Chapter 26

February 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm (The Truth)

Hannah Novak arrived at the precinct and asked to see her brother. She was nervous, not because cops intimidated her, but because she’d opened herself up to Harris’ vision and now the rest were starting to batter against the barrier she’d erected. One had slipped through. It was the first one. She had pushed them from her mind for so long, but now that it had come through, she could remember it as clearly as when she’d first seen it.

A uniformed officer led Hannah up to the Homicide division and knocked on the conference room door. Mack opened it and was surprised to see his sister standing there. Mack thanked the officer and motioned his sister over to his desk, closing the conference room door behind him.

“Are you ok?” Mack asked.

“I’m fine. I will be fine,” she amended. “Mack I have the vision of the first boy.” Before he could say anything, she shoved it into his mind.

Mack watched as the film played out like an old school home video. The camera work was shaky and the film quality was grainy. Mack idly wondered if a vision from today would appear in full HD. The vision showed a man and a boy standing over a rabbit. The rabbit was tied to the ground by a leash with a large rock holding it in place. The man had a knife in his hands and he was trying to force it into the boy’s hands.

The boy was crying and shaking his head. He had his eyes clenched shut and he refused to listen to the man. The man squatted down next to the boy and grabbed his face, squeezing his cheeks. The boy’s eyes popped open and he watched as the man shoved the knife into his hands. Keeping his hand over the boy’s so he wouldn’t drop the knife, the man stabbed the rabbit through the belly. He pulled the knife out and showed the bloody knife to the boy.

In a moment of rage, the boy lunged at the man and pushed him off balance. The man’s arms came up as he fell. The knife flashed and plunged into the boy’s chest. Blood poured out around the knife, coating the man’s hands. The boy fell to the ground and lay there, unmoving. For several moments, the man did nothing. Then he slowly pulled the knife from the boy’s body and checked his neck for a pulse.

The man stared at the boy lying on the ground beside him. He stroked a hand over the boy’s face, smearing blood on his cheek. The vision jumped as the man jerked his head toward the side of his house. Three boys stood there, staring at him. The youngest raced up and stood over the boy on the ground. He started to yell and cry, so the man hit him in the side of the head. The boy crumpled to the ground and lay still. Turning to the other two boys, the man motioned them closer. One boy stepped forward but the other one turned and ran away.

The vision ended abruptly, forcing Mack back to the present. His mind raced with the implications of the vision. He couldn’t see the man, because the vision was from his viewpoint. He could see the boy who’d died and he realized that it wasn’t Scott Tatum. Scott had been the boy who ran away. Mack also didn’t recognize the other two boys. Neither of them had been killed by the Surrey Slayer, as far as the RCMP was aware.

Pike cleared his throat to gain their attention. He’d stood before Mack and Hannah and had realized they were off in space. It had looked strange, but he’d seen Mack look that way a number of times, when he was focusing on something internal. What was strange was seeing the same look on Hannah’s face. They had similar reactions at the same time. Mack’s were more controlled.

“What did you see?” he asked.

“Hannah showed me the vision of a boy being killed by a man. The first cut was a slice through the chest.”

“Similar to how the Surrey Slayer killed his victims once he was done torturing them?” Pike asked.

“Yes, only this boy didn’t receive any torture. The man was trying to get the boy to commit torture on a rabbit, but the kid refused. They fought and the kid took the knife in the chest.”

“You keep saying ‘the kid’. You don’t know who he was?”

“No, it wasn’t any of the kids that the Surrey Slayer is accused of killing. I don’t know who he was, but Scott Tatum was alive when this boy was killed.” Mack explained to Pike and Hannah about the boy running away from the scene. He’d not been wearing the clothing that his family had reported him in when he’d disappeared. The killer must not have grabbed him that same day.

Hilbert stepped from his office, heading their way. “Shots fired at AC Fishman’s residence. Eric Fishman called for backup and EMS.”

Mack reached for his coat. “Hannah, can you wait here for me?” She nodded and Mack hurried out of the building with Pike. They made the scene in less than ten minutes. Three ambulances were on scene as well as two fire trucks and a half a dozen police cars. Pike parked at the entrance to one of the neighbour’s houses.

Mack raced up the stairs and stepped in the front door. Officers on scene outlined the mess. Mrs. Fishman was in critical condition, suffering from a bullet wound that went through and through. She’d already been loaded into an ambulance and was on her way to VGH. AC Fishman was dead on scene. Eric Fishman had a bullet in his back. His father was believed to be the assailant.

Mack hustled down the hallway to the study. EMS were loading Eric onto a stretcher. AC Fishman lay on the floor next to his desk, a gun at his side. Mack gripped Eric’s hand and watched as the man’s eyes fluttered open. He grimaced from the pain shooting through his back. His gaze was slightly unfocused, but he recognized Mack.

“My dad did it,” he whispered.

Mack leaned down near Eric so he wouldn’t have to strain. “Your dad did what?”

“Killed them. Slayer. It was him,” Eric said. His voice wheezed out and the EMS team started to move him out of the room. Mack stepped away so they could leave.

