The people in the crowd were still running all over the place with their mouths hanging open, but the pounding of their feet and the screaming had gone silent. I looked down at Evan's corpse, then at my own missing midsection, then up to the ceiling. To my surprise, the rest of the building was completely gone, and I could see stars, everywhere, a hundred times clearer than they had been for years, and they were growing brighter and brighter and brighter and in them I saw...\n\n"Clara?" I guessed.\n\n"Nope," she said.\n\nEven when I hit the floor I still had faith that I would live, right up until the moment the credits rolled over my dead body and I was forced to respawn into this wreck of a Chicago crime drama.\n\n\n\n\n\nPeace is in the grave...\n--Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound\n\n\n(ending 3/3: Original End)
\nThe note read:\n\n"My dear officers,\n\nPrometheus was the cause of all human suffering, and for this he was punished every day for thirty years. Look up above you, officers. See any stars? One by one, the lights of New York will go out until the stars are visible once more. Death is in the air, officers. Today's murder will be at the Dead Man Night Club, but night will be too late.\n\nCatch me if you can.\n\nYours,\n\nZeus.\n\n\nP.S. [[Death is preferable. It is a milder fate than tyranny|Quote]]."
The modus operandi was set in stone. Five murders in different parts of NYC. All victims were killed at sundown by a curved knife tearing into their respective livers. The newspapers, with great insight, called them the Prometheus murders, after the famed Greek titan who gave mankind fire.\n\nPrometheus was punished by being chained to a rock everyday and having his liver torn out each day. Every night, because of his immortality, his liver would grow back and the tortuous process would begin anew. There was nothing for the police to go on. The name Prometheus meant "forethought," and that was exactly what the killer had given the murders...\n\nThat's where I come in. My name's Grafton, Reed Grafton. I carry a badge. And a gun. Not a cell phone, though. Too easy to trace. I keep you safe when you don't know you're in danger.\n<<silently>>\n<<set $Petewet = "no">>\n<<set $noteread = "no">>\n<<set $gottape = "no">>\n<<set $punchbouncer = "no">>\n<<set $Evan = "no">>\n<<endsilently>>\n\n[[This is my story|6 July]].
"You're right," I told him. "But I have to know--is my personal connection to the victim going to ruffle any feathers over at HQ?"\n\n"They don't want you to go, Grafton. They've taken us off the case personally."\n\n"Hot damn," I said. "Let's do this thing."\n\n"I parked downstairs. We can be there in less than [[five minutes|Five Minutes Later]]."
I wound up my arm, which was still a bit sore from that time a gangster on the run shot me up in front of the cannoli shop, and pitched the drink right in his face. Soda, ice cubes, even the banana slice splashed onto his face and shirt. He gave a bubbling gasp.\n\n"What was that for?" he demanded with an all-over shake. Droplets of soda went everywhere.\n\n"I don't know," I said. "It seemed like a good idea at the time."\n<<silently>>\n<<set $Petewet = "yes">>\n<<endsilently>>\n\n"Whatever," Pete said. "But before we leave there's something you have to know. We can't go."\n\n"I'm confused."\n\n"They know about your relationship with Claire. They don't want you on the case."\n\n"Yet you'll take me anyway?"\n\nPete shrugged and I felt the warmth of affection bubbling up with lemon-limey gas or maybe that was heartburn. I flung my arms around him in a manly man-hug. He shoved free.\n\n"I parked downstairs. We can be there in less than [[five minutes|Five Minutes Later]]."
