The forensic team found nothing conclusive on either the balcony or the body. The entire exercise had proven futile. Matt spent several hours with an artist to try to get any details they could on the killer. In the end, the picture was a dark hazy ghost, about average size and shape for a human blur from the upper chest to top of his head.
Discouraged, Matt returned to his desk to study all the evidence four a fifth time. The communicator on his desk buzzed. “Detective Matthew Dales.”
“Hey, Matt,” Perry’s voice came from the speaker.
“How are you doing?” He asked. “Quite a screwup we had, wasn’t it. Please tell me you found something?”
“You asked me to help you move furniture after work, remember.”
“Sorry,” Matt said.” It’s been a frustrating day.”
“I understand. How about we do it after shift end.” Matt wasn’t moving or redecorating, so it didn’t take a detective to guess he was talking about the other matter.
“Can we make it quick?” Matt asked. “I have a date after work.”
“Okay then, how about I meet you afterward.”
“Sure, I’ll give you a call afterward.”
“Please don’t take too long, loverboy. I’ve got important things to do.”
“Got ya.” Matt couldn’t stand Jill up, or even delay picking her up, not after another dream came true. He was even more convinced that she was in danger. The killer had become brazen. He wanted Matt to see him, or at least his shadow. The game was a lot more dangerous. He would call Perry once he got Jill to a safe place. “It’ll be tonight.”
“Good, see you then.” He disconnected. Why did he even care about the man on the bench? He was most likely going to quit when the case was over. Hell, he wanted nothing more than to stand up at that very minute, walk right into the chief’s office, and resign. The killer had forced him into a game of cat and mouse that he never wanted to play. Matt wasn’t even sure who the cat in the game was, but he strongly suspected that it wasn’t him, and he didn’t like to think of Jill as the catnip.
He didn’t have more than a few minutes to study the case notes before he was called into the chief’s office. Matt answered the summons quickly. Even so, the chief didn’t look pleased. “What’s up?”
“Trace on your assailants showed nothing.” He said flatly.
“Don’t tell me we got another block on the ID?”
“No,” the chief looked stern. “What I’m saying is that, according to the trace, we ran, you were alone the entire time, from the moment that you left that woman, what was her name “He looked at his file pad. “Oh, yeah, Jill Cochetti, at her apartment.”
“I don’t understand.”
‘There was no one there, Matt. The tracking system says you were all alone.”
“That’s not possible,” Matt said. “The forensics team found signs of a scuffle there.”
“It could have been from the people who had been there earlier; we are a fairly crowded city.”
“Is it possible to block a tracking signal?”
“I don’t know, Dales.” Vanderhaar’s tone grew impatient. Did they have their hands encased in lead? “No, I don’t think so.”
“So, what then?”
“Matt, I want you to go back to the psychiatrist. I made an appointment for you today at five.”
“I can’t; I’ve got plans.”
“I can make it an order, Detective.” the chief declared.
“Are you pulling me from the case?”
“Let me tell you straight, Dales, between the unsubstantiated report of an attack and the wasting of several hours of my forensic team, chasing your phantom shadow today, I really should.” He slumped back. “But dammit Dales, I need your hunches. This bastard is beating us. He’s found a way to beat the tracking system. I don’t know how, but he leaves no evidence. I need,” He lowered his voice. “A little psychic help.”
“Chief,” Matt protested. “I’m not psychic.”
“You’d better hope you’re wrong,” he said. “Cause right now, the only thing saving your job is the hope that you might get a hunch to lead us to this psychopath.”
“Yes, sir,” Matt replied. “Sir?”
“After this case is over, we need to talk. I may not have been ready to take on these duties.”
“I am aware of that,” Chief said. “But I needed your help, so you will pull yourself together. Get one of your hunches and find me that killer or we might both be in a sleeping tube back to Earth.”
“Yes, Sir,” the thought of having to go back into those caskets filled him with trepidation. “I will do my best.”
“I’m sure you will.” the chief said. “And you will be at that appointment tonight.”
“When this is over, we’ll get you an easy job, less stressful. One more thing.”
“The woman, Cochetti. You’ve been spending a lot of time with her.”
“Is it serious?”
“Yes, Sir, I think it is.”
“Matt, I’m happy for you.”
“Thank you, Ken.”
“Don’t let it distract you. This is way too important.”
“You may go.”
“Yes, Sir.” The reprimanded detective crept out of the office. He would have to arrange to meet with Jill before the appointment and secure her somewhere safe.