Sergeant Wayne Patterson of the Burnaby Police Force jumped up from his creaking swivel chair and banged his beefy fist on the desk. Papers scattered from the impact, his ruddy face slowly mottling as he vented his frustration. “Dammit! We can’t afford to lose another two men. We’re understaffed as is and all morale is shot to hell.”

Captain Rod Garring sighed wearily from behind his desk. Double shifts, lack of sleep and the efforts of maintaining a semblance of peace in the city had aged him beyond his fifty years. His once thick chestnut hair was prematurely gray. Cropped short to conceal his thinning scalp, it severely framed the deeply etched lines of his face. Shadows circled his bloodshot hazel eyes echoing the darkness consuming his spirit. Cramped for hours within the dreary confines of the station, battling the never-ending war of shrinking manpower and morale, it took a supreme effort to deal with Patterson’s rage. The man’s petulant voice grated on his ears to the point of discomfort, and he felt the familiar blood-pressure induced headache throbbing at his temples, his heart beating far too fast. Though it shamed him to admit it, there were times when he felt like fleeing into the night when faced with an outburst from his officers. He forced himself to arrange the scattered paperwork on his desk and stared disapprovingly at the sergeant.

“Sit down, Patterson,” he said tensely. “Making a scene won’t bring those men back.”

Patterson sank grumbling into the chair, his portly body overflowing the battered seat. Unable to keep still, he ran his hand repeatedly through lank dirty blond hair complemented by an equally lank blond moustache.

“I agree we can’t afford to lose any more men but it’s too late to do anything about it now,” Garring said. “We’ve lost two good cops. Tomorrow we’ll probably lose more. Anger won’t help matters.” He retrieved a manila file precariously perched on his in-tray. “I’ve read your report. It seems unlikely that Young could have killed these officers alone. He must have had an accomplice. I also feel that the report is somewhat exaggerated in respect to the carnage described. What’s wrong with you? This sounds like nonsense from some B-rated science fiction film.”

Patterson’s dark eyes flashed indignantly. “With all due respect, Captain, if you read the reports that came in from Vancouver, you’ll find a similar scenario.”

Garring sighed and glanced at the stack of reports littering his desk. His head ached from the low intensity lighting and the stale air. Not even the background bustle of the station was a comfort to him anymore. “Do you have any idea how many reports I receive each day, Patterson? I barely have time to sift through the most urgent, let alone the lower priority.”

“I would hardly call the murder of two cops low priority!” Patterson cried. He reached for a battered manila folder lying on top of the stack and leafed through a sheaf of papers. He pulled one sheet out and handed it to Garring. “Read this, sir.”

The Captain squinted at the paper then reached for his glasses and read more intently. He shook his head as he scanned the text. “What the hell is this bullshit? More slasher stuff. What are we dealing with here? Some kind of demonic cult? You know Young quite well. Do you honestly think he had anything to do with all this? For God’s sake! He’s one of our best men! You think he’s suddenly turned into some kind of monster?”