Disclaimer: These guys don't belong to me but I wish they did. I'm just borrowing them and promise to return them in relatively the same condition that I found them in.
852 Prospect Street
29 October 1998
Blair Sandburg looked up at his partner and friend Jim Ellison and sighed. For the last three months, the two of them had been discussing/arguing about their new ability to communicate with each other telepathically. Jim just wanted to forget about it and Blair wanted to experiment with it. Blair wanted to find out how far from each other they could be yet still talk to one another mentally. He also wanted to see what limitations each of them had with this new ability.
"Jim, please, just listen for a minute."
"No Chief, I won't. I just want this thing to go away."
"Well, it won't go away Jim. It's part of what you and I are. You're the Sentinel of the Great City and I'm its Shaman. This is just another aspect of what we are. We've been able to communicate a few times in bad situations so far and it hasn't caused any problems. So, you wanna tell me what's got you so upset now?"
Jim Ellison sighed and shook his head. For the last three months since the pair had come back from Chile with this new ability, Jim has tried to forget that it existed. Although it has come in handy a few times. It also worked out well when Blair had gotten mugged at the ATM down the street from the loft. Jim was afraid that it would cut out at a time when Blair needed him most or it would cut in during a tense situation such as a shootout. Jim didn't want to take the risk that someone, either Jim or Blair or someone else from Major Crimes would get injured while Jim and Blair were 'talking'.
"Look Chief, it has come in handy at times but what about if it didn't work? What if I was so intent on 'talking' to you that Simon or one of the other members of Major Crimes got hurt or worse yet, killed? There I would be communicating with you and not doing my job. No, I won't have it messing with my job."
"Jim, I understand where you're coming from and I agree with you but I still think we need to get better at handling it. I'll make you a promise; I'll only call you telepathically if I'm in real trouble. And I mean like when I got mugged down at the ATM. I won't call you if my car breaks down or anything like that. Will that take some of the stress away?"
Jim stood in the middle of the living room and thought about what Blair had said. It was true that Blair had only called him telepathically when he was getting mugged and that time it was very clear and quick. Finally, Jim turned to face Blair.
"All right, I can live with that arrangement as long as you can."
"No problem, Jim," Blair said with a smile.
Cascade, Washington Church of All Saints
29 October 1998, 11:52pm
Everything was in place. All I have to do is place the symbols correctly. The way out was ready. Wait, someone was coming. Hide in the shadows until they pass.
The young minister walked into the chancel and stood looking up at the cross. In five days, he would give his first All Saints' Day Service. He was excited and nervous. He prayed that everything would come out fine. He looked at his watch and realized that it was very late. He would get some sleep before his new duties tired him out too much. With one last look at the cross, he lowered his eyes and headed to the rectory and his bed.
Took the fool long enough to leave. Now, out of the shadows. Place the symbols on the altar. Good. Place the candles just so. Time to leave. Oh, one last thing. A match was lit and the flame came to life.
The young minister couldn't sleep. After trying to fall into a peaceful slumber for well over an hour, he resigned himself to being awake. He decided to check the sanctuary again. As the young minister neared the doorway to the sanctuary, he noticed that it was lighter around the altar than it should have been. He stopped at the door and cautiously pushed it open. What he saw made him stagger back from the doorway. The young minister then turned and ran back to the rectory, calling to the other ministers and headed for the phone.
Church of All Saints
30 October 1998, 3:00am
Captain Simon Banks walked out of the sanctuary and shook his head. This was the fifth religious building to be desecrated within the last three weeks. The mayor and just about every major religious organization in Cascade were phoning his office and putting on the pressure. He finally broke down and told the mayor that he would put his best men on the case. Less than a day later, Simon called Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg in on the case.
At 2:45am, Jim Ellison answered his phone. After a brief, very brief, conversation with his captain, he and Blair were leaving for the crime scene. By the time Jim and Blair arrived at the latest desecration, they could see Simon leaving the building. Jim parked his truck and both he and Blair got out and walked toward Simon.
"Simon, what do you have?"
"Not much. The Church's altar was desecrated and so was other areas around it Forensics found the remains of a match. They think the Church altar was doused with something, lit candles and dropped the match on the way out. I need you two to check out the scene and find anything that we could use to find this maniac. The mayor is coming down on me and I need some answers."
"All right Simon, we'll see what we can come up with. Come on, Chief."
Simon watched as Blair followed Jim into the Church. He still had a hard time trying to figure out why Blair would go everywhere with Jim, no matter what the situation was.
Blair looked around the Church from its doorway. He couldn't believe anyone would desecrate any religious building. As Jim went through the building, Blair looked at the walls and the symbols spray-painted on them. His eyes widened his heart rate increased as well as his breathing. Jim turned to look at him and called, "Sandburg, you all right?"
Blair swallowed and called back, "yeah, Jim, I'm fine. Do you have anything yet?"
"Not yet but I just started."
"Okay let me know if you find something. I'm gonna check out the symbols."
While Jim did his first sensory sweep of the room, Blair walked slowly over to the wall on which the crucifix hung. He looked closely at the first symbol on the wall. It seemed quite familiar to him but he just couldn't remember where he'd seen it before. He reached into his backpack and pulled out a notebook and started making a copy of the symbol. Blair gave Jim a quick glance and ended up making copies of all the symbols. When he was finished, Blair made his way over to where Jim was standing in front of the altar.
The altar had more of the same symbols on it as well as some type of reddish-brown looking substance on it. Blair leaned in closer and Jim put his arm in front of his chest. "Careful, Sandburg."
