Tukiko watched the policeman's face as he flicked through the scrappy notes and drawings Worms had made in the notebook. He wasn't seeing it, she thought. He didn't understand.
Like a typical policeman, he was seeing everything that supported what he wanted to see, and nothing about what the notes implied. She read his thoughts. Disgust, anger... Revenge.
Showing him the notebooks was a mistake, he was just too stupid to understand what they might mean. She snatched the notebook out of his hand.
"Did you see the maggots?"
Annoyance on Kopkage's face turned to lip curling distaste.
"Yes, I saw the maggots."
But he was talking to the doctor's back. She had turned and was walking towards the autopsy table. A gloved and masked Union pathologist got quickly out of her way.
Kopkage followed her, preparing his stomach for what he was about to see.
"Look." Doctor Troy said, indicating the still writhing mass of maggots that were beginning to cover much of the table.
Kopkage swallowed the bile that had risen.
The annoyance was very apparent in the young doctor's voice.
"But you're not seeing!" She snapped.
The policeman looked at her.
"What exactly is it I'm supposed to be seeing?"
Tukiko took a breath. The lectures she had given at Haven in this very subject came back as if it was yesterday.
"The maggots on the table are Pre-pupa. They have stopped feeding and are migrating away from the body seeking a pupation site."
Kopkage forced his eyes back to the crawling mass.
"Which means that death occurred around six days ago."
"So, this room is a closed facility. It is highly unlikely for enough flies to have discovered the body and laid enough eggs and produce these many maggots."
She reached down and picked up the bundle of cloth she had found earlier.
"Do you know what this is?"
Kopkage looked at it.
Tuki opened it out. It was half a metre wide at most but about four metres long. Soil fell from the folds as he opened it.
"This is a funeral shroud. Smell it." She held the cloth out to Kopkage, but the officer stepped backwards. Tuki rolled her eyes.
"There are body fluids on it, the body had already started to decay while it was wrapped in the shroud. That means that the corpse was dead and buried, and then dug up again."
Kopkage thought hard, looking at the shroud then at the maggots and then finally back to the doctor.
"None of that means that the boy didn't kill her."
Joe stood on the roof of his car. He shielded his eyes as he searched the uneven grasslands. His previous thoughts about Finny came back to haunt him.
"Bloody-minded little idiot."
He gave up and angrily flicked the button on his collar. It took a couple of attempts, but he finally got through to Ned Flowers.
Joe explained as much of the situation as Ned needed to know to organize search parties.
Then he went back to scouring the horizon. At just over four feet tall, the three reading group members were at the top end of what the nastier fauna in these parts would consider prey.
The prey in question were currently crouched down in the maze of passages that ran between the hundreds of grassed over mounds that had once been piles of rubble.
Finny had called a halt where she explained everything she knew. It took a little longer trying convince Casper that they shouldn't go back and let the adults take care of it.
However, it was only when Finny crossed her arms and, sat back on her rump and said sulkily:
"Fine. You go back then. Me an' Onetooth will save Worms by ourselves."
Casper looked to Onetooth for support but saw that he wasn't going to get any this time. Then there was the prospect of facing Joe. He sighed.
The last thing he wanted was Finny going off and getting killed while still hating him.
"Okay. I'll come. Just don't..." But what it was Finny wasn't to do became moot as Casper saw the thick, pale-yellow body slide through the grass behind Finny.
The end of the sentence became a strained, high-pitched squeak as he pointed.
Inside the stuffy atmosphere of the mortuary, Tukiko mouthed something unladylike to the NFPD officer's retreating back.
She looked at Worms' notebook still in her hand then rolled it up and jammed it back into her pocket.
There was nothing else she could do here and didn't particularly want to be around that policeman any longer, so she left.
Sitting in her car, she contacted Maisie and enquired after the condition of her patient.
Tuki thought about telling her head nurse everything but decided she would wait until she had got back to Hope.
One thing she couldn't put off, however, was reporting everything she had discovered to Hope's mayor. It was a long call.
Children have excellent reactions, which is why Finny went from sitting to running long before an adult would have even started to move.
As it turned out, the snake, although huge, was a constrictor and not immediately as dangerous as if it had been of the venomous variety.
Finny, Casper and Onetooth watched as the snake, denied its meal, slid back into the long grass and high weeds.
Onetooth picked up a moss-covered brick. Finny looked at it.
"What's that for?"
"In case we see another one."
Finny was about to say that there were plenty of bricks around, but then she thought about it and realised she would sooner he had a brick in his hand than have to bend to pick one up.
The trio continued on their way, keeping low whenever they came to somewhere where the high weeds weren't. Finny knew that pretty soon the others were going to ask where they were going.
She was still working on that.
If Worm's had dug up a body, then he had to have been somewhere where people buried bodies,
and it had to be somewhere close because even Worms couldn't get away with walking through town with a body... Unless it was inna box or something, Reason chimed in.
Even so, images of the graveyard she had gone to with Joe and Ned came to mind. That had been all neat and grass cut and headstones and paths and everything.
That meant people and that meant anyone, especially a kid, digging up a corpse was going to be noticed, box or no box.
The hissed warning interrupted her thoughts, and all three orphans immediately dropped into a crouch. Finny looked around at Casper, who had given the ancient warning.
Casper whispered, over-mouthing the words. As he pointed the way they had been travelling.