The enormity of the situation notwithstanding, DCI Geoffrey Thomas felt himself somewhat detached from what was going on about him. He fully expected to wake up at any moment, or else to be exposed as the victim of some particularly sick TV prank show. And yet he continued to peer down into the newly excavated pit, flanked on either side by his two 'guests', each of them fully encapsulated in their garish, yellow anti-contamination suits, the monotonous wheeze of their respirators causing him to drift further into his daydream.
He was reminiscing over his time here at Capel Penrhos: twelve relatively succesful years during which the sparse community had been dragged up from its knees and given something to focus upon other than the mindless circle of boredom and benefits. The vibrant youth programme that had so recently boasted a number of successes; the town council that he had helped to re-establish. The defunct little mining town had been gifted with a future to look forward to. But now....
"Inspector Thomas!" the man, Jackson, had been speaking to him, "are you with us?"
"Yes, yes," Thomas hurriedly recollected himself, "of course. It's just...difficult, you know?"
"We understand that, Inspector," the woman, Parish, sympathised, "but it's vitally important that we obtain all the facts without delay. You can see how critical the situation is."
"So," interjected Jackson, "when exactly was this excavation opened up?"
Thomas hastily flicked through his faithful notebook to the pages where he had taken the statements of the Griffiths brothers, "ahh, that would have been last Wednesday, yes."
"Just five days," Parish mused, her voice muffled by the suits mask, "It barely seems possible."
"Do you really believe that this was the cause of it, then?" Thomas asked.
Jackson turned to face him, appearing almost comical in the baggy yellow suit, "we've had the results through now, and yes, this is where it spread from."
The Griffiths boys should never have been here in the first place, of course. They had no planning permission, no building consent. All they had on their side was the fact that the farmland did actually belong to them, an inheritance from their Uncle Bryn, dead some five years now. Still, they should have known better.
When Thomas had first arrived here it had been, unintentionally, right in the midst of the foot and mouth outbreak. That had been a hard few weeks, and yet they had done what was necessary. Before them now was the site of the giant trench that had been opened up to cater for the mass animal burial, mainly cows, some sheep. Its location was well known locally and it had become an un-official no go zone, the bridleways and nearby public footpaths unused and grown over. Until Ted and Brian arrived on the scene, that is, and decided that it was just the quaintest little spot for a few holiday cottages. They had unearthed more than they bargained for, and now they were dead, together with about thirty others, so far.
He nodded to himself, "I've done all this before, I know the drill."
"No," Jackson stated, "you don't.