Corrupted Transmission

Means and Motive, Part I

Seattle, Autumn 2010

One of a Kind Investigations has done well in the past few months, despite being stiffed for resolving the brain spider infestation. In Seattle, thing were made grimmer by a third murder of a young woman in September. Like the others her eyelids were cut off. The culprit, a serial killer dubbed the Watcher by the press, was none other than Jarette Costa. The third murder however involved one of his neighbors and due to a stray finger print he was uncovered and arrested.

On a brighter note, Frank was released from the Hillcrest Mental Health Center, his mental composure, if not his memories, restored. He confides to Shaw that he is considering returning to the firm in the next year. Mill is somewhat cheered by this.

November 18th, 2 AM

The ringing phone wakes up Shaw. She snatches it from her nightstand and glances at the caller ID.

“Frank?” she says sleepily.

The older detective’s voice quavers. “Shaw. Shaw I … T think I killed someone.”

“What?” she says, pulling herself out of bed.

“There was an intruder,” Frank says quietly.

“You need me over right now?”

“Yes,” he says pleadingly.

Shaw pulls on some clothes. “Alright I’ll be over there as fast as I can.”

Ballard, Seattle, 2:30 AM

Shaw pulls up in front of the house. Through the downstairs windows she can see Frank pacing. She glances around as she steps out of the car. Several of the neighbors are also up. She walk up the path to the front door. She spots a broken window into kitchen on her way up.

She finds Mavis sitting in the room with Frank. Frank rushes over to her.

“I’m glad you came,” he says excitedly, gesturing to the kitchen. “Someone broke in the window over here.”

“Tell me what happened,” Shaw asks him.

“Well I heard this noise. I came down to investigate and there was this man here.” Frank gives her the best description he can, a man of medium build and height with dark hair. I couldn’t see who, it was dark."

“He came at me with a knife,” he continues showing her the slices on his hand. “I fended him off and shot him. I saw him fall but when I called you he was there.” He points to the corner of the room where a lamp has been knocked over. “But he is not there anymore.”

Shaw crouches where he pointed and looks more closely. The carpet here is scuffed up but there is no blood or signs that the shots went wide. To her practiced eye she sees the fight started in the kitchen with the attacker slicing at Frank. some flecks of blood decorated the entrance way between the kitchen and the living room. He must have been hiding near the refrigerator. Eerily she finds three bullets, deformed by hitting something yielding like ballistics gel or flesh. They also have no blood on them. A window in the kitchen was broken from the outside.

She quizzes Mavis. She only heard what happened. They were awakened by the window being broken. when Frank went downstairs, she heard a scuffle and shouting followed by gunshots. She came down later, by which point the body was gone.

Shaw goes outside to look at how the intruder entered. She spots a police car making its way down the street. Before it arrives she finds a crude club and some footprints. She snaps some pictures of the footprints and the officer. Once sure he isn’t a doppelganger, she intercepts him.

“Do you live here?” the cop asks.

“No. Lillian Shaw,” she says showing him her P.I. license. “I was called to help my friends. I’m sure they will give you a statement. You are here on a call from the neighbors?”

The officer recognizes the name. “Yes. They heard gunshots.”

Shaw gives him a brief description of the events. “But my friend can give you a better report.”

The cop takes down statements and puts out a report of burglary attempt. He tells dispatch the culprit may have possible gunshot wounds. After he leaves, Frank and Mavis go to check into a hotel for night. Shaw stays and stakes out the house to see if the perpetrator returns.

Ballard, Seattle, 7 AM

That morning Lillian Shaw canvases Frank’s neighborhood. Recalling the name she spied on the police report, she first visits Timothy Smith, the original caller. The old man answers the door and Shaw interviews him.

“Yes, I heard these gunshots in the middle of the night,” he explains. “I called the police. Somebody might have been hurt.”

Shaw jots down some notes. “I understand. The gunshots woke you up?”

“Yes.”

“Did you happen to look out your window and see anything?” she inquires.

“I looked out but I didn’t see anything,” the white haired man says.

“I don’t suppose you have any insomniacs in the neighborhood?” Shaw asks, hoping for a lead.

Tim shakes his wrinkled head. “Not that I know of, no.”

“Well if you hear anything or see anything, please let me know.” She gives him her card and heads to the next house.

Around 9 AM, she calls Mill at the office.

“Hey what’s up?” he answers.

“I’ve had a long night. I’m probably not going to be in nor will Mavis. Someone tried to break into Frank’s place.”

“Oh? Really? Is he okay?” he asks with concern.

“Yes. He got a slight cut from a knife.” Shaw fills Mill in on the details including the odd bullets.

“Bullet proof vest? Or weird thing?” Robert asks.

“Didn’t look like a vest. I have to get some sleep. Frank’s replacing the window. I’m going to finish talking to the neighbors and then get some sleep until the afternoon. Can you hold down the fort and handle the calls?”

“Sure. Get some sleep and all.”

Shaw visits one last house. Unfortunately the woman living there, Jillian Waters didn’t see anything either. She explains she already told the police everything she knew.

