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Mind Over Murder - A Jake Roberts Novel (Book 2)
Mind Over Murder - A Jake Roberts Novel (Book 2)
Cary Allen Stone
Thriller
Yes - full manuscript is available


Serial killer Lori Powers escaped capture and fled to Europe. After five years, Interpol finds her and ... returns her to the US. Homicide detective Jake Roberts and FBI profiler Mika Scott accept custody of Lori. It's a moment that both law enforcement officers have been waiting for, each having different reasons why. Lori was at one time Jake's lover. And for Mika it was the end of a long nightmare. But Jake is being stalked by another serial killer––Jared Hamilton. To capture him, Jake breaks all of the rules and helps Lori escape from prison. Does Lori know Jared and are the two serial killers plotting to kill Jake? Will Lori escape again? Not your average serial killer story, Mind Over Murder is the perfect serial killer read!

Chapter 1
1 Through the panoramic plate glass windows of the new Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr. Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, I'm watching as the world's largest passenger aircraft, an Airbus 380 slowly pulls up next to the extended Jetway bridge, and stops. The ground crew is waving lighted wands, and one of them drags a fat black power cord to one side of the aircraft's nose. Another signals to the captain the power cord is alive. I crane my neck to look up through the terminal windows at the crown of the fuselage, high above the cockpit windows. Almost everything behind the airplane, a skyscraper with wings, has disappeared. The only thing I can see is the light of the rising sun breaking the eastern horizon. Laser-like beams of yellow, orange, and pink cut across the cobalt blue, sunrise sky. The beams will extend to the edge of the Milky Way. From where I'm standing, I can see a steady flow of anxious passengers deplaning between the aircraft door, and the Jetway bridge. My focus, though, is on the snapshot images of her. The ones I believed were locked away. The memories slice down and reopen the wound. She will walk off the plane in seconds. I thought I could handle this. I have to force the memories back into my mind vault. The Interpol photos they sent, documented that she is as beautiful, as the day she ran away. What I have come to learn in this life is­­beauty is often the beast. The first time I saw her was in Abrams's office, the psychiatrist. She was there to try to tame her demons. I was there because of departmental policy, which requires shrink time after a shooting. I only saw her for a brief moment, when I passed her in his outer office, while I raced past the receptionist trying desperately to make my escape. I fought going to see Abrams. I hated the probing into my psyche, and the backstory of my life. It was painful and required spilling my regrets. It brought my quieted nightmares back. It also triggered a stabbing sensation in my arm, from the bullet still buried there. She shot my arm. I shot and killed her. I didn't know it was a sixteen-yearold girl under the ski mask. She had an entire life ahead of her, before I punched her ticket to hell. She fired an assault rifle like a professional. Internal Affairs said the shooting was justified. I spend the time since it happened, immersing myself in my work as a homicide detective. Pursuing murderers is a weird way to try to forget how sick this world really is. Business is up­­ murder rates are on the rise, more killing every day. There are more angry folks on the streets than when I was a kid. No one takes responsibility for their actions anymore, at least since Nixon was pardoned. They feel deserving, or battered by life. Respect for everything is gone. There's just cold-blooded, bizarre behavior now. Life has become a dismal reality show. "Compassion" is just a word floated at us by the Dali Lama. Someday, I swear I'm going to walk away from all of this, and spend the rest of my life just forgetting. Maybe I'll take a chance on life outside the badge, next time­­crime. They say crime pays, and my pension in this economy isn't looking good. My inbound fugitive stunned me the first time I saw her in Abrams's office. In that flash of time, she was stuck inside my head. A millisecond later, she had captured my heart. It wasn't much longer after that, when I was holding her in my arms, kissing her pouty lips, and planning to love her forever. I can still smell her scent, and feel her embrace, as if it was happening now. Our precious love affair came to an abrupt halt, while I was searching for Abrams's killer, and found out she killed him­­Hannibal Lecter in stilettos. She's the one who left my name in blood on the wall, above the rigid, decomposing corpse in Boston. She slipped away for Europe before I could arrest her. I thought I was over her. Now, five years later, she is being escorted back to me. I can't possibly feel what I'm feeling. I'm convinced I don't have feelings anymore. I'm glad Mika is standing next to me. We haven't spoken since we arrived here from the precinct. She takes my hand and squeezes. We know each other's pain. We need each other's support. Mika was my first love. A lot has changed since Lori became so much a part of our lives. Mika and I were lovers once. We're more like brother and sister now, confidants. How we arrived here, and what we endured, has left both of us damaged inside. I doubt either of us will ever be able to fall in love again. There's a tight knot in the back of my neck. I try to massage it away. My head is crying out for Excedrin. My stomach is crying out for a Zantac. My heart is just crying. "How are you doing, Jake?" "So far­­" It amazes me how long we can bury, conceal, and ignore the things in life that have hurt us deeply. How that seething pain, without warning, returns in full force at inopportune times. We think of ourselves as great, majestic mountains, sturdy and strong, unconquerable, but even mountains erode into deserts over time. After a while, we begin to realize how puny we are in the universe, and how little we control in our lives. All we really have inside, is what we believe to be true­­what we can live with. Inside the terminal, is a sample of the psychotic roller coaster ride America has become. It's a country full of scammers, freaks, charlatans, zealots, liars, OCDs, and manipulators. The crying children are the only ones who get it, how it doesn't look good out here. To the left and right, executives and other suits are glued to cell phones, talking in loud, obnoxious conversations. They glance around the terminal, without making eye contact, checking to make sure we understand how self-important they are. The nervous travelers pace between the scurrying airport employees, who work in this zoo. The elderly sit patiently, in wheelchairs, slouched over with scowls. Some have weary-eyes. Others glare with suspicious eyes. None of them can find happiness in life anymore. Most are waiting to be transported to Florida, the Purgatory on Mother Earth, and the last stop before the last breath. Trailer trash males eye the teenage parochial school girls in sports shorts, and stenciled tank tops, who are guarded by distracted chaperones. Goth kids, with jet-black hair and deep black eyeshadow, whisper to rooster-haired compatriots. All exist within their own tunnel vision worlds, until an airport security alarm jolts them into another high-alert, terrorist attack scare. There is a constant stream of humanity into, and out of, the bathrooms and bars. New moms with baby bellies and hips, fat and succulent with child, push Winnebagosize strollers, piled high with bags and accessories. They are indifferent to the toes of others they just ran over. Those who have been rolled over, wish they could retaliate with a Taser set for half the voltage of a felon. There is no room in the Winnebago for the twoyear-old crier, who was supposed to get the free ride. I suspect some of these spoiled, entitled brats, will end up minor criminals, or serial killers providing longevity in a law enforcement career for some homicide detective. A few will make it into white-collar crime as Wall Street bankers, or members of Congress. They come is an assortment of T-shirts, jeans, flip-flops, even pajama pants­­the acceptable, rebel, refugee garb of Generation Zero. I don't get the whole Sudoku thing, the intensity people put into it. It would be better if they put that much energy into reading the Constitution, or an American history book. Besides, I can do a whole Sudoku book in five minutes tops. No one grades them, so who cares what number you put in the little box. I used to take crossword puzzles, fill some of the spaces with foul language, and leave the empty spaces for the next guy. The pole dancer chick across the hall, with the inflated implants, and collagen lips, is on her way to another adult convention. She gives a pouty smile to the pinstriped business suit, hoping to escape her coveted starring role at the Pink Pony. The law isn't a problem for her, but someday the Law of Gravity may be. None of this crazed citizenry­­ the acned gamers, the talk show conspirator theorists, or the Internet surfers, could have ever been foreseen by Washington, Jefferson, or Adams. In spite of all their self-indulgence, they freeze where they are, stare in stunned silence, wide-eyed, when they learn the fugitive is on the plane. Then, the iReporters come alive, poised with their cell phone camcorders, working free for the news channels. The fugitive's return is captured for all to gawk at on YouTube. In Europe, before her departure to the U.S., the two Interpol agents, being the gentlemen they are when escorting a hot fugitive, allowed her time to prepare for the return. They saw no reason to rush her. The longer it took, the more time it gave the two agents to "appreciate" her. Both men were smitten by her. Each was willing, if only in his mind, to allow her to escape, as long as she fled into his arms. They both knew, given the chance, they would surrender themselves to the infamous serial killer if she only asked. She was, after all, not charged for any crimes in Europe. The two agents were just doing a courtesy drop off for the inept Americans, who so easily let her escape, and hide in Europe. The two of them accompanied her during a painfully long overnight flight to the United States. After a brief layover in Atlanta, they were scheduled to return on the same aircraft, which would surely prove the second leg of their journey, would be more painful than the first, especially without her to flirt with. To the fugitive from justice, the flight time passed relatively quickly, because she knew the end was nowhere she wanted to go. She had forgotten how grueling flying was, regardless of the ten years of flight attendant seniority she had, at her former airline. She hadn't flown on an airplane, since she fled the flailing, grasping hands of U.S. law enforcement. While the long flight to the U.S. may have tested their discomfort endurance, it was otherwise uneventful. During the flight, the agents stayed within eyesight, and arms reach of her, on the massive airliner. She was allowed to communicate with passengers and crew, and generated a buzz throughout the jumbo airliner. She was somewhat surprised by her notoriety, how