Natalie Schultz was in the briefing room with Casie Schwartz, who awaited the entrance of the Director with bated breath.
"Yikes," Casie said aloud. "The Director. I can't believe it." She felt her hackles rise.
"Relax," Natalie said smoothly. "Kelsy O'Donnell can be scary sometimes, but don't let it get to you. Oh-there she is." She smiled as Director Kelsy O'Donnell strode into the room and opened her briefcase.
"Schwartz, Schultz, have a seat." O'Donnell didn't look at the two agents seating themselves at the table. Fluorescent light illuminated the small space, making it seem even more smaller, and cramped. God, I have to get out of here soon before I retch, Natalie thought, and shuddered. "The press is swamping this case, and it wouldn't be the first time. I already have several agents on damage control. We don't want a single detail leaked that could be vital to solving this case. So far, we have four casualties. You've been to three scenes, yes?" She looked up, finally acknowledging the two agents.
Natalie nodded; Casie froze.
"Good, you'll be going to the fourth as soon as we're done here. Neil will take you. As I was saying, four people have been killed. Miranda Swift, famous actress. Jonas Ephraim, famous writer. Brianna Parks, famous billionaire. And Kenneth Wilkinson, famous pitcher. Obviously, these killings are connected. Interesting poems and quotes have been found with each of the bodies, the most interesting being this one. She slid the paper over to Natalie and Casie. "Found at the last crime scene." She cleared her throat. "Excuse me. Not last. Most recent."
Natalie looked up.
"Hopefully last!" she snapped.
The poem was elegantly written, and Casie recognized it right away.
You wouldn't believe
The things I've seen
The things I've done
You wouldn't believe
What's right before your eyes
Obvious and in the open too
But lucky for you
You don't have to believe
You only need to be
You only need to be what you already are
And I only need to be
What I already am
You go on now
Take the pieces
And put them together
Figure out the puzzle
You have a lifetime to do it
Or is it already too late?
Casie felt a chill as she read through the familiar words. She had written this poem when she was in twelfth grade, interning for the FBI at Washington D.C.
"Sounds like he's taunting us, Casie, doesn't it?" Natalie frowned. "But if you wrote it...Tell me again, Casie, why did you write the first poem?"
It was about Dimitri. It was always about Dimitri. Casie had found out, rather rudely, that Dimitri was crushing on her. It all started with Abigail's announcement.
"Dimitri has a crush on Casie! Dimitri likes Casie! Dimitri likes Casie!" Abigail's chant caught on to the rest of the sixth grade. A little embarrassed, Casie watched as Dimitri turned bright red, and tried to hide it behind his math book. He was taking classes with the seniors. Calculus. AP Calculus to be exact.
After school that day, Casie caught up to Dimitri after school. "You, you really like me?" she asked hesitantly.
After a moment, when he was sure no one was looking, Dimitri nodded shyly. "Yeah...I think you're really cool. In a good way, that is."
And so Casie went on her first date. Nothing fancy, of course, and her dad insisted on being there. Yosef Schwartz was a strict father, but silent, and loving, and unlike most girl's fathers, very understanding. He knew his daughter wouldn't try to have sex at only age twelve. He also knew it wasn't serious interest, just a child's crush. But he insisted on being present, on sitting behind them, while they ate pasta at a local Italian restaurant.
"I like to bake," Dimitri confessed in a whisper.
"I like to write poetry." Casie responded. Dimitri smiled, a pretty smile.
They continued to go on informal dates for about three months. Finally, it was December, the last day before vacation. Dimitri was unusually somber and quiet in class that day, not volunteering to help with decorations and food, something he was usually eager to do.
Casie crossed the room and sat next to Dimitri, looking at his face. He sat hunched over, his face in his hands.
"My mom and dad," Dimitri croaked. "Something's going to happen today. I just know it." He sobbed quietly until Michael walked up to them.
"What's wrong, crybaby?" Michael laughed cruelly staring down with his evil eyes. "Mommy forget to kiss you bye-bye?"
Suddenly, Dimitri stood up, his hands balled into fists. "Shut up!" A moment later, Michael was lying on his back, staring at the ceiling instead of his intended victim. Ms. Streiner walked over and tapped Dimitri on the shoulder. He started to cry.
"Dimitri, you need to go to the office. And you young man," she said to Michael. "Go to the nurse, and then to the office."
In the office, Dimitri sat on the hard bench, waiting for Dr. Lane to open the door and call him inside. The inner office door swung open. Dr. Lane was on the phone. "Yes, thank you. Goodbye." He hung up and looked at Dimitri.
"Young man, you need to go home."
"Am I suspended?" Dimitri asked quietly.
"No." Suddenly, Dr. Lane looked very tired. He smiled sadly at Dimitri, and squeezed his shoulder. "Your grandfather is on his way here right now. I'm afraid your parents have been killed in a drive-by shooting."
"No!!!" Dimitri screamed, his hoarse call echoing down the halls of the school. It was an inhuman sound, the sound of someone without hope. He never returned to school, and attempts at contacting the grandfather were unsuccessful. Casie never saw him again.
Kelsy stared at the two agents. "There is one last thing," she said reluctantly, her hands dropping to her side. "A policeman in Washington D.C. was killed a few hours ago. We think it may be the same murderer. Stop by the scene after Wilkinson's house, will you?"
The media had gotten to Wilkinson's house first. Natalie and Casie had to shove their way through the news vans and reporters camping on the lawn. Natalie grabbed the first policeman they saw.
"Get the press out of here! Back at least fifty feet, will you? This is unacceptable."
There were no signs of forced entry. Strangely, inside the house, it seemed silent, despite the uncontrolled ruckus outside. Natalie took stock of the expensive Persian carpet and exquisite chandelier. They found Wilkinson lying on the couch, slumped. There were two bullet holes in his head, one an inch away from the other. He had been left where he was killed, of that Natalie had no doubt. This one had been done in a much less controlled manner than the others.
Wilkinson was wearing a green turtleneck and khaki cargoes. He wore socks, but not shoes. A gun lay on the floor next to him.
"I want someone to run ballistics on that gun...And on the bullet wounds. See if they match up. And get someone to check for prints on the gun."
"Already done," the officer said to Natalie. "The only prints on the gun are Wilkinson's. It's registered to him, too. Haven't gotten results back from Ballistics on the wounds, though. Body will be taken for autopsy as soon as you're finished here."
"Will do," Natalie nodded, already circling the room. Clearly marked on the kitchen table was where the poem had lain. But unseen by previous eyes, on the countertop, there was another note. As if to authenticate itself, the note had a Polaroid photograph of Wilkinson's body taped to it.
Both leaned over to read the words hastily scrawled on the note.
To whomever it should concern,
Wilkinson is not the last. I'd watch very carefully if I were you. I would try very hard to catch me if I were you. But if I were you and I were smart, then I would be very careful whom I talked to, whom I associated with, whom I dared to speak to. And I am watching you. I watch you very closely, Casie Schwartz. Wilkinson was not the last. Remember that. And remember me.
- I am only that whom I am: Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself. (James Anthony Froude)
Casie gasped. "Natalie, the killer knows who I am!"
"Of course I do," came the voice from behind her.
<a rel="nofollow" href=http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977214756&nav=Namespace>Part Six</a>