Amy. Look at me. Please, look at me. I we were worried.
The words distant, heard through a fog of memories, Amy slowly raised her eyes from the shadows on the carpet, meeting her brothers anxious gaze. She stared for a moment, uncomprehending, trying to pull the words that were falling from his lips into a coherent sentence.
Please, Amy, Alex begged, kneeling in front of her as she sat curled up in her favorite chair, a blanket neatly tucked around her body. Were so worried. Please just
do something. Tell us what happened. You wont talk to the counselor, to Mom or Dad, Jon said you arent working at all, and you said that was what you wanted to do. And the police
Alex trailed off, his lips tightening. He would know all too well what his colleagues were saying about his sisters refusal to give information. Just
please, Amy. Talk to Jon, talk to the therapist, to me, to Uncle Tom, hell, you can go accost a stranger on the street and tell them about it. But you cant keep holding this in. Its not good for you, and
fuck. Amy. His eyes glinted with unshed tears, his hands curled into fists as he fought to get the words out, to get through. Please, just give us something, so we at least know that maybe youll get better.
Amy dropped her head back against the chair, exhausted by the effort of supporting its weight, feeling the press of two sleepless nights in a row twining with the memories rioting in her mind, creating a tension that tightened her muscles and kept her on the verge of
something. Screaming or crying. She didnt know what it would be, but she could feel it building.
A dull hum had her opening her eyes again, taking in the fact that Alex was talking, pleading some more, trying one last effort to get through when no one else had.
What if I cant get better? Amy cut in, her voice retaining only a slight remnant of the hoarseness it had born earlier in the week. What if Ill always be like this?
Amy, you dont know that, Alex insisted, sounding relieved that she had at last replied, latching onto her words in hopes that maybe somehow it would lead somewhere. You wont know until you try. Please, will you at least give it a shot?
Amy shrugged, her breath leaving her chest in a hard sigh as she dropped her eyes down to her hands, watching as her fingers knotted and twisted seemingly of their own accord.
What if I want to talk to you? Amy watched him through her eyelashes, gauging his reaction. What happens if I tell you things you arent going to want to hear?
Then I wont like to hear them. But Aim, Ill still listen.
And if its something you feel your brothers on the force should know? She tilted her head to the side, her expression conveying the sarcasm her voice lacked, a few strands of brown hair drifting across her face as heated air brushed her face from the nearby vents.
Amy had to give Alex credit for only hesitating a quick moment before answering, clearly finding ethics an easy thing to toss aside if the situation warranted.
I promise I would never tell them anything you didnt want me to tell them. Not about this.
She tried to read his eyes a moment, loosing them in the shadows of the small room, before nodding her head in acknowledgment. She turned her head to bury her face against the worn fabric of the chair, taking comfort for a moment in its familiarity.
So will you talk to me? Alex ventured at last, clearly not knowing what to do with the silence.
Maybe. Amy shrugged as she shoved herself to her feet, silently applauding herself for only stumbling a bit as she fought to find her center of balance. She shied away from Alexs automatically extended hand, pretending she didnt see the hurt that flashed over his features as she spurned his help. She bit the inside of her cheek as a quick flare of pain ignited the previous dull ache along her thigh, doing her best to hide the pain from her brother. Hed been worried enough to know of the injurys existence, he didnt need to know that it was still hurting her.
Ill sleep on it, Amy said after a moment of gauging his expression, ignoring the fact that they both knew she wouldnt be falling asleep any time soon no matter how much her body needed it. And in the morning...maybe.
September 2, 2007
You little bastard! Amy shouted as she slung a throw pillow across the room, hitting the wall next to Alexs shoulder instead of her intended target. You did that on purpose!
Giving her a big brother grin, Alex casually snagged the pillow off the floor and launched it back at her, hitting her squarely in the chest. I dont know what youre talking about, he teased, his brown eyes dancing with laughter.
Amy flipped her brother the finger and the curls out of her face, crossing her arms over her chest and sending Alex her dirtiest look. If you dont switch the channel back Im going accidentally mention a few things about your childhood next time a few of your buddies stop by the office.
