Dead Right Part 4 html
Dead Right Part 4 by Anne Azel
Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of Universal Studios and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended. The characters and events in the Murder Mystery Series are the creation of the author.
To Lisa, Inga and Susan, my deepest thanks for their hard work as my beta readers.
Warning: This story is alternative fiction. Please do not read on if you are under age or if such material is illegal in your end of the swamp.
A Special Warning: This story has a graphic and realistic description of the forensic investigations involved in an airliner crash. It is a dark story involving a psychopathic killer. Some strong language is used. This story might upset more sensitive readers.
You can contact Anne Azel at
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">www.jes.com.au/~azel> Anne's books are also available through Dare
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Jason Young sat in the conference room with an expression on his face that could have melted glass. "Would be nice to know what the fuck is going on in our own backyard," he complained. "So how long has Aliki been working undercover and how come I didn't know?" Bates played with his unlit pipe. Smoking was strictly forbidden in public buildings. Mostly he wanted time to think. This had to be handled just right. "Dr. Pateas is not working undercover for either the forensic department or the RCMP. She took a personal leave to do her own investigation."
Young rapped the end of his pen on the desk with agitation. "So she is playing candystore cop. Jesus, Bates!" The forensic scientist just shrugged and sucked with dissatisfaction on his cold pipe. Young was not to be put off. He was a pretty smart cop and once he was turned in the right direction he could follow a lead as well as the best of them. The wheels were turning now and he was coming up cherries. His eyes narrowed. "There was a biker killed down that way and another stabbed in a nasty spot. I hear tell Pateas is pretty good with those fancy blades you see the ninja use. She wouldn't have anything to do with that now would she? The neighbours said it sounded like two guys had a woman down there."
Bates took his pipe from his mouth and looked at the stem with some interest. "Knives are the weapon of choice in Canada. Our labs get a lot of costumers from that area of town. I doubt very much if a connection could be made. What does the surviving biker say?" His eyes came up sharply and he looked at Young with challenging eyes under thick white eyebrows. The message was unstated but clear. You don't rat on your own. Cops protect cops.
A red tide rose up Young's neck and he changed the subject quickly. "Bikers don't say shit to cops. They handle their own problems. Well, we are stuck with this mess now. Suppose you bring us up to speed."
Again Bates picked his words carefully. "There is little really I can tell you. I know that Aliki had established a friendship with one of the waitresses in the bar and was sharing a room with her. Her name was Alice Bondy and she was known to be one of Jigsaw's girlfriends. Alice showed up in the morgue in the early hours of this morning. She had been tortured, raped, and murdered. I'm sure Brad will fill you in on the details. Aliki has been in the habit of reporting in to me each morning. She has a locker at the bus stop and keeps a few clothes, her service revolver, and a cell phone in there. She didn't phone this morning. I sent someone over with the spare key that I had made. Everything is still there. Jason, I know Aliki has stuck her neck out into your turf but she feels responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. Wouldn't you do the same? Let's not waste time arguing over proper procedure. What's done is done and I fear we must act quickly."
Brad Chauhan had been sitting quietly. Now he spoke up. "Jason, what that bitch did to Alice Bondy while she was still alive was fucking sick. Aliki is one of our own."
Young looked at Bates with deep, penetrating eyes. "Do you think Jigsaw has got her?"
Bates swallowed hard. This had been a hard meeting to sit through and conduct himself with calm objectivity. He was feeling anything but. He knew what Aliki might be going through right now as they talked and that thought turned his stomach. "I very much fear that Dr. Pateas is in grave danger of meeting the same fate as Alice Bondy if she hasn't already."
Young saw the tears in the old man's eyes before he blinked them back. He had never worked with Pateas but he had heard that she was a beautiful woman and damn good to work with professionally. She was a cop and knew what they had to face each day on the street. She did her job well and was known as a team player.
Young threw down his pen and stood. "I'll go see the inspector and get him to put every officer we have out in the area trying to get a lead. A lot of guys off duty will come in and help too once the word gets out. Brad, you start making phone calls. I'll get the inspector to agree to this if I have to sit on him and squeeze the consent out of him like toothpaste from a tube."
Bates stood and offered each man his hand. "Thank you." His voice was rough with emotion. The other two, embarrassed by the old man's emotion, made a quick escape.
Bates wiped a hand over his face. He was not going to tell Dawn or Robbie about this until later today. He would prefer not to worry them at all until he had something concrete. It could be that Aliki was fine but was simply unable for one reason or another to come to the bus stop this morning. He would have to tell them before evening though because it would be only a matter of hours before the media heard rumours of an officer in trouble. News like that sold papers.
Knowing he had done as much as he could to help Aliki although it seemed very little considering the peril she was in, he tucked his pipe back into his pocket and headed back to the morgue. He wanted to finish his autopsy of Alice Bondy. When Jigsaw was brought to justice again, he meant to make sure that the evidence was there to keep her behind bars forever.
While Bates had been at his meeting, his assistant, Chen, had taken swab samples of the vagina, rectum, navel, ears and any areas where the skin creased hoping for DNA samples that would confirm the identity of the assailant. He had taken scrapings from under the finger nails and clipped the finger nails into a envelope for analysis later. Chen was just finishing looking for hair or fibre samples using a huge magnifying lens on a spring extension arm. These too were bagged and labeled.
