Authors: BG Archer
A Katie Bell Mystery
his is a work of fiction
. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Text copyright © BG Archer
All rights reserved.
of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the express written permission by the Author.
Cover Design By BG Archer
By BG Archer
:30AM, Thursday, Sept. 20
The man sitting on his bed in cell six of Section G watched an orderly set up a folding chair in the hallway. The imprisoned man didn’t recognize the orderly. Ever since the incident four months ago the hospital had done a decent job of rotating the orderlies so he never got too “friendly” with the staff.
Moments later a man dressed in a tailored suit sat down in the folding chair.
The orderly walked down the hall, leaving the two men.
This was unusual. It was against regulations to leave any guests alone with patients in Section G.
The man locked in the cell had his head bowed. He was resting his forehead on the tips of his long fingers, hands clasped together like he was a priest engrossed in silent prayer. It was only when the man in the suit reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a Moleskin notebook and a Parker fountain pen that the imprisoned man looked up.
The man in the suit was struck again by how good looking the imprisoned man was. He was the kind of man who could enter a room and everyone would at least
, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. He had strong, clean features and a dimpled chin women liked to touch, and a peculiar scar the size of a dime on his left cheek. His eyes were unnerving. They looked like they belonged more on a jungle cat than a human being.
Aside from that odd scar, there was nothing particularly macabre about him. There was no dark and brooding presence that would send a chill down someone’s spine if they passed him on the street.
That was one of the reasons he was terrifying.
The imprisoned man had done an impressively good job of hiding his true nature for a long time. It never occurred to him to actually try to change his nature, even though that’s why he was in cell number six. He would have taken the suggestion of rehabilitation as an insult. He was who he was, and when
he was had actually surfaced and been realized by others, he soon found himself behind the glass at the Gibson Mental Institution And Research Facility For The Criminally Insane.
n some ways
Arthur Bell was similar to the man in the cell. They were about the same height, and both had a striking presence when in a crowd. Arthur, however, held himself differently than the man in the cell. Most people would remember Arthur if they passed him on the street. Confidence and a strict sense of self-control practically oozed out of his every pore. Everything about Bell was crisp and precise, down to his notebook and hundred-dollar fountain pen. He was stocky as if he had played football in college, but now carried that strength with a controlled, mature grace. Even just sitting there at the end of the hallway at the top floor of GIRF, Arthur had a quiet intensity he could flick on and off at will.
Arthur did not react when the man in the cell stared at him with predatory eyes. Instead, he undid the cap on his fountain pen. He set the pen down on the blank page and looked up, his crystal blue eyes meeting the man in cell six’s green ones.
For a long moment there was silence in the hallway as the two men stared at each other with blank expressions.
n the silence
, Arthur wondered, if the other man had simply chosen differently, would he too would be wearing a suit by Ballstaff and working for the FBI, instead of being locked up serving twelve consecutive life sentences?
Arthur dismissed the idea. The man in the cell was intelligent and attractive enough, but something truly horrible was lurking just below the surface.
in the cell smiled and rubbed his left shoulder with the palm of his hand, like he was nursing an old sports injury. The spot probably still itched. After all, it was one of the places Arthur had shot him.
“You wanted to see me?”
“Yes, how long has it been, Arthur?”
It had been just over two years. Arthur knew there was no point in saying it. The other man had meant it as an opening line.
“That depends on your definition of time,” Arthur said, his voice barely above a whisper.
“And what would your definition be?”
Arthur paused before replying.
He wanted this conversation to be over as soon possible, but due to cruelty and boredom the other man was likely to drag things out as much as he could.
“Probably far too long in your eyes, and not nearly long enough in mine. Is there a particular reason you asked me here today?”
The man in cell six smiled. “Actually, I recall I asked you to come yesterday, since that’s our anniversary.”
Arthur did some mental calculations and came up blank. September 19
was in no way special to anything he could remember. Still, he lifted his Parker and jotted down the date, in a neat draftsman’s hand.
