Westerfield looked up at Central PD HQ.

“I fucking hate that building.”

He hadn’t always, but every day for the past two years it had got worse.

He sat  in the diner nursing a black coffee. His third already.

Next to the cup where his ulcer tablets. When he had to have one it was time to go in.

He took a mouthful, grimaced and swallowed. It was cold already. He signaled a waitress for a refill.

He looked through his notes. The killer had been his case for the past two years. Not that the press knew this. They only started paying attention when he moved into performance murders. Which is probably why he started doing them – the attention.

The early cases were obviously trial runs – perfecting the pathogen, the delivery method.

He looked up. From the cafe he could see his office, his desk. He’d left the lights on last night.
No…yesterday afternoon. He could check him spime to see how much it would cost him but he didn’t care.

He took a swig of coffee, and felt his stomach twinge.

“Check” Took the pill, slotted his spime and left some change for the waitress..

“Hey, Charlie. Not long now, huh.” A statement. The same one everyday for the past year. He was retiring, this would be his last case.

In the lift everyone talked about yesterdays murder.

They knew he was killing people to a count. Sometimes he’d kill a group of people and then go quiet for a few days. They tested it by not reporting how many he had killed, hoped he’d make a mistake. All he did was step up his attacks and started mailing the papers directly as to where they could be found and how many he’d killed.

If only they knew why he was counting.

The pathogen itself was also interesting – fusing body tissue together, but nothing inorganic. Short lived – it lasted to fuse the bodies and then stopped. A work of art But no signature sequencing.

He pushed into the office. It announced “You have been fined 150 credits for light use.”
“Why didn’t you just turn the fucking thing off instead of complain about it.”
But the message was recorded and cared not for his complaint.

He slumped into his seat and looked at the empty desk opposite him.

He fucking hated this building. This case alone had taken 2 partners. Good men. Younger men. The place itself had taken two more, and as many marriages.

He took another ulcer tablet.

He missed his last partner. She was brilliant. Smart, beautiful – a better detective at her age than he’d ever been. He’d been refusing them ever since. He didn’t want another body on his hands.

He pushed his chair to the window and stared out over the city. The last attack claimed 8.

He had another week.

Westerfield sighed. All his expertise, all his prior cases and he was still just a fucking cliche.