Episode III: Part IV - The Case of the Missing Virus
“Murdered,” Morelli explained. We found her in the master bedroom; she was lying face-up on top of her California king. Dried blood on her face and pillow, bruising around the nose and mouth, and bloodshot eyes appear to indicate death by smothering. My agents and evidence techs are still investigating. The body has been removed by the coroner.”
“When was she discovered?” Matt asked.
“Within minutes after we found you unconscious on the floor, around three in the morning, after which I remembered noticing her lights were still on as we drove to this location. That struck me as odd, so I sent our people back to her home. There was no forcible entry, so I’m guessing she must have known the people involved.”
Matt shook his head. He looked around the room, noticing the overturned furniture and chairs. “With the exception of Mrs. Caine, this just gets better with every passing day,” he declared, a note of sarcasm in his voice.
“You should have that goose egg on your head checked out,” Morelli suggested. "You still look a little woozy. Call it a night, Duggan. Let Delia drive you to the ER; have them take a look at you.”
“What about Mrs. Caine?”
“My people are still there. We’ll wrap things up with her. I’ll follow-up with you tomorrow and fill you in,” Morelli assured Matt.
“I thought we were going to the hospital,” Delia protested, Matt directing her to drive to the office instead.
“That’s exactly what I want Morelli to think we’re doing. Did you find out anything on our missing scientist after I left the office earlier to meet our FBI friend?”
“I did — and you’re not going to believe what I discovered.”
“Did you share any of it with ……”
“No, I didn’t,” Delia interrupted. “Although I was so upset when we arrived at Mitchell’s home I was tempted to. Add to that Mrs. Caine’s murder.”
“Yeah, somebody wanted her quiet,” Matt mumbled, rubbing his chin.
“My point is they could have killed you as well,” Delia bellowed. She craned her head in Matt’s direction. “Are you sure you don’t want to go to the hospital and get checked out? How do you know you don’t have a concussion?”
“I’m alright,” Matt snickered. He placed a re-assuring hand on her forearm. "We’ll stop at a drive through and order a quick breakfast. Then we’ll return to the office and go over what you’ve uncovered. And let’s do a background check and history on Mrs. Caine while we’re at it. People aren’t normally whacked for no reason."
Simultaneously nodding and watching the road ahead, Delia exhaled a weary sigh. “Alright,” she said.
Arriving back at the agency, Delia followed Matt inside after unlocking the front door, gently pushing it inward while reaching around the door frame to flip on the light switch. Strolling past Delia’s desk, he opened his office door and walked inside; no sooner had he turned on the light, the chair behind his desk quickly swung around, occupied by an unidentified man wearing a ski mask and holding a gun. Dressed in a dark suit and tie and wearing gloves, he pointed the revolver directly at Matt. “Don’t try anything stupid,” he commanded, standing and pushing the chair away.
Surprised and caught off guard, Matt immediately remembered the perp's tone. Same voice I heard at Mitchell's home,
“Get inside,” another unidentified gruff voice shouted, Delia roughly pushed into Matt’s office by a second identically dressed and masked male.
“What’s this all about?” Matt demanded.
“You’ll find out soon enough,” the first perp sneered. Glancing at his collaborator, he barked, “get his gun — and his cell phone."
Removing his revolver and cell phone, the second thug zip tied Matt, followed by Delia. He removed a pair of hoods out of his jacket, throwing them over the heads of their two captives.
“Let’s go,” the first culprit directed. Guiding them out of the office and toward a waiting vehicle outside, Matt estimated the time at approximately 4:30 am. He knew activity outside the agency would be minimal, making it less likely someone would notice and call the police. He and Delia would have to, ’play it by ear’ for the time being.
Directing their captives into the backseat of a car, the rear doors slammed shut, followed by the driver’s side and front passenger side door. The sound of tires screeching served to confirm completion of the planned abduction.
“Where are you taking us?” Matt shouted, his voice muffled by the hood.
“It doesn’t matter —we’ve got the both of you,” the second henchman snickered. “Shut-up and don’t give us any trouble.”
Approximately an hour later and ending after several short left and right turns, the vehicle came to a stop. Matt and Delia were removed from the backseat and guided up a short stairwell and through the door of a dwelling. Several doors later, they were seated in what felt like standard office chairs.
“Take off their coverings,” another unfamiliar voice ordered.
Removing the hoods, they squinted their eyes against the brightness of the lighted room, attempting to adjust their focus on the man now sitting before them. Their wrists burned from the tightness of the zip ties.
“Why were we brought here?” Matt growled, his vision sharpening to full clarity. Staring intently into the face of the man sitting behind a desk, Matt’s facial expression immediately contorted to one of total surprise. “Wait a minute,” he gasped. “You’re Harold Mitchell, the missing scientist.” Hesitating, Matt tried to make sense of what was happening while looking around the room. “What the hell is going on?”
Stone faced, Mitchell stood. He walked from behind the desk, then next to the chairs that seated Matt and Delia. “Unfortunately, neither you nor your colleague will live long enough to find out.” He continued to pace around the room. “You asked why you and your colleague were brought here,” the now discovered scientist continued. “Very simple,” he answered. “Remember the old cliché, ‘curiosity killed the cat?’”
Matt pursed his lips while shaking his head. "Quit playing games and get to the point,” he demanded.
Shrugging his shoulder indifferently, Mitchell leaned forward, locking eyes with his tethered captives. "As ... you ... wish..," he hesitatingly jeered. “You and Ms. Perez have volunteered to participate in my own mini-clinical trial to test the effects of my newest lab created virus, appropriately named 'systemic hemorrhagic virus.'”
Delia turned her head in Matt’s direction. “What the hell is he talking about?”
“He’s telling us in his own perverted way that we got a little too nosy, and now we’re going to pay the price,” Matt answered.
“Took the words right out of my mouth," Mitchell chimed in. “The dangers involved with too much investigation — as suggested by the previous idiom," he clarified.
“And you actually believe enrolling us in your warped science project is going to prove anything?" Matt sneered.
A devilish grin flickered across Mitchell's face. "We'll soon find out," he nodded. “Take them to the basement," he shouted at his henchmen.
Click to read Episode III Part V "MATT DUGGAN - DETECTIVE SERIES"