The water was to their knees and already they were starting to feel the effects of the cold. Greg’s coughing and vomiting was getting worse and Nick could feel the heat of Greg’s temperature on his back. He wasn’t feeling much better. His lungs were slowly closing, his muscles ached, and his abdomen felt like a horse had kicked him several times.
“I have an idea. Let’s stand up and straddle the backs. It’ll keep us out of the water a while longer.”
“I don’t think I can stand very long.”
“Greg, we can’t just sit here. Pretty soon the water’s going to be high enough to lift the chair and us. If we stand on them, distribute our weight, we’ll be able to keep the chairs down longer.”
“The water will disperse the explosion.”
“Not until it’s at least four or five feet deep. Maybe.”
Greg stared at the water. He repeated, “I don’t think I can stand very long, Nick. I can hardly move as it is.”
Nick turned in his chair, shaking Greg’s shoulder. Greg looked back over his shoulder at him.
“I’ll keep you up,” Nick told him. “Come on.”
Greg slowly rose to his feet on his chair. Nick climbed onto his feet in his chair.
“Here. Hold onto my shoulders so you don’t fall.” He put his hands on Greg’s shoulders and Greg did the same. “Now, on the count of three we have to move fast and hope the move doesn’t… You know.”
“Okay. One… Two… Three!”
They moved fast, slipping one leg over each chair and standing face to face. Greg looked down at the water and began to sway.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Greg, look up. Look at me.”
Greg turned his eyes up to Nick’s face. He started to fall back. Nick grabbed his arms, yanking him forward. Greg grabbed Nick’s shoulders, stopping himself.
“Okay, got another idea. Unfasten your belt and then turn it around and loop it back through the loops.”
Greg did as he told him. Nick unfastened his belt and then hooked them together.
“If I fall, we’ll both fall,” Greg pointed out.
“If we both fall, we’re both dead anyway so it won’t matter will it?”
“Guess not. Hey Nick—” Greg swayed and passed out.
Nick caught him, holding him up. Realizing he couldn’t hold him for long, he rested his head on his shoulder and used his belt to hold him up. It only took him minutes to realize that he wasn’t as healthy as he felt. His arms began to tremble and burn. He hugged Greg to him, staring at the rising water.
Grissom, Catherine, Warrick, Hodges, and swing shift CSI Ronnie had taken over the Q.D. lab and light table. Warrick and Catherine had collected everything from Greg and Nick’s homes, which turned out to be a lot more than it looked. On Nick’s computer, Catherine had found even more documents. From the emails she’d found, the two sounded like they had identified their stalker’s name, but they didn’t have a face or residence, and in the last email, Nick had told Greg until they had that, they couldn’t go to Grissom.
She had given that email to Grissom in private, and it was a good thing. She saw how much it bothered him that the two didn’t trust him enough to present him with this problem. He quickly moved past that and dove back into trying to make connections in their investigation files.
“I think I have a name!” Warrick said.
At the same time Archie came into the Q.D. lab announcing, “I have a name!” as he held up a photograph of something.
Grissom, Catherine, swing shift CSI Ronnie, and Hodges looked up at him.
“Is it Blaine Juhl?” Warrick asked.
“What name do you have?” Grissom asked.
Archie showed them the picture of the pool. They had all been shown it but none of them had been able to identify the distorted image on it. On the photograph now, someone had traced an image with permanent marker.
“I have this friend that’s a comic book artist and—”
“Archie,” Grissom pointed to the computer monitor at the end of the table. “Now isn’t the time.”
Archie looked at the monitor. He’d been out of the lab for several hours and didn’t know what had been happening. On it, Nick was hugging an unconscious Greg, standing on the chairs, with water up to his ankles.
“He’s filling the pool with water? Why don’t they just move?” Archie asked.
“There is a bomb under their chairs,” Warrick answered.
“Titan,” Archer said, wiggling the photograph. He slid it to Grissom. “The image is of Poseidon, the god of the sea, with a dolphin.”
“Do you know where this image is?” Grissom asked.
“I think so. Remember that retirement community north of here? It was abandon because of the uranium mine nearby? I think that’s it.”
Grissom pulled his cell phone out and dialed a number. “Brass, send units to Los Castillos Lujosos. That may be where he’s holding them.” Grissom hung up. “Warrick, what do you have?”
“I think he changed his name before he turned eighteen.” Ronnie sorted through her papers. “All of these are school transcripts and medical records are for a Bret O’Connor.”
“Petra’s brother…” Grissom stood.
“He’s getting back for his sister and step-father,” Catherine said, looking at the monitor.
Grissom’s phone rang. “Grissom. Why are we just hearing about this now? We’ll be in the parking lot in five minutes.” Grissom hung up. “Los Castillos Lujosos still has security and in the last four days, they’ve had three guards never return from patrol.”
