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Medium height. Brown hair. Female. She is wearing a black shirt, and graying jeans. I have been watching her for weeks. She seems to usually wear black. Has braces. I know her routine. She will be alone for 15 minutes on her way home. I've been waiting for this. First she leaves the gym and goes to Starbucks with her friends. Then she boards the cross town at 79th and gets off at Central Park West. Then, walks down Central Park West. Parents won't be home. They won't notice she is gone until long after I am done. Wait, she's out on the sidewalk. She has her usual drink in her hand, a Skim Ice Coffee, with brown sugar in it. She made it onto the cross town, and I slip in after her, a couple people behind. The wait is almost unbearable. The whole bus trip I am waiting, waiting. After all these weeks of preparation, the moment has come. She is off the bus, walking down Central Park West. We are on 76th. The time is now...
In The Morning
“What do we have here?” Detective Carter asked his sidekick, Detective John Haden. The body had been found earlier in the morning, in a trashcan on 76th street.
“Ah, not much. Female, Brunette, 5'4'', 16 years of age, appears to be regular stalker murder. Nothing unusual,” Detective Haden said in his robotic, annoying professional voice. “What you want to do boss?”
“Get this scene photographed, and bag n' tag evidence for the forensics. Don't want Hanna complaining that she has nothing to do.”
“Yes sir. What about Probe over there? What job does she have?”
“She is gonna go tell those parents of this child that their darling little girl was killed. Which brings me to now... PROBE! Enlighten me!”
“Uh, yes sir. Her name is Allegra Devinici, goes to school at UCNY, has a brother. Her two parents film documentaries and vote on movies. Fits right into the stalker's other victims. Parents must be distraught with worry, for good reason.” Carter raises an eyebrow. Probationary officer Makeba Returley blunders, trying to find what she missed. “Um, and I'm going to go talk to the parents right now?” Carter nods, and turns away. The M.E. had arrived, Dr. Bertrass.
“Hey Bertrass, took you long enough. Thought you were victim to this killer too.”
“Not likely, old chap! Me and Maxwell got caught in traffic because he took the wrong highway!” Max rolled his eyes and pulled out the gurney. Carter turned and almost walked right into Peter Jaelin, his hulking agent that was the gun expert. He so far had not made it more than 2 years through one police force.
“Hey boss,” Peter said, falling in step beside Carter. “We have a suspect. Zachary Graenfield. Graenfield is not likely, but we still have to check on him. And...” The rest of his sentence was completely cut off by a shriek and the sound of guns being drawn. Carter rushed over to the body. A witness, (who, unknown to Carter, is named Olivia Mairen and is the daughter of a very important person) was pointing a shaking hand at the wall of the dumpster in which the victim was found in. A piece of paper was tacked on to the wall with a severed hand holding it. Blue writing could be seen on it. It read:
Carter grimaced in disgust. This stalker really had to come up with a better name. Carter whirled around as he heard someone gasping for breath. It was Director Gainwinn, and he looked like he was about to have a heart attack. Which was possible, considering he was in his forties, and his brother had died young of a heart attack. His face was pale, his bright orange hair seemed to dim, and his smile that sometimes looked amazingly stupid had vanished in place of a look of horror. The local police had cleared the onlookers away, so only the Special Branch of the NYPD were there to see their Director fall to his knees with tears streaming down his face. Ben Gainwinn put his face in his hands, trying to erase the letter from his mind, but he couldn't. The image was seared into his brain. The man who had killed his sister was back. And he was aiming for his friends. The Director tried to remember something. The name was familiar. He remembered his science teacher, Angelo Brovner calling someone that. The name eluded him. Which made the tears come so much more easily.
Carter waited while the Director stood up and composed himself. All the agents had politely turned their faces away from the spectacle, except for the Probe, who went up to the Director and tried to comfort him. The Director smiled in thanks, and waved her away while approaching Carter. They shared a glance, and then Peter and John walked up, curious to what the problem was. “What's up bosses?” The two agents said in unison, hands in their pockets and with mild expressions on their curious and open faces, with their hats turned sideways like a pair of wannabe party boys. Carter and the Director shared another glance, this one half laughing, half serious. The Director turned back to them, his face grave again. “The man who killed my sister is back.” Peter looked at the note, and he visibly paled. John looked at him questioningly. Peter couldn't speak. His mouth was dry, his lips forming the words, but it didn't come out. Finally, he spoke. “My sister is on that list. Elana is my sister. I took my wife’s last name. He's... He's after my DAMN SISTER!” Carter walked up to him and smacked the back of his head. Hard. Peter cringed, than relaxed. “I'm okay now boss,” he sighed. Carter nodded, and walked over with the Director to Probe, who was interviewing the witness who saw the note, Olivia Mairen. “Did you see anybody suspicious near the note?” Makeba was asking when Carter and the Director walked up. Probe looked up at him, and he jerked his head. “K boss I'll go tell the parents now.” Carter took out his notepad and looked down at Olivia. “Okay tell me again what you saw?” When she hesitated, his voice softened. “Take your time, there's no rush.” She finally spoke. “I was on my way to Shake Shack to meet a few friends when I saw the crime scene. It's just so... horrible,” she ended with a sob. The Director patted her shoulder, while Carter just watched, silent as usual. When she was done sobbing, she continued. “I was looking around to see if anybody I knew was here, when I saw a guy tacking a note to the wall. You know what happened next.” Carter stroked his chin, intrigued by the mystery man. “What did the man look like?” Carter asked, pencil scribbling.
