I could have stared at the file until my eyes fell out. Well, okay, files plural. I had lost track of how many pictures of crime scenes and police reports were strewn across my desk, smeared with marks from a red pen or a yellow highlighter.
Four months, five victims, all young women in their late teens to early twenties, all dead from exsanguination due to distinct wounds on the neck; dumped carelessly, like garbage, in different locations all over the city, and never at the original crime scenes. Which I’ll mention, we haven’t had any luck finding as of current. You know what was really pissing me off? There hadn’t been a trace of this sicko on any of the bodies.
We had a suspect, one of the victim’s ex-boyfriend-turned-stalker had been seen skulking around her place of residence mere hours before her time of death. Unfortunately, he had been arrested for, of all things, public lewdness, and had been twenty miles away at the exact time of her demise. He was a creep, just not our creep. His picture remained in the file for reference but was barely recognizable due to the fact I had lost my temper at the time and had scribbled all over it with a black marker.
My mind was reeling between anxiety and anger, a bad combination. I hate to gloat, but there probably wasn’t anyone in the unit who wanted to get his hands on this bastard more than I did.
“Still hoping something will appear if you stare at those files long enough?”, I looked up with my pen dangling from the corner of my mouth.
Okay, maybe I wasn’t the only one passionate about the case. My partner, Alice Spiegel, sat at the desk adjacent to mine, I had forgotten she was still here doing basically the same thing I was, albeit in a bit more organized manner; she herself was holding a red pen and was reviewing an autopsy report.
“Oh,” I said somewhat dumbly, the pen falling out my mouth, clattering onto the desk, and then rolling off and onto the floor, Alice stifled a light laugh behind her hand, “I thought you had gone home.”
“Really Alex?”, she raised an eyebrow, “If you’re not going home, then I’m not. Although it is getting late and Andrew promised me dinner”
Andrew was Alice’s fiance’. There was a picture of them on her desk angled just right so that I could see the photo of the smiling couple at a Christmas party. It always made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t know much about him, to be fair, only from what little Alice had told me. Our personal lives weren’t something we usually discussed at work. I think he worked at a garage…or a car dealership…something vehicle related.
“Well, don’t let me stop you,” I said, sitting back in my chair and running my hands through my hair.
“Please Alex, it’s not you that’s keeping me here,” she closed the file and placed it on the tidy pile at the corner of her desk.
“Aww, don’t be like that, you know you love me,” I replied with a smirk, Alice gave me an amused look, “It’s my charm and good looks.”
“Oh, please!”, she rolled her eyes and stood up, smoothing out her neat, white, button down shirt.
“You’re going then?”, it was kind of a stupid question. My brain was most likely still on autopilot.
“Obviously,” she picked up her fluffy, rose-colored coat, “You could come with me, you know. Andrew would really like to meet you.”
“I’m sure we’d have so much in common,” I snorted, “But either way, I’ll have to decline.”
“Oh come on Alex!”, she protested, “You’ve never been over to my apartment, and my fiancé would very much like to meet the man who has been keeping his future wife safe.”
“I’m sure you’ve given me great reviews,” I grumbled, “Besides, I don’t feel like participating in a third-wheel dinner.”
Alice flinched, I suppose that had been a bit…harsher than I intended. An uncomfortable silence settled between us, and I’m going to point out this happens a bit more than I’d like to admit. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I really, really don’t enjoy talking about stuff like this. I’ve never been open about my personal life, and to be honest, I’d never shown much interest in Alice’s. It was somewhat evident she had gotten the hint and opted instead to change the subject.
“…Alex, I know this case is starting to get to you, it’s getting to all of us. But you have to think positive, we’re gonna get this guy. They always slip up at some point, you know they do.”
I dug my nails into my scalp abruptly, “I’ve been over every inch of the crime scenes, photos, reports, bodies, nothing, nada, zip. It’s like this guy doesn’t even exist.”