Slowly I came over to the outline where once a young life had been snuffed out. It was sad, really--that such a small outline should measure a life that had been so big.\n\n"Claudia was more than this, you know," I said to Pete.\n\n"It's Claire," he said, "but whatever. Here, they found this tacked to the door." He shoved a photocopied [[note|Note]] at me. "No fingerprints, no DNA, no nothing. The guy's a ghost."\n\n"Obviously not, Mr. Irving," I said, slowly bringing out my reading glasses and slipping them on. "Ghosts don't kill pretty girls."\n\n"Yeah," said Pete. "Yeah right."\n
"Evan Sawyer," I said. I spoke quietly, not wishing to draw attention to us. The fact that I was holding a gun did not detract from this fact. "We meet again."\n\nHe nodded in assent, or maybe that was just the shiny-skinned dancer who slammed into him. "Welcome, Detective Grafton."\n\n"I want you to know that I pity you for your loss, Evan. I do empathize."\n\nHe accepted my words graciously, with a nod.\n\n"I totally understand what you're going through." I thought about it. "Except for that bit about the novel. What was up with that? I mean, really, man. Learn to Xerox if you must maintain your backward ways."\n\nEvan stared at me out of blank, emotionless eyes, like those of a shark. Then he raised his knife.\n\nI raised my gun in return, and he laughed. "Oh, come on, Grafton. You know a gunshot will only make the chaos worse."\n\nI thought it over.\n\n"You know?" I said. "You're right."\n\nSo I punched him in the face.\n\n\n\n\n(ending 2/3: To Catch a Killer)\n<<if $gottape == "yes">>\n[[etc.|Bonus Content]]\n<<endif>>
Evan Sawyer. The English professor from Fordham. He was a man who had suffered a greater loss than even I.\n\nIt had been years ago that I first came into contact with Evan. His apartment had been literally burned to the ground. There had been only one casualty, but the man had been with the only draft of his astrology-themed novel for five years. He had snapped.\n\nThe last time I had seen him he was trying to burn down the fire department.\n\n"You know him," Pete observed, but I knew better.\n\n<<silently>>\n<<set $Evan = "yes">>\n<<endsilently>>\n\n"No, Pete. No one can know him."\n\n[[Back to the crime scene|Crime Scene]]
"All right," I said at last. I didn't want to have to do this, friend, but I can see I have no other choice. I am a federal agent from the Internal Revenue Service, and I require entrance to this facility."\n\n"Yes, sir," stammered the bouncer, stepping aside and turning the color of the smoggy sky. "Go on in, sir."\n\nI thanked him and lead the way into the [[club|Nightclub]].
Prometheus Sky
The Dead Man nightclub was under extreme surveillance. SWAT teams were there, FBI agents, special forces, even a specialized team from the Great White North were present and accounted for. But Pete and I, by sneaking around by the front entrance, were able to slip by the unmarked cars. We encountered little resistance until we met the bouncer.\n\n"Names?" he demanded.\n\nPete and I showed him our weapons. He looked unimpressed.\n\nWe showed him our badges. He checked his watch.\n\nWe showed him a forged search warrent. He yawned.\n\n[[Bluff.|Bluff]]\n[[Punch him out.|KO]]
The fireplace had never been used. By prodding around under the plastic logs I found a secret cache. Inside was fifteen dollars, a donkey plushie, and a bootleg tape of '90s Canadian financial dramas. I took the tape along for later viewing.\n<<silently>>\n<<set $gottape = "yes">>\n<<endsilently>>\nI stepped back to the [[crime scene|Crime Scene]].
Pete and I went over to the coffee table and looked. We just... looked the heck at it. The body of the dachshund was made of tuna tins and the nose, legs, and tail were made of vienna sausage tins. It was starting to smell pretty bad, or maybe that was all the blood.\n\n"She was some woman," said Pete.\n\n"Yup."\n\nWe stepped back to the [[crime scene|Crime Scene]].
The decision was not an easy one, but I knew what I had to do to appease my conscience, my feelings for dear Cloris, and my secret longing for a movie deal.\n\n"Pete?" I asked. "Do you believe in vigilante justice?"\n\n"I suspect you want me to say yes," Pete said, "and I'm saying this because I know you, not just because of your less-than-subtle body language. But Reed, can't you see a little bit into the killer's mind? All he wants is the stars. Don't you want the stars, too?"\n\n"We don't need stars in NYC. Stars are for hokums and yokels."\n\nHe shrugged. "Well, I guess vigilante justice is the only way to do any good these days."\n\n"Then get dressed, kid. We're going on a little extracurricular [[field trip|Dead Man Nightclub]]."