“Oh, you don’t remember, do you?”
“It’s the anniversary of when I woke up Dara Blue.”
Arthur was annoyed with himself for not realizing that was the date of the killing. He hadn’t been brought on the case until much later, when it became clear the other man wasn’t going to be stopped by local authorities, and once it had jumped state lines and officially become a federal matter. Back then Arthur only knew him by the nickname the media had given him: The Crucifix Killer.
Still, the mental slip up on the dates was an easy mistake to make. Dara Blue hadn’t been found until September 20
“You remember I wasn’t assigned the case until almost a year later.”
But if you think about it, Dara was the ball that got it all rolling, you know? If I hadn’t assumed my … celebrity identity then, who knows where we would be now? Of course I think we both know she wasn’t my first, but I suppose that’s when it really started to count.”
“So what would you have called those before Dara Blue? Practice?”
The smile vanished from the other man’s face. “It’s what makes it perfect.”
“So you asked me here to hash out all those horrible things you’ve done in the past?”
“It’s always saddened me that you can’t appreciate another man’s craft, Arthur, even if you don’t have the same particular tastes I do.”
Arthur said nothing but un-posted his Parker. He put the cap back on the pen and slipped it back into his jacket pocket.
“I just figured you’d want to be here for my anniversary. I had something special planned for it.”
“Okay, well, that’s lovely, but I’d rather travel through eight levels of Hell than hang out with you,” Arthur said, closing his Moleskin in his lap.
“There’s only seven levels,” the man in the cell said, frowning.
“I’d bring a jack hammer and drill through the ice,” Arthur replied.
The other man’s lips twitched. Arthur focused for the first time since he had sat down on the dime-sized scar on the man’s right cheek. It had faded surprisingly well in the three years since he had received it, another gift from Arthur.
Arthur’s BlackBerry rattled in the breast pocket of his suit. He pulled it free and checked the number before thumbing the quadrangle green button.
He listened in silence for a few moments, his eyes never leaving the other man's face. “Are you sure? Because this wouldn’t be the first time … I understand. Text me the address. I’ll be there soon.”
Arthur hung up and put the phone back in his pocket.
The imprisoned man was smiling again, and this time it was a real smile, which somehow made it much worse. He was a shark, smiling at a seal he was about to devour.
“I didn’t invite you here to rehash old memories, Bell. I thought we should be together when we start making new ones.”
Arthur snorted. “There’s no way--” Arthur started, and then stopped himself. If there
a way, the man in cell would have found it.
“Anything else you want to tell me?”
The man in cell six stood up and approached the glass. Down the hall Arthur heard the sound of the main door being buzzed open. He didn’t have to turn his head to know the big orderly was making his way towards them. Chances were good his hand was on his long white plastic billy club. The man in the cell stood at arm’s length from the glass barrier, and touched it with his open palms.
Since his hands had been clasped together during the entire visit, Arthur hadn’t seen that the man in the cell had written two words, one on each palm. On his left palm it read
and on his right it said
“Charming,” Arthur said, before standing up.
The orderly was one cell over, and shot Arthur a nervous look.
“Time to go,” Arthur said, walking away without looking back.
The orderly picked up the chair and hurried after Arthur.
At the end of the hall the door was already closed again. Arthur noticed that the card swipe had been upgraded to a hand scanner.
The orderly nodded. “Just got ‘em last month. Still got crews
installing them throughout the rest of the building,” he said, resting his hand on the light blue screen. “I’m Ray by the way. It’s nice to meet you, Agent Bell.”
“Right. Ray,” Arthur said, and left it at that.
The palm scanner flashed and the door buzzed and opened.
The next hallway was absent of cells but had two more orderlies. Both had the look of former military, armed with billy clubs and bright yellow-black tasers.
The man in the cell watched as Arthur Bell and the orderly went through the door at the end of the hall. He saw just a glimmer of natural light from the skylights in the adjacent hall. It wasn’t much of a view, but it was enough for the moment.
He was confident he would see plenty of open sky soon enough.