“Alex, why don’t you stop for once?”, Alice replied sternly. Now feeling like a student being scolded for lobbing a spitball at the teacher’s favorite student, I shot her a glare, “You know you’re not the only person working this case. There’s a reason I extended the invite to you-. “
“Sometimes it feels like I am the only one working it!”, the words tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop them. Alice snorted in response.
“I had a feeling you’d say that. You always get crass when you’re stressed out.”
I felt a stab of guilt and had to bite my tongue to keep myself from saying anything more idiotic. Alice just waved her hand dismissively.
“Whatever. I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said abruptly. She grabbed her purse and turned to stalk off but then stopped and looked at me over her shoulder.
“It’s late on a Friday night, why don’t you take a break for once,” when I didn’t immediately reply, she looked at the floor, sighed, and said, “Goodnight.”
I heard her flat heels clicking against the tile floor until they disappeared behind the sound of the door shutting. I sat there in the quiet for a long time, surrounded by darkness save for the ring of light coming from the lamp on my desk. I was more upset about that exchange than I would care to admit. I really didn’t like bickering with Alice, and we got along pretty well most of the time. She was right, I was getting more into this case than was healthy, but I’d worry about that problem later. For now, I was going to take her following advice; I needed to go out.
I unceremoniously shoveled all the files and papers into a heap and pushed them off to the side, making a mental note to organize them later (which was probably never going to happen) and got up. I shut off my desk light, collected my jacket, and headed towards the door. I exited and into the biting January air.
Snowflakes pelted my face and stung my eyes. I shoved my hands into my pockets and bowed my head to block out the wind. As you can imagine, I was still pretty stressed out. Cases get to every cop, it’s part of the job. It was still tragic to watch said officers proceed to drink themselves into oblivion afterwards because they couldn’t cope, or worse yet, decide the best way to deal was to eat their guns.
I clambered into my car, which I parked a few feet away from the station, hidden under an awning to keep assholes from smashing my windows. I waited impatiently for the heater to turn on, clamping my hands together and puffing hot air over my fingers.
Once my means of transportation had thawed satisfactorily, I revved the engine and started towards my intended destination. No, not home like Alice recommended or probably expected.
I basked in the glaring neon lights of The Poison Apple as I pulled into the parking lot. Several drunken patrons, some alone, others escorting the the…employees to an alley or said patron’s vehicle for a business transaction. I kept my head low and slipped into the club.
The heavy smell of perfume, alcohol, and cigarette smoke assaulted me as I entered, but it did little to settle my nerves. In fact, it made me somewhat nauseous. I settled in the dark, back corner of in what was hopefully the least suffocating part of the club. I downed three shots of whiskey in ten minutes, my hands shaking so badly I could barely keep the glass from slipping out of my fingers, but believe me; it certainly wasn’t because I was drunk.
Pressing my tongue against the roof of my mouth, I rested my head against the palm of my sweaty hand. I passed a glance towards the scantily clad women parading around, swinging on poles, flashing flirtatious looks at the men oogling at them around the stages and my mouth went sand paper dry.
I was clutching my glass so tightly my knuckles were white; I swallowed hard and began to tap my foot on the floor. I was so dazed and preoccupied with trying to distract myself that I barely registered the clink of a glass on the table beside me. I jolted badly when I felt a hand on my arm and looked up at a young woman giving me a dazzling, crimson coated smile.
“Hey sweetie, you look like you’re in a bad spot. Sorry to give you a bad shock,” she said in a dark voice that sent a chill down my spine. I was having a hard time tearing myself away from her smoldering gaze; her eyes seemed to glow, even in the dim light of the bar. She slid the glass across the table to me with her fingertips and her smile grew wider.
“You look like you could use another drink.”
I eagerly took the drink and downed it in one gulp.
“You looked like you could use some company,” she slid herself up against me. I could smell her perfume and…something else. Something almost metallic, but I couldn’t put a finger on what it was. Her long fingers curled further around my arm and gave it a tight squeeze. I gave a small shaky nod and tried to moisten my dry lips. That was a mistake, she leaned up quickly and caught my tongue with hers and all too eagerly sucked it into her mouth. Oh man, I caved right then and there and kissed her hard, she was delicious, and I was hungry.
