Clown

Be warned: This story will be nightmarishly violent and quite possibly have you hiding in the corner of the room crying. I'm not gonna hold back with this. I want to push the boundaries of evil. This was partially inspired by a great fan fiction. I can't remember the name but it might have been called 'Mind games', but I read it a while back so I'm not sure. I like police stories, Bleach characters just seem to fit so well into police roles, probably because they're the police of the afterlife...anyway, read on, play some calming music and please review!

Now I have gone back and am starting to re-write the story, so please enjoy Clown - The extended edition!

Capture

The brisk night air was unforgiving. It bore no light, no warmth and no life. A light sprinkle of rain dampened the spirits of a trio of weary police officers. They huddled within their little car, trapped in the cold damp confines of the vehicular cage and bored out of their minds. The heater hummed quietly and in the pain-staking boredom the officers found themselves doing the same.

The red-head of the group, one Abarai Renji, rolled his eyes and played about with the frayed spikes in his pony-tail. "Ichigo, why'd you agree to do this stupid stake-out? We've been here for three hours and no-one has gone in or out of that club the whole time!" He raised his eyebrows, despite lacking any real interest whatsoever.

The receiver of Renji's whinging, Ichigo Kurosaki, let out an exasperated sigh. He had been receiving the same complaints all night and it was beginning to irritate him. Even though his companions had little interest in the task at hand, Ichigo kept his chocolate-coloured eyes focused on the scene before them, scanning the dimly lit entrance to the club. He found himself squinting through the driving rain which had crept up out of nowhere, pelting their car and making their job rather difficult.

"Well?" Renji whined, still expecting his answer.

Ichigo groaned to himself and rolled his eyes. "Look, I'm sorry but I am sick of doing the big cases. I don't ever want to try homicide again..." The young man's expression grew as dark as the inhospitable night, "Not after what happened..." The usual look of sombre contemplation, a trademark for those who knew him, had now worsened.

The third officer in their cramped little car, Rukia Kuchiki, leaned over the back seat and brushed his spiky orange hair with her slender fingers. She patted his shoulder comfortingly while trying to reassure him, "Come on Ichigo, cheer up. You were great! You took down that freak and saved many lives."

"Yeah," Ichigo scoffed, "I save lives by taking them! Why the hell are you acting impressed?" He sank back into his seat, melting into it. A lone gloved hand rose up to his collar and he unzipped his black leather jacket revealing a dark blue shirt beneath. He tugged at his collar irritably and wiped his forehead. "God, it's too hot in here!"

Rukia nodded and jabbed the red-head in the back of the head. "Renji, turn off the heater." He did as he was told, but in a matter of seconds they regretted the decision, the icy chills of the frozen night creeping up on them. "Damn it!" Rukia cursed, "Now it's too cold!"

The group shivered for a few minutes, hoping the chills would fade in time, but it seemed that nature was against them on this unforgiving night. Renji looked out the window and noticed the rain had stopped. "Hmm, the rain has stopped for now; maybe we can stretch our legs, huh?" Rather than wait for an answer the headstrong officer stepped out of the car.

The instant he opened the door a sweeping frozen gale swept inside the car, rendering it useless in escaping the cold. Rukia hopped out after him and the two were shivering before they could even blink. Ichigo however remained in the car, preferring the comfort of the little vehicle as opposed to braving the elements outside.

Renji and Rukia sat on the boot of the car, scanning the street with half-closed eyes. "So, Rukia..." Renji glanced down to his companion and frowned, "what are we gonna do with him?" There was no need to name names, they both knew the answer. Renji continued, while looking up to the stars, "He just keeps moping about his past. We all got over it. I mean sure, it was messed up. That guy was a complete sociopath! But life goes on..."

