Chapter 25

February 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm (The Truth)

Kovel was moved into post-Op after two hours of surgery. Her surgeon didn’t expect the anesthesia to wear off for several more hours. He’d patched up the hole in her gut and the large gash on her arm. She’d come through the operation just fine. Now, the worry was about infection.

Mack and Pike had remained outside the operating room until Kovel’s surgeon had finished. Once they’d received her prognosis, they assigned two policemen to stand outside the door to her private room with instructions to call the minute she woke up.

“No one is allowed to be alone in the room with her, not even her surgeon,” Mack said. “If anyone other than the nurses and her doctor try to get in here, notify me. I don’t care who they are.” Until he knew for sure that it was their killer who had attacked her, Mack wouldn’t allow anyone access, including Kovel’s boss. He had an alibi for the time of Kovel’s attack. He’d been angry that Pike had questioned him on it.

Returning to the station, Mack checked in with Hilbert. He updated the inspector on Kovel’s condition and what little the staff knew about her attacker. “There were no cameras in the parking lot and no one got a good look at the car that left the scene.”

“It was probably stolen,” Hilbert suggested.

Mack agreed. Their killer may be making some mistakes, but he hadn’t completely lost his grip on his sanity yet.

***

Steven arrived at his teacher’s house at nine in the morning. He’d called ahead and asked his teacher to be there for him. He’d never done that before, prompting his teacher to worry that Steven was going to compromise their plan. It was a weekday, Monday, but his teacher had promised to wait for him.

Steven walked down the hall and he could feel eyes on him as he passed. At the doorway to the kitchen he turned and looked at the single occupant standing at the counter, sipping on her morning coffee.

“Hello, mother,” Steven said.

His mother ignored him as she had done all his life. Her eyes darted left and right as she waited for him to leave her alone. Her shoulders hunched as though guarding against a physical blow.

Steven continued down the hallway toward his teacher’s study. Photos from his childhood hung from the wall. He and his brothers, all posed with their parents standing behind them, stared straight into the camera, unsmiling. He was the oldest, the one to receive the brunt of his parents’ lack of affection for their children. Shrugging it off, he carried on toward the doorway at the end of the hall.

Pushing it open without knocking, Steven watched as his father jerked his head up. He was holding something in his hands. Steven came closer to the desk and saw the mementos his father had kept from his work twenty years ago. Always, it was the hockey card. He had items from each of the boys he had taken, but he always reminisced over the hockey card.

It had all started with Scott Tatum. His father had been fine until that boy had come along. Then things had started to unravel. Steven could recall it perfectly, as though it had only happened last week and not twenty years ago. He didn’t know what triggered his father’s break, but it had smashed through whatever barrier he’d erected to keep the emotions in check.

Scott Tatum had been the messiest of his father’s experiments. Steven didn’t know, even now, what mystery his father had been trying to solve. He found that he didn’t care. He needed to end his father’s plan now, so that he could get started on his own. Steven felt that he wasn’t being true to his own calling. That’s why things were getting out of hand. Once he could focus all of his attention on his own plans he would be whole again.

“Don’t you ever knock?” his father demanded. He placed the hockey card on the desk and stared at his son. He could see the emotions crawling across the younger man’s face.

Steven stepped up to the desk and grabbed the hockey card before his father could tuck it away. It was Gretzky’s rookie card. His father had kept it in perfect condition after he’d taken it from Scott’s bike spokes. Scott must not have had it on his bike for long. The edges were only a little worn.

Watching his father closely, Steven closed his fist over the card and crumpled it in half. The colour drained from his father’s face, as though Steven had punched him in the gut with all of his strength. His father roared up from his chair and reached for the card.

Steven stepped back, keeping the card in his hand. “I’m not going to do your work for you anymore. I’ve got my own plan to see to.” He tossed the card onto the desk and turned to leave.

His father pulled his gun from the middle drawer of his desk and chambered a round. Steven didn’t stop at the sound. His father pulled the trigger. The bullet caught Steven in his side, just above his hip. He crashed into the door and lurched out into the hallway. Hearing his father come around the desk, Steven slipped the knife from its sheath and waited.

