Christmas present to you all today. I've been ill this week so this isn't my favourite chapter. But as it is Christmas...And all the reviews are got made my day.
Disclaimer: Not Mine.
Update: 14/04/12- Edited this a little, because I realised that the plot wouldn't make sense for the next chapters.
Chapter 6- Archives, Librarians and Dust
The Public Archives. A vast building, one that was championed by many scholars alike, was where Raymond Leon now stood. A building that housed all the files of the case he was now investigating. And he didn't even know if he was going in the right direction. Fantastic.
Why was he jumping for Marie? He really wondered why. She was a pathological liar, she was mentally unstable and she treated the whole situation as if it was a game that could be played out, like chess. On second thoughts, the whole situation was like chess, with Marie and him on opposite sides of the board, playing against each other. And she seemed to be winning. So why was he even bothering to try when he knew that this was just a game?
'Because lives were at stake', his thoughts replied back to him. 'You can't stop playing because somewhere there is another woman being tracked down and will be dead in less than 22 hours if we don't find a link between Sara Luxembourg and Raquel Lighthower. The name of the second victim had been radioed over to him by Korsqq who was even now searching through the evidence locker to find something on the two women. Peters was also working on the bodies to see if anything physical held the connection. And he was at the Public Archives to go over a case that once upon a time, he knew from the inside out.
And there was something about Raquel Lighthower that nagged at him. He knew that name from somewhere.
He pushed open the door and couldn't restrain a sneeze. The smell of dried old books always made him sneeze. He shook his head to clear the feeling and moved towards a shelf. Now would Red Petals Murders be under R for red, or M for murders? Or was it neither and under H for Howard? Or perhaps T for Timekeepers? He needed to get a move on with this. Time was something he couldn't afford to waste at the moment. He looked at his clock. 0000:00:0:06:16:31. And he had 22 hours till his deadline was up.
He went to M, searching quickly for files pertaining to the case at hand. Mary...Morph...Murdock...Murphy. He frowned, coming up with nothing, and rapidly moving over to H. "Are you looking for something in particular?" he turned at the voice, seeing a woman standing in the aisle. She had a wide smiling face with curling blonde hair that framed her face. Leon raised an eyebrow, "I'm Lyra Starling; I'm a Librarian for the Public Archives. You look rather lost,"
He pulled out his badge, showing it to her, "Timekeeper Raymond Leon," she nodded, "I need to get the files for the Red Petal Murders," he looked around, "And I'm not sure what it would be under," she smiled, "Would you be able to help?"
"Yes, it's my job," she led him over to a computer, quickly typing on the keyboard. He looked at her as she worked. She had a quiet unassuming face, uncomplicated. Worlds away from the woman that he had left a few hours ago, "If you want the biography of Marie Howard then you would have to look under H, but if you want the case files then it'll be with the Timekeeper category," she led him around to the right shelves, "Timekeeper files are ordered alphabetically,"
He quickly thanked her before pulling out the files that he needed. He had forgotten how many there had been. He opened the first one, his fingers flicking through the pages. Blood samples...DNA analysis...crime scene photos. He pulled them out, and instantly closed his eyes, regretting the action immediately. He had forgotten what the original victims had suffered. Whoever was killing now didn't have the relentless sadism that the original murders bore. Leon felt slightly grateful for that.
He dropped the files on a nearby table, sitting on the chair, and holding the pictures up to the light. There were even more discrepancies between these and the two victims that now lay in the cold morgue of the Timekeeper Headquarters than he realised. The positions of the bodies were different, the eyes were open rather than shut, and there was something...about the women which were different. The women that were killed then seemed to run along the same pattern. Now it appeared to be random. Leon felt this was...significant somehow, but he couldn't put his finger on it.
His radio buzzed in, "Timekeeper Korsqq here, sir," he picked up the radio, "I've been looking at both victims' personal effects and there doesn't seem to be any correlation between the two," the blonde haired Timekeeper sounded troubled, "They just have the typical belongings of any woman. Makeup, mirror, keys, there's nothing particularly unique. Raquel Lighthower was married so there's a ring included in her possessions. From the evidence it just appears that the only thing tying them together was that they were both murdered by the same person,"
"There's a connection," Leon answered, "I don't know what it is at the moment, and I don't know what we'll do once we know what it is, but there is one," Korsqq was silent on the other end, "Does Peters have anything?"
"He says that Raquel Lighthower was murdered in the same way as Sara Luxembourg," Korsqq told him, "The torture was enacted after she was dead. Single stab wound above the heart was the cause of death. Physically it appears that both these women were murdered by the same person. So we could rule out that this was a group effort?"