Shaw asks about police officers, worried there might be something funny about them. “I don’t what to bother you too much but did you see anything suspicious?”

“No,” she explains.

Shaw gives out another card. “If you don’t want to bother the police with something, please bother me.”

Office of One of a Kind Investigations

Robert Mill has a busy day at the office, fielding calls while Erin Bartram tries to cover their investigations. Aroudn non he gets an instant message on his computer. From a program he never installed.

It is from Infinity. ‘Interested in negotiating for those tapes.’

He writes back, ‘I would need to talk to Shaw, she’s not here right now. :)’

Lightning quick comes the response, ‘Let me know what you decide.’

‘Will do. How should I contact you?’

‘Message me.’

‘Sounds good. Talk to you later.’

Logging off, he texts Shaw, ‘Infinity wants to negotiate for the tapes. What do you want to do?’

Office of One of a Kind Investigations, 4 PM

Shaw heads to the office as soon as she sees Mill‘s text. On the way over she mulls over the mystery of the tapes. Mill’s friends at the university were able to break the encryption but not make sense of it. The data itself was incomprehensible, mixing brain wave recordings with sophisticated computer code. They needed Ambrose Grant or someone with vast resources like the Chieron Group. People she wasn’t willing to trust. Just in case she had Mill make digital copies. Dr. Trevor Sorenson had made sure they were securely hidden.

At the office, Shaw discusses their next step with Mill.

“I don’t know If I trust Infinity,” Robert says. “I guess I want to make sure she doesn’t harm anybody with it. Other than that I guess I don’t care that much. As long as doesn’t create an army of cyborg men or whatever the heck she is.”

Shaw mummers agreement. “Who knows. She is weird. From what we can tell it is the recording of the brains of the people in that apartment. Besides the fact there was a serial killer there and Sandmen, I don’t see that there is anything weird on the recording on itself.”

Talk turns to what could be on the tapes. Mill suggests it might hold an encryption key.

“What kind of computer could have an encryption key with anything to do with people’s brains?” Shaw asks.

“It might not be just a computer thing. It might be something psychic.”

Shaw points out that even if it is, there are no instructions for building a new machine. Nothing she could use a code on. “Unless she wants to use this information to make new serial killers.”

Mill paces, worried. “It does concern me, computers taking over the world and all that stuff.”

Shaw holds up her cellphone. “I kind of love technology. Its one of the few ways I can sleep at night, taking pictures of my room.”

Mill takes his boss’s admission in stride. He suggests destroying the tapes but acknowledges it is irrational. “I’m very like being paranoid. As you take pictures of your room, I come up with conspiracy theories. Events have changed my outlook.”

Shaw remains bothered by her instinctive dislike of Infinity. Now it seems so unlike her. Mill points out she does constantly spy on them.

“No,” Shaw explains, “she’s a bitch but that’s not why.”

“Well she does have a dataport in the back of her head. She’s a cyborg.”

“You really think she’s a cyborg? I thought she was just weird.”

Mill suggests talking to the The Men in Black but Shaw decides against it. She doesn’t want them to be aware of her if they are not already. Mill however is unsure what he knows or believes.

“That break in at Frank’s was pretty weird,” Shaw says, turning to their other problem. “I kind of want to put up some cameras at his house in case anyone comes around. He seemed pretty sure he hit the thing but there was no blood. That in itself is weird. I think it would be good for Frank at least if we had a record of it.”

“That makes sense to install security there,” Mill agrees. “We’ve gotten good at it.”

They decide to give her tapes in exchange for the money and any information she finds pertaining to the apartment complex or the serial killer.

Infinity gets back to them quickly. ‘Will transfer the funds immediately. Given how our meeting went last time, I will arrange for a neutral party to pick up the tapes. You can meet him at the old office at midnight in 2 days.’

Ballard, Seattle, November 19th

Robert Mill installs security cameras around the Brooks residence. He hooks up some live feeds and begins the watch.

Ballard, Seattle, November 20th, 10 PM

As Shaw watches the feed from the cameras, she notices a police car pass by. Soon after Frank calls her up.

The old detective sounds worried. “The police are here, I mean on the street. Apparently there’s been a murder.”

Shaw jumps out of her seat. “I’ll be over, I’ll call Mill.”

She calls Robert Mill on her way out. She explains the situation.

“There’s been a murder you say?” he says.

“Yeah, somewhere in the neighborhood. I didn’t see anything on the feeds except the police cars. I’m going to head over there. Maybe our cameras are not set up right.”

“Do you want me to come by as well?”

Shaw puts on a coat as she holds the phone to her ear. “Its up to you. It pretty late. Maybe you can keep an eye on the feed on my way over.”

Back at his office, Mill brings the feed up on a second monitor and goes back to playing WoW.


On Frank’s street, an ambulance idles in front of a house down the street. Several police officers are cordoning off Julia’s house, keeping back the growing crowd. Shaw slips in among them and listens to their conversations. The locals are worried but seem to be in the dark about what happened.