Grissom grabbed a folder. “We’re going out there now.”
In a flurry Warrick, Catherine and Grissom left, leaving Ronnie and Archie.
Grissom suddenly came back. “Are you coming?” he asked them.
The two ran after him.
Greg opened his eyes, staring at the water. Tiny shafts of sunlight refracted through the water, casting little rainbows everywhere. With a high fever, he didn’t notice how cold the water was, but he felt Nick shivering under him.
“Are we dead?” Greg muttered.
Nick opened his eyes. He stared at the water too. The water was turned off when it was just over waist high – high enough to start hypothermia, but low enough it would never absorb the blast of the bomb. It made him want to shoot Blaine Juhl right between the eyes.
“Not yet,” Nick answered.
“Why are you shaking?”
“The water is freezing cold.”
Greg let out a sigh. “We’re going to die, aren’t we?
Nick closed his eyes. The answer was simple. There was no one coming to rescue them at the last minute.
Greg closed his eyes. “I feel like I could die right now.”
“You’re really sick.”
“He did this to me, didn’t he?”
“I’m sure he did.”
“Not choosing the epi over me.”
Nick smiled. “All in a day’s work.”
Greg smiled for a second as his conscious faded away again.
He didn’t answer. Nick adjusted his arms around him and realized they were starting to feel numb.
From the control room Blaine watched the two slowly dying and it thrilled him. He had calculated the time of death within hours and that time was drawing near. Not wanting to miss watching them draw their last breaths, his attention riveted to the monitor and he didn’t see the police cars, SUVs, and ambulances pull up to the gates of Los Castillos Lujosos.
Brass stepped out of his car, glaring at the camera mounted on the fence. He drew his side arm and shot it out, spooking everyone. Brass didn’t care. He was determined to destroy Blaine Juhl and hoped, no, prayed, that the man would draw a weapon and give him reason to put a bullet through his heart. Brass looked into the community. The houses near the entrance were finished. They were Spanish-style one or two bedroom cottages, designed for elderly occupants. The rest of the homes were unfinished. The nearby uranium mine had destroyed what was supposed to be a first-class retirement community.
“The pool house is in the center,” Brass told everyone. “We don’t know where he’s at and we can’t be certain he hasn’t placed bombs elsewhere. Move out.”
A police officer opened the gate and several went inside, fanning out among the houses. CSI, the bomb squad, and Brass started walking down the street, watching the houses for any movement.
Blaine noticed the gate camera was out. He tapped two buttons and made some adjustments, but it didn’t come on. He caught a movement in another camera and focused on it, but there was nothing there. He got up, grabbed his coat and a rifle, and headed out to the gate to fix it. He didn’t want anyone surprising him until the two were dead.
Catherine watched a policeman move between houses nearby. “He had this place all to himself. We never would have thought to look here.”
“Luckily for him, our CSI are smarter than he is,” Grissom replied.
Catherine smiled. She looked across the street as another officer came and went from view.
To their left, a gun was fired. They heard someone yell, “STOP!”
Over Brass’s radio an officer reported, “Blaine Juhl has been sighted! He’s running back to the pool house, armed with a shotgun. I need a medic, two streets over from the gate, and six houses up.”
The group ran.
Blaine ran into the control room and slammed the door shut. He slid a metal bar into the brackets he had fitted on either side for just this moment. Blaine dropped his gun on the desk and picked up a remote control. He jumped when something hit the door and turned. Brass glared through the triple pane window in the door.
His voice was muffled but he could hear Brass order, “Open the door! You’re under arrest!”
Blaine picked up the rifle, pressing the barrel end under his chin.
“No. Blaine, NO!” Brass yelled.
Blaine smiled at him, and then pulled the trigger.
Outside Brass stepped back. The CSI and the bomb squad were waiting for news.
“Did he just kill himself?” Archie asked.
“Yeah.” Brass turned to the bomb squad. “Ever disarm a bomb under water?”
They looked at each other, but none answered. Brass sighed.
“Well, today you’re going to learn how to, because the bomb is under water, and the only man that could tell us how to disarm it just committed suicide.”
Brass jogged into the door marked ‘Pool,’ leading the others in.
The pool area was dark and it took a few minutes for their eyes to adjust. It took less than that for Warrick to respond to his friends floating in the pool. He ran toward the pool, focused on pulling his fellow CSI from the pool before the bomb could go off.
“WARRICK, NO!” Grissom yelled.
Warrick dove into the frigid water, swimming out to them.
Brass keyed his radio, “Send paramedics to the pool area.
Warrick grabbed one of Nick’s arms and one of Greg’s arms, and pulled them toward the edge. The others came to the edge and lifted Greg and Nick out. A bomb squad member pulled out a knife and cut the belt holding them together.