“Wolves are extinct in Korea, Officer Moon.”
Yongsun leveled the other woman with a steady gaze over the glasses sliding down the bridge of her nose.
Officer Moon didn’t let the severe stare deter her from sliding a curious hand along the spine of a thick tome detailing the history of the categorizations of Canidae. Yongsun swallowed a little as she watched a pale finger brush the spine slowly as if embedding the indentations of the title into her fingertip.
“A wild dog maybe?”
Yongsun sighed as she glanced back down at the pictures scattered over her desk. Officer Moon Byulyi had come to her office at the Seodaemun Natural History Museum in order to get an expert’s advice on the mauling of the second victim in the past month in a violent incident involving fangs and claws. Yongsun picked up the picture again and squinted at the bite marks. Sloppy. Whoever had done this hadn’t exactly tried to hide their handiwork.
“Maybe a wild dog.”
“You don’t sound so sure.”
Yongsun glanced up and was startled at how close Officer Moon was, hands planted firmly in the large work desk. She was looking at the pictures Yongsun had dropped back onto the table.
“Dogs don’t kill like this. I think the animal is smarter than a dog.”
“So a wolf?”
Officer Moon paused and raised her head, meeting Yongsun’s gaze with such intensity that she was grateful that she had her glasses as a slight buffer.
“What do you think it is? Honestly?”
Yongsun swallowed and couldn’t help the way her teeth sharpened a bit in . She wondered if Officer Moon had caught the moment that her eyes flashed golden.
“It seems you are probing me for an answer you already have, Officer Moon. Why don’t you tell me what you think it is?”
Officer Moon raised a hand and brushed her bangs behind her ear, revealing a silver bracelet on her wrist. The sight made Yongsun clench her jaw even tighter as she ducked her head, feeling the weight of the identical bracelet burn into her skin hidden from view. She couldn’t quite hide the feeling of wonder that bubbled in her chest at the thought of little Moon Byulyi keeping her bracelet she’d made with her best friend at the tender age of eleven years old. Not knowing that said friend was a monster.
“I think that if I told you what I thought it was you’d think I was crazy.”
Yongsun sat straighter in her chair, bringing her hands into her lap to still her shaking. What hid Sunhae from Byulyi, she wondered idly as they met each other’s gazes. Was it the nearly seventeen years of time? How was it that Byulyi had forgotten her when all Yongsun could remember was Byulyi and her smile?
“Both victims are missing their livers.”
“So you think they were a part of some black market organ selling scheme?”
“I didn’t say that.” Officer Moon held up one of the pictures that had the clearest display of bite marks on the victim’s backside. Yongsun couldn’t help the way watered a little at the sight of blood and gore before her. Hyejin’s words echoed in her ears. She could dress up in human clothes and pretend to be normal but the monster was always lurking and so very hungry.
“Do you know what a gumiho is?”
Yongsun tried to hide her nerves by lifting a picture and examining it closer, obscuring her face and her trembling hands.
“You think the murderer is a mythical fox demon?”
“Gumihos eat livers. And they’re foxes.”
“With that kind of logic you could tie practically anyone to this crime. Should we get Samshin Grandmother and goblins into the mix?”
Officer Moon rolled her eyes a little as she snatched the picture from Yongsun’s hands, hurriedly stuffing the stack back into its original manila envelope.
“As a police officer it is my job to ensure that I leave no stone un-turned.”
“Even the impossible mythological stones?” Yongsun muttered, tilting her head a bit as she studied the other woman. Officer Moon just gave her a crooked smile and something twisted painfully in her chest at the sight.
“It’s my duty as a police officer to help. Being close-minded is a disservice to the victims. Besides, it’s not like I’m saying the actual culprit is a gumiho. I think the coincidences of the lore connecting with the way the victim was mauled are a bit too coincidental, Professor Kim.”
Yongsun just hummed as she tilted her head and looked at the other woman, careful to hide just how sharp her teeth were.