The detective pushes through the crowd and flashes her P.I. badge to the sergeant in charge. He recognizes her and takes her aside. From him she learns that Julia is dead and that a friend of hers found her body after she had missed their dinner date.

“Suicide?” Shaw asks.

The cop looks around and whispers, “I think it is another victim of that serial killer. Her eyes were sliced open.”

“I thought they got the guy?”

“I thought so too. I sure hope its not a copycat.”

“Who is handling that case?” she asks, knowing the answer.

“Um, Jack,” the sergeant says uncomfortably. “He should be here soon.”

Shaw quizzes the cop for some more details. The police have yet to find signs of forced entry, which fits the Jarette Costa’s MO. They estimate she died a couple hours ago.

“A friend of mine had a break in a couple nights ago,” Shaw confides. “We set up a camera feed. I didn’t see anything but you are welcome to a copy.”

“Thanks,” he tells her.

“Can you get me a copy of the ME report later?” she asks in return.

“Sure,” he says, happy for some possible lead.

Shaw steps away and texts Mill. ‘Same MO as that serial killer they caught. No sign of break in.’

‘Doppelganger?’ she gets back form from him.

She quickly types out another message. ‘We don’t know what it looks like. Could be a copycat.’

She then asks Mill to make copy and search the video during the time period about 2 hours ago.

About an hour later Mill gets back to her. ‘Blurry figure. 7:35 PM. Lingering strangely.’

Right afterward, she gets a picture. The man in the photo is oddly blurry, dressed in a uniform of some sort and wearing a baseball cap. She walks over to where he was standing. There is nothing there but he was obviously watching Frank’s house. While she waits for Lt. Jack Lawrence, she shows the picture to Frank.

“Could be the same person,” he tells her.

Eventually the Lieutenant arrives. Shaw intercepts him as he leaves the crime scene. “Hey I know you’ve got your hands full here but Frank just lives a few doors down.”

“Yeah, I saw that,” he says he pushes his way to his car.

“He had a break in a couple nights ago,” she tells him.

“I know I was just reading the report on way over.”

“Well we had camera pointed at the street,” she points out.

“Yeah, the Sergeant told me.”

“We’ll burn a copy. I’ll bring it by the station tomorrow.”

“Thanks.”

She shows him the picture they retrieved. “You think this is the same guy?”

“Maybe, maybe not. But it is worth a look.”

Ballard, Seattle, November 20th, 12 PM

Lillian Shaw spend the night catching up on the serial killer case. There were three murders in August and September attributed to “the Watcher”, as the press dubbed him. Jarette Costa was apprehended in October after evidence at the 3rd member exposed him. His MO was to gain access to a woman’s house by impersonating a repair person. He would then subdue them, then torture and kill them in their own home. At some point he would slices their eyes open while they were still alive.

The victims were all white women in their ages 20s to early 30s white women. They were also all brunettes. Shaw notes grimly that she fits his type. This fourth victim, Julia, also fit the profile. She lived alone in a house like the first two victims. The third victim, the one that led to his arrest, lived down the hall from him. Except for her there was no connection between the victims. The murders did show signs of acceleration as well as a sense they were becoming more polished with time. As for motivation, whatever justifications he used he seems to have been a sexual predator.

Jarette himself is currently in custody. Based on a partial print they were able to get a warrent for his apartment and found several uniforms for repair companies as well as a set of knives. Looking over the shots of the blades, she decides they are similar to the one used on Frank. His mug shots seem crisp though. He isn’t a Tulpa.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, November 21st

Shaw and Mill discuss Jarette Costa.

“Strange that he would kill someone in his own apartment,” Mill says, leaning back in his chair.

“Not really,” Shaw explains. “She was probably the first one he fixated on. The other two victims before her were likely the build up to her. Not that he would have stopped if they hadn’t caught him.” She explains that serial killers are not as in control as they believe they are.

“But how can we be sure he did kill the first two given he didn’t kill the fourth?” he asks, idly tapping at his keyboard.

Shaw muses, “I assume they have some evidence they haven’t released yet.” She has Mill look up the judge who issued the search warrant. Mill brings up Dennis Smith. Shaw recollects, he isn’t the hardest judge to get a warrant from.

Mill throws out another idea. “The other conceivable theory is that he was being controlled by somebody.”

“That’s possible,” she concedes.

“So do we want to follow this up?” Mill taps his pen. “We aren’t getting paid for it.”

“Well even if we are not, cracking this case will help the image of the firm. And Frank seemed to think this guy could be the one who attacked him in his home.”

“Maybe we should ask him if it was Jarette Costa,” Mill points out. “What should I do next?”

“I’m not sure why this guy is after Frank but maybe you should put some more cameras up. I am concerned about him.”

Ballard, Seattle, November 21st, 10 AM

The sky is cloudy and a gentle mist descends as Robert sets up cameras around Frank’s house.

A man from electric company pulls up in front of the house. He gets out and approaches Mill. “Where’s the meter?”

