Angel of wrath
You are standing alone
forever fighting the rising tide
feeling helpless feeling betrayed
but now there is help at hand
rising from beyond the grave
The sound was terrifying, like a scream, perhaps her own. It hurt her ears, it was cutting its way into her very bones and there was no escape. She could not get out of the room, away from the hungry flames. They seemed to be searching for her in particular, like they had a mind of their own and the sound of the fire alarm made the scene complete. She tried to hide, to crawl into a ball, to make it all go away but she couldn’t.
She had been there so many times before, she could not count them and this time there would be no fireman rushing through the flames like a last minute miracle. This time she would burn for sure and she felt how the hot smoke was choking her. She screamed and then she woke up with a gasp, sitting up straight in her bed, sweat running down her back and chest.
It was no fire alarm, no sound of fire trucks and blazing flames, just her cellphone on the table next to the bed. She swallowed hard, caught her breath. This nightmare never seized to terrorize her; she would probably have to live with it forever. She grabbed the phone, looked at her watch. Five thirty in the morning, great! “Janet here!”
She could hear how grumpy her voice sounded. She recognized the voice in the other end, tired and flat and somehow sad. “Jan? Sorry to wake you this early in the morning but we got another one!”
She closed her eyes for a short second, swore to herself “The boss wants you down here, a.s.a.p.!”
She pulled her fingers through her hair, it was soaking with sweat. “OK Mike, I’ll be there in twenty!”
She could hear him sigh. “Great, we’ll be waiting.”
She dropped the phone, felt how she still was shaking. She would give anything, everything, to make this stop. Some of her friends knew but she had kept her problems as a secret to most of the people she surrounded herself with.
She stumbled into the bathroom, turned on the light and jumped into the shower just to get rid of the sweat, she would not have time to dry her hair but that did not matter now. Janet had no mirror in her bathroom, rather unusual but in her case understandable.
She had once been badly burned in a house fire and now, more than twenty five years later people would still stop and stare. She had gone through so many operations she could no longer count them and the surgeons had done a fabulous job, she looked scarred but not monstrous like she once had. The scars weren’t huge but you could clearly see them.
When she was younger she had used several hours every day trying to hide them underneath a thick layer of makeup but she had stopped doing that. It had been a mask, not the truth. She had enough self-confidence to show the world her real self even though the truth sometimes was bought with a heavy toll. It still hurt her when kids asked their mothers about her face.
She finished the shower, got dressed in a hurry, found her badge and her gun and the rest of her belongings, rushed out the door and almost forgot the keys to her car. She always tried to stay focused on the things she could do, on the things she could be proud of instead of the things she had lost.
Okay, she would never be a beauty queen but hey, who cared. She had a well-trained body. She had a good job as a detective and she felt in her heart that she made a difference. That she helped uncovering the truth, bringing the guilty ones to justice. Janet had helped herself by helping others for as long as she could remember but now the last few years some of her enthusiasm seemed to have disappeared.
She saw so much violence and so many tragic destinies she felt like she was drowning. It did not matter how many she helped, there were so many she could not help, people who were left to themselves. She felt angry, disappointed even. She had dreamed such wonderful dreams of how her work would be but now she felt like she was stuck in the mud with no possibility to get out.
There were clever lawyers who would get a suspect right out of custody no matter how good the evidence was. There were rules and regulations made only to make things more difficult, or at least it seemed to be that way. Janet felt that her energy was getting very low in deed. For every scum they got out of the streets there were at least twenty they did not catch or got away just because of the system.
She had seen how other police officers continued their work just because it was what they always had done, they had no drive left. They just continued because they couldn’t quit, and they were bitter and angry and did mistakes. She feared that she would end up like them one day, trying to do good things but to damn aware of the fact that nothing really mattered. They had to follow the law and the law could sometimes seem like an obstacle.
They had sworn to serve and protect but sometimes it seemed like it was the criminals they served and protected, not the innocent victims. They were too few; there was too little money, not enough resources. She had seen people being brought in after violent attacks on others and still get away with it and do the same thing again few days after, it felt like she was choking and she knew she wasn’t the only one with those feelings. Still they all carried on; because they had some hope left, if you only saved one person you had at least done something good.
She drove through the street like so many times before; the city was rather quiet since this was a suburb to the greater city to the east. It had been a town once, now it had been swallowed by the ever growing monster and soon it would lose whatever it had left of atmosphere. Janet loved this area, with its old brick houses, its small gardens and quiet streets. It was like an oasis and she was so very happy she could afford a small apartment there.
The Police station was not far from her home; she pulled into the parking lot and ran the last stretch into the meeting room. The others were already assembled there and she smiled and nodded to them. They all looked tired and she felt her own head being heavy with fatigue. This case was the worst they had come across in several decades.
The boss saw that everybody was present, than he stood up, pointed at a map behind him with a laser pointer. “As you all know there has been a new murder. It was discovered five O clock by a guy who was walking his dog. The victim is a Caucasian male, approximately in his early forties. He was found just like the others.”