much people knew of her life, and her prior criminal misdeeds. In Europe, she stayed on the down low. There, no one seemed to care about her past, if they even put it together. Back home, a staggering amount of coverage had been done about her, from the moment the media hounds learned the bird had flown. She had more than the typical Warhol fifteen minutes of fame. Just a week before her capture and return, a mega-New York Times bestseller had been released about her. Nearly everyone on the plane had it in hardcover, or e-readers. She had no idea about the book, until someone let her scan through it on the flight. She felt uneasy, uncomfortable. Passengers asked her to autograph them. The female passengers, and flight attendants on board, had sympathized with her in their conversations and offered her their encouraging support. The Alpha males on the flight maintained vigilance and distance from her. Her reputation with a serrated blade was legendary. Most guarded their loins with trays, or briefcases. If history were to repeat itself, the only male on the plane that could qualify as a target by Lori, was in the captain's seat. Unlike the sick and perverted U.S. airline captain she whacked, the thirty-three-year veteran Airbus captain had not committed any offense, which would have merited Lori's wrath. He was a happily married man for as long as he had been flying, loved and cherished his wife, children and grandchildren, and was respectful of his crew. The captain had even stopped during pre-boarding, on his way to the cockpit, to wish her well under the circumstances. We waited and watched, while the straggling last passengers deplaned, and then we started down the Jetway bridge to let the real-life drama play out. The Interpol agents did not go for overkill. The taller one simply placed handcuffs loosely on her wrists. He then held onto her hands, and took a moment to look deeply into her eyes. "It was my pleasure, Ms. Powers. Should you manage to escape again, please call upon me. I would be happy to assist you," he says. He bowed. A sinister smile punctuated his statement. She returned a slight, indifferent nod as she struggled on the inside, to concentrate on all that was going on outside. She wondered if she could live in caged captivity, what it was going to feel like. They escorted her to the L1 door. The airline's employees hustle between us, as they complete their post-flight and preflight duties, the activity that goes on that the passengers didn't pay attention to. "Here she comes," Mika says. Mika doesn't believe it's happening. She has waited so long for this day. She pushes her fingers through her flowing, raven hair. Her mother's Asian features, almond eyes, and oval face, complement her father's European ivory complexion. Her soft, beautiful face tightens at the sight of Lori. It took just one step for Lori to go from freedom, to our custody, one sexy ankle cradled in a Jimmy Choo stiletto heel followed by the other. It took years, but here she stands, tall and gorgeous, toned, perfect flowing California blond hair, and stunning cerulean eyes. The expression on her face is mostly resignation, some jet lag is evident, but she is syntonic overall. She still has an air of self-confidence, but no defiance. It's still difficult to see the murderer, beneath the intense beauty. The empty spaces inside me fill up quickly with a burst of emotions. "Special Agent in Charge Mika Scott, a pleasure to meet you." The taller agent with the hound dog eyes, impeccably dressed in an Armani suit, reaches out his hand. "I am Inspector Michel Rugard." Mika shakes his hand lightly. "You sir, you must be Detective Roberts." When he reaches for mine, I press his hand hard as the representative of all American law enforcement officers. He pulls his hand away. We all badge one another. "This is Inspector Rafael Franconi. He has the required documentation for the transfer of the prisoner. Everything is in order I can assure you." The introduction came with a continental smile, while sizing Mika up for a pass. "Your suspect was not a problem the entire time, indeed, are you certain you want to put such a charming woman as she, in a cold, damp prison cell, and throw away the key? I understand that we, in law enforcement, always view fugitives as our personal failures. The capture of an infamous fugitive revalidates all of our existence. We are happy to have been able to assist you with her return." With the signed and sealed legal paperwork in hand, the agents deliver the notorious, sexy, serial killer to us. Two APD vice cops shoulder past Rugard and Franconi. O'Donnell, mid-thirties, with a perfect square chin and curly dark hair, stoops down low to apply shackles to Lori's ankles. Mika waves him off preventing his cheap attempt to a close-up sneak-peak at Lori's legs beneath her short, black leather skirt. I watch as the disappointment registers in his eyes, as his mental bondage fantasy dissolves. He is a stout primate, who obviously hasn't heard our human ancestors began walking upright about three million years ago. The only thing erect is obvious. He clears his throat. The other, Matthews, forty, physically fit ex-Marine, moussed black hair, has laser-whitened teeth that can barely be seen inside a pencilthin smile across his smooth, baby-face. He has already told us that murderers make him cranky. He's a coyote inside a Hilfiger sport coat and khaki pants, concealing what I suspect to be a small dick. He likes to think he has two balls larger than Donald Trump's. He's an ambition-junkie, judgmental, and makes sure everyone notices his shiny idealism about God, country and justice. His noticeable flaw is a disjointed nose, now a beak, and the result of another vice cop's contempt for Matthew's arrogance. He waits while the Interpol agent removes his handcuffs from Lori's wrists then quickly replaces them with handcuffs made in the USA. Mika waves him off as he pulls out a waist chain. He glares into Lori's azure eyes, then lets his eyes drop down to view her teasing breasts, cuddled in her low-cut, cashmere sweater. He pushes the limit by making a terse remark. "You remind me of my ex-wife. What's with you glam girls, and your insecurities around alpha males?" I consider letting Lori take Matthews out on the spot. The two Inspectors are aghast at what he said. Her thoughts swirl after his remark. When she was active, she had never felt a thing for her victims­­not their touch, not their words, and certainly not their affection. The only release she ever felt, was watching her victims beg for their lives. Since she fled to Europe, she had become dormant, not one male victim died from her hands. The voices had stopped. They had gone silent. She no longer had the intense urge to kill, but she wasn't foolish enough to believe, that her murderous self was in total remission. While there was a time when the man's words would have placed him on top of her to do list, she ignored him, which toasted him even more. O'Donnell, still trying to keep the bondage scene rolling inside his mind, moves to her left. Matthews takes his place to her right. Both wait for a cue from Mika. After Lori is transported to the precinct, both O'Donnell and Matthews will return to their normal assignment of busting pill mills in Gwinnett County. Due to a crime-fighter staffing shortage, we had to use them. Because it had been Mika's case, and because she was so intensely devoted to the case before leaving the Bureau, the FBI administrator himself had called her. After swearing her in on a temporary status, he allowed Mika to walk Lori the remaining steps to justice. Mika Mirandized Lori. In a small voice, Lori acknowledged her rights. "Lori Powers, I've waited many sleepless nights, and very long days for this moment." Lori didn't acknowledge Mika, because her daughter Emily took center stage in her thoughts. Emily was the reason for everything. How many times had Emily called out to her both in life and in death? Her suicide ended the years of torment and sexual abuse by her father. When we finally stand face-to-face, she makes strong eye contact, and studies my eyes. I guess she is searching for the forgiveness she believes is hiding in my heart and soul. A tear begins to fall down her cheek, dragging a trail of black mascara with it. The salty tear rolls off her cheek. Lori's trembling lips whisper. "I'm sorry." "I know." We thank Rugard and Franconi, and say goodbye. Mika and I take the lead out the Jetway bridge door, and start down the stairs while O'Donnell and Mathews take up positions before and after Lori. Rugard and Franconi take one last look at the woman they were infatuated with then turn away to get their seat assignments for the ride home. I hang on tight to the legal paperwork stuffed inside an envelope. I will look at it when we get back to the precinct. At the bottom of the Jetway bridge stairs, we march quickly to a parked black Suburban with heavy tinted windows. Lori is guided into the middle seat, while O'Donnell protects her head from the roof. It's also the last chance he gets to sneak-peak her legs. He preserves the view for later in his hotel room. Matthews just glares at her. Mika climbs in next to Lori on the near window side, while I hustle around to the opposite window seat. Before I get into the Suburban, I glance up, and see the faces and mini-cams pasted against the terminal windows. The pounding rotor blades of the helicopter, with a large police insignia, is first heard then seen overhead. Our driver cranks the engine, and pulls behind the motorcycle escort. Blue lights ricochet off the terminal, the Airbus 380, the ramp equipment, and the uniforms surrounding us. Outside, shrill sirens blare, irritating everyone, except law enforcement personnel. Inside the bulletproof Suburban, the deep silence is eerie, as if we are sitting at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The fanfare and hype of her arrival is over, in what seems like less than a flash of the jumbo airliner's strobe light. We head for the precinct. When we arrive, Lori will be processed into the system, and then we will talk. After that, she will be placed in a cell until the arraignment. It will be her home for the near future. If the State of Georgia tries her first, she will most likely get the death penalty. If she's tried in federal court, because a majority of her murders took place across state lines, she will, at a minimum, receive several consecutive life sentences in a maximum-security prison. During the drive, Lori's pained expression, suggests there are a parade of vivid images of her many victims­­the Catholic priest, the Senator, the CEO, airline Captain Parker, and Dr. Thaddeus Abrams. Abrams, rather than helping her with her demons, chose to solicit her instead to kill his wealthy wife. All were powerful, dominating, and abusive males who preyed on women. She was glad the running and hiding were over. Her only wish for the future was to visit her Emily one more time. There's no conceivable chance of that. Mika disappears into her own thoughts, and the dream that haunts her every night since the first kill, the one she tells me about so often in tears. In it, she is gleefully celebrating her seventh birthday with mom and dad. As she blows out the candles, the dream goes dark for a brief moment, and then a small flame