Robert looks down from his work at a gutter. The man’s cap obscures his features. “Yeah, let me show you?”

Robert leads him around back. The man seems pretty familiar. Robert decides to play for time. He shows him the box. “Just doing a little work myself here, so don’t mind me.”

But as Robert backs away, the man’s eyes are already wary. He reaches for his belt. He pulls a screwdriver in a fluid motion and stabs it into Mill’s shoulder.

Robert stumbles towardss the front yard, shouting for help. Jarette Costa follows him stabbing at him repeatedly. Mill tries to dodge but Jarette is too fast. By the time he reaches the front yard he is bleeding from several wounds.

“You have your eyes closed. You don’t see it. You don’t see it!” the mad man shouts at him as he stabs again.

“Aagh!” Robert shouts as Frank burst out the front door, gun drawn. The old detective shoots, striking the serial killer in the gut. The hole smolders but no blood leaks out.

Jarrette charges Frank and stabs him in the shoulder.

The pressure off him, Robert lurches to his feet and pulls both his pistols. He shoots the killer in the back while Frank fires again at close range.

Jarrette shudders. “This is not…”

Then he falls over and shatters into rapidly disintegrating chunks. In the end nothing is left.

“Dude the guy-oh wait are you okay Frank?” Robert asks.

“I’m okay, you look pretty bad,” Frank says looking at the bloody mess from his stabbings. “Get in here, I’ve got a first aid kit.”

“Okay let’s call Shaw and…probably go to the hospital again.”

Downtown, Seattle, November 21st, 10 AM

Lillian Shaw sets down the pictures and digital recordings on the table in front of her. “This case took an interesting turn.”

Jack Lawrence looks up at her. “Yeah I was hoping this was all in the past.”

“You sure you have the right guy?” she asks sitting down across from him.

Jack sighs and leans back in his chair. “I am sure we have the person who did the first three murders. I don’t know who did the last one. Must be a copy cat.”

“What evidence do you have for the first two?” Shaw probes.

“We had some hair samples from the first murder. We didn’t have any hard forensic evidence from the second but the hair is his,” he emphasizes.

“Did he confess?”

“Yes.”

“What did he have to say? Did he have an accomplice?” she queries.

“I don’t think he has an accomplice,” he snorts. “I think he’s a freaking wackjob.”

“Well what do you call this?” she says pointing to the still she brought with her.

Jack studies the photographs. “These are really out of focus.”

“No its just him,” she says. “He was watching the house. How does the time stamp jive with the time of death.”

“It would just enough time for him to kill her,” he says considering it. “This is probably our guy.”

As Jack looks over the evidence, Shaw’s phone rings. She tells him, “Mill is setting up more cameras, mind if I take this?”

“Sure.”

Shaw talks into her phone. “Hey Mill what’s up.”

“Aagh,” grimaces Robert Mill. “Frank and I have been stabbed. Ow. But we may have — are we on speaker again?”

She hears Frank’s voice. “We killed him again.”

“No you are not on speaker,” she explains. “Are you at Frank’s house?”

“Yes,” Robert tells her. He quickly relays what just happened.

As he describes Jarette Costa’s disintegration, Shaw asks, “You got that on camera?”

“Presumably. We should have a good view of everything.”

“Shot’s fired?” she asks.

“Yeah 4 or 5 shots fired,” Mill sighs. “The cops are probably coming as we speak.”

Shaw takes a more sympathetic tone. “Are you okay?”

“No,” he tells her. “Frank was also stabbed.”

Again Frank interjects. “I’m okay.”

“Lawrence and I will be over soon. I’ll make sure an ambulance is on its way.”

“Sounds good. Ow.”

Shaw hangs up and Jack asks, “shots fired?”

“Yeah, looks like Frank and Mill got into it with your guy. Sounds like he’s down or something. They’ve got it on camera but Mill is injured.”

Jack makes some calls and an ambulance and two squad cars are soon on their way.

Ballard, Seattle, November 21st, 10:30 AM

Lt. Lawrence and Shaw arrive as the police are taking Mill and Frank’s statements.

“This guy came in, he looked like an electrician,” Mill tells the officer. “He asked where the fuse box was. So I led him around back. I was a little suspicious given everything that had been going on. I figured I’d keep an eye on him. But when we got back there he attacked me. He pulled a screwdriver and started stabbing me with it. I ran around front and Frank over there who is an ex-cop burst out to save me. He shot the guy who then turned on him with the screw driver. Whereupon I was able to draw my weapons and shoot him as well. I don’t know what happened after that I was in panic and bleeding profusely.”

“That’s enough for now,” the man says, patting him gently. “We’ll talk to you later when you have been recovered.”

A pair of medics whisked Mill to the hospital. Shaw and Jack approach Frank to see what he knows.

“Why does he keep coming?” Shaw mutters after getting Frank’s report.

They check the cameras. The incident is shown clearly, except for the attacker who is blurry in every shot. After he is shot down, he collapses into the front doorway of the house. He is enveloped in a cloud of white fuzziness. When it clears he is gone.

