All remaining students of Trinity Faith School waited without coats on the grassless sports field. The children, so nearly not children, stood in a dozen silent rows with their hands red with cold by their sides. Uniformed police made sweeps up and down the human lanes, sometimes stopping to grab arms and pore over hands.
“Is this how you imagined your job turning out?” The chief watched atop a makeshift platform drawn together from shipping palettes.
“Can’t say I did,” the officer beside answered, ashen faced. “If we find all the culprits who consecrated the buried altar here,” he rubbed one of his darkened eyes, “we can prevent further sacrifices.”
An officer on the ground dragged a boy still in his early teens out of rank by the hair. He fought not at all, his shirt sleeve up over his elbow exposing all manner of telltale scabs and deep maroon grooves. As they marched him out to the podium in front of the other children, a smile crept across his youthful face.
“Such a waste,” the chief sighed. She looked down to the darkly stained chopping block by her feet, and handed the axe to her subordinate for a fourth time. “Try to do this one cleanly.”