Bitch, Alex muttered without heat, fiddling with the remote. I dont know how Jon could possibly stand your presence long enough to propose.
What Jon does in my presence is none of your concern, Amy said primly. Now switch the channel back to the news.
Fine, Jon muttered as he complied. You and your stupid news.
Yes, me and my stupid facts. If you have a problem with it you could just stay at your apartment and watch TV there.
Yeah, Jon grinned, But Mom wont feed me there. As much, he added after a short pause.
Amy snorted as the channel five jingle began to play, turning her attention away from her brother and focused in on the television, watching the graphics zoom across the screen as the intro reached its crescendo.
Is that channel five? With the lady with the hair? Mathew Carlyle shouted from the kitchen, his voice penetrating Amys focused attempts to block out Alexs token grumbling.
Yeah, Dad, she called back, angling her head so she could still see the screen as she twisted around to address him. If you come in, can you bring the chips?
The bag of Tostitos landed squarely in her lap as Mathew settled onto the couch next to her. I miss anything?
Nope, she answered, They just started some story about that teachers strike a few towns over. Jon heard about it from someone. Somebody gave in on some side, or something like that.
How eloquent, Mathew murmured with a smile as he slouched down on the couch, stretching out his legs with a sigh. What are the big stories supposed to be tonight?
Amy slid her eyes his way, then flicked them over to Alex, who had turned his head in question at her unusual silence.
I heard, Amy said, pitching her voice to carry to the back office where she knew her mom was working. That they got something knew about the Slasher.
There was a moment of complete silence, then a flurry of movement as her mother hurried away from the new case she had been looking into, quickly taking a seat next to her husband, eyes intent on the screen to the exclusion of everything else.
Alex made a disbelieving noise, shaking his head in amazement. You and Mom are just like each other with this guy. Cant get enough of it. Must be some kind of morbid trait you pick up in law school.
Or maybe its a normal trait you lack, Amy suggested with a quick smile, Seeing as youre the one that went to community college.
Hey, it was not community college, Alex exclaimed, expression outraged. Its a university, and if it happens to be in the next town over, that isnt my fault, Miss I Want to Get as Far Away From My Parents as Possible so I Can Do Exactly What Mom Does.
You cant talk, Amy said with half her attention, the other half picking out odd words from the broadcast, listening for anything of interest. You did exactly what dad does.
Children, Catherine said, voice slicing through the argument in that tone all mothers seem to have. Get a hold of yourselves and act your ages. You arent squabbling teenagers any longer. Stop pretending to be ones.
Amy made a quick face at Alex and turned away before he could respond, grabbing a handful of chips as the camera zoomed in on the anchorwomens grave expression, excitement sparking as she got ready for the story she knew had to be coming next.
And now, for some breaking news. Earlier this day, after a careful investigation, an FBI spokesperson announced that the recent murder of Adam Fisher in New York City was indeed the work of the Slasher.
Knew it, Amy muttered as she shifted position on the couch, trying to work off the bubbling, excited energy that was suddenly humming through her. Told you, she fired at Alex, who flipped her off without even looking, fixated on the television screen.
This is one sick fuck, Mathew breathed as the report continued, shaking his head in disbelief. To do this
Jesus. Its beyond me.
He probably has some mental disorder, Catherine stated with satisfaction as the report began to cite old information, trying to draw out the excitement. Means hes going to loose control and fuck up, and then well catch him.
Looks like its already happening, to me, Alex muttered. I mean, seriously, the guy has been killing people for years. That isnt loosing control already?
Hell get worse, Mathew clarified, looking thoughtful as he considered the matter. Its like being sick, before you get better it has to get worse. That seems to be the pattern with people like this.
Amy nodded in agreement, slouching back again, fingering the back of chips. Slow slide into being even more twisted than they already are. More violent, more head games, more frequent. She cast an uneasy glance at the television screen at her last words.
Hes already more frequent, Catherine voiced her thoughts. Going from four months in between kills to two? Thats a hell of a lot more frequent.
