Someone is killing them.
The air was damp on the final day of April, the distant sound of church bells passed over the relatively quiet city. Remnants of winter could still be scene in sheets of ice that covered patches of road, sending drivers spinning as they hit the frozen covering. Across the city, sleepy residents were turning off lights as they did the last check of household locks before pulling up the covers, while others were stiffening yawns as they started cold cars for the graveyard shifts. College students flicked back well-used pages in a final effort to study before their heads hit the table, while those of a younger generation made the mad dash over cold floors to escape the monsters under the bed.
Not far from the busy city, a quiet neighbourhood slept in peace. This neighbourhood was like many others. Each morning parents got up and made their morning coffees, enjoying the small amount of quiet before making the journey back up the stairs to awake tired children. After kissing loved ones goodbye, one will make the crawl through morning traffic while the other cut Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. Siblings argued over mundane things during breakfast before putting on different coloured shoes and grabbing worn school bags. Feet trampled as school kids either climbed into cars or buses before being dropped off at school as parents made their way to work. Each day was filled with overweight bosses, food and mountains of paperwork before rushing home to collect relieved kids before speeding off to after school activities. In the hours before dinner was served, children raced through homework, hoping that they'll make it outside before the streetlights came on or before their favourite TV shows started, while adults greeted each other after a long day. As the sun was starting to set, dinner was thrown together with leftover foods and was shovelled down by hungry mouths. After their stomachs were full, children scampered off to different rooms to get ready for bed while the parents cleaned away dirty dishes. Once the sky had darkened, the parents put small bodies to bed as they settled down for the night, before they made their way back downstairs for the late night programs. Though unlike every other night, a woman with flying red hair ran down quiet streets, with a silent figure moving behind her.
Footsteps echoed down the dark street, slapping hard against the wet ground. Laboured breathe exhales into the cool spring air as the woman ran down the quiet street. Pausing at the crossroad, she looked back, her blood stained hair flew as the sharp wind caught a hold of it. Her glassy eyes searched the dark streets as she looked around, trying to see if her attacker had followed. Sucking in cold air she tried to fill her lungs, clouds surrounded her face as she spat out used oxygen, the clouds mingling with the misty air that dominated the street.
Not seeing any movement, she turned back to the dimly lit crossroad as she tried to think which way to run. Pausing, unsure of what terrors hid behind closed gates, she wiped her bloody hands across her tear streaked face before slowly limping towards the streetlight. Once in the light, the young woman shuddered as she looked around trying to find something, anything to help her. Spotting a pay phone on the opposite corner, she looked back down the streets before making the slow painful journey towards the little box. Her footsteps were loud and unsteady as they stumbled off the curb. The wind howled, nearly masking the sound of a second set of steady footsteps as they joined the injured woman's.
Hearing the movement over the wind, the woman whimpered as she turned her head to look over her shoulder, her insane looking eyes searching for the steady footsteps. Her eyes widened as she saw the man move slowly in the backlight of the streetlight. Her breathe stiffened as she saw the shadowed face shift towards her. The red head cried out as she stumbled away in frantic panic, broken steps as they crashed into a puddle of murky water in the middle of the road. Spinning towards the phone she tried to move faster, her injured leg dragging behind her, as she made a desperate attempt to move quicker. Struggling across the road she was surprised when she was able to reach the phone as she looked back to where the man last stood. Seeing empty space, her bright blue eyes frantically searched, flicking in every direction trying to locate him.
Seeing no sight of the shadowy man she moved her cleaner hand towards the phone, keeping her eyes peeled on the quiet roads. Hitting the glass with her fingers, she moved back slowly, puffs of air clouding around her face.
"Where is it?" she muttered, her eyes moving insanely again. "Where is it?"
Shifting her feet a little, she stretched her fingers again as cold, latex covered fingers snaked around her wrist. With a startled scream, she whipped around sending her blood caked hair across her face as she caught sight of the piercing black eyes of her attacker.
"No! No, please! No!"
With a cry, she made a futile attempt to free her arm from the iron grip, as she hurled her other bloody hand towards his face.
