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Deep Freeze: Chapter One
gracie113
 
 
 
Deep Freeze
 
 
 
 
By: Ashley Hannan

 
Chapter One
 
Inside the small, dim office, paperwork sat in overwhelming, disheveled piles on every flat surface available. The blinds over the window on the door were shut, but they hung crooked so that the left side was slightly higher than the right. The blinds on the windows were drawn as well. A small desk lamp was the only source of light to illuminate the workspace.
On the floor between the desk and the large, black, leather desk chair sat a tall brunette mulling over stacks of papers and photographs. She softly talked to herself as she moved stuff from one pile to another.
She picked a pen up off of the floor and chewed on the cap for a moment before circling something on one of the papers and scribbling some barely legible notes next to it. Then the pen returned to its place in her mouth. There was not a single pen in her office which has not been chewed on out of stress or frustration.
A knock on the door interrupted her work.
“Come in,” she called with the pen still in between her teeth.
One of the cadets stuck his head in and said, “Chief   O’Hare wants you in his office. Immediately.”
Without looking up to acknowledge him, she waived the cadet away and said, “In a minute.”
The door closed quickly as the cadet scurried away.
She finished scribbling her notes down on the piece of paper in front of her then shoved it back into the stack it came from.
Her feet were numb from sitting in the same position so long. She stood slowly, trying to use the desk chair for support. The chair rolled sideways into the desk and knocked a pile of papers onto the floor.
A curse escaped her lips as the papers came crashing down.
“Deal with it later,” she mumbled as she headed toward the door.
 