“Wait,” Eric whispered.

The EMS team stopped and Mack returned to his side.

“Find Steven,” he said before passing out.

Mack didn’t know who Steven was. He walked over to the desk and stared down at the items strewn about on the desk blotter. One stood out like a beacon and the pain lanced through his head. With his gloved hand, he picked up the Spiderman watch that he’d given Harris the Christmas before he’d died. Flipping it over, he saw Harris “Spidy” Novak engraved on the back. It had cost him extra for that, but he’d known that Harris would love it.

Pike stepped up beside him and read the engraving on the watch. He sorted through the other items on the desk and realized that they were all of the mementos that the Surrey Slayer had kept.

“They couldn’t catch this guy twenty years ago, because he was working on the team that was looking for him.”

“It makes you wonder who might still be alive today if Fishman hadn’t been on that task force.” Mack placed the watch back on the desk. It would become a part of the official investigation and would remain in evidence for a very long time. He’d put in a request to have it back once the case was concluded.

Mack directed several of the officers in the room to collect the mementos when they processed the room. He wanted everything done by the book, even though AC Fishman would never stand trial for the crimes he’d committed. Tying everything up tight would have to be enough for the families of the victims.

Mack stepped back into the hall, heading for the front entrance. He glanced at the photos on the wall and stopped short. Near the kitchen entrance, one photo caught his attention. It showed three boys standing before a fireplace. Each boy was immaculately dressed, standing ramrod straight. They didn’t smile. The boy in the middle was the same boy that Mack had seen lying on the ground in Hannah’s vision. The boy to his left, the shortest boy, was the one who’d been knocked out. The third boy was the one who hadn’t run away.

A commotion at the front entrance gained Mack’s attention. A man was trying to enter the house and the cops were barring him from it. Mack stepped forward and motioned for the officers to ease up.

“You’re Eric’s brother, William, right?” Mack asked. He knew all of the boy’s names, but couldn’t remember all of their ages. William, like Danny and the two youngest boys, was a member of the RCMP.

William nodded and looked toward the study. “Is he dead?”

“Your father is, but Eric is still alive, as is your mother.”

“I got the call while I was on patrol. They said shots fired at my father’s place and announced that one was dead at the scene. I need to see him,” William said.

Mack nodded and led him down the hallway to the study. William stood at the doorway and stared at his father lying on the rug. He didn’t go into the room. He didn’t doubt what he was seeing.

“It’s about time,” William whispered.

Mack raised an eyebrow, but William didn’t notice. Mack suspected that there was no love lost between the boys and their father. He knew Eric’s feelings on the man. Perhaps the only son who still held some respect was Danny. William thanked Mack for letting him in. Mack directed William’s attention to the photos on the wall. He pointed to the picture of the three boys.

“I assume the tallest is Danny and the smallest is Eric, but who is the one in the middle?”

“That’s Steven,” William replied. “He died before I was born.”

Mack’s gaze sharpened at the name. “How did he die?”

“Hunting accident. Dad took him and Danny up to the cabin to teach them how to track and kill deer. Steven came across an elk and was gored to death. One branch of the antlers stabbed him through the chest.”

***

Ingledue and Curcio returned from their trip to Surrey Memorial Hospital where they’d had an enlightening conversation with Dr. Rachel Pollard. She’d dated Bill Tatum for a very brief period of time. It had become apparent, quickly, that Tatum didn’t actually like women. From the youngest infant to the oldest crone, Tatum loathed them all. He used women from time to time, because a man had needs and he felt that’s what a woman was for.

“He enjoys sex, the kinkier the better,” Pollard had said, “but outside of the bedroom he’s a cold-hearted bastard.” Pollard had explained that when the temperature had dropped in the bedroom, she’d walked. Tatum hadn’t liked that and they’d exchanged a few words. He’d smacked her around and given her a black eye and then he’d dismissed her entirely from his mind.

“Once he’s done with you, you no longer exist in his world,” she’d said. She’d gone on to say that being invisible was preferable to being emotionally spit on.

Ben hovered over his laptop as he added the details of their conversation with Dr. Pollard to the file. Curcio sat nearby, examining the report from the ME on Nikki George’s autopsy. The work had been completed by Kovel, but she hadn’t updated the file with all of her findings. One of the transcribers had taken the tape from her autopsy and added those notes. Kovel’s own observations would have to wait until she was well enough to return to the job.

Ben stared off into space, trying to decide how best to write up what Pollard had told them. The more she’d talked, the more he’d realized that Tatum didn’t fit their profile. He hated women, true, but he didn’t exhibit the passionate anger that would be necessary to kill so brutally. It was possible that he stored it away until he had someone tied up. But the way he cut them entirely from his life didn’t add up.

His gaze focused on the additions that Mack had made to the board. He read Mack’s vision and something twigged in the back of his brain. There was something to it that he recognized. He didn’t have Eric’s innate disbelief about the visions. He and Curcio had helped to prove the last one out.

“You read Mack’s latest vision?” Ben asked, pointing to the words on the board.