on a candle reignites. As the flame glows brighter, she is standing knee-deep in eviscerated male bodies. She gasps for air, starts to gag, her pulse elevates until she becomes dizzy and disorientated. She is forced awake, frozen in panic and sweat, too terrified to move from the dampened sheets. After the first nightmare, she made it to a sink to splash cold water into her face. She cupped her hands to sip the water. It's why she left the Bureau. It was all due to her relentless pursuit of the woman sitting next to her now. She knew she had to let go of it, or be taken down completely. It would consume her, until she was crushed beneath the weight of it. Today, all of this, is some kind of closure for her, the only closure she will ever get. Her father, Robert Scott, the powerful and extremely wealthy, military-complex maverick, passed shortly after she resigned and became a civilian. He left his entire empire to her, his only child. She had just begun to learn the business. Mika had neither reason, nor desire, to be involved in the weapons hardware industry. She sold off most of the business and kept the "intelligence-gathering" side of the company her father used against business rivals and enemies. She became a major player in her private investigative practice. The Robert Scott Company occupies a complete penthouse floor of the downtown 191 Landmark building. Inside is the latest technology, updated daily, capable of doing surveillance across the globe. The building's rooftop had more satellite dishes and antennas than the Federal Building where the FBI and DEA monitored the bad guys. Her success in tracking fugitive felons in her private practice had become legendary, except for the felon who caused her sleepless nights. Lori had been able to avoid capture by remaining outside of the radar, staying lowtech. She never surfed the Internet, never had a Facebook page, and never was on Twitter, never Googled. She didn't have a cell phone. She didn't fake her own death, a mistake made by most fugitives, or someone trying desperately to disappear. She never tried to sneak back home. Then came the letters, Lori's only mistake. That was when I called Mika. I had found one of the letters. She couldn't help it, it was too overpowering. Lori was a strong and intelligent woman, with one very serious weakness­­Emily. She knew the danger the letters posed, knew they were crumbs on the trail, but they had gone undetected for so long she felt safe sending them. Deep inside, she knew she couldn't run forever. The good side of her, less dominated by the voices, wanted to make things right again. My turn. I close my tired eyes, and think about how I got here. The letter I found broke the case. The letter, addressed to Emily's gravesite, is inside my APD stenciled windbreaker pocket right now. The secretary, who ran the day-to-day affairs of the cemetery, believed the letter was just like all the hundreds of other fan letters, sent by demented, pathetic ghouls. She remanded them to the trash. From the last bag of trash carried, the letter fell out of the bag to the concrete during the dumpster run. Later, the groundskeeper, an elderly black gentleman, somewhat lost in his own time, had picked it up. Unaware it was destined for the dumpster, he delivered it according to the address on the envelope, to Emily's grave, where he respectfully laid it gently against the tombstone. After Lori slipped out of the country, I would often surveil Emily's gravesite, to see if she might return. I saw the envelope, saw the European stamped postmark, opened it, and read the heartbreaking words about a mother's loss and despair. With the letter in our hands, Mika and I debated ending the chase for Lori. We considered letting the cold case, turn into an arctic case. In the end, because we still believed in it, we decided in favor of the law. With the letter, Mika was able to track Lori. She advised Interpol there was a renewed interest in her flight warrant. Sitting next to Lori, I look out through the tinted glass, and see the same hopelessness, the same poverty, the same homeless, and the same abused souls filling the streets. Not much ever changes. I want to escape the bad dreams, like Lori and Mika, and find a simple, peaceful existence, where the old-school rules still apply. I want to find something to fall back on, something besides a sword. Maybe I can find my redemption out there, something, or someone, to fill the empty, aching hole inside of me, assuming the job doesn't take me out first. Our motorcade passes through red lights at intersections cordoned off by traffic cops. We arrive at the precinct, and the Suburban takes the down lane into the parking garage, through a police line that tussles with the onslaught of media dogs. We park and exit the vehicle in the garage. Lori is taken through two double doors, and into an elevator that will take her to Central Booking to be processed for fingerprints and photos, strip- searched. While she is taken through the system, I find a quiet place to decompress and regroup. Mika finds a place next to me. I know why Lori murdered those guys. I don't even feel the slightest sympathy for her victims. They were all deserving scumbags. Still, I'm going to play out my oath to protect and serve. It's over, Jake," Mika says. She leans over to rest her head on my shoulder. What can I say? It's over? How can it ever be over? We're all in prison. Some of us just have the keys to our cells.
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Chapter 2
2 A stone-crafted, fifteen-foot-high wall, with shards of broken glass embedded in the crown, surrounded the mile-square estate in Atlanta. It occupied the land that was once the largest pre-Civil War plantations. The castle-size mansion that replaced the main house, rested on elevated ground so as not to obstruct the 360° view of the Lord of the Manor. The servant's quarters were hidden on a back road, in the wooded area near where the trash was picked up. The guesthouses were positioned so visitors could pay homage to the Lord. One had to climb ten granite steps, to reach the double oak doors with the family crest-stained glass windows, before entering the cathedral-size foyer. To the left of the front entrance, beyond the semicircular driveway, was a row of sixteen garage doors, behind which were stored classic, one-of-a-kind automobiles. On the opposite side of the driveway, beyond the jasmine hedge, was the lake with the fountain that spewed water fifty feet into the air. The tower of water cascaded down, and presented a rainbow when backlit by the setting sun. When the timer turned the fountain on, it brought a protest of honks from the resident family of swans, because it rippled the water and disturbed their sleep, but even they enjoyed being elitist and spoiled. Inside, the place was more of a museum, than a home. Security was tight. You couldn't use one of the fifteen bathrooms, without someone watching you on a screen in a dark room. If it so pleased the Lord, he would be told how much toilet paper you used. After a while, whether because of boredom, or a dislike for his lordship, the security personnel did more reading of books, magazines and newspapers, than scrutinizing the guests. They couldn't care less which asshole used the toilet paper, and how many sheets. It was hard to keep track of all the assholes in the world of wealth, there were so many. Inside one of the mansion's rear corner turrets, far from where the rest of the family lived, was a room with walls covered in black velvet. From the peak of a very tall ceiling, a single halogen bulb inside an expensive light fixture dangled. The brightness of the halogen bulb, gave the impression that a supernova was floating in the dark matter of an infinite universe. Below the light, was a mini-spotlight that illuminated a semicircular, command-control-center desk. Smaller stars, LEDs, lit the three wide-screen computer monitors, an array of maxed-out servers, and Apple computers. It resembled the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. The hardware and software were the most expensive money could buy, save for a government agency, or the military. A good portion of the technology had not yet been released to the marketplace. The infrared mouse and keyboard were overkill, because the man sitting at the computer was tech-savvy enough to issue computer-recognized voice commands to get what he wanted. Jared Hamilton was born with an off-the-scale I.Q. He wore the standard Coke-bottle glasses. He walked the uncomfortable-in-his-shoes, insecure gait. He had a selfconscious, awkward demeanor. The fifth grade was the last one he was forced to complete in a formal learning institution. Inside his mind, was a whirlwind of thoughts and ideas. He saw numbers and days as colors. He watched equations fly past at the speed of light. He could solve them all without breaking a sweat. His extraordinary intellect was his strongest asset, that he couldn't relate to anyone in the world was his major flaw. His dad's first wife, Madison, couldn't conceive of an actual thought, much less conceive a child, but she had an expert knowledge of the Khama Sutra, and performed sexual acts like a Cirque de Soleil contortionist, which worked well for dad in his empire building years. He didn't want her to think. He just wanted her to excel at fucking her brains out. Wife number two, Whitney, was a plot-driven, society Georgia Peach, who fucked her way into the wealthy man's life, but then only found true satiation while fucking most of dad's yard help, pool cleaners, and several steroid cases from L.A Fitness. She did manage to help dad increase his reach in the financial sector and on Wall Street. He quadrupled his fortune, which was perfect for his mid-empire expansion years. Because of Whitney, dad accelerated rapidly into the mega-ultra-ubër-filthy rich guy the regular filthy rich guys admired, envied, and aspired to be. Contessa, the biological mother of Jared, started as a trophy wife like the other two. She was magnificently beautiful, and an ex-international, supermodel­­tall, graceful, exotic, with flowing auburn hair, deep sea green eyes, who had graced all the glam magazine covers for years beyond her professional career. She didn't increase his wealth, or the range of his empire, but she was capable of loving, and at that time of his life, her husband needed to be hugged. She also had a functional uterus, not bored out by large drilling dicks that could give him an heir. At the birth, Richard Hamilton's eyes teared for the first time in his life, as he looked over the squirming, pink infant wrapped in a blanket, and held by his mother in her bed. It was a time of great expectations for Richard. Before he held his son, he had already mapped out the boy's future. He would orchestrate the future so that his son would one day rule the heavens and the earth, indeed all the universe. His stunningly beautiful mother, in her early fifties, knew he was a genius and fawned over him, but she was lost when it came to the depth of his math homework. His parents, when alone and discussing their son, had nicknamed him, "Why?" Dad, a dominant figure both in his Reagan-like stature and his Trump-like attitude, was largely an absentee parent off conquering corporate kingdoms in America, and around the