(QUANTICO. AUGUST 4)
"Sit down, Starling." Jack Crawford said roughly, his eyes met Starling's only for a moment before they returned to the photos scattered around on his desk, some covered by a couple of empty coffee cups. Starling sensed his distaste and recognised the dark circles that were starting to form around his eyes and sat without questioning him, remembering the last time that he looked as bad.
"A body's been found in West Virginia, looks like a copy-cat of Buffalo Bill."
Starling tried not to breathe in fear that anything would stop Crawford from talking. She couldn't believe that it was happening again, not another Buffalo Bill. God, please not another Buffalo Bill.
"Madison Grant, she was twenty-three. Found in the woods near the Elk River, where Kimberly Jane Emberg was found. He used a moth, like Bill, he placed it over her chest when he left her there. It's down at the lab now. I want you on this case, Starling. There are a bunch of other agents working on it but none as good as you… The only thing is that with Bill, we would never have found him if it wasn't for Lecter."
Starling sensed what was coming and blinked in dread, the equivalent to a sigh, just not as obvious. Crawford didn't realise. To him, Starling was ruthless. As long as there was a chance of success, Clarice would do it. But she wasn't being asked just because she was there, she was good at what she did and she proved it when she caught and killed Jame Gumb the year before.
"I need you to go back there and talk to him, I don't see any reason why he would refuse and he could be a real help in this case."
"But, sir, how do we know that this isn't just a one off?"
"Well, he placed the body near the Elk river like Bill, he used a moth and his choice of victim was a young woman, just like Bill. We can only guess but judging by the evidence that he'll kill again."
"The victim, was she a big girl?"
"No, not this time. Just the opposite, actually. Small, a bit like you Starling." Crawford said without thinking, he hoped he hadn't offended her and looked down at the photographs, gathering them and handing them to Starling.
She looked down at the photos and winced a bit at what she saw. Madison Grant lay face up with a moth sitting on her bare chest, her eyes were open and staring up at Starling. There was no evidence of the killer taking anything more than the victim's life this time but instead the victim had been slashed across her thighs and stomach. There must have been a least a hundred cuts, the blood had dried and some had washed off from the rain. The skin had begun to rot and was a pale blue colour, darker around her neck and her upper arms. Her neck was a little red, seemed to be from dried blood but there were no visible cuts there.
Starling flicked through the photos and spoke to Crawford without looking up at him but instead kept her stare on the mangled form in front of her. "Has the weapon been identified?"
"The boys down at the lab think it's a kitchen knife, no specialist equipment." he said, watching her scan the pictures.
"He's not as planned as Bill, you think he's a suicide?"
"Could be. Bill was always calm, completely in control, this one doesn't seem so reserved."
"Cause of death?"
"She was fed glass."
"Glass?" Starling said, looking up with a frown.
"Yeah, glass. Shards of glass. Some had been ground up and some were just shoved down there, they ripped through her oesophagus, she had internal bleeding and external bleeding. Even if she had survived that, she wouldn't have survived the effects of having ground up glass in her system."
Starling frowned and squinted before looking back down, trying to make sense of it, then realising why the neck was so red. Glass? Why glass? It's go to mean something hasn't it? She knew who would have the answer, though she didn't want to admit it.
"When do you want me to talk to Lecter?"
"Tomorrow, we're going to look at the body today."
Starling looked up at him in a little disbelief. Or was it fear?
In a handsome house in Arlington, Virginia, Ardelia Mapp sat on the arm of the cream sofa that she shared with her best friend and roommate. "Let me come with you."
"No, Dee. You'll hate it." Clarice said, packing some things in her bag, her recording device, some papers, photos of Madison.
"If you can do it, I can." Ardelia said, sitting on the arm of the chair in their shared living room. Their home was in Virginia, convenient as it was so close to Quantico.
Ardelia and Clarice had never parted, they had been together as students and they now shared a house. They had a half of the house each, sharing a kitchen and a living room and having their own bedroom, bathroom and spare room, which they both used as their own little living rooms.
"No." Clarice said sternly, leaning and raising her eyebrows at the sad expression on Dee's face. "Don't do that face at me. I'll be a couple of hours, Crawford won't let you anyway."
"Isn't it going to be awkward, just you and him?"
"No, we've done it before. It'll be fine."
