by that."
"Forget it. If that's everything, let's get out of here so the CSIs can do their part."
"What's their ETA?" McHorn asked as they made their way out the kitchen, leaving the grisly scene behind.
"Twenty minutes at the time I called it in."
"Great. Let's hope they get here before it rains."
"Hopps already has that covered. A mammal her size will probably see things we can't."
They exited the hallway and paused in the waiting room. The scent of death wasn't as strong here, but neither of them were able to relax. The victim was tiny, no bigger than a coffee mug, but that had to be the most horrific homicide they had ever seen. Even the serial killer they'd taken down years ago had only stabbed his victims to death with an ice pick. This was a whole other level, and they could only hope and pray that this was the first and last.
"The whole upper half, eyes and all." McHorn breathed. "Jesus Christ on a stick."
"In twenty minutes it'll be Homicide's problem." Bogo decided it was time for a change of subject before another stomach was emptied. "So what movie did you and Hillary see last night?"
"Fifty Shades Freed, and what a frigging waste of time that was." McHorn wrinkled his nose. "It's bad enough that Grey punk kept showing up wherever Ana went back in the first movie. In this one, when she tells him she's pregnant with his baby, he throws a hissy fit! If this were real life, he'd be behind bars for sexual assault right about now!"
Bogo smirked as they continued on to the front entrance. "Isn't that always the case? I just thank God that Kathy doesn't inflict that kind of torture on me. I think I'd sooner shoot myself in the balls than sit through even one of those rom coms." He reached the door first and grabbed the handle by the very end. "The dreamy gentleman showing up wherever the lovelorn lady goes? In what universe does that actually happen?"
He pulled the door open and found himself face to face with Benjamin Clawhauser.
Bogo stopped dead in the doorway. Benjamin stiffened, looking as shocked to see the buffalo as Bogo was to see him. Higgins stood partially between them, one arm held out to keep the feline away from the door.
"I was just about to call, sir. This cheetah says he has an appointment with Dr. Lemming."
Bogo kept staring at the feline, who didn't make a sound other than the warning beep of his collar. This was the first time he'd seen him up close without a mask. Eventually he muttered, "You've got to be fucking kidding me."
McHorn spoke up behind him. "What was that, Mansa?"
Bogo cleared his throat. "Benjamin Clawhauser, right?" The feline pulled out his earphones and nodded.
"You know him?" McHorn asked.
"I'll explain later." Bogo grunted and exited the building, leaving McHorn to close the door behind them. "Clawhauser, you said you're here for an appointment?"
With shock still in his warm brown eyes, Benjamin pulled an envelope from his satchel. "Yes, Captain. I got this letter telling me to come here at nine thirty for a mandatory psychological evaluation. From what I've heard, every predator in the city has been sent one." Benjamin tilted his body to look past the three officers. "Has something happened?"
Bogo frowned. "I'm afraid there isn't going to be a psych eval, Clawhauser. Not today. Dr. Lemming is dead."
Benjamin clapped a paw over his mouth. "Oh my gosh!"
"I'm afraid you can't stay here. This is a crime scene now." Bogo was going to say more when he saw movement out the corner of his eye. Two large armored vans led by a black car were pulling up behind the two already present squad cars. On all three vehicles were the massive letters T.U.S.K.
McHorn swore. Bogo glared at the vehicles in disbelief as the inhabitants of the black car emerged first. What the hell were they doing here?
"Cunninghorn!" He stalked past Benjamin and up to the stubby horned rhino as he approached with an armored wild pig on either side. "What do you think you're doing? This is Homicide's jurisdiction!"
"Not this time." Cunninghorn stopped and folded his arms, looking smug. God, Bogo wanted to flip him on his face when he had that look. "Dr. Lemming is the most esteemed psychiatrist in Zootopia, and Mayor Swinton wants the very best to solve this."
"Don't pull that shit with us, Cunninghorn! T.U.S.K. doesn't do this kind of work!" McHorn snapped.
Bogo stepped in front of the entrance. "How do I know you actually have authorization to take on this case?"
"Ask Chief Trunchbull. He personally ordered me to find out who killed Dr. Lemming and that is exactly what I'm going to do. Now get out of my way. You're wasting my time."
