This was written from a prompt courtesy of lily moonlight - thank you!

It was the silence.

The absolute silence. The defeaning privation of sound that almost made her ears actually hurt.

It had to be the silence that was freaking her out. Giving her the creeps. Making her scan every corner with the flash light, the ALS, the camera flash.

It was just her mind concocting with the silence, because there was nothing there. Nothing at all.

The nothing and the silence.

And the body.

The homeless junkie with the needle still in his arm, but with a few too many bruises and lacerations that raised their suspicions.

The nothing and the silence and the body.

She was a smart woman. Logical. She knew nothing was there - out in the part of the city where apparently no noise existed; she knew nothing was actually watching her.

And she knew that she wasn't alone, not with the uniformed officer standing guard at the front of the drive.

She also knew she had a Glock attached to her hip and one or two basic tackle moves under her belt, so she was far from helpless.

But this house...

Even the centre of the 843 acre Central Park had some noise.

This just had barely four walls and a roof. She could see the moon and stars when she looked up, and being that she was the first floor, it spoke volumes to the upkeep of the Victorian home.

She could see the beauty in it. The potential beauty. The former beauty. The high ceilings and the grand fire place, the picture windows and the sweeping staircase. But what she could actually see was rotten floorboards, moulding wooden frames and a layer of mist carrying in from the surrounding gardens, ultimately ruining her evidence.

She snapped another photograph, the flash illuminating the room for all of the second, her eyes quickly scanning the shadows.

She saw something.

She was sure of it. Sure enough to unclip the strap of her holster and lay her hand on the cool metal of the gun.

Maybe she'd watched too many movies, or worked too many consecutive hours or drank too much coffee on shift; but whatever it was, she didn't like it. She wanted to be back on that road to the city with the radio blearing full volume and the windows rolled down. Anything to blast the feeling of tingles away from her spine.

There was a noise.

Definitely a noise.

A creak of a rotten floorboard maybe. The deafening silence broken. She glanced through the broken window behind her, the uniform cop still standing guard and way too far away to have caused the noise.

She pulled the gun out, unclipped the safety and waited.

She held her breath, her entire body tensed and on high alert.

Clicking the flashlight on again, she crossed her wrists so the gun rested on top.

She started in the far corner, sweeping the light over the damp, curled wallpaper, the half wall, the nest of newspaper sludge.

A glint, a reflection from the light caught her eye against the opposite doorway.

Her finger tightened against the trigger, ready, prepared. Sweeping the light across the room, she pivoted and planted her feet, her heart hammering against her chest.

"Damnit, I almost killed you!" She called, lowering the gun away from Mac Taylor, but leaving the light shining directly on his face.

"I'm sorry, I- do you mind?" he asked, sheilding his eyes but not disguising his grin. "I couldn't pass up a chance to see this old place."

She shifted the light down to his chest. "You know it?"

"Oh sure, everyone knows the old Redwood place. Even back in Chicago, every kid knew the story."


"You don't know it? Well," he stepped forward, smoothing a hand up the splintered wood of the doorframe. His voice slow, methodical, husky. "Legend has it that a soldier returned from a year at war to find another man in bed with his wife, and a newborn in the nursery. Overcome with anger, he took the baby from the crib and hid in the crawl space under the stairs. He let the baby cry and cry, the noise echoing throughout the house." His looked around, anywhere but at her. "Eventually he killed them all. They say, sometimes, you can still hear the mother searching the rooms for her baby..."

Stella gulped. She actually gulped. Her heart was thumping, chilled blood rushing through her veins as the thick, deafening silence enveloped them.

Her eyes flicked to the broken staircase, images flooding her mind...until she noted the movement of Mac's lips forming a smirk, then a grin.

"You're a horrible man, Mac Taylor."