This week’s prompt:
Glass, ash, a caterpillar
It was not the typical murder scene. The body was a still smoldering pile of ash with just legs and slippered feet left to prove it had been a person at all. Judging by the legs and feet, the victim was a male. An ashtray sat on the wrought-iron table next to a ceramic mug of coffee. The mug was still warm to the touch. A cigarette was burned down to the filter in it. The condo was owned by a Mr. James Davenport. No spouse, no children. No pets.
The murderer has somehow destroyed only the man’s body. The brick patio and its unkempt foliage was untouched. How had they done it? And why would anyone choose to murder someone in such a bizarre fashion? Or maybe it was not a murder at all. That might be jumping to conclusions. But what else could it be?
“Spontaneous human combustion,” a voice at his elbow said. The pitch was high and almost nasal with a strong hint of an accent. New York, or New Jersey maybe. Edward looked around and saw no one other than the scene techs. He knew all of them and this was not a voice he recognized.
He watched Jera bag another sample in the area cleared by the photographers. She did not react to the voice, nor did the photographer or the other two techs. He looked around some more, but was about to accept that he might be insane when it spoke again.
“He was sitting here smoking and having his morning coffee and poof! Up in smoke!” the voice said. It sounded like it was right beside his ear. Edward turned his head slowly, angling his eyes as far left as he could. There on his shoulder was a brown and black fuzzy Caterpillar.
Edward gave a shout that was high pitched enough to call bats and swatted at the woolly bear on his shoulder in a panic. Still screaming, his hip hit the table, and he staggered, catching himself on the chair, his hand moving right through the deceased’s pile of ashes.
He did not stop screaming until the gentle voiced man gave him an injection in the back of the ambulance. It wasn’t like the dead man needed it now.
No one understood what had happened.