Author's Notes: Prologue is short but I couldn't help but leave you hanging there. Chapters will be longer. I had trouble deciding what rating to give this story. I read and reread the ratings descriptions to decide if it could be rated T or if I should just go ahead and be safe and make it an M. I don't see it going much beyond what you see on an actual episode but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I'm curious as to what other writers use to make their determination.
Disclaimer: Doesn't belong to me and I'm not making any money off it.
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Don Flack stepped under the yellow police tape into the bank. The silent alarm had come in an hour ago but by the time the first unis arrived, the robbers were long gone leaving a blood bath in their wake. Initial reports were sketchy at best but at least ten people had been killed outright - each one shot numerous times. People who were inside the bank at the time of the robbery also claimed that the thieves had taken hostages with them but nobody seemed to know for sure how many.
Flack was pretty sure he knew. There would have been five hostages. One for each of the robbers. The MO here was exactly the same as three previous bank robberies that had occurred across the city in the last month. The bodies of the first five hostages had been found in three different locations a week after the first robbery and the day after the second robbery. A week later, the same thing happened with the second set of hostages and the third robbery. If the MO held the same, tomorrow the morgue would have five new occupants. So far the cause of death for each of the dead hostages had been the same - a single gunshot wound to the head. But for each the gunshot had been only the killing blow to a week's worth of torture.
He looked around and saw Sheldon Hawkes kneeling beside one body performing a cursory examination. Jo was across the room doing the same with another victim. So far they were the only two CSI's working the scene but Flack wasn't surprised. He'd heard Mac and Danny being called to a murder at the Crosstown Motel before the shift ever started. He approached one of the tellers, hoping that maybe just this one time, they would be able to learn more about who was behind the robberies. Five new hostage victims were counting on them. The teller was a young blonde woman barely in her twenties. She was visibly shaken; her tears causing her mascara to run streaks down her cheeks. She was sitting on the floor with her back against the teller counter. He knelt beside her, noticing that her name time said Tami.
"Tami, I know this has been a traumatic experience for you but it would help if you could answer a few questions."
She nodded distractedly. Flack pulled out his notebook and pen. Then he noticed that her eyes wouldn't leave the bloody body of the nearest victim. Sensing she was close to shock, Flack shifted his position so that he was blocking her view. She blinked a couple of times, her lower lip trembling.
"This wasn't a drill, was it?" She asked the first question, almost pleading with him to tell her it wasn't real.
"I'm afraid not. I presume this is your first robbery?"
She nodded. "My first day. They had told me when they hired me that they might run a few drills from time to time to check our reactions and make sure we followed procedures. That's what I thought it was at first. Then I realized the gunshots were real and that the people who were falling were really bleeding." She wiped at her eyes, smearing her make-up even more. Her eyes on Flack were begging for him to understand. "I know I'm suppose to pull the special money that has the dye packs in them but one of the thieves was staring right at me like he knew what I was thinking and I was scarred I was going to be the next one they shot if I did what I was trained to do. I know I could lose my job and all but I look at these people who are dead and I don't care about the job anymore."
"How many thieves were there?" Flack felt sorry for her; this was no way to start a job and nothing he could say would make it better for her. However, he hoped he could focus her attention to the details of the crime. Any small detail could mean the difference between life and death for the hostages.
She shook her head. "I don't know; it all happened so fast and so slow at the same time. Does that even make sense? It seemed like the room was full of them but it was probably much less. I was afraid if I looked too closely, they would kill me. The one who demanded my money was wearing a black stocking mask. His eyes were so cold."
Flack smiled reassuringly. It wasn't anything they hadn't gotten from the other robberies but he didn't tell her that. He was about to ask her another question when she stopped him. "Detective, I don't understand why they took hostages. They could have gotten away with the money before the police arrived so it doesn't make sense to take people with them. What do you think will happen to them?"
Flack didn't have to think; he knew exactly what would happen to the them if they weren't rescued. Sid's autopsies of the ten victims so far told a pretty grim tale. There was no discernible pattern to determine why the robbers had taken those particular people hostage. Both genders, all ages, differing occupations and socio-economic status. Nothing that could help them figure out who was behind these robberies. Even the injuries sustained before death varied from victim to victim. Several of the female victims had been repeatedly raped but some female victims showed no sign of sexual assault. All the victims had been beaten but some worse than others. Many victims had traces of drugs in their systems but even the types of drugs used differed and some hadn't been drugged at all. All the victims had burn injuries, some from tasers, some from cigarettes, some from lighters. The one consistency is that none of the victims had been fed anything in the week they were taken and had been given only enough water to prevent death from occurring before the gunshot wound. The final shot almost seemed like a mercy shot. Yes, he knew what awaited the hostages but there was no need to tell Tami any of this and upset her further.