Curcio looked up and gave them a quick scan. A frown settled between his brows. There was something there. He looked at each key word individually and waited for his mind to process it.

“The uniform,” Curcio said. “It’s not a cop uniform, or Mack would have put that.”

Ben nodded, but that wasn’t the only thing that had grabbed his attention. “What about that bit about the cell phone. I’ve read that somewhere.” Ben flipped through his stack of paperwork on the case. He had files for everything they’d searched, every person they’d talked to. He had witness statements and interviews conducted with the family members. And he had a giant list of warehouses that he and Curcio were slowly whittling down. Several pages into it, Ben found what he was looking for.

“The security guard who reported the body in the trunk,” Ben said. “He’d been tossed in a dumpster, but there had been a crushed cell phone some distance away.”

“Right,” Curcio agreed. “He patrolled an area with at least twenty units in it. We only got through half of them and didn’t find anything noteworthy.”

“Maybe we should finish off that list,” Ben suggested. He was about to reach for his coat when he noticed that the door was open and there was a woman standing in it. “You shouldn’t be in here,” Ben said. He rose and walked over to the woman.

Hannah stared at the board. It was covered with photos, including one of Harris. It also held photos of the women who had been murdered, including her mother. In a section separated from the rest, Hannah saw photos of the potential targets that Eric and Gatts had identified.

“You’re Mack’s sister, right?” Ben asked.

Hannah nodded absently. One of the photos had drawn her eye. She stepped over to the board for a closer look. Tapping a finger to a picture, she asked Ben who the woman was. Her name was below it, but it didn’t mean anything to Hannah. Still, she felt a connection to the woman.

“That’s Nelle Tatum. She’s Mack’s girlfriend.”

“She’s in trouble,” Hannah whispered. A vision streaked across her brain. It was there and then it was gone, but she knew it was different from the rest. Before, she’d gotten the visions after the fact. This one had been now. “He’s got her.”

“Who has her?” Ben asked.

“I don’t see him, I see through him. I see her, through his eyes. He’s got her.”

***

Nelle came awake gradually, her brain fuzzy and her muscles cramped. Sounds slowly started to trickle in. There was the sound of running water hitting a wall and snaking downward. A bug flitted against a light bulb. Her own heartbeat slammed in her ears.

Nelle opened her eyes. One bare light bulb placed in the centre of the room valiantly attempted to light the entire space. The corners were in shadow. The room had only one door and it was at the far end of the room. Nelle could see it clearly from her position on the ground. Freedom, set way in the distance.

A movement to her left drew her attention. The water she’d heard wasn’t that. It was a man facing a wall, peeing. The acrid scent of urine assaulted her nostrils. He zipped up and turned to face her.

Nelle stared at his features, thinking they looked vaguely familiar. She didn’t think she’d ever seen him before, but if he’d been following her then perhaps she’d seen him on the periphery of her mind. He stood there staring at her, not moving. New sensations started to creep in. Her hands and feet were duct taped to a mattress. The tape was wound around her so many times that she could barely move her limbs. A small strip of duct tape had been placed over her mouth.

Steven stepped up close to her and ripped the tape from her face. The sting made her eyes water. He touched a finger to her face and trailed it down her cheek, to her neck. His finger continued its course over her chest and between her legs. He stabbed a finger into her, but her jeans prevented him from penetrating.

Nelle arched up, trying to evade his touch. Her eyes were blurred with unshed tears and fear clogged her throat. Her brain refused to function. All she could think about was what the media had reported about the attacks. The women were tortured and then they were killed. Mack was investigating but, just as she’d feared when she’d been confronted by Adriana Sutton, she worried that he wouldn’t be able to find her in time.

Steven pulled a knife from behind his back and showed it to Nelle. He enjoyed the widening of her eyes, the flaring of her nostrils. He could smell the fear on her; its pungent aroma was like perfume to him. Trailing the knife down her body, he gave thought to shoving it into her and he’d tried to do with his finger. But that would be too quick. He needed to pace himself. He needed to calm his excitement or he’d kill her too soon.

To give his mind time to relax, he carefully cut her clothes from her. He shifted Nelle around on the mattress so he could remove the clothes from underneath her. When she lay naked before him, he settled in between her spread legs and stared at her. He touched the inside of her thighs, watching as the muscle bunched and tensed. His hand crept upward, his fingers skittering over her flesh like spider legs. With a sudden jerk, he shoved two fingers inside her.

Nelle was dry as a bone. She cried out, more from discomfort than from any real pain. The real pain would come, she knew. Once he started to use the knife, she’d feel it. The fingers slammed into her a few times and then he removed them. Nelle refused to look at him. She didn’t like the look in his eyes. It only made her more nervous.

Steven couldn’t decide what he wanted to do with her. Should be rape her first, or should be hurt her? He had all the time in the world and he didn’t want to rush things. He knew that if he raped her he ran the chance of slicing her to ribbons with the knife. He couldn’t wait to do that, but not too soon. She had to cry first. She had to bleed.

And so thinking it, he started to make her bleed.

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