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The Taker...

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THE TAKER

WHAT GOD CREATED HE TOOK AWAY

GARY T. JOHNSON

© 2004

Dedication

I dedicate this book to my family. Especially my little brother Glen Johnson blink.gif (author of Soul Reapers) My Sister Pauline Milner and her husband Clive Milner for there time and support.

PROLOGE

The dust motes swam lazily in the still warm air that was stirred up by his movements. He sat and stared at nothing, his mind wondering aimlessly, trying to figure out how his life had reached this stagnant stage. His life had no direction, and no purpose. He was an empty shell; his life was as meaningless as his boring existence. Only the killings kept him going.

His mind wondered to his last victim, and how she had lasted longer than the others. He could vividly remember the way her body moved under his, and the taste of her as his tongue was forced back her throat. She had given quite a fight. He liked it when they thought back; it turned him on more. Made the climax of killing them all the more enjoyable. She now lay with the others, hidden in his secret place. The place he went too when he needed to be on his own. Needed to release his inner animal.

His hand slapped down upon the dirty grime encrusted desktop, up spilling the cup of rancid tea, that ran too, and dripped over the tables edge, leaving another stain on the rickety floorboards. He lifted his throbbing hand and stared at the obliterated ant, which had only seconds before been aimlessly wondering across his desk. He wiped it absentmindedly on his jeans. He wasn’t like the ant, he mused. He decided his life did have purpose – to kill.

He pulled his attention back to the moment at hand, and what he had been doing before going off into one of his small daydreams, that were becoming more frequent over the last few weeks. It always did when he found the need creeping up on him. The need to end another’s life. The need to switch off what people expected from another human being, and turning into the animal he had become.

It hadn’t taken him long to get work, he knew there was always someone out there with problems, the hard part was getting them alone, this one was perfect. He had only been to see her 2 weeks ago and already he knew her every move.

His hand returned to the mouse, shifting his body weight slightly in his chair, to relieve the throbbing in his crotch, as he clicked the button that enlarged the grainy image. The images of his next victim - his next love.

His eyes faded back into the dream world, as the images of what he would do to her came up into his minds eye. One hand gripped the table; the other ran to his crotch.

CHAPTER ONE

THE RITUAL

The alarm blared across the barren bedroom, echoing of the polished floorboards and up the stark walls. She couldn’t reach the sound, because the spray of the shower was still encompassing her body. She had risen five minutes before the alarm sounded, to get a small head start. She did this everyday, and everyday she always forgot to hit the small button to cancel the alarm. And like all other days she let it squawk as she finished her morning ritual.

Her hand fumbled for the towel that rested limply on the heated radiator bar. She dragged it across her slim body, as the heat of the shower was dispensed, and the chill of the January bathroom brought goose bumps out on her silky flesh.

She wiped the condensation off the mirror with her hand to see what state her hair was in today. She leant forward and flicked her hair back, then tied it up into a simple ponytail. Walking into the bedroom she noticed the time and quickly went to her computer to check her mail. She had three new ones and one from the previous day she had not yet read, this was unlike her, she always read her emails. Opening it she realized it was from work. Before reading the note she opened the attachment and browsed through the pictures. She couldn’t help but wince as she saw the helpless body laying there bare. No matter how many years she done this, this was always the hardest part: a part she would never get use too. Some in the department say you become hardened. But she knew she never would.

His profile had changed she thought, this wasn’t like his others. She picked up the phone and called Jack Higgins, when he answered she knew he was drinking his coffee while eating another donut, possibly having the sports section opened up on the table in front of him.

“I’ve just got your email! Is this the same one?” She held her breath.

Jack didn’t reply at first, he was still scoffing his breakfast of champions. “Yes we think he’s just changed his pattern.” He said with a full mouth.

“They don’t normally change routine unless…” She let out her breath, not realizing she had been holding it. “Let me get back to you… Let the Chief know I need to see him. He needs to sit in on our morning meeting. I’ll see you shortly.”

Jack went to say something but decided to fill his mouth instead.

“Ok see you soon,” Jack mumbled with a mouth full of donut.

She finished with the pleasantries and then tried to disconnect the computer from the internet, error after error popped up and she knew she had to get something done about this problem. Off late the computer just wouldn’t do what she wanted, always going wrong. She made a mental note to call someone when she got to work.

She got changed and headed out the door.

