“A curfew?” Rosita was wiping down the bar as Doc tossed back the last of his whiskey.
“Yep. Sundown, 8pm. No one is supposed to be on the roads ‘cept for emergencies and work. All the stores are closin’ and everything. Wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t get a request from Nedley to close early either.”
Rosita packed the empty glasses into her cup washer under the bar and sighed. “Well at least that explains why it’s dead as a doornail in here. I sort of figured folks were just scared to go out, what with three murders in such a short time. I doubt the police really even had to make the curfew mandatory, it’s been a ghost town once the sun's goes down around here.”
Doc nodded and reached over to pick up his hat, placing it neatly on his head as he pushed his stool back. “Well, it’s my turn for little Earp duty. Haught coming to take you home?” Rosita nodded. “Carl, you leave Miss Rosita alone tonight… and go home. It’s nearing curfew.” Carl grumbled at Doc, waving his hand dismissively in Doc’s direction, eyes never leaving his cell phone. “Have a good one, Ros.”
“Carl, you heard Doc. Curfew’s in 20, I’m gonna close up early tonight. Wrap up that beer and I’ll call your aunt to come round you up.” Carl nodded, chugging the last of his beer, again, without looking away from his phone.
About ten minutes later two headlights shown through the front windows. “Carl, ride’s here!” He stood up, tossing cash on the bar and heading out without so much as a goodbye. The headlights pulled away and Rosita finished tidying the bar as well as locking up the basement and back door.
“Hey beautiful.” Nicole strolled in right on time, sweet smile on her face as she looked upon her girlfriend. “Trudy’s still sitting outside waiting for Carl. Is he in the bathroom or something?”
Rosita tilted her head to the side, confused by Nicole’s question. “Carl headed out about 5… maybe 10 minutes ago?”
“Odd… maybe she missed him. Be right back.” Nicole headed out into the parking lot and returned a minute later. “Rosita, I’m gonna take you into the station, I think Carl’s been kidnapped. His phone was found cracked in the gravel outside, a text message half composed. He never does anything without his phone. Dolls and and two officers are on their way over to secure this place and make sure he’s nowhere near here, but judging by the tire tracks spun out next to his phone, I am guessing they won’t find much.”
“Shit… Nic… I sent him out there… I thought the headlights outside were his aunt… she always has her brights on and they blast straight through the glass.”
“Hey… it’s okay…” Nicole tossed an around around her girlfriend. “It’s not your fault, you couldn't have known, love.”
Two cop cars pulled up outside, lights still flashing as Doll’s entered the bar.
“You two okay?” They both nodded. “We got Nedley’s guys surveying the perimeter. Ros, did you notice anything strange tonight? Out of the ordinary?”
“Nothing. Doc left about 20 minutes ago and I called Carl’s aunt to come get him… I saw two headlights, brights blaring through the glass just like Trudy’s so I sent Carl outside. I didn’t even know that he’d been taken until Nicole came in staying Trudy was still outside waiting for Carl.” Dolls nodded and took a few notes.
“I’ll have Doc come over to the station, see if he noticed anything off when he left tonight.”
An officer came in and spoke in a low hush tone to Dolls before exiting. “They are gonna take Trudy home. Nothing was discovered right away around the perimeter except some tire tracks. Officer Eric is going to follow them as best he can. We are lucky it rained like hell yesterday. Mud everywhere. Another unit is going to come over and check for evidence. Rosita, if you’ll head to the station, just for safety and in case we have any more questions. Everything could be crucial at this point.”
Dolls exchanged a knowing look with Nicole and exited the bar. They both knew the likelihood of finding Carl alive was getting smaller with every second he was missing.
“Come on babe. I’ll drive you.”
Doc arrived within 20 minutes at the station, Waverly in tow. “I’m on watch duty, so I had to bring her.”
“It’s okay, she might prove useful in helping us find Carl anyway.” Dolls led them into the back room.
“Doc, did you notice anything out of the ordinary when you left Shorty’s tonight?”
“Nope. Carl was ignoring everyone in the corner, nursin’ a beer.. Outside of that, the parking lot was empty and the whole street was pretty quiet. Most folks have taken this curfew pretty seriously… and obviously with good reason.”
“This is related isn’t it? To the murders. It has to be… Carl was on my list.”
Dolls nodded. “I think so. We can’t confirm anything until we find Carl, but the longer he is missing the more and more I can’t help but think it’s related to the murders.”
“If that’s the case… then maybe I’m the last one that needs a police detail…. I… I made this.” Waverly tugged a folded piece of paper out of her pocket, unfolded it and smoothed the edges before laying it in front of the two men.
“It’s a list… everyone that I could remember that’s really wronged me or hurt me somehow. It felt kind of awful to write this all out on paper… but I figured it’s the best we’ve got to determine the victims… or potential victims I mean… I hope.”
Dolls scanned the list. “Only seven?”
