Two officers led Donald Fritz down the hall, with Brass trailing behind. Donald’s clothes were dirty and torn from his struggle, while shiny shackles and handcuffs jingled and glinted as he shuffle-hopped along. He was happy, giddy almost, and it made everyone who saw him pass sick to their stomach, angry, outraged.
The police officers led him into an interrogation room and sat him down opposite of Nick.
Child and C.S.I. stared at each other, but Nick saw nothing child-like in the boy’s eyes. This teenager’s dark brown eyes were the cold and dispassionate. His lips toyed with a sadistic, maniacal smile.
That was the first time during this investigation that Nick realize Greg had never stood a chance against this child. He wouldn’t have, Brass wouldn’t have… Donald would have killed any of them without hesitating, enjoying every scream of agony, and each splash of their warm blood on his body. His tragic childhood had transformed him into a guiltless killer with an unquenchable blood-lust.
“What are we waiting for?” Donald asked.
“You’re child advocate.”
Brass started to answer.
Donald grinned. “I bit the first one. Almost scratched the eyes out of the next cunt they sent in. Put the balls of the third one in his guts. I don’t need a fucking advocate. I can take care of myself, asshole.”
“There won’t be another advocate. Judge’s orders,” Brass told Nick. “He’s to be treated as an adult. And he’s waived his right to council.”
Nick looked up at Brass, then back at Donald. He didn’t like this setup. Donald may be a killer, but he was still a child, and Nick had doubts he understood the laws. That left it up to Nick to carefully navigate this interview, because if he said something wrong, did something out of line, this child would never see jail, let alone the death penalty. And Nick really wanted this child to get the death penalty.
“Tell me where you were two nights ago, Donald,” Nick began.
“You know that answer, or we wouldn’t be talking…” Donald leaned in, setting his cuffed hands on the table. Nick glanced at the boy’s hands. They were smooth, untouched by life. How could hands so young know how to kill so efficiently? “Would we, Mister Stokes?”
“How do you know my name?”
Donald laughed. “A ghost told me. She said you and I would be having a great conversation about that friend of yours. The one I had fun bashing his head in and breaking all of his bones, before I got to fill him with bullets.” Donald laughed with glee. “Oh he was the most fun I’d had all night!”
Nick suddenly found himself glad Donald knew his name. He hoped the teenager would escape again, and come looking for him. He hoped he would be armed with anything, even a stick, giving Nick a reason to ‘defend’ himself.
“Your fingerprints are on the guns and the crowbar used to kill eight people. I—”
“I only killed one with the crowbar. Gr-eg” A dreamy look came over Donald’s face. “I hope I get another like him. He didn’t cry for help, he didn’t beg for his life, he just fought!”
Nick looked at the case file. He wanted to know… What did… “So you knew Greg Sanders? Before you attacked him? How did you know him?”
“My little ghost told me he was coming.” Donald sung out ‘coming’ and it made Nick’s gut twist in anger. How did he get the right to enjoy this?
“Is that why you killed him? Because you’re ghost told to?” Nick lifted his eyes, glaring at the teenager. He didn’t care if glaring at a suspect might be used against him because he was struggling to hold back his rage.
“No. I killed him because he was there and I could.” Donald closed his eyes. “Have you ever smashed someone’s bones? Oh! The feeling of them snapping! And the blood. It’s so warm and sweet when it hits you in the face. I had it everywhere! It was like taking a warm shower. He—”
Nick couldn’t listen to this. He had to change the subject to keep himself from leaping across the table and breaking the kid’s neck! “You said he didn’t beg. What did he do?”
Donald looked at him, grinning. “He fought! It was such a turn on! I thought I’d finished him in the basement, but he was a smart fucker. He played dead. He tricked me. Most people aren’t so good at that, but they only get to do it once. The second time, I didn’t stop until his head caved in.” Donald chucked. “I even shot up the closet I’d tossed him in with the rest of the trash, just to be sure.”
Nick leaned in. “Greg lived for three days, Donald. That will make the charges worse for you.” Nick told him so he knew he hadn’t killed Greg like he’d planned. He’d messed it up, again. “I guess your kill wasn’t so great after all.”
Donald slowly leaned forward, stopped when an officer grabbed his shoulder. He and Nick were face-to-face, mere inches from each other.
“It was awesome. His was the best I’d ever had. And I could never respected someone as much I do Greg.” Donald sat back. “I want another one just like him. Not those whiny, sniveling fucks that beg and pray and barely put up a fight. Someone who wants to live and fights for it!”
Nick sat back, because if he didn’t, he’d lunge across the table and try breaking Donald’s neck. He knew Greg wanted to live and killed him anyway? This child was so far gone not even the Devil would want him.
