Pullman hadn’t been wrong, Domingo saw, hard on Bradley’s heels; there was the patch of tarry roof in the picture. And in the middle of it….
That’s steel. Melted steel.
The remnants of sliced cuffs, if his eyes weren’t fooling him. Only how?
“They must have melted them somewhere else.” The fire marshal’s tone was flat, half in shock. “If those things… you couldn’t reach that temp without setting the whole roof on fire, there’s no way-”
“Special Forces with a laser?” Domingo mused.
“That’s not funny!”
Domingo let his eyes narrow. “I’m not laughing. We were just at a scene that stank of human traffickers, Marshal. And here we find a pair of their restraints, handled just as roughly as their roof.”
“You… don’t….” Bradley grimaced, looking between the cuffs and the agent. “Okay, Dominguez. What have you got?”
“I’m not sure yet. But….” Domingo turned to the door they’d come through, crouching to eye the lock. “Fresh scratches. Someone picked this lock, recently. Old housebreaker’s trick,” he added, glancing back at the marshal. “People tend to put their strongest locks at ground level. So if you have the time and the nerve to climb, you can find an easier way in. I would say our unknowns dropped those cuffs on your roof, broke in….”
Bradley followed him back down to the bunk level, where the chief had put the pack on a table. And otherwise left it untouched, Domingo was glad to see, as he ducked down to look under the cot and came up with a strand of long red hair. “And apparently hid under your beds,” he said wryly. “No one noticed?”
“We had a busy night,” Chief Lohan said, almost mildly. “Labor Day weekend.”
Oh yes; the crazies, drunks, and flat-out malicious would be out in force. And any kid in trouble, real trouble, would have come to a Safe Place like a firehouse to avoid them-
Except this isn’t the Midwest, Domingo reminded himself. Safe Place doesn’t set up shop out here. Damn it.
“I don’t get it,” Pullman frowned. “Why would the guys who gassed us hide under our beds?”
“Because they weren’t the ones who gassed you.” Bradley eyed the agent. “You think they’re the ones who set off the alarm.” He flung up his hands at the impossibly shattered sprinkler heads. “How?”