Yes, I'm still here! Things have been extremely busy, but I am still making an effort to get these done. If anyone is still reading, I'd really appreciate hearing from you! :)
Chapter 16: Grim Discoveries
The club was well off the strip, and past the residential neighborhoods in Blue Diamond. Brass had taken the lead, both Warrick and Nick following close behind. They were not the only ones either. Brass had taken the time to put a call out for more guns, in help clearing the scene. If he was right about this, Bras didn't want to take any chances of someone getting hurt. Or disappearing like Greg had all those months ago.
He took a right at the next intersection, pushing the speed limit ever so slightly. While he could turn the works on, lights and sirens, and get there quicker, he restrained from doing so. Brass wanted to catch this bastard unaware, wanted to give him the least amount of warning as possible.
He took a breath, trying to stay calm. This might be nothing, something he had reminded himself of countless times. So many times they had gotten their hopes up for nothing. Yet there was something in the pit of his stomach that told him that this time it was different. Brass found himself gripping the steering wheel tighter as he slowed, pulling off to the side of the road. He cut the engine, climbing out as the others pulled in behind.
Nick and Warrick weren't long in joining him, the unasked question in their eyes. Brass held up his hands, explaining briefly.
"We're gonna move in from here. My boys and I will go in first, I don't want you two near there until I give the all clear, is that understood?"
He watched to see their reaction, once again stressing his point. "If our guy is in there, then I don't want him getting away. And we can't do our job if you're poking your noses in there."
He wanted to add on the fact that he didn't even have to tell him about the lead. Could have called them up after all was said and done, but Brass had felt as though they deserved to come this far. Yet he was serious about what he said. He didn't want them near the location.
"Fine," Nick was the first to agree, and Warrick followed with a nod. He vocalized the agreement when Brass didn't move at first.
"I'll give you a call; just sit tight," Brass was already climbing back into the car. He gave one last look back at the two CSI, grateful to see that they had not made a move to follow. They were smart, but Brass also knew they were stubborn. He hoped that at least this time, they would listen. Starting the car he pulled back out onto the road, taking the lead.
His men already knew what was to happen, and they drove the rest of the way in darkness, slowly edging up to the lot. Brass upholstered his weapon, taking the lead and motioning to his men where to go. They hardly needed any direction; it wasn't their first time doing this.
The door itself was draped in heavy locks, a large 'condemned' sign hanging on the front that had a thick layer of dirt clustered on top. It was slightly disturbing, suggesting that it hadn't been touched for years. But Brass knew that the front doors were not the only way into a building.
The locks were quickly cut, and on a silent count they moved in. Flashlights swarmed over the area as they moved, guns ready to fire if need to be. A few seconds and the front area was cleared, and they were moving down a hallway.
The second room proved more of a challenge; a larger, open area. A stage, and tables that had been overturned. Yet it was like the first; empty and desolate. No signs to even indicate that anyone had been there in recent times. Several minutes later, and Brass finally lowered his weapon with a sigh. They had come this far…for nothing. Pulling out his phone he hit the speed-dial, waiting for Nick to pick up.
"Yeah, building's clear. Very clear," he added on before Nick could get ahead of himself. "No one's been here. False alarm."
He could hear the disappointment in Nick's voice, could feel it himself. Why had he allowed his hopes to get so high?
He turned, catching the man's eye. The officer stood near one wall, had lifted part of a molded curtain to one side. Underneath it was a door they had not seen before. Brass' eyes narrowed, told Nick to hold on, and hung up the phone. His weapon was out in his hands once again, moving towards the door.
It was opened easily, the room cleared quickly. Like the others, it had been empty. But unlike the others, this one held much, much more promise. Brass holstered his weapon, calling Nick back quickly.
"Yeah, I've found something you might like to see."
Feb 4 2008
By now it was almost routine; the call would come in, the body of another dancer found. One almost didn't even have to ask if more evidence was found. Another bottle cap, another thumbprint, another set of strange engravings carved into the cheap metal. All in all, they totaled up to four bodies, a fifth if one was to include Amy Darrison, who had been killed the same day of Greg's disappearance. And yet, they were no closer to finding the killer than they were to finding Greg.
Everywhere they went, nothing could be found. Everyone they talked to had the same response. That the victim was a wonderful person, that they didn't have any enemies. Three of the four victims had been dancers in their younger days; only one, their third victim, Cara Hendrickson, had still dabbled in the business as of late. That was the closest connection they were going to find as well.
They lived in different parts of the city, worked in different trades, and had different circles of friends and contacts. There wasn't any way to connect the victims save for the evidence and the manner of death. And even that was hardly of any help.
