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by Carol H.
|It's been 4 years now since
back in 1983, Martin was offered the job in San
Francisco, and he and Vicky decided that moving to a new
City would be an excellent opportunity to make a fresh
start. It's now 2 am on an icy cold Saturday morning, in
the living room of 10931 Summer Road, a talk show is
being shown on cable, the type that only the lonely or
the very old watch and persuade themselves that they're
actually interested. Outside in the street, the last of
the night revellers are noisily making their way home.
A tall dark figure walks calmly around the side of the house. He knows that within the property's high hedges, he is invisible to the outside world. He breathes slowly anticipating the good time he's going to have with these two. He enters the house through the rear entrance and pries the single lock door open without a sound. As he walks towards the bottom of the stairs, he can hear Martin and Vicky making love upstairs, and smiles to himself in expectation. They don't see him at first as he stands patiently in the doorway for a few moments waiting for their attention. He coughs a polite cough, almost as to innocently interrupt a business conversation. Vicky turned round to see an unfamiliar shadow looming across the bedroom floor, following the shadow to it's source she first saw the glisten of the sword. Martin seeing an expression on Vicky's face that he'd never seen before, looked up towards the doorway, and seeing the figure there, charged naked towards him. Before he had reached the doorway, the sword smashed down bluntly onto the side of his head. The intruder then turned towards Vicky, pulling from his pocket, some thin electrical cord.
A few minutes later, Martin regained consciousness. His mind at first clouded, he found he could not move. He was tied to something, but he didn't know what. In the background through the fuzziness he could hear the whimpers of Vicky, a pitiful sound too terrifying to listen to. Martin tried to scream out, but something in his mouth prevented him. He struggled to get free, but it only drew the intruders attention. As he struggled, he could see Vicky bound up. There was blood trickling from her nose and mouth, her left eye was swollen. He struggled frantically to get free, but the intruder just stood there and laughed, as though this wasn't reality but some scene out of some tacky comedy, "Don't worry, she can play too." With that said, the sword came down, this time cutting through Martin's flesh as a fisherman's knife would gut a fish. The sword seeped in, Martin lost consciousness with Vicky's muffled screams filling the night's silence.
Sarah Mitchell has been working for the San Francisco Police Press Office for only a couple of years but it seemed like forever as she was driving to yet another murder scene. When she was younger, she had aspirations of being a breakthrough journalist. By the time she was old enough to join the Police Academy, she just wanted to change the world. That was over twenty years ago now. At the top of her list at the moment, was trying to keep the city calm over this recent spate of homicides of young couples. The latest, couple number four, were discovered this morning. She had just driven into Summer Road. 10927, 10929, 10931, here we are, she thought as she stopped the car and got out.
Outside the house, the premises were cordoned off with the usual police tape. She had oftened wondered why the police bother, when the flimsy plastic tape never stopped people from getting closer to get a better look. As she entered the house she tried to imagine what the couple who lived here were like. She looked around the spacious house for a few minutes, picking up some of the ornaments and personal belongings lying around, the majority of which were souvenirs from a variety of leisure resorts. The pictures on the wall were all scenic photographs. Strange she thought, because there were no photos of people, just places.
She looked at the report file she had been given down at the station, Martin Sykes and Victoria Madison, "Shame", she said aloud at the waste of the two young lives. She walked up the stairs into the large bedroom. The police photographers were busy snapping up the scene looking for anything that might give them a clue as to who and why. On the floor in front of the door was the remains of Martin, at least she assumed it was, as it was larger than the other body. The body was still tied to the chair, not that there was much of the body left to be tied. On the floor the woollen carpet was stained dark, clotted, bloody red. On the bed was the body of the girl spread over the sheets. Sarah tried to determine by the expression on their faces how much they had suffered before the end, or whether it was all over very quickly, but there wasn't enough of them left to tell.
"You'll never guess the nightmare I had last night," Martin yawned in his usual slow drawl, at Vicky as he got up out of the bed that morning. But Vicky was more interested in the amount of dust that had somehow managed to amalgamate on the bedside dresser overnight, "That's strange I only dusted this yesterday morning," she mused almost silently to herself.
