|Rita sat at her desk, just staring at the file in front of her, hoping for something she hadn't seen in her previous efforts to suddenly jump out from the pages she read. This case needed to be brought to an end, and fast. It was growing sour on everyones nerves, including hers. Over the last six weeks, there had been thirteen homicides. The victims had been found in their own homes, murdered in their sleep, by shot gun blasts from a semi-automatic rifle, with a silencer. In each of the homes, children had existed, and of them, one child in a home had met the same cruel fate as his parents. The other children had been spared however, all left sleeping soundly, totally unaware that when they woke up, their nightmares would just begin. It happened every week, one home each week, and no one knew where the next house, the next victims would be. The newspapers had gotten wind of it now, and they along with the rest of Palm Beach were badgering the homicide division to find the killer. The detectives themselves wanted to close this case as well, and they applied their own pressure, forcing the fifteen-hour shifts it seemed to require. It was devastating now, as each week went by, to find yet another house with its occupants lying in their own bed, with their blood soaked through. Morale was low, and tensions were high. |
The city of Palm Beach was gripped with fear, and most, with their wealth, added even tighter security to their homes, going to bed each night, assuring themselves that it was enough. The animals out there would never be able to get into their home.
That was what they thought, and hoped. But it wasn't true. The homicide detectives of the Palm Beach Police Department knew that too well. Chris Lorenzo and Rita Lance were the detectives in charge and knew it better then them all. The case had become a high priority, and was dubbed by the press, the Night Crawler Murders.
As Rita sat reading, she stirred her coffee, over and over again, not aware that every few minutes her partner was sending lethal darts at her across their desks. It was late, and they both were tired.... No exhausted was more like it.
She stirred, though the cream she had poured into it earlier was thoroughly mixed in now, and the coffee itself was cold. The spoon was clinking against the cup, over and over again... Clink... Clink... Clink...
He couldn't take it anymore. He reached over finally, grabbing the hand that was doing the offensive noise, and stopping it. She looked quickly up at him, questions in her eyes.
"Would you mind not constantly stirring your coffee Sam," he asked, a small amount of aggravation towards her heard in his voice.
She looked down at her hand, seeing his still resting on hers, as if to keep it still. She pulled her own hand away.
"Sorry Sam... I didn't realize it." she said.
"Thanks" Now his voice was less harsh at her, and he smiled a gentle smile her way. They both lowered their heads once again to the work in front of them, a comfortable silence between them.
It took another ten minutes, but he realized she was at it again, CLINK... CLINK... CLINK.... CLINK.
"Riiiiitttttaaaa!!!!!" Chris said calmly now, but through his clenched teeth. Again she looked up at him, startled.
"What ?" she asked, still clinking away.
"Give me that damn spoon! YOUR DRIVING ME CRAZY!" it was almost a yellnow, startling her.
She tossed her spoon across his desk.
"You want the damn spoon, here it is... What's your problem anyway?"
"I don't have a problem... Youre just driving me crazy.... All I hear is clink. Clink... Clink... And you don't even know your doing it!" he said.
"Well, excuse me, Chris... But you are also making noises, and you don't hear me complaining... now do you?" she gave him back the hostility she had heard in his voice.
"And what noise is that?"
"All that sighing your doing... And grumbling... I hear you muttering as your reading... Frankly Sam, that has really begun to rub me wrong..... I can't stand hearing it anymore!" Rita let him have the truth, if that was how he wanted it, then that was how she was going to give it to him.
Chris was taken aback now. He didn't know he had been doing that.
"Fine, Rita.... I'll stop my mumbling, and you'll stop your stirring" he said, holding up her spoon, and smiling at her.
"Fine." she was clearly annoyed at him at the moment.
An hour passed by before Chris even knew it, and he realized he hadn't heard any sound at all from his partner. He looked up then, and saw her with her head in her arms, slumped over on her desk, and fast asleep. And then he felt guilty. How could he have been so short tempered with her, he thought. She wasn't just his partner, she was his best friend as well. Hell, she was more then that even, she was his other half, his better half. She was apart of him, of who he was. What she felt , he felt... Well, usually. It hadn't been like that tonight .... It was this damn case.
Looking at her now, he let all the tenderness he held for her wash over him, and he enjoyed feeling it. She is so damn beautiful.... He thought. She looks like an angel when she sleeps. No, not just when she sleeps... All the time. He went over to her side of the desk, glancing at the clock on the wall as he did. Twelve thirty in the morning, no wonder she was sleeping. He knew she had arrived at the station the morning before at six o clock. He gathered up her files for her, then kneeled down, gently shaking her awake.
"Rita... Hey, Sammy... Come on... I'm taking you home now." he whispered into her ear.