She pulled back and smirked, “Looks like you relaxed nicely, mostly,” she laughed and pried my clammy fingers from my glass, “But, I’ve got something special upstairs for all that stress, it’ll loosen you right up.”
I barely registered her other hand sliding down to rest on my thigh, at least until her talon-like nails dug into my skin, and I uttered an all to pathetic groan.
“Come on,” she growled, I could feel her breath against my throat and it sent an almost painful shudder throughout my body, “Come on, what you say?”
I knew she was offering cocaine, heroin, something I should probably have arrested her for if I had bothered to keep my cop persona with me instead of leaving it in the glove compartment of my car. But it wasn’t drugs I wanted, but be damned I’m sure she knew exactly what it was I wanted.
“Y-Yes,” I barely managed to wheeze. She grinned and then practically dragged me out of my seat, pausing only to toss a few bucks on the table. We wove around onlookers and waitresses and dancers and to the back of the club, where we exited out into a back alley.
It reeked of vomit, garbage, and booze, and the cold and snow seemed just as eager to cut through every layer of clothing as my skin. My teeth clicked together as I followed her through the narrow pathway.
Free of the dizzying atmosphere of the club, I finally got a look at her, well, at her back anyway. Long flowing dark hair, tank top, thin jacket, leather mini-skirt, strappy heels…how the hell was she not freezing to death?
She came to a stop beside a fire escape ladder and pulled it down to allow them both up. She faced me fully and gave me another smile. She was young and very pretty, eyes framed with glittering shadow and dark lines, but…that face…why did she look so familiar?
“Party’s up here,” she interrupted my thoughts as she began to climb up the ladder. I brushed off my weird observations and chased after her to a slightly ajar window leading into a dimly lit apartment. The beat of the music from the club made the walls pulse, something that almost made the room I was entering through the window alive. Turning around, I went to close the window…or at least attempt to, the damn thing stuck, so I just left it.
“You’re too slow,” she teased, tugging me across the room to a moth eaten sofa. My jacket joined hers on a nearby chair before turning to me and effortlessly pushing me onto the couch.
She turned on her heel and strode over to a battered desk, making a point to stick out her leather plastered ass as she dug around in a drawer. After a minute, she produced a mint tin, a razor, and a straw that had been cut in two and returned to me.
“Don’t worry, this is the good stuff,” with a wink, she carefully laid out the supplies on the scratched coffee table. After opening the tin, she produced a little clear bag filled with some white powdery substance; I identified it immediately as cocaine.
“Still interested?”, she shook the baggy, I gave a quick nod and the response was a huge grin, “Let’s get this party started then!”
With the utmost care, she laid out a straight line on the table, even it out with the razor and then split it into two parts. She passed me half of the straw and I took it without question. I bent over the table and inhaled the line before slumping back against the cushions sniffing hard and pressing my nostrils closed briefly. My head started to buzz pleasantly as I watched her mimic my actions.
“There, much better, don’t you agree?”, she said, leaning her elbow against the table, eyes suddenly dark and lustful. She got up and sashayed over to me, settling on my lap and resting her hand against my chest.
“Why don’t you tell me what you want, baby,” she purred as she slid her hand further down until it came to a stop right about my belt line. Oh, that’s how we’re gonna play?
I snarled and forced her hand down further, she didn’t recoil or even flinch, but rather laughed and pressed down hard. She scraped her teeth over the hollow of my throat and I groaned pleasurably. Between this and the drugs swimming in my head, I was completely lost in the upper ozone layers. I needed this; I was so hungry. Starved, even. She laughed again, almost with a wicked edge to it, and grabbed the front of my shirt. It was almost as if…she could smell the hunger on me.
Hauling me off the sofa, she dragged me back into what I assumed was the bedroom; a shit bedroom but a bedroom none the less. We shed our clothing on our way, leaving a trail in that general direction. I’m embarrassed to admit I almost tripped over my own underwear as we toppled onto the bed.
