Production No. CVT511
edited by: Carolyn
MEET THE CAST
Jim looked down at the wide-eyed face in front of him. It was Two Jack Morrison, a local con artist and not the nicest card in the deck. Alive, he had been bigoted, arrogant, and an habitual liar. Now he was Two Piece Morrison. His head had been cleanly severed from his shoulders and now lay tucked neatly into the palm of his wide hand like a basketball about to be thrown. This was the third body in a month and there was only one thing each had in common. They were all repeat offenders.
Blair groaned. Although he was getting used to seeing bodies, the weirder deaths still bothered him, especially the bloody ones. The Academy had forced them to stand in on several autopsies and thankfully, because of his long-term association with Jim, he was ready for that. Yet he still couldn't prepare for some of the things he encountered. Jim understood. In fact, he and Simon had both admitted that it had taken them a long time to learn how to deal with seeing death in all its perverse forms. Both of them had been soldiers before turning to police work. Death had a familiar place in their lives but for Blair, this was still something that frightened and disgusted him. As an anthropologist and scientist, he accepted death as a natural part of life. Even ritual sacrifice seemed part of the natural order of things as long as it didn't involve him personally. And despite his understanding of the facts and psychology behind it, human sacrifice was still a mystery to him in many respects. However, in ritual sacrifice, there was a purpose, generally for the good of the tribe, to appease the gods for a better harvest or a victory over their enemies. In these cases, life was considered the ultimate sacrifice to show the tribe's or person's devotion. Although distasteful to his western thought, at least this justification made sense. Then there was the killing for the non-religious reasons. The list was infinite in this category. There were the psychopaths and homicidal maniacs to contend with, not to mention the one-word reasons like greed, lust, jealousy, vengeance, insanity, and evil. Perhaps it was the price they paid for being restrained by the rules society had placed on them. Murder was a symptom of civilization. It generally came down to 'have' and 'want.' Thou shall not covet thy neighbor. It had been a good warning. It had been a comment on cause and effect. And the more civilized man became, the more perverse and brutal the killing became. Modern man had tried to eliminate blood from death. Clean, simple, untraceable. The cleaner death became, the more violent Mother Nature had become. This morning's seminar at the Academy had covered how to recognize communicable disease and deal with it. At first it had seemed an odd thing to study in police work but it actually was a real threat to society. He and Jim had already dealt with an Ebola scare in their police work. Again, it was a symptom of a progress. Man had been inspired by nature and now was trying to harness its version of death and destruction. Swallowing back the urge to vomit now as he watched a maggot move in and out of the exposed neck of the dead man, he focused on the dark brick red color of the drying blood. He had wasted his time studying the Sentinel. A more useful study would have been to isolate that one primitive impulse, that one radical particle floating around in the human brain that thirsted for blood.
Moving his gaze to the open-eyed head, it almost seemed surreal. Had he blinked? Was Two Jack mocking him? Was he trying to talk to him to tell him how ludicrous his job really was? Protector, servant of the people. What a laugh. Yes, he was mocking him. His life hadn't been taken by anything as simple as a gun or as complex as a chemical compound. Someone had returned to the past and had swung a sword, a very sharp sword. Morrison's gun was still in his jacket pocket. Strange how the past had a way of sneaking up on you when you were least expecting it.
"You okay, kid?" asked Jim.
"Yeah," answered Blair with a sigh. "So I'm going to take a guess here and say that this is probably related to the body we found last week."
"You had to guess?" joked Simon darkly as he walked up beside them. "Same M.O., same clean cut. No other mutilations. Just the head. No sign of robbery, mugging, fight, nothing. The only thing we found was this."