“He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, but I could tell he was kinda tall, and he had blond hair. My guess is around late thirties, early forties.” Carter nodded and started to walk away. Olivia called him back. “There is one more thing. The man who tacked up the note seemed really scared around the crime scene.”
“Thanks Ms. Mairen. You can go now if you wish.” She nodded and turned away. The Director was interested. “So the least likely killer, is the one who might have done it?” He mused with a half smile. The closer he got to capturing this monster, the happier he seemed to get. Carter nodded, and whistled, twirling his finger in a circle. “Wrap it up, lets go.” As an afterthought he smiled. “Its time we interviewed Zachary Graenfield.”
“I'm telling ya I didn't do nothing!” Graenfield screamed at the glass of the interrogation room. Makeba and Peter were already there, waiting for their boss. They had found Graenfield, of course, in a club downtown. He had been having the time of his life, until they walked in. He had tried to run, but tripped and knocked himself unconscious on a garbage can. What a failure of a run, Peter thought as Graenfield continued to rant and scream. “Things are going to get out of hand soon” Makeba remarked to Peter, sounding bored out of her mind. She turned to the person with the sound controls, Arman Kelerichi. “Turn it down a little Arman. I'm getting a headache.” Arman nodded and turned away. The entrance of Carter interrupted the two agents musings. Graenfield stopped screaming, his mouth still open and drooling, looking like a man half asleep and half drunk. He was probably a little bit of both. Carter slammed the folder on the desk, making Graenfield jump 3 feet in the air, drool flying from his mouth. Carter looked at him in disgust for a while, than sat down. Behind the glass, Peter was giving the Probe his usual annoying commentary.
“He kinda looks like a zombie, doesn't he? With all the drool, and the fact that he looks half asleep. Oh wait, here comes the good part. I think Boss is gonna break him with the old “feel guilty yet?” game. Pretty much he shows the dead person's picture, and makes the suspect feel guilty. Guilt is a great way to break a man.” He stopped, watching the scene before him. Graenfield was gazing in shock and horror while he looked down at the body of his old classmate, Allegra Lerici. His lawyer, Lucy Pabilero was on her way, but looking down at his old classmate, his guilt made him feel the need to talk. He opened his mouth again to speak, but Carter put a form in front of him. It was an attorney waiver. Graenfield signed it. Carter opened his cell phone, dialed a number, put it on speakerphone, than waited. A woman's voice came on. “Hello?”
“This is Agent Carter, your client Zachary Graenfield has signed an attorney waiver, and so your services will no longer be needed.”
“WHAT! YOU... YOU... YOU GOT HIM TO SIGN IT!”
“Yes, I did, now please stop shouting.”?
“ARE YOU KIDDING? I'M JUST GETTING WARMED UP!”
“Ya, I got it.” And he hung up with her screams of rage still echoing from the speaker. Carter turned to look at Graenfield, whose mouth was gaping open again, his eyes filled with wonder and fear. “You ac..actually ju..just hung up o...on her!” he stammered, forcing the words out of his mouth. Carter nodded, and Graenfield slumped. “Okay, I'm ready to talk.” Carter sat down and waited. “He threatened me. Said I had to place the note, or he would kill me. And I f***ing believed the b******. God damn it, please don't put me in jail, I didn't do anything.” Carter sat staring at him, than spoke three words. “Who was it?” Graenfield looked up, and spoke with fear. He was afraid of the man who had almost killed him. One bad boy afraid of another. “I'm not sure, but I think his name is Sam. Sam Cameleer.”
Sam was found in a police station nearby. He had reported a murder, but was apparently too shocked to talk about it. He was babbling when Carter walked in, sweat dripping from his body. He was obviously scared out of his mind. The few words Carter could discern were gibberish, sounding like Pig Latin. But John could understand it. He was one smart cookie, even though he was annoying as hell. John turned pale a few seconds later. “From what I can tell, he is saying the victim and the victim's place of death.” Carter nodded, not surprised. He raised an eyebrow at John. “The victim's name is Anna Lerner, and the place of death is Sam's shop.” Carter stopped short. He put his head in his hands, ran a hand through his hair. He had failed to stop the serial killer. Peter got off the phone and walked towards him. Carter waited, hoping for good news. He never got it. Peter was shivering. “The b****** got Ruby. Ruby Hefner was just found in a trash can a street over from where Allegra was.” Carter stared at him for a full ten seconds. Then he raced towards the cars, yelling, “Get to Elana! She's next!”
