“It happened during a lacrosse game,” a reporter relayed to her viewers. The camera zoomed on to a goal post on a high school sports field where a sign hung with letters clearly written in blood! “As you can see, it says ‘Prepare for the end! Become a Fay or get ready to die!’ A group of Fay Folks interrupted a match with loud chants and tasers, and after firing at the players, they hung their banner, mocked the crowd, and ran off. Two players were injured but are expected to make a full recovery. Channel Three has obtained a cellphone video of the incident, and we’ll play it for you now.”
The footage showed someone in the bleachers filming the people playing, and the person behind the camera, who sounded like an elderly woman, remarked, “I don’t understand, did our side do something good?”
And elderly man’s voice responded, “Use your logic filter, Misha! Do the players look happy right now?”
“I don’t know, Sandor! They always look like that!” Misha snapped.
“Oh, I’m so glad we drove all the way from DC to argue about our grandson losing his game!” Sandor grumped.
I tittered as they bickered, but Wade grumbled, “Fricken bohunks!”
Sandra inquired, “What’s a bohunk?”
Before I could answer, Misha and Sandor’s spat trailed off as hostile, anti-human yelling sounded from across the field. I watched in shock as a group of Fays started going after the people near the goal post. A couple had tasers that they arbitrarily fired, and some just aggressively chased students away from the area. These ruffians stood guard as more Fay Folks brought in the sign, and after they climbed up and placed the sign where everyone could see it, they taunted the terrified onlookers as they exited the area. The reporter concluded her segment, “Police are still investigating the incident, and we’ll keep you updated with developments as we uncover them. Back to you at the news desk.”
Wade started ranting about the eastern Europeans who filmed the event, so I went outside to discuss this with Sandra. “That has to be our guy! That’s exactly the kind of rhetoric he uses!”
“That’s what I was thinking,” Sandra agreed. “Get ready to head out! If any DNA on the scene matches our killer’s profile, we’ll need to document the incident.”
“Maybe we should start heading there now! We know that our suspect was behind this, so..” I almost darted inside to get my keys and purse, but then something occurred to me. “Wait, usually when the killer puts out a message like that, he displays it over a body.. The news didn’t mention anything about finding someone dead on that field!”
Sandra thought about the point I just raised, and then she noted, “It doesn’t look like the killer was even there. It’s too warm for sweaters, so we would have noticed if anyone in the crowd wore a hoodie. But, why would the guy send Fays out to do that if it didn’t follow a murder?”
I theorized, “Maybe there is a body, but it’s somewhere remote. Maybe he sent his henchmen to a place where more people can see what he has to say. I’m guessing his usual attacks weren’t enough this time, he wants more attention to his message now!”
“You think this is more than just him acting out ’cause we locked up his main sidekick?” Sandra questioned.
“Unfortunately, yes,” I replied grimly. “I mean, this kind of escalation could have partly come from Dahlia’s lack of presence around him, maybe she talked him into toning it down this whole time, I dunno, but maybe Dahlia was right- maybe the end really is near!”
Sandra didn’t say anything for a few seconds, and I could only imagine that she needed to take some time to contemplate such a dark possibility. Frankly, after I uttered those words, I had to take a while to fully absorb it. If our murderer really did find a way to make it happen, then we didn’t have much longer! It became imperative for us to put a halt to his doomsday mission, which was a troublesome task for us since we didn’t have a concrete sense of their identity! I believed that Aidan orchestrated the whole thing, but I certainly didn’t have enough to arrest him on. Just as I pondered on what more I could do to gather more clues from him, Sandra interrupted my train of thought, “I hear us both saying a lot of maybes, we really need to find something solid to-.” We both received a text message from the forensics team, which prompted Sandra to assert, “Well, maybe now we can quit saying maybe so much!”
The forensic analysts on the scene found some sweat droplets on the threatening banner, but they didn’t find much else. We didn’t know whose blood the killer used to make that sign, and we certainly didn’t find any bodies in the vicinity. The most noteworthy discovery from that scene was the lack of footprints from the Fay Folks. It takes a lot of complicated spell work to remove a person’s footprints, so we could definitively judge that the magian who performed that magic on them did so hours in advance. The police investigating the premises did observe a forest within walking distance of the high school, and they assured us that they’d comb through it to see if they left any evidence in that area. I really hoped that I wouldn’t have to make a third trip in the same day, but we didn’t have a lot of reason to stick around much longer, so Sandra and I went home.