Janet sighed, she knew the story, and it did no longer shock her. He continued. “The forensics is still there, this is the fifth victim in little more than a week, and I can’t tell you how important it is that this serial killer is caught.”
The others nodded their heads, some looked down. Janet could hear someone writing something down, the sound was strangely loud.
The boss sighed, pointed at the map once more. “Like the other victims this guy was found in a secluded place, in this case an alley next to the old abandoned church on Marble Street. I suggest that the detectives Marshall and Peters get over there now, the rest of you work on identification, there was as usual no wallet or other id left on the scene.”
People got out of their chairs and Janet stretched, her partner came over. “OK, we’ll better go now, before the scene is too messed up.”
Janet nodded her head and smiled, Mike was always trying to sound like he was optimistic but she knew the truth When it came to this case he had little hope.
They left and drove to the place without saying a work, they were both too tired. Mike was drinking coffee and trying to look sharp, he yawned a few times and Janet thought that he should have stayed in bed, just like the rest of them. The scene of the crime was as Janet had suspected a rather dark and narrow alleyway between the old church and a warehouse.
The place stank, garbage and all sorts of debris were left there and a few stray cats ran away from the street when they saw the lights of the car. The forensics was there already, two vans were parked along the street and the area had been sealed off. Janet got out of the car, it was almost raining and she pulled her jacket tighter around her shoulders before she went over to the men by the van. Mike followed close behind her.
Janet knew the crew, she said hi and they nodded, looked just as uncomfortable as she did. The boss wore a thick raincoat and he sounded like he was about to catch a cold or something. “OK Janet, Mike, this is no different than the others.”
Janet sighed and followed him into the alley. The body lay straight on the asphalt; face up with his throat thorn open, or more precisely torn out. The eyes still had an expression of shock and perhaps pain but no fear. He had probably died too fast to be afraid.
Janet felt almost a little sick for a moment, she had seen so many corpses but still they touched something within her, perhaps her own fear of death or something like that. The man wore expensive clothes, a nice watch, designer shoes and it was obvious that he was not just anybody. The forensic officer smiled a rather stiff smile.
“His wallet is gone but that’s all, whoever did this did not touch the rest of his stuff. This was no robbery.”
Janet lit her flash light, studied the face. “What’s that?”
She pointed at his mouth where something red could be seen. “It is lipstick, just like on the others. Summer red color and it can be bought in almost every shop in the country.”
Janet knew that before. “Cheap lipstick in other words, could really a woman have done this?”
The forensic shook his head. “No way, the way his throat looks it was torn straight out while the man’s legs were off the ground.”
Mike whistled. “This guy is huge, he is more than 1.80! Could it have been a man in drag? You know what I mean?”
Janet had to smile, any man dressed up like a woman, able to lift another guy straight up like that could not disguise himself as a woman for very long.
“Nooot likely, this man must weigh more than 110 kg, he is too heavy. No, I suspect that this is done by a team, a woman and a big guy. You know? She lures him into this alley where the man is waiting and then they finish the victim together.”
Janet shook her head. “Where’s the sense in that?”
The officer lifted his shoulders. “There is no sense here whatsoever.”
Janet knew, all the victims were found with the same kind of damages, there was no blood to be found in spite of their torn throats and it did not appear like any of them had suspected any danger before they suddenly were killed. One of the CSI technicians waved his hands. “Here, look!”
He pointed at the wall behind the corpse, there was a small dark spot on the bricks and Janet felt a little sick to her stomach. It was blood, and hairs. The technician bent down, touched the victims head gently. “His skull’s been smashed in; the bone feels just like cracked eggshells. The blood smear indicates that the back off his head was smashed against the bricks with considerable force.”
Janet nodded, just to show that she was listening. “How much force are we talking about?”
The technician made a strange grimace; he bit the end of his pen. “Well, the guy was lifted into the air, for his head to hit that specific brick his feet had to be at least two feet of the ground, and I don’t know anyone who is able to do that. The thorn throat also requires lots of strength and speed, and that part of a human skull is rather solid. It feels almost like someone used a sledge hammer on him, there are just shards left. I can’t explain it.”
Mike tried to make a joke. “Perhaps we should send out a wanted notice, the murderer is believed to be at least three meters tall and probably green.”
Janet made a rather ugly grin; it was not funny at all. “Is there nothing new? No clues?”
The officer smiled for a second. “This time we might have been lucky, he has something under his fingernails, we hope it is skin!”
Janet smiled. “That would be great; a DNA sample could crack this case.”
Mike sighed. “Only if the one the skin is from is in our records!”
She looked at him. “Don’t kill my hopes now buddy.”
Mike just smiled and Janet felt a little angry at him. The forensics continued and their boss smiled. “We’ll let you know what we find out, now you go doing your job.”
Janet waved goodbye and Mike swore to himself.
“I wish I could get used to this but I never seem to be.”
Janet agreed and started the car.