Jack stares at it in disbelief. “How’s is that even possible? I guess. I guess he had some sort of jamming device and he must have escaped in the confusion.”

Shaw nods and looks at a text from Mill. ‘It was Jarette Costa’

She shows it to Jack.

“It can’t be Costa,” he sputters. “I visited him yesterday. He’s in a cell right now.”

“Well I’d like to talk to this guy but maybe he’s got a twin or some shit,” she tells him.

“He doesn’t have a twin.”

“Well do you have a better explanation?” she taunts.

“Mill might be confused,” Jack says.

The two discuss other possibilities. In the end Shaw tells him, “Well I’d like to hear what Costa has to say.”

Jack concedes. “I’ll set something up.”

Kevin Ilyes’s house, Bellevue, Washington, 11 AM

Ilyes blearily walks down to the kitchen, rubbing his eyes from lack of sleep. He turns on the news as he brews some coffee. The newscaster discuss another Watcher murder but is drowned out but the roar of the blender as Ilyes makes a protein shake.

He turns off the blender but the noise continues. Puzzled, he realizes he is hearing screaming and has been for some time. The wailing noise seems to be emanating from the basement but somehow he had forgotten it.

He ventures downstairs and finds the Sandman, Francine screaming.

Dr. Ilyes hurriedly calls Shaw.

“Hey doctor?” she answers.

He talks loudly over the screaming. “You know that case from several months ago where we were dealing with the Sand people?”

“Yeah?” she says wondering at the volume of his voice and the odd static on his line. “You know I can’t really hear you that well but yes.”

“Well yeah,” he hesitates as the screaming continues. “One of the specimens is back up and around.” Francine begins a particularly loud set of shrieks. “So if you can get back over here that would be good.”

“Uh, okay,” she says confused. “I’m actually helping the police right now on the Watcher murders.”

“Its not super urgent but uh,” he says trying to collect his thoughts over the din. “I definitely would like your assistance. When you can get over here. I’ll try to hold down the fort. When you can come over. Uh, okay. I’ll talk to you soon.”

After hanging up Dr. Ilyes decides to record the creature’s screams. But his attempts only pick up some odd static. He decides to try talking to it.

“Hello Francine.”

She continues to scream.

“Do you remember where you are?”

She remains unresponsive. He checks her vitals which continue to show her to be dead. He Decides to gag her and deftly avoids being bitten.

As he steps back, he worries that she might be calling something to her. He sets a rudimentary security system to alert him if someone enters the room. Then he checks his gun and hangs out on the roof of his house.

Kevin Ilyes’s house, Bellevue, Washington, 2 PM

Dr. Ilyesgets off his roof as Shaw pulls up. He tells her what happened while leading her to the basement. “The corpse or zombie called Francine has reanimated and is screaming constantly.”

“Why?” she asks.

“That’s a very good question,” he says. “However I don’t want to let her out of her restraints to see what she’ll do.”

“Any ideas of where we should go from here?”

“Well, I don’t know how to treat her,” he points out.

“You don’t suppose she can call or summon others?” Shaw asks.

“That’s what I’m worried about,” he says pacing around the basement. “There are two ways we can go: we can destroy her utterly or we could try taking the risk of letting her go and seeing where she goes to.”

Shaw suggests they might ask V.I. for help instead.

“We could arrange a transfer,” Ilyes suggests. “I’d happy to get it off of my hands.”

“Let me get in touch with VI.”

With that decides talk turns to the creature’s abilities. Shaw mentions the odd static on Ilyes’s phone line.

“I noticed that phenomenon,” he explains. “I wasn’t able to get a recording.”

“What do you mean?” she asks confused.

“Audio recording are not able to pick up sound from her.”

“Interesting.” Shaw changes the subject. “I have been working on the serial killer case.”

She describes the details including everything up to today.

“Its like the Tulpas,” Ilyes says.


Later Shaw calls V.I.. The monster hunter is happy to take Francine and arranges to pick it up that night. In return Shaw asks for information on the serial killings. V.I. knows a little bit about things like that but nothing immediately helpful.

“Any idea about why he was cutting the eyelids off of his victims?” Shaw asks.

“Well there was the rant he had written in his journal. The cops hushed it up and its probably just his madness, but he claimed to be showing people the truth, opening their eyes.”

“I try to get a look at this journal,” she says. She also asks about the Tulpas activity. She is worried Jarette might be a powerful psychic himself.

V.I. disagrees. “From what I’ve seen he’s a reasonably mundane person.” "

Could someone be using him as a puppet?"

“Could be. Maybe there’s some weird wizard behind the scenes.”

She asks him to look into his history as well as any other Tulpas in the city.

“Well there have been a few of them running around,” V.I. tells her. “They seem normal. I’ve been investigating it a bit. They have been down by City Hall infiltrating the city government.”

“Tulpas in City Hall,” she says nervously. “Any connection to the apartment building?”

He thinks for a minute. “No. I’ll look into Jarette.” Then he hangs up.