Bates nodded his approval as he slipped his protective face shield down. From the stainless steel table he took a scalpel and made the large Y cut that was used to open up the chest. Once the sternum and ribs were exposed his assistant used a tool to break the ribs back and Bates carefully examined, weighed, and took samples from the interior organs noting the extent of the damage done by the knife. Lastly, he took the Stryker saw and cut through the skull to reveal the brain for examination.
Death by violence or causes unknown stripped away more than a life, it stripped away privacy and dignity. Alice Bondy's naked body would have been seen by over a hundred people, gawkers, police, ETM's, detectives, and forensic personnel. She had been photographed, examined, and cut up. In the end, a courtroom of people would look at her photographs and the evidence her body had revealed, then her photographs would be filed and bits of her would remain in evidence bags and on sample slides for years to come. Bates worked quietly and methodically, speaking softly into the tape recorder. Later, he would type up a detailed report. Alice had been tortured by beating, jabs of a knife and cigarette burns. She had been raped using a knife for penetration. She had slowly bled to death at the hands of her killer.
On the other side of town, Robbie and Dawn worked gathering data right until closing time. Tired and frustrated by the slow progress they seemed to be making, they headed back to Robbie's place through the slow rush hour traffic. Dawn was at the wheel of Robbie's Jaguar at Robbie's request. Dawn accepted, knowing that the request came out of the respect that Aliki held for her partner Janet. Janet didn't like Robbie driving in rush hour because, as she was known to observe, Robbie was capable of giving an academy award performance when it came to road rage. The woman simply had no patience.
She sat now beside Dawn, her leg bouncing with pent up energy and a need to be doing things . Robbie had the same traits as Aliki but they were expressed in such different ways. Aliki was all about control. She would have sat beside Dawn still and silent while her mind raced a mile a minute.
Robbie's cell phone rang and much to Dawn's relief Robbie leg stopped as she shifted her weight to reach for her phone on her belt. "Robbie," she stated with the confidence that there was only one, Robbie Williams.
Bates wasted no time getting to the point. "Tom Bates. Where are you Robbie? Is Dawn with you?"
"In traffic heading towards my condo. Yes, Dawn is here. Why?"
Bates sighed. "In that case, Robbie, I am going to have to ask you for the performance of your life. I have to tell you now because the media have the information and I would rather you have the truth from me. I think it would be best if Dawn is not told until you are safely back at your penthouse."
Robbie felt her guts tighten in fear but her facial features remained calm. She was surprised when her voice came out relaxed and casual. "Sure, so tell me how your day went."
Bates gave the facts with as few upsetting details as possible. "I was called into the lab in the small hours of this morning. It was Alice Bondy. She had been tortured, raped, and murdered. The MO is not unlike that of Jigsaw's past victims. Aliki has not made contact today. I am concerned enough to have requested that the police take immediate action. They have started an extensive hunt for Aliki and Jigsaw."
It took Robbie several beats before she could answer but she did with her usual amazing talent for acting. "Okay. Got that. Can we meet to discuss what we have learned in more detail?"
Bates nodded to no one, amazed at Robbie's voice control. "I am just leaving the lab now. I will be at your place in half an hour."
"Thanks," Robbie managed to get out and snapped off quickly before the pile of questions she wanted to desperately ask came pouring out without control. Robbie swallowed bile but her voice sounded natural when she reported the conversation to Dawn. "Bates has been in the lab all day. He said he'd meet us at the condo in a half hour."
Dawn, saw the light change and inched forward. "You want the news on or anything, Robbie? We are going to be another twenty minutes stuck in this mess I should think."
Robbie jerked out of her thoughts in a panic. "No! Aah.... a bit of a headache actually Dawn. I....I think I'll just close my eyes for a bit. I am not used to wearing my glasses for so long."
Dawn smiled, unaware of the anguish that lay ahead. She knew that Robbie was rather vain about wearing her glasses in public.
They parked the car in the underground parking lot and took Robbie's private elevator to the penthouse in the exclusive condominium complex that over looked Lake Ontario. The entire upper floor had once been Robbie's only home. Now it was simply the family residence when they were in town. The small town of Bartlett in northern Ontario had become the Williams family's principle home and the centre of their film school.
Robbie was being uncharacteristically quiet and looked pale. Dawn wondered if her future sister-in-law suffered from migraines. As they stepped out of the elevator into the foyer of Robbie's home she took Robbie's arm. "Can I make you some tea or get you anything? You are not looking well, Robbie."
To Dawn's surprise, Robbie pulled her into her arms and held her tight. "Dawn, Alice Bondy was found dead early this morning. It was bad. No one has heard from Aliki. I guess the media have hold of the story now. Bates is on the way here to tell us the truth of what is going on." Robbie felt the small body she held in her arms stiffen in fear. Dawn held on tight so she would not fall over. Her legs felt wobbly and her head light. Robbie's voice seemed to come from far away. "Come and sit down. I think what we both need is a drink. I'll need to phone Janet too."
"Mac!" Dawn exclaimed, suddenly realizing what this was going to do to her already upset daughter when she found out that Aliki was missing.
"Don't you worry about Mac. Janet has handled these sorts of emergencies in our family before. Mac will be fine. Janet will see to that," Robbie reassured, having total confidence in the woman she loved.
Dawn curled in a ball in the corner of the couch and stared at the empty fire place. It was like living a nightmare only you couldn't wake up and each minute became more and more terrifying. If Alice Bondy was dead, it meant Aliki could be dead also. That thought went way beyond pain. It exploded the senses apart and left nothing in its wake but cold, raw emptiness.
