SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13th, 03.00 AM
The cries echoed throughout the night from the empty warehouse building. She had finally finished her latest quest of taking on a marine. She had dreamt about this for months, because it was said that if anyone could fight back – it would be a marine. However he hadn't put up as strong a fight as she had hoped for… still it was too easy. But… there was a bonus connected to killing sergeant Joe Phillips. And she couldn't wait to experience it unfold – IF they were good enough to catch her. And if they were… Well, she hadn't planned that quite yet.
Whistling cheerfully Cassandra grabbed the car keys and walked outside, leaving the mess behind. She felt almost high – as she always did when she had finished off a target of hers. The Toyota immediately sent out a short pulse of orange light as she unlocked it from a distance. Glancing back at the abandoned warehouse she smiled and drove off into the night.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18th, 09.00 AM
"What on earth happened here", Ziva burst out as she pushed some of the sheets which were hanging from the ceiling aside. Gibbs just sent her a stare as he was bossing DiNozzo and especially McGee around, taking all of the photos they could in all possible angles.
"What does it look like, agent David?", Gibbs then said and she looked at the messy gore in front of her. She had never seen anything quite like this before. A naked man was tied to some heavy chains hanging from the ceiling, which seemed to be linked to some sort of mechanical lever system. Which meant, that the chains could go both up and down and to the sides by sliding on some rails in the ceiling. There were blood drops below the dangling man, but no real spatters… he was severely beaten up, but most likely the cause of death seen from Ziva's point of view would probably be… Ziva looked around… and sighed. She simply couldn't tell.
"Well?", Gibbs asked, interrupting her chain of thought. She looked at her boss:
"Umm, well, it looks like some sort of bizarre sex game gone wrong", she said and eyed the naked man up and down. No trace of a lethal cut, blow or anything like that.
"Do we have a name?", Gibbs then asked the three of them. McGee and Ziva shook their heads, but Tony immediately held up a black leather wallet:
"We do indeed, boss. A Joe Phillips… whoever did this was either sloppy or wanted to leave us something. I'm having doubts on the last one though", he said and smiled his typical 'I'm-so-funny-and-sexy' smile. Gibbs winked at DiNozzo and then turned to McGee just as Ducky entered the crime scene.
"Oh my", was all the old man could say as he eyed the man up and down, and right away his mind was already racing to determine cause of death. However at the moment he was about as blank as Ziva.
"McGee – what have we got so far?", Gibbs asked the young agent, who summed up everything they had found:
"A bundle of torn clothes by the north wall, looks like a shirt, a tie and some uniform pants, a bullwhip, an empty can of coke and the wallet that Tony found by the clothes", McGee said, trying to be as precise concise as he could, even though his stomach was turning a little by the sight. Gibbs nodded as Dr Mallard was investigating the body hanging from the chains by his wrists. There were several bruises to the face and rib cage, cuts here and there, no signs of strangulation…
"Ducky?", Gibbs asked with a raised eyebrow and joined the old man next to the body.
"Well… No external signs of a cause of death. An autopsy will give us the answer, I'm sure. Time of death, somewhere between 9pm Saturday to 10am Sunday", Ducky said and turned to his assistant:
"What do you say, Palmer?", he asked and Palmer merely nodded. He couldn't seem to find any indication of what killed this man either. Gibbs turned to his crew:
"Bag everything, we're heading back to the office", he said, but suddenly McGee said something:
"Umm, boss? I think you need to see this"
Gibbs immediately headed over to where McGee was squatting by the bundle of clothes. Out from the pocket of the torn white shirt, McGee had pulled out a piece of paper. Everyone's eyes seemed to grow a little wider – because it looked like a ransom note. The paper was plastered with cut out letters from magazines and news papers and McGee read it out loud:
SO YOU FIGURED IT YET?
I AM WAITING
- the gamer
Tony looked puzzled:
"What kind of a signature is THAT?", he said and shook his head.
"Maybe someone who plays a lot of computer games?", McGee asked and looked around.
"Well, then it narrows it down to 50% of America's population, including YOU, probie", Tony said sarcastically as he started bagging the evidence.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18th, 11.00 AM
Back at the headquarters Ziva and Tony were sitting by their desks while Ducky, Palmer and the diseased were in the morgue. All of the bagged evidence had been turned over to Abby, who was already testing and analyzing like crazy while listening to her favorite heavy metal.
In the office Ziva and Tony were discussing the possible motive behind this bizarre murder.
"I bet it was some gay sex freak who likes it rough", Tony said and looked at his fellow agent, who just sighed and rolled her eyes:
"Is everything about sex to you?", Ziva asked annoyed. A few seconds of silence passed:
"Yes, it is… and to you too, agent David… just listen to your instincts and you will be set free!", Tony whispered in some sort of hallelujah-voice and then let out a laugh.
"Well, maybe I DO listen to my instincts", Ziva snapped back and a skew smile spread on Tony's face:
"That means you do it too??", Tony teased and shot up his eyebrows as if he was in awe.