Nick looked down at the file his hand was on. He wanted to end the interview but there was no guarantee if he left and came back that Donald would be so willing to talk. He had to continue.
He heard Brass clear his throat and looked at him. He was watching Nick. Did he know? Nick looked back at Donald.
“Why did you kill your family, Donald?”
Donald sat back, staring off across the room. “They weren’t my family.”
“They were your foster family since you were six.”
Donald grinned. It was chilling to see the child grin, to see his raw sadistic pleasure. “My family was murdered. Have you seen the pictures? The man cut out my father’s heart while it was still beating and slit him open like a pig. He raped my mother as he strangled her. Did the same to my sister.” Donald looked Nick in the eyes. “He told me about it. Told me that he left me alive to carry on his work. He wanted that family dead.”
“How did the man who killed your parents tell you to do these things? He was executed three years after he was caught.”
“In my head.” Donald stabbed as his temples with his forefingers and then let out a peal of sadistic laughter. “Long live Harris! Long live Klebold!”
Nick wasn’t about to give into the psychopath’s worship of his teenage heroes.
Donald laughed but Nick saw something in it though. The name bothered Donald.
“Donald, who’s Emily? How is she connected to this?”
“Stop saying her name,” Donald snarled.
“I want to know who Emily is.”
Donald glared at Nick. If he’d had a weapon handy, Nick knew Donald would have used it on him.
“Stop saying her name!”
Nick internalized his smile of vengeance. He’d found something the child killer feared. The anger in him was going to use that fear to stab Donald’s cold heart until he had an answer or was drug out of the room.
Nick leaned in. “Who. Is. Emily?”
“Stop saying her name!” Donald screamed.
“Tell me who Emily is!” Nick ordered.
Donald looked past Nick, into the hall. Only Donald saw the pigtailed girl standing at the window of the door. He could just make out her terry cloth cat she was holding against her chest with one hand, while pressing her other hand against the glass. She slowly shook her head, the way one does out of pity.
The girl mouthed ‘good-bye’ before she turned and disappeared from Donald’s view.
“Wait,” Donald said. “No. Wait. Emily, wait!”
Nick glanced at the window but saw nothing. He looked back at Donald’s face. Donald believed he was seeing something and whatever it was, terrified the murderer. In that moment of realization, Nick’s stomach tightened into a sickening knot. Donald was seeing hallucinations. There was an all too good chance he could plea insanity if he was hallucinating. Was God really that cruel?
“Donald, who is—”
Donald’s eyes snapped back to Nick and in a low, husky voice he recited, “When you first see Emily, you will fear her. When Emily comes once more, you will breathe no more.” Donald let out a nervous, insane laugh.
Nick knew that phrase. He opened his file and pulled out several photographs with that phrase from the kitchen wall, the bathroom mirror, and cut into his father’s and Greg’s backs. Nick slapped the photographs on the table, watching Donald recoiled further as each one landed on the table. Nick fought smiling to see the pictures were digging deep into Donald’s one fear: Emily.
“Who is Emily?” Nick demanded.
“STOP SAYING HER NAME!” Donald lunged at Nick, his arms outstretched to grab Nick by the throat.
Nick leapt out of his chair, keeping clear of the murderous child’s hands.
When they finally got Donald into a chair, Nick told the officers, “We’re done.”
The two wrestled him to his feet and led him out. Donald’s cold killer behavior was back. He lunged at people as he passed, and laughed when they jumped away in surprise or fear. At the top of his lungs he started singing the lyrics of ‘I Wanna Be an Airborne Ranger.’
“The jury won’t believe he’s sane. He isn’t going to jail, is he?” Nick asked Brass.
Brass sighed. “I doubt it.”
Nick sighed. Unfortunately, the child was insane. His lawyer would paint it that way. The jury would believe it. Greg wasn’t going to get his justice after all.
The girl asked,
But if you also knew exactly when and why you’d die, wouldn’t you do anything to stop it?
The large office contained three desks. Nick’s memorabilia was scattered across the top of one, along with a stack of case files and his spider’s biosphere.
The second was a large desk mat with a calendar was the focal point. A neat stack of case files sat in a wire basket atop a two-drawer filing cabinet. It was clean and organized. Behind the desk were three floor-to-ceiling shelves that were loaded down with books on various topics that Doctor Langston had been collecting.