“What do we have on the other guys so far?” Mike made a strange grimace.
“Not much I am afraid; since the damned computer system crashed we haven’t been able to gather any significant information.”
Janet sighed, she had expected this but she felt like she had to ask anyway. The day before the first murder was discovered a tired and under-paid construction worker a few blocks from the police station was digging away at what was going to be a new swimming pool, by accident he managed to dig through some very important cables and fried his machine.
The electricity was gone for two days and the stations computers crashed since the emergency generator never started because someone had forgotten to refuel it. The boss had almost had a seizure; no one had ever seen him this angry! To make matters even worse the phone lines was affected too and if anyone was to contact the outside world they had to use a cell phone. Janet thought that this was the perfect example of the famous Murphy’s Law, if anything can go wrong it sooner or later will.
They returned to the station and one of the other officers came running with some papers. “Here, we finally have identified the victims.”
Mike took the papers and gave them a quick look; he suddenly froze and handed them over to Janet. “Do you see what I see?”
She raised one eyebrow in an expression of confusion, took the papers and looked at them. She did not have to read a lot before she swore and stared at him with big eyes. “I know this guy, I mean, I have read and heard about him!”
Mike nodded. “I do not know of many who haven’t, he is a damn celebrity.”
Janet smiled quickly. “Not any more, he is dead!”
Mike shook his head in an attempt to make his meaning clearer. “I mean, everybody heard of that trial, I guess a lot of people hated his guts.”
Janet bit her lip, tried to think. “I do not think that anyone would do something like that to the guy even if they disliked him, it is too extreme. It feels more like it’s something personal behind it.”
Mike had to agree, it had to be more than just coincidence behind these murders.
“God, I just hope they get the computers up and running soon, I would really like to see if anything similar has happened elsewhere.”
Janet squinted, her face looked a little weird when she did that due to her scarring but everybody had gotten used to it by now.
“You think we have a real serial killer on our hands?”
Mike nodded. “Yes, and I do not think that he is from this area, all the murders are equal, there are hardly any differences. No serial killer I have heard off has started like that, they experiment first and then after a while they develop their preferred method.”
Janet knew he was right but there was something weird about those cases. She took a closer look at the papers, she stopped at one of the other four victims, and she thought she recognized the name. “This guy here, I think I have seen him before somewhere, and what do you think?”
Mike looked at the information, thought about it for a second. “I can’t say that I have heard that name before, ever!”
Janet was about to answer when they suddenly heard a loud cry from one of the offices.
A young man with a somewhat nerdy appearance showed up in the doorway, he was smiling from ear to ear and Janet recognized him as a local computer wizard who often was summoned when something went wrong computer wise. “Ladies and gentlemen, the systems are back online!”
Mike grinned and almost ran into his office. Janet followed and he started his computer and almost jogged on the spot while it was going through the starting system.
“Come on, come on, speed you old wreck, is that something you understand?” Finally the computer was ready and he sat down and started several searches. Janet saw him search for the names of the five victims and also for similar murders in the international computer bases. The pc made some weird noises that made Janet look at it with a bit of worry, but it did survive the sudden work burden although it took a while before anything happened.
Janet could see that several of the other police officers now used the phones very eagerly and many had started their computers. Strange how dependent they had become of these modern remedies, they were almost crippled without them.
Mike stared at the computer screen; he made a small noise that made Janet turn her attention back to him. “Look, there have indeed been more murders, damn, we should have contacted the FBI or something, and there is evidence of ten more murders like these, in seven locations.” Janet felt a chill go down her spine. “Where?”
He opened a drawer in the desk, pulled out a huge map and placed it on a board hanging from the wall. Then he opened a box of thumbnails and placed them on the map, Janet stared. “Oh my god, it started in the east and has moved westwards, we are the last stop.”
Mike nodded, his face had a strange grey color, and she had never seen him like this.
“Look, he hasn’t followed the main roads or anything; it looks as if he has been after these men in particular, found their homes and hunted them.”
Janet nodded. “How long?”
Mike looked at the screen again. “The first murder happened five months ago, that’s not long! Fifteen murders in five months that is a killing spree!”
Mike was sweating, she saw pearls of sweat on his forehead, and this was beyond anything they had ever experienced. “And look, the murders are all spread apart so there’s only has been one in each county, probably to avoid police cooperation.”
Janet felt dizzy. “Whoever is behind this, he is both careful and smart.”
The computer pinged again and they looked at the screen. Mike stared at the answer with a strange empty look in his eyes. “Son of a b...”
Janet swallowed hard, here it was, the common factor, the thing that connected these men to each other. She stared at the list, all the names of fifteen men and all had been accused of violence against women or even murder and rape but they had all gotten away due to inconclusive evidence or very clever lawyers. Janet could hear her own heart thundering in her chest, she felt like she was about to be choked.
She grabbed the desk to remain in balance, felt a strange determination within. “Get the case files concerning these guys, all of them and a.s.a.p.?”
Mike looked at her with confusion. “Why?”