"What is that stuff on the altar Jim? It looks like blood."
"It is Chief. I just don't know if it's human blood or not."
"Gross. This sucks. To desecrate a Church this way. What kind of sick person does this?"
"I don't know Chief, but we're going to find out."
With that last comment, Jim Ellison turned on his heel and quickly strode out of the building. Blair gave a last glance back at the altar and then high-tailed it after Jim.
Cascade Police Department, Major Crimes
30 October 1998, 6:20am
Blair rubbed his face in his hands, trying to wake up a bit more. For the last two hours, Jim and he had been going over the case file of the desecration of the different churches and synagogues. All the symbols had been painted on in blood and all the symbols had been the same at each of the sites. The same pattern of candles had been lit at all five sites along with the blood splattered all over the altar. At seven a.m., they had an appointment with the first of the church leaders to go over what had happened in their church. The rest of the day was to consist of interviews with all other church leaders from the desecrated churches.
Blair looked back over his notes which had the copies of the symbols. He was sure he knew something about them but just couldn't put his finger on what it was that was so familiar to him. He was just starting to get his laptop connected to the Internet when Jim walked back into the office.
"Oh, hey Jim. Find out anything from Forensics?"
"Yeah, the blood was animal blood. Could either be from a chicken or cow. They're trying to narrow it down now. Should have an answer in a couple of hours. What are you doing?"
"I was just getting ready to check the 'Net. These symbols seem familiar and I was thinking that I might find something out about them on the 'Net."
"Okay, just be ready to go in about forty minutes. The priest has to give mass at eight am and won't change with any other priest just to talk to us."
"I'll be ready Jim," Blair said as he turned back to his computer screen.
Jim shook his head in wonderment and then went over to Simon's office door and rapped twice. From inside, Jim heard Simon call, "come in."
"You got a minute Simon?"
"Sure Jim. What's on your mind? Want some coffee?"
"Thanks Simon, coffee would be great right now."
Jim took the cup that Simon had poured and took a small sip.
"This is good Simon. Thanks. I wanted to let you know that Sandburg and I'll be heading out to talk to the priest of the first church desecrated in about thirty minutes or so."
"Good. I hope he can tell you two something that he might have neglected to tell the first officers who interviewed him."
"I hope so too, sir. I..." Jim started to say but was interrupted by Simon's phone ringing.
Simon picked up his phone and said, "Banks!"
He listened for a few minutes and said, "did anyone see anything?"
Simon listened again and then finally said, "I'll have Ellison and Sandburg out there soon. Thanks."
Simon replaced his phone in its cradle and turned to Jim. He sighed and plunged right in.
"There's been another desecration. The Baptist church down on Riverside. Same as all the others. He must have left the first one last night and went over there and did his thing. Get Sandburg and get over there. If you have to set up the interview with the priest later, do it but I want some answers."
"Yes, sir, we'll get right on it," Jim said as he took the piece of paper with the address on it from Simon.
"Sandburg, get your coat. We've got another one."
"Oh man," Blair said as he got up to get his coat and bring his laptop along.
Enroute to Latest Desecration
Jim Ellison's Pickup
30 October 1998, 6:45am
"Jim, I think I know what those symbols are."
"Yeah, Chief, what are they?"
"Well, I was checking the 'Net and found a couple of sites that might help with them. The sites deal with a religion called Wicca."
"Wicca? What is that, some religious cult thing?"
"No man, it's not. Wicca is a religion of Witchcraft. It's a Pagan mystery religion of Goddess and God. It's also a Nature religion. It doesn't come from the Salem Witch Trials of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I know what you're thinking Jim and no 'Witchcraft' isn't 'Black Magic'. Within the Wiccan community 'Witchcraft' is used in a special sense. Here in the US, Wicca not only has European beliefs but also Native American influences as well."
"That's all well and good Chief, but what does that have to do with these desecrations?"
"I was coming to that. You see, the Wicca religion is based on Pagan rituals. Some of the symbols that were in the Church this morning are used in some of the different rituals that go on. I thought I recognized them but couldn't place them."
"So I'm looking for a 'Witch'? Come on Chief, you've got to be kidding?"
"No, Jim, you're not looking for a 'Witch' per se. I think we need to find a Wicca High Priest or Priestess and talk to them about what's going on. They might be able to help in catching whoever is desecrating all these different religious buildings."
"Right and how do we go about finding one of these 'High Priest or Priestess's'?"
"Well, I can check the 'Net and the different sites and see what I can come up with. I'm sure there's a coven around here."
"Coven? Whoa, Chief, I don't like the sound of that."
"It's just a name Jim. Like a 'gaggle of geese' or a 'clowder of cats'."
"So, how do we find this 'Coven'?"
"If I remember right, there's a Wicca High Priestess in town. I think her name is Cheryl or Sherri. She was at the big rally that was held in town last month."
"Oh no, not the lady that just wouldn't keep quiet about accepting religious differences in the schools?"
"Yeah, that's her. Just because she's outspoken doesn't mean her ideas are bad Jim."
"Yeah, but I really don't want to have to deal with her. Isn't there anyone else?"
"No one that I know of Jim. Besides, I'll be with you when you interview her so it shouldn't be that bad. What do ya say?"
"All right, see if you can set up an interview with her for this afternoon if it's possible."
"Gotcha. Oh man, I didn't know it was a synagogue. This sucks man, big time."