Rukia couldn't help but peer through the rear windscreen to the boy in question. She could only see the back of his head through the murky window but it was blissfully distracting, allowing her to ignore the rather obvious fact that her pants were getting soaked from sitting on the car. "I don't know." She looked away, feeling somewhat guilty from staring at him while they spoke behind his back. "Maybe...Maybe he should take leave or something, you know, like a paid holiday?"

Renji cocked his head, "Couldn't hurt. We should tell the super when we get back."

Rukia laughed at that. "That might be a while...There has been no movement at all. I don't see why we can't just bust in there and get the bastard we're looking for!" She wiped a stray black bang from out of her eyes and let it rest over her nose, dividing her face.

Renji smiled, amused by the young officer's enthusiasm. "It would be nice to get out of the cold, but we can't raid the building...He's just a lowly drug dealer." He wanted to laugh, but instead he found himself coughing, pushing his gloved fist over his mouth. Steam rose in thick trails from between his fingers, sifting through like sand.

"Oh come on!" Rukia moaned, "Heroin and ice are serious narcotics! Besides, he could have made a deal already and we've been wasting our time watching the door! What if he's sold everything already? No evidence, no conviction!" The irritated young officer sighed heavily, her shoulders sagging visibly as she did so. "Damn, I need a coffee!"

Renji closed his eyes, trapped by the allure of a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee. The perfect cure for a chilly night. He looked around and then focused on Rukia. "Well..." he muttered slyly, "How about we go to that cafe just over the road there? We can still see from there-" Renji froze in the middle of his sentence and slammed his fist on the roof of the car. "There he is!"

The trio snapped into action, finally ready after their agonising wait. They ran full tilt, practically doubled over, after the shady looking man. The suspect carried a shiny silver briefcase full of what could only be illicit drugs. He bolted at the sight of his pursuers and ducked down a narrow alley.

"Marco, stop!" Renji roared at the top of his lungs, battling over the howling wind. The suspect in question turned to face them, momentarily slowing, but in the instant he saw them again his bloodshot eyes widened and he ran off with renewed vigour. He cursed as he stumbled about like a drunkard, failing to move faster than a fully trained law enforcer.

Ichigo burst ahead of the pack and closed in on Marco in no time. A soon as he was close enough he lunged, tackling the dealer and pinning his arms behind his back. Marco hurled insults of varying offense but it meant nothing to him. He just stared blankly at nothing in particular while he waited for Rukia to catch up and restrain their suspect. When he was cuffed he was escorted back to the car by the three triumphant officers.

"You are under arrest for possession and dealing of illegal substances. You have the right to remain silent, anything you say or do can and will be held against you in court." Renji went through the routine, finishing off with a lovely punch to the dealer's jaw. Marco doubled over and they carried him the rest of the way.

The ride back to the station was totally silent. Brief, sporadic bursts of light from the street illuminated the inside of the car, but every few seconds they were veiled in darkness once again.

The car ride was silent. Lights from the street flashed past, briefly illuminating the inside of the car, before sending it into darkness again.


When the trio dragged Marco through the doors of the station a small cheer erupted from those still present. A lot of the officers would have already headed home, wrapped up comfortably in blankets before a fire while a rare few remained stuck in their chairs, struggling on through their work despite the icy chills that coursed through them. The celebrations seemed to warm up the place.

"You snagged the little rat!" A bald man cheered, a wide grin on his face. "Looks like someone had a little fun." he mused, studying the swollen black ring around the dealer's left eye.

Ichigo led the suspect over to a cell while Renji and Rukia trudged over to their desks, sinking into their seats as if the worn padding were fluid. Their desks were right next to each other, both adorned with a neat little label amidst the towers of papers and scattered pens and stationery.

Renji was on the verge of dozing off when he was startled awake by his own memory. "Oh right, the super!" He swivelled around in his chair and called out to the bald officer, "Hey Ikkaku, where's Ukitake?"

Baldy shrugged, "Right now he's probably sitting on his arse doing nothing."