Martin by this point was downstairs in the living room, as on most days in typical fashion before he had even hit the shower, he had the TV switched on and tuned into CNN. "Still no leads on the San Francisco Serial Killer', the newsreader blared out, "Bodies of the killers 5th pair of victims were found this morning, breaking a week long silence of the killer, who's last victims ,Martin Sykes and Victoria Madison, were found dead in their bedroom. "Hey Vicky", Martin Shouted upstairs "I think you'd better get down here, we're on the T.V and they're saying we're dead!" Vicky came into the room. "Shit, that's weird, I dreamt last night that some psycho came into our bedroom and hacked you to death and then turned on me!" Vicky said half laughingly. Martin just stared at Vicky his face going a strange shade of pale Vicky had only ever seen on him after getting off a rollercoaster, "What's up?" she asked. "I had a dream like that to," Martin said in a shaky quiet voice. "Don't be silly Martin, you'll be saying next that we're really dead!" Vicky laughingly scolds him as she walks to the front door to the pile of post on the floor there.
She glances at the letters as she picks them up scanning for bills, when something catches her eye. The post mark on the top letter was in six days time. She shows the postmarks to Martin, who strides over to the front door, slamming the living room door shut behind him. "Look I'm going out, this is just one of the lads at work, thinking they're being funny. You know what they're all like at the office. I'll be back in a little while, after I've found out which lunatic has thought this one up. It'll take a good one to get my own back though, CNN!" he said half amused, sighing to himself. As his hand goes out to grasp the door handle he is flung through the living room door onto the floor behind. Vicky seeing Martin go disappearing behind the closed door, screams hysterically, "Oh my God, this can't be happening, we can't be dead, we just can't be!"
Kat is staying over at a friend's house while Rachel is attending a conference in Chicago. Katie, who is in Kat's class at school, has an older sister Stephanie, who is having a sleep over party tonight. The older girls are reluctantly letting the younger ones join in. On the table was an old Ouija board, the type that in the fifties, parents bought as a toy for their children, "It was before electricity was invented I suppose or something," the girl who had brought it explained. "It was my Mom's, she said I can have it." The girl explains the game, "We all sit round in a circle, each placing one of our fingers above the arrow but not touching it, and we all take it in turns asking questions," she pauses a moment and adds, "I'll go first." All the girls crowd round the Ouija board, one of the girls says in an attempted dramatic voice, "Will Tommy Stewart ask me to go out?" The girls all giggle at the question, but the giggling stops when the arrow of the board slowly starts to move it's joints sweaking with age turns anti-clockwise spelling out "H E L P". "Stop it!" Stephanie shrieks, "You're all moving the arrow, and you're spoiling it for everyone, just stop it." "But no one's touching the arrow," another girls points out. "If you're going to play stupid jokes I'm not bothering with this anymore."
The older girls all move into Stephanie's bedroom disregarding the message as a someone's sense of humour. Kat and Katie just look at each other. "OK," Kat replied to Katie's unspoken question. The two girls place all they're fingers again over the arrow, this time paying particular attention not to touch it's joint. The arrow moves again this time more quickly "10931 Summer Road 1987 Please Help Us Please." The two girls sit around the board, frozen with a mixture of curiosity and excitement, not quite understanding what has just happened. Katie runs downstairs to tell her mother, who just shrugs off the girls story as a childish make believe, and carries on watching the movie on TV. The girl persists in getting her mother's attention. After a few minutes, Mrs Collins is now becoming tired with the child's story, goes into the room where the board is lying on the floor. "What have I told you about telling tales," she asks Katie as she picks the board up and leaves the room. Kat begins to speak up for Katie, but seeing the expression on her friend's mother's face, remains quiet.
The next morning Rachel pulls up outside the girl's house, tired after the long drive home. Kat runs out into her arms full of excitement, "Mom, you'll never guess what happened, last night we were playing a game and the game asked us to help it. You believe us don't you?" the girl asks needing reassurance. "Of course, I do," was the puzzled reply.
Back at the Legacy House in Derek's office, Rachel is talking with Derek. "Can't I just look into this?" Rachel demands of him in a composed voice that is almost verging on a scream. "Kat's only 9 years old, are you sure about this?" replies Derek in his usual deep, quiet voice. Rachel look across the desk straight into his dark, hazel eyes...eyes she has often thought that seem never ending, "Are you calling my daughter a liar?" Derek pauses for a moment then concedes to Rachel's determination, "Okay then...you can use the Legacy Data Network to investigate."
Rachel loads up the Data Network to investigated what had happened in 1987 at the house. "I knew it," she spoke aloud. Alex looks up from across the room and asks, "What?"
"I knew that Kat wasn't making it up. Two young people were murdered at the house, it has to be connected with that...it must be their souls calling out."
"What, you think it's the archetypal case of spirits remaining in this world until justice is done...that they're waiting for justice?" Alex says from her terminal. "Why not? What else could be keeping them here?" Rachel replies.