"I know Chief. Come on, let's go see the damage," Jim said as he parked the truck in front of the latest crime scene.
Both Jim and Blair exited the truck and made their way through the crowd of onlookers and walked towards the entrance of the building. For Blair, it had been a very long time since he had been in a synagogue. He hoped that he could remember some of the different rituals from all his studies. If he remembered right, the area around the altar was called 'bima'. As he and Jim mad their way inside, he told Jim what the area was called and what it signified.
As in the previous desecrations, Wicca symbols had been written in blood upon the altar and around the surrounding area. Candles had been lit and the altar had also been splashed with blood that dripped onto the floor.
Blair looked around with the same horror that had filled him so early this morning. He prayed that Jim could put an end to this soon.
Jim's phone rang while he was interviewing the young rabbi that had found the desecration. He politely excused himself and answered his cellular. After listening for a few minutes, he thanked whoever was on the other end of the call and called over to Blair. Blair joined him and was informed that the blood at all the crime scenes was identified as chicken blood.
After another twenty minutes, both Jim and Blair said their good-byes to the rabbi and headed back to the truck and then back to the office.
Cascade Police Department, Major Crimes
30 October 1998, 4:30pm
Jim glanced up from his computer screen to see his partner coming back into the room. Blair had just gotten back from getting them both coffee and was getting ready to phone Desire Michaels. She was not only an outspoken advocate of religious beliefs but it seems she also happened to be a Wicca High Priestess. She worked for one of the more influential law firms in Cascade. She won ninety-nine percent of the cases that she tried. Ms. Michaels was quite respected and well known among the wealthy business people of Cascade.
Blair had made an appointment with Desire for 5:15pm at her office. She stated that she looked forward to seeing the two officers. Jim had just rolled his eyes when he had heard the comment relayed by Blair.
At promptly 5:15 p.m., Jim and Blair arrived at Desires office. They told her receptionist who they were and that they had an appointment. After a few minutes, the receptionist ushered the partners into Ms. Michaels' office.
The office was sedately decorated with a couple of splashes of color thrown in. Desire Michaels was a tall woman with a fair complexion and long waist-length black hair. Her seemed to be the color of purple but that was probably from contacts. She stood next to Jim and looked him straight in the eyes. Blair swore that she was six feet tall or better since Jim was about six feet one inch. Blair felt like a dwarf between these two people.
Desire Michaels walked around her desk, extending her hand in greeting to the tall gentleman that had entered her office and said, "gentlemen, I'm Desire Michaels. How may I help the Cascade Police?"
"Ms. Michaels, I'm Detective Ellison and this is my associate, Blair Sandburg. We liked to ask you what you know about these symbols?" Jim said as he pulled out Blair's notebook sheet of the copies he'd made at the fourth crime scene.
Desire looked at the symbols and blinked. "I recognize all these symbols, Detective. They are used in my religion during different rituals for different holy days. These four are used during the 'Samhain' ritual. 'Samhain' is performed on Halloween night."
"And just what does this ritual entail, Ms. Michaels?"
"As opposed to what you're thinking Detective, there IS NO bloodletting involved with any of our rituals...."
"Yeah right," Jim mumbled not quite loud enough to be understood.
"Look Detective, I believe in my religion. Can you say the same about yours? I'm a High Priestess of the Wiccan religion. Do you know what that title means to me? It means that as a Witch, I have duties and rituals to perform for the good of myself and as a High Priestess, I have even more duties and rituals to perform for the good of my fellow Witches in my Coven."
"And I'm Glinda the Good Witch of the North."
"Jim, will you cool it. You are so not funny and I don't think you should be trying to tick Ms. Michaels off right now," Blair hissed at Jim.
Jim gave Blair an exasperated look and then turned back to look at Desire.
Look Ms. Michaels, I didn't come here to accuse you of anything but you're sure making it very hard for me to not run you in for suspicion. Where were you on the following nights?" Jim then listed off the different dates of each of the desecrations.
Desire thought long and hard and finally answered, "for most of the dates, I was at home in bed. On nights I don't have rituals to perform at midnight, I try to get to bed by ten p.m. I have the VCR set to tape the early news, so I watch that before I go to bed to stay in touch with the every day world. And before you ask Detective, I'm not married and I live alone. Tomorrow night, 'Samhain', I have a ritual to perform so I will be up well past midnight but I will be with many other people."
"Then how do you explain these symbols appearing at all the crime scenes?"
"I don't know Detective. Everyone in our Coven knows these symbols and what each of them represents. I don't know how to explain it but maybe it's someone within our group that's lost his or her way."
"And just how many are in this Coven of yours?"
"As of right now, we have approximately thirteen Witches. "
"Do you always have that many followers?"
"They are not my 'followers' Detective. We are all equal."
"Great. Look, if you can think of anything else give me a call at any of those numbers," Jim said as he handed her his business card.
"If I find out anything, I will give you a call as soon as I can Detective. Thank you."
"You're welcome. Come on Sandburg."
"Bye Ms. Michaels," Blair said and then quickly followed Jim out of the office.
Both men made their way to Jim's pickup, climbed in and headed back to the precinct.
After pulling away from the curb, Blair looked at Jim and finally said, "what's eating you Jim?"
"I don't know but I think she's guilty of doing this. Something about her just doesn't feel right to me."
"Jim, she's not the one who's doing this. I'd stake my life on it. Of everything that I've read about the Wiccan religion, the one main thing is never to harm another living thing. The reason behind that is whatever they do that is evil to another living thing will come back on them. They only do things that praise life, not cause harm. Whoever is doing these desecrations is bring some really bad karma on to his or her self."