globe. Stepsister Constance, the daughter of Whitney and her first husband, was older by six years. Jared's dad, after the divorce, adopted Constance, which did not require a great deal of negotiation because the girl's mother did not want her. Constance did not have Jared's mental strength. She failed most of her classes while enduring female physical changes driven by flashpoint emotions. Both half-siblings rarely crossed paths, but when they did share time together, they found they had one thing that bound them together like no other. They both felt desperately alone, surrounded by a world full of billions of people, none of whom could ever understand them. During her early teen years, Constance spent every waking hour of her early teenage years in malls with her step-mom Contessa. Just before her sixteenth birthday, she fell in love with a classmate. He was the son of Latino parents, who managed to escape extreme poverty by crossing the border in the dark of night. They began the long hard climb in America to reach their dreams. His mother found work in the suburbs as a nanny. His father worked two jobs until he could start his own lawn care business. Eventually, they were able to afford better schools for the children. Carlos, the eldest son, was reminded often about their roots, the severe poverty they had escaped. He was pressured by his parents to succeed. Though he excelled in school and earned a scholarship to Constance's affluent private school, his classmates never accepted him. His classmates taunted him relentlessly. They claimed he was inferior, and could only pretend to be an elite. Constance first saw him in her biology class. He was a handsome boy with jet-black hair and sincere, passionate eyes, who kept to himself. From the first time she saw him she found she couldn't stop thinking about him. They were paired up in class to dissect a frog. After class, they talked. The quiet boy, she found, had a lot to say. He was glad someone would listen. He found he couldn't stop thinking about her. It wasn't long before biology, and passion, overtook them both. From that point on, they were inseparable. She followed him when Carlos began to rebel. He talked to her about his parents' struggle to make a life in America, and the discrimination they faced. He said they never received the respect they deserved. He told her about the relentless intimidation he had experienced among his peers. He blamed the wealthy upper class that he said had an insatiable desire to acquire more profit, for transforming the working class into the third world in America. She saw the passion and fire in his eyes. When Carlos decided to go full-blown militant, and "stick it to the man," Constance decided to hit the brakes on the One-Percent Interstate, and turn off onto Revolutionary Road. She committed to him, her soulmate. The only problem was, her adopted father was the man. Her little half-bro geek was in a weird world invisible to her. Had the new revolutionary been using her head, and not her vagina, she could have recognized her little brother's potential in causing far more havoc, and harm to the system, as a compatriot. For Constance, it wasn't revolution, but her new found passionate needs, that took control of her. She took it all in, as she gave it all up. With every penetration, she was pushed further over the edge, until the fuck of her short lifetime, fucked her up for good. She died a true, respectable, revolutionary's death sans the memorial cross and flowers on Revolutionary Road. While little brother Jared was on a different hormonal and philosophical timetable than hers, nevertheless he, along with his own little army of malfeasant characters running Helter Skelter inside his head, found other ways to terrorize the world from his private turret. Contessa showered Jared with all the attention she could, between prestigious social and charitable events scheduled on her calendar. She chaired many of them. She did find uninterrupted time to fawn over him on the beach during a St. Barth's vacation. Other observers, particularly the paparazzi, suggested the intimate, seemingly romantic behavior between them, appeared abnormal with kisses and caresses, unlike the normal affections between a mother and her child. Richard knew his son was bright, but he never entertained the thought that the boy would ever be able to outsmart him. He also wrote his boy's arrogant behavior off to DNA, and to being extremely coddled and spoiled. Dad had observed the same arrogant behavior in his senior managers, who had half of the brainpower of his son. On a particular sunny afternoon, out on the estate, Richard handed his son a baseball mitt, then he walked ten feet away. He asked if the boy was ready, and after a small nod, Richard tossed a baseball to him. The boy, then ten years old, correctly calculated the trajectory, wind, drift, solar-flareheadwind effect, electromagnetic field, as well as speed and azimuth in a nanosecond, but his hand with the glove remained idle at his side. The baseball smacked Jared in the face and broke his nose. The boy never forgave his father, who stood and watched, motionless, without attending to the injury, while contemplating how someone so intelligent, could lack common sense. The Hamiltons, Richard and Contessa, finally concluded the teachers at private elementary school were no match for Jared. While most children struggled to read Dr. Seuss's weird incantations, Jared was reading the classics. Richard concurred with his wife that junior was special and needed special handling, but he left the details to Contessa and the experts in such matters. He went back to what he did best­­ manipulating currencies, countries and governments like a good free marketeer. The experts insisted that Jared become a stay-at-home student, and be tutored by those who personally wrote the manuals, everything from microbiology, to quantum mechanics, to astrophysics, to nuclear medicine. The Hamiltons had plenty of cash to spread among the masters who would in turn attend to all of Jared's intellectual pursuits, desires and needs. After one formal invitation to visit, Dr. Michio Kaku taught Jared how to build an electron volt particle accelerator and a cloud chamber, on a Saturday afternoon inside one of the sixteen garages. Early on, dad started to notice other things besides the intellectual geekiness of Jared that didn't seem normal. The boy would breast-fed and fondle the firm, flawless breasts of his mother, while staring into her eyes. When the little guy started walking, he would waddle over to his mother and nuzzle his face between her legs, directly into her crotch, which was embarrassing when guests were visiting. After breaking the boy's precious nose, and after several attempts to toughen the boy, dad began spending most of his weekdays and evenings away on business. Weekends, he spent his down time on the world's largest yacht hooking tunas in thongs. Jared's mom thought his fondling of her nipples, and his nuzzling of her snatch was cute, when he was a child. It was more than she was getting at the time from her husband. The attempted breast feeding and crotch nuzzling continued during his pre-teens, but Jared's child psychiatrist said he was just shy, hiding, it was just a phase he was going through, and he would find his independence in time. After the consultations, she accepted the psychiatrist's evaluation and conclusion, although it became more troublesome for her. As a good mother would, she continued to lavish encouragement upon the boy and made sure he had everything he ever wanted, except for the sex. She attended all of his achievement awards ceremonies, and beamed her best supermodel smiles. The Gothic ambiance and the darkness of his room, with a god's view of the countryside and cityscape, was Jared's real home. There his mind expanded to an even higher level. Hidden away in the turret, one would almost have expected him to be a grotesque, bell-ringing, hunched-over stump, but as he grew, the geekiness disappeared, and the genes of his beautiful mother began to transform him. Lasix surgery, expertly performed by the "Eye God," Dr. Alan Kozarsky, corrected his vision, and there was no longer a need for the Coke-bottle glasses. He also became less awkward and learned how to apply his father's charm and salesmanship, to coerce out of people what he wanted. Of course, when coercion failed, Jared wasn't above being a total dick to get what he wanted. Jared had learned how to manipulate people from the bullies he endured all those years in formal school. Rather than becoming disabled from the bullying, he studied the techniques of direct and indirect attacks, their subtle mind fucking, how to induce paranoia, how to use double-meanings, sarcasm, and how to invade personal space. Later, he used what he had learned on countless numbers of his own defenseless victims, against the weak and easily intimidated. His overall appearance went through a second transformation when he stopped wearing the metal-head T-shirts, the drop shorts, and Vans tennis shoes. Khaki pants and polo shirts better concealed his lethal disposition. It made him more palatable, more accepted. He learned to easily get in to and out of his snakeskin. After he learned to apply his craftiness and cunning on the strong and powerful, the handsome Prince Charming became extremely dangerous. Though he appeared to be like the others, the thousands of hours he played Grand Theft Auto, Mafia Mayhem, and Blackwater Battle Zones left him craving for a life of crime. He fantasized about being a badass, gang-banger, tat-covered Crip, Blood, or Latin King. He wanted to rule MS13, be a crime family don. Crime was his recreational drug of choice. He loved the concept of violence. As a criminal, he could be on Wall Street, or in Congress. Crime was exciting, rewarding, challenging to a man who was otherwise completely unfulfilled. He craved that fulfillment more than the air he breathed. All he needed to do was to outsmart the legal system on all levels, and never be caught. No charges, or convictions meant he would have options for his later years. The most successful criminals didn't do time, until they were nearly dead from old age. Since his preteen years, Jared excelled at applying his master machine wizardry. A downloaded copy of Kevin G. Coleman's, "The Cyber Commander's eHandbook" was in his extensive hard drive memory. During his early teenage years, he dabbled in hands-on petty crimes to get a feel for it. By his mid-teens, he had advanced to auto theft and B&E. Right before he turned seventeen he donned a ski mask and committed an armed robbery. Each crime he committed gave him a thrill, but each in turn soon bottomed out. He needed steeper peaks of adrenaline highs to feel truly powerful, truly invincible, to make himself feel alive. He had a copy of Locks, Safes, and Security: An International Police Reference, a hacker's encyclopedia and bible. He spent a great deal of time on Max Butler's, a.k.a. Max Vision, Carders Market, a cyber-maniac's forum for parties interested in looking to buy and sell stolen credit card numbers, and identity theft information. He surfed Warren Ellis' lexical darknet. He was an adamant follower of the life and times of hacker celebrities such as Lightman, Mitnick, Poulsen, Jaschen, Rogers, and Marc Weber