She had to take a few deep breaths to calm herself.
“There has to be something there, perhaps the murderer is a relative or something.” Mike nodded and started typing, he was obviously upset.
Janet went to her own office and started her own computer, she felt deeply worried and strange at the same time. She was a policewoman; it was her duty to uphold the law and to make sure that everybody behaved accordingly to it. This was against everything she believed in but she felt a sort of sympathy for this murderer, whoever he was he did what she couldn’t do. Get such scum of the streets forever. It did not make it right but it made it understandable, the question was the reason behind these violent actions. A relative, a boyfriend, a husband? Or were there more than one person behind it all? The phone rang and she almost jumped in her chair, she had not realized how tense she was.
“Janet?” The voice on the other end was well known, it was the coroner. “I just called to tell you we have examined the evidence on the last victim.”
She could hear a strange tremble in his voice and she suspected something bad. “Yes?”
He cleared his voice. “Well, the skin from underneath the fingernails of the victim was damaged, there is no way we can extract DNA from it.”
Janet felt a sudden surge of anger, was this world trying to fight her in special? “How could it be damaged, what do you mean by that?”
Silence for a few seconds, it seemed like the coroner was trying to find the right words.
“Ah, well, we haven’t had much time to look at it, after all it arrived just fifteen minutes ago but the skin is well, dead!”
Janet did not understand. “Dead? Isn’t all skin just that, dead cells?”
He was obviously trying to explain something he did not understand.
“Yes, that is true, but this skin has been dead for a long time, but it has not decomposed, it is still intact and I can’t explain it, it has some weird qualities I have never seen before.”
Janet squeezed the phone like she was going to crush it. “Like what?”
She could hear him clambering with some metal object, probably a bowl of some kind. “The skin cells are hard, almost like some kind of mineral and nothing seems to be able to destroy them, the internal structures are intact and they look quite normal but there is a lack of coloring and I have tried to open them or crush the cell walls but if seems to be impossible.”
Janet felt like she was about to faint, what was this about? “I do not understand?”
The voice in the other end was tired. “Neither do I, and believe me, I have seen a lot! Whoever the skin came from, I do not think it is an ordinary person, if the skin is like that all over then that person is indestructible”
He hung up and she just sat there and stared at the phone, her mind blank. What he had told her was impossible, she was a well-educated person and she had never believed in anything but science, this shook her world like a strength ten earthquake. She tried to ignore the little voice in her head but it was very persistent. “You are well outta your league here sister!”
Mike opened the door; he had some papers in his hands. “Here is at least the information I could gather fast.”
He left it on her desk without saying a word and Janet guessed that her face was rather uninviting now. She opened one of the files and started reading. It was disturbing information, this man had beaten and raped a kitchen worker employed at his home but since he was very wealthy and well thought off he had gotten off the hook. The defense had managed to portray the girl as a manipulating gold digger who had seduced him for the sake of his wealth.
She sighed; this was just the kind of case that was eating at her heart, the kind of case that made her feel unimportant and sad. The next files were similar, murders, rapes, beatings. Nothing within them made them appear as anything special except that the men all had a good name and a huge bank account. They had paid their way out of trouble and it made Janet very angry.
She was reading one of the files when she suddenly discovered something different, the victim of this case was not just anybody, not some teenage girl gone wild or wife or hooker, she had been a lawyer and Janet recognized the name. She knew that this woman was dead, had seen her obituary in the newspapers. She had been a very well-known person, always fighting for women’s rights and known as the pit-bull of the fair sex.
She was famous for never letting anyone accused of violence against women get away and Janet remembered that she often had thought of that woman with admiration. She had gotten a lot of enemies but she had never showed any fear and hadn’t backed down for anyone, no matter how much power they possessed.
Janet felt that this was different, this was somewhat the key. She had good instincts after several years as an investigator and it was important for this case, she just knew it. She checked the name of the man, he was believed to be a gun for hire who worked for the Mafia and yes, he had been the prime suspect in the murder of this woman. It looked like someone had given him what he deserved and he had been the first of the victims of this new serial killer
Janet started to think, this murderer had to have access to the police files or something, and none could find these names otherwise if the murderer didn’t sit down every day with all the national newspapers. If that was the case then this person was on a mission and Janet knew that this kind of serial killer is the most dangerous type. They believe in what they do and are convinced of their own right to do it.
This kind never stops before they are stopped. She sighed, what should she do now? She turned to the computer, started searching the files for any crimes against women in this county where the guilty party had been released. There were two cases which fitted the profile, one was the fifth victim. She made a decision, the other man; Mr. Jonesy was going to be number six.
She checked to be sure, the other four murders had happened just over the border to the other counties her own bordered too. Mr. Jonesy was in danger and no matter what he had done in the past, he had to be protected. She was a policewoman and vigilantes were not something the law appreciated. She ran out the door to tell the others of her discovery.
The reactions were mixed, some of the younger officers were a little doubtful but the older and more experienced ones thought she might have a point. They had seen too much to just ignore her idea.