"Look Chief, I'm not knocking her religion even though I don't understand it. I just feel that she's not telling us the whole truth. What she did tell us was the truth but not all of it and I need all of it to rule her out as a suspect."
"Jim, she's not guilty."
"Until I find out otherwise, she stays a suspect, Chief. End of discussion."
In Blair's mind, Jim had just laid down a challenge and he felt up to the task of proving Jim wrong. Blair knew that because of her Wiccan beliefs, Ms. Michaels could never do what was being done to the different religious buildings. All he had to do was find the proper and conclusive evidence that she had nothing to do with it.
Cascade Police Department, Major Crimes
30 October 1998, 6:00pm
Simon Banks yanked open his office door and stalked over to Jim Ellison's desk. Jim looked up into the eyes of his captain and asked, "what's going on, sir?"
"We just received a call. An anonymous tip that another church was going to be hit tonight. The only problem is that the caller gave us four different names."
"What are the names, sir? Maybe we can determine which place it'll be before the perp strikes."
Simon handed Jim the note with all four names on it and sighed. It was turning into an extremely long day and this news just wasn't welcome. He watched as Jim and Blair poured over the different names. He was amazed that both men were still going strong after such a long day.
Blair turned to Jim and asked, "what are all the different religious buildings that have been defiled by this person?"
"So far the perp's hit three Christian churches, Catholic, Baptist and Presbyterian. One Synagogue and one Mosque. Why do you want to know Sandburg?"
"Because knowing which ones narrows the list down to two. One Lutheran and one Buddhist temple. I just can't figure out which one will be hit next."
"Good work Sandburg. Jim, did you notice anything strange about this mornings desecration? Anything at that'll help decide between which of these two will be next."
"Let me think Simon. The symbols were all the same except for one. I couldn't place it but it seemed familiar. Like I'd seen it before but not a crime scene. You know, like walking along the street and seeing it as you walk along."
"Like seeing a cross for a church?"
"Yeah, that's it. When my Mom was still around, she'd take Stephen and myself to the Lutheran Church for services. When she left, we quit going. That's it, the Lutheran Church will be next."
"Great, we'll get a team out there and surround the building."
Blair was checking another site on Wicca when his email beeped. He bounced over to his email and opened the new message. It read,
Meet me at 709 W. Oceanside Drive as soon as possible. I have information regarding the desecrations.
Jim was passing by Blair and said, "come on Sandburg."
"Uh, Jim, I just got a message..." Blair started to say but Jim cut him off.
"Look Chief, if you don't want to come fine but I've got to get going. Now make up your mind if you're going or not."
"Then I guess I better finish what I'm doing. I'll join you when I'm done. The Lutheran Church, right?"
"Yeah, the one on First. See ya later. Stay out of trouble Chief."
"All right but be careful until I get there."
Jim nodded as he turned and left the room heading towards the elevator. Blair turned back to his laptop and checked the address again. He wrote the address down and put it on Jim's desk as he shut down the computer. He put the computer in his backpack and headed out the door himself. He decided that he would get whatever information Desire had to offer and take it to Jim. He hoped that he would get an idea about who was doing these awful things to Churches.
709 W. Oceanside Drive
30 October 1998, 6:30pm
Blair Sandburg stepped out of his Volvo and looked around the area. He saw a great many old and empty warehouses. He called out, "hello, Ms. Michaels. It's Blair Sandburg. You emailed me that you had some information."
All was quiet so Blair called out again. No one came out to meet him so he headed over to the building in front of him. He knocked as loudly as he could and called out again. Still no answer. Blair tried the doorknob and was surprised to find the door was unlocked. He opened the door and stepped into the building. He walked in about ten feet. He never saw or heard anything until something very heavy connected with the back of his head. He hit the floor hard and blackness overtook him quickly.
The assailant stood over his victim and smiled. A small smile crossed the face of the assailant. Soon it would be time to end this charade. The victim groaned and started to awaken. The victim moved his hand to the back of his head and started to get up. The assailant smiled again and said, "oh no you don't. I'm not ready for you to get away yet." As the victim started to stand, the assailant kicked him in the stomach. The victim let out a loud howl and tried to roll away from the assailant.
Blair squeezed his eyes shut at the pain and tried to get away from the person that seemed intent on causing him bodily harm. Blair reached behind him and felt a piece of metal lying on the floor. He grabbed it tightly in his hand and then swung it at his assailant. He hoped that he would do just enough damage to get the person to stop hitting him. He felt a jar through his arm as the metal connected with a solid object. He heard a scream and then a voice saying, "you sonofab..." and then he felt a fist connect with his face.
Area Surrounding Lutheran Church
30 October 1998, 6:30pm
Jim Ellison sat in his truck contemplating strangling his partner. He had told him to take care of his business first but he had hoped that Blair would put off doing it until after the stakeout. He was positive that they would catch the person responsible for all the desecrations and he was also sure that it would be Ms. Michaels. Right now, he just didn't want to be alone with his own thoughts and that is exactly where he was.
Simon Banks picked up his walkie-talkie and checked in with all the units. Each unit verified their status as ready. Simon knew his people wouldn't let him down. Finally, Simon picked up his cellphone to contact Ellison. When Jim answered Simon said, "Jim, you doing okay?"
"Yeah, I'm here, sir. How are things on your end?"
"Quiet, too quiet. Are you sure this is the right Church?"