She ran down the stairwell, having never used the lift since moving in over eight months ago. One niggle of being Closter phobic, ever since the accident as a child.

She climbed inside her four-wheel drive and headed off to sit in traffic for the next forty minutes.

As usual the traffic was bad this time of day always the same cars and people doing the same thing. The man with his dog was there again as every other morning waiting for it to do its business. The same mothers everyday trawling along in there monster trucks to drop off the kids. This always amused her why these people had to have trucks the size of houses and only have one kid inside them, were they ever going to use these beasts to go off road anywhere or was it a power thing?

She couldn’t say much, her 4 x 4 was huge, but she knew it was needed for those times she had to get to places no one ever goes.

Ricky was waiting in his little cabin at the front gates for her to show him her pass.

“Morning Ricky, she said as she put the pass back around her neck”. “What’s going on, why all the security today”.

“Didn’t Jack tell you, the boss is down today, he has some FBI agents over with him, not sure what all the fuss is about myself. I’m just a golfer sat in this ****ing box all day, no one tells me sh**.” He said slapping his paper down on the counter.

She simply gave him one of her stares. This was a daily routine. Him complaining. Her nodding.

Walking into the room she gave Jack a quick glance, he shrugged.

“I forgot I’m sorry,” he was obviously referring about forgetting to mention the meeting involving the FBI.

She nodded her head in frustration and walked to her room, she could see Glen standing there with a guy she presumed was the Lead Agent. He was a big guy in a dark suit which looked far too big for him; I guess it was a way of hiding himself subconsciously. Her boss beckoned her over, she could see the anxiety on his face and she then knew something was very wrong, Glen was the sort of guy who didn’t show his emotion he couldn’t it was a sign of weakness to him.

“What’s going on, I think I have a lead on the Sarah Billings murder.”

“Jack can handle that case I need you on this.”

“But Glen I’m so close to solving this -”

She was cut off in mid sentence as Glen brought his arm up to gesture at the room.

“I need you to take a look at this stuff, please.”

She was impressed at how quickly the agents had set everything up. A large white board stood like an island – alone; surrounded by the waves of milling policemen. It was a mêlée of images, grainy ones, and full colour ones. Images of flesh, bleached by death. Matted hair and pools of congealing blood. Photos of objects; one person’s possessions. Graphs, sheets full of typed and hand-written words. Notes seemingly attached everywhere. It looked like people had randomly stuck sheet after sheet and photos too it. But she knew they were all laid out in a pattern - the pattern of the victim – a jigsaw of their life and the gateway into their death. The only thing that was more disturbing was the fact there was four of these large boards, each depicting the four woman’s violent murders.

The information and images was overwhelming. A large map sat separately on a smaller boarded, marked with different American states and red drawing pins dotted, at what appeared random.

A large framed man, who seemed to fill the room with his presence, offered his hand. It completely encompassed her smaller delicate hand.

“Good morning, I am Special Agent Johnston, and this is Special Agent Forrel, you must be Inspector Mara Stone? We have heard a lot about you. I’m guessing you want me to show you what we have accumulated?” His large hand released hers, and waved at the collection of boards.

“We need you look at these profiles our agents put together, and see if you can spot something we have obviously missed.”

“Ok.” She answered, walking towards the closest board. “Give me some insight into what I’m looking at here.” Mara said, while trying to fight the instinct of wiping the sweat from his large hand off on her trousers.

“Right I guess we should start at the beginning.” Agent Johnston said, while coming to stand besides her. “About four months ago our local NYPD got a call from a civilian in Forty-three Egger Hover Street - down town on the East Side. The caller claimed she was the victims neighbour, saying she hasn’t heard from Miss Karen Black - who lived next door to her – in eight days, which supposedly was completely out of the victim’s character. Black was suppose to meet the worried neighbour at a designated time, but never showed. Local PD arrives. Not receiving an answer they gained access to the premises by contacting the buildings caretaker. Upon entering Forty-three Egger Hover Street, they were completely unprepared for what they saw!”

“Miss Karen Black, aged twenty-four, was victim number one.” The large Agent pointed a stubby finger at a photo that dominated the top left-hand corner of the board. It showed a thin faced of a woman in her mid-twenties. Her hair was jet black and lay flat against the side of her oriental looking face.”

