Disclaimer: All characters and such belong to CBS. I own the characters that I made up and the new plot.
Author's Note: I've written several other fan fiction stories, but this is my first CSI fic. (So I'm sorry if I don't have everything down exactly right quite yet.) I guess it was inevitable—as with Star Trek: Voyager before, getting hooked on a TV show means my head is suddenly bombarded with new ideas.
I've done a lot of research for this story to attempt to make everything as accurate as possible. I hope my effort shows. (Granted, some of the research was watching the CSI Sunday marathon, but, hey, how else am I supposed to make sure all the dialogue I use is correct for each character? There was also plenty regular encyclopedia research, but it wasn't nearly as entertaining!)
WARNING: This is rated T for the subject matter and some of language, although I did censor it. This story is somewhat dark, so proceed at your own discretion.
Let me know what you think. Enjoy!
On a lonely forest hill ten miles from anywhere, the sound of digging broke the early morning silence. A pile of loose earth got smaller and smaller, albeit slowly, as a well-worn shovel shifted it to fill a hole in the ground. It was still mostly dark outside, the sky the color of a bruise. A tiny bit of light filtered through the trees to aid the digger's dying flashlight.
When the hole was completely filled, the person wielding the shovel set it aside and, by hand, pulled loose twigs, leaves, and pine needles over the loose topsoil to hide the signs of recent digging. Blood mixed with leaves and dirt as the scar of a hole was camouflaged.
The digger knelt and laid a few roadside wildflowers atop the filled hole. Standing up, the full of effect of the area hit the person. What little there was in the person's stomach came surging back up violently, spattering the base of a tree. The digger grabbed the shovel and desperately began to run in the opposite direction at full speed.
The person ran and ran, not thinking, just running, tripping and falling several times. After a few minutes, the woods ended abruptly and gave way to a little-used paved road. The person stood on the edge of the road, panting, shaking, and white, trying to ignore a throbbing head. An ancient-looking station wagon with peeling blue paint appeared soon thereafter and stopped parallel to the shaking figure.
A tall balding man with beady brown eyes and a cruel face yelled through the vehicle's open windows. "What the h--- is the matter with you?!? Did you do what I told you to?"
There was a nod in response.
"Good. Now get in the d--- car!"
The fearful person did as instructed, scrambling quickly into the back passenger side seat, yanking the door shut, and clicking an ugly, dirty, dog-eared seatbelt into place.
The driver spoke up again as they zoomed away. "You done yet or what?"
"Done," came the quiet, fearful reply.
"Finally, d---it!" was the enraged reaction.
A few tears slipped down a dirt-covered cheek.
Gil Grissom sat with his team in the break room, reading an interesting newspaper article while the rest of them chatted and snacked. He barely registered anything around him, and only looked up after Sara Sidle called his name twice.
"What?" he asked.
"What's the most interesting case you worked on this week?" Sara patiently repeated. Catherine Willows, Nick Stokes, and Warrick Brown looked at him expectantly.
He opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted by the ringing of his cell phone. "Hold that thought," he said, flipping the phone open. "Grissom." He listened to the caller for a minute, then responded. "We'll be right there." He looked up at the other CSIs. "In answer to your question Sara, this could be it. That was Brass. A lost tourist found a body in the woods in the middle of nowhere. I'm driving."
Twenty minutes later, the CSI SUVs coasted to a stop on a little-used road. Thick forest grew on both sides. Red and blue lights flashed atop police cars as the group piled of the vehicle and followed Grissom as he ducked under the crime scene tape. Jim Brass waited for them on the other side. "Tourist lost his way heading out of the city. He decided to turn around, but first he pulled over and let his dog out to stretch its legs. When the dog didn't come back for a while, he went looking for it. He found it digging up something. When he saw it was a human arm, he called the cops."
"Did anyone finish digging up the body?" Grissom asked.
"We were waiting for you."
"Good. Warrick, I want you to interview the tourist. Find out if he saw anything that might help us."
"Right," Warrick responded, and he headed for where the police were questioning him.
The rest of the team proceeded up the hill with Grissom. "Who all's been up here?"
"Just myself," Brass replied.
They crested the top of the hill and were able to see the burial site for the first time. Dirt the color of coffee grounds was scattered around from the dog's digging. A mangled arm was clearly visible above the surface.
"Perfect place to get rid of a body," Catherine commented, raising her camera and snapping a few shots of the arm. "We're five miles from anywhere."
"More like ten," Grissom corrected. "All right. Catherine and Nick, I want you to cover the immediate area. When you finish that, grab some shovels and sieves and dig up the body. Sara and I will take the surrounding area. Did anyone call a coroner?"
"David's on his way," Brass answered. "I'll leave you to your work." With that, he walked back down the hill. Grissom and Sara began a systematic search pattern, leaving Nick and Catherine at the burial site.
Nick surveyed the ground carefully. "I think I've got a footprint here." He paused, examining it more closely, and added in surprise, "Looks like a bare foot." He put an L-shaped ruler near the print and photographed it.
"That's odd. The ground's pretty rocky for going around in your bare feet," Catherine commented. "It also would have made digging a pain in the neck."
"I know. It doesn't make any sense."
Catherine nodded. Suddenly, she spied something small away from where the dog had been digging. She crouched down to look more closely and realized it was a tiny bouquet of flowers. She set an evidence marker next to them and snapped a picture. "Hey Nick…"
He looked over at her.
She picked up the flowers using a small pair of tweezers. "Wildflowers, ripped and not cut." In surprise, she added, "These were put here deliberately."
"Killer felt guilty?"
"I don't know. Bag these, will you? We might be able to get some epithelials off them."
