A ghoulish string of mutilated corpses.
A relentless detective hunting an unstoppable killer.
And old family secrets that might bury them all.
Welcome back to Empire City.
The Insight eased into me as if exhaling, like a cup filling with water. My senses swelled, and I was drawn to the open book on the desk. Even at this distance, I recognized the unmistakable structure and style of the Bible. I couldn’t see which passage, but the pages were marked with crib notes and other scribblings. When my eyes raked across the desk, the holo-screen flickered. Instinctively, I waved my hand at the screen, expecting nothing since I stood beyond its standard activation radius, and didn’t have Sanarov’s password to reactivate it.
But that didn’t seem to matter.
The screen flared to life.
One line of text appeared in big, bold letters.
I became dimly aware of Mahoney behind me in the doorway. I smelled his body wash and sharp cologne, and beneath that, stark and painful memories of his past coming back to roost. The Insight gave them life and depth, and a distinct bouquet of frustration and loss. Mahoney knew something about the victim. Their paths had intersected at some point.
I focused on the text.
“Why do the righteous suffer?” I read aloud.
As I uttered the words, the holo-screen shimmered, and the verse changed.
“He repays everyone for what they have done. He brings on them what their conduct deserves.”
“Detective?” Stentstrom asked, his voice quivering. “What is happening?”
Before I could answer, the words faded to be replaced by a new passage.
“And no creature is hidden from His sight. But all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
“How are you doing this?” the medical examiner whispered.
I shook my head and said, “I don’t know.”
More text appeared.
“For your sins will always find you,” I continued, my eyes captured by the words scrolling across the holo-screen. My heartbeat accelerated. My breathing quickened. Sweat gathered on my brow. “Your sins will never forget you. Your sins can never forgive you.”
The screen went dark.
With the last vestiges of the magic dissipating, I turned to Mahoney, only to find his youthful version wearing a fresh-pressed suit and tie. He stood in a dank, dark room that was not here, but somewhere else. The stench of blood and gore filled my nostrils. A small body lay at Bill’s feet. Whoever this had been, the head and face had been crushed by a tremendous force. The face was a pulpy mess.
Suddenly, an unbridled hatred and despair permeated the room in which I stood, and I nearly choked on its intensity. I tried clearing my throat several times hoping to wash the feeling away without success.
The Insight vanished, enervating me further. My breathing grew shallow. Sweat ran down my face in cold rivulets. The image of the captain and that room dissolved, and with it, the raw emotion I’d just experienced.
Something very bad had happened both here, and in that place from Mahoney’s past. Gustavo Sanarov had been killed in an unnatural manner. Not by a gunshot or stab wound, but by something far more profound, primal and sinister.
I realized whoever or whatever had done this didn’t just want Sanarov dead.
They had wanted him to suffer until the very end.