Darek walks into the computer room and looks up at the main screen. "Find out anything?" he asks. Reading inquisitively about a serial killer of 9 years ago, he scans down the text and suddenly he the edges of his lips curl upwards into a half, almost cryptic smile. "Penny for your thoughts," Rachel asks, intrigued by his expression. "Sarah Mitchell, it's a long while since I heard that name, a very long time. I think it's about time I looked up an old friend," he said turning to leave the room without any explanation.
Derek had always preferred Italian restaurants for a first date, not that he had ever had much time to go on many. Nice and cozy but not too intimate, always easy to finish the meal quickly and get out quick if the evening wasn't working out. Derek had chosen a table by the large windows looking out over the bay. In the distance, the head lights of the cars travelling over the bridge looked like fireflies in the night. He looked up and saw her across the restaurant. He thought for moment how well she had aged. The lines around her eyes now replace the youthfullness but she still possessed an indescribable elegance.
"Hello Derek," the voice had not changed, it was still the same old Sarah. "Still working for that rusty old Luna Foundation, robbing the dead and giving to the rich?" she teased gently.
Sarah had never had much time for the foundation's work, always thought that preserving relics of the past was a waste of time, when the energy could be spent preserving the living. This was one of the main reasons why Derek and Sarah split up. The other was Derek's inability to explain his work, and his long absences from home. Sarah never for one moment ever suspected another woman, but it always hurt her when he would never share what was on his mind and kept her out of so much of his private life. Still, she had kept track of the Foundation over the years, reading articles on the presentations they had made to museums all over the world.
"So what makes you call out of the blue after all these years? Surely you weren't that desperate for someone to have dinner with?!" She asks trying to cover her curiosity with humour.
"No, your name just came up one day in conversation and I wondered what you were doing these days," Derek replied.
"And...?" she asked, knowing full well that the Derek Rayne never just wonders how people are doing, for no reason. Derek carried on, ignoring her obvious suspicion, "We were talking about the San Francisco serial killings in the Eighties. You remember, the ones that were never solved?" he said then explained about Kat and the game with the Ouija board. Derek assured her that none of the girls knew of the murders. "It's hardly something you tell your young children is it?" he added. Sarah maintained that the children must have some idea, as the notion of the Ouija is preposterous, "It's child's play!"
"But what if..." Derek paused, "..what if this leads us to the murderer?"
"Us!?" Sarah asked. "Yes, us," Derek reiterated, "after all, we always used to make a good team. Why not with this one? It is, after all, still an open case."
"0K, I'll go with you on this wild goose chase. Just for you, for old times sake," Sarah said with not quite a full twinkle in her eye.
The phone rings in the Legacy House. Nick is alone in the house, so he answers it. "Hello?" said the unsure voice, "It's Mrs Collins, you know Katie's and Stephanie's mother? It's just that... well, it's hard to explain. Rachel just seemed to take it all in stride, as if she knows what to do." Nick listened to the recount of the girls party, the claims of the girls, and the odd occurrences since the party. He arranged for Rachel to go round the Collins' house the next day.
At Summer Road, Rachel and Sarah go to the front of the house. Derek walks around the house to see the entrance the killer made. Reservations had already been made for the Collins family in a nearby hotel. "Only for a few days, just till it's all sorted out," Rachel had promised.
As the three reached the bottom of the stairs, an eerie silence filled the house. As they entered the bedroom, Rachel feels a cold quiver down her spine. All around the room is splattered red, the screams of the couple stifle the air, and in the corner of the room, just visisible, are very faint outlines of young couple, arms outstretched as if they knew that they were here to help. Rachel and Derek walked towards them. Rachel holds out her arms. "Please don't be afraid," she reassures, "we're here now." The couple move towards Rachel and Derek, all the time their image is getting stronger and stronger. Martin reaches out and touches Derek. Derek reacts as if he has been electrocuted, yells out as if he was in pain and falls to the floor. Rachel and Sarah rush to help him, as the images disappear. "I saw everything," Derek labours to explain, "I know everything."
Back at the Legacy house, Derek begins to explain to Sarah, "Emmmm...there's something you should know."
A little later, "So let me get this right," asks Sarah, with a voice of pseudo-sarcasm after hearing his story, "You and your friends are members of a secret society that have been around for centuries, chasing all sorts of ghosts and goblins?"
"Well, I wouldn't exactly put it like that, but yes, that about sums it up," Derek replies almost teasingly.
They are sitting in the house's lounge, through the door the rest of the Legacy "family" comes in. Derek explained what he saw to the group. Rachel tried to help him get a clear picture of the murderer, to pick out any points that may lead them to his identity.