"Ok thank, come on Rukia!" Renji took up Rukia's hand and dragged her up to her feet and together they strolled down an aisle of desks before finally stopping before a thick white door. The smell of fresh paint was still faint. They hesitated before knocking.

It was a short while before a weak voice escaped from within the office saying, "Come."

The door groaned and creaked as it was pushed open, as if it hated working late nights as much as the others did. Inside the decent sized office sat a lone man in his mid to late forties. His hair was as white as snow and draped over his shoulders and down his back with an odd grace that belied his age. He glanced up at them and smiled expectantly.

"Hello super, um...We came to talk about Ichigo."

Ukitake clasped his hands together, "Well, where is our little fiery friend?" He grinned and gestured for the two officers to have a seat. They did so gladly, happy to sit down after their hard sprint not long ago.

"Well, the thing is...I think the fire went out ever since...well...since he cracked that serial homicide case." Rukia frowned and looked down at the grey carpet at her feet. She found it hard to look her superior in the eye...Not when they were talking about such a dark chapter in their past.

The superintendent nodded gravely, "Yes, it was a shame. Ichigo was an amazing investigator. He caught on very quickly, stopped that monster from killing anymore. It was unfortunate that those innocent civilians were involved, but their sacrifice was not in vain." Ukitake groaned. "So what of him?"

"Well, we were wondering if you could give him a little paid vacation, just a short break so he can sort out his stress." Renji crossed his hands together as he waited for the answer.

The super contemplated this and eventually nodded. "Very well. I'll give him a week. But that means you're doing his paperwork. Those reports need to be handed in first thing Monday." Ukitake wrote a quick note and handed it to Renji. "Give that to him will you?"

"Sure thing." Renji didn't even read the message, merely placing it deep in his pockets. "Can we leave now, it's getting late." He almost flinched, expecting a refusal. He was pleasantly surprised.

The older man waved his hand at them and busied himself with a cardboard file, rifling through the sheets within and skimming over them. "Yeah, take the night off, you did well catching Marco."

The young officers bowed and left quickly. Renji placed the note on Ichigo's desk and then walked out with Rukia. The two officers gazed at each other.

For a moment they were both transfixed on one another, lost in each other's eyes, but then reality struck them and they found themselves looking around awkwardly, desperate to take their minds off of things. Renji scratched the back of his head while he mumbled, "So, you right to get home?" Rukia nodded. "Really? I thought your car was in for repair?"

"It is, but I can catch a taxi, anyway, we aren't a couple anymore. We burned that bridge a while back." Rukia slapped him on the arm and then ran out into the rain. Renji watched her get into a taxi and then he walked to his own car shaking his head and discarding the buried memories which were stirred by Rukia's presence.


In a darkened alley, far removed from the light of the moon or the eyes of others a lone prostitute shivered. Her skimpy leather outfit squeezed her figure to make her look thin but it did nothing at all to keep away the cold. She tried to take a drag on a cigarette, but it was too cold for the tip to even be lit for more than a second. She gave up when the law of 'third time lucky' failed her and in a fit of rage hurled it into the gutter.

"Hello there." A voice as sharp as a blade sliced through the whistling breeze, startling her. The woman spun on her heels to find a man clad in black standing before her. He was barely distinguishable from behind his blue hood, the only noticeable feature being striking blue hair.

She waved timidly, slightly put off by his surprise appearance. "Hi."

Might I borrow your services?" he asked, his voice crackling like fire. There was something about the way he spoke which sent tingles down the street worker's spine. Despite his unsettling voice she still led him by the arm to a black sedan. He gestured towards the door and spoke roughly, ordering her inside. She reluctantly got inside, taking the back seat. The windows were all tinted and every surface inside the car was black.

She let out a low whistle and chuckled to herself, "You sure like the colour black."

The man started up the engine and craned his neck over the seat to look at her, or at least appear to be looking at her, but with his hood down it was impossible to tell. "I love that colour," he rasped, "It is beautiful, only surpassed by red." He laughed, a dry, wheezing laugh that sounded ill.