Elana Lerici was at the moment tied to a chair in her own apartment, with a hooded man pacing back and forth in front of her. He kept checking his watch, checking the time for some reason. Elana was afraid. In fact, she was terrified. She remembered the time she had fallen from a tree, watched the ground coming closer and closer as she plummeted faster and faster. That was scary. This was much, much worse. She had opened the door for her food that had been delivered, but he had been at the door instead. Elana winced as she remembered the throbbing bruise on her temple. She guessed that was where he had hit her to knock her out. While on the subject, Elana decided to try and breach the silence that had grown. She wasn't gagged. “Why did you attack me? What are you doing?” The man glanced at her, saw she was still tied, and then looked away. She tried to loosen the ropes around her wrists again. Her brother Peter had taught her that if you tightened your wrists, and then loosened them, the ropes would not be as tight. He was right. The ropes were not as tight as they were before. In fact, she could probably slip a wrist out of its binding. The man glanced at her, and then away again. Elana counted about a minute before he looked at her. She immediately began slipping her wrists out of the rope, counting silently in her head. At thirty seconds, she had untangled one wrist. At fifty-seven seconds, she was loose. The man looked at her again, and Elana prayed that he wouldn't see the frayed end of the rope dangling behind her. The man looked away again, and she gasped in relief. But she wasn't out of this yet. She was now faced with a dilemma. How would she untie her feet without him noticing? She was still pondering the problem when the man looked at his watch, turned towards her and raised his arm. In his hand he held a pistol, with a silencer on it. Peter played a lot of Call Of Duty.
The man began to talk to her. Telling his story of how he had been abused as a kid, how nobody had liked him, how his science teacher had called him “Z” at UCNY. Elana frowned at that. She had gone to UCNY, and she hadn't made fun of anyone. But apparently the man thought she had. He raised his eyes to her face, and took off his mask. Elana gasped. Jack Faettery smiled pleasantly, his face taking on the look of a friend greeting a friend. “I'm sorry Elana. There really is no other way.” He began to squeeze the trigger, and Elana closed her eyes. She was afraid. Then the bang came and all was darkness.
Elana waited for a few seconds, and opened her eyes. Jack was jumping up and down in front of her, holding his foot. Blood sprayed from the wound in his achilles tendon. He cursed, grabbed his gun, and pointed it at her again. But as the shot was being fired, Matt Carter came flying through the window to smash into Jack's side. The gun went off, and the shot went wide. Carter grabbed the hand with the gun and began smashing it against the table nearby. As soon as the gun was out of his hand, Jack jumped up and hobbled to a window. They could hear him hopping down the street in the steady drizzle outside. Carter jumped out to follow him as Peter walked through the door, holding a sniper rifle. He dropped it and ran to Elana, checking her for any cuts or wounds. Elana smiled up at him, and then fainted. Her brother caught her and brought her to the bed in the guest room. For the first time in many years, Peter put her under the blankets and tucked her in. Grabbing a chair and placing it next to her head, Peter sat down and fell into a deep sleep as well. As the sirens flashed red and blue around the walls, brother and sister slept peacefully, knowing that for now, they were safe.
Carter chased after Jack without even thinking. Even though Jack was hurt, he had a head start. Spinning around the corner of an alleyway, he stopped short. Jack was standing there, holding another gun in his hand. He smiled, the smile twisting his face even more than it usually was. “I'm sorry Carter, I meant to save you for later. But I guess you must be killed a little earlier. Bye-Bye.” Carter closed his eyes. His life mission had been getting rid of those people life Jack, criminals. And he had failed. A tear rand down his cheek, and shots were fired. Carter waited for the impact. Kept waiting. He opened his eyes to see Jack on his back, lying in a pool of blood. Director Gainwinn walked down the street towards Carter, his gun smoking. His red hair stood out in the rain, and Carter could see the look of satisfaction combined with the ghost of a smile. Gainwinn looked up at the window that Jack had just left and walked towards it. He walked slowly, thinking, while Carter walked with him towards the door of the apartment. There would always be criminals. There would always be men who sought to kill, to ravage, or to rob. There would always people who died, or who killed themselves. But as Gainwinn opened the door, and saw the brother and sister lying peacefully near each other, he realized something. This is why he did what he did. This is why he tried to catch every criminal he could. For the moments like this one, where the love between two people had been saved. Gainwinn, for the first time since his sister had died a year ago, he began to laugh. Carter looked at him, and began to laugh as well. Outside, the rain had stopped, and the stars had come out. Sparkling, beautiful stars.