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"I'm gonna head out," I said as I stuck my head into my training officer's doorway.
"Have a good night," he replied as he looked up from the paperwork on his desk.
"Thanks. You too," I responded before heading out to the parking lot.
It had been a long shift, and a pain-in-the-ass night. With dealers roaming the streets, and girls looking for a good time, it was a tough one. Not to mention, we had a serial killer on our hands.
As I sat in the dark parking lot, I pulled out the familiar manila folder. There had been eight murders thus far, and the bastard had just taken another victim. We had been given twenty-four hours to find the girl, before he would brutally rape and strangle her. Exactly like what he had done with his previous victims.
I pulled out the photo of the girl, Vanessa Jansen, and stared at the words scrawled in red ink across the back: SAVE ME. In full honesty, those words scared the hell out of me. I had no idea how a case like this would end. I was still a rookie, for crying out loud! But seeing as the small-town had never dealt with a serial killer before, the department had needed every officer working on the case.
We had received a white envelope containing a photo of Vanessa at approximately nine AM that morning. As the day wore on, the hours had gradually trickled down. There were still no leads, and only ten hours left on the clock to save her.
Switching on the dome light on the roof of my car, I turned the picture over. Vanessa Jansen was in her early twenties, Caucasian, average height, fit, and brunette. She had all the tell-tale marks. In the photo, she appeared to be bound to a wooden chair and blindfolded. There was nothing else in the room besides a gray, cement wall situated behind her.
I didn't know why, but as I stared at the photo, I had a feeling that I'd seen the room before. Taking a closer look, I noticed that there were two, slanted black points painted on the wall. They were barely visible, one on either side of her head, and blending in with the darkness of her hair. At first, I couldn't put my finger on it. Then as I thought about it, I vaguely remembered that there was a meat packing company on the outskirts of town that used a black star on their packing labels. That's when it hit me. The points in the picture were part of a star!
Excited, I quickly pulled out of the police parking garage and sped to the site of the meat packing warehouse. I thought about calling for back-up, but I didn't want to look like a fool if the information turned out to be misleading, so I decided to investigate on my own.
Stepping out of my car, I looked up at the towering building and read the faded words: SHERMAN STAR'S PACKING COMPANY. It looked like the warehouse was no longer running. The windows were broken and the doors were hanging on their hinges.
Slowly, I walked to the entrance and stuck my head inside. I was greeted with the faint smell of animal fat mixed with dust. Resisting the urge to cough, my eyes watering, I silently reached down to my leg and pulled out my gun from its holster. Clicking on my flashlight, I made my way through the abandoned building.
I checked each room as I made my way to the back. It was obvious, as I got closer, that it was where the animals were slaughtered. Rounding the corner, I abruptly came to a stop, as the scene in front of me unfolded.
On the wall opposite from where I stood, a big black star was painted on the cold cement. There was a girl that laid unconscious on a gurney in the middle of the room, with an IV needle stuck in her right arm. It was Vanessa Jansen. Next to the gurney, an older woman was passed out on a wooden chair. In her lap, she held a Beretta 9mm.
At that moment, the lady decided to wake up. Panicking, I stuttered out, "S-Slowly drop the g-gun, and put your hands in the air." Startled, she jumped up and faced me, gun in hand. Automatically responding to the new threat, I pointed my gun at her chest.
"Who the hell are you?" she screeched out as she tightly gripped the gun.
"Put the gun down, and slowly raise your hands in the air," I repeated.
"Get the hell out or I'll kill her!" she screamed as she moved towards Vanessa's motionless body.
"You know I can't do that," I calmly started. "Why don't you put the gun down and we can talk about this."
"I don't want to talk! I want you to leave!" she ranted as she waved the gun in the air. "I swear to god I'm gonna kill her!" Now the gun was pointed at Vanessa's head.
"Okay, okay!" I shouted as my gun wavered. " Just tell me your name."
"Do you think I'm stupid!" she thundered as she raised the gun.
I fired. The shots rang out loud and clear in the vast room. I don't know how many times I pulled the trigger, but I didn't stop until her body hit the ground. After I retrieved the gun from the dead body, I called for an ambulance and requested back-up.
About ten minutes later, I heard the faint wailing of the ambulance and police cruisers. I went out to meet them and informed them of the dead body and our missing girl.
I began to follow the paramedics into the building, when someone called out to me. Turning around, I saw that it was my training officer.
"What's up?" I asked.
"What happened in there?" he concernedly and urgently whispered.
"I entered the building and I secured the front of it. When I got to the back, I found Vanessa Jansen lying on a gurney, and an older woman passed out in a chair next to her. The woman had a gun and she threatened to kill Vanessa. Then she pointed the gun at me and I had no choice but to shoot her."
"Why didn't you call it in? And how did you even find her?" he continued to grill me.
"I saw something in the picture that reminded me of this place, so I decided to check it out. I didn't want to call it in and have it turn out to be nothing," I tried to explain.
"Well you should've called it in. No matter how small or irrelevant the information was. Now the person that would've been our connection to the Amputator is dead! Do you understand that! We have nothing!" he hissed.
"We have Vanessa! She's alive, isn't she?" I countered.
"But are you sure she's gonna live?" he shot back. "You broke every rule in the handbook; every protocol that's ever been installed. I'll be surprised if the Chief doesn't just throw your ass off the case!" Well, that was harsh. It was like he was a whole different person as he stood there and chewed my ass out.
About a week after that incident, another envelope was sent to the station, but this one contained a photo with two victims. On the back, the son of a b**** didn't write his usual message, instead he had written: THANKS TO JORDAN DALLAS.
The Chief had instantly taken me off the case as soon as he saw the photo. I didn't stick around to see what would happen. Instead, I packed all of my belongings and moved to Chicago.

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