A loud crack echoed down the quiet streets as her hand connected with his cold leathery cheek, racking her short broken nails across his face. Startled by her sudden strike, the grip on her wrist loosened a fracture. Not much but enough to for her to rip it from his grasp. Striking him again, he staggered back, his hand knocking the phone from it holder as he tried to regain his footing. Seeing that she had a chance, she launched herself at the phone now hanging from its cord close to the ground. Turning her attention towards the numbers, she slammed bloodied fingers onto the keypad, desperately trying to call for help. Pressing the phone to her face as she press the first two numbers, rough hands grabbed the back of her blood stained dress, tossing her to the ground like she weighted nothing.
Her screams bounced down the street has her head collided with the wet ground, blood seeping from the impacted area above her temple. Laying there in a daze, her arms shot out to grip the ground as she felt pressure on her ankles as he began to drag her towards him, crying out as she felt the fabric of the thin dress tear on the road.
'No! No, not like this! Please! Not like this!'
Her body was violently pinned to the ground, as her attacker climbed on top of her. Blood sprayed over the dangling phone as the man brought the back of his hand down ensuring that it collided harshly with the woman's cheek. Using all the strength she could manage, she managed to free one of her bruised arms to unbalance her attacker as she pushed him to one side; she tried once again to reach the fallen phone. Moving on hands and knees, she half crawled, half dragged herself towards the phone as the man threw himself at her legs again. Kicking back with her good leg, her heel striking him in the shoulder, unbalancing him again as she struggled. Using the edge of the phone box frame to heave herself up, she grabbed the phone in slippery hand and hit the correct numbers with more force than needed. Her fingers leaving bloody smear marks as she cradled the phone to her face.
In a final attempt to drag her away, the man gripped the mattered red hair, yanking it towards him as he stood behind her, successfully making her loose her grip on the phone. The moonlight glittered off the edge of the blade as he wrenched it out from the back of his pants, the sharp edge slicing the thick fabric in his haste. Stepping towards her fallen body, the steel blade glistened.
"Please! Please, don't do this! Please! Don't!" the woman begged.
The man mouth turned into a twisted smile as he moved to straddle her, the knife raised high in the night sky.
Her eyes widened for a brief second as she turned her head towards the dangling voice as the phone came to life. The sounds of the 911 service line coming to life as she moved her head back to look at her attacker. Unable to move, her screams echoed down the streets as her attacker brought down the knife in one swift movement.
Doing a quick wipe of her hands, the man walked away, a few front lights flickered on as the final sounds of her voice carried throughout the night as her life line slipped away.
"911, what's your emergency?"
The phone call was like every other. The dull voice informing her that a body had been found and where it could be found. After informing them that she would be there in an hour, she dragged herself out of bed; she threw on clean clothes and dragged the brush through her knotted hair. Grabbing her gun and badge she silently made her was from her dark apparent before heading to the crime scene. Arriving at the crime scene, blue and red flashing lights danced as they reflected off the wet road, she parked 200 metres or so from the police barrier. Turning off the car, she could feel the cold chill from the outside air make its way through the glass as she gathered her thoughts. Reaching into the glove department, Detective Gabriella Antonio pulled out a fresh notebook and a coloured pen. It was like a ritual to her. Parking away from the crime scene, the different coloured pens, dramatic walk passed beat cops.
Climbing out of the car, Antonio walked at a steady pace towards the police barrier. Smiling slightly as other moved quickly out of her way, she rattled off her badge number to the green looking cop that had the task of guarding entrance to the body. Pausing just beyond the tape, she took a close look at the surroundings, noting the amount of civilians that stood on the boarders of the tape wearing different coloured pyjamas. Glancing down at the watch that was wrapped around her wrist, she was surprised to see that there were so many people outside at a little pasted one in the morning. Frowning slightly at amount of civilians around, she walked over to the crowd of people that had gathered around the phone booth.
Moving towards the crowd of the jump suited forensic team; she took a closer look at the blood that covered the area. Before she was able to say anything, an elderly man spoke from his position next to the blood covered girl.
"Good morning Detective Antonio. And what a fine morning it is." Antonio was not surprised at the cheerful voice that greeted her. Holding out her arm, she helped pull the man to his feet.
