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The smell of burnt garbage clung heavily in the air, the end of it tainted with the sour stench of decay. Mark cringed. He was down the alley from the crime scene and he could already smell it. This was going to be rough.
With a nod, the blue shirt officer lifted up the yellow tape, waving for them to go under.
The crumbling asphalt was wet, but not muddy like he expected. It looked like it had been cleaned. Mark stepped carefully, passing an open dumpster and a mound of black trash bags. The crime scene techs were going to have to process all of it.
A photographer made slow circles around an old metal drum, camera flash almost blinding in the dim light of the alley. The barrel was obviously used for fires—and often. Its red paint was either peeled away or mostly blackened, a few rust holes showing in the bottom. The reek of decay rolled off the drum in waves. Mark plucked a cloth out of his coat pocket, holding it over his nose and mouth. It only gave him a small measure of relief.
Slowly, Mark peered into the canister.