Several days later Hannibal Lecter sat in his office across from Will Graham. Both men were deep in thought. It was Lecter that broke the silence.
“Tell me what you have seen with the Inquisition Killer please Will.” His voice was mild.
“Don’t you think that you are a little too close to this case Dr. Lecter?”
The reply was smooth and soft. “Not at all. If there is anyone that can give the FBI insight into the mind of Anastassia Serdste, it is me. I have known Dr. Serdste for nearly twenty-five years. She was still a small child when I made her acquaintance.”
Will Graham frowned but started in. “We have determined that it was while Dr. Serdste was in medical school that she met Hammerli. He was a second year medical student and she was a first year. It seems that they were in a class together.”
“Immunology I believe.”
Lecter nodded. “It was not one of the classes that I was teaching then. Do you know if Mr. Hammerli was in any of mine at that time?”
Unless the killer was in some way remarkable, he would not have noticed the man in a class of 100 or more. For Lecter, it would take someone quite unique for him to have even noticed, truth be told.
“Yes. He was in your behavioral science class the year before. It seems that Hammerli received a low grade in the immunology class the previous year, and was retaking the class to raise his GPA.”
Lecter’s eyes darkened a bit and narrowed. He was trying to remember the man from many years prior and could not. “Go on please.”
Will continued with the tale. “We have never found any of the bodies. All we have are the video tapes and some of Hammerli’s – souvenirs. He would send us edited video tapes. They were skillfully done and set to music, which is strange enough within itself. They were always love songs of some sort. I believe that the music is considered to be rock ballads. The women all resemble the very basics of Dr. Serdste’s looks. They were all tall, slender, with dark hair and eyes. The first 24 of them appeared to be transients. They were the type that no one would miss. The last 6, on the other hand, were not.” Will took a breath and began again. “They were professionals. They were doctors, lawyers, professors and such. I think he was trying to get closer to Dr. Serdste by taking on women that were equal to her.”
“There is no equal to Anastassia, Will.” Lecter’s carefully placed mask faltered for less than a blink of an eye at his own statement. “How did you deduct his identity?”
“There was a brief flash in one of the sequences on a tape. It was a reflected image of Hammerli. The computer techs were able to make a full scan of his face from that. I personally believe it was done on purpose. He is getting ready for bigger and better things in his eyes. He wants Dr. Serdste to know. He wants her to understand his love for her. What he does is horrifying. He keeps the women alive and awake during everything. When they start to go into shock, he brings them back around and cares for them until they are ready for him to begin again. This is some of the most heinous torture I have ever seen Dr. Lecter.”
There was a tilt of his head; Lecter stared at the man before him. “How long does he keep them for?”
“We don’t know exactly. The dates on the video tape are always different. Sometimes they come from the very distant past and sometimes from deep into the future. The cryptologists are trying to decipher the dates and time to see if there is meaning behind them.”
“What does he do to the women? Is there a set practice?”
“No. The only thing that he does that is similar on all his victims is he blinds them first and foremost. Other than that, he seems to have a new routine every time.”
“Are the women sexually assaulted?”
“Yes. Usually directly after blinding them he rapes the women.” Will paused once more to choose his words. “He might imagine himself as being unattractive. He might do it in case the women somehow escape. It seems that the women never actually see him prior to the blinding. That way the women would have a harder time giving an account of what he looks like. I think it is because he does not want them to see what is coming next. It is almost a loving gesture. The less they know the better. Although, at the same time, it is a power rush for him as well.”
“What else is remarkable about this man Will?”
“It is what he does with their hair. He brushes it for them. He washes it for them. Then, when their time is ending, he cuts their hair. We think he is making a brush out of it somehow. It would be something similar to a paint brush. The love letters and pictures with blood on them all have hair fragments mixed in. The hair matches the victims that we could identify via visuals on the tapes.”
“A fetish perhaps?”
“I believe that it is more of a personal touch rather than a true fetish. It is just another way of showing Dr. Serdste his devotion to her. The victims belong to her as well as to him. He wants her to know that he does this just for her. I believe – “
Just then Will’s cell phone buzzed nearly silently in his pocket. Reaching for the small device he answered it. “Jack?” Listening for a few moments, he gave a nod. “We will be there shortly.”
“Dr. Lecter, a body has been found. We believe it is one of the Inquisition Killer’s victims. Jack has asked that you come along.”
Will rose as did Lecter. Retrieving their jackets, it only took a moment to lock the office up and they were off to find out this new revelation.
The car ride for most of the trip to Hopkins was silent. That is until Will Graham asked a question.
“How well do you know Dr. Serdste?”
“One could say intimately, I suppose.” Hannibal smirked at his driving companion.
“I find that surprising. Dr. Serdste seems so young and innocent, Dr. Lecter.”
“Believe me Will, Anastassia hasn’t been innocent for quite some time. Besides, I believe she is close in age with you. You lost your own sense of innocence long ago, correct?”
Will Graham did not say a word again until they arrived at the large hospital.