There were only three words to describe the night club, and those were "smoky," "crowded," and "so-loud-my-ears-nose-and-eyes-all-popped." No one seemed to notice that Pete and I didn't belong. They were too busy admiring one another's unisex makeup and leather wardrobes. I turned to Pete just to see a face that hadn't been shoved in a bucket of industrial paint and found him giving me an almost sorrowful look.\n\n"What?" I asked.\n\n"This case is changing you," he said sadly. "You're not the same Reed Grafton I've been partners with for all these years."\n\n"Don't worry so much. In three months, after a few counseling sessions during which not much is said, I'll be fine. It's just that I'm so devastated over Cleo's death right now."\n\n"It's Claire," Pete said, "but that doesn't matter. You're my best friend. I trust you."\n\nWe exchanged tense glances, and then he shoved his way through the crowd and yanked every wire from the DJ's turntable.\n\n"Hey!" he yelled. "Everybody stay calm! Don't you dare panic!"\n\n"This remark was unnecessary. Panic spread through the crowd in waves.\n\nI tuned out the chaos and began to search the room for any suspicious characters, or, more specifically, any characters more suspicious than the ones who belonged there. This was easier said than done. Even telling the girls from the boys was difficult. But then one of them turned to stare at me and his makeup-free face hit me like a slap to the eyeball.\n<<if $Evan == "yes">>\n[["Oh my god," I said.|To Catch a Killer]]\n<<endif>>\n<<if $Evan == "no">>\n[["Oh my god," I said.|True]] \n<<endif>>
The front door took us right into the living room crime scene. There was blood everywhere, on the soft white carpet, the plush chairs, the [[fireplace|Fireplace]], the tuna tin [[dachshund statue|Statue]] on the coffee table. The [[body outline|Body]] was drawn in chalk on the floor just below the loveseat. A [[handprint|Handprint]]of blood was set on the window. And on the floor, scattered among a lot of books torn from the shelves, was [[something sparkling|Something]].\n\n<<if $noteread== "yes">>\nI knew now [[where to go.|On My Way]]\n<<endif>>
"You are a jerk," Pete said as we entered the club. "There is not a better word for it."\n\nI ignored him, the better to take in the god-awful scenery.\n\nThere were only three words to describe the night club, and those were "smoky," "crowded," and "so-loud-my-ears-nose-and-eyes-all-popped." No one seemed to notice that Pete and I didn't belong. They were too busy admiring one another's unisex makeup and leather wardrobes. I turned to Pete just to see a face that hadn't been shoved in a bucket of industrial paint and found him giving me an almost sorrowful look.\n\n"What?" I asked.\n\n"This case is changing you," he said sadly. "You're not the same Reed Grafton I've been partners with for all these years."\n\n"It's Cloris's death," I said. "It's got me all mixed up."\n\n"That's Claire," he said, so I did the only reasonable thing and shot him.\n\nHe staggered backwards, clutching his chest. He looked at me and then he looked at the blood and then he looked at me.\n\n"The heck, man?" he asked. Then he pitched to the floor and I turned and opened fire on all the ravers.\n\nI skipped through the place, gun a-blazing. Screaming punk rockers scattered to all sides. Behind me I left a trail of fallen bodies, cheerfully red blood splattered to all sides, like the Easter bunny of death. When the SWAT team finally burst in and dragged me away, I was recreating Van Gogh's Sunflowers on the bathroom wall with varying shades of dried blood.\n\n"Totally worth it," I thought.\n\n\n\n\n(ending 1/3: Rogue Cop)
In a short time we were at the Brasco apartment. It was the part of town I could never have imagined Clarice living in. She was a very artistic girl, good with paint, good with clay, good with macaroni. In place like this I suspected if you showed up with so much as a stray rigatoni noodle in the back of your designer calfskin purse they'd send their butlers after you with carving forks and fire pokers. Brasco had come into family money, I remembered, the kind you had to take out and wipe off every so often because it gathered dust and stuffiness. His house--also familial, if I remembered correctly--was smaller than I would have thought, but it was on the waterfront, at least. There must have been a basement for them to store the family gold.\n\nI turned to Pete with intent to make a clever observation and found him already staring at me.\n\n"What?" I asked.\n\n"They're not that rich, you know."\n\n"Not rich? Not rich? They've got pyramids of money. Next to their Ski-Doos."\n\nPete shook his head, waved to the street officer on duty and snagged his neck on the crime scene tape. "Just act casual. We're not supposed to be here, remember?"\n\n"Bah," I said. But it was with a heavy heart that I entered Clarie Brasco's home and my [[crime scene|Crime Scene]].
