Olivia stood up, her throat working convulsively as it tried to clear her mouth of the thick saliva coating it. She wasn't going to be sick. That hadn't happened in years, but this was the closest she had come to it in longer than she could remember. Standing there in the swank uptown apartment with its pristine walls now striped red, its thick white shag carpet stiffening into rust colored spikes as the heavy copper smell permeated every square inch of the place, she almost wished she would.
At least then she'd be able to get the taste out of her mouth.
She looked down at Elliot who was still crouched over the vic, one hand on his knee, the other covering his chin as his eyes stared hard. She could see the muscles jumping in his jaw as his teeth ground together and she watched the red flush of anger that crept up his cheeks to stain the tips of his ears.
It had been brutal.
Brutal on a level that made even her skin crawl.
Samantha Wainscot had been a beautiful woman. At least the pictures on top of the mantle showed her that way. What the officer who had responded to the excessive noise complaint had found… was hardly recognizable.
The woman had been gutted. Her abdomen had been laid open from the base of her neck to the juncture between her legs. Her thighs were a series of crisscrossing cut patterns, most of them deep enough to show the white of bone from between layers of flesh made pale by lack of blood. Her arms were in the same condition, with the added bonus of her fingertips having been sheered off down to the bone.
But the worst thing by far… was her face.
Or what was left of it.
Someone had used a very sharp knife to strip the skin and flesh away, leaving only a toothless skull and unseeing eyes staring up at a blood soaked ceiling.
"Jesus…" Olivia took a deep breath and angled her head upwards, using gravity to fight off the stinging in the back of her eyes. "How do we even know for sure it's Samantha?"
Elliot rose slowly, his big hands shaking slightly as he pulled on a set of latex gloves. "I think that's the point." He looked around the room with a trained eye. The victim was nude, laying face up in the middle of the living room floor. From the amount of blood present it was obvious the majority of the damage had been done right here. But there were no clothes or other personal items anywhere near the corpse.
"I'll take the bedroom." Olivia pulled on a pair of gloves herself, moving off when her partner did not reply.
She walked carefully down the marble tiled hallway, staying close to the wall as she studied the floor, looking for footprints, blood drops, anything.
With a growl of frustration, she used the tip of her finger to push open one of the bedroom doors, her eyes going wide at the scene that welcomed her.
Stabler looked up at the sound of his partner's voice. He moved down the hallway quickly, knowing if there were any evidence for him to disturb Liv would have already marked it. "What?"
He stepped into the bedroom to find Olivia staring at a large wooden table situated against the far wall. Each corner of the table was taken up by a series of gears and a spindle that had a length of rope wound about it. All four of the ropes ended in a thick leather cuff that was stained dark by sweat and god only knew what else.
Next to the rack, there was a leather sling chair suspended from the ceiling. He moved past it with a look of revulsion on his face as he realized there were several strategically placed holes in the bottom.
"That's not all of it." He turned to see Olivia standing next to what looked like one of those gymnastic horses that little rubber people trained on, and an ornately carved cabinet that reached from the floor to the ceiling. "Take a look at this."
As he stepped closer, Elliot realized that the fabric of the training horse was covered in hundreds of miniscule red dots. "What the fuck?"
Olivia swallowed. Reaching out, she placed one gloved finger carefully against the edge of the fabric and pushed. Above her finger, a small half circle of tiny pin heads popped out of their hiding places, shining wickedly in the bright overhead light. Pulling her hand away, she opened the cabinet and stepped back to show him the rows of assorted whips, paddles, flogs, and other, more ominous-looking instruments it contained.
"Jesus! What the hell did we walk into here?" He felt like being sick.
The two partners looked up to see a rather green looking rookie staring at them from the doorway. "The M.E.'s here."