Home > Graywulf > You Don't Wanna Know... Part 1, Part 2
Summary: A murder investigation goes strange
when a young woman, who knows more about a murder than she should, shows up at
Cascade P.D.'s Major Crimes Unit.
Rating: R (Violence)
Disclaimer: All characters from The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly, I'm just borrowing them and having a little fun.
Originally posted April 15, 1998
Revised: June 15, 1999 (Many thanks to Stargazer for her time and patience during the beta process!)
Catharine Alexander, Cat to her friends and coworkers, had been working for Imaginet Software developing web page content and documentation for her employer for several months.
This particular trip involved meeting and working for the next three weeks with the programmers in Cascade, to understand a new software, and allow her to translate the geek speak into something everyone else could understand.
This was her first visit to Imaginet's Cascade office. Heck, it was her first time out to the West Coast. She was looking forward to meeting people she'd only gotten to know through email and conference calls for the last few months.
It had been a long flight. It was early yet, but a six-hour flight and three-hour time difference were hard to ignore. She had a 9 a.m. meeting, and wanted to be in top form. After unpacking, Cat decided a relaxing warm bath and an early night were just what she needed. Turning on the TV low, for background noise she wandered into the bathroom.
Relaxed, she lay back in the tub, closed her eyes and realize that she was a little more relaxed than possibly she should be. She found herself being pulled down deeper and deeper into a darkness into which she'd never wanted to return to.
Cat found herself fighting back a scream of horror with the images that started flashing through her mind. It was a dark, lonely alley. A woman lay dead among the garbage. There was blood all over her, yet there wasn't enough for the wounds she knew were there. "Oh, God," she thought to herself. "She wasn't the first. She won't be the last. Now, how in the hell do I know that?
She forced her eyes open and tried to will the images away. No. It was just a dream. She lifted herself out of the now cold water, trembling from fear, not the cold. She fought for composure while she toweled herself off.
She pulled on her robe and walked out of the bathroom, only to feel the room slide sideways as she watched in horror at the familiar images of an alley, police, and what definitely looked like a body bag being loaded into a coroner's wagon flickered across the television screen.
She didn't realize that she spoke out loud when she moaned, "Please, God, no. Not again..."
* * *
Two hours previously, Detective Jim Ellison and his partner Blair Sandburg, were sure they were headed home for the night. How wrong they had been. Who knew as they started out of the Bullpen, that the young woman currently sitting across from them, was downstairs, about to turn Cascade's latest murder into something from the Twilight Zone?
At first, Jim had wanted to dismiss Catherine Alexander as a crank. But there was something about her eyes, added to that, the fact she was constantly balling her hands up into fists, and causing them to go white knuckled, she was fighting for control, and so far she'd won.
Sandburg, however, hadn't done as well. They listened to what she had to say only brought back the images of the murder scene they'd investigated earlier that evening. He got paler by the minute.
The real problem with all of this was, there were details that hadn't been released to the press. The site had been contained quickly. The press hadn't had a chance to view the body or the scene.
Ms. Alexander was able to describe that and more. All victims were female. She gave details like the body had been mutilated and descriptions of where the mutilations occurred on the body. Given paper and pen, she was able to draw where the wounds were located on the current body and a second body she had described as not yet found. She described bite marks, areas where flesh had been scored or cut away while the victim was still alive.
She also indicated that the victims had not died of the wounds, though, eventually they might have. Instead, the murderer had strangled the victims with his bare hands. There were marks around the throat area that would eventually be identified as the means of death.
There had been blood all over the victim, but not enough blood at the scene to have been where the victim had been killed. Cat described the knife that caused most of those injuries, and how the other injuries were obtained. The autopsy would either prove or disprove those details.
That left her as either an eyewitness or a suspect. But was where the whole thing slipped into the Twilight Zone. It was impossible for her to have been either.