The lady of the night nodded. "I like red too." she muttered, forcing small talk. She did not do so for long. It was only a minute or two before the car rolled to a stop. The odd man stepped out and approached her door, opening it for her.

"We're here."

"What a gentleman." The hooker giggled. Once again she took his arm and cheerfully allowed him to lead her through a narrow alley to a steel door. The man grunted, exuding quite a lot of effort as he drew the heavy portal aside. He gestured for her to proceed and she did so with a smile.

She stepped into an abyss. It was not just dark, there was absolutely no light at all, complete and utter darkness...Until the lights were switched on.

In an instant the room was bathed in fluorescent light and the woman screamed. The walls were white – had been white – but now were stained in huge, hideous crimson splotches. Carcasses hung from the walls, strung up like the cattle in the back store-room of a butcher shop. The intense reek of rotting flesh assaulted her and the woman backed away, her breath trapped in the back of her throat.

"W-what the fuck is this?" She tried to turn around but before she could do so a dull meat hook curled around her and dug into the soft flesh of her throat. She coughed violently as blood bubbled up through her mouth and dribbled down her chin in thick warm torrents. Her trachea convulsed as the hook was slowly twisted within her and wrenched upwards. The barbed tip exploded out of the base of her skull and for an agonising few seconds her eyelids fluttered spastically, a blurred vision of the hooded man sharpening a meat cleaver the last sight she would ever see.


Rukia awoke from yet another sleepless night. She had made the foolish decision of having a coffee right before going to bed. The caffeine worked a treat, she didn't even close her eyes for at least several hours and even then it was another few hours before she finally drifted off. Her brief slumber was fitful and restless, the long waking hours spent dwelling on Ichigo's misfortunes. In those few minutes of proper sleep she was plagued with nightmares.

Ichigo had been promoted from simple patrols to the homicide unit after successfully foiling a gang of armed robbers who had been raiding local convenience stores and businesses for several weeks before hand. The three of them had been promoted, both Renji and herself being acknowledged for their efforts, however it was Ichigo who was placed at the helm of their little team. The first few assignments had gone well. They had been simple little cases. Husbands murdering wives and the like. They slowly made their way up the ladder and in a year and a half they had become the best in their field. All homicide cases had been handed down to them...And that's where it started. Due to their talent they were dragged into a most unusual case...A case unlike any other...

A serial killer, known only as clown by the media and by the authorities, had gone on a rampage throughout the town for over a month. He picked off residents, tortured them, mutilated, made them suffer the most unimaginable terrors. He was a psychopath. After some digging and numerous investigations by almost all of the force, even those not in homicide, it was revealed that their suspect was an ex-mental patient who had released and declared sane. He had been a biologist but after a string of abominable experiments (Experiments which the government had condemned) he was fired. Animal rights protest groups and even citizen's action groups were all against him and so he was removed from the laboratory and forced to step down.

The twisted bastard, no longer able to dissect animals, moved onto human test subjects...But he enjoyed it too much. Clown gave up on his research and instead resorted to killing for fun and much to the disgust of the entire nation...Food. The maniac terrorised the town passing undetected for weeks. He barely left any clues, but Ichigo managed to track him and cornered the monster in a warehouse on the other side of town. It seemed the end of the darkened saga would finally arrive.

It seemed easy, burst into the warehouse and take down the suspect...But they had been wrong. Ichigo's mother had appeared on the scene. Supposedly she was tricked by the Clown into coming, mislead by a number of false rumours of her son committing unlawful acts. He blackmailed her into meeting him there under the threat of releasing non-existent incriminating evidence to the authorities. He told her if she met him he would destroy the documents.

It seemed Masaki Kurosaki's motherly intuition was off that day. She rushed to meet Clown and protect her son but in doing so she became nothing more than his final victim. Her corpse was strung up from the ceiling by her own intestines. Poor Ichigo found her dangling over the very man who had killed her. Devastated and afraid, Ichigo lost control over himself and emptied an entire clip into the creep who had slain his beloved mother. It took several officers to remove him and in the end the sadistic criminal was unable to be identified. He had more holes in him than Swiss cheese.