"We're going to do everything we can to rescue them before anything can happen to them." Flack offered. "Did you see the hostages? Could you identify them so we can notify their families?"
The young woman sniffled. "The only one I knew was the bank manager. Amanda Hayes. She's the one who hired me. The guy who took my money took a woman from my line. He had already hit her pretty hard when they first came in but I don't know who she was. I'm sorry. I didn't pay attention."
Flack reached out and gave the woman's shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "It's okay. It was a frightening experience. It's hard to take it all in. If you do remember anything else that you think might help, give me a call." He handed her one of his cards. He pointed to an officer who seemed to be guarding the phone. "If you'll go over there to Officer Rodriguez, he'll let you call someone to pick you up. I wouldn't recommend you being alone for a few hours. You had a bad shock and its perfectly natural for you to be a little shaky."
She nodded and stood with Flack's help. She was indeed more than a little shaky but after a minute was able to walk unaided. Flack watched her go and then turned to see who else he could question. Standing right behind him was a kind faced older woman, She was frowning.
"Officer, there is a little girl missing."
Flack frowned as well, silently praying that the thieves/killers hadn't resorted to taking a small child hostage. "Why do you think that?"
"I'm a teller here. My station is right there next to Tami's. I noticed just before the robbery a little girl in Tami's line with her mother. She caught my eye because she was so cute standing there trying to balance on first one foot then the other. I was impressed because so many times parents just let their kids run wild in here but she was just entertaining herself. After the robbery started, I didn't see her anymore."
"Is it possible that she and her mother left before the robbery? Maybe they got tired of waiting. I couldn't help but notice that it seems like there were a lot of customers here at the time of the robbery."
"It's the second day of the month; of course it was busy." The woman sighed. She'd been working as a bank teller for years so this wasn't her first robbery even if it was probably the bloodiest. She supposed it should be bothering her more that people had lost their lives in a senseless and bloody way. Perhaps it would have if 9/11 hadn't changed her definitions of bloody and senseless; instead this event just seemed sad and pointless. "I wish. I didn't see the little girl after the robbery but I did see her mother. She was one of the ones taken hostage, the mother, not the child. Poor dear was hit pretty hard when the robbers first came in; I don't see how she was still conscious. Since the police arrived, I've tried looking all over the bank for her but I can't find her. I'm really worried; she couldn't be more than two."
Flack flipped to a new page in his notebook. "Can you give me a description of the little girl and what she was wearing?" As he asked, he scanned the bank for possible places for a small child to hide. There were a lot.
"Of course. She was small with fine blond hair. She was wearing blue jeans and a pink t-shirt. Oh and pink tennis shoes as well." She opened her hand to reveal several flavors of safety suckers. "I grabbed these from my bowl hoping to entice her from her hiding spot. Maybe they'll help you instead."
Taking the candy, Flack thanked the woman and promised they would find the child. He gathered several officers together and explained the situation. "She's probably terrified and could have holed up practically anywhere. If she's anything like my best friend's little girl, the places you would think would be impossible should be the first places to look. Her mom is one of the hostages so when we find her, we'll have to hope she can give us names other than Mommy and Daddy."
The officers spread out and began looking. Flack stood for a minute and tried to picture where the only two-year-old he was familiar with might like to hide. His eyes landed on an island in the middle of the bank where people could stop and fill out deposit slips. Several cabinets ran around the bottom of the island, small but large enough that a small child could fit inside. Bullet holes riddled the top section of the island but if the kid was low enough inside, she'd probably be okay.
The two cabinets on the far side of the teller's counter were empty as was the first one on the other side. When he opened the final cabinet door he immediately saw small white soles. Relieved, he knelt down to check on her. Even on his knees he wasn't low enough so he practically had to lie down on the floor to get a good look at the child.
She was asleep with her thumb tucked firmly in her mouth. A bloody smear coated her cheek and her face was red and blotchy telling the story of how she had apparently cried herself to sleep. Then Flack took a good look at her face and his heart skipped a few beats as fear clamped around it. He blinked a couple of times to make sure his mind wasn't playing tricks on him. But the face he was staring at continued to be that of his pseudo-niece, daughter of his two best friends. If Lucy Messer was the missing child, that meant Lindsay… He didn't even want to finish the thought.
"Lucy, you have some explaining to do."