On the sixth day of July I was taking my break from the NYPD, enjoying my vacation and sitting up on the roof of my apartment building. In my hand was a glass of my favorite concoction, grape juice with a touch of lemon-lime soda and a single slice of banana to kill the tang. I wasn't expecting to be called to active duty. All I really wanted was to sit and watch the sunset in peace, but when I saw my partner, Pete Irving, crossing the roof to meet me, I knew my vacation was over.\n\n"You should know there was another Prometheus body last night," he told me. "Remember Walter Brasco?"\n\n"The young officer on continual desk duty? The one who drools on all the paperwork?"\n\n"That was a dental problem, and he had it fixed months ago."\n\n"I still don't trust him."\n\n"Look, it's Claire, Grafton. His wife Claire. She was the Prometheus vic."\n\nMy heart plummeted into my loafers.\n\n"She was my old college flame," I told him, recalling to mind all those nights in Vegas. "What we shared was special, a once-in-a-lifetime connection. This psycho is clearly without mercy. Claudia's death shall not go unavenged."\n\n"You mean Claire's."\n\nHe killed her too? Is there no end to the heartache?"\n\n"Look, Brasco. We need to get to the scene of the crime and give it a good looking over."\n\n[[Go with him|Go With Him]].\n[[Throw your drink at him|Throw Drink]].
"I know you," I said.\n\n"Yes," he agreed.\n\nWe stood for a while, panicky lemmings jostling us back and forth.\n\n"You don't remember, do you."\n\n"I remember remembering."\n\nHe sighed. "My name is Evan Sawyer. I am the English professor from Fordham."\n\nI shrugged.\n\n"It's not important, I guess. Very sorry to have taken up your time."\n\nHe began to back away, and from his coat he pulled out a curved knife.\n\nEvan Sawyer. Professor from Fordham.\n\n"Pete! Got him!" I yelled, and then I did what in retrospect would prove to be a very stupid move. I drew my gun.\n\nThe entire dance floor seemed to spot my weapon at once. Funny thing. They even screamed alike.\n\n"How did you find me?" Evan Sawyer yelled over the panicked shrieks of the unigender lemmings.\n\n"Your note," I told him. "The subtlty was not as subtle as you believed."\n\n"Drat," said Evan Sawyer. "Now I have to kill you too."\n\nEvan Sawyer. The author. Five years ago his apartment building had burned to the ground. The only copy of his astrology-themed novel had been the sole casualty. He'd been in jail for arson the last time I'd seen him. Never met a man before who thought setting fire to a firebarn was a good idea.\n\n"Listen to me, Evan. I know why you're doing this. You've been through a terrible loss, and your grief for your lost manuscript is second only to mine for your sixth victim, Chloe..."\n\n"That's 'Claire,'" said Zeus.\n\n"I know you must have suffered greatly for your art..."\n\n"There's no room for art in literature!" he screamed, and, just before I raised my gun and shot him dead, he lunged forward and ripped the knife through my stomach.\n\n[[It didn't hurt.|True End]]
"Here," I said to Pete, handing him my class ring. "Hold this."\n\n"What are you..." he asked, and I punched the bouncer so hard the diamond in his tooth left a mark in my knuckle. "For god's sake, Reed. Violence isn't always the answer."\n\n<<silently>>\n<<set $punchbouncer = "yes">>\n<<endsilently>>\n"Oh yes it is," I said.\n\n[[enter the club|Nightclub]]\n<<if $Petewet == "yes">>\n[[enter the club... with a vengeance!|Rogue Cop]]\n<<endif>>
I went over to examine the handprint. It looked like it had come from a particularly masculine hand, the kind of hand that had murdered many an innocent victim. Perhaps the hand of a dock worker, or a construction worker... someone who knew about violence...\n\nPete wandered over.\n\n"Yeah," he said. "They matched the fingerprints to Claire. Her prints are all over the place, but none that belong to the killer. Brasco says the spare key's missing. That's probably how he got in."\n\nWe stood in quiet contemplation for a moment, watching the beautiful reds and oranges of the sunset across the water. He turned to me and open his mouth as if he were about to say something profound. Then he closed it again.\n\n"What do you think makes it like that?" he asked me.\n\n"Pollution, mostly."\n\nHe nodded, and we went back to studying the [[crime scene|Crime Scene]].