Everyone in the force had experienced nightmares for months but none more so that poor Ichigo. By some indescribable miracle he did not quit the force, though many others agreed that in his shoes they would have turned their back on the police force and never returned. But Ichigo held firm. He stuck to his beliefs of protecting the people and remained with the police. All he asked was to be demoted. His request went through and out of pity he was removed from the homicide squad. The trio returned to the small fry. It was boring and it was irritating, but it spared them from any more of the horrible events that had occurred back then...

Rukia had found it impossible to remove those awful few months from her mind and without being able to sleep for even a few minutes she decided to get up. The bathroom was still damp from her shower late last night. The house tended to get damp in the colder times of the year but it did not bother her much. She stumbled over to the sink and washed her face. It wasn't really necessary but it helped her erase the awful memories of the past, at least for a while.

She found the TV remote on her nightstand and she switched it on, a daily ritual for her. The morning news would provide background noise for her while she slipped into her uniform every day. Rukia slipped into her clean navy blue shirt and black pants. As she fussed around with her belt she overheard the news report on TV.

#It is reported that yet another street worker has gone missing in the Karakura area. This brings the total up to nine, the first of which only occurred early last week. Authorities are claiming that due to the number of cases, it is likely to be the work of a criminal however there are no leads as of yet. The authorities told us they were still investigating and are optimistic that they will find the person or persons responsible.#

Rukia switched off the television and groaned. It was still quite early; in fact she didn't have to head to work for a while now. Since she couldn't get Ichigo out of her mind she decided to go see him before work.

It was a short distance to the Kurosaki household and so Rukia walked there. The house still looked the same as it did years ago. Time had barely managed to affect the house, yet others in the street had begun to wear away, needing renovations and the like. Rukia knocked lightly on the door and sat back on her heels, expecting to wait for her friend to answer. She was surprised when Ichigo wrenched the door open so soon. His expression wasn't quite happy; in fact he looked quite pissed. He was tired, rings of black encircling his half-closed eyes.

"Hi Rukia..." he muttered sarcastically, "I never remembered asking for a wake-up call?"

"Oh knock it off! I just wanted to see how you're doing?"

Ichigo rolled his eyes. "Well, I got a week's leave. I'm not coming in today."

Rukia played along as if she had only just heard the news. She forced herself to look shocked and gasped in amazement. "What? A week's leave?" Ichigo nodded. "Well, you've got some time to clear your head I guess." She patted him on the shoulder and smiled but it seemed to do little to cheer him up.

He looked down at his feet and frowned, "Yeah. This time off will be good for everyone." He slowly looked up and for a while there seemed to be a brighter air about him than usual. He chuckled to himself and grinned, "When I get back I'll be a cheery bloke again!"

The two shared a laugh and Rukia took a step back and turned to leave. "Well you enjoy yourself. We'll clear up your desk work for you." She cursed in the back of her mind. She hated doing reports, but still she kept her smile and hid her irritance from him. "See ya!" she waved and walked off leaving Ichigo on the doorstep, watching her curiously until she was beyond his sight. Then he went back inside and back to sleep.

Meanwhile, Rukia was stuck walking eight blocks to the station. The sun was far more forgiving than the moon at night and rather than intense chills delightful warmth spilled over her from above. Bright light splayed out in all directions and a cheerful chorus of children could be heard as they made their way to school.

With nothing better to do Rukia ran through a few things in her mind...most notably the disappearances of the street workers. There was no doubt that this was a murder case so it wasn't her job to solve the mystery, but if there was a homicidal creep stalking, abducting and killing women off the street then she was in danger. Walking around at night would be quite risky and with her car out of service for three weeks Rukia had no other choice but to walk the mean streets to and from work.