Harborview Medical Center, Yesler Terrace, Seattle, 2 PM

After being patched up, Mill goes looking for Katherine Greenberg. He corners the neurologist in a hallway. “Have you and your sister been doing any further work on the drugs she developed?”

“Oh, no,” she says shaking her head. “I think she might be doing more work for the company. But she tells me she has forgotten how to do most of the work.”

“Can she get me some more of the drugs?”

“I’ll give her a call,” she says hesitantly.

As he walsk back to his room, he gets text from Shaw: ‘giving Francine to VI. He says there have been Tulpas in City hall. And I’m meeting Jarette costa face to face. wish me luck. How are you feeling?’

He texts back. ‘Good. Good as you feel after being stabbed three times.’

County Jail, 4PM

Shaw checks her phone again. Dr. Sorenson still hasn’t responded to any of her calls. As she waits for Jarette Costa, she looks over his journal again. It written in tight cursive, mixed with sketches of women and an assortment of gears. Several phrases are underlined: ‘the gears are turning’ and ‘I must reveal the truth’ being the most common.

Jack Lawrence collects her and guides her to the interview room. Jarette is handcuffed to the table in his orange jumpsuit as they enter the room.

Jarette looks up at them with a grin. “Hey Jack. Jack’s friend. What’s the occasion?”

Jack starts the interview by asking him if he knows anything about new murders.

“Wouldn’t really know,” he says mirthfully. “Stuck in here.”

“What about your friend?” Shaw asks.

“Friend? Who’s she talking about Jack?”

“That’s what I’d like to know,” he says frustratedly. He asks the supposed murders about any accomplices. Jarette denies anything of the sort.

“Did you ever pose as an electrician when getting close to the girls?” Shaw asks, leaning over the table.

“Yes once,” he admits with a smile.

“You still have the suit?”

“This is the only suit I got,” he laughs.

“I meant at your place.”

“I don’t know. You confescate my wardrobe?” he asks Jack.

“We have his clothes,” Jack tells her. “Including the suit.”

They ask but Jarette denies having a second suit.

“Costa why do you keep talking to Jack?” Shaw ask. “You don’t want to explain things to me?”

For the first time Costa seems uncomfortable. “I’ve been cooped up so long I’ve become antisocial,” he explains.

“Real hard I guess,” she says. “Almost two months. What are you doing to pass the time?”

“I’ve been reading.”

“Anything good?”

“Catcher in the Rye,” he says.

“Took a while to get through that one,” she snidely remarks.

Angrily Costa lists off some more books he has read recently.

Shaw turns the conversation to how he picked the girls. Costa claims it was random.

“There must be some reason they needed to be shown the truth,” she says.

“I don’t want to play pop psychologist,” he says sourly.

“I’ve just been reading what you writing.” She fishes out his journal. “Or did you just include this to put in your best seller.”

“That’s a good idea,” he says before leaning closer. “It all started in my dreams.” He explains he could do anything there, anywhere with anyone. He tells her how he saw machines in his dreams and then later in real life. The dreams just showed him the way.

“The machines were there,” he says looking off at a wall. “The machine in the sky. I had to make people see.”

“You sure no one else had those dreams?” she asks.

“Maybe they did,” he admits, “but they didn’t do anything about it. I seized the opportunity.”

“Did you see the girls in your dreams?”

A creepy smile crosses his face. “Yeah.”

“Before or after you saw them in the flesh?”

“Before,” he says furtively.

“What do the gears do?” Shaw asks. “Now that you’ve got an audience.”

Costa however seems unsure. He doesn’t claim to know exactly what they do but suspects the machine run everything. “There are machines in the walls that make our dreams go. There are machines in the sky that make the world go.”

Shaw changes tactics. She pushes a picture of Julia in front of him. “Did you see her in your dreams?”

“Never seen her before,” he says. “She’s pretty.”

“Well you know your story is getting shaking here. This pretty girl here had her eyelids cut off the other day. Maybe you are not the real killer.”

Her insinuation infuriates him. She adds a few more quips about the fickleness of the media and he flips out. He starts to rattle off more details about the first three murders. “I killed them and I killed them in their dreams. It was me, not this copycat. I’m the real killer.”

As he continues with his tirade, Shaw asks, “You’ve been having anymore dreams lately?”

The fury goes out of him. “No, not since I came here.”

She looks at Jack to indicate they are done here. As they leave she tells Costa, “give me a call if you want to talk more.”

The old office of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, Seattle, Midnight

Mill and Shaw wait for Infinity’s agent to arrive. She supplied a rough description of an attractive African American man.

A black muscle car pulls up. Hesitantly, an effeminate man gets out of the car. His asian features mix with his choclate skin to give him an exotic look. He walks up to them.

“So I’m here to pick up the tapes,” he says uncertainly.

Shaw points to the pile of ancient magnetic reels. “What’s your name?”

“Gabriel.”

“Nice to meet you Gabriel,” she extends her hand. “Lillian.”

They shake but Mill seems to remember him from somewhere. Suddenly he recalls a TV show from his childhood. He looks just like Twice Vince from ‘Twice Vince in Beverley hills.’ It was a Fresh Prince knock off that ended when the star was killed.

