by A Brooks
The beginnings of a draft for a book
| Know Fear
"Know Fear"... I woke from a restless sleep, the image still in my head, a bumper sticker on the back of a large black truck, racing away from me as I stood in total darkness. I looked to my right and saw my husband, still sleeping soundly, apparently not disturbed by me jerking out of my slumber. The dream that had startled me is one that I have been having for quite some time now. Not necessarily a nightmare, just dark and ominous. There are no people, or distinct places, only the black truck. The only thing distinctive about the truck is the bumper sticker. Looking at the clock I realized that it was merely 2:27 and I had hours before I had to get up. I closed my eyes and tried to force myself back to sleep.
Three hours later, still laying in partial darkness my alarm went off and it was time for me to start my day. Sliding out of bed so I would wake my still sleeping husband, I put my robe on and went in the kitchen to prepare breakfast. As I stood in the kitchen collecting the ingredients to make omelets, I had a vision of the truck that terrorizes me in my sleep. Ive never seen the driver of the evil vehicle in my dreams, not that the vehicle has done anything evil in my dreams, perhaps the next time, if there is a next time, the driver will be visible to me and the anonymity of the truck will be solved.
Broderick woke up just before breakfast was done, he has a knack for that. He walked in the kitchen, gave me a hug while i was finishing the eggs. "How did you sleep Babe?", His normal first thing in the morning question. I lied " I slept wonderfully, How did you sleep?" I couldn't tell him about the dream, it would concern him, and it was really nothing to be concerned about. Half way through breakfast the phone rang, Looking at the caller id and seeing a familiar number I answered. "Lizabeth, we need you to come in early this morning, we have a situation" the only words I dread to hear, and I've heard them more frequently lately. Not waiting for an explanation of the situation, I gave the normal response "Give me Twenty minutes and Ill be there"
I guess you are wondering who I am and why I am writing this.You already know that my first name is Lizabeth and, that I am married, I'm capable of having strange dreams, and I have a job of some sort. So I'm going to attempt to fill in the blanks. I work as a pro-filer/investigator for a local police department. I have the minimum of "formal" training, but have been blessed with a virtual "sixth sense", and no its not like the movie I don't see dead people and the dead do not communicate with me. I simply have the ability to determine the mode of operation or "signature" of a criminal by the way in which he or she commits a crime. Nothing special really just something I was apparently born to do. My wonderful husband is an Arson investigator for the state. So basically we are public servants to the core. there are times when I wish that I had chosen a different profession, its those times that I have to remember that I did not choose my profession I was born for it.
Being called into work does not a fun morning make, even more so if you are me. The reasons that I am called into work are never pleasant, most of the time I have to see things that people are not meant to see. The absolute animal side of human nature, if you would like to think it is having any type of human traits other than most of the things I see have to have been done by someone, or rather something that has opposable thumbs. Today, of course would not be any different, if the dream was meant to forewarn me of what I was walking into, or even if it was not, it had.
As quickly as humanly possible I got dressed and headed out the door. Broderick was waiting at the door with my thermos of coffee in hand, he is such a wonderful man. "Be safe honey, I love you" with a quick kiss, I was out the door and on my way to face whatever hell had broken loose in our small city. Taking a quick inventory of the equipment I had in the SUV and making note of what I may need an officer that was already on scene to go to the station and retrieve, I realized that I had some how misplaced my camera bag. All crime scenes require pictures, I prefer to have pictures from every angle and of everything, I probably take more pictures than the normal investigator, but who says I have to be normal. You would be amazed at the things a picture will catch that you would most likely over look on the initial examination of the scene. A quick call to dispatch alleviated the camera situation and another camera was en route to the location by the time the phone call ended. Still unsure of what I was walking into the brief conversation with the dispatcher, although I had not asked what was going on, I could here the pity in his voice. That is never a good sign.
Ten minutes later I arrived at the scene, whatever had happened had made it necessary for nearly the entire squad to be on scene. Before I even made it out of my vehicle, I had the Chief of police standing at my side. Taking into consideration the time of day and the fact that the Chief does not respond to calls on a regular basis, I could conclude that either he had personal stake in the situation, or what had happened inside was so horrendous that that even he had to scope it out. Either way it was a sign that it was going to be a long and difficult day.