According to the boarding passes and airline tickets she presented, she had been landing in Denver at the time approximated for the body being dumped in the alley. Cat stated that she had been checking into her hotel room at the time Ellison and Sandburg arrived at the crime scene. She had claimed it was all in a vision, and that images were continuing to come to her.
To make matters even worse, she claimed that a another murder had taken place about six weeks previously and the body of a woman found in a ditch outside of Cascade was the first of three murders. That murder was currently unsolved, but there was no mutilation mentioned, she claimed. DNA evidence would either prove or disprove what she said.
Cat claimed the second murder was closer in appearances to the current one. The body hadn't been found yet, but she indicated that it would be found it in the city dump. Jim wasn't looking forward to that particular part of the investigation. But considering everything she'd told them that was right, only known by the police and the murderer, it had to be checked out. Maybe he could talk Simon into assigning someone else to that particular detail....
She said another victim would be found in the next couple of weeks if they didn't find the murderer before then. If Sandburg could have gotten paler, he would have when Ms. Alexander stated the next victim would be a student from Rainier University....
Jim put in a call into the Metropolitan Toronto PD to start a background check on Ms. Alexander. Apparently, the person he should speak to was an Detective Inspector Michael Young. He wasn't going to be in the office until later, so Jim made a note to call the Inspector when the he came back into the office in the morning to complete his report. Ellison found it interesting that Detective Young had made a point of routing all incoming inquiries about Ms. Alexander directly to him, instead of having the calls handled by anyone else.
* * *
Blair sat quietly in the truck staring off into space, while his mind raced. He wondered how many favours he could call in the Anthropology's department office. He could obfuscate a little, and tell them he was looking for a student who'd been trying to get in touch with him. Ms. Alexander, or Cat as she'd asked them to call her, had given Ellison and Sandburg a name of the next victim, Sheila McDonnell.
The only problem was - that's all they had in addition to the fact she was a student at Rainier. How many Sheila McDonnells were there on campus? Cat couldn't even narrow it down to what field of study this Sheila would be found. Rainier wasn't Washington State, but there were enough students that it could cause a problem.
"I guess I should be glad the last name wasn't Smith, Jones or Brown - that could have been an even worse nightmare." thought Blair. "Speaking of nightmares, how the heck does she do it? I thought Jim and I were going to have a collective heart attack when she turned to us just before leaving and shot us that parting comment."
"By the way, Detective, I like your cat." And then she grinned. "You know, the big black one that's been sitting beside you all through this session? Hope he's house broken. I'd hate to see what he uses as a scratching post or have to clean the litterbox." And with that, she had left.
Blair continued his train of thought, "I would have been suspicious if we hadn't just been through over two hours of hearing not only a description of the body. The alley it had been found in. The revelation of two more victims.
"Man! Even the name of the next victim. How does she do that?
"Man, what a mischievous grin! Did it ever light up her eyes. I was amazed she was able to show a sense of humour after what she'd been telling us. It must be a defense mechanism to help her cope. I wonder how many times she's been through something like this?"
* * *
Cat sagged in the back of the cab. "Well, you've committed yourself to this," she thought. "You're either going to save the day, ruin your reputation, lose your job, or die trying to do anyone or all them.
She thought back to the interview with Detective Ellison and his partner. She'd felt bad for the younger man. Apparently, the crime scene and the body had been as rough on him as the images of them were on her.
Judging from Detective Ellison's cool demeanor, Cat guessed it was possible to compartmentalize enough not to show it, but she knew he was affected by the crime just as much as they were. He'd been the one thing that had kept her steady through the whole reporting period. His steady gaze had held hers on more than one occasion, and she'd been able to draw strength from it. He'd been her landline in that awful mess.
That he'd been surprised to hear her story wasn't a surprise to her. She knew well enough from the police back home, she was considered a crank, or a crackpot, until proven right. Then she became a suspect. It had to be the most frustrating experience to go through. Maybe she should just change her name to Cassandra and be done with it. Rarely did anyone seem to take her seriously, and when they did, the real trouble started for her.