Sara rubbed her head, pushing her hair out of her eyes. She had been here since the start of her shift pouring through the files in vain hope of finding something, of finding anything that could be of help. In another two hours, it would be time to go home. Unless she would have to pull a double. By the sounds of it, that might really be the case.
It was something she would look forward to however. A change of pace, something to distract her. Greg's disappearance had consumed her, and for the most part had been her only focus. But as the weeks wore away into months, she could feel herself losing hope.
The end of this month would mark half a year since everything had first started. How long could she keep hoping, keep trying to pretend? What if the months turned into years? Then what was after that? With a sigh she dropped the file, rubbing her eyes. She didn't know the answer to that question, and she wasn't sure she wanted to.
"None," Sara grumbled, looking at the other women. They didn't see eye to eye on most things, her and Catherine, but Sara was glad for her sudden company. "You?"
"I didn't have much time," the other admitted. "I was pulled away on another case."
That was the norm now; Ecklie didn't agree with pouring all their resources into the same case, no matter how fresh evidence was. After all, they had just found the most recent body no more than 12 hours ago and already they were being forced to move on. That's part of the reason she had shuffled away to an empty room, with hope that Ecklie wouldn't have given her much notice.
"I did find one thing though, apparently our vic filed a sexual harassment charge back when she was a dancer."
"Surprise," Sara shook her head. It wasn't really, given the line of work they performed in, more often than not the women would find themselves in uncomfortable situations. A claim of harassment was not out of the ordinary.
"Not so much that she filed one," Catherine agreed, replying to her sarcastic tone, "But rather that she dropped the suit shortly after filing it."
"Did she feel she was going to lose?"
"Perhaps, or maybe she was given a better offer."
Greg's parents hadn't stayed for long; a surprise as it was apparent that they had wanted to do so. But it was easy to see that Greg was exhausted, nodding off almost on the couch where he was as they talked after dinner. Sara had almost been certain for a time that it would be Greg and not her sleeping on the couch tonight.
It was Aaron who had suggested heading out early, with a promise of another visit in the next week. Lena seemed more reluctant to leave than her husband, but hadn't argued. Simply pulled her son into an embrace, and gave him a kiss on the forehead before getting up and gathering her things. No sooner than they had left, that Greg had gone off to bed without much suggestion.
Sara resisted the urge to check up on him. No doubt he was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, and she knew better than anyone that he needed the rest, desperately. Part of her hoped that he was tired enough that he would sleep through any nightmares, but she also knew that was foolish thinking. And after learning she had slept through some of them, Sara begin to question if Greg was actually getting more rest like she originally thought, or if he was just getting better at hiding the fact he was having them still.
Sara tried not to dwell on it. Instead, she kept herself busy. There were still dishes to do in the kitchen, though Lena had been insistent on helping to clean most of them earlier. Sara did have a dishwasher, but she surmised she had used it a total of maybe a dozen times since she had first come to Vegas. What little dishes she did use were washed by hand; the rest was normally take-out, stuff that was tossed or if she could help it, recycled.
Now it was full, or as full as it would ever have gotten. The steam caused her to wince as she opened the door, the load freshly done as she pulled out the top rack. It took maybe a matter of ten minutes, fifteen tops for her to put everything away. The rest of the dishes she did by hand, leaving them in the rack to dry. Another ten minutes there. All in all, it had been less than half an hour, and Sara found herself back on the couch, determined to get some sleep while she still could.
Ten minutes later she was back up. Greg wasn't as vocal this time as he had been in the nights past. Which meant the dreams were not as bad, or that he was getting used to them. Sara did what she always had done, taking a seat on the edge of the bed, and waiting for him to calm down. Greg knew that she was there, even though his back was towards her, and so she waited, giving him time to work things out on his own. Then she started reading.
She had taken to reading after running out of things to say. It was hard enough to talk about something when you were the only one speaking. It was even worse that she spent nearly all her time with Greg as well. There wasn't much of anything new to say; but Greg had already confessed just hearing her talk was calming. So she had done the next best thing; she had started reading to him during these episodes.
While she was an avid reader in her free times, most of the books she owned were focused around criminology, documentaries and biographies. Sara had been hesitant, though assuming that Greg, or at least the Greg she had once known might had found it fascinating, she had come to determine that reciting passages involving gruesome murders, and tales of kidnappings were probably not the best material for Greg's state of mind, and certainly not the best of bedtime stories given everything that had happened.
