Author's Note: The typical stuff, first time doing a story for this category, so bear with me.
"I'm getting tired of this," Penhall murmured under his breath, "Three nights now we've been walking these same beats in 30 degree weather trying to catch a schmuck who gets his kicks picking off high school kids like flies, and all we're getting out of it is a set of frozen lungs…" he grumbled as he looked down at his shoes, "And numb toes."
Tom didn't seem to be paying much attention, he looked up to the corner where the streetlight was and asked, "Why do you think they do it, Penhall?"
"Why do people roam the streets at night in freezing weather?" Doug asked, "Beats the hell out of me."
"No," Tom said, "What do you think makes somebody like this kill? I mean how do you just decide that you want to murder a bunch of teenagers?"
That's all that the city had been talking about for the last few days and the whole place was just about in an uproar about it. Understandably of course, over the last couple of weeks there had been five high school kids found murdered in the streets, and not by any ordinary means. No, shooting them would've been too easy, whoever the killer was seemed to prefer choking or strangling them, there was usually a small struggle, always in vain though. It was hard to find a way to tie the kids together since they went to different schools and hung out with different crowds, nothing seemed to connect them, except that they were all killed somewhere between 10 P.M. and 3 A.M. and all of them killed and left on secondary streets where there wasn't much traffic, and always in a place right where they couldn't be seen by the street lamps that were standing on every block. Apparently whoever the guy was knew what he was doing, and it had left Hanson wondering if he'd done this kind of thing before.
"I don't know, maybe the guy's just nuts," Penhall suggested.
Tom looked back at his partner and asked, "You think it's as simple as that?"
"What, you got a better theory?" Penhall asked, he turned, shivered, resumed pacing and said, "Maybe we ought to check in with Hoffs and Ioki."
"I already did, they're not having any better luck than we are," Hanson told him.
"I feel like those dumb Scotland Yard guys trying to catch Jack the Ripper," Penhall said, "And we'll probably have as much luck too."
Tom scratched his head and said, "Hey Doug."
"What?" the annoyance in his tone was most evident.
"Who do you think Jack the Ripper was?" Tom asked.
Doug turned around and looked at him like he was crazy and asked as much, "Are you nuts? I need to stop talking to you, it's not good for me."
"Alright, I'll try another question," Tom said.
"Oh please don't," Doug replied sarcastically, "I've had about all the enlightening conversation from you that I can stand for one night."
"I was just thinking," Tom started to say.
"Congratulations," Penhall responded.
"As I was saying," Tom said as he slapped Penhall's jacket sleeve to get his attention, "How many women did Jack the Ripper kill, about 7?"
"How the hell should I know?" Penhall asked.
"Well, let's say it was 7, why that number? Why stop? Why kill that many in the first place?"
"I got a better why," Doug said, "Why did I get stuck with you as a partner for this assignment?"
Tom waved him off, just then they heard someone screaming from around the corner and they took off running. Just out of the glare of the bright streetlamp they could see two people struggling.
As soon as those words were out of Penhall's mouth, one person shoved the other down and took off running. Hanson took a flashlight out of his pocket and turned it on to see a young woman had been knocked to the ground and he knelt down to assist her, while Doug continued in his pursuit of the other person fleeing the crime scene. And all seemed to be going well, he almost had the guy in his grip, and then he hit the wall.
Of course hitting the wall is merely an expression, most of the time, and it was an expression here as well, all the same Penhall ran into something and it knocked him down and he lost the assailant. As he fell down he realized that the thing he'd run into was actually a person, and though he should've known better and in fact did know better, that it wasn't this person's fault and was just one of those things, wrong place wrong time, he couldn't help taking his frustration out on the person who decided to place the part of speed bump at the most unfortunate of times, when he was in pursuit of a killer.
"You idiot!" he said as he hit the guy with his fist once, "You just let a ki—" he didn't get to finish his thought because the other person hit him back and did it hard enough that his neck let out a loud POP as his face was turned to the side for him.
"Are you sure you're alright?" Hanson asked the young woman who had been attacked as he helped her to her feet.
"Yes, I think so," she answered shakily.
They heard the commotion coming from up ahead and Hanson grabbed the woman by her hand and pulled her along with him; they might've lost the killer but he wasn't going to lose a witness while he found out what happened with Penhall. They caught up with him a couple blocks ahead and Hanson felt ready to crawl under a rock as he had to be the bearer of bad news. He went over to the two people who were beating each other up, though by now Penhall seemed to be doing most of that work in pounding the other guy into oblivion, and Hanson came up to him screaming excitedly, "Penhall-Penhall-PENHALL!"
"WHAT?" Penhall demanded to know as he momentarily turned away from the guy he was pounding.
Hanson felt sick but also a bit amused as he told his partner, "You're beating up on a girl!"
"What?!" Penhall turned back to the guy he'd been clobbering and with the illumination of Hanson's flashlight, saw that under the camouflage army jacket and the red doo rag, it was a girl, a teenaged girl, who by now was a bloody mess and looked mad as hell.
"I don't believe this!" Penhall said.
The girl jumped him and started pounding him with her fists, screaming at him, "You don't believe it, huh? How about this? You believe this?"
Hanson came up to them and pulled her off of Penhall and told her, "That's enough, you're assaulting an officer."
"Officer of what?" the girl asked smugly.
Tom turned back to his partner in disbelief and all but screamed at him, "Well show her, Doug!"
Penhall reached into his pocket and took out his badge and showed it to the girl. "There, happy?" he asked.
Likewise, Tom took his badge out and showed it to her too.
"You're cops?" the girl asked.
"That's right," Tom pocketed his badge and took a step towards her, "Are you seriously hurt?"
The girl pressed her hand under her nose to see how much blood was pouring out of it and she said, "I don't think so."
"Alright," he said, and turning back to the woman he added, "If you two ladies will follow us to our station, we can get everything cleared up right away."
"I don't want to get anything cleared up," the girl said firmly as she reluctantly followed them, "I want to kick the crap out of the moron who did this to me."
"Yeah well get in line," Penhall murmured, "I have a feeling the Captain's going to beat you to that."
Tom leaned over and said, "Looks like she got a few good swings in at you too."
"Yeah," Penhall grumbled, "I don't know what's worse, that I beat up a girl, or that everybody's going to know that a girl beat me up."