How close last time, had she come to losing her job? How many people she had thought were friends disappeared when the trouble started? Finally, when things settled down enough around her, she changed jobs to start over. Now it was starting all over again. But her conscience wouldn't let her rest. If someone died because of her inaction, she'd be just as guilty as the one who committed the crime. And that, she couldn't live with.
As the interview progressed, earlier that evening, she knew Detective Ellison would have to rule out crackpot. Not only because of evidence that she'd not even been in the city when the murder took place (thank goodness she hadn't taken the plane ticket or boarding passes from her purse!) but she suspected the fact she was answering questions before he could even ask them was unsettling to him - it normally was.
The cab stopped at the hotel. Cat paid the fare and entered the hotel. She knew that she'd be hearing from the police again. They always followed up as to what she had told them was proven accurate. OR: They always followed up on her information, checked her out, until what she had told them was proven accurate. Normally the police were looking for more answers. She'd traded business cards with Detective Ellison, and advised him that the cellular number would be available, though the other numbers listed wouldn't be checked as often, since she was away from her office. The only other local number she had was the hotel. He had made note of the information, and she was free to leave.
As she stepped into the elevator, she allowed herself a small secret smile. Why she'd commented on the black jaguar she'd seen in the room, knowing it was a spirit animal, was beyond her. But she knew she had to say something. And to be honest, the look on both their faces had been worth it.
Maybe, she thought as she fished out her room key, the animal spirit was just a way to punctuate the whole interview with one heck of an exclamation point....
She looked at her watch as the elevator doors opened on her floor and she stepped out. Ugh, it's 4:30 a.m. back home, which is... 1:30 a.m. local time. The meeting is in a little over seven hours away, I've got to get some sleep. I only hope that the images don't come back to haunt me in my sleep or I'm going to be a wreck.
* * *
Jim kept giving his partner sidelong glances on the way home. It was unusual for Sandburg to be quiet that long. This was Mr. Bounce himself, and he wasn't bouncing.
"You're awfully quiet, Chief." said Jim.
"Just trying to figure out what story I'm going to give the department's Admin. Assistant so I can get the info on all the Sheila McDonnells on campus without going through official routes" replied Blair. "It could save us time. The information is available under normal circumstances to university staff and faculty. I could get phone numbers, addresses and course lists then we could start narrowing down the field to current students."
Blair looked at Jim as they pulled into the trucks parking space, "Thought about what we're going to tell Simon in the morning?" Blair asked with a grin.
"I'm trying not to think about it. I don't even want to think about what his reaction's going to be."
"Just how much do you think she knows?" queried Blair as he closed the door to the truck and hurried to catch up to his partner who was headed into their building.
"About what, Chief? The murders? I think she's been as up front as she can."
"Uh, no. The *cat*, man. You, being the Sentinel. Do you think she knows?"
"After what she's told us so far, and the hint she dropped, I suspect she knows something. But how much, only *she* knows right now."
* * *
Jim looked at the report from previous nights interview with Ms. Alexander. Sandburg, as usual, had done a terrific job of it. Ms. Alexander came across in the report as an informant. Not as a nutcase. Not a crank. But someone who had come forward with information that they might be able to use. Now all they had to do was break the news about their informant to Simon. Jim knew Simon was just going to love that.
Jim closed the report, and motioned to Sandburg. "Let's go talk to the Captain." They rose from their chairs in unison, and headed for the door to Captain Simon Banks office. Hesitating for just a moment, Jim finally knocked on the open door.
"Captain? Could we have a word with you?"
"Whats it about, Ellison?"
"The murder last night. I thought it was best we bring you up to date on the case as it stands."
"Okay. Come in then," Banks said, motioning them with his ever present cup of coffee.
Jim and Blair went in. The shorter man made sure the door was closed before Jim began talking. Simon watched that, and wondered what was up, and why they felt the need to close the door for this update.
"Ellison, whats going on?" Simon asked once they were both seated.
