‘The Hand’ by Cheryl Russell

Eve screamed, causing her husband Brian to rush to her side.

“What is it love?” he queried, concerned about the deathly pallor on her face.

“L..l…look,” she said shakily, pointing to the ground.

Nothing could have prepared him for the sight he saw. They had been walking their dog in the woods, so at first he thought his wife was screaming at the sight of a snake until he followed her hand gesturing to the ground. It was half buried but still obvious as to what it was. The dog stood their barking and pawing at the ground.

“Come on love, I think we should leave here and call the police. There is no signal in these woods.”

His wife didn’t move, frozen, completely rooted to the spot, unable to take her gaze away from the ground.

He took her hand and tried to encourage her away from the sight before them. Eventually she turned away, horror still displayed on her face.

Once out of the woods he called the police. They were instructed to stay exactly where they were and await there arrival. It wasn’t long before sirens could be heard, getting louder as they approached.

The police were quick to assess the situation. Eve was visibly shaking so PC Lace stayed with her while Brian showed the other officer where they had found the body part. Seeing what was before him he wasn’t surprised by Eve’s reaction. As hardened as he was, he still felt shocked by the severed hand that lay on the ground. He got on his radio to get the forensics out and alert CID. He led Brian away from the sight before them and took down the address of the couple so they could take a statement later.

Reinforcements were soon there and work was begun on securing the crime scene. A thorough search of the area was begun to find the rest of the body. Not just police but they had the dogs and their handlers out as well.

Looking closely at the hand they could see it was rough, hardened and calloused by manual work. They guessed by the size of it that it was male. It looked as if it had been sawn through as it was a clean cut across it, no jagged edges.

On the computer back at the police station, DC Sharp checked the computer for any missing persons, but none fitted the description of the hand.

Extensive searching of the area came up with no further body parts. So either the body was scattered over different locations or there was another explanation for the hand. Close inspection had shown a darkened, dried up pool of blood around the area of the hand.

DCI Lily after being consulted by DC Sharp asked, “Have you checked the hospitals for any accidents that may have happened. Judging by the state of the hand it’s possible a manual labourer may have had an accident and it became amputated from the body.”

“I’ll get straight on it sir. I hadn’t thought of that.”

DC Sharp left the room and decided to go to the local A&E department himself to question staff. He knew it would be useless picking up the phone and asking, they would just say they didn’t know and claim confidentiality. He would have more luck going in person.

He was kept waiting for what seemed like forever before the consultant became available. As far as the doctor was concerned he couldn’t remember any accidents, such as the one described. He did agree, however, to check the computer for details of any injuries occurring when he was off duty. This too showed no result.

DC Sharp returned to the station, disheartened, he had hoped for some lead to go on but there appeared to be nothing. It was later when he had a thought. Could it be that the hand belonged to a homeless person? That would explain the state of the hand and also the absence of any accident and missing person. It didn’t, however, explain the absence of the rest of the body. Without anything further to go on there wasn’t much he could do.

It was a few days later when another call was received from a distraught walker in the same woods. The other side of the woods had revealed a body missing a hand. DC Sharp went out to have a look. Sure enough the body matched the description of the hand. In his one remaining hand was a crumpled piece of paper which on further inspection turned out to be a letter. There was an address to follow up. It didn’t give any clue to the identity of the body but at least they had a starting point.

He felt sad, for this homeless man must have been dead for some time, but no one missed him, no one mourned his passing. What a lonely existence it must have been.

Copyright 2016 by Cheryl Russell. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

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