Unlike others at the scene, Doctor Donald Stanley was an elderly man. He was short, slightly overweight with pale skin. Though his hair was greyer than anything else it still held remnants of the dark brown that held his youth as it mixed in with the grey that fell just above his eyes. His hair cut was more of a traditional type for a man of his years that still had a full head of hair, though to Antonio it looked like that pop star that all the young girls were screaming over. Justin something. Beaver or cheater, something like that. Creeper, maybe. She couldn't remember. His bright green eyes that held many different pictures as her looked up from the body. Though he tried to hide it, she could still see the horrors and sadness that he kept hidden deep inside him. The green eyes were framed with rectangular, frameless glasses that hung off his nose.
Stiffening a yawn, Antonio looked at the ME with tired eyes as she tried to understand how someone could be so awake and cheerful at this time of the night.
"How are you so awake and cheerful at this hour?" she questioned, her voice muffled as she spoke through the sound of another yawn.
"How could I not? It is a wonderful time of day. The peaceful sound of crickets. The slightly damp air that surrounds us on this fine time of night. It truly is wonderful." Doctor Stanley replied in a story telling voice. "All is wonderful, except for this poor unfortunate girl."
Looking down at their feet, Antonio looked upon the bloody girl that lay in a pool of her own blood. If she hadn't been coated in blood and the nasty puncture wound at the base of her neck, it almost looked as though she was sleeping. Her body had been laid down flat on the ground, with her hair brushed off her face. Looking at the hands, Antonio noticed that they were completely clean.
"Another one?" Antonio questioned her eyes saddening at the sight.
"I am afraid so. She is almost identical to the others. Right down to the dance bracelet on her ankle." the doctor sighed. "Female, late 20s, bruises on the exterior part of the body, defensive wounds on the arms and legs but not enough to cause too much damage."
"COD?" Antonio sighed already predicting the answer.
"There is a gunshot wound to her right thigh, though it is unlikely that is what killed her. She has a stab wound to the trachea that severed the windpipe and the spinal cord and a nasty looking head wound. I will also place her TOD at around 11:45pm to 12:00am this morning." All signs of his former smile gone as he relayed his observations to the detective. "As for what brought about the end for this poor girl, I will know more when I get her back to my table."
“Her hands are clean.”
Rubbing his hands together, he looked at the woman. “Yes, it’s the only difference between her and the others. It looks like he did a very quick clean and a scrap under her nails. It would appear that this one fought back.”
Antonio stepped back with a sigh as she rubbed her hands over her eyes. In the past two weeks four girls have been found in the same way. All dressed identically. All with the same stab wound in the neck. The only difference between this one and the others women, was this one fought back in a way that made the killer change his method.
Raking her hands through her hair, she turned to take a better look at the surroundings. Noting the amount of blood that coated the scene, Antonio wondered if they might get lucky with the evidence as they tried to catch the merciless killer. Casting her eyes over the perimeter, Antonio spotted another member of her team as he stepped away from questioning a middle aged man with green spotted pyjama pants. Moving quickly, she stepped around yellow markers and drops of blood with complete grace as she walked over to the taller man.
Hearing her footsteps, Detective Matthew Headington looked up from his hunched position. Smiling slightly in acknowledgement, he turned his attention back to the pages of his bright pink notebook. Catching sight of the bright colour, Antonio had to bite down hard on the inside of her cheek to prevent herself from laughing.
"Yeah, yeah. Laugh all you want." Headington said dryly as she came to a halt beside him.
Grinning wider, Antonio shook her head. "Don't worry. I've already passed that stage. At least yours hasn't been drawn in bright crayons on random pages through it."
Tilting his head, he raised an eyebrow as he showed her the brightly coloured pictures he had to write over. Ignoring her laugh, he flipped back the pages.
"According to the residents, this is a pretty good town to live in. No unusual problems, though Mrs Ferguson over there with that hideous cat had quite a lot to say about the man across the road. Nothing of importance, but she did wish that he wouldn't water his garden in his underwear all the time. Bright green she said. Other than that no one heard anything until a scream at about 11:50 or so this morning."
Frowning slightly, Antonio looked back up and down the streets.
"Matches Stanley’s time of death. Did anyone see anything strange in the past few days?"
Letting out a long sigh, Headington shook his head as he looked over to where his partner was standing. Shaking his head, he excused himself as he stepped over to his green looking detective.