Stone flicked a quick sideways glance at Agent Johnston. He was perspiring heavily, even though the room was bordering of cold. The collar of his white shirt was thick with sweat.

“Black worked from her small apartment; as an internet website designer.” In the same flat motionless voice Agent Johnston went on to say: “Black was stabbed fourteen times in the back, even though she had been bound hand and foot! Barbed wire was used to incapacitate her.” He pointed at a photo of her bloated – swollen - red fingers. “The wire was wrapped so tight it cut the circulation to her hands, digging right in. The bleeding was extensive.” He pointed to another full colour photo. “Her feet were the same.”

Stone could feel bile bubbling up into her throat.

“Wire was also wrapped around her face.” Another finger poked at a different image. In this photo Black could be seen face down, with her hair mattered with blood, clinging to the wire that dug into her skull. The image was an on-the-scene photo, and Black was still in the discovered position. Next to this was another photo, with Black lying on metallic morgue gunnery. This time she was laid out on her back, facing the ceiling. Her mouth was wide open, kept that way by the barbed wire that wrapped eight times around her head, stopping her from screaming. It was apparent that her left eye had been roughly gouged out. Also numerous red blotches covered her forehead and cheeks. Johnston must have noticed what Stone was looking at.

“Cigarette burns. Seventeen in total and that’s just on her face. Altogether forty-nine covered her naked body.”

“She wasn’t stabbed until after he had finished with her.”

“We found her eye propped up on the computer facing the body.”

“The lab found traces of semen, also partial fingerprints on her eye. But we found no other fingerprints in the house.”

Mara’s eyes focused on the white boards, and then asked.

“I’m guessing the others are similar.”

“Yes pretty much the same, in all six victims.”

“What do you mean all six victims I thought we were only dealing with four?”

Agent Johnston’s tubby fingers went to victim three and pulled out another folder.

“I didn’t put this on the board; I didn’t feel it appropriate and quite frankly it sickened me.”

Mara opened the folder to find images of two small girls, both with their throats cut and blood everywhere entangled in their hair. They had been raped and beaten pretty bad. But Mara noticed they still had both eyes intact.

“How old were they,” Mara asked.

Agent Johnston shuffled his position as he looked down; Mara instantly knew that this man had kids possible 2, his weakness and strength.

“One was 11, the other 13. The father is pretty shaken up and in St Jude’s hospital down in Michigan.”

“The father survived.”

“Not there, he went out for the night to celebrate his friends stag night, he says he was only gone for 3 hours at most.”

“Is the father a suspect?”

“No he had family and friends who could vouch for his whereabouts.”

“It’s a similar storey of victim number 2; her boyfriend believe it or not was only 3 doors down the street at a friend’s house watching the Superbowl; Dolphins versus Redskins.”

“How on earth did our guy know when to attack his victims, he has got to be watching these guys pretty closely to see what they do, have you checked with neighbours for anyone acting suspiciously in and around the time of murders.”

“Yes nothing.”

“What about builders in the area, plumbers cable guys anyone like this. Through experience people generally ignore workmen, door to door salesmen and such like.”

“This is pretty shocking stuff, you will have to give me some time to look deeper into the case files and pictures. Just out of curiosity why me why come to England if this guy is killing on your patch.”

Agent Johnston hesitated then called one of his colleagues to bring him the folder.”

“We sent out a description of these murders to Interpol to see if this guy has killed before or will again, nothing until yesterday. We got a call from the metropolitan police force here in London about a killing which caught our attention. We spoke to the chief of new Scotland Yard, your boss and he gave us the details. I’m afraid to say same MO, it’s our guy. This only happened 2 days ago. We were called in and told the crime scene would not be touched. I have asked your boss for help in this and he gave me you.”

“So he’s here, when were the dates of the other murders.”

Agent Johnston looked at her and cleared his throat.

“The last one was 2 months ago, Monday the 28th June. And this one 2 days ago. I’m guessing your guys have checked the airports for who travelled on or around these dates.”

“Mine and your guys are checking as we speak.”

Mara had to hold back the tears as she looked over these images, the destruction of lives were so brutal, so unnecessary, but she could see a pattern. She knew that this guy or “animal” loved the power, but didn’t care about getting caught; he was very sloppy leaving semen, fingerprints and blood at each victim’s location. This guy was either very stupid or incredibly smart. But then again DNA was only good if you had a suspect to match it against. In all the cases she was involved in, she had never seen anything like this before, and that scared her allot.

