'I'm going in, over.'
'Roger, Captain. Over.'
Lincoln Rhyme, captain of NYPD's Forensic's Department, donned his hard hat and strode into the abandoned subway station. A murder of another fellow NYPD officer had been carried out there, and he was determined to run the scene himself, so there would be not a bit of evidence missed out to nail that perp and stop him from killing more officers.
Polling had already instructed him to run the scene, and he, as usual, was about to do it to the best of his ability, despite the scene being declared unsafe. He didn't care. All he wanted to do was find some good evidence to put that damn perp behind bars.
All right, in we go, he thought to himself. He crawled underground into the tunnel, and with the torch mounted to his cap, searched thoroughly for any bit of trace evidence he could find. He looked up, down, left, right, everywhere.
Remember, a crime scene is three-dimensional, he reminded himself, the way he reminded fresh new recruits.
He finally reached the main crime scene: where the body was. He felt a bit undeasy. Something didn't feel right, as thought a little thing was out of place, that elusive slippery feeling that he couldn't pin down.
Damn it, I'm being watched. was his first reaction, but as he shone his torch down the long tunnel, he could see no one, and besides, there were officers guarding the entrance, so he was safe from any 'unauthorised personnel'. Rhyme forced himself to concentrate, but it was getting harder and harder by the second. The feeling was growing stronger, and the sudden thump from above him didn't help.
But then, Rhyme spotted the golden fibre on the body. It seemed to reflect all the light off his torch. He got excited, hurriedly getting his forceps ready to lift the fibre off the partially-decomposed body. The whole place stank, but he didn't care. All he felt was the excitement of getting closer to catching someone who was wreaking havoc in others' lives. The same excitement that powered him to go faster and further, and the very same thing that let him ignore the stench and the feeling that was being watched. That feeling seemed to dissipate into nothing as he lifted the fibre.
However, there was an added dimension to the scene as Rhyme leaned closer to examine the fibre. He heard a crashing sound from above him, and as he looked up into a huge oak beam that was crushing down on him, he became unconscious.
Lincoln Rhyme thought that he was floating.
But then again, he thought he was sinking. Something was pulling him down with such great gravity he just could not resist it.
He shook his head to clear the feeling, eyes still closed. He could vaguely remember what had happened: he was searching a scene and some big beam had fallen on him.
In fact, Rhyme was surprised he was alive at all.
The pain in his legs and arms was throbbing. What the hell is that! he thought urgently. But he didn't want to open his eyes; he was afraid of what he would see. 'Water,' he mumbled.
He could hear and sense some movement beside him, but two seconds later, when he didn't feel any water, he repeated, 'water!' more loudly.
'Yes, I got that, for Christ's sake. You're in this state and still so impatient.'
Rhyme's eyes flew open. This state? What state? He turned his head, to find psychologist Terry Dobyns standing at a strange bedside table, holding a paper cup of water.
'What state?' Despite his grouchy tone, he was quite relieved, happy in fact, that someone he recognised was beside him, and was the first person he saw when he woke up. 'Can I just have that water first?'
'Slowly.' Dobyns placed the cup at Rhyme's mouth and tilted it gently.
Rhyme downed half the cup, definitely less than what he'd have done if it were eighteen-year-old single-malt scotch. He looked around, taking in his surroundings like Helen Keller in the garden house with Annie.
'Where the hell am I?'
Dobyns' face turned serious, and his eyes, Rhyme noticed, had lost their usual sparkle. He intuitively knew something was wrong, something really big was wrong. He tried to grab Dobyns' hand, but realised that no matter how much he tried to move it, it wasn't moving at all.
His eyes suddenly lost all bleariness and he found he was hooked to a ventilator, and he was in a – goddamn it, hospital room?
'What the heck happened to me? Tell me!' he demanded.
Dobyns sat down slowly and grasped Rhyme's hand, a gesture he did not feel. A fear started rising in him, threatening to choke him. He desperately tried to swallow that emotion as he forced himself to be composed enough to hear what Dobyns had to say.
'You were trapped under a huge oak beam in that subway tunnel crime scene, Lincoln. Guys on top heard a loud crash, and when they called you repeatedly but didn't get an answer, they sounded the alarm.'
There was a pregnant pause as Rhyme digested the information, and he waited expectantly for more.
Dobyns was shaking his head. Damn it, I knew there was something worse to come. 'There were – difficulties getting you out, Lincoln.' He ran a hand through his gray-black hair. 'It took four hours to get you out.'
Rhyme felt a stab in his heart when he heard that. He knew there were dire consequences to that statement.
'The M.D. said that if they'd gotten you out earlier, you'd have been in a slightly better, less complicated situation.'
'What's the bloody statement?' Rhyme tried to mumble through the ventilator.
Dobyns kept Rhyme's gaze. 'You're a quad.'
'I'm a - what?'
'You're paralysed from neck down. You're a quadriplegic, Lincoln.'