Chapter 1: Let’s Get Started
Murder. Crime. Forensics. All of these things you see in crime shows that are overromanticized are not why I decided to go into law enforcement. It was because of the people who needed help – protection. The city of Detroit, Michigan is a dangerous place, and few people know what they're getting into when they come here.
Everywhere, good people are hurt by thugs and ruffians looking to make a quick buck. This is where I come in. The city is festering with crime, and I intend to put an end to it.
First things first though – meet my new co-workers.
It's my first official day of working the night shift at the Detroit Police Department. I finished my studies at university and at the police academy. Then, I spent some time working as a security officer to pay off the debt before accepting an officer's position at the DPD.
I'm not sure why I'm nervous to get started. Perhaps it's because it's my first day and that a lot of things are expected of me. Maybe it's that I would have to give some kind of welcome speech. Most likely, it is because I will meet all of my new co-workers. Whatever the case, I'm not about to back down. This is a dream of mine after all.
I finish pressing my uniform and stare at myself in the mirror. I look official and certainly feel ready to take on anything; well, anything except for public speaking, and hopefully that would be kept to a minimum.
I give myself one last nod before hoisting my backpack over my shoulder and leaving my apartment, a humble little place in a decent part of town. The drive was uneventful at best, but I can't shake the feeling like there is something lingering in the air. It is a feeling of unease.
Before I know it, I pull into the parking lot of the police department. This is it. I take a second to breathe as I look at the illuminated building against the growing shadows of the setting sun against the city. The whole building seemed to have a life of its own. I fish out my phone and look at my email once again, making sure I remember the names of whom I am supposed to talk to.
Chief Timothy Donavan is my supervisor and the main office clerk is Officer Beth Smith. During my initial interview, there was a woman they called Sparky, and the person supposed to be my future partner is Officer Charlie Wates. I memorize the names before cracking my door open and stepping out into the distinct city air.
There is a twinge of chill in the air, and I can faintly see my breath. Winter had just passed, thank goodness, but the feeling of spring wouldn't be here for another several more months. I watch the steam puff from my lips like a dragon's breath.
“Here we go," I mutter. I pull my backpack out and head up the three steps into the building. A blast of heat greets me as I cross the threshold. Immediately, I can hear phones ringing and the other officers bustling about. I step further in, smelling the office supplies and faint scent of gun oil lingering from the holstered weapons.
I pull the door open and watch two officers step past, giving a smile and a nod as they did. The officer at the front, Beth Smith, looks up at me with her sharp blue eyes as she gives me a smile. Even though her eyes are sharp, there is no mistaking the slight bit of silver mingled among her wavy blonde hair. She wears her early middle age well.
“Claire Knight?" she asks. Good. She remembers my name. Already, there is a partial relief off my shoulder as I step up, hand outstretched, and shake Beth's hand.
“That's what they tell me," I say. “Sorry, um… yeah. I'm Claire. Nice to meet you in person. You're Beth, right? Beth Smith?"
“That's me," chirps Beth. “I'll go ahead and buzz the Chief. If you want, you can wait for him, or I can have one of the others escort you to your office space."
“Thanks," I grin. “I think I'll wait for the Chief if that's okay."
“Sure thing," replied Beth. She tapped a few buttons on the desk phone. I could only hear half of the conversation. “Hey, Chief. It's Beth. I've got Claire here at the front. Okay. Okay. Bye. He's on his way."
“Thank you," I say. I look around at the rest of the office. A weekly schedule written on an old, crusty looking white board on the back wall is obviously stained from the markers and years of service. I hear a burbling sound from the side room as the smell of freshly brewed dark roast coffee wafted through the air.
I look over the edges of the cubicles further in the precinct before catching a glimpse of a man in his mid-thirties with strawberry blonde hair and in decent form. He walks with purpose and authority while also wearing a smile on his face.
“Claire?" he asks as he strides up to the front desk.