“We don’t normally get serial killers over here you know that, if the press get a hold of this they will have a field day.”

“I know, we have set borders to work from, if the press do get hold of anything we keep things back. In this case we haven’t mentioned anything about the eyes, or semen. We have kept it to the type of killing and also him leaving fingerprints. We might need to include this other stuff though if we are going to expand our searches throughout the rest of Europe.”

“Ok where do you want me to start?”

TWO

BOARDS OF SORROW

Mara needed to be alone. She had wandered three doors down the corridor to an empty interview room. The stark room was devoid of anything in the least welcoming. Two metal chairs faced each other with a metal table separating them. Its cold metal top was etched with numerous obscenities, directed towards those that had incarcerated them, taking away their God-given freedom. The bland white walls were close and Closter phobic. One wall was taking up by the standard two-way mirror. The only other item in the room was a small camera that faced the interviewee. But this camera wasn’t even connected, because behind the glass was the latest state of the art equipment.

The table was now littered with the same photos and reports that adorned the large white boards in the room just up the corridor, were Agent Johnston and Forrel - along with Glen - sat and talked to other officers. They were simply padding the time, because they needed Stones input before any major decisions were made.

Stone sat and glanced at what she knew would be overwhelming. She thought about her other cases but knew they were in good hands. Jack, to look at wasn’t much she knew but he was a great detective and a good friend.

She now looked at victim number two’s file and glanced down to read: Case Study 2:

Miss. Sadie Burrows. Aged 21. Lived in lower Manhattan with her boyfriend Mr. Steve K. Frost, aged 27. He was a construction engineer.

Miss. Burrows attended a local college, called Stonebridge’s of Westbrook, and worked from home, while attending, studying as a student Junior Biologist. She had four known family members, all living in and around the city. The father – forty-six - is a Senior Biologist at the well known Kingston Memorial Hospital in Manhattan. The mother – forty-one - was a nurse. She had two brothers, one aged nineteen, and the other fifteen, both attending the same college.

Mara’s thoughts went to the family and boyfriend who must be shocked and devastated at this apparent senseless, brutal killing. She made a quick note against the boyfriends name and carried on reading.

She turned the page to see the first image of Miss. Burrows lying on the ground. Barbed wire didn’t encompassing her head, arms and feet. Rather it was fishing line, which was pulled so tight that in some places it had connected with bone. Although already seeing the images before hand - on the second board - it felt a little more personal now she knew a little of this girl. Stone couldn’t even begin to imaging the pain she must of felt, leading up to the moment of her death. Not to mention the unbelievable amount of fear that must have been churning around in her mind. From the coroners report it shows her heart actually gave out on two occasions. The killer had resuscitated her both times, so he could continue with his torturing.

Stone closed her eyes for a moment. The images seemed to be burned against her inner eyelids. She quickly opened them and continued to shift through them.

The killer had used different material to bind the victim, and had violated the body in different ways. Firstly, no cigarette burns marked her pale flesh. Instead what looked like paper cuts adorned her body. Three hundred and six, to be precise. Traces of vinegar and salt were found in the wounds. Everybody knows what happens if you get either one into a cut; excruciating pain. This explained why Burrows heart kept giving out.

But what made this obviously the same killer was what she read next. The left eye had been removed and placed nearby, looking down at the body. This also had semen covering it. DNA testing matched the same semen as found on victim number one.

Case study 3:

Mrs. Irene Frost; aged forty-four married with two teenage daughters, Cloey and Sadie frost. The Husband Mr. Gerald Frost; aged Forty-eight worked as an accountant in a local firm. Mrs. Frost worked from home as a Personal Accountant. They lived in a 4 bedroom house close to Lake Erie, which was in Toledo Ohio. Like the others there was no forced entry. Mrs Frosts body was found with two broken ankles and her arm joints were hit with such force it pulled her ball joints out the sockets. They didn’t find any traces of semen. Her left eye was also removed and placed on the computer table.

Mara frowned as she read this. She quickly glanced at case study four to read the same; the left eye was positioned on the computer table overlooking her body. This surely wasn’t coincidence. There had to be a pattern here but what it was still eluded her. She read on and wondered why this victim didn’t have the extensive work done to her as the others did. Nothing clasping her hands and feet, no stab wounds, cigarette burns nothing.