She pinned me to the bed and straddled me, growling in an almost animalistic manner while raking her nails over my bare chest. The world was spinning fast and I was burning as if I was plummeting through the atmosphere, completely high on sex and drugs.
I heard the headboard banging against the wall, and I could hear something composed of glass rattling on the side table. Well, vaguely hear anyway, it was like I was in a vacuum; like the only thing I could hear and see and feel was the woman riding me into the mattress. I tracked a bead of sweat rolling down her temple and then abruptly locked eyes with her.
Now something really seemed off, I initially brushed it off as an effect of the drugs, but I could help but notice that her wide brown eyes now seemed to gleam in an almost metallic manner, like polished brass. Again, I was high; nothing was entirely possible or unusual, right?
She grinned at me and leaned down, running her tongue over my throat. Nothing unusual…
My breathing slowed and then suddenly the numbness of my high was interrupted when a shocking, sharp pain shot down the left side of my neck and down that entire side of my body.
“Hey-!”, I yelled and tried to pull away, but that just made the pain increase tenfold. I felt something hot and wet begin to ooze down my chest and shoulder. I jerked and struggled, trying desperately to push her off, but whatever she was doing to me seemed to increase her strength, because the firmness, and continued to grow, more painful. I squirmed and bucked but she just bit down harder.
Darkness was beginning to swim at the edge of my vision and even through my drug induced haze, I knew that if I didn’t pry her off me soon, I’d be a dead man. And that wouldn’t look good for me; a cop high on cocaine essentially sexed to death. Well, I suppose there are worse ways to go out…
I saw, or rather felt, a window of opportunity when her mouth temporarily loosened from my neck. I twisted my head and smacked it hard against hers. The noise our skulls made on collision was nauseating, but it worked. She fell back with a surprised noise and a wet sucking sound.
I shoved her off and scrambled to get out of the bed, but she grabbed my arm and yanked me back. In an instant, she was on me screeching and clawing at my face like some kind of wild animal. I groped around blindly on the side table until my fingers closed around something solid and I brought whatever it was down against her skull; she made another weird noise and crumpled against me like a marionette with its strings cut.
Panting hard, I roughly shoved her carcass off me. She rolled awkwardly onto the floor where she landed with a solid thump. I looked at my improvised weapon, a bloody ashtray, and then dropped that too, it made a similar noise as it hit the floor.
Regaining my composure as best I could, I got shakily to my feet and staggered across the floor, nearly tripping over her body in the process. There was another doorway adjacent to the bed and I fumbled around to find the light switch. Luckily, it was the bathroom I was hoping for, even if it was only illuminated by an unattractive flickering bulb. The room was absolutely disgusting and the lighting only made it seem grungier, but I didn’t really have a place to complain when you’re in my state.
I limped over to the sink and leaned over it, gripping the edge so hard my knuckles were white. I was still high as a kite and my head was spinning from blood loss, a bad combination. I felt like I was stuck on a Tilt-a-Whorl that wouldn’t shut off. I evened out my breathing before summoning the strength to lift my head.
I could barely see my green irises around the size of my pupils, but to say I was a mess was an understatement, and the gaping wound on my neck wasn’t really helping. I winced as I tilted my head to get a better look at my injury. Bitch must’ve had sharpened teeth or something weird like that; I don’t remember noticing…I shook my head and turned on the tap, cupping my hands under the stream so I could splash water on my face. It was lukewarm and smelled like rusty pipes, but be damned it felt good. I sighed heavily again and looked back up at the mirror. I don’t know why, but my eyes flicked automatically to the corner, and all the blood drained out of my face.
Standing behind me, eyes filled with fury, blood staining her mouth and chest, was the thing I had bashed in the head mere minutes ago. With an inhuman screech, she lunged at me, but I managed to duck out of the way before she could grab me and collided hard with the sink. She uttered another horrific sound and grabbed my arm before I could bolt out of the room. She swung me into a cheap, built-into-the-wall cabinet, and did so with enough force to both splinter the furniture and dislocate my shoulder. I would have cried out in pain like the pathetic bastard I was right now, but the wind was knocked clear out of my lungs.
