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Cat and Mouse


Wandering aimlessly, she glanced nervously behind her. Nothing but the threatening darkness of the empty back roads greeted frightened eyes. She knew these streets well. Shadowy creatures interplayed with the variable light from above. Dense cloud parted slightly to reveal the glowing carcass of the waning moon. Laughter filled the frosty air as small groups of drunken teenagers stumbled home along the unforgiving pavement. The soles of her feet began to ache as she hastened, eager to find shelter. Cl-ick...cli-ck. Heal to toe. Fear stiffened her slender body as erratic thoughts flooded her mind. Instinct dominated her actions. Run. Despite the overwhelming pain, her feet instantly obeyed, carrying her exhausted form beyond the road. Hiding in a nearby park, she sighed. Rough, cold hands enclosed her neck, wrenching her from her safe haven. Struggling for air, she blindly thrashed at the attacker. Her defence soon waned as she began to lose consciousness. Pushing her lifeless form to the ground, he advanced.


            Not another one. Krysta walked the scene, performing her preliminary exam. In the background, Adam kept his eyes firmly fixed on the camera eyepiece, filling the shady parkland with irregular flashes. Fiddling with her gloved hands, Krysta approached the medical examiner hunched over the body.

            "Liver temperature suggests shes been dead for approximately eight hours. Pronounced bruising across the throat suggests strangulation as cause of death, but I'll contact you after Ive performed the autopsy." The medical examiner handed Krysta a wallet.

            "Ami Jensen. Pretty girl" Krysta replied wistfully, staring down at the tainted body. Damp chestnut locks matted against her mauve spotted face. Bloodshot, glazed eyes stared blankly towards the canopy. Rigor clenched fingers clutched the dirt in terror. Twisted, forced on clothes covered her fragile body.

            "Whats wrong Evans?" the ME noticed Krystas confused expression.

            "Her clothes arent positioned properly. Normal struggle wouldn't cause wrinkling or gathering to this extent. I think someone redressed her after she died."

            "I'll perform a rape exam, see if we can find anything abnormal." She promised as she placed Amis body on a stretcher.


            Singing quietly to herself, Krysta analysed the crime scene photographs, hoping to find any abnormalities or new evidence. A single scuffed shoeprint was barely visible in the compacted dirt, yet she hoped it was substantial enough to provide a lead on the killer's identity. The little available trace evidence had been useful, the lack of fingerprints on the victim's body and clothing, as well as slivers of bleached latex suggested that the offender had been wearing thin surgical gloves. Krysta acknowledged the killer's intelligence in presently avoiding identification. Staring mindlessly at the bland beige wall, she silently wished the medical examiner had discovered some concrete forensic evidence. Interrupting her thought, the familiar beeping of her pager pierced the silent atmosphere. Without hesitation, Krysta bounced to her feet and hurried to the morgue.

            "What have you got?" Krysta asked with childish impatience and curiosity.

            "Basically what I told you at the scene. Death by strangulation. The hyoid bone was crushed, and by the condition of the remains, Id say the killer was quite strong and knew what he was doing. There is evidence of trauma to the back of the skull, but its most likely from impact with the ground. There was no physical evidence of the killer, not even skin under her nails despite her defensive wounds from a struggle. However, after your observation of her clothing, I did a rape exam. It was positive, and there was a slight skin irritation present, most likely from a condom. I also sent a blood sample to toxicology, but like I said, due to the degree of struggle, its doubtful she was drugged."

            Krysta glanced down at the body, neatly placed between the sterility of white cloth and stainless steel. Images of the rape and murder formed in Krystas mind, each weaving together to form a complex reconstruction of the scene. A hooded, concealed figure approached the frightened girl, out on an innocent walk. Wrapping his gloved fingers about her throat he squeezed until she fell, unconscious, but still alive, to the ground. After he undressed her, he carefully put on a condom and proceeded to rape her. Still aroused by the helplessness of Ami, he continued to strangle her, this time not releasing his grip until he heard the satisfying snap of bone breaking. Calming himself, he redressed his victim and walked nonchalantly from the park.


            Re-visualising her reconstruction, Krysta tapped frantically at the keyboard. Frustrated at the lack of evidence, she brushed a hand through her loose auburn hair and kicked off her grubby black boots. Desperately she assembled a profile from the little evidence and deductions they had.

Appearance: Slim to medium build, fit (strength and agility needed to subdue and murder victim would require excessive force and knowledge), average height, most likely wears concealing clothing (hoods, long pants and jumpers (lack of forensic evidence recovered at crime scene), no distinguishing features.