So how long, Amy asked, Before he starts to fuck up and make mistakes? Because he hasnt made any yet.
New York City
Police are carefully investigating the scene of the crime, Linda Farentina continued, trying to look grave under the spiked strands she was trying to pass off as a respectable haircut, the excited glint on her eye giving her away. So far, they have declined to comment, only saying that federal agents will be arriving shortly to assist with the investigation.
Erik paused in the act of switching off the TV at the sudden tension that one word evoked, slowly lowering the remote control back onto the coffee table, shifting forward in his seat to hear Lindas words over the noise of the city drifting into the room through the open window.
However, the newscaster repeated, obviously delighting in the idea of holding the nation fixed on her image, waiting for her next words with baited breath. There is word that, while the police refuse to prematurely confirm or deny, there is a strong likelihood that a piece of viable evidence has been discovered at the scene of Adam Fishers murder.
Erik sighed a soft curse, flipping off the TV as Linda began to recount old information, just in case anyone had forgotten in the last few months. He dropped his head into his hands for a moment, massaging his fingers against the headache he could feel building behind his left eye, a throbbing pain that couldnt distract him from the fact that he was in trouble.
Feeling restless and twitchy despite the tiredness that should have had him in bed even at this early hour, Erik rose to his feet and moved for the open window, keeping his body pressed against the wall, partially enveloped by the light curtains, a pale shadow against the gauzy fabric. He hid from the view of anyone down on the streets below as he breathed deeply, sucking in the tang of New York City air. He scowled as he didnt find the relief he needed, the wild scent he was looking for hidden beneath layers of pollution and sweat. Leaning a shoulder against the wall he turned his head to watch the people moving on the ground below, squinting against the shine of the streetlight across the street as he idly traced the shape of the knife at his waist.
He had messed up big time, with this one. Got caught unexpectedly in the pull coming right off his last kill, and stupidly hed tried to fight it, deny that it could be happening again so soon. Youd think that by now he would no better, but no, he had tried anyway.
And look at where it had gotten him. Waiting in a hotel room to see if he was going to get caught over this or not, if he was going to have to take another unscheduled and unprofitable trip to some third world island until the fuss died down, because he should have been more careful. Should have worn gloves, should have kept his hood up, should have known there would be damn homeless people in that area of town, and that even if they were passed out drunk they were still a liability.
With another soft sigh he palmed his knife from the waistband of his slacks, running his fingers lightly against the cool steel of the blade, letting the cold and the reassuring feel of the grip against his fingers calm him. Closing his eyes he shifted completely out of sight of the window and flipped the knife, rubbing the hilt in slow circles against his temple, relaxing as the headache began to fade.
Keeping his eyes close he grabbed for his sunglasses, finding them after a fumbling moment on the bedside table, putting them on to block the stinging light from his eyes.
Stop being an ass, Erik murmured to himself as he slid his knife back into the waistband of his pants, shifting it to its usual position. You just need to get out of New York. Its not like you werent planning too.
And besides, he added silently, I need to get away from large population centers.
He waited restlessly for the internet start page to finish loading on his laptop, his fingers flying over the keys when it finally allowed him to type the web address he needed.
Larson Consultations Company read the banner at the top of the page when it finally loaded. For Any Business, Anywhere. Erik paused for a moment, giving the home page a critical look, searching for any flaws he could correct to make it more appealing, more accessible.
Finally determining that everything was fine as it was he logged onto his account, jumping to the list of companies waiting for his services. He did a quick scan of the names, then organized them by located, eliminating all those not in the northeast. He knew he wasnt going to be able to stomach a long plane ride, not in the state he was in now. Too many people, all looking too interesting in this city. It had gotten him wired again, given him the tingly feeling that heralded the need to see blood flow. If he got out in time, before his instincts locked in on someone, maybe he could avoid it for a few more weeks.
Erik scanned the list as his mind idly ran over those familiar thoughts, seeing if any names caught his eye. He was about to start again, this time with a search through the company bios when a name caught his eye near the bottom of the list.
Mothers Fresh Baked Pastries (MFBP).