Janet tried to convince them all of the seriousness of this. “He fits the pattern perfectly, and his case was much debated in the media.”
Their boss had listened to her without saying a word until now; he looked a little closed like he was trying to hide his thoughts. “OK Janet, I think you are onto something here, you have great instincts and I trust them. All of you check and compare the victims and see if you can find further similarities. Sergeant Mills, you compare the forensic reports on each of them, and Officer Fiorentino and Greyhame, you talk with the police officers responsible for the cases and check if they can tell us anything new, anything!”
He turned toward Janet. “Call this Mr. Jonesy and warn him, he needs to know that someone out there wants to kill him. If he wants to, we can offer police protection.”
Janet nodded, she felt her heart skipping a few beats, something was at last happening and she had started it. Now she could just pray that she was right.
Mike followed her into her office; he was obviously nervous and eager, almost like a teenager before his first date. “God, I think you are right, this is huge Janet!”
She was searching for the right phone number. “I know, I just hope I haven’t screwed up with a false hypothesis.”
Mike smiled and patted her shoulder. “You haven’t, I just know it.”
She found Mr. Jonesy’s number and called it, felt a strange chill down in her stomach, she was trying to protect a person she otherwise would loathe, someone she would preferred behind bars. Something here was wrong but she had to obey the law, after all that was all she was about. She had to try several times before someone answered, it was a woman’s voice, blurred from sleep and unsteady. Janet introduced herself and asked for Mr. Jonesy and he came to the phone.
She was surprised by his voice, it was warm and friendly and she had expected it to sound like the voice of a bully. He did sound like a well-educated and well behaved man with a good job and orderly economy. She quickly explained why she had called and there was a short silence, she could hear him breath and his breath got faster. “Oh my lord, ah, eh, what can I do?”
Janet told him of the offer of protection and she could almost hear him relax. “OK, I want that, how does it work?”
Janet explained that there would be officers watching his home at all times and that some officer undercover would follow him everywhere. He seemed grateful. “That is great, I will stay at home today, one of the kids is sick and my wife has to go to work, she has used all of her sick days this year.”
Janet nodded to herself. “Great, then we will send someone over right away, it is a good thing that you will stay in one location, makes the job easier.”
She finished the call and told her boss of his decision. Two officers were sent to his home to keep it under surveillance; others would replace them after a few hours.
Janet remained in her office until Mike brought some dinner, he had been out shopping and they ate in silence, there was a strange atmosphere in the station, almost loaded and very tense. Everybody knew that something was about to happen and they were a bit on the edge.
The forensic reports from the other murders were quite similar to their own, there were a few differences but nothing disturbingly off, and all victims were drained of blood and rather messed up. As the day went they learned more and more about the cases from other parts of the states and there were similarities also in when and where the murders had happened.
No one had been killed in broad daylight and the murders had happened fast. One man had gone outside a pub to pee, his buddies had followed just two minutes later and then he was already dead. It was uncanny. Everybody now hoped that the case would be cracked and the murderer caught.
Janet did not feel very calm or proud of her work, she felt uptight and nervous, and she could not relax in any way. When the boss told her to go home and think of something else she felt almost caught, she needed to react in some way. She went down to the training room, got a gun and started some target practice, she was very skilled at shooting, and she had actually won some competitions and was known for her ability to hit the target even in difficult conditions. It came natural to her in some way.
This time it did not give her any peace of mind; neither did her three hours of physical training. She was too nervous. She went home and lay in her bathtub for almost an hour but that did not calm her down at all, nothing she did helped.
It felt almost like a relief when Mike called and asked if she could help him guard Mr. Jonesy’s house on the night shift, she wanted desperately to do something real. They got in place just before it got dark and Janet watched as Mrs. Jonesy returned to the home, she was a small petite woman with blond hair and a somewhat restless body language. She reminded Janet of a small nervous animal of some kind, or someone with a very low self-esteem. Was her husband abusive after all?
He had been charged with the abuse of a woman he had met on a bar and although he had put the blame on his drinking it could be that he just did what he was used to do at home.
She and Mike had parked their car in the driveway of a house right across the road of Mr. Jonesy’s; the owners were on vacation and would probably not mind that they stood there for a while.
There was a huge elm tree in the front yard and the shadow made their dark car hard to spot, it was a perfect place. Janet kept watching the house with her binoculars; she felt a tingling in her hands and fingers, the excitement almost made her crazy. Mike had to ask her to relax once every ten minutes.
The night was quiet, this was a very peaceful neighborhood and there was a few cars passing by but as they passed midnight the traffic stopped. A few dogs barked, some people went for late evening walks but when the clock reached two it was completely silent everywhere. It was boring, extremely boring.
Janet thought she would go crazy, she was tired and excited at the same time, and she could not leave the car. If she did she might blow their cover completely, the murderer could probably be watching the house. The house was dark, everybody had gone to bed and there were no lights anywhere. The street lights outside this house were broken so there were no extra light sources anywhere and the sky was cloudy. Mike swore with sleepy voice.