Robbie brought her a brandy and then disappeared into the kitchen to phone Janet. Dawn could hear her strained, worried voice but the words refused to make sense in her head. Nothing made sense anymore. Nothing.
She closed her eyes and immediately an image of Aliki smiling at her formed. She could see Aliki washing the car with Mac and hear their laughter as they suds each other more than the car.
Dawn sighed as images of her and Aliki's private times at night rushed back. She could see the love in Aliki's eyes and feel Aliki's fingers slipping into her. She could feel her lover's lips on her clitoris bringing her to ecstasy as only she could. Tears welled and ran down her face. She didn't sob, she just died a little as slowly she realized what she might have lost.
"Why Aliki?" she moaned. "Why did you have to do this?"
Robbie leaned on the kitchen counter keeping an eye on Dawn in the livingroom while she waited for someone at the lodge to pick up the phone. She could feel the sweat on her upper lip and smell the fear in her soul.
"Hello, Ryan here,"came the confident voice of her daughter.
"Hi Ryan. I miss you, kid," Robbie stated honestly, smiling despite her fear. Ryan was a handful but a really neat daughter and Robbie was proud of her. "Look, I need to speak to your other mom, we got a media situation here."
She heard Ryan sigh. Now seventeen, and the daughter of a famous mother and a member of an equally famous family, she was used to the intrusion of the media into their lives. She knew that sensationalism always came before truth. "I'll get her."
Robbie waited impatiently, listening to her daughter talking to Janet. Then Janet's calm, quiet voice came on the line. "Hi, my Olive, what's up?"
"It's not good, Janet and the media have got hold of it. The woman that Aliki was living with was found dead. She'd been murdered. We don't know where Aliki is. She hasn't reported in."
Robbie heard Janet's sharp intake of breath. "Aliki was living with another woman?! She's missing?"
"She might be okay, you know, on Jigsaw's trail and too busy to report in,"Robbie reassured.
"Do you think that?"
Robbie sighed raggedly, feeling suddenly tired and worn out. "No."
"How is Dawn?"
Robbie looked around the corner. Dawn was curled into the corner of the couch, rocking back and forth with tears rolling down her face. "Bad."
"I'm on my way. There is no protecting the girls from this. We might as well all be together and try to help as best we can."
Robbie felt relief flooding through her. She always felt better when Janet was at her side. "Thanks. I'll send the helicopter first thing in the morning."
"Okay. And Robbie?"
Janet gripped the phone in tension, feeling at a loss for a way to help immediately. "You just hold Dawn, okay. That is what she needs. She is far too intelligent a person not to realize the danger. Don't try to bullshit her, just offer her quiet support. Let her know her family is behind her."
"Okay," Robbie answered miserably. "I'll phone you back as soon as we get the details from Dr. Bates. He should be here soon."
"Okay. I love you, Robbie."
"I love you too, Hon." Robbie reluctantly hung up and walked back into the livingroom. She sat down close beside Dawn and pulled her into her arms. Dawn clung to her like a lost child. "I don't know what I would do if anything has happened to Aliki. She is so damn maddening, Robbie, but I love her so much."
Robbie smiled weakly, rubbing Dawn's back reassuringly. "Yeah, I've kinda got used to having her as a sister even if she is a cop. Aliki is a pretty tough costomer. I mean, she is street wise and she is a damn good fighter. We gotta believe that if she has walked into something she is using her head and will either get herself out of it or hold on until we can find her." Dawn nodded against Robbie's shoulder but said nothing. They sat there quietly sharing warmth and comfort until the chimes went to indicate that Dr. Bates was in the lobby waiting to be admitted to Robbie's private elevator.
Robbie untangled herself and went to the security panel. She turned on the camera and verified that it was Bates down stairs and then clicked on the speaker as she opened the elevator doors for him. "Come right up, Thomas." She frowned as she watched the doctor step inside the elevator. He looked worried and upset.
The last thing Aliki needed was another blow to her head. Her world had tunnelled and turned black as she fought to stay conscious. The next thing she was aware of was that her arms were being roughly pulled behind her. She vomited and struggled to regain full consciousness. It might be her only chance at survival. Her wrists were held fast in handcuffs but Jigsaw was straddling her back still.
With a cry of pain and exertion Aliki arched her back and rolled, sending Jigsaw flying. Then she stumbled to her feet and tried to make it to the door even though her world was out of focus and moving dizzily. Jigsaw was there before her, standing ready in the doorway, giggling excitedly with a gun in her hand. Aliki staggered back and leaned one shoulder on the wall for support.
"Gotcha," Jigsaw laughed.
Aliki didn't say anything. Her heart was still racing from having found Alice's body and it was taking all her self control to stay on her feet. She smelt of vomit and sweat and her bowels were rolling. She forced herself to stay totally focussed on Jigsaw. One wrong move now and she would end up like Alice.
Carefully, Jigsaw moved forward. Slowly, she reached down and picked up the end of a chain that was attached to Aliki's handcuffs. Aliki would have liked to have made her move then, running forward and kicking Jigsaw in the head but the gun was trained right at her and Aliki wasn't sure at the moment if she could complete a karate kick without falling over.
Jigsaw stood again and tugged on the chain. "Come on, bitch, I'm taking you for a fucking walk." Dazed and disorientated, Aliki went with her. The next hours, would be a living hell for her.
