Cyber Antics: Chapter 9
By Penelope Downs, AKA Doc
Disclaimer: The characters are mine and I own the copyright. Use without my permission is prohibited. Any resemblance to a person, dead or alive, is unintentional. If you under 18 years of age, are offended by same sex romances, or it's illegal to read about it where you live, stop now and read no further.
It was late by the time that Neil and Torrey left the lab. They had spent an hour with Torreys friend and his supervisor explaining one more time how important it was for the lab to handle the material they were leaving with them in accordance with the standards employed when the lab analyzed evidence for law enforcement agencies. During the drive back to Georgetown, Neil convinced the young woman not to return to the office. They actually stopped and got some fast food before Neil dropped Torrey off at her townhouse. He, in turn, reluctantly headed home to face the wrath of his wife Sally, who had made her displeasure at his missing dinner quite clear when he had phoned her.
The next morning broke bright and clear. Fog hadnt descended on the Potomac during the night. Torrey had gotten up earlier than usual and was able to enjoy the sunrise. Since she had gotten home at a decent hour, thanks to Neils talents at persuasion, she had managed to get eight hours of sleep. She decided that she would run to the river and back before getting ready for work. Once she had put on her running clothes, she headed out, using the front door, which faced the street. Opening the interior door, she became somewhat disoriented because the glass storm door had been covered in a dark, opaque substance. Hesitantly, she unlocked that door and opened it slowly, wondering what pranks the local college students in the nearby block might have pulled. She thought to herself. Ill be really irritated if theyve thrown paint or something else thats difficult to clean up. Why cant they just learn to teepee trees or railings?
A pungent order assaulted her olfactory senses first; then she saw the thick, brownish substance. Immediately, she realized what had been thrown against her house. Nausea washed over her and she sprinted to the first floor bathroom, hoping she would make it in time so she wouldnt have to cope with a mess in the interior of the house as well. Once the contents of her stomach had been forcibly expelled by the involuntary contractions, she rose to her feet, unsteadily. She turned on the facet in the sink, splashed some cold water on her face and cupped her hand to take a sip to rinse the awful taste from her mouth. Feeling slightly better, she headed for the kitchen to use the phone.
The only person Torrey could think about contacting was Neil. He would know what to do. Looking at her watch, she realized he wouldnt be in the office yet. She didnt know his home number. She wondered if it was unlisted but decided to try information anyway. As she expected, her call proved unsuccessful; his number wasnt listed. Then she remembered that she had taken one of his business cards from the holder on his desk. She slowly climbed the stairs to her bedroom to retrieve it from her card case, hoping that it listed his cellular number.
Neil heard the chirping coming form his jacket pocket. He was standing in his front yard talking to one of his neighbors, who was a detective for the county police department, while his neighbors colleagues took photos and samples of the muck that had been thrown against his garage door. This hadnt started off to be a good day. Sally was too upset to leave at home. Neil had hoped to talk her into going to her sisters because he was certain that this wasnt a juvenile prank. He was certain that it had to be related to the case and he wanted to do some digging of his own. Neil might have ignored the noise coming from his pocket, but it wouldnt stop so he pulled the phone out and pressed the send button to receive the call. He heard Torrey say his name and then she broke down, crying. He tried to calm her, quietly asking her what was wrong. It took several minutes, but she finally recomposed herself and told him about all the blood that had been thrown against the front of her house. That did it; he was certain that this was not a coincidence. It was an ominous sign and he felt the familiar feeling of tenseness begin to stir in the pit of his stomach. He didnt tell Torrey about the incident at his house; she was frightened enough. He simply told her to lock her doors and wait for him.
Once he had placed the phone back in his pocket, Neil told his neighbor of the new development. His neighbor agreed that the other incident in D.C. cast a new light on matters. He volunteered to escort Sally to her sisters since Neil had promised to go to Georgetown. Neil gratefully accepted his offer and went into the house to tell Sally.
Neil had half-expected Sally to argue about going to her sisters house, but she surprised him and didnt put up a fight. Instead, she quietly packed a suitcase and let him lead her to their neighbors house. He had been relieved. It would give him peace of mind to know that she would be safe.
Once he had deposited Sally with his neighbors, Neil headed toward Georgetown. Although he didnt like to be distracted while he drove, Neil pulled out his cellular phone again. He had two calls to make. The first one was to his friend in the D.C. police department. Their conversation was brief. Neil told his friend about the incidents at his house and Torreys and gave him Torreys address so that they could meet there. Neil then called the one other person whom he was afraid might be in dangerCatherine.
Catherine was getting ready to depart when her phone rang. She almost didnt answer it but decided that if it were the office they would only call her while she was in the car. It was easier to speak at the house than while trying to maneuver through traffic. It didnt surprise her to hear Neils voice. However, the nature of the conversation had confused her; he had begun by asking a serious of questions to determine whether any strange events had occurred at her house. When she had answered each of the questions in the negative, he explained what had happened. Catherine became alarmed that she might have placed two of her staff in danger. It was the last thing in the world that she had expected or wanted.