“I wish we could have one of those army binoculars, those which enable you to see in the dark.” Janet felt dizzy with fatigue and now she hoped that the next shift would come soon.
“We are just investigators, not swat!”
He sighed. “I know!”
She looked at the house again, the clouds had moved a little and the moon showed just above the roof. Janet had always enjoyed that sight, that cold strangely lifeless light that seemed so delicate and ghostlike. She looked at the moon and then she suddenly froze. “Mike, the roof, look at the roof to the left, there is someone up there!”
Mike was half asleep. “What, I can’t see anything?”
Janet was already out of the car. “Call for reinforcements, there is an intruder on the property.”
She felt her heart pound as she ran; she could already be too late.
Mike tried to call her back but she ran, she knew she should stop and wait, that she couldn’t handle a suspect alone, but there was something inside her that had taken control of her. She needed to see this, to face her fears and her doubt and confirm her own strength. She had to act, it was as simple as that, she needed to do something and make a difference.
There probably would be hell to pay when the boss heard of this but she could not think of that at the moment. She ran to the front, the door was locked but she had gotten the key and unlocked it without making much noise. She saw a swift shadow running by the corner, good; Mike was going to the backside of the house.
She listened, the house seemed peaceful, and there were no sounds out of the ordinary. She walked through the hallway slowly, kept all senses open, tried to be silent and stealthy. The reinforcements were on their way, she knew they could be no more than a couple of minutes away. She felt cold sweat running down her back, there had really been someone up on the roof and she knew there was a small door up there, it was probably unlocked. There had been no ladder though, how could someone had gotten up there?
She slowly walked up the stairs toward the bedrooms, she heard some creaking noises but they were due to the wind, a branch of a tree was stroking toward the wall outside. The house was silent as ever and that scared her, it reminded her of a tomb, of a cemetery. The bedrooms were ahead, she had read from her information folder that Mr. and Mrs. Jonesy had separate bedrooms; his was at the end of this corridor.
Janet stopped, she felt a smell hit her nose and it made her grasp her gun like it was a life west. It was blood, she had seen and smelled too much of that during her career. She did not confuse that smell with others. Her mind was working at overdrive, some little voice in her head was screaming at her to stop, to wait and think this over, there could be mortal danger ahead, the kind she couldn’t hope to handle alone. “You are crazy girl, whoever this is; he is out of your league, stop and wait”
She did not listen to common sense, not even her own.
She sprang into action, rushed toward the bedroom and opened the door with her gun ready to fire. Time stopped for a second, it was as if it froze and the world stopped. He lay on the bed, and the bed and the walls and everything else in proximity of it was covered with blood. It looked as if someone had tried to paint the room red by splashing color on it randomly from a bucket. Janet saw she was too late, she could do nothing more for Mr. Jonesy and she didn’t feel sorry somehow, deep within she thought that he deserved it, but this killer had to be stopped anyhow. What if the next victim was innocent?
She shut the door and blocked it with a chair; she turned around just in time to see that the hatch leading up to the attic was being shut and she swore and felt adrenalin rush through her body. She ran, jumped and got hold of the hook before it got out of reach.
She pulled the ladder down and the noise felt almost painful but she did not care if she waked the whole house now. She climbed up with her gun first, hit the lights. The attic was empty, nobody there but the hatch at the end of the room was open. She did not hesitate, if the killer didn’t have wings he had to be trapped up there.
She saw there was a very narrow ledge going from the hatch unto the edge of the roof and she tried not to think of the height as she climbed onto the roof itself. She gasped, had believed herself to be fit but this was exhausting, she was too scared and too excited to calm down. She took a look around; the murderer had to be up there somewhere, where could he be hiding? The chimney, it looked like a dark square against the sky and Janet carefully moved forward, he had to be behind it and she felt her mouth go dry with fear. She had no idea what to expect now.
Suddenly there was movement, she saw a slender figure separate from the dark chimney and she yelled. “Police, freeze or I’ll shoot.”
The dark figure did not seem to care about her, it moved forward and Janet pulled the trigger, she knew she had to stop this one, at all cost. She hit him, three times at least but the suspect did not react at all. She gasped, bulletproof west.
The thought flew through her head before it disappeared, one of her bullets had hit the head, she was sure and there was no way that the person up there wore a helmet. What was this? She fired once more, aimed carefully for the legs and she could hear from the sound that the bullet hit flesh but there was no response. Was this killer high on something?
She had seen people high on crystal meth that got shot and didn’t respond but this did not seem like the work of a junkie. It was too planned and thorough. She remembered the strange findings of the coroner, the skin that seemed to be indestructible, what in god’s name was going on?
She bared her teeth in a grim smile; this one should not get away, not as long as she was here, not even if it was superman gone bad on a killing spree! She quickly reloaded, tried to find another position. “Freeze!!”
She yelled it again, saw the slender figure appear against the moon, it looked almost feminine? Was this a woman?