Background: Possibly martial arts or gym instructor (professional nature of attack on victim would as well as strength of the offender would be consistent with knowledge of martial arts), complicated childhood (likes to feel power, possibly to make up for previous hardships)

Personality: Intelligent, needs to feel power over people (requires the satisfaction of being able to place himself above someone in the social ladder/made to be submissive as a child)

Yawning at the computer screen, she ceased typing and retired to bed, desiring a fresh, productive morrow.


She habitually picked at her cuticles with twitching fingers. Impatiently gazing toward the bartender, she sensed warm, viscous blood lightly trailing from her battered finger. The familiar scratch of glass against the stained wooden bar top strayed her from a tense dreamscape. Curling her tattered, stained talons around the shot glass, she cautiously sipped the rich, warm liquor. Sensations of ease crept over her young, nervous body. Full crimson lips caressing the common, aged glass. Commanding fingers never releasing, grasping further, unable to forget the slim, smooth figure of the object in their possession. Glancing throughout the bar, she raised the liquor fluently, faintly fluttering her lips against the coldness. Her eyes flickered closed in delight, as though the warming potent liquid reminds her of something wonderful. Startled, she swiveled to greet the soulful eyes of a handsome stranger. His captivating smile reduced her to an adventurous schoolgirl in an instant, craving his addictive touch. A small smile crept across her soft face.

"Hi" she stated in a flirtatious tone.

"Hi" he replied simply, melting her conflicted heart with a simple smile. Enticingly, he gently clutched her hand, leading her to the dance floor. Snatching her elfin body into his toned arms, his alluring face drew close to hers, his precious lips embracing hers. Her senses reeled, numbness creeping over her excited form. Whispering seductively in her ear, a faint unstiffled gilled escaped her tingling lips. Briefly overpowering the alcohol swimming through her system, she resisted his seduction, a wave of chastity consuming her. Disappointed, he receded slowly weaving toward the exit. She glanced at the floor, annoyed with herself. Frustrated, she snatched up her coat and stormed out of the darkened room.

            Her heels clicked firmly against the parking lot pavement as she hastily paced toward the taxi rank. The faint murmur of her name carried across the seasonal breeze. Mystified, she turned slightly, only the murkiness of the night gazed back. Barely audible above the click of her heels, the faint murmur of her name again echoed through the desolate car park. Trembling, she turned violently. Confronted with her prince charming she sighed deeply, relieved. As she moved to remove the black hood obscuring his delightful face, his gloved hand tightly grasping her wrist, pulling her towards a silvery car. He bluntly knocked her in the face to limit her resistance. Taking advantage of her cowed state, he forcefully tossed her into the boot and slammed it shut.


Crouched over the livid corpse of Laura Thurlston, Krysta methodically snapped the shutter of the camera, recording details her eyes may lazily miss. Curiously, she looked intently at the victims neck, focusing on the rippled detail of a partial fingerprint, barely visible on her pallid flesh.

"Looks like your perpetrator slipped up." The medical examiner glanced over Krystas shoulder, startling her.

"It's strange though, I also found slivers of latex, similar to that at the first scene" Krysta turned her head slightly to acknowledge the ME.

            "Same pronounced bruising on the victims neck. She took a blow to the head," the ME pointed to concentrated area of stippled bruising to the right of her chin. "He had to subdue her"

            "Clothes are crumpled unnaturally too. Could be the same offender as in Amis case."

            The medical examiner called out to Krysta as she wandered to examine the tire tracks with Adam I'll contact you later. Krysta bowed her head slightly in agreement.


            Krysta's heavy leather boots assaulted the white tile floor, echoing through the empty corridors leading to the autopsy bay.

            "Evans, I lifted that latent you spotted on the victim's neck," the ME casually handed Krysta a black card. "I also found skin under the nails of our friend here. It seems during the struggle she managed to get a good swipe at her attacker. Its down in trace now. When youve traced the fingerprint we can perform a proper DNA test."

            Always down to business. Krystas mind murmured.

            "She died in the same manner as the first victim: strangled, crushed hyoid bone. I also performed a rape test. Positive. This has to be the same guy."

            "I'll contact my friends in the force, see if they can help us."


            "Hi Mark, I need you to run a print through the database." Krysta greeted her old friend. They had known each other since the beginning of high school. It was by sheer luck they managed to be transferred to the same crime unit. Excitedly, he snatched the black card from Krysta's grasp, placing it on the scanner bed. He looked up slightly at Krysta, his chocolaty eyes gazing up at her in anticipation. She suppressed a faint laugh. Only when he was seated could she feel tall against her animated friend. Fiddling with the keyboard, he instigated the search, hoping it would quickly find a match.