"As sure as I'm gonna be at this junction of the investigation. I just wish Sandburg would get his butt here."
Simon laughed. "Can't work without him any more, can you Jim?"
"He's my backup Simon. It's not the same when he's gone. I know he has responsibilities with the University but sometimes, I think he should just do one or the other. Sometimes he goes a day or so without sleep because he's helping me with a case and teaching his classes, writing his own papers, filling in for another Teaching Fellow because they filled in for him when he couldn't make it to class. I know this is his life but I feel responsible for every time that he's been hurt because of me. You know what I'm talking about, sir?"
"Yes I do know what you're saying but Jim, remember this was his decision to work with you. I gave my blessing on your partnering because he seemed to know what was going on and could help you. Police work wasn't his life before he met you but it seems to be an addition to it. Just try to cut the kid some slack, Jim."
"All right Simon, I'll cut him some slack but I still wish he was...."
The conversation was interrupted by dispatch requesting that a unit be sent to the Buddhist Temple on Fifth Street.
"Jim, I think we guessed wrong on the Church."
"I'm heading there now, sir," Jim said as he turned his truck towards Fifth Street and the Buddhist Temple.
'Will this day never end?' Simon asked himself as he too headed towards the latest crime scene.
Within minutes, four patrol cars and one truck had pulled up in front of the Buddhist Temple. Jim hopped out of his truck and headed for the entrance of the building, already knowing what he would find. Simon had arrived just as he reached the door and called for him to wait. A quick few steps later, Jim and Simon entered the latest crime scene together.
It was the same as all the others but with a subtle difference. Something had been added. It seemed that the perp had been in too much of a hurry. Jim found a couple of pieces of hair on the floor near the desecration. He looked at the people currently in the building and took note that the hair fibers didn't match any one. He placed them in an evidence bag and handed the bag to Simon.
"Our first piece of evidence Simon. Now all we have to do is match them."
"That's great Jim. I'll give this to Forensics when the team gets here."
"The hair looks familiar but I can't place it right now. It'll come to me, hopefully real soon."
Jim took a last look around and then asked, "do you need me anymore for today, sir?"
"No Jim, why don't you go on home. I'll bet Sandburg's there studying or something."
"Well, if he's home, he'd better have something to eat because I'm starving," Jim said with a grin on his face. "I'll see you in the morning, sir. Good night."
Simon watched as Jim walked over to his truck, climb in, and drive away. Simon silently wished the two men a peaceful night, then turned back to survey the crime scene once again.
709 W. Oceanside Drive
30 October 1998, 6:45pm
Blair struggled for breath. Whoever this was, sure knew a great deal about fighting, or was just very ticked off about being hit. Blair was trying to rise when a foot connected with his side again. He rolled away and came up against a wall of the building. He clutched at his side and tried to claw his way to a standing position. He figured that if he could just get to his feet, he might have a chance of making it to the door and then to his car.
Blair was just about on his knees when an empty wooden box came crashing down on his head. Black spots appeared before his eyes and he struggled against passing out. As he shook his head to clear his vision, a fist appeared out of nowhere and connected with his temple. As the dark finally claimed him, Blair could have sworn that he heard laughter. Just before total darkness claimed him, Blair called faintly in his mind, 'Jim!'
Finally. My arm is killing me. I don't think it's broke but this little hippie is gonna pay for hurting me. Now drag him to the back. Tie him to the pillar. Where is it? Oh, there it is. Just a quick shot and no more trouble from him until its over. Inject at the elbow. Don't care if I leave another bruise. Should keep him in Lala Land until day after tomorrow. Good, he's quiet now. Time to take care of me and finish my business.
852 Prospect Street
30 October 1998, 6:47pm
Jim pulled into the parking space in front of his loft and looked for Sandburg's Volvo. He was a little surprised to not find it in its usual space but figured that Blair wasn't done with his other business yet. He took the stairs up to the loft, walked in, and went to the fridge. He took out a bottle of water and rummaged around until he came across some left over spaghetti. He place the bowl in the microwave, set the timer then headed to his room to change. As he came back down the stairs, the microwave timer beeped.
As Jim opened the microwave door, his mind heard a faint call of his name. He swore it was Blair but when he tried to contact him through their new mindlink, nothing happened. He hoped that nothing was wrong but would ask Blair when he came in later.
For the rest of the night, Jim was uneasy. He tried to contact Blair by his cellphone and at his office at Rainier. There wasn't an answer at either number and when he tried to contact Blair by their mindlink, all he heard was silence in his head. Jim went to bed expecting to find his friend crashed out in his room when he arose in the morning. Subconsciously, Jim listened for Blair to come in sometime in the middle of the night. Jim's sleep was filled with unwelcome dreams of strange things that seemed to say that Blair was in danger. As night turned into day, Jim came fully awake and realized that he never heard Blair come home. Jim rushed down the stairs from his room and quietly opened Blair's bedroom door. As he expected, Blair was nowhere to be seen. Now he was worried. Even if Blair was not going to come home because he was working late at the U., then he would at least call to find out how the stakeout went and to say that he wouldn't be home. He rechecked the answering machine and no message from Blair. He called both phones again with the same results as the night before. Now he was even more worried. He dressed quickly and then headed out the door.
Cascade Police Department, Major Crimes
Captain Simon Banks' Office
31 October 1998, 7:00am
"I'm telling you Simon, something's happened to Sandburg. He didn't come home last night and he isn't picking up either his office phone or his cellphone. It's not like him to at least call or answer his phone. I stopped by his office before I came here and he hasn't been there in a couple of days since he's been helping me."