Stepping from the room, his father led with his gun. Steven swung wide, his knife flashing in the light. His father reflexively pulled the trigger, but the bullet went wide. It crashed through the wall at the opposite end of the hall, piercing through the drywall and not finding anything of great resistance until it entered the kitchen. A cup clattered to the linoleum floor.

Steven’s knife dug into his father’s chest, nicking his lung. Steven pulled the knife free and knocked the gun from his father’s hand. Heading down the hallway, Steven didn’t look in the kitchen on his way out of the house. His side ached, but he refused to let it slow him down.

He had his own plan to get started on and he’d found the perfect woman to begin with.

***

Mack returned to the precinct after seeing to Kovel’s safety at the hospital. He’d have to return in a few hours when she came out of the anesthesia. Sitting in the conference room, Mack updated the board with the attack on Kovel. Their killer had to be stretched to the breaking point, but Mack had no idea what the guy would do when he finally snapped. Would he retreat into himself and hide or would he try and go out with a bang?

Eric posted Rebecca Chu’s picture under the heading of potential next target. He listed pertinent details for her, including her home and work addresses. Hilbert had accepted Mack’s recommendation of bodyguard, signing off on the overtime for the officer. So far, everything was quiet and the officer had checked in on schedule.

“If he goes for her, we’ve got him,” Eric said.

Mack scrubbed his hands over his face. “Let’s hope that if becomes when.”

Eric’s pager beeped and he checked the readout. Stepping from the room, he headed for his desk to place a call. He knew the number, but couldn’t understand why his father would be paging him. He briefly considered not answering the page. With an annoyed sigh, he grabbed the phone and dialed. Before he could identify himself, his father was barking into the phone.

“You need to get over here, now.”

“Why?”

“Don’t question me today. Just do it.” AC Fishman slammed down the phone before Eric could say anything.

Eric replaced the phone and stared at it for several long moments. He could see no good reason to go to his father’s house in the middle of the day. He also had no idea why his father hadn’t called Danny instead. Eric looked at the desk and saw that his brother wasn’t around. Eric grabbed his coat and walked back to the conference room.

“I’m going to my dad’s place. Shouldn’t be gone long, but call if you need me.”

Mack said that he would and Eric stepped away from the door. Mack went back to his quiet reflection. He tossed around some loose thoughts in his head. The wedding ring bothered him. He couldn’t decide if it was the killer’s or if it belonged to someone else. The more he thought about it, the more he didn’t think it could be the killer’s. It didn’t make sense how the ring could have come off his finger and gone unnoticed.

Clearing his mind of the emotional debris, he focused his attention on the ring. Perhaps if his mind didn’t have a thousand other things clanging about in it, he could see the ring a little clearer and make sense of it. The ring floated above the lake in his mind. The words in the inscription tripped across his mind.

And the vision came quickly.

Mack could see a man running. He didn’t look behind him; he was focused on getting away. The killer caught up with him and they crashed to the ground. The man’s arms stretched out and Mack saw the ring on his left hand. Mack watched as the man’s neck was twisted at a sharp angle. The remains of a cell phone lay crushed beneath him.

There had been little to see outside of the man himself. Nothing of the killer was visible. It was dark and Mack assumed that the killer had been wearing dark gloves. His visions were nothing like Hannah’s. He still had the flipbooks. They showed him a very specific and short piece of the puzzle. Stepping up to the board, Mack wrote down everything he could remember about the vision. He would have to sit with the sketch artist to make another drawing. Someone might recognize the victim from his vision.

***

Nelle felt a nervous shudder skittering down her back. In a few hours she would be prepped for surgery. She wasn’t worried about the operation. She’d met her doctor and he seemed confident that the surgery would go smoothly and that her recovery would be swift. He’d explained some of what she could expect, to take the fear of the unknown away from her.

Nelle was starving. She’d been told not to eat anything for twenty-four hours before her surgery and not to drink anything after 8am on the morning of her surgery. She could go a long time without food when she was working, but not eating on purpose was new to her. The cramping belly and minor headache were too difficult to ignore.

Stacy would be coming by in a few hours to pick her up. She’d agreed to remain at the hospital while Nelle had her surgery, just in case Mack couldn’t make it. Nelle knew that Mack’s case was running his life right now. His mind was preoccupied with all of the details. And these visions he was having; they were just another detail to be sorted. The only way she could help him was to not become another detail.