Her train of thought was derailed by the deafeningly loud horn blaring in her ear. She jumped on the spot, startled and spun around to glare at the blue sedan rolling up beside her. The window rolled down and Renji smirked, stifling laughter. "Need a lift?" He asked.

She shrugged, "Might as well." Besides, people were staring at them now. The walk would be nothing more than a parade down embarrassment lane. She sank into the back seat and watched as the world flew by.

"So," she asked timidly, "You hear about another hooker biting the bullet?"

"Huh? I thought they disappeared?" Renji inquired, not turning to look back at her.

"Come on Renji. You'd have to be pretty stupid to think all those 'coincidental' disappearances of prostitutes in the exact same area were all just accidental missing persons. Someone must be killing them and-" The car came to an abrupt stop and Rukia was flung forward in her seat.

Renji shot her a glare that could cut through steel and instantly Rukia fell silent. "They. Went. Missing!" He snarled, emphasising each word while staring daggers at her. Rukia grasped her heart which was beating erratically. It was almost painful. Renji noticed her discomfort and sighed, "Sorry...but there are no more serial killers in Karakura, got it?"

Rukia tried to sink into her seat, to hide. "Yeah...100%"

The two stared at each other in dreadful silence until Renji cursed and returned to his driving. Neither said a word for the rest of the trip.

"There are no more serial killers in Karakura, got it?"


A young schoolboy ventured down the alley in search for a toilet. It was daylight and yet this alley was as dark as night itself. The shadows were absorbed into the narrow space and melded into the darkness. The boy stopped outside a large steel door and he gazed inquisitively upon its scratched surface, mentally debating whether or not to bother knocking. He did so anyway but rather than wait for someone to answer he pushed his entire body-weight into pulling the door open. It used up much of his strength just to get it open and when he did he stumbled inside.

When he did pass beyond into the room, he no longer needed the bathroom.

Slaughterhouse. It was the only word that came to mind. Horrific, monstrous and utterly disgusting. Corpses hung from the walls like cattle, neatly lined up on meat hooks. Parasites festered in the areas where large chunks had been roughly taken away from the rotting flesh which had turned a stale blue colour. The boy wished to scream but his body was compelled to move closer to the onslaught. The scream was caught in his throat alongside a torrent of bile which refused to come out. As he neared one of the bodies, barely a foot or so away he squinted at the head. To big wide eyes stared vacantly at him, the whites turned into a dull grey, blue veins snaking out across them like the vines on a dead tree. The sight would surely remain with him for the rest of his life.

The corpse's lips were curled back into an eternal scream, revealing cracked, blackened gums and yellow teeth. Maggots feasted upon her tongue and inside her mouth, eating their way out through her cheek. However it appeared more like the dead woman was eating them instead. The boy whimpered pitifully and placed a hand on the leathery flesh of her shoulder, just above a nasty incision which revealed glistening white bone beneath her decaying flesh. It was cold, so very cold. Ice would have felt like fire compared to the woman's dad skin. The boy had had more than enough of the horrors of the slaughterhouse and made to leave, but a hooded man blocked his way.

"It's beautiful isn't it?" The man's voice was raspy, like someone who had smoked far too many cigarettes. "Her face...It shows so much emotion, such passion. It is almost...Arousing."

The boy fled, running further into the slaughterhouse, pursued by the man who moved as if he were hunting a deer, with expert grace and silence.

The boy stopped in a room styled much like a kitchen, only it smelled strongly of death. The table was set like any other, a lone bowl sitting there. The boy had to stand on his toes to peer over the lip of the bowl and he very much regretted doing so. He screamed so loud that even the deaf would hear his cries of terror. Inside...Inside were scraps of tattered flesh. Red meat from the biggest game of all, humans. The chunks of stale meat still bled, still oozed the thick fluid of death. An obscene sprinkling of salt and herbs adorned them, but worst of all was the shrivelled red lump in the centre. Tiny tentacles reached out towards the boy and it took a moment to comprehend the vile truth. It was a human heart!