"No," Leon tapped his chin, "No we can't afford to rule out anything yet. We miss something and we might just cost another person their life," he flicked open another file, looking at a witness statement, "Do we know anything about Raquel Lighthower? You said she was married,"
"Raquel Lighthower," there was a rustling of paper, as Korsqq tried to find the information, "Bit of a different story than Sara Luxembourg. She was forty nine years old, nearly double the age of the first victim. She was married at thirty five, and worked as an estate agent. Lived in Month Estate, and she has one daughter named...Sophie. Run of the mill...to all the world, ordinary," there was a pause, "Sir, have you considered that perhaps these people knew Miss Howard and were killed because they knew something that she didn't want them to know,"
"I haven't ruled that out," Leon said, "However previous knowledge tells me that it's unlikely. Marie Howard was always rather...solitary. To be frank, I am surprised that she even condescended to work through her baby bird," the words were spoken mockingly.
"Sir?" Korsqq sounded confused and Leon realised that he hadn't told the younger Timekeeper about that detail.
"Her associate," Leon clarified, "She likes to refer to them as a baby bird," he cleared his throat, focussing on the files in front of him, "After you've finished with the evidence, I'll need you to go and find out who has had contact with Marie Howard while in prison. Check their backgrounds,"
"Yes, sir," Korsqq replied, before pushing forward with a previously unspoken question, "Do you think that Marie Howard or her associate will allow us to find the connection within the time allocated, sir?" Leon didn't say anything, "From what has been described about Marie Howard, merciful isn't one of those words. How do you know if she'll play fairly?"
"I don't, Timekeeper Korsqq," Leon said sharply, "But there isn't any fun in playing a game when you don't allow your opponent any chances. Marie Howard said that she'll give us twenty four hours to find a connection and to start at the beginning. The woman that I knew ten years ago never said anything without backing it up. She might have gone even more insane in that cell but I don't think that would have changed," he collected himself slightly, "Report back to me when you've found something," he clicked off the radio, resisting the urge to throw it across the room. Damn her.
He looked down at the scattered photos, picking up one, and seeing it reflected in his memory. A connection. There had to be a connection. And it would have to be a pertinent connection. He dropped the photo; he had to find something soon.
Two hours later and Leon had found nothing. He had four hours left on his clock and he was acutely aware that time was slipping away faster than he liked. Spread out in front of him, were witness statements, photos, preliminary examinations of the bodies. He could hardly believe that all this was available to the public. But then the Red Petal Murders had happened ten years ago, and there had been such a public movement to have the records released. He hadn't realised that they contained so much. Five years of case notes in front of him.
His radio crackled into life again, "Medical Examiner Peters," the British man's voice came through the speaker, "How are you doing with the case files, Leon?"
"Fine," Leon wasn't in any mood to properly talk, "I haven't found a connection between the two women and I'm starting to think that if there is one, it's very obscure,"
"You know that isn't true," Peters answered, "Marie isn't someone who makes things impossible. She likes someone winning against her sometimes...correction, she likes it when you win against her. It's a connection that only you can find," Leon heard slight humming, "How is she?"
"Insane," Leon replied without hesitation. He leant back against his chair, "She's even more fractured than she was when she went in there. I would have thought that ten years would have made her just a little...regretful. It seems I was mistaken. Other than that, she's exactly the same as she was. She even looks the same, maybe a little thinner," he rubbed his eyes, "Have you found anything on the bodies? Any connection?"
"Not a connection, no," Peters said, "But I have managed to pull a partial print," Leon looked swiftly towards the radio, "It's not of much use, I'm afraid, and it was only by luck I managed to find it. This murderer seems to shut their eyes and they managed to leave behind a tiny print on Raquel Lighthower's eyelid. I've managed to isolate five points but there could be millions of people matched to it. I'm telling you this because this makes it clear that this person, whoever they are, is sloppy. If you remember, Marie was always careful. There was never any chance of any evidence left on the body when she was killing women,"
"This person is going at a much faster rate than Marie," Leon agreed, "As you've just told me; they're more likely to leave traces. Eventually they're going to make a mistake which we'll be able to pick up," he rummaged through the files, "There's also another thing..."
"The murderer knows who they're going to kill," Peters finished, "Yes, I thought that would be it. Which makes it more than likely that they're watching certain people?" it was phrased as a question, "Either way, time is growing short with us. You haven't found any connection with Marie herself?"