He handed Jim an evidence baggy containing a wooden token with a shield engraved into it. It was the same as the others. A family crest of six squares topped by a banner. Forensics had done an extensive search on the last one. It didn't match any family crests on record and hadn't been registered with any organization. Obviously, someone had done their own research and had come up with their own heraldry. At the top was a black silhouette of a man, from mid-chest up, a shadow casting over the other smaller squares. His arms were outstretched as if he were the guardian of those in the squares below. Two of the squares on the bottom of the crest were blank. In the upper left-hand corner of the crest was a sword and tartan. Next to it was a shooting flame encircled by a ring and below it was a silver chalice with blood dripping into it and lastly, a black silhouette of a man in a long robe holding what looked like a blue lightening bolt. All four of the symbols could easily be linked to the recent murders not just because each victim had one of the tokens lying next to them but because the victims had died by one or another of those weapons represented. Two had been decapitated and one was quick-fried. Jim let out a long breath. It was a pretty sure thing that they would eventually find victims whose method of death would match the other two symbols. It was only a matter of time. And there were the two blank sections on the shield.
"Forensics is coming up empty again and there's no witnesses," said Rafe walking up to the trio. "Whoever this guy is, he's good. And I hate to say it but frankly, the guys and I aren't that anxious to catch him. He's doing us all a favor. So far, he's just been skimming the bottom of the society pool. All three of the guys had a record a mile long and I'll still bet my life on Two Jack being the guy that was killing those runaway kids last year."
Simon shook his head. "He was tried and found not guilty."
"Oh come on, Captain," exclaimed Brown who had joined them now. "You know as well as I do that the trial was rigged."
Blair looked down at Two-Jack. "What next?" he asked.
"We beef up patrols," said Simon matter-of-factly.
"What about the media?" asked Rafe. "Maybe if people knew what was going on, we could finally get some answers. Somebody out there has to know something."
Jim shrugged. "Yeah, but as long as the bad guys are the targets, I doubt we're going to get any cooperation from the neighborhood. All we'll succeed in doing is promoting this guy as some City Avenger. It'll turn into a media circus."
"On the other hand," said Blair, "it might also send the rest of the lowlifes packing, not knowing who will be the next victim. This could be a blessing in disguise."
"Whose side are you on anyway?" growled Simon impatiently. He still couldn't quite get used to the idea of Blair actually being a cop and old habits were hard to break.
Blair was glad that things hadn't changed much between him and Simon. "I fight for truth, justice and the American Way, Simon," he grinned. "Don't we all?"
Jim put his hand on Simon's shoulder. "The Superman underwear gets worn only on his days off. I made him promise me that much."
"They cut more than just your hair, didn't they?" rebuffed Simon. "Time for a replacement pack of the marbles you've already lost."
Jim gently whacked Blair on the back of the head. It was his version of big brother talk saying 'stop or you'll get in deeper than you care to.' Blair sighed. It was so easy to dance the mental mambo with Simon. The ex-anthropologist knew that he could frustrate the man to the point of seeing steam.
"Listen, guys, I'm off duty now and I have to get going. Got a hot date with Desiree tonight." Blair bounced his eyebrows with anticipated excitement.
Jim just rolled his eyes. "Get a motel tonight, Chief," he said. "I'm bushed and need to get some rest."
"But Jim," begged Blair. "You can't. I mean, I..."
Rafe shivered. "She's got the looks, Sandburg, but there's just something weird about her that gives me the Willies."
"What?" asked Blair pretending to be offended now. "Because she practices witchcraft? She's a Wiccan. That's a recognized religion. I can't believe how archaic you guys are. It's the new Millennium guys. I mean, I hate to break the news to you but the world is not square."
"Aren't Wiccans like good fairies or something?" asked Brown with a grin.
Blair shook his head in disbelief. "You guys need to wake up and smell the cultural coffee. There's like "white" witches and "black" witches. Wiccans are the good witches, the white witches. Children of the Earth, man."
"Just tell your child to keep her eye of newt in her purse tonight, okay Chief. I didn't care much for the smell of whatever it was she left on the kitchen counter last week." Jim gave Blair a disapproving look.