Mill walks up to him. “Hey wait. Are you? Was your father or brother on that show?”

Gabriel seems off balance. “Uh I had a cousin on a TV show,” he lies.

“Yeah you are a dead ringer for that guy,” Mill says, now sure of himself.

“I get that a lot,” he says trying to blow it off. “So those are the tapes?”

“Yeah,” Shaw repeats.

“Let me load those up.”

“Are you a computer programmer too?” Shaw asks.

“No, I’m just a friend.”

He quickly loads up the car with Shaw’s help. All the while he keeps glancing at Mill.

“Well thanks,” he says closing the trunk. “Any message for me to give her?”

“No,” Shaw tells him. “Thanks.”

After Gabriel drives off, Mill hurried tells Shaw about Gabriel’s connection to Twice Vince.

“What show is this?” she asks.

“Twice Vince in Beverly Hills,” he says digging his keys out of his pocket.

She frowns. “Wasn’t that 20 years ago, late 80s.”

“Early 90s,” he corrects her, walking to his car.

She follows him. “Whatever, I wasn’t really a fan. But that can’t be the guy.”

Mill is adamant about tailing him and Shaw offers to help despite her reservations. They manage to catch him on the highway and tail him south out of the city. After an hour he pulls off highway into a small town. Mill is behind him when he runs through intersection just as the street light turns from green to red. He pulls up short and calls Shaw.

“I think he made me and I think he may have the ability to control streetlights.” He relays his give location and Shaw tries to intercept him.

Shaw tails Gabriel for an hour, getting close to the Oregon border. Shaw asks Mill over the phone, “How long are you we going to keep this up?”

“I don’t know,” he says.

Gabriel pulls off the highway again, into a rest area. Mill pulls into rest area with him while Shaw goes on down the highway. He finds two identical cars next to each other. With the darkness and their tinted windows, he can’t tell which one Gabriel is in. Then both cars leave in opposite directions.

“He may have done a switcheroo on me,” Mill relays. “There are two identical cars here. I’m going to follow one going south.”

But as he slowly leaves he spots a third black mustang entering the rest area. He changes his mind and follows that one. It stops near some trees and Gabriel jumps inside. Cautiously he follows it south to Portland. There it leaves the highway and drives up to an apartment building downtown. Gabriel gets out alone and goes inside. Mill parks his car and goes inside but there is no sign of him. He notes down the location however before driving home.

Shaw meanwhile trails the car heading north. After a bit it turns east into mountains. She gets a text an hour later. ‘Would you please stop following me.’

Shaw forwards it to Mill. She adds, “Is this really worth it?”

“I guess not at this point,” he admits.

“Would you mind sending her a text or a chat apologizing for this?”

“Sure.”

Shaw lets the car go and texts Infinity: ‘Sorry fan boy.’

Infinity replies. ‘sigh.’

Bellevue, Washington, Night of November 21st to the morning of the 22nd

Ilyes has difficulty sleeping, even with Francine gone. He wakes up thinking on someone else is in the room with him, talking to him. He sets up some sound recorders as well as an EVP recorder, just in case.

In the morning, he blearily listens to the tapes. For the most part they are quiet. There is the sound of the occasional car passing or his snoring. But every so often he mumbles in his sleep. “The doll, where’s the doll. Where. The. Doll, where.”

Creeped out, he turns on the EVP recordings. A quiet voice keeps repeating, “where is the doll, Ilyes? Where is the doll? I’ll help you get your position back just tell me where the doll is. Tell me where the doll is. I don’t have to kill you if you tell me where the doll is.”

He leaves note on his bed: To the ghost haunting me, please specify doll. He includes a catalog of American Heritage dolls.

Then he calls Mill. “Hey there.”

“How’s it going?” Mill says tiredly.

“I had a question about that doll you had.”

“Sure.”

“Where did you find it?”

“In the weird house by Ashwood Heights.”

“Alright. When you get the chance I’ve got some electronic voice recording you might want to hear.”

“Of course.”

Office of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, 12 PM

Robert Mill listens to recordings of the child-like voice. “I can give you power or steal you mind.”

“This guy is good cop and bad cop,” he quips.

“I don’t know why it decided to go after me rather than you,” Dr. Ilyes says, “but what can you tell me about the house where you got it?”

Mill muses as to the reason. “Don’t tell anyone but I do sleep with the doll so that may have something to do with it.”

Mill fills Ilyes in on the Westergard house as well as the finding of the doll in the first place. He mentions Infinity was also interested in the doll but that he thinks the doll protects him.

“Maybe we should get people together and do another investigation of the house,” Ilyes suggests. “Let’s prepare for Sandmen.”

Mill mentions that he was already trying to get more drugs to protect them. In fact he has to go meet with Amelia for lunch.

Downtown, 1 PM

Robert Mill and Amelia Greenberg meet at a nice restaurant. They chit chat for a bit. Mill fills her in on what has been happening with him while she explains she has been doing okay despite the ill will at work. Keystone Pharmaceuticals has her working on reproducing her drugs. she is finding the work hard to replicate. The details keep slipping away.

