The feelings coursed through Byrne, sensations that grew exponentially. He paced like an animal.
He stepped behind a tree as the feeling surged, filling his head like an onrush of water from a broken dam. It was followed by a moment of vertigo. He steadied himself, tried to wait it out, trying not to notice as...
. . . the man walks across the cemetery in darkness... he is strong. . . the dead weight of Sharon Beckman's body is nothing to him ... he does not search for the grave site, he knows where it is. He is familiar with this cemetery, all cemeteries. He places her on the ground, steels himself. He is not quite finished. He leaps into the air, and bears down with great force, breaking the dead woman's leg, positioning it back because it means something to him and . . .
Byrne opened his eyes, got his bearings. He had forgotten where he was, what he was doing. This was getting bad.
The crime scene swarmed with people. Byrne glanced at his watch. It had only been ten seconds. It felt like an hour.
He walked back to the grave site. Information had trickled in about the second body. This had been found in a Dumpster behind a building at Second and Poplar. According to the initial report the victim, a middle-aged male, had been found nude, his forehead wrapped in white paper, his body clean of all hair.
Three bodies in two days. This case was about to break wide open. Wall-to-wall TV and print news, perhaps even national attention. There was a ghoul on the streets of Philadelphia, a monster who was strangling people, shaving their bodies and marking their flesh. When they had found Kenneth Beckman's body they had all hoped that it was an isolated incident, that it was some sort of personal vendetta. It was not. It was bigger than that. There were now three corpses, and everyone had the nasty feeling that there would be more.
Byrne approached Jessica. 'I have that MRI. I have to go.'
'We've got this covered,' Jessica said. 'Don't worry.'
Byrne did not want to leave. The first two hours were the most critical time of a homicide investigation. After that, memories faded, people thought better of getting involved, forensic evidence had a way of giving itself back to nature. Although neither he nor Jessica were the lead investigator on this case, every warm body was critical.
'Kevin,' Jessica said. 'Go to your appointment.'
'I want to stop by the other scene first. This is out of control.'
'I'll go,' Jessica said. 'You don't have to—'
But Byrne was already on his way. He held his cellphone up as he walked back to the car. 'Call me,' he said.
Leaving the cemetery, Byrne saw the names of the dead carved in time-weathered stone, dates marking fleeting lives, parentheses of birth and death. Out of respect, out of the disquieting knowledge that one day someone would be walking on his final resting place, he did his best to avoid stepping on the graves.