"Now Jim, maybe he just found one of his lady friends and is holed up with her."
"I don't think so Simon. He would have called me or at least left a message to not wait up for him. He always answers his cell and he's been real good about keeping the battery charged. No, something's happened. Could we put an APB out on his car, sir?"
"Jim, are you certain the kid's in trouble?"
Jim couldn't tell Simon about the faint mind call from Blair last night or how he'd tried to get through to him for over an hour after the call. He couldn't tell Simon how his anxiety had increased and the haunted dreams that he'd had all night. Jim was positive that Blair was in some sort of trouble, so he told Simon firmly, "yes, sir, I'm positive."
"All right, I'll get the ball rolling but if he turns up with some girl on his arm, your butt will be in a sling and I'll have you directing traffic for a month."
"Yes, sir, I understand."
Jim turned to leave the office and was halted by Simon's voice.
"Just where are you going now?"
"I'm going to see Ms. Michaels. I'm positive that the hair we found at the Buddhist Temple yesterday belongs to her. I'm going to talk to her and find out where she was yesterday and what else she knows."
"Okay Jim, just don't bring a lawsuit down on us. Got it!!"
"Yes, sir. I'll see you later. Call me if you hear anything about Sandburg," Jim said and then turned around and left the office.
Ms. Michaels' Office
31 October 1998, 7:30am
Jim Ellison stood in front of the receptionist's desk and cleared his throat. The young woman behind the desk looked up into his blue eyes and asked, "may I help you?"
"Yes. I need to see Ms. Michaels. I was here yesterday concerning a case I'm working on," Jim said as he showed her his badge and identification.
"Let me see if she's in yet."
The young woman called into her boss' office and announced that Jim Ellison was waiting to see Ms. Michaels. After listening for a minute, the receptionist replaced the phone and told Jim to go on in.
Jim politely thanked the young woman and entered Ms. Michaels' office. He saw that she was looking over some papers when he entered and ignored him as he walked up to her desk.
Ms. Michaels finally looked up and asked, "and what do I owe the pleasure of this visit from one of Cascade's finest?"
"I'd like to know where you were between 5pm and 6pm yesterday afternoon."
"I was here at the office with a few members of the staff. We were going over some business. Why do you want to know?"
"The Buddhist Temple on Fifth Street was desecrated yesterday. We found some hair fibers and they match your hair color."
"I'm sorry about the Buddhist Temple but I wasn't anywhere near that area. In fact, when I left here last night, I went straight home. My home just happens to be over on Culver Blvd. If you know the layout of the city, Detective, then you know that my home lies in the opposite direction of the Temple."
"That still doesn't clear you Ms. Michaels. I'd like to talk to some of the people that were here with you yesterday. I will also need to talk to you some more after I talk with these people."
"Fine Detective. I'll have my receptionist set you up in our conference room and then have her call the others who were here yesterday."
"You're welcome. By the way Detective, where's your associate?"
"That's a good question Ms. Michaels. He never made it home last night. You didn't happen to run into him last night did you?"
"No, I haven't seen him since the two of you were here yesterday. I enjoyed his open ideas about Wicca and was looking forward to talking with him again about it. I trust he hasn't run into any trouble."
"I'll know more when he's found."
Ellison left her office and followed the receptionist to the conference room that had been set up for his interviews. He talked to eight different people about their whereabouts between five and six p.m. the previous day. All eight people had the same answer; they were in an after work meeting with Ms. Michaels. They also mentioned that one other person had not shown up for the meeting. Mr. Thomas Crowning had left early, saying that he was ill. One of the people he interviewed went as far as to say that Crowning didn't like Michaels. He was downright upset to find out that she had been promoted over him and that she became his superior. Jim thanked the person for her candor and shook her hand before letting her leave the conference room.
As the last interviewee left, Jim pulled out his cellphone and called his captain.
"Banks," came the stern voice.
"Simon, its Jim. Have you heard anything about Sandburg yet?"
"No, but its only been about four hours. Give it time Jim."
"If you say so, sir. I was wondering if you could run a background check for me?"
"Sure, what's the name and why do you want a check?"
"The name is Thomas Crowning. C-R-O-W-N-I-N-G. They had a staff meeting here yesterday and he's the only one that didn't show. Said he was ill and left early. I'd like to know if he actually went home. I'm going to talk to Ms. Michaels again and then head on back to the station."
"Okay Jim. I'll get the info on Crowning. Good luck with your talk with Ms. Michaels and I'll see you when you get in."
"Right Simon and thanks."
"Talk to you later."
Jim walked over to Ms. Michaels office and wrapped on her door. He heard a soft 'come in' and then he entered. Jim found Desire Michaels finishing up some paperwork and waited until she was finished. After another few scribbles, she looked up at Jim and half-smiled. She said, "I trust your interviews went well Detective?"
"Fine. I have a few questions for you, Ms. Michaels."
"Certainly, Detective. Why don't you have a seat and we can get started. Would you like some coffee? I just brewed a new pot."
"Thank you. Black is fine."
Ellison took the offered cup of black coffee, drank a sip, and appreciated the strong flavor.
"Thanks, this hits the spot."
"You're welcome Detective. Now, what are the questions you have for me?"
"To start off, would like to know how long it took you to get home last night?"
"Depending on traffic, it can take anywhere up to one hour. Most days I can make it home in thirty minutes. Last night, it was just under forty-five minutes. Why do you ask, Detective?"