Blair went into defensive mode. "Okay, so maybe lately she's had a fascination with the dark side. It's just research, Jim. She said she figures it's better to know the enemy and be able to counteract their magic."
"If you ask me, she's lost touch with reality," said Jim. "A couple of the ladies down in files are Wiccans and I don't see them parading around like Satan's daughters. They're normal, everyday people as far as I can tell. And if she's a "white" witch, then why does she dress like Stevie Nicks in a wind tunnel? That Goth look will get her a role on Dark Shadows but it doesn't say much for promoting her religion as legit. Next time I catch you trying on her 'magic' cape, I'll bury you in it, Sandburg. You want to play Dracula dress-up, you go somewhere else. You want my opinion, I think she's giving you a line there to keep you off her back about being a Satanist. She's just telling you she's Wiccan because you're a cop. You probably wouldn't date her if she told you she was a devil worshiper. Don't expect sympathy if you end up as a sacrifice on some underground slab."
"You're being unfair," complained Blair. "Desiree is a nice person. Maybe she likes wearing black and you're stereotyping her on a preconceived and archaic prejudice against witches in general. At the Salem Witch Trials..."
Simon interrupted quickly. "Never mind the Witch Trials. I'll be burning you at the stake if I have to hear any more about your bizarre love life. You got that?"
"Uh, yeah, Simon," answered Blair.
The evening wasn't going as Blair had planned. Desiree's sister had suffered some sort of setback at the mental hospital and they had spent most of the evening there, comforting and calming her. Agnes, "Aggie," had fried her brain on an overdose of LSD at 18 and three years later, still suffered from wild delusions and nightmares to the point of no return. Normally, as Desiree had explained it to him, Aggie had to be sedated, but recently, she had begun to have lucid moments of sanity. So they had cut back on her medications, hoping that the girl would begin to interact with the real world again. Blair had only known Desiree for three weeks. And what he knew of her was mostly physical. They hadn't spent that much time on the intellectual component of their relationship yet. Blair hadn't complained. Desiree was incredibly sensual to look at with her dyed black hair and blonde roots. Her dark brown eyes lined carefully with the mascara gave her face a Cleopatra look and the body piercing and tattoos were in all the right erogenous zones. Normally, Blair would never have been attracted to her purely for the physical attributes, although that was always foremost on his mind, but she had been so bold at their first meeting that he had been too flustered to refuse her. She had seen him on the street and had followed him to the precinct where she approached him with a line he'd never heard before. "You are my destiny for the moment. Please have sex with me and we'll talk about the immediate future." It was corny but had been delivered with such fervent conviction that he had said yes, despite the looks he had gotten from the others in the bullpen, especially Jim. Jim didn't like her. Jim didn't like most of Blair's girlfriends. And the sad thing was that Jim had pretty good intuitions in that department. He had never told Blair 'not' to date anyone but he would usually give Blair a few lines to make it clear that he didn't approve. Of course, it was Blair's nature to defy Jim in a futile show of independence and machismo despite his record of femme fatales. Fortunately, Jim had been there to pull his defiant butt from the fires of psychotic and eccentric women. Blair looked over at the woman in the black dress rocking the other dressed in her dingy white hospital gown. It should have been a Kodak moment, a warm and tender scene but for some reason, Blair was shivering suddenly as he thought of something. What if Aggie had been one of the children of darkness? Disgusted with the turn of thoughts he was having, Blair decided it was time to get some fresh air. It was already one in the morning. They had been at the mental hospital now for nearly seven hours. Some date. He was tired, he was hungry and he was suddenly finding Desiree very unappealing.
"Hey, Des," he said quietly. "I think I'm going to go out for some air. Maybe it will wake me up a bit. Plus, we should think about going soon. I've got an early call in the morning."
"Blow it off," she commanded. "This is real life. This is much more important than any job."
This took Blair completely by surprise. "What?"
"I can fix things for you, so don't worry about it," she answered, kissing her sister on the head. "They'll never know you're not there."