"Yes, but never with you, because you're disgusting", Ziva said calmly and eyed Tony up and down, wrinkling her nose. Tony winked at her:
"They all say that before…", he started, but both of them jumped in their seats when the sound of Gibbs' angry voice was heard:
"This is not kindergarden! Give me something. Now", Gibbs said and bent forwards a bit to have a look at Tony's screen:
"Yes boss. One sergeant Joe Phillips, 36, stationed on Fairchild marine base. Was supposed to ship out yesterday, but has been missing from base since Thursday", Tony said and continued:
"Also his criminal record is spotless, he was a former NAVY SEAL and top of his class. His wife's name is Norma, and he has a son, Shawn, age 5. They live no more than twenty miles from here", he finished and looked up at Gibbs:
"Let's go see the wife. Abby is testing the note for fingerprints along with the rest of the evidence", Gibbs said and waved at the two agents to follow him to the car.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18th, 12.30 PM
As the agents with Gibbs behind the wheel drove up Cypress Lane they discussed what the paper had said. Tony kept claiming that it had probably been done by some gay sex maniac.
"Heard of snuff before?? Ever seen that movie '8 mm'?? Nicholas Cage plays this cool…", he began, but was immediately cut off by Gibbs and Ziva:
"Tony!", they said at the same time and Tony leaned back in his seat:
"Okay, okay… Sorry, boss", he said as they got out of the car. However what Tony had said had been noticed by Gibbs. Snuff indeed was a real thing, and not just in movies… also it was known as 'death porn'… But there had been no evidence suggesting that it had been filmed, but maybe this killer wasn't interested in the economical benefit… or trophies to remember his killings. If there WERE more. But his gut was telling him that there probably was.
As they knocked on the wooden door they all sent each other a 'good-luck-stare'… It was never nice delivering bad news. Or digging in people's emotions while ruling out that a relative COULD actually be their man. The door opened and a pretty redhead looked at them with the usual confused and sad look.
"Norma Phillips?", Gibbs asked and the pale woman nodded.
" I'm agent Gibbs, NCIS, this is agent DiNozzo and agent David. Can we come in?", he asked and the woman nodded and let them enter the hallway.
"Has something happened to Joe???", she immediately asked and looked at them with a stare that seemed to beg for them to say 'no'. Gibbs looked down for a second and then delivered the bad news:
"Your husband was found dead today ", he said and immediately Norma's shoulders started trembling and broke down crying, resting her back against the side of the staircase.
"We are so sorry for your loss", Ziva compassionately said and gave Norma a tissue.
"What am I supposed to say to Shawn?", Norma cried and at the same moment a child's voice was heard and some footsteps from upstairs:
"Mommy, look what I made!", the little boy yelled as he ran down the staircase and eyed the agents.
"Hello there", Ziva immediately said and looked at Shawn, who was holding a drawing in his small hands.
"Hi", Shawn said and Ziva looked back at Norma, who was still shaking, covering her mouth and nose with the tissue.
"What have you got there?", Ziva asked and smiled at Shawn. The boy sent her a smile, which showed that he was missing one of his front baby teeth.
"A drawing", Shawn said and Ziva looked shortly at Gibbs, who nodded.
"Want to show me your drawing?", Ziva said in a maternal voice and the little boy nodded with a grin as he ran down the rest of the stairs.
"Come on, let's go in the living room. That drawing really looks nice! Is that superman who is….", Ziva said as they walked into the living room and their voices faded out.
"Would it be alright if we asked you some questions?", Gibbs asked Norma, who barely was able to look up from the drenched tissue. Still she nodded and finally removed the tissue from her mouth and nose:
"What happened to my husband? What happened to Joe?", Norma asked and looked from Gibbs to Tony.
"We think he was murdered, Mrs Phillips", Gibbs said as Norma's eyes grew wide:
"What?? Why?? Who would…", she started, but the tears got the best of her again.
"We were hoping maybe you could tell us. Did your husband have any enemies, Mrs Phillips?", Tony asked and studied her puzzled facial expression:
"No… No, he is… was friends with everyone...", Norma sobbed and looked from DiNozzo to Gibbs.
"Did your husband ever cheat on you?", Tony asked and Norma's eyes seemed to blaze with anger as if she wanted to hit Tony:
"NO!! He would never do such a thing! What are these questions!?", she asked and started to cry again. Gibbs bit his lower lip:
"I am sorry, Mrs Phillips, but we have to ask. Did your husband have any specific sexual preferences?", he asked and this time Norma's crying fell a little more silent as she looked at them:
"Umm… well… He liked… to be tied up and such. Why do you ask?", she asked and looked at them suspiciously. Gibbs cleared his throat:
"Because his killer seemed to be aware of this. So he liked to be dominated?", Gibbs asked and she nodded as her cheeks flushed with red.
"Does anyone know about this besides you?", Tony asked and she shook her head. But then she seemed to think of something:
"Wait… yes, we went to a swinger club once in a basement on 12th street. But we were only there once", she said and shook her head:
"I can't believe he's gone", she whispered and covered her face with the tissue again. Tony looked at Gibbs - The wife wasn't cleared yet, but obviously they had a sex club to visit.
"We are sorry, Mrs Phillips. Thank you for your cooperation. If you think of anything more, please contact me on this number", Gibbs said and handed her his business card.
"Agent David", Gibbs said and Ziva appeared in the doorway, looking at Gibbs. She then turned her head and ruffled the boy's hair:
"You are a really good drawer, you. Maybe you could go and draw a picture of batman for your mom?", she asked and right away Shawn lit up in a smile:
"Yay!", he yelled as he ran back up the stairs. Ziva then gained eye contact with Norma who whispered 'thank you' under her breath. The agents then left the house to return to the office and hopefully some results from Abby and Ducky.