Bates sat in a leather chair opposite the cold fireplace from where Robbie and Dawn sat on the couch. Robbie held Dawn's hand between her own. He knew these were both strong, intelligent people; there was no point in hiding facts from them. Slowly and methodically, he explained what had been done to Alice Bondy and the steps that were being taken to find Aliki.
When he finished, Dawn asked in a low voice, "Do you know if Aliki had returned to the apartment last night?"
Bates frowned. "We think so. We found traces of hair and clothes' fibres in a smear of Alice's blood as if Aliki might have been on the floor at one time. The fibres were certainly left after the blood. It is not conclusive evidence because it could be contamination debris deposited there before the police arrived. The killer left the apartment door open and a number of people from the building had entered the room to have a look while they waited for the police. Aliki had been liv - staying there. Such debris could have been transmitted on air currents.
Dawn was persistent. "But you don't think so."
Bates reached into his pocket for his pipe. "My gut tells me we need to take this situation very seriously."
For a minute the three of them sat in total silence, each dealing personally with the enormity of the crisis. Then Robbie squeezed Dawn's hand. "If we are going to find Aliki we need to get working then. There is no time to lose." She stood. "Dawn, we need to start entering our data base onto the computers I have here. Could you get some coffee on while I boot up the lab for us? Dr. Bates, is there anything else we need to know?"
Bates took the cold pipe from his mouth and stared at it intently before he looked up at the women. "Just something rather ironical. I had a call from the Bureau of International Aviation just before I came over here. They have every reason to believe that a cracked coupling on the hydraulic jack that controls the positioning of the forward landing gear broke off as the gear was raised. It flew back and pierced the port side wing, puncturing the fuel tank. Fully fueled, there would have been about 10,000 L of fuel in the tank. It sprayed out over the hot engine and exploded."
Dawn looked up with eyes wet with tears. "The crash was an accident? It had nothing to do with Aliki?"
Bates swallowed hard. "It would appear at this early date that it was a horrible accident. Jigsaw used the incident to set a trap for Aliki."
"Shit," muttered Robbie, sinking back on the couch and wrapping her arm around Dawn. Dawn buried her head in her hands and let Robbie hold her.
They sat in shock for only a few minutes. Then Dawn drew on her inner strength and determination and rose. She was pale and her voice a bit shaky but she had herself together again emotionally. "I'll get the coffee on."
Bates and Robbie looked immensely relieved, neither of them knowing what to do if Dawn had gone to pieces. "I'd like to see what you have gathered, Robbie."
Robbie nodded. "Sure, this way."
A little while later, Dawn arrived with the coffee. "Robbie, there isn't a thing to eat here. We are going to need food."
Robbie nodded. "Here, you take over. I'll go phone the restaurant downstairs and have them cater. That's what I always did before I met Janet."
Bates looked over from one of Robbie's computers in surprise. Dawn shrugged. "She can't cook. Janet says she burns the toast regularly."
Bates smiled. "Robbie was entering data on to a spread sheet for easy comparisons. I'm going through the list of old friends and family members that Jigsaw was associated with and highlighting those I feel might be worth talking to tomorrow." Dawn nodded and set to work.
The three worked steadily. Later, a lemon soup and Greek salad were delivered with freshly baked bread. The three hardly noticed the quality of the food as they sat around the table talking in low voices about the patterns they saw in Jigsaw's mode of operation and how they could use them to find out where Aliki was. The meal completed, they went back to work, stopping only when they could not stay awake any longer.
Janet and the girls found them, tired and worn, in the process of eating breakfast as they reviewed what they needed to do on the second day of Aliki's disappearance. Robbie was up like a shot and hugging her family, while Mac flew to her mom's arms and held on tight.
They all ended up in the livingroom discussing what should be done by whom. In the end it was Bates who had the final say. "Robbie, I appreciate that you want to help find your sister and action suits your nature but Dawn and Janet will have much better luck quietly getting information from people than you. If you start dropping in on people they will talk to neighbours about how the famous Robbie Williams talked to them and it will only be a matter of time before the press are following at your heels. No, it will have to be Dawn and Janet who go."
Robbie slouched down on the couch, arms folded, and looked murderous. "I hate being famous." Janet reached over and touched her lover's arm and immediately some of the tension left Robbie's face.
"I want to go with Mom and Aunt Janet," Mac declared.
Again Bates wisely handled the situation before a family squabble started. "Two is enough, Mac. A crowd might intimidate those being interviewed. Besides, I have work for all three of you young ladies.
"What about me?" Robbie demanded, sitting up suddenly.
"You are to continue following up on the list of leads that we made last night," Bates stated firmly.
"No!" Robbie groaned in protest.
"It needs to be done," Bates stated briskly. Robbie sighed but did not protest anymore. What was important was finding Aliki.
Across the room, Dawn sat in the corner of the couch with Mac curled close beside her. They both looked pale and worried. Dawn stroked her daughter's arm reassuringly. "What about you, Doctor Bates? What are you going to be doing?"
"I'm going to meet with Detective Young and Chauhan at ten am at the forensic lab for a debriefing. We need to know what the police have done. There is no point in us covering the same ground. Time is of the essence."
The group quickly broke up and went their separate ways. Before Bates left, he showed the teenage girls the information that he and their mothers had compiled during the night and explained that he wanted them to sort and resort the data recording any patterns they might find. Reb, he placed on another computer to go through pictures of Jigsaw and try to build a good sketch of her using the police artist software package. He looked over at Robbie and found she was already deep into her work, locating relatives and friends and recording addresses to pass on to Dawn and Janet by cell phone. He nodded his approval and hurried off to his meeting.
