It’s difficult to create an accurate description of the desert to people who have never seen it. It is a place people perish of thirst; it is then that we realize the true value of a single cup of water.
“It’s a big desert,” I heard myself say to my partner, unable to distract myself from the dry ache in my throat.
“I’ve got water” he replied, waving a small canteen in my direction-tauntingly, “we can share.” he said in a soft voice. He was off today, not himself. Holmes had been my partner for a year now, and we had never encountered such a crime in our entire time together. I could tell it was stressing him out.
I sighed, forcing my still legs to carry in the direction of the vast amount of footprints, all heading in the same direction.
“I count fifteen distinct souls: boots, shoes, sneakers. Those drag marks though; those are always in the middle.” I glanced down, noticing the dark parallel lines; which appeared to be exactly as it looked… A drag mark.
I knew I was to expect this. Those drag marks belonged to a body, a body dumped in the backyard of a random house, a body now sitting on a table in our lab. Where there are specialist are using terms like: no vital signs, multiple fractures to the spine, useless information, he was dead, and it was my job to find out how, and why…
“Look at that…” Holmes said. I followed the direction of his glance, resting mine on a small object. At first I couldn’t distinguish what it was, until I noticed it was a building, a building hidden beneath the sand- underground, only about a good peaking above ground. “That would make a very difficult to find, hiding place.
“Get some back up out here to check it out,” I yelled, watching as Holmes pulled out his walkie talkie and began barking out frantic orders. His words became just a jumble, my focus was on the small concrete building in front of me. It was old, small chunks of it crumbling and blending with the scorching desert sand.
Holmes was right, this mysterious hidden building would make for a difficult hiding place to find; and I had a feeling; a gut wrenching feeling that this was the key to everything.
Back up came, tall men with guns, one by one orderly rushing into the small building, while I awaited the okay to enter, or the warning; the warning to leave
This wasn’t the first strange happening. It had been going on here for months; even surrounding cities have been reporting missing people, namely teenagers that come from rich parents. Kid’s with an already decided future, that much we had figured out, and after last night, we had a pretty good idea where they had all disappeared to.
I looked over at Holmes; he was standing a few feet away from me. He was a good looking guy, around thirty; his skin was dark with dirt. When working with someone for a year, you tend to pick up on people’s flaws. He didn’t have any, he was clean, orderly, and didn’t talk much. The only thing I have noticed about his personality was whenever he was nervous, or excited, he twirled the bracelet on his arm, like he was doing now- in anticipation.
“Holmes, Watson, you might want to come see this” hollered an officer from beneath the concrete building.
We rushed down the steep stairs, into a large room. The walls were painted white, and a couple dozen beds surrounding the walls, the air was cool- about as cool as it gets in a desert building. But the features of the room didn’t matter. What stood out were the bodies, the bodies of teenagers, dead teenagers.
“Who,” I stumbled, “who are they?”
“We counted, and checked it out, they’re the reported missing teenagers, they’re all here… all but one” replied a nearby officer.
“Jake McClintock- appeared he was the leader. We found another room besides this one, looks to be his, though he’s not in there- Just a bunch of empty envelopes and some flyers.” Explained the officer, turning to pick up a half full plastic water bottle, he examined it, and placed it back in its original place.
“I’m sure in’s that McClintock kid, he’s responsible for it,” interrupted Holmes. Holmes was speaking up? That’s a first… I was about to argue with Holmes, when I glanced over at one of the bodies; a young red haired girl laid sprawled across her bed, water bottle in hand. They all had water bottles in hand.
“Do a test on the water” I interrupted.
“Already did There was high dosages of Mercury Chloride placed in the water, if enough is consumed, it’s highly toxic.”
“Any figure prints?”
“McClintock’s were on every water bottle.”
“See, see. Now they believe me.” I heard Holmes mutter to himself.
“Looks like that kid did it,” replied a nearby officer, “those envelopes we found had the word cash written across the bottom, looks like someone too the contents and erased the word. My guess is its Jake, he must have figured out a way to convince these kids to give him money; their parents all had enough to go around. My guess is he kept them alive long enough for them to give him what he needed.”
“Well, we better start looking for him; we have sixteen murders on our hands; that someone you don’t want roaming around through our towns.” Holmes interjected.
“Check outside for a single pair of footprints, he was most likely by himself.” I watched as the team split up, half staying to deal with this rare situation in the building, and half racing to find the culprit for the crime. In all the chaos, Holmes and I were caught in the middle.
I followed Holmes out of the busy room, into the room of Jake McClintock. He had been missing the longest out of the sixteen kids. I looked across the floor, magazines, and envelopes were scattered all around the room. I reached in my pocket, pulling out two pairs of latex gloves, handing one pair Holmes.
I began sorting through the papers, looking for some type of evidence where he was running to. He seemed to be a hoarder, on his way to being able to be on that annoying television show, where those people can’t seem to get their act together. He had papers, and papers dated back as far as 2000, how long had he been planning this?
Right when I was about to give up on searching, and move on to another spot, I noticed a piece of paper, with a time, date and location on it- He on his way to the airport. All my doubts about him not being the killer disappeared, he was running.
I pulled out my walkie talkie and began frantically barking out orders, “he’s on his way to the airport he’s boarding his plane in a half an hour.”
Holmes and I began running out of the building. Turns out no one thought to leave us a vehicle. We would have to make the three mile walk back to civilization for the second time today.
We reached midafternoon, and the heat was unbearable. The seconds stretched into minutes, the minutes stretching to hours.
“He ran, but we got him,” my pocket announced. “Come straight to the offices, you up for some questioning?”
Holmes ad I exchanged glances, “we are” we both replied.
Man, I wish I was back in the desert. The room was cold and all the tension just seemed to make the situation worse. We had been at this for hours, seeming to be going nowhere fast. McClintock- like most criminals, pleaded innocent and continues to do so, though we all knew he was lying. There was enough evidence to put him in jail for life. It looked like that’s where he was headed.
“It wasn’t me.” Jake replied coolly. “I didn’t do anything and my lawyer will get me out of it.
“Actually, we’ve got sixteen bodies, and a whole lot of water bottles with your figure print on them, we’ve got eye witnesses. You’re going away for a long time, Mr. McClintock, “replied a man I did not recognize. He was filling in for Holmes, who at disappeared instantly as soon as we got back to civilization.
“I didn’t kill them!”
“That’s what they all say.” He countered, ending the conversation.
I watched as three officers escorted Jake McClintock out of the room, a small satisfaction growing as I watched him take the criminal away. A sense of belonging overwhelmed me. I was part of the reason this criminal was on his way to jail; and wouldn’t be hurting anyone else, anytime soon.
I stood across from the diner, watching. A small satisfaction cheeped to the surface when I see them. They would be mine soon, and no one would suspect anything. It was just a never ending cycle.
I twisted the bracelet on my wrist, a bad habit I never could break. I slid my hand in my back pocket resting my hand on an envelope. An envelope filled with cash.