"Just trying to establish some times. What time did the meeting break up?"
"Was everyone present for the meeting?"
"No we were one person short. Tom Crowning left the office ill. He usually gets ill just before a staff meeting. I've called him on it a few times but unless the president of the company tells him otherwise, he figures that he can just skip out on meetings. It'll catch up with him in the end."
"Well, I've completed my interviews and they all confirm that you were here until well after six p.m. It still doesn't rule you out as a suspect but it looks like your in a much better position than you were."
"How so, Detective?"
"You have an alibi for just about all the desecrations except for two nights ago. The desecration to place about eleven p.m. to midnight. Where were you at that time Ms. Michaels?"
"Like most good little girls, Detective, I was in bed sound asleep. I was alone so there are no witnesses to attest to the fact of my sleeping habits. Sorry."
"All right, thank you for your time Ms. Michaels. I'll be seeing you later," Jim said as he started to rise from his seat.
"I look for..." Ms. Michaels started to say when her computer beeped to announce that she had some new mail.
"Excuse me a moment," she said as she brought up her mail program.
She opened her new mail and Jim could hear her sharp intake of breath. "Detective, I think you better come and look at this email."
Jim walked around her desk and looked at her computer screen. The email read as follows:
Just a note to let you know that this is the last time you will be in the office. After tonight, you won't need to worry about it. If you're curious, come to 709 W. Oceanside Drive and you might find a special surprise.
Jim looked at the date/time stamp and realized that there was no way that the person in front of him could have written the note since he had been in the office with her for the past few minutes, which included the time the message was sent.
"Do you know what this not means?"
"No, but I do have a suggestion. Why don't we join forces and stop this maniac before he or she actually hurts someone. I want this person stopped just as much as you do. What do you say?"
Jim thought long and hard about Ms. Michaels suggestion. He had a feeling that the woman would go to the address in question if he said no or not. He took a deep breath and finally spoke, "all right but you have to do what I tell you. Let me call my captain and tell him the situation."
Jim called Simon and filled him in on what was happening currently. Jim asked for some back up to be sent to the address but to stay back a bit and let him go directly to the address. Simon agreed and told Jim to be careful and that back up would be there within five minutes. Jim thanked Simon and closed his cellphone. He turned to Ms. Michaels and said, "if you're ready Ms. Michaels, come with me. I'll drive."
"Certainly but can I ask you something? For the duration of this situation, can you call me Desire? Calling me Ms. Michaels reminds me too much of my clients."
"All right, Desire, you can call me Jim."
"Nice to meet you Jim. Now let's go."
709 W. Oceanside Drive
31 October 1998, 12:15pm
Jim Ellison pulled his truck next to his partner's Volvo. This was the last place he expected to find Blair Sandburg. Jim got out of the truck and quickly checked the car over. He saw Blair's backpack on the floor of the front seat and a few books on the passenger seat. He tried the doors and found them all locked. He noticed that the keys were missing from the ignition. He hoped that Blair was all right but couldn't figure out why Blair had come to this address.
Jim scanned the surrounding area for anyone else and found two heartbeats within the building in front of him. He noticed that Desire was looking at the building strangely and was about to ask her what was wrong when she started walking towards the door of the building. She had almost reached the door when Jim caught up to her and grabbed her arm. He spun her around and said, "just what the hell are you doing. I said wait for me."
"I know this may sound weird, but I've been here before. One solstice eve, my Coven held our ritual here. It had been snowing heavily and most of us barely made it. I wish I knew what was going on."
"We'll know soon enough. For now, get and stay behind me."
"Sorry," Desire said as she maneuvered herself behind Jim.
Jim carefully checked to see if the door had been wired with an explosive or anything else. When this check came out clean, Jim carefully grasped the doorknob and turned it. The knob turned easily and the door opened soundlessly. Jim entered first with his gun drawn and in front of him. Desire waited for Jim to tell her to enter.
As Desire finally was signaled to enter, Jim let his senses check the area. His sight took in different areas that had been shifted as if from a fight. His sense of smell brought to him many things that he catalogued and dismissed until he came upon a faint hint of copper. Jim piggybacked his sight with his smell and found different spots that had blood. Jim cautiously crept over to the closest spot and verified that it had indeed been blood. He established that the spots led off towards the back of the building. After another check, Jim and Desire began to follow the spots. The closer they got to the back, the strong the copper smell was. Jim was trying to figure out why the copper smell also had a distinct 'flavor' to it when he realized that it reminded him of Blair.
'Blair was hurt. Blair was bleeding. Have to save Blair,' Jim's mind screamed.
As Desire stood behind Jim, waiting for him to open the door they were standing in front of, she realized that Jim wasn't moving. She whispered his name but nothing happened. She looked around cautiously and spoke his name again just a bit louder. Still Jim stood without moving. Finally, she grabbed his arm and shook him violently and called his name louder.
Jim blinked and shook his head, trying to clear away the cobwebs. He looked at the door and then back at Desire. "Thanks," he said.
"You're..." she started to say when something or someone crashed into the two of them.
Both Jim and Desire were violently forced to one side and crashed into some empty crates. Jim tried to punch at his unknown assailant but with such tight quarters, nothing could be done until either assailant or defender moved. The assailant quickly leapt from Jim and was about to attack Desire. Jim shook his head, got to his feet, and ran headlong into his opponent. Jim drove a fist into the assailant's stomach and aimed another at the jaw. After a few more blows, the assailant was unconscious. Jim turned the person over and handcuffed him. Then Jim turned the perp back over on to his back and removed the stocking mask that covered the assailant's face. Desire gave a startled gasp as she recognized the face. Jim turned to her and said, "do you know this guy?"