"Weve had an informant come forward. This person has given us information only the PD had, that had not been available to the press. In addition, there may be two other victims. One that is currently marked as unsolved that occurred about six weeks ago. The other, apparently the body has not yet been recovered. The informant has indicated that the body would be found in the city dump."
"Who is this informant? Is this informant reliable?" Simon demanded.
Jim gave a quick look to Blair; "Im in the process of checking the informants background. The informants name is Catherine Alexander. She works for a company called Imaginet as a member of their Toronto offices Online Business department. She arrived in town last night for a series of meetings with members of the companys Cascade office."
Simon sat up straighter in his chair and fired questions at Ellison. "Last night? When last night? How does she know about the other murders?"
"According to the boarding passes and airline ticket, she departed Denver at approximately 8:10 p.m. Mountain time last night. She arrived in Cascade around 8:50 p.m. Pacific time last night. She had checked into her hotel by 9:30 p.m."
"Just a second." interrupted Simon as he took his glasses off to rub the bridge of his nose. "You mean to tell me, your informant wasnt even in the city when this murder took place, and was practically only arriving in Cascade when you arrived on the crime scene?" He gave Jim an incredulous look.
"Yes, sir." Jim replied, noncommittally.
"Then how did she know about any of this?"
Jim took a deep breath. "Captain, she claims she saw it, in a vision."
Simon sat back heavily in his chair, making it creak ominously. "Now Ive heard everything! Do you really expect me to believe this?"
"Sir, with the level of detail shes given, it would be difficult to ignore what she has had to say. Ive put in a call to Homicide, to see if theyve had any unsolved cases within the last six weeks that match either of the descriptions shes given us. They think they have one that matches. Ill ask forensics to go over the evidence of that case and compare it to the evidence from the scene last night. I have a contact name in Metropolitan Toronto PD to ask about Ms. Alexander. Apparently, they know her and I should have a better idea afterwards as to whether or not she can be considered a reliable informant. Ill keep you informed of our progress."
"Is there anything else?" asked Simon, spreading his hands out in front of him, palms up.
"There is one other thing, Captain. Ms. Alexander has also given us the name of someone who may be the next victim. The woman in question is a student at Rainier."
"She gave you the *name* and gender of the next victim? Are you sure this crime hasn't already been committed?" thundered a skeptical Simon.
Jim defended Cat to his captain and countered with, "Simon, we've got to take her seriously. She's our only source of information right now. And, frankly, Sir, my gut feeling it to trust her." Simon nodded reluctantly, since he had learned to trust Jim's "gut feelings" in the past.
"Well do everything we can to verify the information, and coordinate with the campus police to ensure this persons safety."
"Fine. What about the body in the dump? Are you okay to handle that?" asked Simon.
"I should be alright. Not a job Im looking forward to, but given enough manpower, we should be able to locate the body if there is one."
"If Sandburg is going to be at the university while you do this, make sure you take Taggart with you. Ill have Rafe and Brown go as well. Coordinate with forensics so they have people standing by, as well as the coroners office *if* the body is found."
Simon sat behind his desk, shaking his head as Ellison and Sandburg left his office and ruminated on the latest information. "Is there anything else that can happen? Are we due for the apocalypse yet? If so, I get the impression these two were going to be on the spot for it, and they'll be dragging me along for the adventure."
He'd feel a lot better if there was something of more substance than a vision to support the information this Alexander woman had given them. Simon was primarily a black and white type of man. Give him concrete evidence, not paranormal evidence, and he'd believe it wholeheartedly. It had been hard enough to accept Jim's sentinel ability at first. This was something else altogether.
Ellison had already requested the evidence on file for the murder victim found six weeks ago be checked against that of previous night's victim. That left the search of the city dump for the alleged victim number two. Ellison was going to coordinate the team searching the city dump, while Sandburg tried to get information on the "next" victim using his connections at the university.
* * *
Jim dialed the number he had been given for Detective Young of the Metropolitan Toronto PDs 52 Division.
"52 Division. Detective Young speaking."
"Detective Young, this is Detective Ellison of the Cascade PD in Washington State."