Tobias. His amazing mental skills, focus, dedication and concentration absorbed all the information available from a keyboard. He had mixed feelings at an early age on whether to be a "white hat," or "black hat" hacker, but the issue was resolved when he fell in love with crime and criminal behavior. In the beginning, Jared concentrated on applying his electron magic to slowly steal the fortunes of family friends. He didn't need, or want, their money. He had all that he could spend for multiple lifetimes. After researching Kurzweil's "Singularities," he fully expected to become a man-machine combination that would live for eternity, and rule the universe, so he also began saving for his future financial needs. For all of his strengths, Jared had no real grasp of poverty, because he enjoyed a life of privilege. He eventually became the only rich kid to own, under various stolen identities, priceless comic books, shrunken heads, fifty collectible cars, including the Lamborghini Miura SVJ once owned by the Shah of Iran that made famed writer Clive Cussler, who owned an enviable car collection himself, envious. He bought multimillion-dollar estates in Las Vegas, and six castles from Bath, England to Etzelwang, Germany. He outbid Spielberg for a piece from the Macovich Collection. He had expensive yachts, and bought an island in the Caribbean. Like his cyber-heroes, he learned the value of the botnet, a collection of compromised computers connected to the Internet used for malicious purposes, such as breaching a software company's servers. It was one of Microsoft's worst nightmares. He toyed with exploits programs created to take advantage of vulnerabilities in widely used operating software, with millions of lines of code that controlled network servers. He excelled at "zero-day exploits." He admired the Stuxnet considered to be the best high-end zero days exploit virus. Black hats said it was the best, because it lay dormant and invisible until used, and untraceable after inflicted. It was capable of crippling essential services such as electrical grids, shutting down hospitals and hardware, disabling GPS, up to and including launching a CAN­­a computer network attack, or cyber-warfare. It placed unbelievable amount of destructive power into the hands of someone who was capable with a keyboard, giving them a more powerful weapon than a nuclear arsenal. His hacking was so respected in the cybersphere he soon drew the admiration of the tech-savvy Ukrainians. In time, "Kyllar," as he was known in hacker sites, was on a first-username basis with the Russian tech czar "A-Z" who created the ZeuS virus. While they begged him to be a coconspirator, to help take down the global economy, Jared knew he wasn't good at playing well with others, so he declined. He accepted he was a loner, the ultimate lone wolf, isolated. He didn't want friends. Alone, he was better able to conceal all of his deviant behavior. Besides, Jared had money. He just wanted to manipulate the system. He wasn't looking to destroy the planet. Who needed the Ukrainians? As close as Midtown, inside the historic Biltmore Hotel, across from the Georgia Institute of Technology, on the seventh floor, was Security Systems, a major supplier of: digital weaponry, zero-day exploits, airport and government building schematics, corporate offices, including what computers were inside, and what software they used, weather control, customized menus of attacks appropriate to any region of world. Security Systems was a premier cyber-arms dealer. Cyber-warfare prepackaged and ready to infect all for the low, low price of millions of dollars. When he achieved his fifth and last doctorate, at the age of twenty-five, another celebration was held in the family's grand ballroom. While he passed through the guests, he received the praise of ambassadors, leaders of industry, and Nobel-prize winning scientists. The job offers from major corporations and Wall Street firms were countless. Sweeney White, a multibillionaire Wall Street tycoon, had an attack dog snarl, but Cupid's bow lips gave him a feminine appearance. There was a faint steel-gray color to his eyes. His bulky shoulders sagged into skeleton arms as he aged. Before establishing himself as a staunch conservative, right wing money-manipulator, he was the Grand Wizard of the Georgia KKK chapter. He offered Jared an elevated position in his firm, but Jared had no such aspirations. University Regents, the scholarly rulers, offered him honorary chairs, and grants to develop mind-boggling technology. Senator Chuck Davenport, who once nearly immolated himself when he accidentally set himself on fire as a young man, had a "don'tscrew-with-me" scowl. A dangerous predator, he was extremely wealthy and fully intended to maintain his status by any sin. A political hack, he spent the evening soliciting Jared for donations to his reelection campaign. He also suggested Jared run for various offices, to hype his own resumé so Jared could run for President someday. Is he fucking serious? Among the panderers and philanderers attending Jared's party was the founder of Immunity, the CEOs of KEYW, IOActive, and New Delhi's Appin Technologies. All made a pitch, but the appearance of the CEO of Security Systems impressed Jared the most. Rogers was an intense individual who projected a deadly chill. Jared had followed Rogers religiously on line, knew all too well his past as a member of the elite X-Force team, the White Hat hacktivists. Rogers was Security Systems. The cyber-god walked over to Jared and politely introduced himself. Jared was blown away. "Hello, Jared, my name is Christopher Rogers." The unexpected warm introduction, and subsequent small talk about his father Richard, led Jared to consider discussing his own illicit work in the turret, but he decided against it. If Rogers were as good as they claimed, he would already know about my work. Jared, instead, decided to stay the lone wolf. Besides, his ultimate goal was beyond cybercrime. He subsequently thanked them, but passed on all their offers. He had reached the same conclusion as Jon Ronson, who studied the traits of the top CEOs. They were all incurable psychopaths, narcissists, something every warden of any penal institution could verify. Psychopaths didn't play well with other psychopaths. He didn't need any of them. He could do all those things and more right from his control room. He knew exactly what the depraved craved. With his electronic criminal enterprise in full force, Jared decided he would take some time off. He spent the next six months lounging poolside, under the shade of a yellow and white umbrella, with a cool drink nearby, and Ray-Bans blocking the sun. While contemplating his universe, and deciding what his next move would be, he read and researched as he had always done. Except the knowledge, he sought involved kidnapping, white slavery, prostitution, and rape. He wanted to experience them all. He knew they were just more sub-levels before he reached his ultimate goal, the only thing to take him to the edge­­cold-blooded murder. He wondered what it would be like to take a human life, what it would feel like to kill, feel the blood on his hands. He began to study different killing techniques: poisoning, stabbing, strangulation, anything that would get him excited. He studied serial killers like Gacy, Bundy, Dahmer, Rostov, and the most notorious mass murderers of history: Hitler, Hussein, Gadhafi, Milosevic and Bin Laden. Jared decided he was only going to murder five individuals, unlike the more prolific serial killers who had gone before him. It was a number that he had calculated in some skewed equation. He reasoned if he kept the numbers down, and used his superior intellect, powerful analytical logic, and his self-control, he had a better chance of eluding capture. Mind over murder. The equation said if he did more than five, like a gambler, it would all turn against him over time. He also had no plans to become a sick-fuck, murdering addict like all the others. He just wanted to enjoy the experience. He just wanted to be a player. He would be the best slayer-player ever. He decided that his top five killing techniques would not be as impersonal as a drive-by. He needed to do them all on a timeline. He was a genius, smarter than everyone, so he wasn't going to make mistakes, he would beat the system. If he followed his equation, Jared believed he could satisfy his taste for blood, and then disappear off the radar, exist in complete isolation, until the heat died down. Once the trail was cold, he would reemerge as a respectable member of society, with a respectable career in industry, on Wall Street, or in politics. Poolside, Jared read from his Wikipedia research on his laptop: The FBI states that motives for serial murder include: anger, thrill, financial gain, and attention seeking. Typical characteristics: high intelligence, and frequently bullied as children. The predominant diagnosis is dysfunctional personality characteristic, commonly associated with lack of empathy and guilt, are egocentric and impulsive. Does not conform to social, moral and legal norms, they often follow a distinct set of rules, which they have created for themselves. They appear to be quite charming, a state of adaptation...called the "mask of sanity." The mother normally plays the largest role in the development, combined with the lack of paternal influence. FBI's Crime Classification Manual places serial killers into three categories: organized, disorganized, and mixed. They maintain a high degree of control over the crime scene, and usually have a solid knowledge of forensic science. They follow their crimes in the media and often take pride in their actions. The motives of serial killers are generally placed into four categories: visionary, mission-orientated, hedonistic, and power or control... Hedonistic­­seeks thrills and derives pleasure from killing. Lust, thrill, power, control... Gratification depends on the amount of torture and mutilation...weapons that require close contact with the victims...create terror...Thrill killers murder only for the kill...can abstain from killing for long periods...more successful at killing as they refine their murder methods. "Dead fucking on!" The most famous serial killers were some real sick bastards. Had they been at their own Happy Hour, drinking beer at the Waterfront Tavern, they would tell tales of necrophilia, bathing in victim's blood, dismemberment, cannibalism, trepanation, storing trophies in freezers, vampirism, coprophilia, urophilia, pedophilia, masochism, and decapitation, Granny, infant and school girl killers giving out props for the "Most Creative," the "Most Cunning," and the "Most Daring" categories. Jared considered the scene, and then read further. Serial Murder, Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators "Are not adjudicated as insane under the law...It is not that serial killers want to get caught; they feel that they can't get caught...Specific themes in past successful interviews of psychopathic serial killers focused on praising their intelligence, cleverness, and skill in evading capture..." "I should have been a guest speaker at the Symposium." He closed his laptop, sipped his drink, and retired to his Command Center. When he sat at his desk, a quick glance at the 24-hour news channel