“Well I figured the small random encounters like someone laughing at me or calling me a name didn’t really count. These are the more major offenders.”
“Willa, Mercedes, Stephanie, Champ, Carl, Sara, Chrissy. Sure there is no one else?” Doc eyed the small woman suspiciously.
“I don’t think so?”
“What did Chrissy do?”
“In eighth grade she wanted to hang out with the ‘more popular’ kids.” Waverly made air quotes and rolled her eyes. “So in order to get in good with them, she played a prank on me. It was around halloween and I think they had just watched Carrie or some shit. They wanted to make sure Chrissy was really on their side so they made her spill an actual bucket of pig’s blood all over me after gym class. I was trying to washing that shit out for days and everyone called me crazy for weeks, thinking I was just like Carrie… It’s lame when I think of it now, but back then I was really hurt. It took me over a year to forgive Chrissy once she finally came around to apologizing.”
Dolls nodded thinking she would definitely be high on the killer’s hit list if their criteria was people who wronged Waverly.
“Is that other one Sara Connelly?” Waverly nodded.
“Yeah, she and Mercedes were the sort of leaders of the group Chrissy got wrapped into. While she never directly did anything that I can recall, I thought the same of Mercedes and look how that ended. Sara was sort of the mastermind of that whole operation so I can’t imagine she’s complete absolved from any blame when it came to bullying me and a bunch of other kids. And Champ… well he cheated… several times and was just an all around ass.”
Dolls made detailed notes as Waverly spoke. “We will get Nedley to send patrol around to check on these leads and make sure they aren’t disappearing into the night like Carl did.”
Wynonna entered the station a few minutes later, a tray of take away coffees in hand.
“Figured we’d need this tonight since I doubt any of us will be sleeping until Carl’s located.”
The call came in around 11pm. Officer Eric showed back up at the station, sad look on his face as he pulled Dolls to the side. Dolls’ facial expression told them everything they needed to know.
“Time of death between 9:00pm and 10:30pm from what I can tell and from what we know of Carl’s whereabouts tonight.” Shelia moved around the crime scene, her gloved hands lifting the jars and inspecting their contents. “They are getting a bit sloppier with the incisions. The lacerations are more jagged than the others, more hurried perhaps?”
Dolls nodded as he surveyed the area looking to see if the killer got sloppy anywhere else. An open field on someone else’s land was a very risky place to murder someone.
“This one is a bit different. Normally there have been injections sites around the neck where the killer has used the synthetic opioid etorphine to knock them out. However, I cannot find a clear injection point at this time. It is possible if there was a struggle that they were injected elsewhere, but I won’t know more until I do a toxicology report. It is interesting that this case shows more signs of struggle than the other scenes we’ve come across. And of course… a weird note with symbols.” Shelia picked up the note carefully inserting it into an evidence bag.
“I’ll have Waverly look this over at the station. She doesn’t need to see another crime scene.” Nicole took the evidence bag and looked at the body of Carl, completely cut open. They had been so close to stopping this one, to getting here in time. It was as if the killer was toying with them and frankly, Nicole was fucking sick of this cat and mouse game.
“Roughly translated ‘The list… or order is ending. The final ritual for her will be ready.’ Her being the goddess image again and the ritual might be of a sacrificial nature… at least from what the image suggests.”
“So if Waverly’s list is correct, we just have Chrissy and Sara?”
“We’ve got an FBI unit arriving tomorrow to put a detail on Chrissy and Sara. Our division is going to be overseeing the investigation completely now, with support from Nedley’s team.” Dolls was pacing the room as he spoke.
“Waverly.” Nicole pulled a chair up to the youngest Earp. “Think hard, is there anyone else that’s hurt you? Anyone at all, not matter how little or how insignificant. Anyone who hurt you and it was obvious to others that you were wronged…”
Waverly had a hard time looking Nicole in the face. The other woman’s name was lingering on her lips, but it was something she’d not really admitted to anyone. Did that mean that the hurt Nicole caused wouldn’t count? If no one really knew how deeply Nicole pushing her away scarred Waverly?
Even after a decade, Nicole could tell Waverly was troubled, but it was unclear if it was just the situation they were in or if there really was a longer list Waverly was having a hard time letting out.
“I… I don’t know.” It wasn’t completely a lie, was it? Besides, Nicole was an FBI agent, she could protect herself and those close to her. It was her job, right? “I don’t think so.”
Nicole placed a comforting hand on Waverly’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Waves. I know this is hard. You’ve been amazing so far. Really.” The words should’ve felt warm and comforting and while Waverly couldn’t deny how nice it felt to feel Nicole’s touch, the small guilt about her omission was borrowing a hole into her gut.
“Alright, I think it’s best for everyone if we call it a night and head home. Nedley has patrols at Sara’s and he’s staying with Chrissy and his family tonight. We will let you all know if anything new comes up.”