"I can't remember what he looked like," Derek said trying desperately to clarify the figure in his mind. "Try Derek, concentrate!" Derek groaned in exasperation, "He didn't say much, I can feel he thinks it's all a game, it's not real to him. He's taking revenge on someone, for something that was done to him, the sword is the Symbol, it's what's left." Rachel sits next to Derek and says, "Try again to tell us what he look's like." Derek burrows his brow straining to remember, "He's tall, light brown hair, white, in his mid forties. He's wearing a uniform, some kind of overalls." Sarah told the group that the killer only killed one more couple after these two, then he just disappeared. All the couples were killed in the same fashion - all tied up - the man being killed while the woman watches. Nick got up and went to the door, Alex asked him what's up, "They didn't have computers in 1987, well not like ours. I'm going to do a bit of research," he replied. "I'll come with you," Alex said following him.
It was now late evening. In the computer room, Nick and Alex were calling up records and entering criteria for the search - list all arrest and hospital admittances up to a month after the last murder. Disregard, any minor injuries and arrest, we're only interested in what can take him off the streets.
There were over 50 casualities, and over 100 serious accidents over the month after the last killing. "What about criminal convictions?" Nicks asks from the terminal opposite. Alex taps on the keyboard of the terminal and scans it's results, there were over 500 arrests which resulted in prison convictions, but only 34 resulted in a convictions of over 5 years, 17 of which are still being served. Alex and Nick began eliminating all the obviously wrong suspects, from Derek's earlier description. Still in the predawn hours of the next morning, they were both really tired. They had narrowed their list of possible suspects down to three.
"You do realize," Alex said wearily, "that the killer may not even be in here, he might have just decided to stop, maybe he was just bored."
"No, he didn't stop because he wanted to, it was because he had to," Nick assured himself as much as Alex.
He looked at the three names on the main screen, one was still in prison, the other two were both still living in San Francisco. "What now? Give these to Sarah?" Nick asked, "How about a little sleep first," Alex said smilingly as she left the room.
Sarah stood glaring at Derek, "Look, you have to let us deal with this, it's police business, not the 'Ghostbusters'. If we find the killer, he needs to be brought to justice!" Defiantly, Derek reminded her of the couple in Summer Road, "What about them? Are they to suffer forever for your red tape and police procedures? What is our justice system going to do for them?" Sarah stood silent for a moment pondering on the significance of his sentence. Warily she asked in a quiet voice "What are you going to do?" He explained that the two presences in the house need rectitude for their murders. That they could not rest until they had completed their task. "We have to find the killer and get him to the house," he concluded.
"We have to get a killer back into a house where he had committed two murders almost ten years ago? That's if we can actually find the murderer," Sarah repeated in disbelief. "Yes," Derek confirmed, "we need your help to see if one of our suspects could be the man we're looking for. You have the access to prison psychological reports, that could give us a lead."
"OK, I'll have a look", she said with resignation.
Sarah was ploughed through the prison files. This was the last suspect, the other two were run of the mill bad boys, who just got badder, but nothing more unusual about them than anyone else who had ever spent time in the joint. As she looked down the page, she noticed this man had been arrested robbing a local store with a gun replica, he was sentenced to 12 years, but was paroled after 8 for good behaviour. As she read further suddenly something caught her eye, in the small print under the man's past history were the details of childhood trauma. The defense had tried to make a big deal of it, to try and get him off in court. Some try, she thought to herself, he got twelve years. When the man, a Mr. Richard Timson, was nine years old, his father shot his mother while making the boy watch. "But why the sword?" she asked herself. She spent most of that day down in the archives of the City's Police Head Quarters, finding what she could about Mrs. Timson's murder. The archives weren't the best organised of departments, and the records she wanted could be in a number of places. Eventually, she found them amidst other domestic crime files. She had told herself she was staying single forever, as she sifted through the files, briefly reading the outline of each atrocity, until she found the one she was looking for. She put the file quickly in her briefcase, glad to be able to leave the stuffy rooms.
Later that evening, after she had returned home, she brought the file out and began reading, looking for anything that could link this murder to the killings of the couples. At first glance, this just looked like any other domestic killing - though horrific - sadly, not extraordinary. From the back of the file fell out an old, now yellowing, black and white photo of the crime scene. She was going to put it back, when she noticed something behind the body of the suspect's mother. Hanging on the wall was the clear outline of an old sword. Sarah thought to herself of the scene that the boy must have seen, his mother being killed by his father beneath the sword. She sat back thinking about the irony of having one of the most infamous serial killers in last decade behind bars, and just letting him out for "good behaviour." Her phone rang in the hallway, she sat for a minute listening to the familiar voice and tones of her answering machine. When she heard the vampish tone's of Derek's voice, asking her to ring him, she picked up the phone and told him about the photo.