Bogo clenched his fists. T.U.S.K. should not have been sent here, but he knew Trunchbull could not refuse an order from Swinton herself. The buffalo stepped aside. "I do hope Mayor Swinton chose the right mammal for this, Lieutenant."
"Commander!" Cunninghorn snarled as he opened the door.
"Not if you screw this up."
The rhino slammed the door. "Listen, you uptight little-"
"Captain Bogo!" Hopps came running around the corner, clutching a small plastic evidence bag. "This bit of fur was all I could fi- Oh." She stopped when she saw Cunninghorn. "I thought Homicide was taking over this case, sir."
"Apparently there's been a change of jurisdiction." Bogo said. "Hand over that evidence so we can get out of here."
Hopps looked reluctant as she walked up to Bogo and Cunninghorn and held out the bag, which contained a small clump of black fur.
Cunninghorn grunted, looking over his nose at the bunny. "You picked up evidence?"
Hopps flinched at his tone. Bogo gave a sharp angry snort. "It might rain soon, so I ordered her to collect any evidence in the back alley she could find before it could get washed away. Did you photograph its location like I said?"
Hopps's face fell. "Errr…"
Bogo sighed. "You're still a rookie, Hopps. Keep learning."
Cunninghorn smirked. "I don't expect my men to make those kinds of mistakes, Captain." He bent down, reached past Bogo and took the bag from Hopps. As he pulled his arm back, he bent it at just the right angle to elbow the Captain in his lower left side.
The sensation came without warning. The sudden, painful jab of something hard into his flesh.
Just like that, Bogo's steely shell broke. His throat constricted. His heart began to pound. His body started breaking into a sweat as he reeled back from the unexpected blow and fell back against the window.
"Sir?" He heard Hopps ask. He was too busy trying to control himself to answer her. His chest was so tight he wasn't sure he would even be capable of answering. He clenched his fists tighter as they started to shake.
It had been more than a year since the last time this happened, but McHorn saw the signs instantly. He barged past Cunninghorn and grabbed Bogo by the shoulders as the buffalo struggled to breathe.
"Just breathe, Mansa!" He said. "Come on, deep breaths, you can do this! It'll pass, just like the others. Listen to me. Just keep breathing and it'll pass…"
Bogo stopped hearing him after that.
He was back in the marketplace. What was once a bustling sandy square of activity now looked like a demolished war zone. There were bodies in the sand and splintered wood, wounded or dead. The sun was hot and bright, even though it was winter. A bull elephant in a bloodied green tracksuit was trampling a car into something unrecognizable. The sounds it made were like nothing Bogo had ever expected to hear from a pachyderm. Even behind the cover of his squad car, the buffalo felt his blood freeze as he listened to the beast's otherworldly roar.
Taking cover beside Bogo, McHorn was loading a dart into his rifle. On the buffalo sergeant's other side was Higgins, calling for backup. With his sidearm grasped with both hooves, Bogo peered through the car windows at the mad elephant as it started stomping around the ruins, looking for something else to obliterate. Drugs had been Bogo's first theory as to the cause of its rampage, but when the monster came closer he saw something strange. A dark colored fluid was seeping out of its swollen temples, running down into the corners of its mouth. It had peed its pants. Bogo's next theory was that the elephant had suffered some kind of head injury. He grabbed the barrel of the rifle before McHorn could fire, concerned as to what would happen if the elephant suffered another cranial blow when they darted it.
The elephant spotted the only intact thing in the square, their squad car, bellowed and charged. McHorn fired, but the dart had missed. Bogo fired his own weapon, but the dart didn't even slow it down. The elephant reached them before he could reload. The car went flying. McHorn fell to the side. Higgins rolled away. The bull elephant charged between them, eyes fixed on Bogo.
Bogo fired another dart, the needle striking the elephant just above the tusk that skewered him in that instant.
The tusk sent him flying back into a wall, the tip hitting the brick before he did. The wind was knocked out of him. Somewhere nearby, McHorn screamed. As Bogo gasped for breath, he tasted warm blood in his mouth. The elephant collapsed on the spot, succumbing to the doubled dose. McHorn sprinted to his side, screaming Bogo's name over and over as the buffalo gripped the tusk with bloodstained hooves.
On his other side, he heard Gazelle singing in the distance. It was her first single, Try Everything. Bogo didn't remember her being there.