What happened next was one big blur as she sprang at me and I made a blind grab for one of the larger pieces of wood surrounding me. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced stabbing someone with a wooden stake, but it’s not a pleasant experience. There’s this sort of squishy, wet, cracking noise; I honestly couldn’t tell if it was bone or the stake. Her own inertia drove it deep into her chest and she stopped dead. Well, not quite literally; this shocked look crossed her face almost as if she had been electrocuted. She pulled back from me, stake still in her chest, stumbling back and back further until she hit the bathtub, toppling over the edge, and smashing her already split skull against the tile. Blood splattered in various directions, her body sagged, and movements finally ceased.
I sat there, naked, shivering and trying to get my rapidly pounding heart back to a normal rhythm less I end up passing out. My stomach on the other hand cramped and lurched, so naturally I ended up ejecting the contents of my stomach onto the floor. Regurgitated alcohol burned my throat as I got up weakly and sagged over the sink.
Shaky and feeling like I had just been forced to ride a roller coaster a couple thousand times over, I cautiously approached her corpse. Warily, I reached out a hand and pressed my fingers against her neck; no pulse, zero, dead, zip. I pulled back and then gimped towards the bedroom, shooting nervous looks over my shoulder at the body every so often. I focused now on getting my shoulder back in place and I stood in the door way, sucking in a breath before slamming up against the doorframe. I saw stars and almost doubled over, but I heard the surprisingly satisfying cracking sound of it being reset.
I exhaled shakily through my nose and waited for my head to clear, or as much as it could still swimming with cocaine. As I stood there, my mind began to reel with everything that was very wrong right now. First of all, my biggest and most glaring problem was the cocaine, especially considering I was a cop high on cocaine. The third problem being the dead woman staring with dead eyes at me from the bathtub right behind me; I began to panic, which when you’re high is never a good thing.
My reputation was balancing on the edge of a knife right now; I’d be ruined if anyone found out about the drugs, and more importantly, about my other less…savory habits. The cocaine would take a while to pass through my system and not to mention the hangover that would accompany it.
I could clean the crime scene…no way, too many variables. This place was a cesspool; it would be far too suspicious if someone took the time to clean it as thoroughly as I would have to. The cops probably wouldn’t even bother to process it; a shit ton of DNA everywhere and the bed would probably blind me if I scanned it with a black light. Just another junkie, either killed by her dealer or by another crack head. Well, okay, technically the latter was correct, to an extent.
Thoughts were buzzing around my head at an absurd rate and it was starting to become painful. I sank down on the mattress and raked my shaky fingers through my hair. What the hell was I going to do then? No way was I calling Alice…
As if it wasn’t obvious enough, my hard-on was long gone, but that meant one less thing to worry about. I hurriedly collected my clothing and left her in a heap by the bed so it wouldn’t seem like she had a bed mate or something. Yeah, it sounds dumb now, but what else was I supposed to do? After redressing, I clambered out the window, down the fire escape, and back into the alley. I hastily returned to the club parking lot, feeling much relief from the frozen air blasting me in the face. I know, what stellar behavior for a cop, but there was no way I was surrendering in my current state.
I dropped my keys more times than I could count as I made my way to the car; my hands were sweaty and shaking badly. I dropped them twice more trying to get them into the door and I almost hit my head getting into the driver’s seat.
Fuck, I can’t drive. This was worse than being drunk. I slammed my head against the steering wheel and gave myself a nasty shock when I accidentally set off the horn. A few passers-by gave me dirty looks as I gave them an awkward, apologetic wave.
I doubted anyone would question me sleeping in the parking lot, I was sure there were a couple drunken customers around doing the exact same thing. Locking my doors and reclining in my seat, I wished desperately for my own bed and a hot shower. It took a while, but I finally managed to drift off into an uneasy sleep.