Chapter 2

Katie Hale was ten years old. Emily Adel, fifteen, was her babysitter on the night of November 18. Her parents had gone out on a cloud but returned for the flood. They had found Katie and Emily dead in their home.

Jonathen Drowe still had a week left of medical leave, but the next morning he was asked down to the scene of the crime. He hated cases that involved kids. He went anyway, though, leaving a kid of his own at home, a boy who wasnít his own son. Heíd found him by the river a week ago. Banan didnít have anywhere else to go so Jon had let him stay.

There was no sign of a struggle. No lamp knocked onto the floor. The furniture was all upright and where it should be. But there was blood everywhere.

The scene of the crime was limited to the living room. When the Hales had come home they had come in through the kitchen and everything seemed fine. Light had been shining from under the door and they had been smiling and laughing as they went to the living room to pay their babysitter. They never had the chance to. The smiles faded from their faces to be replaced with a look of horror.

There were long, deep cuts down the length of the bodies. From the head to the toes, all the way around. Five, long, deep cuts, and enough blood to drown in.

It had been a long time since Jon had been sick on the job, but heíd never seen anything so horrible. The bodies had been removed from the house and he had been forced to look at them at the lab. He knew he was going to have new nightmares when he got home.

He tried to stay detached and search for clues. The couple deserved to know who or what had done this to their child. Emilyís parents deserved to know, as well. And Jon didnít want to allow the risk of anything like this happening again. But he couldnít find anything.

There wasnít one clue on the scene of the crime. It was as if the girls had simply split open of their own accord. There wasnít a bloody footprint. No weapon in sight. Not even an unexplainable fingerprint or piece of hair had been found after close examination. Jon wryly suggested it had been the wind.

It was a nice day when Jon finally left the Haleís house. It would have been beautiful if not for what heíd seen. The sky was clear and a pale, winter blue. The few birds that stuck around were sitting in the boughs of naked trees singing their hearts out. And it all seemed so wrong. It was entirely wrong that the world could look so beautiful after such a horrible crime.

Jon shoved his hands in his pocket and kept his stare on the pavement, white with salt, as he walked home. It felt like there was something haunting him, a ghost following him even in this weather. The ghost of the boy, watching him with hollow eyes, waiting to see how far he would go before heíd break.

Jon turned his key in the lock and let himself into his house. He took off his shoes and hung his coat on the hook.

"Banan," he called as he walked through the kitchen and dining area. He felt kind of bad leaving the kid here all alone. His note lay untouched on the table and for a horrible moment he thought the boy had met the same fate as Katie at the edge of town. Then he heard the steady drone of the small TV upstairs.

With a sigh he climbed the steps to the living room. There was no blood on the floor or the walls. No dead body for him to discover. Just Banan sitting on the couch, his knees drawn up to his chest as he watched the television set. The boy didnít look at him.

Jon glanced at the TV to see what he was watching and was surprised and horrified when a picture of the murder scene he had just been at was shone. He quickly stalked over and shut off the power, wishing they wouldnít show things like that on the news.

He looked over at Banan then, the boy hadnít moved at all, or voiced any protest to him turning off the television. He stared blankly into space as if his mind were once again very far away. His skin was pale, so pale it didnít look real. His lips were purple and his dark eyes hollow as they stared at nothing.

It sent a shiver up Jonís spine and he quickly walked over to the boy, touching the back of his hand to the boyís forehead. It was cold to the touch, and firm like the dead. For another instant Jon was afraid the boy had died, but then Bananís eyes flicked over to him, almost staring through him instead of at him.

"A-are you alright?" Jon asked with concern, "You shouldnít be watching things like that. The worldís an ugly place."

The boyís eyes flicked back towards the TV and he didnít say a word.

"Youíre freezing," Jon said, going to the hallway closet to get a blanket. He brought it back and draped it over the boy, "I donít know whyÖ have you been outside?" He received no response and shrugged it off. "Do you want something to drink."

The boy looked at him again, and his hollow eyes were a little softer. "Cider," he said softly, starting to shiver from inside the blankets.

Jon nodded and went to the fridge to get the apple cider. He was relieved to say the least. The boy hadnít acted like that since he found him and he had worried over what could be wrong.

Jon brought the boy his warm drink and color very slowly began to return to the child, and with it came some sense of normalcy. A couple of hours later Banan was acting just like a little boy should, and Jon reflected that if he was going to allow the boy to stay a trip to the store would have to be made.

"Jon?" Banan started hesitantly as the two sat in the living room that evening with a paper Jon was reading.

"What is it?" Jon asked, glancing up at the boy when he didnít continue.

"Nothing, never mind," the boy sighed. Jon raised an eyebrow but went back to his paper.

"Somebody died." Banan said suddenly about a minute later.

"Excuse me?" Jon asked in confusion.

"Thatís where you were this morning, isnít it?" Banan asked, "Do you like it? Do you like seeing the mutilated bodies of men and women and children? Do you like seeing them robbed of the life you haveó"

"Banan!" Jon finally worked together enough sanity to cut the raving boy off. Banan just stared at him with black, smoldering eyes as Jon tried to hastily put something together to say.

"Where did you get an idea like that?" He sputtered after a few moments of struggling.

"Why would you do it unless you like it?" Banan asked.

"Because itís my job," Jon said.

"Itís your job to look at peoplesí bloodyó"

"Itís my job," Jon interrupted quickly, "To figure out how people died and help prevent it from happening again."

Banan looked at him strangely, "But you canít stop it. No one can. You know that, donít you?"

"I can try," Jon replied wryly, "I may not be able to hold it off forever, but I like to think Iím making the streets a little bit safer for everyone."

"Were they really very young?" Banan asked after a few moments of silence.

"What?" Jon asked.

"The ladies who died." Banan answered.

Jon frowned, trying to keep the image of the girlsí deaths that was still haunting his head at bay. "Yes they were," he replied tersely, "One was possibly just a little younger than you. The other was probably a few years older."

For some odd reason the boy grinned widely at that, "Oh, were they?" He asked.

"I think so," Jon replied with a slight uncertainly.

"You know how old I am, then?" Banan asked.

"I donít knowÖ ten, eleven maybe?" Jon suggested.

Banan chuckled a little, "Right, something like that. How old are you, Jon?"

"Iím 31," Jon replied.

"And you donít mind me calling you Jon?" Banan asked with a thoughtful look.

"No," Jon said slowly, "That is my name."

"But it doesnít bother you because Iím so obviously younger than you?" Banan asked, "You donít want me to call you sir or Mr. Drowe, instead?"

Jon chuckled this time, "I get enough of that at the office," he said, "Itís kind of nice to be on a first name basis with someone, donít you think?"

"I guess." Banan said.

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