Chapter 3

When they returned from the crime scene, a meeting was in place–-with all the teams involved, not just their team because things had escalated to a scale that affected the whole building.

“We’re looking at three suspects here,” Kai began-–having already gotten permission from the boss to speak up. And because his team was responsible for the case, he was given the authority to direct them all for the time being. “That’s the least, one manipulator and two conspirators. The manipulator was probably somewhere overseeing the plans. The two conspirators went into the station to rile us up, making us waste time searching around the area for possible foul play. Then that leave time for them to go commit the next two murders.”

“Or it’s gang related,” Derek from Team B pointed out.

Kai nodded. “Anything is possible.”

“But what’s suspicious is the timing of everything,” Heather from Team C jumped in. “Like how could they possibly know that Cynthia would be alone in the back at that time to deliver the package to her? And what about Cynthia’s mother coming in at that particular time to sneak them in?”

Kai shook his head. “The first part, they don’t have to wait for Cynthia to be free. They know for sure someone will be around to hear the knock and get the door. When someone did come to the door, they backtracked to the front to wait for anyone, anyone they could find to trick so they could get in.”

“But it still doesn’t explain why or how they know who to trick,” Heather argued. “I meant it wasn’t like they could stroll in to find such a person coming into the station at that time. Not to mention easily conned.”

“They have to rely on Robert,” Nic spoke up then.

Heather nodded and pointed the pen in her hand at Nic. “Exactly my point.”

Nic nodded as well. “Robert is the key.”

“I don’t know why you guys are complicating the whole thing,” Derek interrupted them once again. “It’s simple. Everyone gossips, not just those newspaper people. Words pass. We still can’t be sure if Robert’s involved. But what we can be sure of is they could just acquire the information if they know who to follow and learn of the station’s routine.”

“The killing massacre just started recently,” Heather reminded them. “It would take months before they could figure us all out.”

“Or maybe it could be their lucky moment of encountering a certain someone who was willing to disclose all those piece of information they needed,” Nic reasoned. “I mean, come on now. Not everything is perfectly planned out. Sometimes it might as well be luck for them. But that’s even more complications for us because we like to use logic.”

“He’s right,” Kai said. “We can’t waste time figuring out each step for now. We have to divide the tasks up and station more people at possible locations.”

“No,” Heather disagreed again. “We must figure this out now or we might veer off course even more.”

“Then some of us try to piece it together while the rest of us go.”

It was then that Heather stopped arguing.

“Before we go though,” Nic jumped in again. “We must at least get an idea why they’ve increased the amount of killing. Last night, it was two at different locations yet today it’s two at the same location.”

“Something must have happened to trigger their behaviors,” Heather said, pointing her pen in a thoughtful pose once more.

“But what?” Cynthia spoke up at last. She had been thinking over every single detail carefully as the others were arguing. Now, she had to speak up. “The more we increase the security, the more they try to challenge us.”

That was when Kai snapped his hand. “That’s right. It’s like they’re challenging us. Like they’re telling us that they’re not scared. They will continue to commit those crimes. They won’t back down just because we’re here. They’re telling us they’re in charge.”

“Does that mean they’re a cult then?” Nic asked, his smile hinting mischief. Yet he turned that smile off upon seeing the others turning to stare at him.

“’Bad news, guys,” Their boss entered the conference room at that time.

They all quieted down and turned their attention to the man. As if they needed more bad news, but only their expressions mirrored the anxiousness.

“The big bosses upstairs are really pushing down on us to solve this case,” Their boss announced. “You all know how serious this is turning.”

They all nodded.

“But it’s not our fault the maniacs are out there on a killing spree,” Heather reasoned, being the first brave soul to speak up.

“Actually, it is partially our fault,” Their boss pointed out.

Heather wrinkled her face. “What?”

“Actually, it is my fault.”

The others were now displaying the same confused look as Heather.

“For not being able to enforce the rules around here more effectively. That was why our officers dare to go off gossiping and passing around information unknowingly, allowing the perpetrators to attack us.” He paused briefly to scan everyone in the room before continuing. “That is why I want every one of you to write me a report as to where you’ve been since the killing spree started. No exceptions.”

“What?” Heather blurted out again.

“It is only fair.”

After saying those words, their boss left the conference room. Instead of continuing with their previous discussions, they all exchanged looks among themselves. Then they got up one by one to return to their stations, getting ready to write their reports. There, indeed, were no exceptions, because even their boss wrote his own. They were back in the conference about an hour and a half later. This time, Nic was the one in charge of writing down all details and coordinating all their whereabouts while they each rattled out what they had wrote previously. Even their boss was at the meeting. In fact, he was the first one to start. On the other hand, Robert had been suspended from all police duties. However, Robert still had to stay and aid in providing his statements. He wasn’t allowed to go home at all. At least not until he was cleared of all suspicions. They had allowed some people to go buy food and water for him, and even let a fellow officer go to his home to bring back some changes of clothes.

*****

Strangely, after the killing spree intensified and eventually rattling the entire police department, all activities stopped. No more killings. No more taunting the police. Not because the rain had stopped and had dulled their advantage. The rain was still pouring–-if not fiercer.

“What game are they playing here?” Heather exclaimed in frustration several days later.

“Maybe they’re lying low,” Derek mumbled, covering a yawn.

Nic rubbed his temple before contributing to the conversation. “After they taunted us like that? Are you kidding me?”

Yes, fatigue had contributed to Nic’s attitude. In fact, they hadn’t had much sleep of recent hence the attitude toward one another. Yet it was also a way to pass time.

“At least those newspaper people won’t have to worry about being targeted for a while,” Derek joked.

“Funny,” Nic returned. “You see anyone laughing?”

“The mastermind of this whole thing is,” Kai pointed out as he walked into the room stirring a cup of coffee. “I suggest you all go home to rest and then come back tomorrow.”