"Trust me, Des," replied Blair. "Simon is completely spell proof. He really IS Satan. I know."
"Just give me another half an hour or so," she said backing down.
"Yeah, okay. I'll be out in the courtyard when you're ready."
A couple of minutes later, Blair burst through the doors to the outside with a sense of relief. Just the act of exiting that place was relief enough but the cold winter air was briskly refreshing. He hated asylums. It was a true miracle that he wasn't a resident of one himself after all he had been through. All the pain, the torture, the stress he had undergone as the Sentinel's shaman was enough to break any man. Yet, somehow he had survived it and he had survived it because of Jim. For some reason, the two of them just attracted the evil of the world. It was like two cosmic bodies coming together to form a great magnetic net for psychos, murderers, thieves, disasters, and corruption. In the whole picture though, that was a good thing. It had saved a lot of innocent lives. He smiled. And all humility aside, it sort of made them into super heroes. Well, sort of.
He stopped and looked up into the night sky. It was brighter than usual. Moonless nights always made it seem colder. Yet the stars seemed like the ceiling of the Mayan Room, a theme- oriented restaurant he liked to go to. The twinkling lights were reminders of the good things in his life, the positive things. He needed that right now. He needed that reminder. One star seemed brighter than the others. That was Jim, he mused. That was Jim looking out for him, making sure that his partner and friend was safe. Every time he thought of Jim as a father figure or brother, it sent chills down his spine whether it was winter or not.
He grunted and then laughed. No way. If anything, Jim was more analogous to a comet, blazing its way through the cosmos or maybe he was a blue star, quietly condensing and gaining power, waiting to explode in a super nova. What was he thinking? No, Jim was sound asleep at home, completely oblivious to the nocturnal sex life of his partner and had probably locked him out of the apartment with the dead bolt to make sure he wasn't disturbed. It wasn't that Jim didn't care. He did, in his own conservative way. He just wasn't used to showing his emotions like Blair was. And sometimes that had been a bad thing. It meant that Jim's emotions were more raw and sensitive than Blair's. He got hurt much more easily and had built a number of walls to protect himself from it. With all his power and gifts, both physically and mentally, Jim was still vulnerable to attack. Blair tried to be aware of it. It may have been an illusion he had designed to cope with Jim's often gruff and seemingly uncaring nature, but Blair liked to believe that Jim had become emotionally dependent on him.
Besides, Blair was getting used to sleeping in his car when Jim locked him out. In fact, the whole back seat had been converted into a bed, complete with blanket, pillows, and alarm clock. The locker at the precinct held an extra set of clothes and underwear, a toothbrush and a brush for his hair. Though it was considerably shorter now, it was still too thick and curly to run a comb through. Thank goodness that the commissioner had agreed to let Blair forego wearing the rookie uniform when he was with Jim. Couldn't have detectives being conspicuous. Now he only needed the blues official occasions or classes at the Academy. On occasion he donned it for his lady friends who found enhanced pleasure with a man in uniform. Blair had tried to iron it once and had failed miserably. Jim ironed his uniforms for him. Blair giggled. The Sentinel would make a fine wife for some lucky girl someday.
Leaning up against a tree, he looked back at the hospital again. Outside it looked like any other building with this or that window lit up. Why should it still frighten him so? After all, everything was quiet and peaceful.
No, quiet wasn't the word, he thought as he watched a man move an air vent grate away in the far corner of the courtyard. He was dressed in black and was helping another man climb out with him. Now this wasn't kosher and it didn't take a rookie police officer to figure that out. He reached for his gun, something that had become strangely second nature to him now because of the training. Not that he wanted to use it and not that he condoned the use of it, but, as the instructors had screamed into his head at the Academy, your gun may be the only thing between you and certain death. Of course, now that he was willing to reach for it, it wasn't there. He was off-duty and would have to think of something fast. These guys were up to no good and he had to stop them. There were three now but two had bags. Maybe they were escaping inmates. Or maybe they were just thieves. Maybe they were stealing equipment or drugs from the hospital. And now that he was a cop it was his job to stop them. Hopefully, they didn't have weapons, he thought as he approached them, having picked up a short, stubby stick from the ground. Maybe he could fool them into thinking it was a gun in the dark of the night.