"Yes, I received a message you called earlier this morning, about Catherine Alexander I believe? How may I help you?" Detective Young offered.
"What can you tell me about her?" Jim asked. "Shes come to us with some unusual information and....quite frankly, I guess what I need to know is..."
"Is she a nutcase or is she the real thing?" Detective Young finished, patiently.
"Right." Jim said warily.
"Detective Ellison, I have one piece of advice for you. Listen to her. If we had, when she came to us a year ago, one person would still be alive today. I can forward you a copy of the file on the case she was involved in, if it would be of any help."
"That information would be appreciated."
"I have to admit, Im surprised shes come forward again, after what she went through the last time."
"I dont follow you. What happened?"
"There was a burglary ring, and she had predicted the location of the next robbery and the death of a security guard three nights before it happened. Once it happened, she had to be considered a suspect. But it turned out shed been right all along. If we had listened to her, that security guard would be alive now. It also left her life in quite a mess. Thats why Im surprised she got involved in another case, the fallout from the case here cost her most of the people she had thought of as friends and nearly her job."
Jim wondered what Detective Young was referring to and speculated whether Cat bring it up herself.
* * *
"One of the new features we've built into this release...." droned the Project Advisor. Or at least he seemed to be droning.
Between the lack of sleep and everything that had happened the previous night, her concentration just wasn't there. She hadn't been able to get a restful sleep. The images kept playing repeatedly like a really bad movie.
She had gotten up after a couple of hours of tossing and turning, hooked up her laptop and checked her email. From there she started re-reading some of the files she'd brought with her to bring her up to speed on the project.
She had breakfast at 6:30 a.m. local time, then wandered back up to her room afterwards to pull everything together she'd need for the day, and try to ready herself for what was going to be a demanding day.
It didn't help that Cat knew she was waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop. It was just a matter of time before she heard from Detective Ellison or his partner Mr. Sandburg (or should she say Jim and Blair?).
The call would come, and she bet it would come at the worst possible time for her, more than likely while in a meeting. Not that she had a problem speaking with either of them, it was just she didn't want the entire Cascade office knowing what was going on, because it would go back to her own office. The questions, the looks, and suspicions at work were not what she wanted. She was more than just a little glad she'd invested in the vibrating battery for her cellphone as a result...
* * *
"Hey Blair!" Debra called as she came out of Professor Aronsons office.
"Debra, how did you make out with that search? Any luck with the student record I was looking for?" Blair responded as he walked down the hall with her towards the administrative office.
"Yeppers. Got five Sheila McDonnells. Four are current students. I've printed off their records, including class schedules. One is a night student in business, so it's doubtful she's the one you're looking for, unless she's planning a change in her major, or needs an elective. The other three are full time students - two in sciences, and one in arts. The print-outs are in your mailbox." Then she added with a grin, "By the way - you owe me!"
"You know it Debra."
"Just remember that when I need to arrange proctors for exams at the end of the term."
Blair smiled to himself and thought, "Well something is going right. This is do-able. Soon, with any luck, we'll know who's being targeted by this sicko, if Cat was right." He followed Debra into the office, stopping at his mailbox and pulled out the promised envelope.
"Ill see you later. Thanks again!"
Blair returned to his own office, envelope in hand eager to check the print outs himself. "Leave it to Debra, he thought as he pulled out the sheets, shes highlighted all the important info, name, address, phone numbers, major, current courses and their room locations."
* * *
After speaking with the manager of the site, Jim stood in the middle of a path through the city dump.
They had been lead to where the garbage would have been dumped during the approximated period of time. (Yes, they actually did have a plan on where garbage was dumped, and could approximate when and where as Ellison had been told smugly by the dump manager.)
There were approximately 12 men and women at the City Dump as part of the search team. Three uniformed officers teamed up with each member of the Major Crimes Unit. Each member of the team was armed with rubber gloves, masks and rubber boots.