*****


Chief’s office door was closed and the blinds were shut completely.
“Not good,” she sighed as she knocked on the door. She knew Chief O’Hare never called anyone into his office unless they were in trouble. In the three years she had been under his command she had always seen him go to other’s offices to talk, unless it was really bad. A nervous dread began to rise up in her throat.
“Come in,” the Chief called from inside.
Slowly, she turned the door knob and made her way into the office.
“Chief, you wanted to see me?”
“Yes, please sit,” he said motioning to the chairs in front of his desk.
Uneasily, she took a seat across from him. Chief O’Hare was a short, heavy set man in his late fifties. He sat there rummaging through a pile of paperwork then looked up at her from beneath large, silver, bushy eyebrows. As she met the gaze of his steel blue eyes, a shiver ran down her spine.
“It has been over six weeks,” was all he said.
“Yes sir.”
“I know it has been hard on you, but it is time to move forward.”
“Sir, I don’t think –
“I know you don’t,” he interrupted, “but the important thing is that I think you’re ready. You have spent way too much time on this case. Not only am I assigning you a new partner, but I am also giving you a new case load. I do not want you spending as much time on the FHK case as you have been. It isn’t good to be so obsessed. You have not closed a single case in two months. That case has consumed your time; not to mention your office. It is time for you to get something productive done around here.”
“But Chief, I --” she began to protest
He held his hand up to silence her.
“Don’t get me wrong, you will still be working lead on the FHK. You know more about him than any other officer. I cannot afford to pull you off the case, but you need to work on other things as well. Your new partner can help you with balancing it all.”
He pressed a button on his phone and spoke into it, “Lorena, you can send him in now.”
“Chief, I really don’t think that this is necessary. I am just –
His hand came up again to silence her.
A heavy knock on the door preceded it opening to reveal the person Chief O’Hare had decided would be her previous partner’s replacement.
He was at least six foot four; short, buzzed blonde hair; and piercing, icy blue eyes. His lightly tanned skin was off-set by his choice of wardrobe – dark jeans, a white t-shirt, and a black leather jacket. In one hand, he held onto a motorcycle helmet, and in the other, he held a green and grey backpack.
“Detective Gabriella DeLuca, I would like you to meet your new partner –
“Collin,” he interrupted, extending his hand to her.
He’s a puppy! She thought. He can’t be any older than Isabella! Like twenty, twenty-one, if that? He has got to be fresh out of the academy. I cannot believe the Chief is sticking me with this kid! “Chief, is this really necessary? I don’t—
“DeLuca, stop. You and Collin will be partnered for as long as he chooses to stay stationed here. Not negotiable. End of conversation. Am I understood?”
“Yes, sir,” she huffed.
“Now please, show him around and get started. I will have one of the cadets bring some paperwork over to your office.”
“Yes, sir,” she conceded and walked out of the office.
Collin followed quickly at her heels, “Have I done something to offend you?”
“No,” she retorted.
“You sure?”
“Yes.”
“Then what’s with the attitude?” he questioned.
She stopped dead in her tracks and turned around to face him, “Listen, six weeks ago, my partner was killed in a shootout with a serial killer called FHK – the Frozen Hearts Killer. Due to extenuating circumstances his body was never recovered so we never got to bury him. But I had to watch him die. Do you have any idea what that’s like? I worked with him for the last six years. He was like,” she paused, “like a second father to me. At first, I was a mess. I barely managed to hold it together. But I’m fine now. I have managed just fine on my own without another partner since then. I don’t need to have some boy, fresh out of the academy, being assigned to follow me around and get in my way while I am trying to get work done,” she snapped.
Without a second’s hesitation he responded, “Chief didn’t tell you, did he?”
“Tell me what?”
“Who I am,” Collin stated.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Let’s try this again,” his voice changed from the soft shy ‘puppy’ she had originally assumed him to be to a more commanding and authoritative tone, “Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supervisory Special Agent Collin O’Hare of the Seattle Washington field office. I’ve been assigned to work within this precinct as a liaison for the FBI as long as the FHK is still on the streets. So as long as that case is open on your desk, you are stuck with me. You might not like it, but you had better get used to it.”
He walked passed her and headed down the hall toward the precinct lobby.
O’Hare? As in Chief O’Hare? The Chief assigned me to work with his son? What the hell am I getting myself into? I can’t –
Her thoughts were interrupted by his voice calling from down the hall, “you coming?”
All she could manage was “uh-huh” as she grouchily trailed behind him.
In the lobby she could feel peoples’ stares and hear hushed whispers as she walked in. it had been like that ever since the incident. Every time she walked into the room, it got silent and peoples’ eyes nearly burned holes in her.
Every time some new case development broke with FHK it got even worse. It was as if they thought she might break from just one more added stressor.
She had become a near hermit after the incident happened. She isolated herself from everyone around her and alienated herself completely. Even those closest to her had allowed her to push them away. In the most crowded of rooms she still felt completely alone.
His voice broke through the silence in her mind, “Where is your office?”
Through gritted teeth she responded, “Down the main corridor. Last door on the left.”