Erik stared for a moment, then slowly blinked, considering. He hadnt worked for a bakery in a long while, and he could certainly use a break from having to wrap stubborn upper management around his finger.
Feeling a spark of interest he clicked on the name, brining up the short biography. He grinned as he read through. This was just getting better and better. It was a young company, only twenty years old, which meant there should be an abundance of problems to be fixed and a scarcity of assholes to deal with.
The companys website just confirmed the decision. It looked like it had been created by a sixth grader without a lot of time on his hands. And it had also planted the address right at the top of the page.
Erik mused to himself. I remember Middleton. His lips curled into a small smile as his fingers fell to his knife again.
Middleton it is, he decided as he clicked back to his website and began to write a letter of acceptance to let them know he was going to be taking the job. Middleton and Mothers Fresh Baked Pastries.
Sinner, turn that shit off. Its just depressing me, seeing that bitch talking about Fisher like that.
Sinh glanced over at his partner, Damien, reaching for the remote and flicking off the TV in their office. He sighed, running a hand over his short black hair before swiveling his chair around to face the other man.
You shouldnt let it effect you like that, he said quietly, fiddling with the end of his tie. Better to concentrate on other things.
Like what? Damien asked, shaking his head. There isnt a whole lot to concentrate on. The Slasher got away again, took another life, fucked up our reputation more. We didnt need this, not with the Boss breathing down our necks already.
Sinh gave Damien a look. You could think about your wife, maybe. Or your daughter. Im sure she would love to see you.
Sinh, shes three months old. She has no idea who I am.
Sinh smiled slightly at the guilty look that crossed Damiens face. Go home, man. Its past six. The days been long enough. Get some rest and start fresh tomorrow. Youll be able to look at this in a better light once youve been refreshed.
Damien snorted but slid off his desk with a huge sigh, reaching for his suit jacket even as he murmured that he shouldnt go, since Sinh was going to be staying.
Dame, you got someone to go home to. Im sure shes missing you. Ill be leaving soon anyway. We have an early flight tomorrow.
Liar, Damien said good naturedly as he headed for the door. You arent going to get out of here for a few more hours. You never do, the days following one of the killings.
Well then, no reason for you to stay with me, Sinh smiled. You know I always turn out fine.
Thats debatable, but well pretend youre right for now.
Sinh watched as the door closed behind his partner, sighing the minute Damien was out of view. He dropped his head onto his hands, rubbing at his eyes before straightening and reaching for the cooling cup of coffee next to his computer.
The Slasher. The nations most notorious serial killer, and Sinhs biggest failure. He had been assigned to the case two years ago, coming off two major successes in the counterterrorism unit. The transfer had been unexpected, but Sinh took to his new job readily enough, immersing himself in learning the basics he would need to get ahead.
Unfortunately, two years later here he sat, working the same case, little progress made, facing the same failures day after day. He was glad his parents werent still alive to bear his shame.
Shame for so many things, he thought, eyeing Damiens disheveled desk a moment before turning to his own.
He needed to stop thinking about this, and focus on his work. Concentrating on his computer, he skimmed his eyes over the press release he had been working on, knowing that the reporters would be asking the same questions as always about why they didnt have any clues, why they couldnt catch this guy.
After fourteen years of the same replies, Sinh would have thought that they would stop asking, but they had yet to do so.
He typed out a few sentences, trying to put a spin on Fishers murder, attempting to give his death some honor while at the same time salvaging his own reputation.
The Boss had been looking in on him and Damien again, criticizing their approach, wondering aloud if maybe he and his partner were too close to the case, if maybe they needed some sort of break.
Which they both were, and they both did, but Sinh knew neither of them would admit it. The Slasher was theirs to track down, theirs to capture. Neither of them would stand for sitting back and letting some other agent walk in and take over.
At least this time there might be some hope, Sinh thought as he reworded a sentence to make it sound less apologetic. If that kid who called in wasnt pulling a prank
Sinh knew the futility of praying for this lead to pan out, but Damien must have been rubbing off on him, because he couldnt stop the loop in his mind that begged over and over for some chance to finally do their job.