on one computer display, reported the return of a serial killer fugitive at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The woman was stunning, far more gorgeous than his mother, he thought. He turned up the volume and listened to the reporter on the scene, who described Lori, her capture, and why she was notorious. The end of the report showed a copy of the recently released book about her life in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He instantly commanded his computer to research Lori Powers. Google produced hundreds of sites about her. All The cheesy, amateurish YouTube iReports of her return came up. He stared as he scrolled news reports from years past. He hacked into, and retrieved, police files and reports. When finished, Jared knew he had found the only person he could ever relate to in the entire world. He had found the woman to replace his mother. He found a kindred spirit, who enjoyed the kill, except that she had a purpose, whereas he was only interested in the sport of it. He would bond with her. She would be his goddess. Lori Powers would make him a better man. He also found that they already had something in common. She once had Jake Roberts as her lover. He planned to take Jake Roberts' life. His final kill would be the law enforcement pig, which mercilessly gunned down his sister during a police raid of a small, militant band of Atlanta Metro area revolutionaries, reminiscent of the Black Panthers, and Weathermen, of the Sixties. Jake Roberts would be Jared's last victim before Jared disappeared into obscurity. Roberts would be taunted, and then he would die painfully, suffering the sting of every stab and slash, while Jared watched the blood spill from his lips, along with Roberts' death rattle as he succumbed to the reaper. Jared was going to kill Roberts for fun, and for personal revenge. Now, he was going to kill him for Lori. Jared was eager to reach the edge. The act of killing began to consume his every thought. He remembered the night Constance was gunned down, killed by Roberts so many years ago. He could barely remember her face now, but he could never forget the rush he got when the family was informed of her death by APD. It was time to do it. It was the next step in his evolution. "When, Jared?" Jared was startled. He immediately ordered all the lights in the Command Center be turned on. His head swung, his eyes searched rapidly from corner to corner, doorways to windows. He looked up to the tip of the vaulted ceiling. No one was there besides him. He thought maybe the computer had come out of sleep mode. The voice was familiar to him. They were his words, his voice. "When, Jared?" "Tonight, my parents, here in the house," Jared said. "I will help you, Jared." He didn't think twice about the voice. It may have had something to do with what he had just read about Lori and her wicked, manic voices. It didn't matter, he decided. There was no better place to begin his killing than right there, in familiar territory, inside the mansion. He would have home field advantage. He would kill both of his parents. If he could get away with it there, he reasoned that he could get away with it anywhere. The only reason he would have lamented his mother's demise was thinking she still might have given in to him and his perverted advances that she would say yes. Even he had to concede, in his twisted reality, she was never going to let him fuck her. Besides, he didn't need mom now. He would have Lori. As far as whacking his old man, even Jared didn't think he deserved to die because of the baseball in his face. No, dad deserved to die because he was there. Killing dad would add so much more. Game time. What better place? What better time? Who better to kill? What better test of my ability to perform under the ultimate pressure?
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Chapter 3
3 Blood saturated every square inch of the carpeting in the mansion's master bedroom, from one distant gilded wall to the others. Unless you slept there, you would have had no idea the original color of the carpet was soft beige. The once white satin sheets on the king-size bed were also blood soaked, with the only difference being, they had a glossier sheen to them than the carpet. The only objects left without any color in the scene were the drained, frozen-in-death, blanched bodies lying on the bed. Their expressions indicate they did not experience their death. Too serene, not chiseled, and contorted from being mercilessly murdered. From the tall master bedroom doors, I study the crime scene. In all of my crime fighting years, I have investigated a variety of murders. I've witnessed firsthand what human can do to other human beings. After the first, you begin to develop a kind of numbness to it, you disconnect. You stop thinking about the person who once was alive. Instead, you become curious in a weird way, trying to find the answer, the reason for it. This one doesn't have the usual elements attached to it like passion, pain or anger. It has something else, something that raises it to another level. It is psychological, deliberate, staged, perverted in a way. The spiny fingers of adrenaline slither up, gripping my neck and shoulders. This one is for the record books. It will become one of my middle-of-the-night-screamers. It will jolt me out of a sweat-soaked sleep. Alcohol won't be able to suppress, or diminish it. I feel uneasy about the killer, or killers­­who I will find at the end of a trail. My investigative team looks over my shoulders. Each is as repulsed as I am. We're all quiet as if we are in a church, or holy place. I mentally preserve the state of the crime scene trying to retain as much information as possible from this vantage point before we go inside. No one has entered the bedroom since the call first came in, not even the housekeeper who first saw the victims from the cracked open bedroom doors. When we do go in, the evidence should be undisturbed. I visually search the room for footprints in the blood left by the killer, or killers, but there are none. There aren't any visible fingerprints. The room is so completely covered in blood, the suggestion is made that the horrific scene was "painted." To the right, what appears to be a priceless Renoir, Van Gogh, or some other noted artist's work has been slashed and tossed onto a satin-covered settee. The frame alone cost my year's salary. I surmise it used to hang above the excessively ornate headboard, where the brackets are torn loose. The slash across the painting, once analyzed by the techs, will confirm the type of knife used. In all likelihood, the serrated blade with the Asian-markings carved into the handle, standing erect out of the male victim's chest, a direct hit on the man's heart, will probably contain canvas fibers. The freaky part, freakier than the rest of the scene, the one that will give me nightmares for the rest of my life, is the word written in blood on the wall where the expensive artwork used to hang. We all read the capital letters on the wall, but no one says the word aloud. My pained flashback must have drained the color in my face, but I snap back instantly the moment Detective Dominguez's hand slaps the back of my shoulder. He was a junior detective, but was familiar with Lori's case. He understands what's going in my head. Boston. Five years ago. This time, I'm standing in Atlanta, Georgia. I have a punched-in-the-stomach look. The name painted on the wall is the same­­JAKE. My first call is to Mika. I tell her about the double homicide at the mansion and that my name is back on the wall again. She is as stunned and confused about it as I am. While I try to digest this mess, Mika says she can't come to the scene, but she would meet with me later. Next, I make a call the office to tell the CID secretary to postpone my interview with Lori, and that I will call her when I'm leaving. While listening to her reply, I watch the yellow tape twist as an officer begins to demarcate and secure the area. Those of us going in, and any others subsequently, will sign in with the log officer. I have already directed an exterior search of the house. I want to know how the perps got in and out. Two detectives, with several uniforms, will also be looking outside for tire tracks and footprints. If any are found impression casts will be made. After reviewing the crime scene from the doorway, I explain to my investigators how I want the scene covered. It's nothing they don't already know, but it's required. I'm sure as hell going to do it by the book, so there is little chance of the perpetrators walking free at trial because of our mistakes. The victims were two high-profile socialites so the mayor, the chief of detectives, the Fulton County prosecutor, and the media will expect more of me. The first forty-eight hours of any crime scene are critical. It's when most usable forensic evidence is gathered. I'm told from the doorway, the CST's have arrived and are on their way up to the bedroom. They will do a more thorough, detailed gathering of forensic evidence after we've been through the bedroom. The coroner's black sedan is minutes away. Fulton County is fortunate to have the latest equipment such as ACE-V fingerprint capability, and infrared RAMAN Spectroscopic Imaging, along with the standard ink, print cards, lifting tape and dusting powders. Fingerprint detection has come a long way over my time in homicide. The only exception is when we come across someone who doesn't have fingerprints. I only saw it once. It's a genetic trait called the "Naegeli Syndrome," or dermatopathia pigmentosa reticularis. The entomologist will check the insect larvae deposited in the victims' eyes to approximate the time of death. Insects move fast, even when bodies are found inside. The victims will also be checked for human, or animal bite marks. They too will be casted regardless of the fact they are often considered inconclusive in court. I don't see any visible GSW, but if any shells are found ballistics will handle them. Their results though are only judgment calls at best and another issue for the lawyers. The CST's will use tweezers, cotton swabs, lint rollers, and good old-fashioned magnifying glasses to collect trace evidence samples including paint, fibers, chemicals, fingernails, hair samples, and biological evidence, DNA. They will use chromatography to separate complex mixtures; a serology kit, hemasticks, to collect samples from blood splatters, and help to identify chemical substances in body fluids. Looking at the scene, the CST's won't need to use Luminol, an exposing reagent used to find blood previously cleaned. What they will need to do, is tell me where all the blood came from. The toxicology report will come later. We are also fortunate in Atlanta the Coroner's office is capable of doing high-tech virtual autopsies, which will further support and confirm my own observations about how the victims died. We're lucky to get to the scene early. Within three days, the enzymes that digest food in the body start to digest the body itself­­evidence tampering. All The gory details will be included in the evidence report and the murder book. I send the photographer in first. She is the best at what she does. I have worked with her for years. She will capture the scene from every possible angle starting with the