Then she came to the part she was dreading, she read but felt a cold shiver come over her. The only way she could recognise who was who was from the names tags stuck onto the images. Cloey Frost 13. Attended a local school in Toledo. The father says she was incredibly bright for someone her age. Her body was found close to the mother and her sister, with blood and bruises covering her face and arms. She had blood pouring from between her legs. They found traces of semen and blood of the killer. The same pretty much for Sadie Frost. She was 11.

Mara thought about the father for a moment and couldn’t really comprehend the pain and suffering he must be going through, it’s hard enough to loose a family but to loose them in this way must be extremely hard.

She turned the page to find. Case study 4: Madam Catharine Cage, 49 worked from a eight bedroom house where she ran a woman’s boarding house?

Mara thought about the name for a second and quickly deducted that this lady must have run an escort agency of some sort. Madam Cage worked at the rear of the property where she also lived. There was only one door at the front of the property which had access to the rear. There were 4 females who also lived in the house, presumably the escorts. These were all questioned and deducted that they had no part in the killing.

Madam Cage’s body was found at the rear of the house in her office. She looked rather younger than forty-nine; the lab report says she had extensive scars all over her body. More than likely from plastic surgery. Her hands and feet were bound in what looked like different coloured wires. Her long brown hair was covered in blood; her scalp had several gouges taken out of it. She had numerous holes in her body the lab could only guess was from a long screw driver or blunt instrument. They found traces of semen and blood of the killer. Also her left eye was removed and positioned on the desk next to her computer.

This was concerning Mara, the killer leaving the victims eye next to the computer, was this his mark, his calling card. Why leave it near the computer, unless he was telling us something? Mara could only guess that this early stage she knew there was a lot of work to do yet before she could start guessing. The only other thing concerning Mara was how did the killer get acces to the victims, were they related or a friend of the family. These were all quite different familys and had no real links, so this must be a random thing. Was the killer simply getting names from the phone book and killing them. Then how did the killer know when to strike it seemed a coincidence that he knew when the partners or husband left the house.

Mara made a note to find out if any of the victims had CVTV installed at there locations. Maybe the killer knew or installed these?

Mara packed up the case files and made her way to see Glen. He was sat with Agent Johnston and Forrel, they all looked up to her and gave a half cocked smile. They all knew what she had been doing and didn’t want to seem to happy or give out the wrong impression.

Mara sat for a moment in silence, then turned to them all.

“There’s so much I don’t understand about our killer but what I do know is he needs to kill. This gives him a rush of excitement, joy in watching them in pain. This to him is the climax, the end product of his hard work. I don’t think any of these murders are directly linked, it’s a random thing for him. We all know how hard it is when they are random killings.

“That’s what we deducted”. Agent Johnston said while wiping the sweat from his forehead.

“But the thing with the eyes concerns me, all victims had there left eye gouged out and placed on the computer tables facing the victim. This is his calling card, his stamp. He’s telling us something”.

“Yes but what”

“I’m not to sure yet but this is the thing we have to concentrate on”.

“I have to go to the lab and see for myself the bodies and get a good look at the eyes, he’s talking to us, and we need to find out what”.

Agent Johnston looked at Mara and said.

“We need to get to this address and investigate this murder here and see if it really is are guy”.

Chapter 3

She stubbed the cigarette out as the bus pulled up, then watched for a moment as an elderly gentleman got off and said his goodbyes. She cussed under her breath, “why do they take so bloody long”.

Finally she got on and preceded to the back off the bus, she knew her journey wasn’t that far but she didn’t like going home from college this late. The bus journey she could handle it was the long walk to her apartment which worried her. She cursed at herself for having an argument that night with her boyfriend and for knowing she would be alone. She knew it wasn’t his fault but he always managed to wind her up to the point where she would break. She had a lot on her mind at the moment with all her revisions and exams coming up. It didn’t help that her computer kept playing up. She had lost nearly a whole nights work because of that stupid thing. She remembered the engineer who came out the first time and said it was just one of those things. She didn’t like him much, the way he talked to her, but she was impressed at the work he did. She remembered how precise he had been and how good he was for cleaning her monitor out for her. He had shown her how much dust and crap gets into the monitor and recommended cleaning it out every so often. She was a little nervous at the fact he was in her bedroom and wished her boyfriend was there with her, but what else was she to do, she didn’t have enough room in her lounge for the thing, and it was warmer in her bedroom. Although this guy scared her she knew he was only doing his job.