I didn’t get any sleep that night. I kept expecting to get a call about discovering a body somewhere in the woods, but sunrise came and I didn’t get summoned to any other crime scenes, so I spent the rest of my morning trying to figure out what I could do to identify the killer, and I came up with a few possible scenarios to do so, but all of my ideas flew out the window when I saw how strange the sky looked. It had an eerie glow to it, and the air felt a little more electric than usual. As I drove to the station, I couldn’t help but worry that we were already too late to save the planet from the apocalypse!
Sandra appeared to have been thinking along the same lines as me. As soon as she saw me in my cubicle, she immediately greeted me with, “It’s already happening!”
I know exactly what she had been referring to, and I didn’t want to disagree with her. At the same time, I couldn’t let her panic about the situation either. She could have started a chain reaction, and the last thing we needed was mass hysteria! I had to come up with something to enable some hope in her, and I came up with, “It’s not over yet! We still have time to prevent the end from coming!” My own words gave me a renewed sense of optimism, and it sharpened my focus on finding a way to emerge victoriously.
Sandra peered at my activity on the computer and queried, “What are you doing? Oh, you’re studying maps, I guess that was a stupid question. I see you’ve pinpointed the forest entrance closest to the high school. What do those dots represent?”
“That’s the bathroom where we found Giada, and that’s where the fisherman saw the killer dump Reed at.” I indicated to the dots as I spoke about them.
“What’s that icon mean?” Sandra pointed to as square shape that she saw on the map.
I let her know, “That’s Brigid’s Garden. Unfortunately, I live right by the triangle! Figures!”
Sandra puzzled, “Triangle?”
“I triangulated the area of known activity of our killer in the forest,” I explained. “I wanted to narrow down where we have to look for the latest victim. I really doubt anyone would donate that much blood for his sign willingly!”
“I don’t think they could survive after losing that much blood!” Sandra concurred with my opinion. “We’re definitely not doing a search and rescue here! We’re-.”
Chief Mazarine stepped into the cubicle area and shouted, “Who has time to train on Monday?” No one showed any interest except for Sandra, who waved her hand enthusiastically. Chief Mazarine addressed her, “Not you! You’re not done training your current protégé.” Sandra put her hand down in a glum defeat. “Anyone else? Come on, someone has to!” One person finally volunteered, and Chief Mazarine requested, “Thank you, Detective Chepi! Come to my office to get their details.”
As my colleague followed Chief Mazarine out of the area, I asked Sandra, “So, we don’t pair people up based on personality type?”
Sandra answered, “I know it seems random, but for anyone who wants to take on a leadership position, they have to see you work with any personality type. I always volunteer ’cause I’m hoping to become chief after he retires.”
“You’d be a good one!” I complimented her, which obviously elated her, and then I admitted, “We work so well together that I always thought we got paired together on purpose!”
“We just got lucky! Not all training sessions end in friendship!” She smiled warmly at me, and after I grinned right back, she added, “But don’t think that’s gonna grant you any special favors when that time comes!”
I smirked at her quip, but before we could broach the subject any further, I steered our conversation back to our original topic, “Let’s make sure we can have that problem in the future! There’s a body waiting to get found out there, I just know it!”
Sandra stated, “Alright, let’s head out!”
As we walked through the woods, I hadn’t forgotten about Aidan’s possible role in all this. I half expected to see him roaming around in the area, and I could picture him coming up with a plausible story for his presence here right before we came across a corpse! I began to second guess that theory though because that would have made it too easy for me to put him back on the suspect list. Life rarely handed things over so easily, so I knew I’d need to actively seek out the evidence I needed for myself. I needed to see him in person to really measure his response, and if he really was the mastermind behind this apocalypse, then I reasoned that a date night might delay it further. I pulled out my cellphone, and keeping a weary eye on the forest while contacting him, I expressed my desire to spend more time with him. To my delight, he accepted my offer! He wanted to know where I wanted to go, and I had to think about it for a while. I wanted to find a place quiet enough for us to chat but also elegant enough for me to look my absolute best! I hoped that a little sex appeal would loosen his tongue a bit…
“What are you doing?” Sandra tried to peer over my shoulder to read what I had on my screen.
“Nothing!” I hid my cellphone from her, but I suddenly had an epiphany about my scheme. It felt so good to stop lying to Travis about his bicycle, and I ended up gaining a new friend out of that occurrence. Sandra already considered me a friend, so I didn’t want to keep lying to her! Besides, we may not have had much longer left, and I thought that she should know who I suspected and how I planned to get the information, especially if something happened to me that prevented me from completing my pursuit. If I didn’t finish it, someone else would have to! I knew it would feel nice to rid myself of this burden of hiding an important thing from her. Plus, if I ever wanted the ideal place to confess to her, in the middle of the woods with no one else around fit that mold perfectly! I took a deep breath, but before I could reveal the truth to her, Sandra saw something on the path ahead of her that made her gasp…