Mill asks about the different varieties. She starts with Static, which has seen some limited progress. It stimulate a person’s psychic powers to drive off creatures with mind reading powers. She does warn him there is some chance of minor brain damage. The drug she has had the most progress with is Telapathine, which opens a person’s mind to telepathic signals. They can read minds but also unconsciously send out their own thoughts out. The most frustrating one has been the next stage of BSNX. Her version worked on different principles than the older versions. It actually uses natural psychic abilities to block illusion and mind effecting powers.

“This is big favor but would it be possible to get some of this stuff?” Robert asks. He tells her of the company’s plans. Mill asks for BSNX as a priority.

“I can try to sneak some out,” she says.


Later that day, Amelia’s sister Katherine comes by the office with a package. “Amelia says you might need this”

Inside the paper bag are two doses of Static and six doses of BSNX-9.

“Thank you so much,” Mill tells her.

“She had this hidden away,” Katherine explains.

“This will be very useful. That was a risk that she took.”

Evening of November 22nd through to the 24th

Ilyes fills in Shaw about the plan. She is intrigued by the voices. “The reason I ask is that my interview with Costa revealed he was having dreams in which he saw his victims faces before he meant them. And he lived right next to the house you want to investigate. He also said in his dreams he saw spinning gears like Sorenson’s coma patients. You think they might have been hearing that voice as well?”

“The coma patients?” the doctor asks.

“At the sanatarium,” Shaw says. She fills him in on the incident last spring where the coma patients all began to repeat the words “the gears are turning.”

“You mean like the machine in the apartment complex?” Ilyes asks.

“Possibly. He also mentioned a machine in the sky but I have no idea where that is coming from. That was the reason he was cutting the eyeslids off those women.”

Ilyes shrugs. “I don’t really know what is happening here. But I think the wisest course of action is to return to the environment where this doll came which is the house.”

“What are you expecting to see?” she asks.

“I. Don’t. Know,” he repeats to her. “Sample EVP recordings, photos, some history. I want to see what happened in the house. Journals. Photographs.”

“We didn’t explore everything, only the upper floors,” Shaw offers helpfully. “There was the dead body.”

“Oh a dead body!” he exclaims. “Just lying in a house without any last rites of anything. Oh jeez that doesn’t sound like every horror movie that I’ve ever seen! Nothing ever happens if you leave someones body in a creepy old house. I’m sorry.”

“It seemed like a good idea,” Mill says.

Shaw decides to get the team a flame thrower and calls in their favor with V.I. for one. They spend an evening practicing burning targets without damaging their surroundings.

Ilyes meanwhile prepares some mobile EVP equipment. Finally they stakeout the house for a day, learning the movements of the Sandmen and doppelgangers around it.

The House, Yesler Terrace, November 24th, 11 PM

Before heading out Shaw fires the team’s moral up to help resist any mind control. Shaw and Ilyes also inject themselves with samples of BSNX-9. Everything goes a bit rainbow. Aura surround every living thing and they feel very free.

“This is a little different from the other batch,” Shaw remarks, a bit giddy despite their plans.

They approach the house. It wavers like a mirage until they push past the illusion on the stone steps. The front porch is still ravaged from Vito’s grenade blast. The windows are empty and the front door is blown inward.

Inside they find the house quiet, the dusty floor revealing their previous movements as the last signs of passage.

“The dead body is upstairs but do we want to check the downstairs first?” Shaw asks. “We didn’t see any papers of books upstairs.”

Ilyes speaks up. “Well we’re just trying to find out what happened here before we came here.”

They decide to explore the ground floor. Proceed right from the foyer and stairs, they enter a long barren room. A chair and picture faded to blankness comprise the decor. A door in the back leads to what might have been a bedroom. Shaw records their passage on her phone while Ilyes runs his EVP equipment. A door on the right side of the room leads to a kitchen.

The decaying room holds an old ice box and a wood burning stove. Everything is caked in dust and grime. A pot left out from decades past is filled with what can best described as dirt.

Ilyes equipment begins to record something. A voice can be heard. “You’ve brought me the doll.”

Shaw sweeps the room with her phone. There is nothing there.

“Leave the doll,” the voice says.

“What’s going on here?” Mill says. “Who is this? What’s happening?”

“Leave the doll and I’ll let you live.”

“Who are you?” he demands.

“I am the Silent One. Leave the doll now and my followers won’t destroy you. There are less of you this time.”

“Oh your followers, I see.”

Shaw looks out the back windows and sees an approaching swarm of Sandmen.

Mill uses a text message to communicate with the others. ‘what should we do?’

Shaw types, ‘Your call.’

Ilyes adds, ‘You are the combat experts: fight or flight?’

‘Burn them all down’ is Mill’s response.

They build a choke point at the back door and seal off the one of the other two entrances with the ice box. They use the kitchen table as a barricade.

And they wait.

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