He closed his eyes. When he opened them, he was sitting on the cool pavement outside Dr. Lemming's office, his back against the glass window. McHorn was kneeling by his side, telling him to breathe deeply. Cunninghorn and his Razorbacks were staring. Hopps was struggling across the street from a coffee shop with a bottle of water two thirds her size. Higgins was in the squad car, speaking into the built in radio while glancing at Bogo.
Gazelle was still singing.
Bogo turned his head and found himself looking into Benjamin's warm brown eyes again. He was kneeling opposite McHorn, gazing at the police captain with concern. A hesitant paw was raised, mere inches from the buffalo's shoulder. As a member of one of the most hated organizations in the eyes of the predator community, Bogo had never expected this kind of compassion.
Hopps reached them and passed the bottle to McHorn, who in turn put it in Bogo's hoof after removing the lid. "Remember what the therapist said. Take little sips."
Bogo obeyed, taking small sips even though his mouth was as dry as the desert where he'd almost died.
I didn't just get impaled, he told himself in his mind. It was an elbow, not a tusk. It was just Cunninghorn being an arsehole…
McHorn took the moment to look at Cunninghorn with pure scorn. "You stupid son of a bitch."
"Is he going to be okay?" Benjamin asked softly. Gazelle's song faintly emanated from the earphones dangling from his shoulders.
"Yeah, don't worry about it, Clawhauser." McHorn said gruffly.
Despite the assurance, Benjamin looked worried. "Okay. I guess I'll just go, then."
When he stood up, he was startled to find Cunninghorn standing over him.
"Clawhauser?" Cunninghorn narrowed his eyes at the cheetah. "As in Pottermass's new PR stunt?"
Benjamin swallowed. "Um, yeah..."
"You can stay right where you are, pred! I've got some questions for you!" He took Benjamin by the shoulder, drew him away from Bogo and propped him against the window on the other side of the door. The buffalo tried to stand up, but his legs were like jelly.
"He just got here, Cunninghorn!" McHorn said. "He had an appointment with the victim this morning!"
"I'm asking him questions, not you!" The shorter horned rhino retorted before glaring down at the nervous feline. "You've heard of all the savage attacks going on, right?"
Benjamin nodded quickly. "Is that what happened here, Officer?"
"Commander." Cunninghorn growled loudly enough to make the cheetah flinch. "And no! But there was a savage attack last night. A wolfy slapper turned feral in the Paradise Poolhouse. Did you know that?"
"I haven't seen the news yet, Commander."
"But you do know the fox seen fleeing from the scene, don't you? You talked Pottermass into investing in his business."
"Nick?" Benjamin stared up at the rhino.
"Correctamundo. Did you also know that his clinic opened about the same time preds started going savage?"
"Yes, but that's a coincidence! It has to be!" Benjamn pleaded.
"Bogo's rabbit paid him a visit last morning, but turned up nothing. She didn't have a warrant to conduct a thorough enough search. But you're going to help me get that warrant, aren't you? You will, if you value your life."
Bogo nearly choked on his water.
"What did you just say?" Hopps gasped.
"Let me finish!" Cunninghorn snapped. "Why do you think Pottermass chose you, huh? Why out of all the predators in this city would he choose a pudgy little thing like you? Did you ever think of that?"
Benjamin shook his head, his collar bright yellow. "N-no."
"He had a wife, you know. Meredith Pottermass. Or he had a wife until two years ago. A truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, lost control and hit two cars. Three mammals died. Two cheetahs and one hippo." He leaned over the speechless feline. "Each car only had one survivor… you… and Pottermass."
Bogo shoved the bottle back at McHorn, planted a hoof on the low windowsill and pushed himself up.
Benjamin's collar beeped. He looked ready to have an anxiety attack of his own. Cunninghorn leaned down at the cheetah's eye level with a cold smile.
"He was a mess after that. He was never the same again. I do wonder how he's feeling nowadays, knowing that the one thing he loves move than wealth and power is gone, while a lowly commoner like you gets to live. How far would he go to correct that injustice?"
"Enough!" Bogo shoved Cunninghorn away, hard.
"Sir!" Hopps gasped.
Before the rhino could recover, the buffalo turned to Benjamin. "You need to go. Now. You have no involvement in this case."
