BLIND INSTINCT

By: Karen B.

Thank you so very much, Karen-Leigh. She gives the dream clearer sight.

Summary: Hutch POV. H/C Starsky

I've gone running down alleys just like this one a hundred times before, but this was different. It was late at night, and the cold I felt drifting out of the entranceway was like a slap in the face. The wind felt like skeletal fingers curling around my gut as Starsky and I first entered. It was dark, like walking through the woods on a moonless night in the dead of winter. The only sound our harsh breaths, and broken glass that crunched beneath our feet as we cautiously moved in further.

We'd cornered our suspect down here. A killer we'd been after for six months. The sudden change of atmosphere when I entered that alley gave me a creepy feeling that I will not soon forget. I furrowed a brow wondering if Starsky was feeling what I was. He didn't seem to. He was a few steps ahead of me not seeming apprehensive at all as he glanced my way and invited me with a nod of his head to follow.

Gun drawn, I watched Starsky's back, as he circled around a maggot infested dumpster. The stench alone flooded my insides. It cut my guts up into pieces; like a deeply disturbing jigsaw puzzle. Starsky turned to me laying a silent finger to his lips in hushing, and then slowly he lifted the lid of that dumpster. I expected to find our suspect in there. What we found instead was soul cutting.

In the dark I couldn't see my partner's face, but I heard him gag. When I peered inside the dumpster I could just make out the outline of a body. From the smell it was badly decomposed. I could tell the victim was undressed. I could see a thin white shawl around its shoulders, indicating that it probably was female. The smell of blood, everywhere. The sickness that hit me was almost mind numbing, and I fought to keep the ground from vanishing beneath my feet.

Starsky let the lid slowly back down, then nodded his intention to head toward the back of the alley. I knew it was a dead end. That our killer would be there waiting. As I watched Starsky disappear ahead of me my heart pounded and a wave of panic rose up into my throat.

Everything was etched in shadows, and it seemed darker than the night itself. I knew Starsky wasn't far ahead of me. I could hear his footsteps, but I couldn't see him. I looked to my left then to my right peering through the darkness, but couldn't make out a damn thing. The wave of panic built inside of me. In the darkness there was an evil presence lurking, hunting us, instead of us hunting it, and my body trembled from the sheer force of its presence. I'd never felt that before.

Then I saw a flash. Like the glint of a knife. Then came a gasp. So faint I barely heard it. "Starsky? I whispered. Blind instinct drove me forward faster than I wanted, and I stumbled over an empty box. "Starsky?" I whispered again. Nothing. There was nothing. "Talk to me, partner!" My voice flooded the passageway with echoing chaos.

I felt like I'd been dropped into a black pit. A chill went right through my jacket as if it weren't there at all. I stood frozen a moment. It was like the ground turned to thick muck and I couldn't move, was afraid to move. My finger reached for the trigger of my gun and I held it there steady as I could pointing outward into the night. Somewhere just beyond the limits of my sight was my partner, and a killer. Suddenly I felt someone closing in on me. Before I could react a blow came from behind, and I felt something brush by me. My knees shook but by sheer force I held back the urge to fall to them.

"Police. Hold it." The words I spoke so many times before erupted from my throat shakily.

That cold grip was back when I saw a man only a few feet ahead of me. I couldn't make out his face. Only two dark beady eyes surrounded by long uncombed hair and a scruffy long beard. He laughed. It was a strange dream like laugh full of sick rapture.

"Don't move," I ordered harshly.

The man stood perfectly still, only his eyes followed me. "This is only the beginning of the nightmare," he said.

In that moment his eyes canceled out all my rational thoughts. There was nothing about this man that should have struck me as special. He was no Scribe or Pharisee; yet I felt an urge to drop down to my knees before him. He held a certain power. All I knew about this man was what I had learned from the crime scenes Starsky and I had to investigate. Dingy dark places where he had left his victims to rot. Yet here in this dark alley a significant thing happened. Somehow, just by looking into his eyes, I knew all there was to know about this heartless cult leader, except for his name. His disciples would hold on to him till death. He's an evil dictator. The grief he had caused, incomprehensible. A merciless punk that bore callous disregard for life. I knew him. And it was almost too much for my mind to grasp the magnitude of it all. Then it became cyrstal clear to me. There was a difference between wanting to be insane and being insane. This guy wanted you to believe he was insane. It was how he worked. Part of me knew him. Yet, there was a part of me that bought into the insane delusion he tried to convey.