The next day at the Legacy House, the group were trying to plan a way of enticing him to go back to Summer Road. "Why don't we just ask him?" Rachel suggested. "The house should only spook someone who actually knows about the killing." Sarah stood up and walked round to the large bay windows in the room, "We have to approach him first, not as police officers but as someone less threatening...I know, we'll go and see him as newspaper reporters...reporters doing a story on how the city re-integrates ex-convicts into the community. That's believable." Alex remained quiet, she was thinking about the little boy watching his mother being murdered. He's re-inacting the murder, he's making his mother watch while he's killing his father, she thought. The anger she had original felt when she researched the murders was beginning to fade, she shook herself reminding herself that this man had brutally killed 10 people.
Rachel and Sarah went to the apartment block, where Richard Timson, now lives. "I hope he's in," Rachel whispers as she knocks on the old door. A voice come's from inside the flat, "Who is it? Go away". Rachel knocks again, and shouts who they are, " We want to write about you in the paper, tell your side of the story Mr Timson," the door slowly opened and a withered face peeped out from within the flat. Even though this man was not yet sixty, he looked far older than his actual years. The women explained the story they were supposedly writing. Mr. Timson, apparently glad that someone was interested in his life, eagerly talked about the crime he had been convicted for, detailing his childhood and using it as an excuse for his own inadequacies.
"Look, I've got an idea Mr. Timson," Rachel said convincingly unrehearsed, "Why don't we go and get something to eat and talk some more after lunch, don't worry...the bill's on me." Mr. Timson, unaccustomed to offers of this kind, hesitated for a moment. The women seeing this, quickly reassured him that they were eager for his story and lunch would be nice. Rachel went down to the car first while Mr. Timson washed and changed into something a little cleaner than his house clothes. She phoned Derek, telling him they should be at the Summer Road House in the next quarter of an hour.
As they drove past the end of Summer Road, Sarah suddenly announced that she had left her mobile phone at home and while they were passing by, she might as well get it. As they pulled up outside 10931, Richard Timson began to get flustered saying he must get home and that the story idea was perhaps not a good one. Rachel asked him what's the matter and reminded him that the story would go down really well with his parole officer. Sarah grabbed his hand and invited him in with her, not letting go of his hand she turned towards the house. The serial killer was getting very disconcerted. "What's up Mr. Timson? Don't worry, we won't bite you," she said laughingly, still not letting him go as she proceeded up the path to the house. By this time, Rachel was out of the car and by the side of the nervous man, "Come on Richard, lets go and raid the fridge," she said cheerfully, her voice disguising the guilt she was beginning to feel.
As they walked into the hallway, the front door slammed shut behind them. Mr. Timson rushed to open the door, but it was locked. His face had become almost white. Rachel took Sarah's hand and led her to one side of the hall. "We've done all we can now," she said, looking at the old man in front of her trembling with fear.
Derek walked in from the living room. "They're waiting," he said looking towards the stairs. A white mist began to appear around Richard Timson, he was soon engulfed by it - his screams muffled by its swathing hold. Blood began to splatter the hallway, covering the walls. Sarah ran for cover in the living room. Rachel followed, looking at the old man now being tortured by this apparition, forced to feel the crime he committed, a punishment that she herself help to instigate. As the screams died down to a shallow sobbing, the mist cleared, leaving the broken figure huddled down on the floor, "I did it," came the voice, "I killed those people, I had to do it, don't you see? He needed paying back for what he did to her."
Sarah picking up the sorrowful figure up off the floor, handcuffing him, she began to read him his rights. She turned round to the others. "And how am I supposed to write this up in my report?" she asked before leading him out to the car.
"You know I really thought they were going to kill him. You know, take revenge for what happened to them," Rachel said to Derek. The events of what had just occurred not quite clear in her mind, "but I suppose ghosts can forgive too, they just wanted justice that's all." The two silently walked back to the car.
That evening Sarah and Derek had Dinner again. "Do you want to know something?" Sarah said in amazement. "No one asked how I caught him. The Chief just looked at the evidence and Richard's statement and just accepted it...not one single question on how I had come about him."
"You never know Sarah, perhaps we may well work together again," Derek mentioned with a smile.
"God I hope not!" came the reply with a hint of fake horror.
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