"What took you so long Lizabeth?" inquired Chief Billings, Looking at my watch I realized that it had taken me only 15 minutes from my initial phone call to me arriving at the door step of purgatory. "Well Chief, according to my watch I'm five minutes ahead of schedule" he was not amused. Oh well, even in the face of death and destruction its better to stay in good humor, or you will literally loose your mind. As he began to give me a quick run down on what I would be walking into, I began looking around the house. Studying the windows and doors, the only thing that really stood out was a slit in a screen on the kitchen window. The window was small and unless a midget had committed whatever atrocity was waiting within, it was not a sign of forced entry. Nothing on the outside of the residence, except for of course the patrol cars, would lead you to believe that anything out of the ordinary had happened over night.
Ducking under the crime scene tape that was already around the immediate perimeter of the house, I made my entrance. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was seeing. On the wall immediately to my right was a smeared bloody hand print, not that this is that unusual during a struggle, but this hand print was only about four feet up the wall, and was small enough to be the hand of a child. The room began to spin and I had the sudden urge to puke. Why had no one told me that I was walking in a crime scene that involved a child? I quickly regained my balance and resumed my initial scan of the room. With nothing else unusual in the front room I made my way down the hall, looking into open doors, making quick scans and opening closed doors for the same reason. Nothing else unusual was seen until I made it to the last room. It was apparent that this room belonged to the child that had left the hand print. The child's room was in the normal disarray that you would expect to find any child's room, what drew my attention was on the far wall next to an open window, "Know Fear". I felt my blood run cold. Was I dreaming? Had my nightmare become my reality. At first glance I thought that it had been written in blood, on closer inspection I realized that it was written with a red marker. Still reeling from the discovery of those dreaded words, I backed my way out of the room. I still had more rooms to look through, hoping to find an answer to who had written on the wall.
Making my way back down the hall, I was stopped by Officer Warren, "Lizabeth, are you ok?" "Sure Warren, its just another day in Paradise" rolling my eyes. I couldn't let him know how the words in written on the wall had affected me. The best thing for me to do, until I put this puzzle together, was to gather more pieces, and not show any signs of personal involvement. "Warren, where is the child?" He gave me a look of sadness, I was sure then that the child had been the victim. "We can't find the child." "What do you mean you cant find the child? Look at all the blood, the smeared hand print, the blood on the carpet. There has to be a body!" I pushed passed him and continued my investigative search of the house. On the opposite in of the house was the master bedroom. The source of all the blood was then located. Both parents were still laying in bed minus the blood on sheets they appeared to be sleeping. Pulling back the sheets I located the obvious cause of death, gunshot wounds directly to the chest. The only way to pull this off on both parties in the same bed would be to have a silencer on the killer's weapon of choice. Even then it would be difficult, I then noticed that the female victim had earplugs, obviously she was a light sleeper, and they would have muffled all the noise. Looking around the room for some sign of anything, I was not shocked to learn that nothing was out of place, nothing obviously taken from the jewelry box on the dresser. The motive behind this wasn't just the thrill of the kill, it went deeper. I was not certain of what had actual gone on at this house, the motive behind the brutality that had occurred was not clear. I was not completely sure if my confusion was solely based on the message written on the wall, or if the case was simply that perplexing.
After I finished my initial analysis of the scene, I made my rounds for a second time, this time I was taking pictures and collecting evidence. Focusing more on the child's room than the actual room where the double murder had taken place. The child could be somewhere, with someone doing God knows what to him. To me that was more important than the actual murder, those people where dead and gone and I could do nothing to save them, but I still had a chance to save their little boy. I focused my attention first to the writing on the wall. I took a picture of the writing to submit to a local Graphologist, someone who analyzes handwriting samples. I took my time looking under the bed and in the closet, hoping that I would find something that we could link to the child or to who might have taken him. In the closet I found nothing of interest, but under the bed I found a shirt that was to large for a child to wear and it was covered with blood. I put the shirt in an evidence bag in hopes that the blood would belong to the assailant, although this was highly unlikely because there were no signs of any type of struggle in the parents room. I was still pondering where the blood that had been on the wall in the front room had come from. It did not seem likely for someone to take a child that was inured after they had killed the parents. If anything they would have left the child there to bleed to death or they would have finished what they had started.
In the front room I took a sample of the blood that was on the wall, and took a picture of the hand print in hopes that the child would be located unharmed we would be able to match the prints. Hopefully the blood would either match the assailant or the parents. I again checked the front door for any signs of forced entry and found none. This was not entirely surprising, since it had been a cool night one of the windows, probably the one in the child's room, had been left open. After the front room I focused my attention to the parent's room. I found nothing more out of the ordinary from what I had seen earlier. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a gun under the dresser. The possibility that this belong to the trespasser was very slim, but there was still a chance. Taking a closer look at the firearm it appeared that it had in fact been recently fired, but I was sure that the forensics team could possibly pull more evidence I could.