Aliki had been led at gun point to a room down the hall. Jigsaw had her open a closet door and move aside the old coats hanging there. Barely visible beyond was a door. Jigsaw ordered her to open it and they entered a room with no other doors and no windows. The walls were worn and of two styles of brick. At one time this must have been part of an alley way between two buildings that had been bricked up later.
Aliki looked around, willing her eyes to focus. Her head hurt painfully and her heart still raced from the shock of seeing Alice's body. She felt nauseous. She turned on legs that still felt like rubber. Jigsaw was quiet but she was breathing hard and was obviously excited. Aliki was pleased that her voice sounded calm when she spoke. "Why did you kill her? You didn't have to. She did everything you wanted her to."
Jigsaw laughed. "Fucking stupid cunt."
"That's not an answer. I want to know."
Jigsaw's answer was to lash out quickly. Aliki ducked but not quickly enough. The barrel of the gun clipped the bridge of her nose and she felt the cartilage snap as pain shot through her face. Blood dripped from her nostrils. She went down on one knee and Jigsaw was on her immediately, beating her with the butt of her gun. "The fucking bitch wanted me to leave you alone!" Jigsaw howled in rage as she swung at Aliki over and over again. "But I showed her! I showed her! People don't tell Jigsaw nothin'. Stupid cunt! Fucking pig. I hate you!"
Aliki tried to protect her head as much as she could but down on her knees with her hands cuffed there was little she could do. Finally, she passed out with the pain and damage from the pistol whipping.
It was a beautiful day. The fall sun shone through the coloured leaves of the tree lined street and there was a crisp, fresh edge to the air. It was a day in juxtaposition to the weight of worry and strain that Janet and Dawn felt as they walked down the gentrified street to number 139 Barlow Street. Dawn looked around eyes puzzled, "It doesn't look like the sort of neighbourhood that a friend of Jigsaw would live."
Janet nodded her agreement and unfolded the paper to check the address again. "This is the place. Jigsaw's sister, Krystle Neals." They rang the bell and waited.
A thin woman, prematurely grey and stooped answered the door hesitantly. "Yes?"
"Mrs. Neals?" Janet asked, after a moment's hesitation.
"Yes." The voice, already timid, was cautious now as well.
Janet took the lead, knowing Dawn might find it awkward to explain. "Mrs. Neals, my sister-in-law is a police officer and we have reason to believe that your sister might be holding her. We need to talk to you."
Krystle Neals gave a small gasp and put her hand to her mouth as if to restrain the sound that had already escaped. "I don't know anything. I don't know what you are talking about, please. I need to go."
Dawn gently but firmly put her shoulder to the door and they were inside. "Mrs. Neals, we know that you are not involved. We are looking for ideas. Anything that will help us find Aliki. Anything!"
Janet thought that Krystle Neals looked like a frightened mouse that was cornered. The woman nodded nervously and wrung her hands. When she realized the two women were not going away she led them into a livingroom overcrowded with furniture and sat stiffly on a straight chair in the corner. "I got everything," she stated defensively, "because Marsha killed them. That's the law. You can't kill for gain."
Janet indicated to Dawn to sit down. "Yes, we know. Did Jigsaw - Marsha, bother you about that?"
Krystle wrung her hands. "She used to send me letters from prison. Asking me how I was doing and how the property was and was I managing the money well. They sounded like nice letters but I knew better," she said with uncharacteristic confidence. "They were evil letters. Threatening letters. I could read between the lines. I knew what she really meant."
"Has she sent you any letters recently?" Dawn asked.
"No! I don't care what the police say. She didn't escape. She's dead, I tell you! Dead!" Krystle buried her face in her hands and cried hysterically. "Oh God, please believe me! She's dead!"
Janet looked at Dawn, their eyes meeting in silent understanding. Krystle was terrified. And that could only mean one thing. Jigsaw had visited her since her escape. It was Janet who spoke. "Mrs. Neals, Kystle, we have to stop Jigsaw. You have to help us."
The hysterical woman leaped to her feet. "I won't! I won't! Stop bothering me. Jigsaw is dead! Get out of my house! Get out!"
Dawn and Janet left. There was little else they could do. They walked down the street and once they were out of sight of the house, Janet pulled out her phone. "Robbie, we just left Krystal Neals' house. She denies knowing anything but she is clearly terrified. She inherited everything after Jigsaw was convicted of her parents' murder. We think Jigsaw has been in touch with her. Can you arrange a watch on the house? Good. Thanks. We are going to see if we can find Kyle Wyatt now. Yes, we'll be careful."
"Maybe we should go back and try again," Dawn stated, the desperation showing in her face.
Janet shook her head and flagged the plain clothes detective who had been waiting anxiously in his car while Janet and Dawn had talked to Mrs. Neals. "No, if we force the issue she'll call the police. And they'll do everything they can to stop our investigation. No, we'll try to get information from other sources. She's terrified, Dawn, and not very stable. Even if she does know Jigsaw's whereabouts, and I doubt it, she is not going to talk."
The two woman sat silently as their body guard drove them downtown and dropped them off at the Salvation Army soup kitchen. They made their way through the rows of tables. Only a few bag ladies and a handful of men, worn and haggard, sat hunched over a late afternoon bowl of stew. They went up to the counter. It was Janet again who did the talking. "Hello, we're looking for Kyle Wyatt. My associate, Mrs Williams, phoned you earlier this morning about us coming."
