Reilly opened the first trash bin. The unmistakable odor of rotten blood hit his nostrils and made him want to retch. He flashed his light into it, half expecting to find a body. But did not.
Instead, it seemed to be filled with bloody towels. And bloody dresses. Behind the second stood mattresses, both sides slit open as if a knife had been stabbed into them several times. It was too dark to tell if the stains could still be seen, But he reckoned that they were still evident.
He hit the button on his shoulder mic. “Mike. It’s all here. I would like to move inside and check things out. Like the basement and some of the empty apartments, if possible.”
Michael’s voice came across the talkie. “Go ahead. But be quick.”
He nodded to Danforth. They headed around to the front of the first building of the complex. Entering, they made the decision to check out the second in similar fashion. A quick once over. Something unnoticeable.
They only hoped that they would be finished before she returned. They didn’t want to be inside the building when she returned. They wanted to be back inside their car by then.
Reilly looked over at his friend. “Remember. Quick. Don’t take too long. We can’t afford to get caught in here.”
Danforth nodded. “Affirmative.”
Upon entering, Both felt a cold chill. Almost as if there was an unwelcoming presence there. Reilly suppressed the urge to run out and call the whole search off. They had to know. They had to know what happened to the super and the maintenance man.
They tried every door. All were locked. No need to search them, yet. Not without cause.
The door leading to the basement was unlocked. Almost as if it was still in use by someone. Was she doing her own maintenance? If so, where had she learned to do so?
As they descended the stairs, they saw the blood splatters. Somebody had went down these stairs with blood on them. Either they had been wounded, or they had been the killer. It looked as if they had fell down the stairs, though. That would have made them wounded. Badly.
Michael watched as Justin and another man exited the pub with their suspect. They went to a car parked on the street not far from the pub and got in. They turned around and headed back toward the complex.
He picked up the receiver to his CB and hit the squelch. “Reilly. Get your asses out of the building. They’re headed your way. Justin is compromised. Be ready to pursue into the building, but hold back so she doesn’t know that you’re there. I am on my way.”
He waited for the car to be several blocks away before he turned his own car around and headed for the complex. He only hoped that Reilly and Danforth were already out and back in their car. Last thing he needed was to spark her suspicion.
“Copy that,” came Reilly’s reply after what seemed an eternity, “on our way out the back.”
He knew it would take them a three-block walk to get to their car. Perhaps it was best they didn’t see Justin in the condition he was in. But then, they all would get a view when they moved in.
He drove as fast as he could. He had to help his friend. He had to make sure Justin lived for his kids. If he did not, he would never forgive himself.
Why wouldn’t his car move any faster? Damn. It was like he was going in slow motion. Everything seemed to have slowed down. But why?
Three blocks away, he saw his friends round the corner of the complex as she led their friend and the other man into the first building. They had seen Justin. Damn.
Michael prayed that they would not rush in too quickly. Too emotionally. They didn’t need any accidents. Rashness led to accidents.
He watched as Reilly gently held Danforth back. It was almost as if to say, not yet. Danforth seemed to understand, and stayed beside Reilly. The two stopped just short of the doors. and waited for Michael.
Michael parked and got out. Crossing the street, he met his friends at the door. They looked at him. He led them back inside the building.
They could see that he had gone pale. Reilly looked at him questioningly. “You alright, boss?”
Michael smiled. “I’m fine. Let’s try the elevators. I doubt she stayed on this floor. she might take them to the floor where her apartment is. But not into her own apartment.”
Danforth pushed the ‘up’ button. And they waited. When the doors didn’t open when they should have, Michael and Reilly pried them open. What they found astounded them.
The cables had been cut. Michael shook his head. Had to give it to her, she was resourceful. Maybe she knew they were on to her. Maybe she intended to kill herself after this last round.
There were a million possibilities. He looked at his friends. “We take the stairs.”
They scrambled for the stairs. They had to reach their friend before he became another one of her victims. There were four children who counted on them. They couldn’t let those young’uns down.
She led Justin into the bedrooms of one of the empty apartments next to hers. She led the other young gentleman to another nearby room. Up until that point, he felt fine. But once in the room, he was suddenly overcome by a bout of exhaustion. Abnormally deep exhaustion. He suspected that he’d been drugged, but had no way of proving it. He thought back on the evening.
“Gimme a soda,” he’d told the bartender, I’m on duty.
“Gotcha pullin’ duty, eh?” came the reply, as the bartender had filled his request.
He’d watched their suspect settle at the end of the bar. That had been unusual. Every time before, they had been told that she requested a table. Why had she decided to sit at the bar? What had changed?
He had sat there, pondering this as he sipped on his soda. He’d set the empty glass on the bar. The bartender had come by with another full glass.
“From the lady at the other end of the bar.”
“No alcohol tonight, sorry.” He’d replied.
The bartender had looked at him. “It’s non-alcoholic. It’ll make you the envy of all the men here tonight. She doesn’t buy unless she’s interested in you.”
It had to have been the drink, he thought, as he got overly tired. Perhaps she was able to slip something into it without the bartender seeing. And then, there was something about her perfume. That peppermint was very hypnotic. And the way she danced!
It had almost been as if she had been weaving a spell! He sat down on the bed. He needed to rest a minute. Shake the cobwebs out. He slipped his gun under the pillow just in case. Then, darkness consumed him.