Panoscan, which will do a 360-degree digital photo of the room. We will refer to the allencompassing photo, when our minds are saturated with other details days from now. While her Nikon camera flashes, we put on protective masks and latex gloves. We all have a pocketful of paper and plastic evidence bags, and make sure our flashlights beam. When we go in, we will work methodically from the perimeter and move toward the victims, careful to contaminate as little of the scene as possible. One after another, my investigators will follow my path and when we are equally spaced, we will move toward the victims noting every detail along the way on sketchpads. I watch my photographer carefully backtrack out of the bedroom. She is sure she has all she needs. "I got a clear shot of the name." She looks painfully into my eyes. My eyebrows do a quick bump. Because I have the penmanship of an M.D., I start my digital recorder. The notes I make will help me later to fill out reports. It occurs to me, I have been doing this a very long time, two weeks shy of twenty-five years as an Atlanta homicide detective. I step into the room. Dominguez draws the bedroom shades open revealing pewter clouds, and a thick mist providing a haunting backdrop to this already creepy murder scene. I won't rush to it, but I want a close-up look at that serrated knife. For as long as I can, I will avoid looking at the name smeared in blood on the wall. After the preliminary investigation, I will turn my thoughts to motive, a reason why this happened. Passion? Anger? Hate? Revenge? Provoked? A contract kill? *** Jared had been analyzing what he had done when the voice told him to sleep. He fell into a deep sleep. The voice told him once he awoke, his life would be changed forever. The voice also told him to be on high alert when he woke. Sirens shattered his deep sleep. The sirens were rapidly approaching the affluent neighborhood, turning toward the house on the mile-long driveway. It was minutes before they reached the house. The sirens finally stopped, but the light bars continue to announce there is a crime scene. Jared tossed the down covers, stood, and walked over to the mirror above the sink in the bathroom. He practiced his shocked and heartbroken expression just like the voice told him to. He shouted a command from the bathroom, and his computer awoke. Then Jared commanded his computer to infiltrate the security cameras as he approached his desk. He saw the private security personnel running, terrified staff, crying maids, and the arrival of the police. He waited, timed, and then began his choreographed, overanxious run through the mansion to the foyer where all the activity was centered. The first person he came across was the distraught butler, Jameson. The old man's wrinkled hands were shaking. His patented butler composure, normally plastered to his wrinkled face, had been replaced by grief. He was on his way to Jared's room to tell him the bad news. When he saw Jared, the old man began to cry. "What's going on? Why are the police here?" Jared played his role and emoted a controlled, concerned panic. "It's your parents, Jared. They're...oh my God, they're dead. I'm so sorry, son, so sorry." Jared broke loose of the old man and bolted for the foyer. When he arrived, he was grasped by a police officer that asked him for identification. Jared told him who he was between shortened breaths. Jameson, close behind, verified his identity. The officer took him to the living room, sat him down, and directed Jared to remain there until a detective came to speak with him. As Jared took a seat on the sofa, the officer asked if he could get him anything. His throat was parched, so he asked for some water. Jameson went for it. He couldn't sit still, and constantly asked to talk with someone in charge. The officer reassured him someone would speak to him soon. Jared believed his performance, up to that very moment, was dead on. You're doing great, Jared. He studied the officers and investigative personnel closely from the sofa, as they invaded his space. The camera inside his powerful mind was capturing every nuance of their behavior, and every syllable they spoke verbatim. He stored the data and planned to download it for careful examination later. All of it would be kept for his future use, for the planning of crimes to come. The fact that he had murdered his parents less than eight hours before never entered into his thoughts. Then Jared saw Jake Roberts descend from the stairs that led to the master bedroom. He watched intensely as Roberts walked through the foyer, and into the living room where he waited. He kept his mouth closed, but his mind screamed aloud. No fucking way. It all came back like a cannonball shot through his cranium, the day his stepsister Constance was gunned down in a firefight with the cops. Other detectives had interviewed the family then. Jared, though just a young boy, was included. The cops interrogated the family for hours on end about his stepsister's friends, why she stayed out all hours of the night, and why the family thought she might do such a thing. Two uniforms were responding to a report of domestic violence in a dilapidated house, beneath an overpass in a long forgotten neighborhood, when they were surprised by heavy weapons fire. One officer took a bullet to the forehead and was killed instantly. His partner took a shoulder hit, but was returning fire from behind his patrol car door. Normally, wandering indigent souls cowered behind dumpsters, and overturned shopping carts. The street was covered in garbage and graffiti. Roberts, and his partner Harmon Blackwell, racing to respond to another shooting nearby, diverted immediately to aid the officers on the scene. They arrived during the chaos of the firefight. A figure between two pillars on the front porch, illuminated by street lamps and the patrol cars headlights, dressed in black fatigues and wearing a ski mask, was firing an AK-47. Jared's older sister had been providing cover fire for her boyfriend, the pretend badass, who was in a cowardly retreat. Roberts was the detective who shot and killed her. The ambulances and other emergency personnel arrived minutes later. Her boyfriend, and his small band of revolutionaries, disappeared out the back door, into the night, and were never apprehended in the U.S. About six months later, on the south side of the Texas- Mexico border, Constance's B.F. was captured, tried and convicted of multiple homicides, kidnappings, drug and weapons charges. He and his band of evildoers confessed to killing four touristas in Cuernavaca, their beheaded bodies found suspended from a bridge. Jared could not believe the irony of Roberts' showing up to investigate the unfortunate demise of his parents. He wondered what his big sister Constance would have thought about that. He wondered what the possibilities of his having any of her murderous DNA. He wondered how long it would take Roberts to put it all together, and what his reaction would be when he figured it all out. Roberts walked straight to the officer who stood over Jared. They talked briefly with Roberts looking directly at the officer. Finally, Roberts turned to Jared, who had the look of a wounded animal on his face. After Roberts identified himself and badged Jared, he made the official notification of the death of his parents. He followed with his official condolences, and took a seat next to Jared, whose eyes welled up with convincing grieving tears. Roberts gave him time to regain his composure. Jared struggled to get the answers out to the questions the detective asked. "I woke up to the sirens. My room is way in the back of the house. I was asleep, sound asleep. I took an Ambien. I don't sleep well. I do a great deal of research and my head's always filled with equations. The Ambien knocks me down solid. I never heard a thing until the sirens." He drank some water. "What happened to my parents? How did they...? Who did this? Can I go up and see them? Who would do such a thing?" "What time was that? When you took the Ambien?" Jared tries to draw his thoughts together. "I just shut down my computer, and it was around 11:15, maybe 11:30. I was going to watch HBO, but the Ambien kicked in." He takes another drink of water. "I'm researching a new biofuel and­­" He pauses, and draws a deep breath, eyebrows close in together, and he blinks faster. "When did this happen?" "The medical examiner is upstairs now. His best guess appears to be around 1:00, maybe 1:30 in the morning. The M.E. and CST's will have more for us when they finish up. I cannot let you up there, I'm sure you understand." I study Jared's reactions. I make a mental note to have someone verify he has a legitimate prescription for the Ambien. "I will need for you to go down to the morgue later, to do a positive identification." "Yes, sir. Can't I do it here?" Jared says. He stares hard at me. I assume it's because he's in shock. The forensics techs interrupt while I'm talking with the son. I excuse myself, and walk over to hear that certain items have been classified and bagged, catalogued according to standard procedure. I'm told that a single, blood-saturated paint roller at the end of a long pole was found under the bed. The techs didn't find any prints during their sweep other than the victims, family members, or the staff. The serrated knife has been confirmed to be from Richard Hamilton's personal collection in the den. I'm also told that the sexual assault kit revealed semen was collected from Contessa Hamilton's vagina, perhaps indicating Richard, at least before he was assaulted and murdered, had sex with his wife. Frank, a tech I have worked with before, then gives the distressing report that Mrs. Hamilton was also sodomized. There are no witnesses to the late night murders. The staff had all retired to their quarters. Two investigators, who had interviewed them, got nothing useful. No one heard any approaching, or departing vehicles, odd for a crime of this magnitude, especially if there was more than one perpetrator. Part of my team is reviewing the mansion's security DVDs. The only security personnel in the mansion at the time weren't in the office watching the security cameras. He was in a young housekeeper's bedroom watching her ride him ferociously. He was sufficiently remorseful, forthcoming, and apologetic. I assume his days in security are over. There is no indication the victims fought back. It's suggests they could have been drugged, and then killed. I'll have to wait for the toxicology report. The serrated knife appears to match the slash to the artwork and to the slashes across their throats, one reason no one heard any screams. Whoever did this then spent time painting everything with the blood. Who uses a roller to paint with blood? Whoever did it has to be really fucked up in the head, cold-blooded. If they were angry, I suspect they would have wanted their victims to see it coming, so they would be terrorized before they died. The coroner pronounced the victims dead at the scene. The EMT's who have been waiting patiently, and who never had the slightest hope of reviving the victims during a run to the ER, were dismissed. They packed up their gear and headed out to the ambulances. The son seems confused, traumatized and distraught to me, sincere in his grief. He's quirky, by my