In front of the third desk two chairs faced the desk, and in one sat seven-year-old Emily Patterson. She was small for a seven-year-old and looked five. She had bright blond hair pulled back in pigtails that curled and bounced with every small movement. Her dark blue eyes watched everything around her with a look of someone who had lived for centuries but never took the wonders of world for granted. She wore a pink dress with ‘Princess’ spelled out in flashing sequins. On her lap sat a stuffed terry cloth cat and hanging from the arm of the chair was a Dora the Explorer backpack. She stared intensely across the semi-cluttered desk at the very much alive Greg Sanders.
Having told him all that she had come to tell him, Emily sat patiently while Greg tried very hard to process the story she’d just spun. However, with the very vivid description of how he was supposed to die in two hours, Greg was finding processing difficult. She’d managed to throw him off center, spinning her vivid story of who would kill him and how he’d die, of what would happen to the people around him and things they hadn’t yet said. He wasn’t sure what to make of any part of her story.
She was adorable, and it would be easy to place trust in her. Greg had always been superstitious, even believed people could have premonitions, but why she claimed to have seen this was not something he could accept out of hand. He needed proof. He needed more than a story that a child bombarded with violent images every day could easily make up out of hand.
“So…” Greg leaned on his desk, looking at his desk. “You’re telling me you know this because you’re an Indigo child?”
“Yes,” she answered.
Greg looked at her. He’d heard of Indigo children. It was a New Age belief that children were being born who were the next evolutionary steps in humanity and that they possessed psychic abilities.
“You know there is no empirical evidence to prove the existence Indigo children exist.”
“There was a time when to believe in God was heresy. People were killed for believing in one god. Yet people still did and without proof God existed. Even today, people believe in this God that no one has empirical evidence exists. How is believing in Indigo children different from this blind faith?”
While her comparison was excellent, it didn’t convince him. “So you believe you’re a god?”
“No, Greg, I do not believe I am a god or goddess.” Her voice seethed with the condescension he’d expect from an adult, not a seven-year-old.
“Okay. And you expect me to believe that your parents let you come here alone in the middle of the night?”
Emily shook her head, making her curls bounce merrily. “If you know about my kind, you know we have to often disobey authority because they don’t understand what we know, or how we know it. My mom doesn’t know I’m here. We have had bad experiences with police in the past and knowing I’ve come to talk to you tonight would have upset her. I don’t have a father. He left when I was three because what I told him scared him. My mom tries to understand what I tell her but often times it also frightens her.”
“Frankly, Emily, I’m unnerved by what you’ve told me. Most people don’t want to know when they’re going to die! What made you think I would?”
“I didn’t think you would want to know. I needed you to know so you could avoid it, Greg. I need you to help me save other people’s lives. You can’t do that if you’re dead.”
Greg smiled. That was sound logic – if it were true. “So why me, Emily? What makes me so special?”
Emily smiled. It was hard to believe a child with such a bright, contagious smile held such dark secrets. “You want to believe. And I need you to believe. We need each other for similar yet very different reasons.”
Greg sat back, staring at her. She didn’t show any signs of impatience like most children her age. She was truly unique, so perhaps her claim that she was an Indigo child was correct. She was right about one thing; he did want to believe in her.
“And no one told you this was going to happen? This isn’t a threat?”
She shook her head, bouncing her pigtails again. If the gravity of her story hadn’t been so profound, he would have been amused by how more adorable it made her look.
Greg decided he could at least take precautions tonight; there was no harm in that.
Emily suddenly stood up and picked up a pen and paper. “This is the address.” Emily wrote it and handed him the paper. “Be sure to ask for at least three more police officers to meet you there. Tell them someone there is impersonating an officer – it’s Donald. He’s still going to escape, that has to happen tonight. But you know where to find him next, and no one else will be killed until then.”
“Why is he writing your name everywhere?”
“I’ve known Donald since I was in my third trimester inside my mother. I’ve tried to talk to him and ask him not to let what happened to him destroy him or hurt other people. He won’t listen and now he’s afraid of me.”
“Talk to him?”
“Donald is an Indigo child like me, but he never had anyone who believed in him. It’s what has made him so difficult to capture, because he knows things before they happen. But he won’t know this. He is beyond our help, we must stop him.”
“The other Indigo children and adults.”
Greg leaned on the desk. He couldn’t believe he was actually letting himself buy into any of this. He looked up when she laid a warm little hand on his arm. She was leaning across his desk, smiling at him with such a lovely, bright smile.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to believe right now, Greg. You just have to live. I just want you to live. Can you believe that much?”
Greg sighed. He nodded.
“Nothing wrong with a little precaution, I guess,” he admitted.
She nodded, bouncing her curls. This time he let the adorableness of them make him smile, and she returned it.
