“Hello?” My voice is hoarse from sleep. What time is it? I wonder as I listen to the aggravated and gruff voice of my partner.
“Hey, get up. We found a body. I need you right away. It might be him.”
“Okay. I’ll be there in fifteen.”
I roll over and check the clock. 4:13am. I groan as I rub my eyes in an attempt to wake myself up from another restless sleep. I don’t know how much more of this I can take, I think to myself as I shuffle to the bathroom to get ready. As I splash cold water on my face I see the images of dead girls in my head. The same images that have been haunting my dreams for the last four months. “I will find this guy”, I say to myself out loud as I stare at my tired reflection in the mirror. I let out a long sigh as I shut off the bathroom light and proceed to get dressed.
I make my way into the chilly fall morning, it should be illegal to be up before the sun, I grumble to myself as I start the engine. The radio plays the soft soothing music of Adele as I head to the scene. Her pained voice singing about lost love only adds to the chilling feeling I get as I arrive at the crime scene. Blue and red lights flash causing me to squint in pain. Giant spotlights flood out what is left of the early morning stars. I park and step out of my vehicle. The air seems colder now. Eerie. Typical of a murder scene. There’s no theme music or funny remarks about bugs at this crime scene. Just the solemn looks of the cops and the relieved but annoyed look of my partner.
“Finally. I was about to call you again. Time of death is believed to be about three hours ago. Her body was dumped here but she wasn’t killed here. We have our people searching the perimeter for tire marks or footprints.” My partner briefs me as he leads me to the body. “Right here. She looks young. College student maybe?”
I nod as I kneel next to the body. She is young. I estimate her to be about twenty-one. Not much younger than myself, I think. Poor girl. I gently move her head to the side. All I see is red. “It looks like blunt force.” I notice her hands, “her fingertips were cut off.” I shout back to my impatient partner. I gently place her hand back in the dirt. I stare at her face. Three hours ago she was alive. Now she’s dead. I will never get used to that. Alive one minute, gone the next. “She was pretty.” I say as I stand up.
“Yea, well, now she’s pretty dead.” I flinch at the comment. My partner has seen a lot more pretty dead girls than I have. He’s been with the bureau for at least twenty years and this job gets to you after awhile. So I let it slide. I stand and stare at her body, my mind whirring. She looks just like the others. But something seems, off.
“Think it was him?” his sudden shouting makes me jump, snapping me away from my thoughts. I shrug. “Can’t tell yet. Same cause of death, same type of girl. Petite, brunette, young. Pretty. Other than that…” My voice trails off as something catches my eye. How did I miss that the first time? I kneel back down and move the waistband of her running shorts.
The mark. I jump up. Frustrated.
“I want this whole area searched. Anything suspicious or out of place I want tagged, numbered, photographed. Everything. Leave nothing to chance. I need to catch this guy.” I shout, aggravated, as I storm off to my car.
My partner walks over to me. “You can’t get so involved. In this job, you need to be calloused. Trust me. You can’t be so sensitive.” I shoot him a look and let out a shaky breath. “I am not getting involved and I am not sensitive. I’m pissed that this guy keeps winning. I’m pissed that I can’t figure him out. Just when I think I have him, BOOM, he switches gears and I have nothing but that damn mark. That one little clue that links all these girls together. No other clue but that–that symbol. I don’t know what it means and I don’t like being bested.” I throw my notebook on the passenger seat.
My partner lets out a long sigh. He understands. This is draining on him as well. “Yea well, you’re a lot smarter and a lot more clever than him. Why do you think the bureau hired you and why I chose you as my partner?” He smiles. Sort of. I shake my head and pull out a cigarette. His mood swings are worse than a girl on her period.
“Those things will kill you, you know?” I shoot him a dirty look and light it. I inhale and instantly feel calm. “So, what’s our next move? Do we have any leads this time?” I say as I let out a long exhale and stare up at the now golden sky.
“Not yet. We have to wait for the crime lab to process the findings. Come on, let’s get some breakfast. And you some coffee. The victim looks more alive than you do right now.”
I laugh and stomp out my cigarette. “Fine but you’re buying. I had to use up most of my savings replacing all the windows and floors in my house last week.” He grumbles, disapprovingly, and shakes his head,”you’re crazy. Why can’t you be like a normal girl and just rent an apartment?”
I turn on the engine and laugh. “Key word: normal.”