“Yes, sir," I reply as I stick out my hand for him to shake. “Pleasure to meet you in person, Chief Donavan. I'm Officer Claire Knight. It's a pleasure to be here." The Chief chuckles at my formality, no doubt, and shook my hand.
“Well, it's a pleasure to meet you in person as well. Feel free to call me Chief, Tim, or Donavan around here. I suppose you're ready to get settled and everything?" asks the Chief.
“Yes sir," I say, unable to shake the old habit of adding “sir" when addressing my superiors.
“Well, let's go ahead and take you back and get you settled. Follow me," instructs the Chief.
With that, he gives me a brisk tour of the place, showing me the ropes. I like the fast-paced environment and hoped that I could just leap right into the next case.
“And this is your office," directs Chief Donavan.
The moment I glimpse into my new space, my hopes of going unnoticed are shattered. There are welcome posters all over the desk and across the monitor. There are a couple of places to put pictures which, admittedly, were already filled with photographs of some of my co-workers. There are fresh supplies, a calendar, and a set of assorted pens held together by a rubber band in the corner of the desk. There is even, hilariously, a set of donut pencil erasers front and center.
“Wow, this is… a lot," I say.
“Sorry, it's a bit of an inside joke with the pencil erasers. Also, and I'm actually sorry about this, we have one other thing," grins the Chief. I glance down the way and see a group of five officers heading my way. The guy in front is carrying a cake with “welcome" scrolled on the top.
“Welcome to the team!" they cheer as they pass by, thrusting the cake into my arms. I had to drop my bag to make sure it didn't slide off the cardboard and hit the floor.
“Speech!" One of them calls as they crowd around my new desk.
“Um… well… I mean… thanks for having me. Really, I'm thrilled to be here. I'm not really good at these speech things, so let's just skip ahead and take this to the break room and get into it," I say, feeling my cheeks getting warmer by the second.
A few people clap me on the shoulders as we head down the hall to the breakroom where I already can see more glittery banners with the “welcome" sign clear as day. I barely have time to put the cake down when I heard the intercom click on.
“Chief, we've got another one. Under the bridge off Fisher," said Beth's voice over the line.
“Another what?" I ask, already suspecting the answer.
“Another death," says another officer who followed the group into the breakroom. “We've been getting them more recently. Nasty business. You might've heard about it from the media called the Drainer. I know, clever name. I'm Charlie Wates by the way. I hear we're supposed to be partners."
“Nice to meet you," I say as I shake his outstretched hand. “Is everyone going?"
“I doubt it," says the dark-haired officer. “If it's being reported, it's already too late. We'll probably need an ambulance to bring the body back for an autopsy, but otherwise, we'll send our team to gather what evidence we can."
“Are you going?" I ask, feeling adrenaline coursing through my veins. I heard of this so called 'Drainer' through the media. It was reported that the bodies of the victims looked like they had been part of some kind of ritualistic mummification process, dried and almost unrecognizable.
“Well, yes. I'm one of the officers on the case. Curses, that means we'll have to prep a statement. Excuse me, I need to…"
“No, I'm coming with you," I insist. There was a gleam in the dark brown eyes of my future work partner.
“You sure? You just got here. Don't you want to, I don't know, get settled?" asks Officer Wates.
“Not really. I'd rather get out there. I'm not great at these whole welcome parties anyway," I say, partially under my breath as I watch other teams of officers grabbing their gear to head out to the crime scene.
“Have you completed the training? All of that online stuff and the tutorials?" asks Wates.
“Finished as soon as I got the links. Come on. Do you think the Chief will mind?" I ask. Charlie Wates' lips pull into a mischievous grin.
“Well, with this kind of attitude, you'll never get a moment of rest. Hey, Chief! Knight wants to come along. You good with it?" called Charlie just as the Chief pulled a set of keys from the wall.
“As long as she completed her training, and if she feels ready. This is a rough case to start with," he replies.
“More than ready," I say firmly. “I can't hardly let my new partner go in alone, can I?" This earns me a couple of chuckles from the nearby officers.
“Well, let's go," says Wates. “We need to get there before the media does."