"Don't be frightened lad. The meat of the chosen tastes better than anything from a butcher." The man released a sickening laugh, one of maniacal depravity. "Women, now they have a delightful flavour, but...If veal is anything to go by...then the young are even better!" His wicked laughter returned, louder now, rising in pitch as he produced a large carving knife. The dried splatter of past meals had dried up and stained the blade and removing the shiny veneer it would have once had. "Time for the taste test...Give me your arm." His voice dripped with malice, his eyes glowing with twisted excitement.

The boy tried to run, tried to escape, to get as far away from the man as possible...Unfortunately he was knocked down by the sharp and hard-hitting thud of something cold and metallic. It buried itself deep into his back, severing nerves, carving through internal organs and muscle tissue. The boy made no sound as he collapsed to the floor, never to rise again.


It had taken Rukia and Renji four hours to dust off just one pile of reports and unsigned statements. Now there were just another five to go. Paperwork was the least favourable part of the job. Cop movies glorify the gunfights and car chases and the big raids, but they overlook the endless papers that have to be signed, the warrants and the statements and the reports and just about every detail of the event having to be documented. Any excitement of the actual job is often depleted as soon as you return to the office.

Unfortunately, the trio had left quite a lot of work to pile up on their desks and now with a deadline to meet and one third of their team missing, the meticulous mayhem was finally starting to affect them.

Renji massaged his cramped hand and groaned. "This is inhumane! We've only got two more days to finish all this! It took one day just to do a sixth!"

"Well Renji, maybe if you shut up and work, rather than complain, it'll get done faster!" Rukia leaned over and closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose. The work was one thing, but she still felt unnerved with Renji's reaction to the recent news. It had taken its toll on her and she could barely concentrate. Her low level of focus was shattered the moment the door behind them burst open, almost falling off its hinges.

Three senior officers stepped out and all eyes fell upon them. Superintendent Jushiro Ukitake stood at the head of the group. The man to his left was Shunsui Kyouraku, a man of similar age to his superior, though less ravaged by the hands of time. His hair was still coloured like gravel and he still moved with the energy of a young man. Kyouraku whistled to get the attention of anyone who wasn't already staring at them. The man to the right stood silently, staring coldly at those who looked up to him.

Ukitake stepped forward and shouted, "Everyone, I have bad news." He had to pause for breath before going on. "We've all heard about the missing night workers, yes?" Most officers nodded. "Well, they are no longer missing. We received an anonymous tip that the bodies are all in an abattoir downtown. I want all units to head there immediately. Seal off the area around it and then await further instructions. Am I clear?"

A collective roar came from the lower ranks, "Yes sir!" The majority of the group rushed out but Rukia and Renji stayed behind. They met each other's gazes and frowned.

"What did I tell you?" Rukia asked.

"Shut up!" Renji huffed, "Anonymous tips are usually wrong!" He rose sluggishly and trudged over to his car. Once again Rukia hopped into the back seat. She was never prone to taking the passenger's side. She didn't know why, it was merely a compulsion of hers. But that was the least of her concerns. Renji adjusted one of his side mirrors and pulled out of the car-park. "Well, it must have wound up the super; even your brother is going in!"

Rukia nodded, "Yeah. Nii-sama only gets sent on the serious homicides...I hope I'm wrong though."

Renji tried to laugh, but the sound that escaped him sounded more like a dry cough. "You're not the only one."

They drove slowly, carefully avoiding the other officers who raced ahead recklessly. They tried to force small talk but the conversation always returned to their job and so after several failed attempt they gave up on talking altogether.

When everyone had arrived at the scene the entire force was arranged around the abattoir. There was a side door into the area, but the front entrance was the focus point. After a moment of tense hesitation, the order was finally given...They went in.

What they discovered would haunt every man to their grave.