A bean pole of a man, with a face lined and weather well beyond his years, stepped forward. "That's me. You two might as well sit at one of the tables. I'll come around and talk to you." Janet noticed the heavy tattoos on his arms did not cover the marks of countless needles and collapsed veins. Wyatt had been mainlining for a long time.
He came around the serving counter and sat down on one of the metal folding chairs. He lit a flattened cigarette and inhaled deeply. His fingers were stained from smoking. "I haven't seen Jigsaw since they put her away."
Janet nodded. "We are not with the police. We have reason to believe that my sister-in-law is with her and we are trying to locate her. We were hoping you might know where Jigsaw might hang out."
The man shrugged. "Jigsaw and I hung around the same biker gang. Neither one of us made it into the ranks. You do drugs and the bikers don't want you. They push the shit, they don't take it. And Jigsaw got sick of being traded from one guy to another for a quick fuck. Least that is what she said. Truth of the matter was she liked the women better. Jigsaw always had a screw loose. Now the Good Lord reached me so I gotta believe he can save her soul too, but I'm not holding out much hope that when the opportunity to see the Light comes her way she is going to see it."
Janet controlled her frustration. Wyatt seemed willing enough to help them but the truth of the matter seemed to be that he'd fried his brain on drugs and was having a hard time staying on track. "Do you know where we could find her?"
"Well, she is not with the bikers any more that's for sure, although I think she still knows a lot of them. That's why she killed them you know."
Dawn looked up sharply. "Killed who?"
Wyatt looked surprise. "Her parents. She wanted their property. It was handy like, you know."
"But she didn't get it did she?" Janet asked.
"Not as far as I know. Went to the sister, I heard. A bit of a basket case that one. Used to pee herself even when she was grown."
Janet interrupted before he could go off again. "So you haven't seen Jigsaw."
"Nope, and the Good Lord willing it's going to stay that way. You seem like nice folks. You shouldn't be messing with the likes of Jigsaw. She don't care a shit for nobody. She's just crazy. Scary crazy."
The women tried for another half hour to get any sort of lead from Wyatt. He was talkative enough but he never seemed to get to the point. They left feeling discouraged, depressed, and hungry, having missed lunch. They shared a power bar that Janet had in her pocket and moved on.
With their bodyguard again parked near by, they tried the few neighbours who still lived on the same working class street as the Higgins family had in the years Krystal and Marsha were growing up. If they knew anything they weren't talking. As the last door closed in their faces, Dawn looked at Janet in despair. "Everyone is afraid. No one wants Jigsaw coming after them."
Janet gave Dawn's shoulder a squeeze. "We'll just keep trying. Sooner or later someone will slip or the little pieces will come together to make a whole picture."
"We might not have a later," Dawn muttered, as the two woman headed down the street once more.
Two more days slipped past. They all grew haggard, their nerves ragged. Around the children, they tried to maintain a positive attitude but in their hearts they knew that each hour that passed reduced the chances of Aliki being alive. They had searched, questioned, checked and no lead had got them anywhere. The police for their part had questioned everyone in the building and searched both the building and the neighbourhood. Officers were giving up their off days to help with the search but Jigsaw and Aliki had fallen off the map.
The next attack, when it came, was more deadly than the first. While she had been unconscious, Jigsaw had used a combination lock to secure her chain to a iron ring in the wall. This reduced Aliki's mobility down to a radius of about ten feet. Badly hurt from her first beating and unable to use her arms, she couldn't risk any high kicks. Once she was down she knew what her fate would be. But she was able to kick Jigsaw's hand away, block a blow, or dodge out of the way waiting for an opportunity that never came. Jigsaw was taking no chances. When Jigsaw finally left her alone, Aliki was bleeding steadily from a number of deep cuts. Jigsaw was just toying with her she knew. The convict was enjoying the power trip and she meant Aliki to die slowly.
Alki forced herself not to collapse. She might not survive another sustained attack. She had lost a good deal of blood and was low on fluids. She wasn't sure how long she had been held a prisoner. She was hungry and very thirsty. She had used the corner of the room to relieve herself several times, no easy task with her hands cuffed. She staggered over to the ring embedded in the brick wall and once again started heaving at it, trying to work it loose. Her flesh chafed painfully against the cuffs and scraped against the brick. Her blood dripped from any number of wounds forming a slippery puddle on the floor. She gritted her teeth and worked on compulsively. Her head hurt like hell.
She had managed to only scrape a few brick chips free by the time she heard Jigsaw returning. There was no thought, no planning. The reptilian brain deep within all of us reacted. Aliki lay down on her side, still and quiet, and waited.
Jigsaw had wanted to stay away longer, to make the torment last, but she was drawn back to Aliki by her excitement. Torturing the pig who had put her away was even better than she thought it was going to be. She tightened her grip on the knife. It was going to be so good.
Aliki lay motionless in a pool of blood. Jigsaw frowned. She wanted Aliki conscious to know what she was doing to her. "Get up you fucking bitch!" she snarled, kicking at Aliki's back. Nothing. Jigsaw bent over her to roll her over. An instant later, the chain Aliki was attached to looped around Jigsaw's neck.