“Greg tonight is already gearing up to be a crazy night,” Catherine said as she came into the office. She looked up, seeing Emily. She smiled at her. “Hi there.”
Emily put on her backpack and picked up her toy cat. She walked around and whispered something in Greg’s ear, then walked out of the office. She held Catherine’s gaze as she passed her, but said nothing to her. Greg looked at the paper Emily had given him and smiled.
“Whose child is that?” Catherine asked. “She’s a little rude.”
“I don’t know who her parents are. She just showed up tonight to talk to me.”
Greg smiled at her. He didn’t answer; instead he asked, “Can you give me 3123 Roper, Catherine?”
Greg looked up at her. “DO you have a 3123 Roper? Gunshots reported? You’ve probably already told dispatch you assigned it to me.”
She stared at him a minute. She thumbed through the calls and stopped on the call sheet for that address. She didn’t hand it over right away. Catherine looked down her nose at him.
“How did you know I had that call?”
Greg stood and slowly pulled it from her hand. That was one truth point to Emily. “Long story.”
“Do you know someone at this address? Did they call you before calling for the police?”
“I don’t know this address or the people who live at it,” Greg honestly answered. He grabbed his coat from the back of his chair and walked around his desk to stand in front of her. Greg looked her in the eye, holding her gaze. “But do me a favor, Catherine. While I’m at this scene, if at any time I don’t answer my phone or radio for more than ten minutes, come for me, and bring lots of backup, because if you wait… I don’t want you to wait. Please, can you do that tonight?”
“Why are you acting weirder than normal?”
“I just… Am. Promise me? Promise you’ll come for me if I don’t answer?”
“You don’t have to take that call, Greg, if you’re worried about handling it. I can reassign—”
“No. I have to take this one. But I just need to know you won’t wait too long if you can’t reach me tonight.”
She stared at him for a long time. There was a lot he could see she wanted to say, but all she finally said was, “I promise. More than ten minutes, me and the whole police force will be on scene. Okay?”
He nodded. “I know I don’t say it enough, but you’re awesome. Next to Grissom, you’ve been a great supervisor.”
“Enjoyed? Been? Are you going somewhere?”
“I sure hope not.”
He gave her a quick hug and left the office. She was stunned by the conversation.
“Oh!” Greg appeared in the door again. “I almost forgot… You might want to skip the coffee until after the car accident you’re going to. You’ll just spill it all down the front of you. And tell Nick to ask Hodges to meet him at 6592 Angelica Court before he sends him to help David. He’ll need help getting a door off. Have a safe night, Catherine.”
“Greg, what’s…” She stopped because he’d already left.
Catherine looked at the calls, fishing out the car accident.
She jumped, startled by Nick’s voice. He chuckled.
“Drink too much caffeine already?”
“Greg’s acting strange.”
“How is that new?”
She almost commented, but then changed her mind. She handed the two bottom call slips to Nick and started to leave. She stopped and turned.
“Hm?” He looked up.
“Did I just hand you 6592 Angelica Court?”
Nick looked at both slips and then held up the one. “Right here. What about it?
Catherine looked at the sheet in her hand. “Have Hodges meet you there before you send him to help David. I suspect you’ll need help with a door.”
“Ohh… Kay. When should I do that?”
“I don’t know. Just… Greg mentioned you might run into that situation and something about the way tonight has been panning out makes me believe him.”
Nick looked down at his papers. “And the moon isn’t even full…”
She quietly chuckled as she left the office.
Twenty minutes later the graveyard C.S.I. heard Greg call over the radio, “Sanders to dispatch.”
“Dispatch. Go ahead.”
“10-78. 3123 Roper. Possible 10-27-1 and officer down. Suspect in the area and at large. Teenager, fifteen, brown hair. Suspect is to be considered armed, unstable, and dangerous. Approach with extreme caution.”
“Dispatch to all units. Nearest units to 3123 Roper, report to scene. Dispatch out.”
Greg sat in his Tahoe at the end of Roper Drive, staring at the house. He picked up the slip of paper Emily had written the address on and stared at the heart that dotted the ‘i.’ He looked at the house again.
Donald was walking back up the sidewalk to the front door. When Greg had turned the corner, he spotted the boy sitting in the police cruiser. He’d almost gunned it and driven on toward the house. He’d almost ignored everything Emily said and the vision she had told him about.
However, his promise to her made him hit the brakes and pull over.
A streetlight revealed Donald was carrying a crowbar – the one that would have ended Greg’s life. All that stood between Greg and his would-be murderer were the words of a seven-year-old girl. It chilled Greg as he realized he was literally brushing against Death, and, surprisingly, Death had lost interest in him tonight.