The sparkling thing fascinated me, mostly because none of the lights were on and whoever heard of sparkling things in low light? I shoved some of the books aside in search of it.\n\n<<if $noteread == "no">>\n"Whatcha doin'?" Pete asked.\n\n"I'm finding the source of this sparkly thing," I told him.\n\n"You are such a nut," he said. "There is nothing there."\n\nDarned if he wasn't right. I pushed those books all over and didn't find a darn thing. I decided to go back to the [[crime scene|Crime Scene]] and look around some more.\n<<endif>>\n<<if $noteread == "yes">>\n"Whatcha doin'?" Pete asked.\n\n"I'm finding the source of this sparkly thing."\n\n"You are such a nut. Oh hey, I've read this." He nudged past me and picked up a heavy book, the kind one would use to clobber one's murderer if one were to fight back. "Prometheus Bound. That's where that quote is from."\n\n"'We will fight them on the beaches?'"\n\n"'Death is a milder fate than tyranny.'"\n\n"You subversives are all alike." I took the book and was about to fling it across the room when something big and shining and very, very sharp fell out and impaled itself upon my boot.\n\nI plucked it out and held it up to see. It was a knife, long and slightly jagged. The blade was curved.\n\n"The murder weapon." Pete gawped.\n\n"Yes indeed. But why would he leave this behind?"\n\n"It's personal now."\n\nI swung round to stare at him. He pointed down at the knife. Into the handle three words were engaged.\n\n[[Evan Graham Sawyer.|Evan]]\n<<endif>>
"My god," I said, as the pieces of the puzzle slipped coldly into place. "The perp is an environmentalist *and* an English major."\n\nPete went pale.\n<<silently>>\n<<set $noteread = "yes">>\n<<endsilently>>\n\n"There isn't a moment to spare. How many officers have been dispatched to this 'Dead Man Nightclub?"\n\n"None," Pete said bitterly. "Because of beaurocracy. And reasons."\n\n"Curse their red tape."\n\n[[I had to think about this.|Crime Scene]]
Megan Stevens
(Bonus Content)\n\nI went home and watched the Canadian financial drama. It wasn't quite what I was expecting.\n\n\n\n\nAdam Wray, who was tall and slim and silver-haired, who wore conservative grey with conservative suspenders and quiet round-framed glasses, noticed the box beneath his chair right away, because it was his job to notice things.\n\nDraping his jacket over the back of his chair, he brought out the box and hefted it up onto the desk.\n\nIt was cardboard, marked "Fragile" and "This End Up," and it was much heavier than it looked. It rattled when Adam dumped it onto the desk. It was 7:30 AM, so that the room was still awash in that pale bluish light of morning and the nearest appointment was an hour away. Adam sat down at the desk and put one hand to his mouth in contemplation of whether the box really contained a converter box for an analog television and whether it was worth his trouble to open it. He was drumming his fingers along the taped-together seam when his assistant knocked.\n\n"Come in," said Adam, and Stanley did.\n\n"Do you know a Thomas Lenon from down on the trading floor?" he asked, with his head slightly down and his hands behind his back.\n\n"Vaguely. He's the bonds trader, yes? The one always drooling on himself?"\n\n"That was an underbite problem. He got it fixed."\n\nAdam pushed himself back in his chair, arms draped over the sides. "And I suppose he doesn't have an appointment, but if he could just *see* me..."\n\n"Yeah. I mean... yes."\n\n"What does he want?"\n\nStanley opened his mouth, and moved his mouth, and then he stumbled forward as if pushed from behind. In walked the trader in question.\n\n"Good morning, you scum of the earth," said Thomas Lenon.