Jigsaw panicked, squirming frantically to escape Aliki's hold. Then, as black spots formed before her eyes, she lashed out with her knife, sinking it deeply into Aliki's side. There was a grunt of pain and the chain around Jigsaw's throat loosened a bit.
With a super human effort born of her martial arts training Aliki calmed herself and put the pain behind her. All her focus and strength she willed to her hands. The chained tightened again, then tightened some more and Aliki felt the body flopping on hers suddenly go limp. She didn't stop. She pulled until the chain cut into Jigsaw's neck and crushed her larynx.
Weak and barely conscious Aliki lay there with Jigsaw's cooling body on top of her. Finally, she wiggled out from underneath and, sobbing hysterically, she crawled to sit with her back against the wall as far away from the body as she could. Her trembling hands kept trying to wipe Jigsaw's scent off her. She tried to focus on something - anything- but couldn't. She couldn't remember where she was or why she was there. "My flame," she kept muttering. "My flame."
They sat around the breakfast table on the fifth day of Aliki's disappearance in quiet gloom. Dawn played with her food but ate very little. She was looking gaunt and pale.
Robbie gritted her teeth in frustration. They had questioned and re-questioned people, looked everywhere they could think to look and had come up with nothing. The police too had come up empty handed. "We'll stay here this morning. Go through the data the girls have collected. There has to be something we have over looked." No one said anything.
Reb asked to be excused and slipped off her chair. Janet, looking exhausted, went to follow her. "We'll go, Aunt Janet," Ryan said, needing action of any sort. She and Mac got up and went to look for Rebecca.
They found her sitting in front of one of the computers with one of the sketches she had made of Jigsaw on the screen. She sat there very still, a little seven year old with the worries of an adult world on her shoulders.
"You okay, kid?" Ryan asked, coming up to rub her little sister's shoulders.
Reb said nothing. She clicked on her mouse and brought up a grainy black and white photo of a row of tenement houses that had been downloaded from the newspaper. Then she clicked back to her sketch. This she darkened until it was almost black.
Ryan looked at Mac with worry in her eyes. Mac knelt down beside Reb, who stared at the screen as if they were not there. "Reb, why don't you come out on the balcony with us for a bit and get some fresh air. We all need to take a little break."
Reb ignored her and clicked back to the poor quality photo. She isolated one window and expanded it. Then she leaped from her chair and almost knocked Ryan over as she bumped into her on her way to the kitchen at a dead run. Ryan and Mac followed.
"Mommy! Mommy! I know where she is!" Reb yelled, grabbing Janet's arm and pulling her out of her melancholy.
She smiled weakly at her excited daughter and pulled her into her lap. "Tell us then."
"She's in the brick building," Reb stated proudly.
Janet smiled. "The police checked that building very carefully, Reb. Your Aunt Aliki and Jigsaw were there but they have gone now."
Reb slipped from her mother's arms in frustration. "No! Not that building! The one next door. I saw her!"
The adults in the room blinked and looked at the small child in amazement. It was Robbie who managed to squeak out the question that was on everyone's mind. "You saw her where, Reb?"
Reb was not a child to be easily intimidated by a room full of adults looking at her in baffled amazement. "On your computer, Obbie. Come on. I'll show you."
Janet stood up, " Ryan, Mac and I will go have a look at what Reb has found. Why don't you two clear the breakfast things and then we'll decide on what to do next."
Reb had run ahead and by the time the two teens and Janet had entered Robbie's editing lab, Reb had already placed her darkened sketch next to the magnified window. When Janet arrived, Reb pointed to the dark window. Janet leaned forward and looked. Barely visible in the darkness was a face looking out at the street. It was not so much that you could see the features as you could see the expression of madness. Janet gasped in surprise.
"Christ kid! I think you are on to something," Ryan muttered, leaning forward to look at the screen too.
Mac took off on a run to the kitchen. "Mom! Mom! Aunt Robbie! Come quickly. Reb might have found something!"
The women stood in a tight circle at the end of the street that had been blockaded off by the police. Dr. Bates stood beside them, for once without his pipe, looking grim and exhausted. The police had verified that both the buildings had belonged the Higgins and that Krystle Neals had inherited them. It did not take the police long with Mrs. Neals to verify that Jigsaw was using rooms in both buildings. A police swat team had entered the building about ten minutes ago. The inhabitants were being led from the building apartment by apartment and questioned. Everything seemed orderly and quiet and the women fidgeted nervously, hoping this was not yet another dead end.
Another fifteen minutes went by and then a police officer wearing a bullet proof vest and a Swat team jacket walked down the street to them. "Dr. Bates, we are going to need you, Sir."
Bates nodded, his eyes filled with sorrow and grief. Dawn gave a little gasp and Janet wrapped her deeply in her arms. Ryan stepped forward and put her arms around Mac. "I'm here for you," she whispered. Robbie picked Reb up and wiped away her tears, talking to her softly about what a good job she had done. Her voice sounded light but strained.
The officer led him not into the second building but into the first where Alice Bondy has been found. 'It's the smell, Sir. We probably wouldn't have found the door if it hadn't been for the stink. It smells like decay so we thought we'd better get you before we opened up the door."
Bates nodded. He was a little winded from climbing the three flights and had nothing to say anyway. The worst experience for someone in forensics was having to identify and autopsy someone you know. Yet, he knew that this was the way Aliki would want it if she was dead. She would want him to do it.