“What if the killers strike again?” Nic asked, turning to Kai.

“The more you should use this off-time to rest,” Kai reasoned. “Lack of energy is our worst enemy.”

“Then why are you still here?”

“I’ve been catching catnaps, unlike the rest of you.”

Yes, they noticed how Kai had dozed off at times. Yet they didn’t realize it was Kai’s way of catching mini rest, unlike them.

“Where’s Cynthia?” Nic asked, looking around.

“She got locked at home.”

“What?” Heather jumped in. “That’s bizarre.”

“Don’t worry,” Kai reassured them. “I’ll go get her later, she just texted me so I could go rescue her.”

“On what grounds?” Nic asked.

“I’m her boyfriend.”

Derek had choked on his coffee and was suffering from a coughing fit at the moment. Nic was just starring at Kai. Heather froze yet had unfreeze in time to slap Derek on the back.

“It’s the only trick that could get her out of the house right now,” Kai clarified before leaving.

It was also then that Nic relaxed and turned to the others. They shrugged as well.

*****

“Your coffee,” Kai said, handing a container to Cynthia as she walked out of the house.

Cynthia smiled and took it from Kai before flashing him a smile. “So, where are we heading to now?”

“I found a location we should check out.”

They got in the car at the end of the driveway before Kai spoke up again.

“I think I have a lead.”

Cynthia scanned the perimeter as Kai was pulling out of the area. “Where’s Nic?”

“He’s back at the station with the rest of the team.”

“You’re driving.” She sounded worried.

“What’s the big deal?”

“You don’t drive.”

Kai smiled. “And?”

Cynthia hesitated but she spoke up anyway. “It’s just strange.”

Kai didn’t want to confront Cynthia at the moment so he focused on maneuvering out of the area. It had stopped raining temporarily earlier so Cynthia was able to slip out of the house without suspicion. Yet the rain had started pouring again. Kai reached for the heater knob and told Cynthia to adjust it as he made another turn.

“Where are we going?” Cynthia asked, taking a sip of coffee.

“You’ll know when we get there,” Kai returned.

They stayed quiet the rest of the way.

*****

That night, rain poured harder than usual. What was more, Kai and Cynthia hadn’t returned to the station. Although the others knew how Kai often operated yet Nic couldn’t help but worry for the two. They should have been back hours before already, considering how Nic had received a text from Kai, saying that they were on their way back.

All Nic remembered from that night was the call he received from Heather, telling him he had to get to the crime scene immediately. It was a new crime scene. Heather sounded anxious, so unlike her.

“What’s the deal here?” Nic asked as soon as he got out of his car–-with an umbrella in hand.

“You should go with Cynthia,” Heather said, pointing toward a corner of the building.

Nic wrinkled his face in confusion, wondering why Heather called him there. Was it to babysit Cynthia? Not that Nic wasn’t aware of Cynthia’s capabilities. It was just that he knew that Heather wasn’t too fond of Cynthia. Mostly because of the troubles Cynthia’s mother had caused for them in the past. Yet he also knew Heather wasn’t the type to mix work related matters into personal grudges. Why was Heather acting this way now? Especially when they were in a middle of a very difficult case.

“Go,” Heather urged, bringing Nic back to the present.

Sighing out in frustration, Nic made his way toward Cynthia, knowing too well Heather wasn’t going to tell him. The joke was sure on him this time. However, he soon realized it was his opportunity to ask Cynthia about what happened since this afternoon. Because he wasn’t able to locate Kai’s presence anywhere. Then when he was more focused on Cynthia, he realized Cynthia was hugging onto a blanket that was wrapped around her. She was drenched from the rain yet the place she was standing under had a roof over it. What happened?

“Hey,” Nic said when he was by her side. “What happened? Where’s Kai?”

“Kai got taken to the hospital already,” Cynthia said. “I was told to stick around.”

It was hard not to be shocked when he heard those words. “What happened?”

“Kai had a plan,” Cynthia said, her voice low–-and there were traces of visible tears in her eyes.

“Why didn’t you wait for me?” Nic asked, not wanting to sound so confronting yet he couldn’t help it.

“Kai thought he could handle it,” Cynthia said, reaching a hand up to wipe away the tears that had been rolling down her cheeks.

“Officer Wang, come with me, please,” Someone said then.

Nic and Cynthia turned around to see another officer walking toward them. Cynthia took another look at Nic before following that officer. Then Nic saw Heather heading his way.

“I just wanted you to talk to her first,” Heather explained. “She seems really rattled.”

“What happened?” Nic asked, not wanting to delay this any longer.

“Come with me.”

“Can’t you just tell me?”

Although Nic sounded impatient but he had followed Heather inside. He had folded his umbrella already and had stashed it by the building’s side.

“It’s our latest victim,” Heather said. “Female this time.”

Nic turned to look at Heather then. “Female?”

“I know, right? There’s something else.”

“What?”

“The victim was stabbed with a letter opener.”

“Still a knife,” Nic said, shrugging.

“You know it’s not that simple.”

They arrived at the scene at that time. Nic made sure not to step on any source of possible evidence as he stepped into the room. Heather was still by his side, filling him in on other details.

*****

Later that night, there was a secret meeting somewhere within the city. It was at an underground location. A silhouette was seen standing at one side while there were several more standing a distance away.

“Who pull the trigger on the cop?” A deep, threatening voice asked.

“It wasn’t me,” A timid voice responded.

“We already risked our operation the last time we went ahead with the police station schemes. If we go as far as touching a cop, we might not make it until the end.”

“We’re sorry. We won’t mess up again.”

“Good.”

The person whom seemed to be the leader walked away, disappearing into the night.

© Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Posted: Monday, May 18th, 2015

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