“Jessica’s life depends on this.” Steve clenched his fist. He could feel a migraine coming on even as he flipped open the file. The knot in his chest made breathing difficult.
“I know,” Rob said. “The guys went over to the clock tower and couldn’t find anything.”
“I’m not surprised,” Steve said. “This guy has never given us obvious clues.” He glanced at the nursery rhyme again.
Hickory Dickory Dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one
And the mouse ran down
Hickory Dickory Dock
“The clock tower was too obvious but we had to check it anyway. There has to be something we’re missing.” He rubbed his eyes; the pounding made thinking difficult.
“We’ve never been able to figure them out in time,” Rob said. He paused as if not knowing how hard to push. “It’s up to you. You have to get inside this guy’s mind. Jess is counting on you.”
Steve took a deep breath. He couldn’t lose Jessica. They had only been married a few months when the Nursery Rhyme Killer case hit his desk. For the last two years the case had consumed him. Children’s rhymes were sent to the police force and then less than a week later, a note telling the location of another body. Always young women, always portrayed in someway relevant to the rhyme that the killer sent.
Jess had been missing for a little over twenty-four hours and he felt the urgency to find her while she was still alive. He had to solve this nursery rhyme before the next note came.
“You are the only one who can get inside this guy’s mind, who can think like he does,” Rob insisted.
Steve nodded. His ‘gift’ as everyone liked to call it had helped the department solve several difficult cases. It wasn’t psychic but he was often able to read a physcologist’s case study on criminals and get inside their head and solve the case. What everyone didn’t understand was how difficult it was for him. He had to study them until he could feel what they felt, think like they did. Relive the crime as if he had committed it. After a session, he couldn’t sleep for days. It often messed him up so bad he couldn’t be around other people. It was like spending time with demons. The only way he survived was through prayer. He always told Jess ahead of time so she could be praying for him.
He had tried to avoid it in this case, until now. This killer was so evil that he didn’t want to walk through his mind. He certainly didn’t want to feel sympathy for him. How could he face this without Jess’ prayers?
Maybe she’s praying for me right now.
He didn’t know where that thought came from, but he took it as a sign. Jess knew him well enough that she would expect him to do this. He rubbed his forehead, dreading what he knew he would have to do. He motioned for Rob to leave and leaned back in his chair, to read the file and then he closed his eyes…
Mommy is reading me a nursery rhyme again. I hate her! She hurts me and then tries to make it up to me. She can’t make it up to me. I’ll show her. Someday.
Hickory Dickory Dock The mouse ran up the clock. The clock struck one and the mouse ran down. Hickory Dickory Dock.
He relived what experts assumed would have been the killer’s childhood, imagining what it would have been like for him. Feeling his pain and fear. Seeing him emerge into an adult with hatred so strong that it could only be relieved through causing others pain.
The clock tells time. The clock isn’t the clue; the clue is time. Going back in time to being a child again. He opened his eyes. Jess’s childhood home was vacant; it had been for sale for quite awhile. Steve was sure that the killer would know about the place. He researched all of his victims. He would want Jess to feel what he had felt as a child, to punish her in place of his mother.
“I know where she is.” He yelled at Rob as he grabbed his car keys. Thank you, Lord, for this strange gift, he prayed as went out into the night to save his wife.
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