She paused for a moment at her front door and thanked god that walking home she got there in one piece. She knew she was a good looking girl and that made it harder to stop all the hassle she gets when walking past the drunks and homeless. The one good thing her father gave her was some mace. She had never had to use it but it gave her a little reassurance if anything did happen. Her father didn’t like her moving out in the first place, she was his little girl and would always be that way to him. But she knew she had to move out, she knew her father wouldn’t accept her boyfriend and she needed the space. The little money she got from her day job just about covered the rent and food.

She opened the front door and flicked the switch in the hall for the lights, nothing. No not again she thought to herself. She ran her hand along the wall to give her an idea of where she was going. The kitchen wasn’t that far away and she knew the candles were under the sink where she kept them. Her hand fumbled in her jeans pocket to find her mace which she took and then found her lighter. She wasn’t prepared for what she saw when she lit it.

He was standing there in black with what looked like a mask on. She instantly sprayed her mace in his direction but knew it wouldn’t do anything because of his mask, she dropped her lighter and started to run but didn’t get far; she felt the weight of him pushing down on her arms, she tried to struggle and managed to hit out catching him in the abdomen. She thought for several minutes but quickly became tired, she then realised he had a object in his hands, she screamed but then nothing.

As she came around she tried to reach her head but her hands were tied behind her back. She could feel something around her mouth which hurt a lot but fought to try and scream but couldn’t. The lights were on and she could see him sitting in the chair facing her. She recognised him as the engineer who came to fix her computer. Her mind started to wonder why he was here and wished her boyfriend would come through the door. She looked at what he was doing and started to panic. He walked over to her and sat in front of her, taking what looked like a scalpel and started cutting her jeans from her feet to her waist. She started to struggle but this only earned her a punch in the mouth. She could taste the blood spilling from her mouth and knew then what was going to happen.

He dragged her to the bed and faced her down pushing her head hard against the mattress. She felt so helpless and could only think of what her boyfriend and family would think. Then it happened, she could feel him inside her and this made her wince in pain. She tried again to free herself but this time she felt a sharp pain in her lower back. She knew then he had stabbed her but it didn’t stop there, her arms and legs also started to hurt. She wanted to pass out and ignore what he was doing to her but she couldn’t. All she could think about was her boyfriend and how much she wanted him to be her first. She knew that was why they argued so much but she wanted to wait until the time was right. But know this man; this thing had taking that away from her which she held so dear.

When she came around all she could see was her blood over her arms and legs, the pain was excruciating. She saw him again sat in the chair watching her, why would anybody want to do this to her, what had she done wrong. She wasn’t sure how long she had been out, but knew she was hurting real bad, she could feel the blood running down between her legs and knew she had been violated several different ways. He then got up and walked to her with something in his hand, it looked like keys on a key ring she wasn’t sure, but what she was sure off, was the way he was looking deep into her eyes. Then his hand came up and she saw what he was planning to do. She tried to close her eye but he held it open, then as he held the object to her eye she knew then it was over.

Chapter 4

Mara walked to the house first and could see the police tape surrounding the area and all the police officers milling around trying to look busy as there boss came towards them. Glen didn’t normally come to the crime scenes but she knew he was trying to impress agent Johnston and Forrel. This surprised her a little because she knew how Glen had become the chief. He wasn’t a pencil pusher as some were, he worked hard to get where he was today. He worked the street for ten years before becoming a detective with new Scotland Yard. Then worked homicide for another twelve years before putting in for Chief Superintendent. The last six years were great for Mara knowing that Glen would give her the help needed to do what she did.

Mara could see the forensic guys still working hard to find anything out off the ordinary. Mara walked up to the officer standing over her body.

“What have you got for us”.

“The victim was found yesterday by the landlord who was concerned he hadn’t heard from her in a couple of days. He knocked on the door a few times and decided to let himself in. He came in saw this mess and called us”.

“Do you know if he touched her or anything else in this place”.

“He says he didn’t, so we left it at that”.

Mara though for a second about different possibilities then asked.

“Where is he now”?

The officer looked at Mara and knew then what she was thinking.

“He’s down at the station giving a statement, do you believe he’s a suspect”.