The smells in the place would overwhelm just about anyone at anytime. For a sentinel, a person with heightened senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and most of all smell, the city dump had the potential to be pure hell. Even the filter in the mask didnt seem to be doing its job.
Detective James Ellison, a sentinel, was also the one person who could find the needle in the haystack of a search that Cat Alexander had instigated. So, he did what he did best. Jim slowly started to process the information his heightened sense of smell brought to him. Filtering out the smells one by one.
Sorting through the smells waste and decay, he found what he was looking for. Faintly. He wound his way through the maze of paths to where the scent was strongest, through the tons of garbage that were created daily by a city the size of Cascade.
Jim called the other teams to help search the likeliest mountain of rubbish. Following the unmistakable stench of decaying flesh he was able to almost pinpoint the location of the body. It shouldnt take too long to uncover it.
Then he dialed down his sense of smell in self-protection. He desperately wanted something to wash his mouth out because of the taste that kept settling in it when he tried to breathe through his mouth to cut down on the smell. He knew he wouldnt feel like eating anything for supper, breakfast, lunch, or ever again, with the memory of the foul odors. God, he wished Sandburg was there. "He would get the easy way out, checking student records at the university," he grumbled to himself silently.
After several hours, they realized their grim search was finally over when the shout from above "We've got something!" was heard.
She was been right again, thought Jim who took no pleasure in that knowledge. Thankfully, the grim task had only taken hours, not the days or even weeks, it could have.
Forensics went over the spot to pick up any evidence that they could. Considering the garbage, it was a job he didnt envy them. The coroner's team would then transport the body for an autopsy, which was scheduled immediately, followed them. That report would then be checked against the other two to confirm what was beginning to look like another match.
* * *
"Want a little more saki, Cat?" offered Dan Adams.
"Sorry, but I think I've had enough, especially if I plan to do some work tonight. You can pass a little of that tempura and daikon root over here, though. Ebi, anyone?"
"Pass the shrimp over here, Cat" replied Rob.
Just as she started to pass the plate of sashimi to Rob on her right, the cellphone chose to vibrate. Quickly passing off the plate, and grabbing the phone from her waistband, she checked the number of the incoming call.
"Hi. Can I put you on hold for a sec?"
"Sure," said Jim, hearing the noise around her.
"Excuse me, people. Gotta take a call," she explained as she rose from her seat to step away.
"Got a hot date?" called Joyce Whelan from the other end of the table.
"Trust me, you don't wanna know," replied Cat. If only it were that pleasant, she thought, remembering a certain pair of blue eyes that had helped keep her grounded less than 24 hours ago. Was it really that short a time?
Going out to the foyer of the restaurant near the pay phones, Cat was finally able to take the call.
"Sorry about that, I'm having dinner with some of the people from the office, and they're a bit noisy. Please, as I asked before, call me Cat." With a wistful look back at the table, she could see other patrons watching the group. They were oblivious to everyone else, and obviously enjoying themselves. "I needed to step away so I could hear you. I take it we need to talk?"
"Got it in one," he replied. Damn she was good. Had she just anticipated his call, or did she really know what they needed to talk to her about?
"Hmmmm. I more than likely won't be back at the hotel until sometime after 8:00, unless you want me to meet you somewhere else, like the station?"
"Either is good, which is your preference?" offered Jim. He preferred to keep their talk private, however, he let her have the choice due to the subject matter and her abilities. He was still incredulous of what she had claimed to have seen and predicted. Jim didnt want others to harass Cat because they were skeptical about psychic abilities. He wondered if would he have faired any better, if, because of his sentinel abilities, he were to come forward the way she had in similar circumstances?
"How about the hotel then? I'm at the Sheraton Suites, suite 510. What time should I expect you?"
"Would 9:00 p.m. give you enough time without rushing your dinner?"
"It would. Thanks. I appreciate the thought. See you then." Cat headed back to the table to finish her dinner, and rescue what tempura was left on her plate. Someone had filched a couple of shrimp from her plate, but she noticed they'd left the octopus...
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