            "Here we go. Timothy Landau. His only prior is shoplifting at age sixteen. You think this is your rapist?" Mark questioned

            "Let's find out." She stated simply as her and Mark assembled their equipment.


            Mark rapped three quick successive knocks on Timothy's solid stained oak door. "Mr Landau? Police! Please open the door."

            Faint footsteps echoed inside the small house as he approached the door, flustered and confused. "Wh...whats this about?"

            "Mr Landau, you are under arrest for the sexual assault and murder of Ami Jensen and Laura Thurlow. You have the right to remain silent" Mark continued in a monotonic drone as he recited the familiar rights of the accused. Mark wrapped the chilling metal cuffs about Timothy's wrists, listening for the depressing click of the lock. Bundling him into the car, Krysta contemplated the next stage of the case.


            "Were you at the Foxglove Inn on Tuesday the seventeenth of May at approximately ten PM?" Mark instigated the interrogation.

            "I'd just left at that stage."

            "Can anyone vouch for your whereabouts after ten PM?" Mark pressed further into Timothy's mind, eager to convict the rapist.

            "My brother, Trent. He picked me up outside the bar. He dropped me straight home." Timothy struggled to answer.

            Anxiously, Mark passed him a Polaroid. "Can you explain to me how your fingerprints ended up on her body?" Timothy seized the photograph, turning in disgust as he glimpsed across the flaccid body of his date. Nervously, he turned back to Mark and Krysta.

            I" met her there last night. We talked, danced, and then I had to leave. I didn't..." Tears formed in Timothys dark eyes.

            "May I be able to take a scraping of your cheek in order to perform a DNA test?" Krysta interrupted. "It may establish your innocence." A small affirmative nod from Timothy allowed her to continue. Producing a small, covered swab from her pocket, she approached him. Obediently, Timothy opened his mouth, allowing Krysta to collect the sample. Satisfied, she uttered a small thank you to both Mark and Timothy as she rushed to the laboratory.


           "Adam!" Krysta shouted through the corridors. "Adam?"

            "I'm in here," came a small reply from the break room. "What can I do for you? And why are you so excited?" Silently Krysta passed him the swab. "Ah, want me to compare it to the skin samples from under the second victims nails?" A smile crept across Adam's suddenly enlightened face.

            "Exactly my dear Watson." She joked with him, impressed he could read her so easily. It made the job a lot easier. "How long will it be?"

            "I can do it right now, it seems rather urgent." He wandered to the trace laboratory. Delicately, he prepared both samples and placed them into the machine to be compared. Leisurely, the printout escaped the machine into Adam's hand. "They're not a match. Your boy in custody didn't kill this girl, but he got pretty close to her." He couldnt suppress his disappointed tone.

            "Thanks!" Krysta uttered simply, snatching up the results and rushing to the police station.


            "You'll have to let him go. Hes not our offender." Krysta trotted towards Mark. His shoulders sank as he heard the news. In her outstretched hand, she offered Mark the DNA results. Rummaging through his pockets, he searched for the remand cell key.

            "Did the test say who the real offender was?" Mark questioned, his tone bordering on flustered.

            "No, just that we arrested the wrong person." She hated admitting she was wrong, especially when it pushed them further back on a case. Following Mark, she waltzed towards Timothy's cell, maintaining her apologetic stance.

            "Mr Landau, youre free to go. We're sorry about this mistake!" Mark unlocked the cell door, holding it open for him. Timothy grunted angrily. Krysta gave him a small apologetic smile as he stepped into the corridor.

            "You can collect your personal effects at the front desk."


            Curiously, he walked towards his partner. People had always wondered why they stayed together, they were the complete opposite of each other. It didnt matter, they loved each other. Approaching him, his thoughts were no longer of curiosity, but of confusion. Leaning provocatively beside a large tree, his lover almost perfectly blended into the surrounding shadows of the starless night. A hooded jumper concealed his beautiful face, black leather gloves concealed his gentle hands. Its just a cold night and hes been watching too much porn. He reassured himself as to his lover's unusual behaviour. Seductively, the cloaked lover wrapped his strong arms around him, moving gradually into a passionate kiss. Excitedly, the cloaked lover began to tenderly remove his partners pants before removing his own. His partner turned as the cloaked lover moved forward, vivaciously having sex with his loving partner.

            Exhausted, his partner rested peacefully on the supple grass. Seizing his opportunity, the cloaked lover kneeled over his partner, grasping his broad neck. He pressed tightly, slowly suffocating his lover. Impatiently, he squeezed more violently, relishing the sickening snap of bone as he crushed his partners throat. Nonchalantly, he stood, walking deeper into the forest trail.