"Stop!" he ordered only ten feet from them now. "Police. Put the bags down and get your hands in the air where I can see them!" He desperately wished he had brought his cell phone with him.
The men didn't seem menaced by his approach. Instead, he watched as a fourth man exited the grate now. As soon as he was up, he replaced the grate to its original position and now all four men stood facing him.
"I said 'Police'! Hands in the air!" Thinking that they maybe didn't understand, he tried again. "Policia!"
He saw them look at each other before one pulled a sword from one of the bags. The rookie was now allowed to panic. Normally, a sword was no match for a gun but it would certainly take on a short wooden stick with ease. What was a thief doing with a sword anyway? And then it struck him. Two Jack Morrison. Davey Nightlinger. Joe Samms. Was there a flamethrower in the other bag? How could one man be so unlucky in a lifetime? Why did he have to find the serial killers while on a date with a witch who had a crazy sister? Life was so unfair. He had found the mystery murderers but it wasn't likely that he would be alive to gloat. Four men, four squares, four weapons. It made sense. He would just have to stay strong.
"Put the sword down and hit the ground! I'm placing you all under arrest for the murders of Joe Samms, David Nightlinger and Edward Morrison," he continued to play out his ruse.
The men looked at each other again, obviously not taking him very seriously. Did they think he was just another inmate here?
"He must be new," said one man. "Delusional. Must thinks he's a cop or something."
"Well, he's got guts," said another man. "Thinks that stick he's holding is a gun. Gotta be a whacko."
"Of course, he's got guts. Psychos generally aren't aware of the danger," said the fourth man with an academic tone. "One thing's for sure, we certainly can't let him loose on the city."
"I'm not a psycho," insisted Blair, suddenly flustered by their intellectual appearance. "I'm a real cop and I'm telling you to drop the sword and get your hands where I can see them."
"You know, that's very convincing," noted one of the men. "He's got talent there. With a little coaxing, I'll bet he's got real potential. What do you guys think?"
"You think he's the one?" asked one of the men.
"Maybe," answered another.
"We'll test him later. Right now, we're wasting time here," said the first man. He looked toward Blair. "Do it."
It took Blair a moment to realize that the man wasn't looking at him but at someone behind him. It was too late.
Jim entered the bullpen with a frown. Blair's car hadn't been in the parking lot and he hadn't seen it in the station parking garage either. He had a seven a.m. refresher course that he had missed this morning and it was already closing in on nine in the morning. It wasn't like Blair to be so irresponsible not even when a woman was involved.
"Jim!" came the harsh voice so early in the morning. "In my office now."
Jim hated that sound. It was the sound of a reprimand and it was probably on account of Sandburg missing his class this morning. The department kept close tabs on him since he had been given so many privileges.
As soon as the door was shut, the police captain softened. "Jim, have you heard from Sandburg?"
"No," answered the Sentinel. "I checked and he didn't show up for class either. Why?"
"His girlfriend called dispatch last night asking if he was here. When Rafe called and said he wasn't in class and he hadn't called in sick, I got suspicious. I found the call on the records. She told the operator that his car was still in the hospital parking lot."
"Hospital?" asked Jim starting to get nervous.
"Apparently, the young lady's sister was a patient at Snowden Institute. She overdosed on LSD and never recovered from it. I called the hospital and they told me they called the girl's number last night after her sister experienced an unusually violent episode. Blair and Miss Dansing showed up there. She said he went out into the courtyard about one o'clock and never came back. The hospital staff turned the place upside down looking for him but found nothing. His car wasn't touched. It's right where he parked it last night."
"Call me if you hear anything more," said Jim heading for the door.