Benjamin was squeezing one paw in another, staring at nothing. His collar beeped again. His lip trembled as he began to retreat. "Okay. B-bye."
He turned and hurried away.
Cunninghorn tried to follow, but Bogo blocked him with an arm. "What the hell are you doing, Captain?!"
"Putting an end to your coercion!" The buffalo shouted. "You were given direct orders to leave Clawhauser and Wilde alone! When Chief Trunchbull and Pottermass hear of this, a murdered shrink will be the least of your problems!"
Cunninghorn's face froze in the middle of beginning a retort. "You wouldn't dare. If Pottermass finds out, he'll go ballistic. The entire precinct may come under fire."
Bogo sneered. "You should have thought of that earlier." With that he returned to his car, followed closely by his officers.
Within two hours, Bogo and Cunninghorn were summoned back to the precinct. While Cunninghorn was called to the Chief's office to endure what sounded like twenty thoroughly unpleasant minutes with Trunchbull and Pottermass, Bogo was told to go back to his office and await the arrival of a government official who wished to ask him some questions about the first savage attack. Normally he would bristle at the thought of wasting time with some self-important bureaucrat, but with the Dr. Lemming murder case out of his hooves, Bogo saw no reason to complain this time.
Bogo was relaxing in his chair, listening to the distant shouting with a cup of coffee and a contented smile on his face, when there was a knock on his door.
A striped white rabbit in a black suit walked inside. "Captain Bogo?"
"Yes. You must be the mammal who's investigating the collar incidents."
The rabbit got up on to the chair and held out a paw which Bogo shook. "Jack Savage, Congressional Research Service. I've already spoken with your sister."
"Yes, the Chief told me you were interviewing her first." Bogo said. Even with his suit and suitcase, something about the rabbit's hard eyes reminded him of the buffalo's most seasoned coworkers. "I don't know if I can tell you anything she hasn't already covered."
"You both work in very different occupations." The smaller mammal explained. "There may be something you know that she doesn't. This won't take long, I assure you."
Bogo took one last sip before pushing the mug aside. "Let's get this over with, then."
Jack got started right away, recording device at the ready. "What has your sister told you about Antlerson's case."
"Normally she wouldn't say anything at all because of Patient Confidentiality, but my officers were the ones who questioned her. She told me that Assistant Mayor Woolton and Antlerson both claimed the caribou's injuries were caused by a savage jaguar, but the appearance of the wounds made her suspect otherwise. I was told you would provide photographs."
Bogo nodded and reached into one of his drawers. "I also have photographs of injuries inflicted in past incidents of predators going savage, just as you requested."
"And past victims of knife crime and industrial accidents?" Jack questioned.
Blunt and to the point. Bogo appreciated that. He relaxed some more as he placed the required photographs on his desk and spread them out.
"Here are the photos of Antlerson's wounds." He pushed three pictures forward.
Jack looked at the middle picture in particular. "Did Woolton say what caused the partial amputation?"
"He bailed before Kathryn or my men could ask. He and Antlerson claimed later that the jaguar tried to bite it off." Bogo slid forward a photo of a gruesome bite inflicted by a lioness. "Here's a bite from a similar big cat for comparison."
Jack scoffed. "If that's a bite, then I'm a bear. Can you show me that picture over there?"
Bogo slid over the picture of a chainsaw wound inflicted by a logger high on LSD. He scowled at how similar it looked to Antlerson's arm.
"What about the claw wounds? Dr. Bogo said that she believed they were more likely caused by a bladed weapon."
"What sort of blade?"
"Hard to say. It might not even have been a knife that did this, but I can safely say that it wasn't claws. None of the cuts are parallel to each other."
Jack scowled and rubbed his chin as he examined the photos. "Do you have any photographs of the crime scene? Woolton claimed it happened at a fishery, but you wouldn't find anything there that could cause a wound like that."
"We checked the place out in case the attacker was still prowling around, but it was clean for the most part. There wasn't even any blood."
"You mean there were no responders to the attack?"
"The first we heard of it was right after Antlerson reached the hospital."
"So you're telling me," Jack said through narrowed blue eyes. "That Woolton may not even have been telling the truth about where the attack took place?"
Bogo fell silent and shook his head.
"In any case…" Jack continued. "I would very much like to know where you would find a chainsaw in this city."