            Krysta examined the scene, eager to find substantial evidence. It had been a long and tiring case, nowhere near solved. Scuffed shoeprints trailed into the forest, unidentifiable and useless. The medical examiner signaled Krysta to the body.

            "Time of death was approximately ten hours ago. Clothes havent even been pulled up. Im guessing sex was consensual, at least before the perp started strangling him."

            "Consensual?" Krysta was confused. This had been the first male victim since the case opened nine months earlier. Apart from the nature of the sexual encounter, everything was identical to the other murders.

            "I found seminal fluid on the ground and along the left buttock. Think hes getting careless?" The ME noticed the perplexed expression creeping across Krystas face.

            "Could be..." She replied, lost in thought. The tranquility of her mind was interrupted by the familiar tone of her mobile phone. Evans She answered abruptly.

            "Krysta, we have a problem down here." Came an agitated voice.

            "Adam? I can barely hear you above the commotion behind you. Whats goin on down there?"

            "The skin sample from Laura Thurlows nails has been stolen. Nothing else has been touched. Looks like thats all the intruder was after." Adam raced to keep up with his thoughts.

            "What the fuck's going on?" Krysta exploded. That skin sample would have broken the case if they could compare it to the semen found at the latest scene. She was furious. Nine months had been wasted. Hanging up in disgust, she turned to the medical examiner. "I have to go. There's an emergency at the lab."

            "Wait!" The ME called after her. "I found something!" Krysta dashed over to the body, curious as to Truitts sudden outburst.

            "Whatcha got?"

            Truitt pointed to a small patch of blood. Perfectly imprinted in it was pattern. "Appears to be leather. He was wearing leather gloves this time." Krysta reached for a miniscule fragment of black material lying next to the victim. She carefully placed it into an evidence bag as Truitt focused the camera on the interesting bloodstain. Krysta's spirits instantly lifted.


            "Expensive leather, rare dye. These are top of the line gloves. Theyre new too." Adam instructed as he peered into the microscope. "I analysed the dye composition. In fact, its so rare, it is only used by one company," Adam wheeled his chair over to the bookshelf. "Espan Alpine. The local ski shop stocks them. I'd suggest starting there."

            "Thanks Adam, you're a genius!" Krysta disappeared.


            "Krysta Evans," She flashed her identification at the store clerk. "Would I be able to get a transaction transcript showing any purchases of Espan Alpine black leather gloves over the past twelve months."

            "I can tell you now it would be a short list. Hang on a moment." The clerk gradually hobbled to the main computer. The printer whined, producing the names of two customers. "Here you go. I told you it would be a short list."

            "Thanks, the shorter the better." Krysta lightly laughed.


            Seated comfortably at her faithful computer, Krysta entered the name Tristan Brookes into the database. Thirteen Snowgum drive. In one fluent motion, she flipped open her mobile phone and dialed the police station. "Chris, I have a suspect and an address. Get a team organized and Ill meet you there. Thirteen Snowgum drive, the suspects name is Tristan Brookes."

            Brookes, Brookes. Where do I know that name from. Holy shit! Marks brother. Explains how the evidence was taken so neatly. She thumped the steering wheel in frustration. On cue, the police pulled into the driveway in front of Krysta. She stepped out of the car to greet Chris.

            "I got a warrant to search for his gloves. Judge Doyle rushed it through this morning." Krysta breathed a sigh of relief. "Thought you might like that Evans."

            "By the way, I worked out who stole the evidence. Mark. We're about to arrest his brother."

            "I didn't even know Mark had a brother." Chris looked at Krysta

            "He keeps his family very private. If I didn't go to school with them, I probably wouldnt have known either." Krysta avoided Chriss glare. She was about to betray her friend, and her first boyfriend. She felt terrible, but determined to close the case. Chris forcefully knocked on the door. No answer. They relentlessly forced the door open, too impatient to wait. Silence filled the stagnant air. One by one, the police filed into Tristan's home, searching every corner of the dwelling. Krysta rushed upstairs, hunting for his leather gloves. "Found the gloves!" Krysta shouted. "He's our killer!"

            "Evans, get down here!" Chris yelled after her. Obediently, Krysta fumbled down the stairs, barely able to control her feet. She suddenly halted as she saw the note in Chris's grasp. My sweet Krysta, youll have to be quicker than this to catch me. She leaned, defeated against the wall, staring blankly at the aged framed photograph of her, Mark and Tristan at her and Mark's year twelve formal.


            Tristan smiled broadly as the speedometer needle wavered at 120 kilometres per hour. The silvery bullet sped through the vast landscape of farmland and natural bush. He had defeated them in the nine month mind game, and he chuckled at the stimulating thought of beginning another.

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