She aimed for a corner with a good foothold but suddenly she slipped, it was as if her legs were pulled away from underneath her. The tile she had stepped on was loose and skidded away underneath her weight. She did not scream, but she suddenly found herself hanging by one arm from the edge of the roof and her handhold was not a good one, she was slipping. She remembered that the driveway was underneath her, five meters down and it was solid concrete. If she fell she would not survive. She had dropped the gun, tried to pull herself up but felt her strength fading, she had somehow cut herself too, probably on a nail or something and her free arm was bleeding badly. She could hear sirens in the distance, but they would be too late.
Her fingers were losing their grip on the slippery wood and she opened her mouth to scream. Suddenly she felt something grasping her wrist, a grip that felt like cold iron and she was yanked up, like a rag doll. No one is that strong, she turned her head upward to look at her rescuer, expected to see a man, a monster of some kind The grip around her wrist loosened and the hand had felt like the hand of a metal statue, it was so cold and hard and not human somehow.
She just gaped, the face looking down upon her was a woman’s and she knew it, by God she knew it! It was impossible, there was no way.... the woman smiled, a sad and quite disturbing smile.
“Stay here, you’ll be safe. I’ll talk with you later.” Then she was gone, like a ghost or something. Janet felt her heart pounding in her chest; the shock was just too much. She felt the world spinning around in front of her eyes, and then she fainted.
She woke up slowly, the hospital bed was hard and uncomfortable under her back, and the doctors had wanted her to stay for a few days, just in case. She felt dizzy, confused and shaken. There had been quite a scene, Mike had told her all about it and she had been interrogated several times. The boss was of course furious and she had been told to take a long holiday while the investigation went on.
Her gun had been found and the missing bullets counted, she had told them everything but nobody believed her. They thought that the suspect had been wearing body armor of some kind; everybody knew that Janet hit everything she aimed for. She had explained that she had seen a woman that she had recognized the woman and who she was but it was a bit too much for the others to swallow.
It was just impossible, Lisa Belle Janson was dead and had been dead for two years, and they had all seen the pictures of her funeral. Janet sighed and sat up, she stared at the darkness outside the window, there was a deep mystery here, and could this be just someone who looked like the dead feminist? No, the similarities were too big, unless Lisa Belle had some unknown twin sister it had to be her. Had she faked her own death? What was this?
Janet had seen it in their eyes, they all thought she had gone crazy or hit her head really bad, they did not believe her and it was no wonder, she did not believe it herself. The night seemed like a dark and half-forgotten nightmare. She touched the bandage on her wounded hand, it was real but she did not know if her own memories or thoughts were sane any longer. The evidence could not be explained, the strange happenings could not be explained, heck, nothing seemed to be explainable. She was in a real mess up to her neck and there was no way to dig herself out of it. She seemed to have screwed up her future really bad.
She pulled her blanket tighter around her and her mind felt strangely blank; it had to be the shock. Suddenly there was a voice behind her. “I can make them disappear you know...”
Janet felt her heart freeze inside her chest, she knew the voice. She slowly turned her head; the alarm button was just outside of her reach. Lisa Belle sat on the bed beside her own; Janet had not seen her come nor heard a sound. She wore a black suit, looked very well but the skin was pale and there was something very wrong with her eyes. They were not human; they were more like the eyes of some huge predator... “WH... what?”
Janet felt how dry her throat was, she was unable to move. “The nightmares, I know you have them every night.”
Lisa Belle smiled and she had fangs, it was suddenly obvious to Janet what she was, although the idea was bizarre. “No... No thanks!”
Lisa nodded; there was a glimpse of humor within those strange cold eyes. “Ah don’t be scared, I won’t hurt you Janet. I like you, I really do. You are so much like I was, when I was still alive. Always trying to make a difference, always trying to make things better. I admire that.”
Janet was suddenly unable to speak at all; she felt her heart thundering in her chest... “You wonder how? Well, that is the easy part, you see, if you don’t want to be dead you can cheat the dark angel quite easily. All you have to do is to convince yourself that you still have things to do. And I have a lot of things to do.”
She smiled again, pulled some papers from her sleeve. “Here, have them check this out, these guys all have more skeletons in their closets than you cops have been able to discover. They have been covering their tracks well but not well enough I fear.”
Janet could not even reach out to grab the papers, she felt frozen to the core.
She was a rational modern human being, she did not believe in fairy tales and ancient myths. It seemed like her world was falling apart in front of her eyes, old truths crumbled to be replaced by new ones.
Lisa crossed her legs, looked a little waggish and playful. “I know of your frustrations Janet, they were mine too you know. Oh I tried to make the bad ones go away, tried to put them all behind bars but no! They got away one by one and I could do nothing about it. It ate my heart, and I bet it is eating at yours too, I am right am I not?”
Janet felt an urge to deny it but she knew that this creature spoke the truth. She nodded slowly and Lisa laughed, the sound was like that of silver bells. “Well sister, I can do a difference now, a real difference, and yes, I know what you fear, why you shot at me.”