The moment then passed. "Put your hands on top of your head." I blinked hard, still trying to steady my shaking knees. I was shocked to see him do as he was told. "Down on your knees," I spat out, my mind reeling partially from the blow I took, partially from knowing my partner wasn't beside me. I watched the suspect as he sank to his knees, his fingers laced and locked on top of his mangy hair.

The pain in my head was growing worse. I needed to get him into custody. "Now, lie face down." He didn't move just kept glaring at me. "Kiss the pavement!" I yelled, feeling fear gather inside me.

He didn't follow my directions this time. I could feel him coiling inside, readying to strike again. Then the moon came out from behind a shadowy cloud, and I caught sight of a bloodied knife above his head still in the man's hand.

"Drop it!" My gun hand lashed outward and I let my thumb quickly pull back on the hammer.

Click.

He let the knife fall, clanking to the ground. My legs were now feeling like tissue paper. "Where's my partner?" I asked unsteadily, instead of repeating my command to kiss the dirt.

"Starsky," he said the name with cool calm.

I went cold.

My heart took wing and it felt like it slammed into a brick wall. How the hell did he know--my whole body trembled, and I could see or more like I could feel this guys lips twist into a mean smile that almost seemed to eat away at my flesh.

"Where's--"

"Too late," he interrupted me quickly.

For a second I felt nothing. Then all I wanted to do was pull the trigger and send a slug through this guy, strike him down dead, but I couldn't. "You're under arrest, get down on the ground." Was all I could say. I had to collar this creep before I could locate my M.I.A. partner.

Those black eyes locked onto my face and it felt like eternity hovered over that alleyway.

"No," he refused my order in that same sick calm voice.

I froze. Maybe it was the blow I took to my head or my worry for Starsky, but before I could utter another word or react to his resisting arrest, the freak was up on his feet and had disappeared into the dark before I could pull the trigger.

I sprang after him. This time with intent to shoot if I got the chance. All I felt was my heart in my throat and my feet beating a path along the ground. I couldn't see a thing, but I ran like hell anyway, till I stumbled over something lying across my path and I fell pitching forward and sprawling over it.

I turned my head to one side sensing someone there. Blind instinct once again took over. I reached out a hand clearing my mind. "Starsk?" I questioned feeling over the body next to me. "Starsky!" I said with growing certainty, grabbing at him and pulling myself toward him, now up on my knees.

He was lying face down, and at first I couldn't hear or feel him breathing. I took him by a shoulder and rolled him over gently bringing my face close to his. My partner's eyes were closed, but I watched him gather a breath, and then I felt it as he exhaled against my cheek. "Jeez," I whispered with relief.

I looked down the alley, turned my head to listen hard. I kept my gun cocked and ready incase the guy was lurking near by, but I was pretty sure he was gone. Then I slipped two fingers along side Starsky's neck. His pulse was fast, his face streaked with dirt and sweat. I found a handkerchief and wiped away at the smudges, and he stiffened against the pavement.

"Starsk," I whispered the single word, and he settled down.

My ministries were cut off as our backup finally came screeching down the alleyway sirens blaring, red and blue lights twirled, and headlights sliced through the horrible darkness. Starsky didn't seem aware of the ruckus.

"Down the alley." I pointed them, and even though I knew the alley to be a dead end I also knew they wouldn't find the guy there. "You." I pointed to a uniformed officer. "Bag that knife for prints, and secure that dumpster, we got another body." Just then something made me look to my hand that I had placed on Starsky's shoulder. It was dark with his blood. "And, get me an ambulance." I added, turning to shout at the officer, almost feeling sorry when he visibly jumped.

