Anne ducked under the crime scene tape and stepped into the brownstone. A couple of crime scene techs were busily snapping away pictures and laying out evidence markers. In the center of the room, Jason was standing over the body. As Anne’s eyes swept the body, her mind catalogued the details. White male, early 40’s, high-end polo and khaki slacks, expensive shoes and watch. Cause of death was probably that gunshot wound in his right temple. It looked like close range. A quick glance at the victim’s right hand showed powder stains.
“Who do we have here?” Anne asked, walking over to where Jason was standing while pulling on a pair of nitrile gloves.
“Reginald Browne. Forty-one. Partner at an investment house over in Green Market,” Jason answered, “Ex-wife and two kids.”
“Suicide?” Anne asked, kneeling down to take a closer look at the body.
“It certainly looks like it,” Jason said, in a flat voice.
“So why did you call me in on a suicide?” Anne asked.
“Because before our victim here suffered his fatal injury, he called 911 saying that he was being pursued by a group of teens, and was barricaded in his house,” Jason answered, “It was a very peculiar call. Responding unit found the door open and our victim like this.”
“Define peculiar,” Anne said.
“Detective, are you done with the body?” one of the ME techs asked, “The doc wants to know.”
“Yes, thank you,” Jason answered. He motioned Anne to follow him down the hall while the ME techs carefully placed the body into a bag. “I had the call center send me the recording.” He tapped a command on his phone.
*”Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?” asked the operator.*
*”They’re outside!” answered a frantic, high-pitched male voice, “I can see them in my windows!*”
*”Who’s outside, sir?” the operator asked.*
*”Those teens,” the man answered, “They chased me from my car. Oh God, their eyes!”*
*”What about their eyes, sir?” the operator asked, her steady calm flickering at the incongruent statement.*
*”They’ve got black eyes!” the man said, “They keep asking to be let in.”*
*”Sir, don’t let them in,” the operator said, “Police are heading to your address right now. Keep your doors locked and wait for the officers to arrive.”*
*”STOP LOOKING AT ME!” the man screamed, “STOP ASKING TO COME IN!”*
*”Sir, please calm down,” the operator said, “The police will be there in a few minutes. They will handle them. Do you require medical assistance?”*
*”GET OUT OF MY HEAD!” the man screamed, ignoring the operator’s question, “IF I LET YOU IN, WILL YOU GET OUT OF MY HEAD?*”
*”Sir! Do not let them in!” the operator said, “The police will be there soon. Wait for the police.”* The line clicked off.
“They tried calling him back, but he never picked up the phone,” Jason said. “The responding officers secured the outside, came in, and found the body. The captain tried handing the case to Monroe and Benson, but I talked him into giving it to us.” Anne’s eyebrow quirked up. Both of them had a backlog of cases, so why would Jason take a case from another detective? As she looked at Jason’s grim face, Anne understood. There was only one reason Jason would snatch a case. There was something *special* about this case.
“Let me guess – no evidence of these black-eyed teens that Mr. Browne was so worked-up about,” Anne said.
“None. No one saw anything and there’s no physical evidence that anyone was standing outside the windows,” Jason answered.
“Okay, so what makes you think this is a special?” Anne asked.
“Because the task force has had four such incidents in three different cities over the last five years,” Jason answered, “This is the first time someone’s died, but the MO is the same. Strange, black-eyed teens confront the victim. Three times in their home, and once in the car. They stand outside and demand to be let in. No one but the victim sees them. All four times, the other victims let these teens in. The victims who let them in the house said that the teens just walked all around the house and then left. The guy in the car said they just sat in the passenger seat staring at him until he was so creeped out, he fled. When he went back for his car a couple of hours later, the teens were gone. Nothing was ever taken. No property damage inflicted.”
“Okay, I’ll admit that’s weird, but it could just be kids playing an elaborate prank,” Anne said, “Another bizarre internet thing that may have gone a bit too far in this case. Like that whole Slenderman BS.”
“I wish it was that simple,” Jason said, “The task force has evidence that there was something odd going on. Unfortunately, we’ve never been able to get a handle on it. Whoever is behind this just vanishes by the time we get boots on the ground. This time, though, we might just be able to catch the bastards.” There was a predatory gleam in Jason’s eyes, which bothered Anne.
*Anne, as soon as you finish there, we need to talk at the clubhouse,* Samantha said over the telepathic link.
*What’s the matter?* Anne asked, startled by Samantha’s sudden intrusion.
*Something about that house is making Erik and Veronica physically ill,* Samantha said. *Kurt’s waiting for you two outside, but the rest of us are heading back.*
*The house is making them sick? How?* Jason asked.
*I don’t know, and they’re not making much sense right now,* Anne answered, *They just keep saying that something in that house is wrong.*