When the doorbell rang, Nelle didn’t recognize the policeman who stood there. He’d gotten into the building on his own. He looked grim. Nelle immediately thought that something was wrong with Mack. Opening the door, Nelle asked if Mack was ok.

“Mack is fine. I’m here for you,” Steven said.

Before Nelle could respond, Steven pulled the taser from behind his back and fired.

***

Eric pulled up in front of his parent’s place and parked his car in the drive. His father’s Mercedes sedan was parked outside the garage. Eric walked up the brick path to the steps. He got two feet away before he noticed the blood droplets on each of the stirs. Pulling his gun from his shoulder harness, Eric called in for assistance.

Stepping up to the door, he pushed it in, keeping his body to the side. Two steps inside brought Eric flush against the hall closet. More blood trailed down the hallway, past the kitchen, toward his father’s study. Eric didn’t hear a sound inside the house. He slowly crept down the hall and whipped into the kitchen.

“Mom!” Eric called out.

His mother lay on the floor, blood pooling under her body. Eric called for EMS. Placing two fingers against the side of her neck, he felt the faint pulse there. Partially rolling her over, he saw that the bullet had gone right through. Eric grabbed several tea towels and bunched them against the wound.

Hearing a sound from down the hall, Eric stood and gripped his gun in two hands. His mother’s blood coated the grips, but his hold was firm. Stepping out of the kitchen he scanned back down the hall to the entrance, before walking toward his father’s study. At the door, he saw a much larger pool of blood.

A swift glance into the room showed his father on the floor beside his desk. Blood on the floor indicated that he’d dragged himself there. The phone was discarded on the rug next to him. Eric moved into the room and checked behind the door. Leaning over his father, he saw that his eyes were open.

“Hide it,” AC Fishman said. He pointed toward the top of the desk.

Eric stood and scanned the items on the top of the desk. He didn’t recognize anything at first. Then his eyes strayed to the crumpled hockey card. Eric picked it up and unfolded several of the creases. His mind jolted with the image of that card pegged to a bike wheel. Eric stared at the other items on the desk. He’d never seen them before, outside of a police file.

Mementos.

His father had the mementos believed to have been taken by the Surrey Slayer twenty years ago. A streaking pain cut across Eric’s brain. He tried to ward it off, but the memories bombarded him. His father, twenty years younger, with his hands covered in blood. His brother Steven, the one that was born between him and Danny, was lying on the grass. He didn’t move.

Eric looked down at his father lying on the rug and he knew. He remembered.

“You killed him,” Eric whispered. “You killed all of them.”

“Put everything into the safe and lock it,” Fishman ordered.

“Was it an accident?” Eric demanded. When his father refused to answer, Eric stepped closer, aiming his gun at his father’s head. “Answer me!”

AC Fishman watched as the disgust spread across his son’s face. He slumped back against the rug, defeated. “Steven isn’t dead. He went away for a while, but now he’s come back, as strong as ever.”

Eric frowned, not understanding how his brother could have survived the gaping hole in his chest that he now remembered seeing that day. Before he could ponder it further, another thought crept into his mind.

“He’s killing people now.”

“Yes, he’s continuing my work.”

Eric felt sweat pop out on his forehead. His father was the Surrey Slayer and his dead brother was the copycat. The pain streaking across his brain wouldn’t allow him to analyze the situation. The answers kept flitting around, too elusive to capture.

“It took Steven a long time to remember who he was,” Fishman continued. “He resisted, but I kept at him and then he knew. He understood what his purpose was.”

Eric shook his head. It wasn’t making sense. He had the image of his dead brother inside his head now and it wouldn’t go away. The sound of sirens nearing the property brought him back. He looked at the hockey card still in his hand and he tossed it back on the desk.

“I won’t cover for you,” he said. He didn’t have all of the answers, but he knew that he had to get out of the house and put it all together. Turning away, he headed for the door. He didn’t see his father raise his arm from the floor. He didn’t see the gun pointed at him. His father took aim and fired. Eric felt the punch as the bullet blew through his back. Then he felt nothing at all.

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