"Wait, Jim," said Simon. "I'm going with you."
Just as he finished putting on his jacket, the phone in his office rang.
"Banks," he answered and listened for a moment.
Jim watched the black man's face go from annoyed to concerned.
"Oh God," sighed Simon as he slid back down into his chair. "Yeah, we'll be right there."
"What?" asked Jim wishing he had turned up his Sentinel hearing for the phone conversation.
"Jim, I think you should sit down first," said Simon.
"What? Simon, what's going on?" Jim was not about to sit down.
"They think they found Sandburg. The head's missing but the body still had the wallet in his pocket. It's Sandburg's wallet."
It took a minute to sink in. No, it couldn't be. The murderer's M.O. until now had been strictly lowlife criminals. Why Sandburg? Jim sank down into the chair across from Simon's desk. This was different. The killer had always left the head before. Why hadn't he left the head this time? It was a copycat. It had to be. Some potential victim had decided to change the public's opinion about the City Avenger. If the people thought that he was only killing criminals they would encourage the police not to solve the case too quickly. But if he was now killing cops and innocent people, then there would be an outcry to make these murders the city's main focus. It was the only explanation of why Blair had been a victim.
"Jim, you don't have to go. I'll do it," said Simon sympathetically.
"No, I owe it to him to be there."
"He wouldn't want you to see him like that. I can guarantee it."
"No, I need to be there. I might be able to pick up on something. If the body really is Sandburg's then he would have known that I would eventually see it. If he had time, he would have left me a clue."
"Jim, there's no guarantee of that."
"Let's just get down there, Simon," said Jim, getting up from his chair. "I need to know one way or another."
As he and the captain walked through the bullpen, the news had already spread. There were tears flowing down Brown's face and Rafe had gone ashen as he stared helplessly at Jim.
"It's not really true that Sandy was beheaded, is it?" asked Megan running from the elevator. "It's a joke, right?"
She looked from man to man. It was true and she burst into tears, turning to Jim for comfort who couldn't give it. He was already too numb. His senses were numb as well. He couldn't even raise his arms to hold her as she cried against his chest. Simon finally pulled her over to him, seeing the terrified look on the Sentinel's face.
"Listen," he consoled. "We don't know for sure yet if the body really is Sandburg's. Just because it had his wallet doesn't mean it was him. Until we know for sure, we run on the assumption that the kid is still alive and that someone just stole his wallet. Maybe he was mugged and maybe the mugger got caught by the City Avenger. Sandburg could be lying hurt in some alley somewhere."
That thought hadn't occurred to anyone yet. It seemed to bring them all back to their senses including Jim who, more than anyone in the room, needed an alternate explanation to the situation.
Jim knew immediately that it was a copycat as they drove up to the scene. There was blood everywhere. In the original murders, the blood had been contained around the victim. The decapitation had been clean and swift and it had taken the body a few moments before the shock wore off and it had bled. But as he got out of Simon's car, the difference in crime scenes was apparent. Blood was splattered for several feet around the victim and as he approached the body, he could see that there were stab wounds and hack marks on it. So Sandburg had seen it coming and had fought. Jim recognized the shirt on the man and felt the lump return to his throat again. As he approached the body, the severing of the head hadn't been swift either. It had taken several blows to accomplish. Some had bit deeply into the collarbone. Part of the left arm was gone. Unable to use his Sentinel abilities, he groaned. Looking away from the hideous corpse, he saw a cat behind a dumpster near the back of the alley, chewing on the missing arm. Suddenly, his whole body began to shake and Simon had to pull him back away.
"Jim, I think you'd better let us handle this. I'll have someone drive you home."
"No, Simon," answered Jim with a growl. "Whoever did this tortured him. It wasn't fast or painless this time. It was slow and someone had to have heard the screams. I'm going to find the son of a bitch and rip him apart with my bare hands."
"Captain," said a uniformed cop stepping up to him. "We found these on the body. Still haven't found the left arm. Or the head."