Catherine insisted on meeting Neil at Torreys residence. He knew not to argue with her and gave her directions to the house, which was about three blocks from the office, on the other side of M Street. Neil arrived first and was able to find a parking spot around the corner from Torreys townhouse. A few seconds later, while Neil was walking up the block toward Torreys street, a D.C. police cruiser pulled up and his friend rolled down the passengers window.
"Mind if I join you?" Detective Al Williams asked, smiling at his old friend.
"Not at all, Im glad youre here. Ill be honest. I have a very bad feeling about this." Neil replied.
Detective Williams, who would be eligible to retire in a few years himself, got out of the car and joined Neil on the sidewalk. He motioned for the cruiser to find a place to park. At six feet seven inches tall, he towered over Neil, and just about everyone else. In his youth, Detective Williams had played basketball. So well, in fact, he had gone through Howard University on a sports scholarship. He had kept in shape and looked much younger than he actually was much to Neils chagrin.
He and Neil had met fifteen years earlier when Neil had been assigned to WFO, the term of endearment used for the FBI field office in D.C. Neil had been one of the few FBI agents who respected the work of his counterparts in the local police department. His respect and openness had earned him the friendship of several D.C. police officers, including Al Williams. Through Neils efforts at the time, the special agent in charge at WFO and management at FBI headquarters had been persuaded to provide unprecedented support to the local department to solve a serial murder case. The successful resolution of that case, led to a big promotion for Al Williams. He had never forgotten Neils role in helping him and they had remained good friends.
Detective Williams shared Neils sense of foreboding. He also had some information, which if it was related, meant that his friends life might actually be at risk. Not one to beat around the bush, he immediately got to the heart of the matter as he walked with Neil.
"You asked me to let you know if any deceased males were found. Well, a body has just been pulled from the river. It looks like a particularly vicious contract killing. If this turns out to be your missing person, Im afraid you may be in real danger, my friend. Id like you to accompany me to the morgue when were finished here. Didnt you say you have information that would identify your man?"
Neil looked at his friend, frowning at the news. "Yes, if its our missing person, there will be a birth mark on the inside of his left ass cheek."
Al Williams quirked his eyebrow at this bit of information. Neil immediately knew what he was thinking and spoke out before his friend had a chance to. "Look, I dont know or care what they were doing, all I know is that his girl friend saw a birth mark there. Lets leave it at that, okay?"
Detective Williams smiled at his friends discomfort. He would have almost sworn that Neil was blushing but didnt push the matter further. His friend had been through enough that morning and it was very probable that matters might only get worse as the day progressed.
The two men rounded the corner to head toward Torrys house, which was in the middle of the block. When Neil looked up he saw a woman approaching from the opposite direction. He smiled when he realized it was Catherine and wondered how she had made it there so quickly. He knew Torrey would be relieved to have her as company once he departed to go with his friend to the morgue. Neil and Detective Williams stood at sidewalk that led up to Torreys house to wait for Catherine. When she reached them, Detective Williams motioned for them to head toward the back of the house. He didnt want to disturb the evidence on the front porch until the officer who had accompanied him took photos and collected samples. He suspected that the blood would not turn out to be human, but it was standard procedure to run lab tests.
Catherine was shocked to see the amount of blood that had been thrown on the front door and steps of Torreys house. She asked Neil if it had been as bad at his house. She cringed when he nodded his head to indicate that the answer to her question was yes. When they got to the back steps, Neil insisted on going up first, since he knew Torrey was waiting for him. Catherine followed while Detective Williams remained at the bottom of the steps.
Torrey jumped when she heard knocking at her back door. She had paced nervously since hanging up the phone after her conversation with Neil. She was just too anxious to sit. She cautiously approached the back door and peaked through the curtains. When she saw Neil standing there, she unlocked the door, pulled it open and threw her arms around his neck. She immediately began crying again. Neil gently maneuvered her back into the kitchen so that Catherine and Detective Williams could enter the house. Torrey didnt notice their presence.
It pained Catherine to see Torrey so upset. Neil noticed the look on Catherines face and decided it was time to pry Torrey from him and place her in Catherines care. He thought it would do both women good to console one another, plus he and his friend needed to examine the vandals handiwork. Neil gently gripped Torreys arms removing them from his neck. He then led her to Catherine, who put an arm over her shoulder. Torrey instinctively turned and buried her head against Catherines chest. She continued to weep quietly. Catherine hugged her and then began to gently pat her back whispering gentle words of encouragement in an effort to calm her down. After a few seconds, Catherine guided the still weeping woman into the living room and pulled her down onto the sofa. Torrey continued to cling to her like a frightened child. Normally, she would have been loath to touch another person. However, Catherine felt a need to hold Torrey and comfort her, physically. She felt responsible, in part, for what had happened. She didnt want this young woman to be hurt. She had grown very fond of her, her detached side would say too fond, in a short period of time. As Neil and Detective Williams headed back outside to meet up with the other police officer in front of the house, Catherine pulled Torrey onto her lap, kissed the top of her head and began rocking her.
Continue to Chapter 10
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