Chief Detective Inspector Alex Carlson sat looking out the window at the London skyline as she slowly and methodically bit her nails. In her smart blue suit, with regulation skirt just above the knee she looked every part the senior detective she was. However on this gray Saturday morning she felt nothing like that.

There was an abrupt knock at the door and in walked Detective Inspector James Arlington. He was carrying two steaming mugs of tea. “Ma’am,” he said as he handed one to Alex.

Alex nodded and after taking a sip set the mug down on the windowsill. “What a bloody mess,” she said staring out over Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

“Ma’am?” James responded formally.

“You can cut the ‘Ma’am’ malarkey out in here James. This case: what a bloody mess. Literally and figuratively.”

“I see,” James said and sipped his tea quietly. He knew just how to handle this situation. They had been a team for two years now and had solved some of the worst cases he could remember, and with a little luck and foresight they would solve this one too.  He let the silence hang between them.

“Seven dead in three days. We have to get a grip on this and soon.The press are already baying for blood.” Alex picked up her mug, stood up and moved to her desk.  She shuffled some papers and pushing them aside sat on the edge of her desk. As she did so her skirt slipped up her legs revealing a large portion her upper thigh. She noticed James noticing and pulled at her hemline.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to embarrass you,” She smiled openly.

“And you didn’t.” James laughed. The tension was broken at least for the time being.

“Have you  really never….?” Alex began.

“Let’s not go there again. I wouldn’t ask the same of you, so…” James shrugged.

“Sorry.” Alex smoothed her wavy blonde hair out of her eyes. The tension was back, after just a brief respite. “And what do we have?”

James was used to sudden changes in conversational direction. “Seven dead in three days,” he repeated Alex’s words,”And little of anything else.”

“There’s no sodding pattern,” Alex’s frustration was clear in the clipped way she spoke. “Or rather, there are too many bloody patterns.”

“We just need to sort the wheat from the chaff. Come on let’s go start the meeting.” James checked his watch, stood and turned towards the door. “All we need is a small advantage and the case will be wide open.”

“Oh how I love your optimism,” Alex told him as she stood and moved towards the door. She hoped that going over the case one more time would give them a clear pattern to the spree of murders that had untied her patch.

“Listen up,” she said loudly calling her team to order in the time honoured manner.

9 - Pattern


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