The 9th Victim – Chapter Two: In the Basement

Chapter Two: In the Basement

The camera clicks resounded in the near empty basement, bouncing off pipes and giving off an eerie echo. Each flash of the camera was a spotlight on every piece of Evidence (capital E) as Will Breuker worked his way around the room with a detached manor. You had to be detached in a job like this or you would go mad. Dealing with everyday acts of cruelty is enough to make even the most optimistic person a pessimist.

And this, well, this was so far beyond everyday acts of cruelty. This was evil.

Will, although he tried hard not to be, was an obvious cynic. At the still young age of thirty seven he had already seen too much to be anything else. But this crime had already surpassed the worst he’d dealt with. Decaying cuts covered the rotted body as he captured each one with flashing light. The smell drifted around him, clouding the air in a suffocating way. He was going to be sick.

After photographing the body he did his best not to look at it as he made his way around the room. Though even without looking at it he knew he would still be able to conjure up the image of rotted flesh and decaying body in an instant. For him, the worst would come when they identified the victim. When the pictures surfaced and the personal details came to light and he was forced to reconcile this thing with a real person. A real person, someone with a life and family. Will pushed that thought down as he moved on, taking pictures of everything, every spot on the wall, every scuff on the basement floor as the few detectives still in the room talked around him. Time moved quickly as he focused on his job shutting off all other parts of his brain.

“That’s done.” Will did not turn as he spoke, but let the camera drop around his neck as he stepped from the room. He didn’t turn back, but the horror he had seen was still burned in his mind, like ash from a fallen cigarette on a couch, to reappear in the dark of night in the most terrifying of nightmares. Aaron, the other photographer, nodded and continued with his collection of evidence.

With a calm mask that betrayed none of his inner feelings, Will made his way through the house to the yard, passing what was left of the investigation team. Most of them had left by now. He nodded at those who greeted him, not stopping for small talk.

“Breuker!” Danielle Brooks made her way towards him. “How’d it go down there?” Danni never referred to a crime scene as a murder.

“It went,” Will lowered his eyes to check his watch and looked anywhere but at Danni. “I need to head back to the office.” He started to walk away but she caught his arm.

“You came here with Aaron?” Danni asked tentatively.

“Yeah?”

“Well, since he’s not ready to leave yet, and you didn’t bring a car, I’ll take you back.” Will opened his mouth to tell her it wasn’t necessary but she stopped him, “I’m headed there anyway.” He couldn’t think of a way out of it so he followed her to her car. Danni unlocked the doors and he climbed his way in, still trying as hard as he could not to look at her.

Danielle Brooks was pretty, no denying that. Thirty four years old and just under 5’6”, she was in incredible shape. She never bothered with a lot of make-up and her mousy-brown hair was always pulled back messily, with wisps escaping from the elastic after hours of work. Her style was unprofessional but no one ever commented.

Though pretty, most of Danni’s features were unremarkable. But not her eyes.

Danni had the most striking eyes. Cat-like, impossibly large, and chocolate coloured, with black lashes that framed them and two perfectly arched eyebrows over top, they were the most intense eyes Will had ever seen. And they made him nervous.

Feeling the gaze of those eyes always made him want to shiver.

They worked together fairly often, it was a small department in a small town and everyone worked together fairly often. But Will tried to avoid her as much as possible personally. It wasn’t that she wasn’t a nice person, she was. Almost too nice in that annoyingly eager way of the insecure. But that wasn’t it. It was more that he didn’t know how to act around her so it made him uncomfortable. She always seemed to be expecting something from him, always seemed to be watching him. Not in a creepy way, just in a curious way. That was why he didn’t like to be around her too much.

Will hated to be thrown off balance.

Even now, as they drove in silence to the office, Will shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Danni glanced at him again. He could see her out of the corner of his eye. Four times she had looked at him, probably completely unaware that he knew, probably completely unconcerned. He shifted again, trying to think of something intelligent to say but at a loss. He cleared his throat once, then twice, and spoke. “How are thing with you?”

“I can’t complain,” She managed a shrug as she spoke. She glanced again, “And you?”

Will looked at her then back out the window, “It’s alright.”

That was the extent of their conversation on the forty five minute drive. Both avoided talking about the tragedy they had just left, striving for a moment of normalcy away from the evil, even if it was unbearably awkward. After fifteen minutes of silence she turned on the radio to a folk station, music that he loathed. When he got out of the car he curtly thanked her and left, not even waiting to see where she went.

Will briskly made his way into the lab, a man on a mission. He knew he had a long night ahead of him, and he was determined to ignore any distractions.

 

 

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