"Bet he doesn't mind."
Clarice raised her eyebrows to Dee, not surprised at her. "We're just going to look at the photos, come up with some ideas, trust me, you're not missing out on anything."
"What was it like?"
"What was what like?"
"Seeing the body."
Clarice stopped fidgeting with files and breathed in and out through her nose. It had been an hour since she had studied the rotting body of Madison Grant lying on a metal slab in front of her, and she had to discuss it with Crawford that night, she didn't consider discussing it with Ardelia.
"Listen, Dee. I don't want to talk about it."
"All right." Dee said, standing. She knew Clarice, and she wasn't going to push her. "Want something to eat before you go?"
"Don't really have an appetite right now." Clarice said before hauling her bag onto her back and leaving the house. She was angry at herself for being short with Dee, but she could apologize later. Right now, she had a potential serial killer to catch.
"So" Crawford started, standing at the counter stirring another coffee. "We have Madison Grant, twenty-three, in her first year at university, studying psychology. Found yesterday on August third. Killed from internal bleeding from the glass after she was stripped and slashed across her stomach and thighs. Dumped in the woods near Elk River, a moth on her chest."
Crawford sipped his coffee, keeping the mug close to his face so the heat rose up and formed beads of sweat beneath his nose, it made Starling feel claustrophobic.
"The killer isn't very planned, doesn't use any specialised equipment, maybe a suicide." Starling said.
"Yeah. Do we think he has a house, an apartment?" Crawford asked her, more of a test than an enquiry. She had been a special agent for a year now and he was aware of what she was capable of but Crawford still saw her as a rookie.
"Yeah, there's no evidence of a gag or anything being put over her mouth, the cutting was while she was alive so she must have made some noise, he had to have privacy."
"The moth, what did Lecter say? Change… it represents change. Now, the killer places them there either as a direct copy of Bill or he has the same sort of issues." he said.
"Maybe. But there's no link between transsexuals and violence, transsexuals are very passive. This one, it's so violent." she explained, squinting a little when remembering the mangled body of Madison Grant.
"Yeah but we can't rule that out, Starling. Even if this guy is violent, there are always individual differences to account for, let's not succumb to stereotypes."
"Any identification on the moth?" Starling asked, slipping out a photograph and looking at the strange insect.
It was large and a dull brown colour, with two large yellow circles on each wing, like eyes. There were two shapes above the eyes, they were long, thick and black, like eyebrows. Starling turned the photo upside down and studied the angry eyes of the moth. How unusual. An angry accident of nature. Natural yet unnatural.
"Yeah, it's a type of Mimicry, a night moth, a predator. It was preserved in some sort of glue solution, similar to polyvinyl acetate but stronger, which dried clear so the detail of the moth was still visible." Crawford said, shifting through papers. Starling's stare was concentrated on the photograph and Crawford observed her turning it in her hands to view it at different angles. "Starling?"
Starling's head shot up. "Hm?"
"Do you want to get some sleep? You'll need all the energy you can get for tomorrow." he said knowingly, remembering her very first visit to Lecter.
"Yeah…Yes I think I should." Starling said, a sickly twirling motion starting to form in her stomach. Her mind hadn't been totally occupied by the latest case. It had been a little more than a year since Hannibal Lecter's failed attempt at escape and she wasn't looking forward to going back there and seeing him again.
It was late and Starling was tired, Crawford wouldn't let her drive home so she stayed there in the spare room. She felt obliged to stay; since Jack's wife had passed he had been increasingly lonely and it was starting to show, especially with Starling, but she knew that he would never over step the line.
Clarice lay in bed and stared up at the ceiling. She hadn't really heard is voice in a long time but he was always in her head, every day, every hour. Sometimes when in private, she would think about what Dr Lecter would say about her behaviour and stop whatever she was doing in fear. She just couldn't help it. It was so unusual how someone can affect you like that. Make you rethink the way that you live, everything you know.
The worst part was that it wasn't over. He was always in her mind and there was much, much more to come. If she was going to save lives then maybe she had to trade what was left of her own.
…You were so, so beautiful. But I changed you, I did that. Me. Because I am that powerful and I will grow and I will become greater. You're all in trouble. I deserve this power and I will have it, I will. You're all in trouble. TROUBLE TROUBLE TROUBLE…