"I should. It's Thomas Crowning. Why would he do such a thing?"
"I don't know but we'll find out." Jim took out his phone and called Simon as he stood up.
"Simon, Jim. I caught the guy and have him handcuffed. You can bring in the back up and possibly an ambulance."
"Because Blair's here and I think he's hurt. I found some blood and traced it to the back of the building but didn't get a chance to check it out before the perp decided that he needed to stall me."
"Great. It's on its way."
Jim disconnected, rechecked the prisoner again, and went back to the unopened door. He threw the door opened and couldn't believe what he saw. Blair was tied to a pillar by tie-wraps. There was dried blood on his face and in his hair. Both wrists were swollen from being bound too tightly. His right sleeve had been pushed up above his elbow and a nasty looking bruise from an injection could be seen. Jim focused on his breathing and found it to be shallow. Blair's heartbeat was slow also. As Jim started towards Blair, he heard Simon's voice calling, "Jim!"
"Back here Simon and bring the paramedics."
Within a minute, both Simon and the pair of paramedics had appeared at the door. Simon quietly said, "Sweet Jesus, is he alive?"
"Yeah. Do you have your knife on you? I don't want to find Blair's but I need to get these tie-wraps off his wrists."
Simon dug into his pocket and pulled out his son's old Cub Scout knife and handed it to Jim. Ellison then dug out the longest blade and carefully cut the bindings around Blair's wrists. As soon as both wrists were free, Blair slumped back against Jim's chest. Now the paramedics took over. They called the hospital and relayed his condition to the doctor and also informed the doctor that Blair had been injected with an unknown substance. They were instructed to start an IV and transport as soon as possible. Within minutes, Blair was loaded onto a gurney, strapped down, and rolled away to the awaiting ambulance.
Cascade General Hospital
1 November 1999, 11:50am
Blair Sandburg stared out the window of his hospital room. Since he had awakened the previous evening, his mind had wondered about the case. He had wanted to ask Jim about how the case had turned out and he wanted to be sure that Desire Michaels was not in jail. He really wanted to know what happened to the guy that had thumped him royally. The only problem was, Jim wanted him to rest and not worry about the case. From what Blair could see from Jim's face, it seems the guy had thumped Jim too. He was beginning to think that Jim just didn't want to talk about it again.
Jim Ellison opened the door to Blair's room. Blair looked much better than he did last night. Both his wrists were still swollen but not as severely. His hair had been cleaned and he sported a bandage on his head. A rather large bruise on his cheek attested to a fist impacting his face along with another bruise on his jaw. He cleared his throat and said, "up for some company Chief?"
"Sure Jim," Blair said quietly.
"You look a hell of a lot better than when I found you yesterday afternoon. How're you feeling?"
"Better. Jim, what happened to your face?"
"The bruise came from the perp. He decided that he didn't want you found yet, so he jumped me and Desire. He got in a couple of shots but his mistake was going after Desire. I may have been down but I wasn't out by a long shot. I stopped him with a couple of good hits myself and then he was out for the count. By the way, good work."
"Huh, for what?"
"It seems when you hit him with the large piece of rebar, you hairline fractured his arm. Good thinking, Chief."
"That's just it Jim, I wasn't thinking. I was just scrambling around trying to find something to defend myself with. I couldn't see straight and all I did was just feel around until my hand came in contact with it. I swung it around and caught him on the arm. Only thing, instead of making him back off, it just really ticked him off more. My last thought as I passed out was you."
"I thought I heard you mind call once but I couldn't establish contact with you again. You don't know how worried I was about you."
"I tried to fight to stay conscious but I couldn't. Then I couldn't wake up. What did he give me anyway? My arm still hurts."
"From what the doctor says, you probably wouldn't have woken up until late this evening or tomorrow morning with what he gave you. On top of that was your concussion. He really worked you over Chief."
"Yeah, I guess so." Blair was thoughtful for a short while and then finally he raised his eyes to Jim's and asked, "why'd he do it?"
"Simple jealousy. He was mad at Desire for being promoted over him but the insult came when she became his supervisor. He still believed that women should stay in the kitchen and not even think about working. He had overheard one of her private calls from a member of her Coven. I guess it was an innocent question but he interpreted it to mean that she was casting spells to put everyone in the company under her spell. Bending everybody to her whim was the line he used. Anyway, he started looking up stuff about Covens in the public library and all he could find was about Satan worshippers. He checked the web and found a great deal of information, he just interpreted it to say what it wanted to say. He decided to desecrate the different religions and use those Wiccan symbols. Only he couldn't remember what they stood for only that they would help destroy Desires life and career. Force her to go back to being a homemaker and not a lawyer. As Desire put it, the man seriously needed help."
"I can see that."
"Well, now that you know the scoop, how'd you like to get out of here?"
"You mean it? I don't have to stay here?"
"Doc said that when he checked you earlier that you were doing much better and could go home as long as you take it easy and rest. Can you abide by those rules?"
"You know it. Where're my clothes?"
"Right here, Chief. Go get dressed and we'll blow this place."
"Thanks, Jim. I mean it, thanks for everything, man."
"You're welcome Chief," Jim said with a smile as Blair got carefully off the bed and headed into the bathroom to change.