“I’m not to sure yet so keep him in until we are finished here, thanks”.

Mara walked to the lounge where she saw the victim face down on the floor, she looked around the room but saw no computer. She leaned over the body and saw that the victim still had both eyes, they were pretty messed up but intact. The rest of her body was pretty badly bruised and she had a few stab wounds but nothing which led her to believe this was our guy. She looked around the room, the place was a mess. The TV was smashed there were papers all over the place, this didn’t seem right. Our guy didn’t trash their places he went there for a purpose.

Mara walked into the bedroom where she saw the computer sat in the corner of the room, she walked over and could see that the drawers had been gone through, there was paper on the floor, and the bin was emptied everywhere. She opened the wardrobe and saw the vast amount of clothes all pretty raunchy stuff. She looked at the shoes and could see they were all worn on the heels. Mara rummaged around on the desk, but couldn’t find what she was looking for. She looked at a pile of papers on the desk and started to read.

Deposit of £3000, Tuesday. Deposit of £2456, the following week. And again Deposit of £1890, four days later. Mara shrugged and made her way into the lounge where agent Johnston was looking at the body.

“This isn’t are guy”.

Agent Johnston looked at Mara with a slight concern.

“I know, nothing matches apart from the victim being dead”.

Mara glanced at one of the officers and called him over.

“Do you know if the landlord lives here in the block”.

“Yes mam, he lives four doors down in number one”.

“Ok come with me and ask agent Johnston and Forrel to accompany you thanks”.

Mara stood back as the officer broke down the door. The smell off dust and damp filled her nose and made her wince. She could see agent Johnston bring out a hanky to hold to his nose. Agent Johnston spoke first, which made Mara jump.

“What are we doing here”.

“When we walked into the victim’s house I could tell straight away this wasn’t our guy”.

“Yes I got that feeling to”

“Ok, I started to have a nose around and found some pretty interesting stuff, if I’m correct the victim was a prostitute, a working girl”.

“How can you be sure of that”.

“Firstly the stuff she had was all new, recently bought. Her clothes were, well raunchy if you know what I mean. Nearly all of her shoes were worn from a lot of walking. And her bank statements show numerous deposits. Each of different amounts, but still a good pay check. My guess is the landlord knew this and got his rent payed for in another way. But something went wrong and he had to kill her. He then made it look like a robbery. I guarantee if you test for his semen you’ll find it”.

“Ok you know this is all circumstantial, so what we doing in here”.

As Mara searched around the drawers, she noticed something that looked odd.

She smiled as she held up a little pink book.

“We are looking for this. My guess is he removed it from the bedroom to scour through and see if his name was in here”.

As she read she couldn’t help but wonder at how many names were in it, mostly male. She looked for the landlords name and found it next to Fridays. The victim had encircled it with red pen several times; she obviously didn’t like doing this one.

“This isn’t our guy, I’m sorry you came all the way over here for nothing.”

“It’s ok we have a couple more to check out, lets see what they show”.

Mara headed towards Glen and saw he was on his radio talking looking a little concerned.

“What’s up”.

“We just got a call from a young guy saying he found his girlfriend dead in her apartment, he was extremely scared but managed to get out that her hands were bound and how she was gagged and covered in blood.”

“Ok, I’ll tell agent Johnston the good news, if you can call it that.”

Mara started to say something, but Glen cut her off.

“Are you ready for this.”

“For what.” She said while trying not to look upset.

“If this is our guy, it could be a while before we get him.”

“If it is, they always make mistakes and I’ll find it.”

They both sat in silence while driving to the address; both contemplating what might be in store.

As they pulled up to the address they saw a young man sitting on the steps with his face in his hands. Mara got out and heard the sirens off the other police cars following, then saw agent Johnston get out his car to meet with them.

Mara walked over to the young man and crouched in front off him and asked his name.

As he looked up, Mara could see the anguish in his face and the redness in his eyes.

“Jason.” He said while still sniffling

“Jason Chambers, why would anyone do this, I should off been here with her, I wanted to-

As Mara stood to go in she put her hand on his shoulder, a little reassurance wouldn’t hurt.

Looking at dead bodies on white boards was one thing but actually standing there in front off one, it was hard. The first thing she saw was the wire around her hands and feet, the same wire used on Madam Cage.

Edited by Fugu-Fish

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I like your style, big bro!

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