Hanging back, Antonio took in a different view of the crime scene. Looking past the sea of people that were collecting the vast amount of that littered the taped area; she caught sight of the streetlight that stood still and undisturbed on the opposite corner. Looking towards Headington and Summers, she nodded her head towards it, indicating that they should follow. Walking past drops of blood that the forensic team was fussing about, they reached the edge of the tape. Tilting her head with a frown, Antonio lifted the tape up as she walked extra slowly toward the bright light, she stopped a little over halfway across the road. Halting behind her, Summers swore softly under her breathe before turning back towards the forensic team.
“Hey Officer Smith! You might want to send some forensic guys over here. We have more blood” Her voice just loud enough for the officer to hear as those around him gathered blood samples and took photos of the markers. Nodding his head at her, he looked back to the closest evidence collector and politely informed him that there was another lot of evidence under the streetlight. Watching as the scientist looked around to gather some more people, he began walking over to where the detectives stood with the team of scientist behind him.
Glancing back at the blood Summers started to look a little green. Swallowing harshly, she began stammering out excuses as she walked through the growing crowd of people. Struggling not to laugh, Headington and Antonio nodded furiously as she walked away quickly. Once she was out of view of the people, it was not only her team mates that cracked up with laughter. Throughout the entire precinct, it was known that Summers could not stand the sight of blood. Over the years it had kind of turned into a bit of a game when it game to the gruesome details of crime scenes.
“Go check on your partner, Headington, and then go see if anyone saw anything to do with this corner.” Antonio ordered with a shake of her head. Looking around at the uniformed officers that stood around the area, she caught two still laughing.
Straightening her spine, she marched over to where the two we standing. “Once you two have finished, you can follow me to see where the drops of blood lead to.”
Smirking that the small amount of worry that crossed their faces, she tilted her head. “Unless, of course, you are too frightened too, then I will just go find someone with bigger balls…”
Walking away, she snickered as she they stumbled behind her repeating over and over that they were not scared and they would follow the blood.
The whole idea of following the blood, reminded her of the scene from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the part where they had to follow the spiders. It was always like that when they had to follow drops of blood. Most of the time she wished that she could just follow the butterflies or something. Something less depressing. Something that would give them hope.
Moving under the newly place tape, Antonio and the two officers swung their flashlights across the path as they stepped over drops of dried blood. Walking slower than the officers, Antonio allowed them to move further ahead as she walked at a slower pace to make sure nothing was missed. As they got further and further from the crime scene, the street grew quiet, the only sound that could be heard was the sound of feet stomping on the cement and the quiet conversation that the officers were having. Taking bigger steps to she could catch up, Antonio listened silently to the conversation, smiling at how they spoke to each other.
They reminded her of an old married couple, not that she would ever tell them, but it was still quite amusing to watch.
"Dammit, its freezing!" "Nah shit, Dave. What were you expecting? A fucking sauna?"
Swallowing her laughter at the two, she turned her attention back to the ground. Flicking her flashlight slightly, Antonio spotted a piece of dark fabric on a nail sticking out of an old wooden fence. Whistling softly to get the officers attention, she pulled a glove out of her pocket as she crouched down. Staring at the fabric under the flashlights, Antonio carefully removed the stiff fabric from the rusty nail.
Straightening, Antonio threw a disappointed glare at the two officers.
"When you two are finished with your marriage problems, it would be greatly appreciated it you were to keep a look out. The last thing I need is to fill out more paperwork to why two officers are dead."
Looking at the ground sheepishly, the two officers turned their attention back to the blood trail, only to find that it had ended. Looking around for anything that could help them find the rest of the crime scene.
“Yo, Antonio! We got company!”
Glancing back, Antonio groaned as she saw what the officers had pointed out. Looking between the car that just pulled up on the edge of the scene and the end of the blood trail, she ordered the officers to radio for more officers to come and help them locate the rest starting point. Dragging her feet back to where her team stood, she stood slightly in front of them as a man in a black suit and dark blue tie climbed out of the car.
Watching as the man stood still for a moment, Antonio rolled her eyes as the others around her groaned painfully. Buttoning up his suit jacket, the man close his door as the entire crime scene fell silent as they watched him walk towards them. Stepping under the police tape, he smiled brightly.
Noticing that they were all silent and not moving, he frowned.
“Please don’t stop on my account.” He said the smile still evident in his voice.
Slowly, one by one the crowded area came back to life, well aware of the suited man that walked past them.
Strolling up to detectives, he smiled brightly holding out his hand.
“Hi, I’m FBI Special Agent Jordan Pierce.”