"Not that is in these files," Leon answered, "There has to be a connection with Marie herself. She considers everyone else to be below her, if there was a connection outside Marie herself then she would deem it to be inferior. She wants to cause me pain as these people die. I refuse to allow her the upper hand in this. She's..." he ran his hands through his hair, something that marked how frustrated he was, "She's Marie. Just Marie, like always,"
"You know, I always was fascinated with your relationship with Marie," Peters informed him, and Leon glared at the radio, not liking where the conversation was heading, "It always used to be so...aggressive. Like two predators circling each other, never quite going for the kill. You did a good thing in arresting her and placing her into prison, but I'm not sure it placed the...dead to rest. You both have unresolved issues that will always be a point of contention between you,"
Leon closed his eyes, the image of a crime scene flashing before his eyes, "I don't believe that anyone should get away with murder, Peters," he said, "As Marie so lovingly informed me this afternoon, I allowed five people to die before doing anything,"
"You didn't have the evidence," Peters' voice had turned surprisingly gruff, "If you had arrested her without the substantial evidence then she would have walked and probably have killed even more people than she already had. You did not allow those five to die; you knew you couldn't have acted before you did. You should let them rest,"
"When I arrested her, I had no more evidence than I did when I first suspected her," Leon snapped before visibly drawing himself together, "I apologise Peters, I am not feeling myself today. I don't usually allow myself to...become emotional,"
"It's an unusual case and a personal case," Peters said, "Marie ripped a hole in many people's lives, and it's still painful. You have every right to feel more keenly, Leon, most especially you," Leon wished that he could say something at that point, "I visited her four years ago,"
"I didn't know that,"
"No, I deliberately didn't tell anyone," Peter's voice sounded remarkably conversational, "When I saw Marie, she wasn't repentant either, but there was a wish that she had that you would visit her. It made me think that she intended for you to arrest her ten years ago. Thirteen is a rather auspicious number after all; and of course A..."
"I don't pretend to know what's going through that psychopath's mind, Peters," Now Leon was quick to cut through the medical examiner's words, "All I know is that Marie wants me to play a game with her and she intends that the consequences to settle decidedly on my shoulders,"
He spied a sheet of paper tucked in one of the files, and pulled it out swiftly, "Leon?" there was a note of concern on the other end of the radio, "Leon, are you all right?"
"The twelfth victim: Antonia Kentwood," Leon said, "Murdered ten years ago, same M.O. as the rest of them, but there was evidence of another person at the scene," the memory flashed before him, "There had been a footprint..." it was all coming back to him, and he berated himself for having forgotten, "Can you get the medical reports of the autopsy of Antonia Kentwood? Tell me what you find. We didn't find anything then but then Marie was still around,"
"Where are you going with this, Leon?" Peters inquired, "You still haven't found the connection between the two women,"
"If...let us say if...I am right about another person being present at the time of Antonia Kentwood's murder, then we know that Marie had an accomplice ten years ago," Leon explained, "It's not illogical to conclude that the person then is the person now. Marie wouldn't have included more than one person in her activities. The connection between the women must have something worthwhile, something that this accomplice knows about. We just have to find that in..." he checked his watch, "Nineteen hours and thirty minutes. It'll be close,"
"That's if you find them," Peters didn't sound too thrilled, "Leon, where on Earth are you going to start looking for this accomplice? There's hundreds of millions of people scattered across the different time zones. Any one of those might be the killer. You can't search that many people in nineteen and a half hours. It's insane,"
"We know that this person has crossed two different time zones," Leon pointed out, "They've gone into Dayton, Month Estate and Week End in the past couple of days. That's going to show up on the system, we check those people up against our records. I can get Ellini to do that," he stood up, quickly pulling all the case files together, and placing them haphazardly on the shelves once again, "Meanwhile I'm going to go to Marie's old apartment, try and see if there is anything there that will lead me to finding something on Marie's baby bird,"
"You know that she's not likely to have anything there, and Marie never told anyone where she murdered her victims," Peters said, "What makes you think that you'll find anything at her old apartment. That place can't have been visited by anyone for a decade,"
"When her flat was being searched, we weren't looking for an accomplice, only something that would incriminate her," Leon walked towards the entrance of the place, nodding briefly at Miss Lyra Starling, who flashed a startled smile in reply, "Maybe there was something we missed. It's a good a place as any to start,"
"You're treading dangerous ground, Leon," warned Peters, "Don't underestimate anything or rule out anything. That's been your motto for ten years now,"
"I'm not," Leon got into his car, "I'm going by my instincts,"
So things should be speeding up a little now. It's mainly a filler chapter, I think.
See you next time.
Next Time: Apartments and Pictures