She rose her head up, looking confused and dazed, sleep still overwhelming her senses.
Chris smiled, chuckling softly to himself, as he pulled her up to a stand. "Come on Sleepyhead, let's get you home to bed, and tuck you in... Your exhausted... And you need to get some rest." he guided her to the door as she seemed to be sleepwalking for him. She leaned against him.
"Okay, Sam... I'm not arguing.... I'm sorry about before though." Rita said sleepily.
"I'm sorry too, Sam.. But it wasn't your fault... I was just frustrated, and taking it out on you.... I shouldn't have done that." Chris answered her.
"No, you shouldn't have, Sam.. But I'll forgive you." She found enough energy to reach up and caress his cheek.
"Youre my best friend Sam" she said
"And your mine, Sammy" Chris replied.
Chris took her into her apartment, and helped his sleepy partner up the stairs to her room. She went into her bathroom to get ready for bed, then stumbled back out. He was waiting for her, and he walked her over to her bed, and helped her into it. Pulling up the covers, he saw she was already back asleep. He leaned over and placed a kiss on her forehead, and whispered
"Goodnight my sunshine.... Sweet dreams"
As he came down the stairs he suddenly remembered the pictures in the files they were looking at. The images of the bodies stuck in his mind, and he couldn't shake the sudden chill that came upon him. He knew he wouldn't be able to sleep, if he left Rita alone. Perhaps it was just because he had been staring at these pictures all night long, and he was over tired himself. Whatever the reason though for his sudden fear, he was not about to walk out of that apartment tonight. Until tonight, it had never occurred to him in these past weeks to think that way. Now he realized that he and Rita, and everyone else they knew at work were just as vulnerable as the rest of Palm Beach. He wondered if that thought had occurred to anyone else as well.
He knew Rita wouldn't mind him staying on her couch. It wouldn't be the first time, and wasn't the last. He knew where everything was, and he made up his bed for the night. After tucking his revolver under his pillow, within easy reach, Chris was asleep in no time.
And just four blocks away from where Chris and Rita slept deeply, but restlessly, the Night Crawlers came out. They snuck up to the house silently, making absolutely no noise. There were two of them, but only one led the way, and the other followed, almost fearfully. The one who led knew where the security cameras were, knew to avoid the steps that would trigger the alarm to sound. He knew the layout of the house, and followed his plan to a T.
The Night Crawlers entered the house, while it's occupants slept soundly. He pointed to his companion, and she understood. He went to the section of the house where the bedrooms were, and she began what was expected of her, yet hating every minute. She heard the muffled sound of the rifle he carried, counting as he fired each bullet. She squeezed her eyes shut tightly. She knew he was right, this was the only way, if they were ever to have a fighting chance at their own dreams. They deserved it. These people had it easy their whole lives, but now it was their turn. It wasn't as if she actually liked doing it. She wasn't a bad person, she reasoned. He wasn't either, he always left the children live, except that one time, but then that just couldn't have been helped. If only the boy had stayed in his bed. Besides, after another two or three weeks, they should have enough to leave, and enough to begin a new life. She would make up for all this then, when she was settled in her new life, a normal one, where they would be together always, and no one would try to keep them apart.
He came out of the bedrooms then, and together they gathered the items they wanted. He came over to her, and took her hand in his, and removed the glove she wore, kissing it, as he gazed into her trusting brown eyes. He took her by surprise then, as he slid a beautiful diamond engagement ring on her finger. She recognized it as the one the lady had worn. She remembered admiring it, wishing she could have one like that. And now he put it on her finger, and it was hers. She was touched by this gesture, and she began to cry now. He pulled her into his arms, and they kissed, one filled with hot adrenaline and the passion he was feeling at the moment. Then giving the place a double check, he led them way back the way they came, and into the quiet still night. As they made their way down the walk, he dropped the glove that had been on her hand. He knew she had touched nothing with that gloveless hand though, because it had been in his the whole time, so he did not worry when he saw this. He was actually very pleased with himself that he had even noticed the glove dropping at all. That would have been crucial evidence to the police. He knew they couldn't have anything on them, he was always very careful. As he bent down to pick up the glove, something fell out of his pocket, and he heard it. Looking around, he spotted a quarter, and smiled as he took the coin and the glove in his hand. There would be no evidence... Nothing at all, he thought.
He hadn't noticed the key that had fallen.
The Night Crawlers silently walked to where they had parked their van, a few blocks away.
It was about at this same time that Chris Lorenzo woke with a start, feeling a shiver run down his spine, as he looked around at his surroundings. After assuring himself he must have been dreaming he settled back down, and succumbed to the weariness that was quickly overtaking him. Outside, right down the street, a van started up, and drove away.
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