Triptocaine Blues
By Phantaz-Magoria

Warning: Strong language and drug use

Chapter 1

* * *

"Fuck! I can't believe you let that bastard get away!"

Norman Jayden sighed, crossing his arms in front of his chest as much from frustration as to keep warm. He stood in the rain watching his partner, Lt. Blake, pacing and swearing up a storm. Partner… Jayden shook his head. That isn't exactly the right word for it, is it?

"Take it easy, Blake. It isn't the end of the world. We've still got options."

"Options!? Why don't you wait until your balls have dropped, then come talk to me about options."

Jayden's jaw flexed and his hands balled into fists. "Hey, just because you don't have a suspect on hand to punch in the face –"

Blake turned and grabbed Jayden by the shirt with both hands, shaking him and lifting up until his toes barely scraped the ground. "Listen to me, you little piece of shit… This is a real crime and it takes REAL police work to solve real crimes. If you can't handle it, go back home and cry to your mommy."

Blake shoved him hard and Jayden stumbled, trying to catch his footing. He hit the ground hard, rain from the gutter splashing up to drench his suit. He sat there for a moment, looking up at Blake with fury in his pale eyes, jaws grinding. "Yeah," he muttered. "Like that was real mature."

Blake smirked and waved to the other police officers still on scene. "Come on, boys. Let's wrap it up." He calmly smiled at Jayden, then got into the car, put it in gear and drove off. The other police officers were doing the same. Jayden shook his head and got to his feet.

Well, there goes MY ride… Maybe it's for the best. It'll give me time to look around undisturbed.

He tried to shake the water from his shoes to no avail, then sighed in disgust. He pulled his glasses out of his inside jacket pocket and slipped them on, sighing with relief as the world lit up in augmented light. This was better. He slipped the glove on. This made sense. He flexed his hand and the familiar pulse swept out, igniting the scene in bright colors.

"ARI comment. Scene of interest number twenty three. Apartment where suspect Ethan Mars was tracked down and confronted by police. Suspect escaped through subway, aided by unidentified white female, brunette, five foot seven to five foot eight inches in height, hundred twenty pounds approximate weight. Female suspect rides what seems to be a custom built Yamaha Virago motorcycle. No production data found on this particular model. Plates are registered to…"

Jayden waved a hand and pulled up a file. "…Madison Paige, aged 27. Photojournalist. No criminal record. Huh."

What's a journalist doing with Ethan Mars? She wouldn't be helping him with the murders… would she? Maybe she has information that I don't… Likely.

Jayden glanced at the motorcycle again.

No sense impounding it, really. If Blake wants to do "real" police work, that's his business. I have to do this my way.

"ARI comment. Footprints from the motorcycle to the door of the apartment are female size eight and half… footprints from suspect's car to the door are men's size nine. They do NOT match the footprints found at the crime scene where Jeremy Bowles' body was found."

Take that Blake. Ethan Mars ISN'T the killer.

"Fingerprints on the door belong to Madison Paige and Ethan Mars. No other prints discernible."

Jayden pushed open the door. He hadn't had time to look around much when they were chasing Ethan down, but now he could take a good look. Beneath the white glow of the added reality interface, he could see this place was a dump. Not fit for sewer rats. Obviously nobody had lived here in a very long time. He glanced over the moldy and disused furnishings, the old boxes and the rusty bike in the corner.

There was nothing down here except the window they'd escaped from. Nothing to explain what Ethan Mars was doing here.

He made his way down the hallway and up the stairs, careful not to step on any that didn't look safe. He wasn't sure he trusted this building. The first thing he saw at the top of the stairs were the lizards on the floor.

"These are different… "

He bent down to look one over.

"Comment, the floor is covered in brand new porcelain lizards. Three appear to have been smashed recently. No fingerprints, nothing distinguishing. Porcelain used is also common and undistinguished. These aren't going to get me anywhere."

He stood, going to the door down the hall. The door with the bright painted lizard. Strange. He gently pushed it open and caught his breath. There was fresh blood everywhere. Jayden swayed a little as he stood there, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath to calm down. It didn't help. The coppery smell of the blood made his stomach twist.

"ARI comment. Blood is type AB Neg. Matches Ethan Mars' blood type. In all likelihood belongs to him."

Had Ethan Mars been injured as he ran from the police? Not in this room. Not by the police. He had caught a glimpse of the girl supporting him as they ran out into the street. He must have been injured before they arrived.

Jayden opened his eyes. "Bloody hatchet on the table, possible cause of suspect's injury. Also, piece of wood with…" Jayden picked up the piece of wood, looking at both sides before putting it down. "With what appear to be teeth marks indented into it. Fingerprints on the hatchet belong to Mars."

He frowned. "The mobile device is interestingly out of place here." He picked up the piece of equipment and began tapping buttons. The device had been remote accessed from a wireless source outside of the apartment. The connection had been severed, there would be no hope of tracing whoever had accessed it. Perhaps the forensics lab would be able to pull off the data of whatever message had been sent, but that would take time and time is one thing they were running out of. But, it had been recording something recently… Jayden pressed play and almost instantly regretted it.

The tinny screams and the images coming from the device made his head swim. "I think I'm going to be sick..." He quickly pulled his glasses off and closed his eyes, pressing the palm of his free hand to his forehead. Such a horrible headache… He couldn't worry about that now. He was missing something. There had to be something here.

"Why would you do that, Ethan? Why would you cut off your own finger? Was it to prove something?"

Oh, shit… Maybe… maybe…

Jayden quickly left the small little room and ran outside into the rain. The cool water was a relief, but that's not why he was out here. Mars' car… He opened the driver's side door and got in. He leaned over to the passenger seat. There had to be something… He rifled through the glove box, gas receipts, record of oil change, registration…

Nothing!

Jayden leaned back in the seat and slapped the steering wheel, frustrated.

Why would you cut off your finger, Ethan? Did the Origami Killer tell you to? Did he tell you that you could save your son? Damn it!

Jayden took a breath and let it out. His pulse was rising. Not good. He could feel his heart beating faster and the world started to go out of focus. Control! He just needed to stay in control!

The apartment. The Origami Killer had to be able to control the apartment if he was going to set up a situation where he could record Ethan Mars cutting off his finger. To have control, he had to rent the apartment from somebody. He didn't know why he didn't think of that before. He put on his glasses and began searching for records.

There it was! The apartment on Marble Street belonged to a man named Adrian Baker.

Jayden smiled. Finally getting somewhere. If the Origami Killer rented this apartment, then maybe this Baker person knew who he was. He'd have to go pay a visit.

But first… first he would have a taxi take him to the hotel to change into some dryer clothes. His clothes were drenched and he was so cold… His hands were shaking and his head was swimming. Probably from the withdrawal, but it was very possible it was from being cold and wet all the time. If he kept going through suits like this, his dry cleaning bill would cost more than the hotel.

Then he had to pick up his car from the station.

Blake, that damned son of a bitch...

Jayden ground his teeth and took a calming breath. At least he was finally on the right track.

* * *