Fade to Black
Part 13

All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.

We moved to a voice vote, but I didn't even have time to take a deep
breath before I started ringing. I thought it was my pager, but when I
looked down, it wasn't. I fished through my jacket, thinking maybe Jamie
pulled something else off the video tape, but when I answer, my heart
cracks into pieces. That voice..... I know that voice.... I listened to
it all night..... This man copied that tape while reviewing Secret
Service procedures. "Elizabeth, you're busy and I shouldn't disturb you,
but right now there's a body needing your attention." There's an echo in
the phone, and then I realize what it is.... the voices I hear casting
the delegation votes for the platform..... I hear them, and I hear them
inside the phone. He's here......

"Stopping looking around, Elizabeth dear. You won't be seeing me." Focus.
He's here. He's here and he can see you.... That narrows it down. There
are thousands of delegates, plus press, and staff, and campaign workers,
and party members with day passes, and god only knows who. The security's
not that tight, and it won't be until the President arrives. "Go to the
forensics lab. You'll find what you want in the video room." My God, was
he watching us yesterday? Did he guess where I would take the tape? "I
don't think you're worthy of this. I should have requested another
player, Elizabeth." Stop calling me that! "Speechless? Ah, no matter.
Until later, dear. I hope you're enjoying the game...." The phone went
dead then, and I didn't even bother to call Josh. I just bolted for the
door.

Outside, in the muggy August weather, I panted for breath, and fumbled
with my phone, trying to hook it on to my skirt. The clip just won't
cooperate, and I'm still playing with it when the cab I hailed finally
stops outside the forensics lab. I'm trying to remember which floor it's
on, and when I get to the fifth floor, I'm running. I'm running. I'm
running.

The door's locked, and I search the panel for the key. It should be
hanging here.... On the floor under the hook. Calm down, Lisa, it just
fell on the floor. It takes me four tries to get my fingers to close
around the key, and I fumble with the lock. The handle twists and the
door gives way, but only inches. Something has to be blocking the door of
the video lab. My heart is pounding like a drum, and I throw my shoulder
into the door. Another foot of space appears, and it's just enough for me
to slide through......

My stomach sinks through the floor. Dear God, whatever I may have done to
you, it's not worth this. I'm sinking down to my knees, and cradling his
head in my hands. It takes me a minute to realize he's still breathing,
but a hollow thud in the equipment room forces me to my feet. I reach for
Jamie's gun, and hope that whoever or whatever's in the next room doesn't
know I probably can't fire it. I grab the door handle and yank it open.
There's nothing alive inside. The hollow thud was the body of the video
tech falling from it's chair onto the linoleum floor.

*

They took him to the hospital. I can't seem to leave the lab. The tape's
gone. Whatever we were supposed to see, I hope we've seen it, because the
tape, the copies in evidence, the one packaged to send to the Bureau,
everything.... gone. I feel like I'm running in circles, and the only
thing to show for it is a pile of bodies. Bodies of people I know.

We were all wrong on this guy. Completely wrong, and moving farther into
left field all the time. He must have known that, he must have laughed
watching us muddle through the press conferences..... Donna's funeral was
on the news, I know, I watched it in the hospital. I'd have to imagine he
watched it. He must have been in seventh heaven. It's the fear. The fear
is the thing, he's trying to goad us in to making a mistake.... a mistake
we haven't made yet. What am I missing?

Okay, go back to the beginning. He killed Laurie. She was an ADA for the
city. She was marrying a congressional aide. He killed Ann Holland. She
was a lawyer, but from New York. She wasn't in criminal law, she was in
contracts. She was married to a plastic surgeon. He killed Donna. He made
them look like a ritualistic serial crime, but I don't think they were,
not any more.

He killed these three women, and he gives me photos. He gives me photos,
like they're a trophy. Jamie thought it was about me, but I think he's
wrong. I think it's a game. It's victory for him every time we make a
mistake, because we make them, and he hasn't yet. He's wants to play, and
he called in the crimes. He wanted to play with me. How does kidnapping
me feed his game? It doesn't. Does it? There's something out of place
there. I'm off somehow. Okay, my kidnapping doesn't fit, and if he wanted
to play, he wouldn't have tried to kill me. I wasn't close enough to end
the game. He would have made sure I knew if I was close enough to end the
game.

The agents give me this weird look when I abruptly stand up and leave. I
hit speed dial and talk to Jamie's secretary. She keeps a phone log of
business calls. If anyone called that office and asked for me, she'd
know. Donna was killed during the day. Jamie's secretary probably
answered the phone. Harriet is downright frightening. One hour and
thirteen minutes after Jamie was called about the murdered agents, a
phone call came in, requesting me, and naming the location of Donna's
body. Maybe Sam was switched at birth, because this is the freakish level
of detail I expect from him.

Alright, so there's two separate crimes here. The murders, and me, and
that means we've got this figured all wrong. He gains nothing by calling
for me if he knows I won't be there. Did Jamie know that? Did he tell me
while I was in the hospital? That whole month is such a blur.... The tape
was part of a game. He wants to mislead us. He wants to see if we're
worth the effort. He's using the fear. When we're afraid, we make obvious
mistakes. I think he wants the Secret Service to be scared of him. He
wants them to know about the tape, because they'll know he can get around
them, and they'll know he has resources they don't know about, and
they'll be looking over their shoulders for a man threatening the
President. Does that mean he actually plans to kill Bartlet? How does he
benefit from the Secret Service knowing that?

The tape, something about the tape was worth killing for. He's doing this
all for a reason, and I don't think he's made a mistake yet. That's the
problem, he's not making a mistake, but I've made two. This isn't a game
I want to lose. When my cell phone rings, I realize I'm still standing on
the street in front of the lab. "Seaborn." I forgot about the President
arriving. "Tell Leo not to go nuts, and tell Margaret that when I get
back, I want the first ten minutes he has whether it's convenient or
not." I realize Leo's busy, but this is important. Thanks, Josh. Oh, and
find Sam and keep an eye on him. No, I don't care, Josh. Make him talk to
Alice again, just keep track of him. Please?

I hear the dial tone as a gypsy cab stops in front of me. I'm too drained
to wait for another one, and I step in. We're halfway across town before
I see it. On the seat next to me, a chess piece, a black knight. It just
seems so odd sitting in the back of this car that I pick it up. On the
bottom, a word has been carved. "Checkmate." It's a game to him. It's and
game and I've missed something and he thinks he's winning.

*

Leo's talking to the President, and when he spots me, he nods sharply and
heads in my direction. "Lisa, whatever this is, it better be good." The
hallway isn't the place for this, and I let Leo lead the way to his room.
I start from the beginning, and I end with this morning, and in between,
I don't let Leo do anything other than nod.

"What about Sam?" Sam? What about Sam? Then I remember that first night,
after Laurie, all those little things. "I hear things, Lisa. Is there any
chance...." At least I know Leo will always be blunt. No, there's no
chance now, but..... that's what I missed. Leo, I am such an idiot.
There's two people. There the one who wants to play a game, and there's
the one that wants me away from this, who wants Sam fingered, or me dead.
There is a man who wants to kill the President, and another who wants him
dead. I am such an idiot. Leo, you can't tell anyone. There's a reason
you can't, but I don't know what it is yet. Yeah, I don't know. I know
I'm an idiot. Just keep your eye on the ball Leo. You get us through this
week politically. Me? I think I'm going to bone up on my chess skills.

 

Fade to Black - 14

 

 

 

Home        What's New        Author Listings        Title Listings