She reached into her pocket and dropped something shining on the bedspread, it was several bullets, and Janet recognized them as the bullets she had fired from her own magnum
“You fear that I will kill the innocent do you not? Well, don’t worry, I do not hunt those the law can reach and remove, only those who will escape. The really really bad ones.”
She cocked her head and looked like a young girl for a moment. “When you read those papers you will see why I chose these guys, they are abominations and no lawyer will be able to put them away, they are too cunning and smart. Not anymore!”
Janet gasped for air, had not realized that she had held her breath. “Wh... what’s next?”
Lisa got on her feet. “I will continue my hunt of course, oh you think deep inside that you should stop me right? That you should do what the law wants you to. That is just old instincts sister, you don’t have to worry. You won’t be able to stop me and you do not want to either, not deep inside. You know I can do what you can’t.”
She moved aside. “Look, the alarm button is right there, if I am wrong you may push it, I won’t stop you, honestly!”
Janet looked at it, she knew that her strange feeling of weakness was her own, not something caused by this creature. She searched her own mind carefully while Lisa watched her with cold eyes, it was like a terrible nightmare but this creature was right. Those men could not be stopped by the law or by any other human force cause they were too protected. Her thoughts were split in half between her professional self and her dedication to helping the helpless. Lisa smiled again, an almost loving smile. “What about it sister, doesn’t it feel great to know that there is someone out there who can make all the bad things go away, for real!”
Janet swallowed. “What do you really want with me?”
She felt cold sweat running down her back still, this was utterly unnatural and terrible. She shivered. Lisa watched her fingernails with a tired look in her face. “Ah, you are a bit boring; again I will not harm you. All I want from you is some information every now and then and I swear to you, one day you might be glad you met me.”
Janet made a swift grimace. “I will never be like you!”
Lisa grinned, a terrible sight. “Oh but you are already like me my dearest sister, an undead. You know it is true, you are caught by those old nightmares and caught by that job where you work and work and your energy and light slips like sand from your hands. Soon you will have lost all illusions and will and you will continue like a zombie without caring a bit about what you do. A faceless number within the crowd, just one more tired and frustrated soul who will be bought every month by that lousy excuse for a pay check.”
Janet trembled; she looked at Lisa’s face and knew she told the truth, the horrible disgusting truth. “What must I do?”
Her voice but a faint whisper.
“Now there’s my girl, so much better!”
Lisa sat down again, looked almost normal for a few seconds. “There is an email address on the backside of the papers, when you hear about someone suitable you just send a mail to it, don’t write anything, I’ll be in touch.”
Janet sighed. “And that’s all?”
Lisa grinned. “That is all. I will take care of them afterwards, do not worry. You will have your reward too, with my help you can fulfill your dream and make a real difference again.”
Janet swallowed. “What if someone gets suspicious?”
Lisa shook her head. “Believe me, they won’t. I’ll cover it all up just perfectly; do not worry about that at all. I’ll change my methods every time and leave nothing that makes them able to see any connections between the victims. I am very good at arranging accidents and such. No one will discover that you are in league with a vampire. I can do things no human being is able to do, they won’t believe their evidence and just run around themselves like headless chickens.”
Janet had to smile by the comparison. Lisa got on her feet again, placed the papers next to Janet on the bed. “You will not see me again if everything works out the way they are supposed to, it was nice meeting you.”
Janet tried to say something but her tongue would not obey her.
Lisa petted her on the shoulder. “I forgive you for shooting me, you did not hurt me and I know how hard it is to disobey your training. I think I can predict that your future will look so much better sister, very much better!”
Janet grasped the papers, it was a list of names and beside each one there was a few words written, words that told of secrets that would remain secrets no more. She lifted her head and Lisa was gone, the room was empty once more. She stared at the window with a blank stare.
Only the future could tell what she had gotten herself into now, if it would end in disaster but she could not have acted differently. She had often been told to choose the lesser of two evils and compared with the constant frustration of never getting the bad guys off the streets cooperation with a vampire did not seem like such a great sacrifice. She took a second look at the papers and a strange smile formed across her face while a dark flame seemed to flicker within her eyes. Yes, somehow she had hoped for this, longed for it. It had somehow solved all of her problems at once. No one would ever suspect something because she was known for her obedience to the law and the rules; her old self was such a perfect disguise, a mask she would wear, a cloak of misleading information.
There was an angel of wrath out there and now she held its leash. These creeps would curse the day they were born, and their victims would finally find the peace they deserved. Janet lay back in the bed with a low chuckle, a new era would begin, and she would play her part well, just like her dark sister out there would. The age of obedience and submission was gone; this was the time of the hunter, the time of a new order.
She had seen a new power and this time she would rise from the ashes like a phoenix and claim it for all it was worth. She smiled and closed her eyes and felt no fear for the first time in a long time, she whispered to herself. “Oh, you’d better start running all of you, you’d better run for your lives!”
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