Whisper softly or you're dead

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Chapter thirty-four.

Nearly there. So, close to our goal!

The woman walked past the house whose fence faced the beach path. It was dark now and the beach was no longer occupied, even the lovers having been forced back by the driving rain. Heedless of the rain the woman pulled her hat more carefully over her head and wrapped herself tightly in the waterproofs. She stopped outside the house and crouched looking through the fence and bushes at the figure shadowed in the lounge. Only the profile could be seen of a petite slight figure reading a book in her armchair, her back against the patio door. The cat was pawing at her and she absentmindedly stroked it. Relaxed, her stance was that of a woman who didn’t have a care in the world.

The woman squeezed under the fence. Slender, she easily made it with inches to spare and on her front, she crawled to the windows. The petite figure yawned and stretched and would soon go to bed. She only needed her victim to be alone and vulnerable for five minutes and then she would strike.

The cop was on his half an hour break. Usually they went one at a time but one of them had been called to an emergency. She was clever. A call to him pretending to be his desk sergeant and he had rushed home thinking his wife had fallen badly and was in a coma in hospital. He had to look after the kids. He was told another was supposed to take his place.

She slid open the back door after picking the locks as she had practised for months. These were new security locks. Someone had made Masters increase her security. She got in the hall and listened to the girl’s breathing. She was quiet, immersed in her book, an easy target. She must be taken alive. Those eyes had to be taken out while the heart was still beating. They embodied her spirit and would enhance Michael’s masterpiece, perfecting it.

She was nearly at the door to the lounge when the doorbell rang. A security light came on and she had to jump back as the girl got up putting her book down. She hid behind the door in the hall waiting for her chance. She could barely hear the conversation but the neighbour insisted on hovering, asking if the girl was all right and had recovered from her attack. It was no use. She had to leave and make another attempt soon. Masters would leave for Aus in two weeks.

She ran quickly, leaving the house as secure as before but listened outside the patio door. She might hear about Master’s intentions and find where she was vulnerable; the way to reach her without the police protecting her. The girl shut the door finally on the garrulous neighbour putting her present of cookies on the kitchen surface. The kitchen window was slightly open.

Masters took up her cell and put it to her ear. A sudden shiver went down the woman’s back. Master’s voice was different, deeper and huskier. She peered through the window and saw the girl’s hair in the subdued light. It was more flaxen than Master’s golden locks. The eyes of the girl were shadowed but she could make out her eyes were less sharply defined, less narrow and cat like. It wasn’t Kate Master’s in the kitchen. It was an imposter. The police had substituted another girl and she had nearly walked into the trap.

The cop was explaining to her supervisor a nosy neighbour had pestered her. ‘I thought I heard a noise but there is no sound now. Get the others to search the boundaries. Our killer might still be around here. Tell Doctors Masters and Defoe they still need to be on alert. She might go to his place if she knows Kate has been staying there.’

The woman stiffened. Defoe and Masters. Were they an item? That would spoil everything. She knew Masters had stayed at his house but as an ex-marine she believed it was for her protection. Did he desire her? She must get to Masters before he could defile her. Her colleagues called her the ‘Ice princess,’ ’the ‘Ice Virgin.’ Were they wrong?

She had followed Master’s career in the medical community during the last year, purely out of interest as she was one of the most influential women in the field she worked in. Dates were rarely mentioned. She seemed to have few friends and be a work-oriented loner having little time for a love life. Her family seemed to neglect her. They never visited her. She was like the other victims lonely and vulnerable, a perfect specimen if she was still pure.

It was vital she connected with Defoe before he got the cop’s message. She ran quickly into the garden and crawled out to the path, narrowly missing some cops who were prowling the boundaries of the apartment. She had already dialled Defoe’s number, blocking it from the calls of the police but there was no immediate answer. She had taken his number from Chase’s cell.

Finally, he picked his cell up. She breathed with relief. This tension was eating her up. Defoe had been in the shower and heard the cell bleep. Few people had his cell number; it could be urgent.

‘Doctor Defoe, this is the central precinct. Detective Harold Cradley wants you at Doctor Master’s house. We have caught the killer but something was said that makes us think there may be more murders unconnected to these girls. We need you to listen to an interview.’

Defoe said, ’Sure, ’I’ll be there right away.’ He dried himself quickly and yelled to Kate, ‘They’ve caught the killer but I’m needed to listen to the interview. The killer may have killed other girls.’

‘Fine,’ yelled out Kate from the yard where she played with the hound.

‘Lock yourself in and set the alarms,’ he yelled as he ran out through the front door.

‘Better safe than sorry,’ he told himself. The killer might be in jail but he or she might have dangerous friends who would carry out the U.N.S.U.B.’s wishes.

He jumped into the jeep but he took with him his rifle, pistol and ammunition. One never knew what might blow up in their faces when they confronted a killer. He wondered why the killer might have killed other women. Killers of this type usually followed a specific path, not deviating from achieving their goal. They liked order.

He went over the conversation in his mind as he drove through the night traffic. Something was not right. Why Kate’s house and not the precinct? Was there particular evidence there? He chewed it over in his mind. Caught up in traffic he couldn’t turn around even if he wanted to but he felt uneasy. He didn’t recognise the voice although he knew most of the women at the precinct. Then it struck him like a bolt of lightning. Cradley never went by his first name, he hated it. He used his middle name. Only someone who didn’t know him would use his first name, not another officer.

Panic gripped him for a minute. Kate was on her own. His training took over and he calmed down. He phoned her cell but got no answer. She was still probably playing with that damned hound. They adored each other.

He tried the house number but it connected to the answering machine. He had left her ten minutes ago, and Hilenko might be at her house. He phoned the precinct and verified the call to him had been a hoax. Cradley would send a team immediately to Kate’s apartment and meet him there.

Defoe looked at the queue in front of him. It was crawling. He waited until there was a gap and drove his car up the kerb and along the sidewalk, ignoring the astonished and shocked drivers until he got to the lights and re-entered the road, driving straight through the red lights. What took ten minutes normally took him only four minutes. He heard a siren and realised he was being chased by a cop car. He might lose his licence but he didn’t care, Kate was in danger and a killer was on the loose. They could lock him up for all he cared.

His heart was pounding as he drove into his drive. The cop car stopped behind him as he skidded to a stop. Jumping out, he ran to the officer and flashed his identity badge. He explained,’‘I am Doctor Defoe. The killer who dismembers women is after Kate Masters who is in that house. I need you to cover me when I go in.’

The officer waited outside the house in the shadows while Defoe checked the periphery. He could see two figures through the patio windows. One was sitting down in the armchair and another was standing in front of her. The sitter was petite and blond, Kate. The other was tall and slim and wore masculine clothes. He could not tell if it was a man or woman but guessed it was Hilenko. Thank God Kate was alive and he might rescue her from this woman.

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