The smell was gagging when they opened the door and several of the officers felt their guts heaving. The sound of flies buzzing seemed strangely loud and eerie in the room. Jigsaw's body lay on her back. Her eyes were open and her tongue hung out of her mouth swollen and black. Flies ate at the edges of her eyes and at the rotting bloody mess of torn tissue around her neck. The body was swollen and discoloured, the blood having settled leaving blue and purple stains on the lower regions of her body. The upper tissue was grey-white and turning green.
Bates took all this in with a practiced glance "Get the ETM's up here," he muttered, and walked over to Aliki's body. She was against the wall on her side, her body bloodied and battered. A knife hilt still stuck out of her side. Her eyes were closed and crusted and one graceful hand stretched out. In her own blood she had written, Dawn, I love You. Bates reached out a hand and gently stroked the temple of his assistant. Aliki's skin was warm.
Bates spun on his heels where he squatted. "God damn it! Get those ETM's here! She is still alive!"
Robbie paced up and down the hall with Ryan at her side. In the waiting area, Dawn, Mac, and Janet sat in shocked silence. Reb had fallen asleep in Janet's lap. They had watched as they had brought Aliki out on a stretcher, IV's running into her arm. Robbie had to physically hold Dawn back. They were taken to the hospital in a squad car. Aliki was already in surgery. That had been three hours ago.
Finally, the doctor walked down the hall to Robbie and Ryan. The women stood as Robbie pointed in their direction. The surgeon nodded and headed towards the waiting room with Robbie and Ryan on his heels. "Ms. Freeman?"
Dawn stood pale and trembling, holding Mac close to her side. "Yes."
"Inspector Pateas has survived the surgery and is in serious condition in our recovery room. In an hour or so, we will move her into our intensive care unit. Fortunately, the knife slipped between the pancreas and the large intestine and the other wounds did not penetrate deeply. She was incredibly lucky."
Dawn slumped against Janet who had come up to put a supportive arm around her. "She is going to be alright?"
The doctor frowned. "She is very ill, Ms. Freeman. Her body is badly dehydrated and in shock from lack of blood. There are broken bones and she has a cracked skull and bad concussion. She is running a low grade fever from infection. We are doing all we can but the situation is still critical."
"C..can I see her?"
The doctor nodded sympathetically. "Just you and only for a minute or two. Come with me."
Janet held Mac close as tears ran down the teen's face. She watched her Mom follow the doctor looking lost and upset.
There was only blackness and then a voice, soft and loving, reached her. "Aliki? It's Dawn, Lover. I'm here. We all are. You fight, okay. We love you. I love you."
Aliki forced her eyes open and looked into Dawn's eyes above the surgical mask she wore. "I love you," she tried to say but all that came out was a mumble.
It was several weeks later that Dawn was able to take Aliki up to the lodge. They walked down to the lake and sat on the dock, looking at the last of the fall leaves. Aliki was drawn and quiet, and was eating very little. She was suffering from night terrors and still wore a sling to support a damaged shoulder. Her hands shook and she was on heavy medication and receiving therapy once a week.
They had not talked much nor made love. Dawn was trying to be patient, letting Aliki find her own footing before they tried to deal with the issues between them. Aliki shivered despite the heavy jacket that she wore.
Dawn looked over at her in concern. "Do you need to go in?"
Aliki shook her head. "No not yet. I...I like it in the open."
Dawn nodded, blinking back tears. "Okay."
Aliki looked into the water moodily. "She was my flame," she finally said to the water. "I had to go - like a moth to the flame. It seemed so right. I...I did things I am not proud of. Things I shouldn't have. All I could see was the flame."
Dawn felt her heart jump in pain but outwardly she forced her self to remain calm. "What things, Love?"
Aliki forced herself to look up into the pain in Dawn's eyes. "I came on to Alice. Kissed her. Shared a bed with her. I used her, and now she is dead because of me."
"Did you make love to her?" Dawn asked quietly, feeling sick to her stomach.
"No! Of course not. B...but, I still feel dirty and responsible for both my actions and her death."
Dawn couldn't blink back the tears anymore. They ran slowly down her face and she looked away. "Are you telling me so I can forgive you for what happened?"
Aliki considered that. "No, although I hope someday you could. I just needed to be honest with you."
Dawn nodded her back still to Aliki. "Anything else?"
"I killed a man and I tried to kill another."
Dawn turned and looked into Aliki's eyes. They were hard to read now, cautious and half hooded. "The person I knew would have tried everything to avoid that."
Aliki stared at her hands as she wrung them. "I know."
Dawn looked at her in worry. "Are you still getting the headaches?"
Aliki nodded. "Sometimes."
Dawn considered her words carefully. "You've been sick Aliki. It is going to take time. You need time and I need time."
Aliki nodded. "I do love you."
Dawn wrapped an arm around her lover and they sat in silence watching the reflection in the water shift and change. "I love you too."
Robbie came up to stand by Janet. From the window they could see Dawn and Aliki down on the dock. "Do you think they can work it out?"
Janet nodded. "Someday, but not soon. Aliki has a long way to go before she is healthy again both physically and mentally and when she is better she is going to have to work on rebuilding some trust with Dawn."
Robbie frowned and wrapped her arm around the woman that she loved. "But they will be all right won't they?"
Janet looked up into her worried lover's eyes. "If their love is as strong as ours, yes, they will work through this."
Janet felt Robbie relax in her arms. "That's okay then."
At the crash site nothing remained
of the carnage of that terrible accident. The first snow fell covering the ground
with white. It was a time of rest. A time of healing.
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