While Nick bagged the flowers, Catherine carefully sorted through the forest-floor debris. Twigs and rocks yielded nothing, but she found a leaf that made her stop. It was coated with a thick, slippery, dark liquid. "Nick, pass me a swab and the phenolphthalein."
"What did you find now?" he asked, half-exasperated, as he handed them to her.
Catherine delicately swabbed the leaf and dripped the clear phenolphthalein on the end of the swab. It turned a violent pink. "A bloody leaf," she told Nick. "I'll bag this and get it to Greg. Did you find anything else?"
Nick nodded and indicated an area on the ground to his left as he placed several bright green evidence markers near the base of a tree. "Looks like impressions from the tip of a shovel. Could be the killer took several breaks, sticking the shovel in the ground each time."
"Makes sense. The ground's rocky and, from the size of that footprint, I'd say he's certainly no Goliath. All of those factors would make it almost impossible to keep going without a rest every now and then."
Both of them had visions of a silhouetted small man struggling with a shovel in the unforgiving soil. He strained to lift small shovelfuls of stony earth and winced at the stones biting into his bare feet. He laboriously made progress on the hole, making it large enough to hold a human body. Occasionally, he would jam the shovel into the ground while he wiped the sweat from his brow.
Catherine frowned. "Why barefoot? It doesn't make any sense."
Shrugging, Nick replied, "I'll get some plaster of Paris for these impressions and the footprints." He turned away from the gravesite and started to head back to the vehicle, but something at the base of the tree to his left caught his eye. He squatted down to get a closer look.
From his closer vantage point, he could see now that it was brownish-orange liquid with small chunks of matter suspended in it. He furrowed his brow, not sure what it was.
The wind suddenly shifted and he caught a strong whiff of the mystery substance. "Vomit," he choked.
"You say something, Nick?" Catherine called.
"Yeah," he replied, standing up with one hand loosely over his nose and mouth. "Somebody threw up all over this tree."
In the meantime, Sara and Grissom moved slowly through the woods, looking for anything out of place. They walked silently for quite some time before Sara spoke up.
"Grissom, I think I have something." Her camera flashed as she documented the evidence at her feet.
"What is it?" Grissom walked over to get a closer look.
Sara held up a blue thread with a pair of tweezers. "Could be from our killer. As isolated as this area is, I doubt it's from a casual hiker."
He nodded in agreement. "Bag it." He moved away again, absorbed in the pursuit of elusive clues. Everywhere there was evidence of the forest floor being recently disturbed, but more than likely it was the result of an animal that had every right to be there. He searched for a few more minutes. Frustrated, he sighed. "I'm not finding anything. I'm going to head back to the burial site and see what Nick and Catherine have come up with."
"All right," Sara called. "I'll meet up with you later."
Grissom made good time on his way back to the focal point of the crime scene, even while keeping his eyes open for evidence. He didn't find anything more and was glad when he reached the body. Nick, Catherine, and the newly arrived David knelt around the recently excavated hole.
"Well?" he asked.
"Didn't find anything in the dirt we dug up," Nick informed him. "But Catherine has an I.D. on our vic."
Catherine held up an open wallet where a driver's license was displayed in its clear plastic window. "Terri Parsons, age 34, address…Rocky Springs, Colorado? She's a long way from home."
"Tourist?" Grissom asked.
"I don't think so. She looks more like a woman on a business trip," Catherine replied, indicating the body. A woman with short blonde hair and light skin wearing a long-sleeved, dark purple blouse and dark grey slacks lay in the hole, her arms and neck mutilated and a bloody hole in her shirt.
"Do we have a TOD or COD?"
"Well, for a preliminary COD," David said, gently fingering the bloody tears in the woman's shirt. "I'm going to say a single stab wound to the chest. The wounds on the neck and arms don't look fatal. As for a TOD, we're going to have to wait and maybe not get one at all."
"She's frozen almost solid."
Grissom frowned. "She was probably killed a while ago. A human body takes at least two whole days to freeze entirely, and the fact that she was frozen at all makes me think that the killer was waiting to bury the body, biding his time until it was convenient," he mused aloud. "She could have been killed weeks, maybe months ago." He knelt down to get a closer look at the woman in the grave. He could see some bruises and scratches on her face, her blouse was torn, and there was something under her fingernails. "Looks like she put up a fight. Catherine, make sure you scrape out her nails."
"Will do," she replied.
Grissom knelt with the others and squinted at something black on the victim's left ear. He adjusted his latex gloves and pulled out a pair of tweezers. Gently, he removed the material from where it was caught on the woman's earring back. He held it up for the others to see.
"Black plastic. Garbage bag, maybe?" It fluttered in the breeze, and he added, "The cheap stuff."
Suddenly, Sara shouted, "Grissom!"
He hurriedly handed the evidence to Nick and took off running through the woods, instinctively afraid that Sara was hurt or that maybe the killer had come back. Her voice sounded urgent, and a little upset. Please let it be nothing…
When he could see Sara, he slowed to a jog, thankful and a little discomfited that he had automatically assumed the worst. Sara stood beside a tree, unharmed, though with an odd look on her face.
Panting slightly, he asked, "What is it?"
Simply, she replied, "I found more."
"More what?" he asked her, confused.
Sara pointed at the forest floor near her feet. The dirt had been recently disturbed and was the same size as the grave they had found. A tiny bouquet of flowers sat on top.
He had barely grasped what he was seeing when she pointed to a spot beyond them. "Look over there."
Two more graves were at the far end of the clearing where they stood.
Grissom and Sara remained where they were for several seconds before Grissom reached for his cell phone. "Someone's been busy," he said grimly.
Author's Note: What did you think? I hope I did all right for my first shot at CSI. It is my second favorite TV show, after all, and I want to do it justice. I really appreciate reviews, so if you can, please review. Thanks!