As they walked back towards where the body was, he wondered where the other attack had taken place. He’d have to read up on it as soon as he got back to the station. A maize field was a perfect environment in which to hide a body – seasonally almost impenetrable especially now while the crop was taller than he was and just about to be consumed by monstrous forage harvesters, that devoured everything in their path. If the girl hadn’t seen the birds, the harvesters would have gone through, leaving nothing. The thought stopped him in his tracks.


‘You might have been hurt.’ He was addressing the girl, who once lost in the maize, would have been invisible to the drivers of the forage harvesters.


She shrugged. ‘Well, I wasn’t. I think it’s this way – it’s where most of the birds are.’


Glancing up, he saw that she was right. The maize was dense around them as they found their way through, pushing aside the woody stems, every now and then glancing up at the birds circling above. Up close, Jack was astonished at how many there were.


In front of him, the girl stopped suddenly. ‘It’s just through there. I’ll wait here.’


Apprehension had replaced her previous air of self-assurance, understandably, he thought, as she stood back to let him pass her. Jack nodded. ‘Of course.’


Just a few metres on, the maize started to thin out. Then as he glanced sideways through the leaves, he saw a hand.