standards weird. He wears Brooke's Brothers slacks, Hilfiger polo shirt, and deck shoes. He doesn't give me the impression he could have done this. A street kid like me always found rich kids weren't normal, they were from another universe, but I've never seen a science-head geek lose it either. Still, the statistic pops into my head that eleven percent of the murders committed in the U. S. are committed by someone close to, or intimate with the victims. My gut concurs, so before I leave I'll tell Dominguez to dig deeper, see if there is any bad blood here, at least enough to step in. "Again, I'm sorry for your loss, Jared. I want you to know we will find who did this horrific thing and he, she, or they, will be prosecuted and punished. Do you have any idea who could have done this? Enemies of your parents?" He gives me a blank-eyed look. "No, sir." "Is there someone who can help you through this, someone we can contact for you? A relative? Friend? Someone in the staff you are close to?" You mean like a dead relative, sister-killer? Are you too stupid to remember? You must really suck at this. "Sir, we are...were...a close family. There will be many friends and relatives when they find out what happened. I'll be okay." Again, he has that emotionless stare, which I am going to write off to shock. "I'm going to have one of my people, a trauma specialist, talk with you. She will stay with you until you feel comfortable and safe, or until someone, family or friends arrive. I'm also going to have a team of officers provide security for you. Whoever did this is still out there." I watch his eyes. "Also, the officers will try to keep the media away. The full support of the Atlanta Police Department will be here for you. This is my number, day or night. Anything, no matter how big or small, call me, okay?" Holy shit, Roberts' cell phone number. "My father was a very powerful man, detective. I'm sure he had his enemies. I don't know anyone who could have the heart to do this. While I know many of the people who come through the house by name, my contact with them, or knowledge of them, is limited, largely because of my self-imposed exile in my studies." His head drops and he searches the floor. "All I ever see is their smiles, and shake their hands, whenever there is a social event, otherwise, no. Dad is usually away on business. There are times, weeks, when I don't see him, but when we do get together we have...had a great time. Braves baseball, and all that. My mother is...was your typical socialite, and forever attending to some charity function, or event. We did have dinner out last week at Morton's in Buckhead to catch up on one another's lives. I'm afraid I spend much more time with my computer up in my room." Jared freezes, goes silent for a moment. He's looking ill. "I think it's just now beginning to really sink in, what happened here," Jared says. He taps his forehead, backhands the tears beginning to fall. Excellent, Jared. "Again, if you need me for anything, or if you think of anything helpful, call me." The trauma specialist arrives just as I am about to leave. I make the introductions and more reassurances. "Now, I am going to take another look upstairs before I go." "Yes, sir. Thank you." The therapist began asking Jared some gentle questions, giving basic information and options he has available to him. He half heard what she was saying, but was distracted for the most part by all the things going on around him. He continued to study their movements and behavior. You could read all the Crime Scene for Dummies you wanted, but firsthand experience was always the best. Each officer, at some point, offered Jared respectful condolences. The therapist followed Jared around like a new puppy. What amazed Jared the most was that he wasn't even considered a suspect in the murders. To them, he was just another spoiled, society brat, with no prior arrest record, who never had a known conflict with the law, not even a traffic ticket. Roberts was so zoned in on the crime scene, he didn't remember the family. Maybe, Jared thought, they see so many crime scenes they learn to suppress them so deeply they disappear from the memory. He was certain, Roberts would figure it out, but by then Jared planned to have had his killing fantasies nearly fulfilled, and he would be well shielded from capture and prosecution. He would merely be an upstanding pillar of society. He also knew how to cover his tracks, as he did with his other criminal enterprises. He had always done his homework. He watched closely as Roberts left out the front door. *** After I finish taking a second look in the bloodied bedroom, and talk with Dominguez, I leave my capable investigative team to do the rest and I bail out for the office. That, of course, means struggling through the media on my way out. I feel like a cue ball scattering the solids and stripes across the green tabletop. I direct them to the Public Information Officer who I briefed outside the bedroom. Another 24-hour news cycle was starting. The first hour would include most of the information, and then the next twenty-three hours would repeat it until the public had it memorized for water cooler conversations, and Happy Hours. A roped-off area blocked the news reporters from the Police Public Relations Officer standing at a podium stacked three-levels deep with microphones. Guerilla reporters also carried hand-held digital recorders, mini-cams, or iPhones linked directly to their editors. They waited until the officer finished her briefing before they shouted questions over one another. Each tidbit of the crime scene was preserved on the record, so they could feed the public's morbid curiosity and frenzy for death. Killers are media attractive and gain celebrity status. The public believes it is entitled to every detail. How many victims? How did they die? Give us every sordid detail. Often, they confuse reality blood spilling with movie blood spilling. The very first film ever made was Thomas Edison's confession of a serial killer named H. H. Holmes. The Old West's number one entertainment was public hangings. Third-party "experts" pontificate and hypothesize. People read true crime magazines, and murder mysteries are number one on the New York Times bestseller lists. An entire subculture buys and sells the writings, paintings, poems, and personal possessions of murderers. The media disgusts me, but they're no surprise. *** You were magnificent, Jared. He didn't know what to say to the voice. He knew he couldn't answer it. His next move was incomprehensible. Jared walked away from the trauma therapist who trailed him invoking his name. He went out through the front doors and watched Jake pushing through the reporters. He saw the rush of reporters to his own feet. It was the second adrenaline rush he had in the past eight hours. Every dog has its day, Jared. *** I push my way to my car, quickly slam the car door, and stare from behind the wheel. I see Jared Hamilton walk out of the ostentatious entranceway, and stand at the top of the granite stairs. He's staring back at me. The media dogs rush to him. He seems very comfortable in their presence. I assume he's used to it because of the Hamilton family's power and wealth. I watch as the therapist tries to bring him back into the house, away from the media, so she can counsel him, but he resists. *** Ride the wave, Jared. Jared wasted no time when he finished with the media. He dodged the officers and headed straight for the safety of his room. The detectives continued their work until they thought they had enough to complete their reports back in CID. What a fucking rush. From that point on, Jared realized it was going to be a challenge to sneak out of the mansion with the cops still hanging around, but the game changer came when he ran the equation in his head. Those very cops would be his alibi. While they gave him space to mourn and become a recluse in the turret, he would sneak off and murder the others on his list and on his timeline. He had to kill again. He was so jacked up. What Jared didn't tell the cops about, that even the staff was unaware of, were the hidden passageways his father had installed when the mansion was constructed, so he could transit the house, completely concealed. His mother, Contessa, never knew they were there. Jared thought maybe, Whitney had used them for her trysts. Dad made all kinds of deals, good deals, on private club golf courses, but great deals were made on satin sheets. Jared, as a boy, observed dad pass through a portal once. When dad was out of town, Jared found the clandestine entrance and took a tour. He never revealed the discovery to anyone, but did use them to watch his mother undress many times. With a few sidesteps, he could clandestinely transit the entire house from his turret cave. The cops, if they found out, probably would have found bloody footprints there. Later, Jared planned to bleach them away. After Jared made his way back to his room, he began analyzing why he was so distant, emotionally and psychologically, about murdering the two people who had given him life. They were like mannequins to him with blank faces, no pulsing blood, no brainwaves, and absolutely no heartbeats. Still, he felt nothing at all for them. He didn't hate his parents, but he didn't love them either. He never understood­­love. It wasn't an equation, a theorem, a puzzle, or a theory he could manipulate. The idea of love and affection, compassion, didn't compute inside of his powerful intellect, and he felt nothing in his cold heart. Love was a meaningless, useless human idea that in reality changed nothing. The entire universe he believed lacked love. Those thoughts were quickly consumed by his intense desire to kill again. *** Days later, after the positive identification and autopsies were completed, mom and dad were released to Jared for the funeral. He got off during the ceremony in a bizarre way. While standing over the expensive coffins, staring at mom and pop's lifeless carcasses, he thought it would be interesting to attend the funerals of everyone he killed. He would stand over them and see if they would wake and tell everyone he committed the dirty deed. His fun ended when the parade of mourners had all wandered off to the rest of their lives, after the free food and drinks, and the sad, soulful melancholy they expressed for someone they didn't care about, and were probably happy they were gone. After the service, and after everyone was gone, when the staff faded away into the hidden crevices of the mansion, Jared walked into his deceased dad's study, and closed the double, ceiling-tall doors behind him. He took a seat in the leather chair behind dad's solid oak desk. He propped both feet up on the immaculately arranged desk. He stared at the photograph in the silver frame, the one where his mom was squeezing him against her cheek. He noted how blaring the space was where the serrated knife once hung alongside other classic, collector murdering weapons. When he looked up at the array of animal heads protruding from above the endless bookshelves, he almost burst out laughing when he pictured his parents stuffed and mounted alongside the rest. When, Jared? "Soon, my impatient voice, soon," he said He interlaced his fingers. "More importantly­­who?"
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