He turned and headed toward her office; she trailed a few feet behind him.
When he reached her door at the end of the hall, he waited for her to catch up. She stopped and looked at him momentarily.
“Ladies first,” he said as he pushed her office door open.
She glared at him as she pushed her way between his body and the door frame. He stared back into her dark brown eyes. The icy blue of his eyes struck something inside her. He had Chief’s eyes.  As she unintentionally brushed against him, she could smell the scent of musky deodorant, salty beach air, and the thick smell of leather from his jacket.
Paying more attention to him than to where she was going her left thigh collided with the corner of the short bookshelf near the door. She let out a pained groan and reached down to rub the now sore spot on her leg.
After a quick moment of recovery she walked to the other side of the room and behind her desk. She quickly picked up the mess of papers from earlier and placed them on the edge of her desk. She was overly careful not to repeat the earlier mishap and knock any more onto the floor.  Then, she slid into the large, black leather chair and let out a heavy sigh.
He shut the door behind himself as he walked in.
Her eyes scanned across the desk. She reached up quickly, grabbed a small stack of disheveled post it notes and shoved them into the top drawer of her desk. 
His eyes quizzically looked her up and down What was that all about? He wondered.
As he came around the corner of the desk, she looked up and scowled at him. She pushed the drawer shut with her elbow and the lock clicked into place – sealing her secrets away inside.
“You might not like that I have been assigned to work with you on this case, but –
She interrupted, “Really? Now what gave you that idea?” Her biting sarcasm came across slightly more obnoxious than she had intended.
-- but,” he continued on, ignoring her comment, “you are stuck with me until FHK is caught, killed or until I tell my bosses I am no longer useful here. So you might as well get used to the idea of having me around, because in order to catch him, we are going to need to work together.”
She scowled at him momentarily then reached for a stack of papers on the opposite edge of her desk. She moved the papers to another pile and removed a white, three ring binder from underneath. “What do you know about the case?” she questioned.
“Frozen Hearts Killer, also known as FHK. A serial killer who has been terrorizing Colorado for the past two years, primarily around Denver. He kidnaps his victims at night. He sends a riddle by untraceable carrier services telling when and where the body can be found. When the bodies are recovered, they always have the same injuries – bruising on the wrists and ankles from being bound, bruising on the esophagus showing signs of strangulation,” he paused, “he probably strangles them until they pass out as a means of making transportation easier during the abduction. Bodies are always frozen with CO2, but not before he cuts out the heart. Cause of death is exsanguination from blood loss when the heart is cut out. No sign of any anesthetics. These women feel everything. As if that is not sick enough, the heart is never recovered. Presumably, it is kept as some sort of disgusting trophy.
There were a few leads being followed: Edward Naturi, Mac Windor, and Shawn Malloy. All of which had air tight alibis the night that,” he paused for a moment to look at her, “the night that Frank Silas was killed.”
She let out a low snarl, “What do you know about Frank? You think you can come in here all high and mighty and instantly know everything about this case and all that I have been through? You have no idea what –
He interrupted her again, “Detective DeLuca, I am not here to undermine your authority or cause a problem. Like I said before, I am here because I was assigned by my boss to work on this case. As soon as we catch this guy, I’m gone. I was not saying anything disrespectful in regards to your former partner, Frank Silas. From what I hear, he was an exceptional man and was very good at his job.
I was simply stating the facts that the three major leads we had – Naturi, Windsor, and Malloy – all had alibis for the night he was killed, and; therefore, could not have been FHK. Naturi was at a dinner party with his wife. At least thirty witnesses could corroborate his story. Windsor was at work; videotape of the construction site corroborates. And Malloy was out of the country and we have the plain manifest and a pile of other paperwork and photographs that can document it.
All I was saying is that I know the case details. I have followed your work on this case from the Washington field office for just over a year and a half now. I was not in any way, shape, or form saying anything bad about Detective Silas.”
She huffed angrily, “Fine, what do you know about the unsub’s profile?”
“Unknown subject is presumed to be a single white male, between the ages of forty five and fifty five; with some sort of medical degree based on how cleanly and precisely he was able to remove the heart without damaging any of the other organs, and to keep the victims alive through most of the procedure without sedation. Believed to potentially also have some sort of criminal justice or law enforcement background. He is highly intelligent, more than likely some sort of advanced educational degree. Possibly works in forensics or pathology within law enforcement,” he rattled off.
“Victims?” she grilled.
“May twenty third of two thousand eight. Natalia Morales. Age twenty four. Five foot six. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Caucasian. Taken from her apartment north of Denver around eleven pm.
Note found on her pillow gave a riddle detailing when and where her body could be found:
‘At a mile above it is clear to see
            That one week’s time will reveal her body.
            And though the mile high is no more
            She lies where the rocks now roar.’