Looking at my watch I realized that I had been at the house for only two hours, it had felt like an eternity, the reality that there was a maniac out there with a child that didn't belong to him, was weighing on me. We had to find more evidence to help us determine where to look for the child. I again found myself in the child's room trying to find something with his name on it. In the back of the closet I found his back pack, inside were several coloring pages and a school folder. Finally, a name "Brendan Birkland" his last name, as we would find out later, was different than the two adults we had found laying in their bed. This, of course, added another question to the already towering list of questions surrounding the events that had occurred in this house.The folder did answer or at least give us the source that we needed to answer the question. We had been unable to find any pictures in the house of a child, but with the folder we knew what school he went to and whose class he was in. Hopefully the school would have at least one picture of him. Thankfully it was a weekday so there would be a major problem in getting information from the school. School records might also have the answer to who Brendan's parents are since it was probable that they weren't the people on the other end of the house.
Now it was time to attempt to identify the adults. The name on the mailbox said "Coyle", but there was no guarantee that was the name of the occupants. We had been unable to locate any form of identification for the adults in the house. No wallets or purses, no car in the driveway, its as if they just appeared one day. At any rate after an hour of searching we gave up the hope of finding any traditional identification and were going to leave it up to the forensics team to do a finger print comparison with the ones in the FBI database. I hoped that they would have prints on file somewhere. Having given up completely given up hope I was surprised to find a prescription bottle in the bathroom with a name on it "Melodie Cromwell". Hopefully This was the name of the female in the bed, and one loose end was tied up. Now to identify the man in the bed, and who would have the motive to kill them and take the child that was in their care.
On the way back to the station to start my paperwork I was trying like crazy to put together the dream and the crime scene. I have very rarely had dreams that actually came true or had any similarities to actual events. The truck in my dream may not have any significance, or it could be the vehicle of the killer/kidnapper. Maybe there was more than one person responsible for the carnage that I had spent my morning dealing with. But why would someone feel the need to kill two people and take their child? It seemed to me that it would only make sense that Brendan was not their child, and they were caring for him for his parents or as a fosters parents for the county. That made it even more important to find out who Brendan's parents where, if not the couple in the bed, and what the circumstances were surrounding the placement of him in the care of Ms. Cromwell.
Arriving at the station, with a set agenda in my head, I was not at all surprised to see a news crew parked outside the front door. I was trying to evade their questions, when the Chief approached my car door. "Lizabeth, as far as I am concerned you are not ready to make a statement to the press". What a relief, "So, Chief are you going to make a statement or are you just going to let them sit outside the front door all day"? "Well, as far as I'm concerned," he turned and squinted in their direction, "they can sit out there all day if they have nothing better to do, but I'm not talking to them until we get a better grasp on the situation at hand." With his normal amount of control and dignity, he turned and walked towards the news crew. By his body language and the expressions on their faces, I could tell that they weren't going to get the story that they had hoped. I watched as they got back into there SUV, they were almost out of the parking lot when I emerged from my car. Thank goodness I didn't have to face them, I would have plenty of opportunity to be on the news later.
Sitting in my office staring at the wall, I was perplexed, the message that had been on the wall at the crime scene, seemed to be burned into my brain. Every time I closed my eyes I could see it, just like I was standing in front of it. I began questioning myself, Was I developing some time of psychic ability? I think not, but its still an angle to look at. The fact that I have had the dream more than once and this is the first scene the message had been at, to me, proves that it was not a psychic dream but more of a coincidence. What if I had seen the vehicle with the sticker and for some reason it had just been filed into my subconscious. Intriguing, now to figure out where I was when I saw the vehicle. I have been having the dream for more than a week so it had to have been at least a week when I first saw that damned bumper sticker.
"Lizabeth!, What the hell are you doing"? startled out of deep thought I looked up to see my supervisor standing at my door. " Working on a double murder. What do you think I'm doing"?
"Well It looks like to me you are staring blankly into space, Ive been standing here for five minutes waiting for you to snap out of it".
"Jack, I don't have time to explain my process to you so Why don't you just leave me alone so I can make my conclusions and get my report done. I only have about 36 hours to figure this out and catch the scumbag that committed these heinous crimes, and less than that to find Brendan"