Donner likes his job.
No really! Even though he might look like the human definition of biting into a lemon whenever he’s at work he likes it. At least as much as you can like working.
Still, he’s managed to carve out a place for himself in the precinct. Working the force for such a long time he’d eventually managed to get a good position. It only took twice as long as it should have and breaking one or ten glass ceilings.
This is why when he’s assigned his own special task force to investigate cases he’s skeptical. The lieutenant has always had it out for him ever since he joined the force so this promotion only seems largely out of character.
He knows he’s been dealt a bad card as soon as he opens the folder that’s been left on his new desk. Monday morning is not a good time to realize that your new ‘task force’ is the one that’s going to deal with the unsolvables.
The unsolvables being the cases no detective in their right mind want to take. This is because of the simple face that they are career killers. As their name entails, they can’t be solved.
The detectives who get these kinds of cases already know how these investigations are going to end before they even begin. With a victim’s killer on the loose and a grieving family that will never know how their child died.
Still, Donner didn’t get where he is now by complaining. So, taking a grip his dignity by the throat, he sits down to read the file and watch his career slowly sink.
Turns out his new ‘task force’ consists of only two people, himself included. His new partner is some young detective who hasn’t ever been out on a case by himself. Apparently his supposed mentor decided to retire before he could finish showing the ropes to Murphy.
Murphy, that’s the name of his new partner, Richard Murphy. His first partner in years and they’re both doomed to the most boring task force there probably will be.
Not that the cases themselves aren’t interesting in any way shape or form. Seldom they can be quite the opposite of boring, sometimes seemingly defying the very laws of nature. This often being at the disadvantage of the victims.
At first it’s hard to even get to the crime scenes after witnessing the first one. Calling it a bloodshed would be an understatement. The woman had been ripped to shreds. A jogger had had the misfortune of running through the park on Logan avenue and finding her body.
It would have been called an animal attack, it could have been called an animal attack. But the fact of the matter is that the woman’s name had been written out in blood on the tree near her body.
When Murphy sees the sight he almost doesn’t make it to a nearby garbage can. Thankfully the city makes it a requirement to have more than one to help reduce littering so Murphy is free to empty his breakfast all he wants.
Donner thinks he might join him. He’s been working for years and seen gruesome crime scenes more than once but for some reason this one gets to him. It’s probably because none of the bodies he’s seen had suffered this amount of carnage. It’s hard for Donner to even associate the amount of violence it would take to do something like this with a human person. It becomes very clear in his mind that for someone to have done something like this they must be wilder than even animals. The thought of a serial killer like that on the loose makes his stomach roll.
At first Donner thinks that maybe their cases won’t be so boring after all. If all the other cases follow the degree of violence they’ll have to face is anything to go by. But soon he finds out why the unsolvables are so unsolvable.
Any leads they have disappate within the first few days of their investigation. Nobody in the victim’s life is a suspect. Being a mother of three living a normal life she had no one who could have wanted to murder her. A nearby traffic camera turns out to be entirely useless when the footage cuts at exactly the wrong moment.
The only lead they ever really get on this case is the grainy CCTV footage of something’s shadow stretching its arms like wings right before the footage cuts off.
Donner finds that usual cycle of events of these kinds of investigations goes as follows:
Someone finds a body. They get called to the scene of the crime. They try not to vomit while looking for evidence. They go talk to the family and friends of the victim if they have any. They try to comfort them as best as they can while trying to avoid the subject of how painful the death was like the plague. Then they get back to their tiny headquarters and look over at all the small bits of evidence they have and try to come up with something, anything. They don’t. Instead they just try to find something for the family to feel better until the next case comes along. In all cases nobody ever finds out what really happened.
Sometimes Murphy tries to joke about it. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism or maybe he’s just trying to bring up Donner’s spirits. Either way it gets on his nerves. After a particularly fruitless investigation one day Donner can’t help but snap at him.
“A woman’s dead for christ’s sake! Stop acting like a buffoon and help me go over these statements.” He snaps at Murphy. He immediately regrets it as soon as he sees the look of fear and sadness in Murphy’s eyes. He wants to take it back but the words are already out and about with nothing to be done about it.
“I... alright yeah.” Says Murphy taking a pile of statements and casting his eyes downwards.
They don’t talk for the rest of the night.
The next morning he brings a black coffee drowned in cream and leaves it on Murphy’s desk. A silent apology.
Murphy takes it and gives him a quiet forgiving look. It’s enough to make the guilt in his stomach ebb a little.
It all changes on a day like any other. Donner has a dentist’s appointment so he comes in later. It’s almost a small break in his eyes. The file already sitting on his desk brings him back to reality.
He doesn’t bother reading the file. Just looks for an address and then texts Murphy that he’s on his way to the appartment complex.
Halfway between the police station and the victim’s appartment he gets a text from Murphy. It simply tells him that he’s not there and needs to get to the hospital instead.
Donner almost has a heart attack before Murphy sends him a text saying he’s fine. He knows Donner worries sometimes that they’ll eventually become an unsolvable themselves.
Doing an abrupt u-turn he almost gives an apologetic look to a car he nearly crashes into, almost.
He has to beat down the hope that has started blooming in his chest just in case he’s wrong.
The victim’s name is Laura Nichols and she’s alive alive alive. He has to turn the word over thrice in his head just to try to get the concept to stick. The idea that they finally have someone alive (alive alive alive) to ask what happened is almost like a fairytale become reality.
They almost forget to ask the standard procedure questions. It’s been so long since either of them have interviewed a live victim that they find themselves a bit rusty. They do manage to get the information they need out of her though.
Even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense, crazy is better than nothing.
According to miss Nichols she’d been working on her latest sewing project when something attacked her. At first she’d been confused because all her doors were closed and she didn’t exactly live on the first floor. Then the confusion had made way for fear.
Stuck between fight or flight Nichols had decided to flee. She described her assailant as putrid smelling and definitely not definitely not human. Looking more like a zombie than anything else.
The description isn’t exactly what they expect it to be but they still take it. A normal serial killer would have been nice but apparently all they get is the undead.
She goes on to describe how she’d managed to flee and find shelter in a neighbor’s apartment. Mari Datuin is her name and Donner makes an effort to commit to memory. After all if she hadn’t been there then Laura probably wouldn’t be sitting in a hospital bed right now and he and Murphy would be apologizing to another family for their loss.
Then apparently Miss Datuin had managed to drive out the creature that was getting into their apartment by using some sort of magic. At least according to Laura Nichols' words. Then the paramedics and police had arrived and it was only at the hospital that Mari had been able to separate from Laura’s side after she’d been sedated.
In all in all it’s a story that wraps up nicely. It leaves a lot of questions but it’s their job to answer them.
They thank Miss Nichols for her time and tell her to go stay with family, if only to be safer. She thanks them in return and tells them she’ll be staying with her family in Oakland if they want to contact her.
The interview they have with Miss Datuin is, overall, useless to them. She gives a different story from the one given to them at the hospital. It sounds more normal, more plausible. Yet for some reason Donner finds that he believes Laura instead of the woman in front of them.
Maybe it’s the glint of something in her eyes when she looks at his. Whatever it is, it makes him certain she’s a liar. Perhaps not a malicious one but a liar all the same.
That certainty is what makes him get Murphy to drive to the apartment complex. Maybe they won’t get to know the identity of all the killers they didn’t manage to find. But maybe they’ll finally get some answers. And maybe that will be enough to make a change for once.