But I couldn't be concerned with that right now. I looked back down to Starsky; his eyes were open now, and following me. "You okay?" I pressed my palm against his shoulder wound. He didn't answer. "Hey?" I peered worriedly at him.

"Okay," Starsky repeated more to himself. His eyes empty of expression. Then just as fast his eyes bugged out, and he arched upward. "Where'd he go? Hutch, w-where?"

"Easy, easy." I tried to press him down, but he fought me on it. "He's gone. Easy. Lay still, partner. "I waited a moment for him to catch his breath and his thoughts.

"No," he said and rose higher yet.

But this time he must have felt the pain for his word was no more than a weak plea and he flopped forward against me. Biting my lip I said nothing more as I eased him back to look at the wound. I took my belt off my jeans and tightened it around his shoulder. The blade had plunged deep, and it bled heavily, maybe even struck bone, but at least it wasn't fatal.

I hovered over Starsky, my eyes locked on to his face. It had turned a whiter shade of pale, and that worried me. I also noticed a small acorn size knot on the side of his temple. "Hutch," he sighed with relief, finally seeming aware.

"Don't you worry, partner." But I didn't heed my own words. I was worried enough for the both of us. He shivered and seemed to be in shock, his face damp with a sheen of sweat.

"How'd 'bout some help over here!" I glanced back over my shoulder and bellowed, my patience faltering.

"Hey." The word so soft I barely heard. I looked back down. "I'm okay," Starsky said, but I knew better as his right hand clutched at my left bicep in a crushing sort of way.

"You're not okay, Starsk. You were stabbed. By a ghost--" I stopped abruptly when he eyed me like I were nuts. "He went down there." I pointed toward the darkness of the dead end alley, explaining. "And he never came out."

"Stand me up." Starsky pulled at my arm moaning as an agonizing pain shot through him. "No such thing as ghosts, Hutch. You told me that. Let's go take a look. He probably shimmied up a drain pipe."

"You need an ambulance," I said helping him up, and holding him steady as he lurched backward a step.

"You can take me," he said then glanced down the alley. "After we check this out."

I stared at him a moment, then shook my head. There would be no arguing with him.

"Here's the deal." I sternly spoke as we shouldered through the crowd of uniforms. "We check it out for five minutes. Then I drive you to the hospital, and you do whatever it is the doctors want you to do."

Starsky gave the slightest nod of agreement. "I can still smell the stink on his breath," was all he said, my partner's voice catching with fear, as we came to the back of the alley.

"I know," was all I could say, forcing a sick lump back down my throat.

Epilogue:

It's been over a year since that day in the alley. We finally caught up to the demonic killer, and put him away for good, on death row. But today I go to face him again. Even behind bars he inflicts horror. I felt an odd emptiness as I moved fast through the small corridor, and I struggled with it. The walls edged in close around me and my vision mixed with memories of just a short while ago. Blood spread all over the bathroom floor, dripping down the mirror as if the word itself pumped like a beating heart. My own heart rate increased. The tension inside of me building like water in a pot about to boil over. I stopped. Looked toward the interrogation room door for a long time before placing a hand to the knob and slowly opening it. I entered the room, back first, and took a second, to keep a deliberate calm manner. Then I swung around with confidence. My eyes met his, and my throat filled with terror. I fought not to puke, fought to keep a cold sweat from breaking out all over my skin.

He looked at me with those same eyes I remember from that alleyway when we first met. They were eyes that could swallow your soul. Eyes that seemed to strike out with death, and power; as if he could drop half a mountain just by pointing a single finger. I gathered myself. He wasn't insane. Just wanted me to believe he was.

I stayed focused, and balled my fists as I paced in front of him. Only a table and two chairs stood between me and the condemned killer. A thin strip of restraint kept me from flying over to him and grabbing his throat and squeezing till his head popped off. My pulse quickened further.

I was nagged with only one question for him. A question that if it went unanswered, would bring more devastation to me than any I've ever known before.

"Where's Starsky?"

The End.