"Behind the dumpster down there," hissed Jim. "Do your job, man."
"Jim!" reprimanded Simon.
"It's all right, captain," said the uniform. "We all knew Sandburg. I'm really sorry, Ellison. I know how tough it must be losing another partner. Especially like this." He stepped away, ordering one of the forensic people to follow him.
Simon could still feel the man shaking. "Jim, I never expected this. It was worse than I thought. You shouldn't be here. I'm ordering you to go home. I'll have Rafe come sit with you until we can get the department counselor there to talk to you. We're all going to need her on this one."
"No, Simon," insisted Jim. "I'm not leaving. I'm on this case. You can't stop me. Department approval or not." With that, he went back to examining the body.
Simon watched sadly, his own horror and grief mixing with his duty as a police officer. He knew how close the two of them had been and he couldn't even begin to imagine what Jim was feeling.
Jim stopped the forensic photographer. "Did you already get the body photographed?"
"Yeah, we're ready to bag him," answered the man insensitively. "Why?"
Jim didn't answer. Instead, he quickly pulled on the rubber gloves he had in his pocket and knelt beside the body. At first, he seemed to be doing his job as he looked at what was left of the neck. Suddenly, he ripped open Blair's shirt and fell back with a look of shock. Simon didn't have a clue what was happening until he saw the look on Jim's face change.
"It's not him!" he finally exploded with relief. "Jesus, Simon! It's not him!"
"Jim, how could you know? We haven't got the fingerprints back yet," asked the captain.
"Sandburg's as hairy as those apes he used to experiment with. This guy's got a clean chest. Trust me, Simon. It's not him. I should know. I'm the one who has to unclog the shower drain all the time because of all the hair. Jesus, I've seen him naked. This isn't him."
Now it was Simon's turn to sigh in relief. At least there was a chance that the kid was alive now. Going to his car, Simon got on the radio and put out the APB on Blair Sandburg. That would certainly cheer a few people up at the precinct.
Returning to Jim who was still squatting beside the body, Simon rejoined him. "So where is he and why did this guy have his shirt and wallet?"
"I don't know, Simon," said Jim. "Maybe this guy mugged him for his shirt and wallet. It got pretty cold last night. That's gotta mean that he's hurt bad enough that he can't get to a phone."
Simon stood up again. "I'll put in a call to all the local hospitals and see if they have a John Doe that fits his description. See what you can do about dredging up some clues here for us."
Jim nodded. Wherever Sandburg was, he was in trouble but at least, he was alive.
Blair woke to the quiet, methodical sound of water lapping up against something hollow. He opened his eyes slowly only to shut them against the onslaught of blinding light. Now covering his face with his arm, he tried again but he still couldn't see anything except the shadows. It was the bright light that was causing him blindness. His head was spinning and his body felt as if a giant rock were weighing it down. He was on fire. How could that be if he was in water? Where was he? He tried to sit up but the motion around him caused him to fall back. He was rocking. Putting both arms out to steady himself, he began to pull himself up but stopped instantly as an intense pain surged through his groin. Swallowing back the urge to scream, he continued to pull himself up anyway, desperately trying to focus his eyes in the intense light. Finally, they began to adjust and the light dimmed just enough for him to see shapes. He was in a boat. No, not a boat, a narrow canoe maybe. Letting go of the side of the boat with one hand, he used the other to probe himself for wounds. Awkwardly, he moved his free arm across his chest and then down to his legs. His pants hurt where the cloth touched his skin but, at least, he wasn't physically on fire. Whatever it was causing the pain was under the skin. And he was so thirsty. He could hear the water teasing him. What if he drank the water? He felt horrible at the moment and unconsciousness seemed like an excellent idea suddenly. He was about to let himself fall back onto the floor of the boat when something caught his eye. Shielding the paper from the light, he struggled to examine it closer but could barely make out the words even though they were large and black.
"Welcome Home, Sea Demon."