She had finally decided on 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' after finding it on one of her shelves. Now she remembered that Greg had actually given it to her a few years back during Christmas, insisting that she would enjoy it. Until now, Sara had never read it through. It wasn't meant as a slight; in all honesty she no longer had as much free time as she did before coming to Vegas. Plus, despite Greg's enthusiasm then, Sara hadn't shared in it so much.
Science Fiction had never been a favorite genre of hers. However, a quarter of the way in, she had to admit that she was starting to enjoy the story. Enough that she was tempted to read ahead, but Sara always forced herself to stop whenever she suspected Greg had fallen back asleep. Most of the time he just listened, but he would correct on her names if she fumbled, or inform her that the coming scene was his 'favorite part'. He had a lot of those, it seemed.
Sara read the last few lines, marking the page before closing the book and setting it aside. Greg was sound asleep for now, and she knew that she should try and sleep while she could. She was used to little sleep, working the strange hours that she did, but never this little. Sara could feel easily how tired she was, and almost suspected she was starting to get sick. That was the last thing either of them needed.
But the thought of getting up and making her way back to the couch seemed like a waste of effort. She knew she would be back in here soon enough, or worse, she would sleep right through another one of his nightmares.
Sara rubbed her eyes briefly, stretching out on the bed so she was lying on her side, facing towards Greg. She would only stay for a little while, watch and see if he would be okay. She had done this enough times now that intuition told her that he would wake back up sooner, rather than later.
"Home sweet home," Warrick whistled as they came to a stop on top of the stairs. From here they could see most of the room before them. It was small, much smaller than the other areas of the club, which suggested it might have once been used as a storage space.
"Pulled my guys back as soon as we cleared it," Brass said, coming up behind them. "Tried to keep contamination as minimum as possible. We'll hang around in case our guy decides to return."
"Thanks," Warrick thanked the detective, turning to glance at Nick. He had been quiet since they had come in here, silently taking in the scene before him. Warrick had a good idea as to why…concerning the nature of things.
"You going to be alright?"
"Yeah," Nick answered with a nod, almost a little too quickly. Warrick watched him a moment longer, before taking the lead down the stairs, knowing the man would follow when worked up the nerve to do so.
Nick would be the first to argue, but Warrick suspected he was claustrophobic. Thanks mostly to the time he been buried alive in a glass coffin. Nick had a fairly good recovery, and it was only instances like this that you saw that part of past surface.
The room here was small, mostly underground, or at least might as well been. Dimly lit with two small overhead lights, and no windows surely left one to think they were underground. Warrick reached the bottom of the stairs, flashlight sweeping around, surveying the scene. They would need to photograph the area before they dived into anything, but Warrick always found it helpful to study the area without glancing at through a camera lens.
"You think this is it?"
Nick had come up alongside him, having made his way to the bottom of the stairs. Warrick could only shrug, setting his case on the ground.
"Hard to say. For all we know, some homeless person found a way in and set up house. Whatever the case, it's still trespassing, and that's what we'll start off with."
He began photographing in the first corner, just off to the side of the stairs. There wasn't anything in particular about it, for it was little more than standard ice cooler. An ugly blue, rimmed with a white lid. And while there was dirt adorning the sides, it was smeared and plastered in, suggesting it had been being used for a while. Furthermore, there was no dust, indicating recent use.
Warrick took a few more photos, moving next to the desk that sat right next to it. There were a number a drawers that would have to be gone through, but nothing visible from an outwardly glance.
He glanced over to where Nick stood, and found the man staring at something on the ground underneath the stairs. Moving to his feet, he ventured over there, coming to a stop as he saw what had brought the Texan to call his name.
The mattress was worn and old, and from where the stood the nauseating aroma was already assaulting their noses. There was no confusing what the dark brown and offset red stains were, and the thought was gut wrenching. Shakily Warrick brought the camera up, taking the much needed photos.
"Do you think…" Nick wasn't able to finish, but Warrick knew what the man was trying to say.
"We don't have proof that he was here." They so needed for it to be, but seeing things as they were here, he was beginning to hope that his first suggestion of a homeless person was the more accurate solution.
"Not yet," Nick agreed, but Warrick could see the man was pointing to something else now.
It wasn't just the mattress that hid underneath the stairwell. A series of pipes ran along the wall, crossing over and running the length of the wall before disappearing once again. No doubt it was once a water main, yet it wasn't that what had caught their eye. It was handcuffs; two to be exact, that hung from the pipes.
One set was hooked around the pipe, the other end closing about the chain of the other, positioned just so that it was near one end of the mattress. The speculation of it being a homeless retreat was fading, and even the kinkiest of sex operations seemed far from this. No doubt this was it, that this was what they had been searching for, for so long. But they would need confirmation, more than photographic evidence. They would need DNA.