The first line is not too well defined, but the second is obvious. He gave one week until her body would be discovered. The third line clarifies the first, changing ‘a mile above’ to ‘a mile high’ referring to the baseball field. The next line references rocks for the Colorado Rockies. They now reside at Coors field instead of Mile High. Her body was discovered on the pitcher’s mound one week after she disappeared. Unfortunately, he is very good at what he does and we; therefore, have not been able to correctly decipher any of the riddles before a body turns up.”
“Second victim?” she questioned.
“June twenty-third. Abigail Dardras. Age twenty-three. Five foot seven. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Taken from her work parking lot – a bar downtown. Note found on her car read:
‘One love, one life had been taken a month ago.
One more week until I can let this one go.
Does it make you mad that my game has just begun
Or that yet another will never laugh or run?
            She is mine for all of forever, for all of eternity.

But for eighteen dollars you too can see what I see.’
Abigail was taken exactly one month after Natalia. And found one week later. The riddle is a taunt, begging us to catch him. Her body was discovered at the Madcap Comedy Theater over on Westminster Boulevard. That had to be why he chose the word ‘mad’ versus ‘angry or some other word in line three. It’s also why he chose to use the word ‘laugh’ in line four. And the eighteen dollars in the last line must refer to the cost of admission at Madcap.
Third victim,” he continued, “Missy Rivera. August first. Age twenty-five. Five foot six. Brown hair and eyes. Taken from the library at the University of Colorado in Denver. Not found in her biology textbook –
She cut him off, “Okay, I get the point. You know the case well enough. I am not really sure how they are expecting you to help though. It isn’t like we have had any new case developments or information since the last victim – Stacy Eller- last month. We recovered her body and now all we can do is wait and hope that something new will turn up before he strikes again; however, the chances of that are slim considering I have been through each of the crime scenes over and over again during the past two years.”
“Well, maybe a fresh pair of eyes can give you some new angles on the case,” he offered.
“Maybe,” she mused.
“Maybe we should organize this mess first,” he commented, looking around the room.
“What mess? This is not a mess. This is my casework. It’s –
“Organized chaos?” he joked.
She flashed him a dirty look.
He couldn’t help but chuckle at her hostility. He noticed how her eyebrows furrowed and her nostrils flared ever so slightly when she became upset with him.
“What?”
“Nothing,” he replied, “Just, nothing. Where would you like me to start?”
“They’re in chronological order.”
He quickly glanced around the room searching for some way to figure out where the beginning was. There was no clear indication as to where to begin and his eyes wandered back to her. She was busy scribbling something on another post-it-note, “Detective DeLuca?”
“Over there,” she pointed toward the corner bookshelf opposite her desk, “folder on the top left corner. The blue one. Not the green one. The green folder is – oh never mind. You wouldn’t understand it anyway. Just start with the blue one,” she mumbled. “And don’t mess anything up either,” she snipped.
“Yes ma’am,” he replied sarcastically as he reached for the folder.
 
*****

 
Chapter Two
Six Weeks Later….
“Last one,” Agent O’Hare said as he set another box on top of the desk beside him.
In the past month and a half, three more bodies had been discovered – Candice Monroe, Claudia Barr, and Zoria Donivan. All matching the same MO as FHK.
Chief O’Hare had figured that if his son and Detective DeLuca were going to be working together as a special projects team to take down FHK they would need more space to work and moved them into one of the conference rooms.
During the move, Agent O’Hare had managed to organize some of the chaos from Detective DeLuca’s office. He had at least managed to get all of the loose documents into their corresponding folders and put the folders into chronologically organized piles. It wasn’t perfect, but it would have to do for now.
Detective DeLuca hurried in, not looking where she was going, she ran directly into Agent O’Hare.
“Sorry. Sorry,” she muttered, “You need to look at this. We have another one,” she slammed a fax down on the table; “arrogant piece of garbage sent us a fax.”
He leaned over the table to read the note.
Can you catch me before I strike again?
            Will you save her from her own sin?
            In three days this note’s validity will expire.
            So do you see now that this situation is dire?
            Save her if you will or if you even can,
            from this, my spine chilling plan.
            At exactly three, three days hence
            her eternal salvation will commence.
            Remember my truth and follow this line
            And maybe you can save her from becoming mine.

“What kind of sick pervert is this guy? He faxed the riddle before even abducting the next victim? Disgusting,” he blurted.
“I know,” her reply, “so let’s get him this time.”
“Where would you like to begin?” he asked.
“There is one more set of boxes in my office. Why don’t I go grab those and then we can figure out what’s next.”
“Okay.”
“I’ll be right back,” she said as she headed out the door toward her office.
 
*****
 
            She sat quietly in a large rolling chair in the corner of the room looking out at the sun as it was beginning to sink over the smoky, purple mountains west of the city. Hazy shades of pink, purple, and orange clouds hung low over the sky. The clouds every movement reflected against the tall city buildings like sparkling jewels.
            “I’ve read this same paragraph four times already,” she said slamming the folder down on the floor, “This clearly isn’t getting us anywhere.”
            “Think maybe we should call it a night?”
            “No, I haven’t figured this riddle out yet. We need to keep working. We just need to do something different.”
            “Well what did you have in mind?” he questioned.
            “I’m not sure. I think I need another look at the most recent riddle,” she said standing up and crossing the conference room to where the most recent riddle sat atop the folder including all the other riddles.
            “What if we look at them together?” he suggested more than asked, coming up beside her.
            “How so?” She asked.
            “Well, everything in poetry has some sort of rhyme or pattern or reason to it, right? So what if we look at them from a literary perspective and not just the perspective of law enforcement? Like, what about his style and his word choice and all that kind of stuff? What if this guy,” he paused for a second, “what if he is trying to use the riddles to throw us off but really giving himself away in the process? Every criminal slips up at some point; what if his slip up is somewhere in these riddles?”


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