Kathleen finds, to her surprise, that entering all the incomprehensible information she’s gathered so far into the standard form for the preliminary report reduces the weirdness of this case tremendously. Set down in black and white, in twelve point font on crisp white paper, even the slipperiness of the diminishing corpse and the bizarre ubiquity of sulfur seem more like valuable clues than brick walls frustrating her investigation. It's oddly comforting, and she saves the report to her hard drive, prints it out, and closes the program. She maximizes the window for the IAFIS database and notes that it is still gamely running, searching through its giant haystack for her needle. There's no telling how long that will take, given that she could only provide an unsatisfactory one-tenth of the information it requires. She collects the printed pages, fishes through the small jar on her desk for a paperclip, and walks to the chief's office to drop it in his inbox, which is atypically bare. It's only on her way back from the ladies' room that she realizes why the inbox was practically empty; he's got his weekly meeting with the mayor and her staff and needs to be absolutely up to date on the report he gives her.
She makes a quick stop at her desk for some hand lotion - she's almost out and needs to remember to pick some more up - and a granola bar to appease her stomach and try to make up for skipping both breakfast and lunch and heads over to the front desk and settles in for another shift working the phones. Today's hours pass uneventfully; the time slides steadily by as she forwards a call on a busted traffic light called in by a Good Samaritan to the road crew, listens politely to anonymous callers who are indignant about the way their tax dollars are being spent, and firmly rebuffs reporters searching for information about the security measures being put into place for the filming of some independent movie set in New York city or Los Angeles - she can't remember which. Her stomach is growling loudly by the time Molinson comes over to relieve her, and she can't wait around for take-out.
She walks the four blocks over to the convenience store and picks up a bottle of Lubriderm and has the kid behind the deli counter make her a turkey club hoagie with mayonnaise and mustard. He eyes the gun at her hip nervously and forgets the mustard, even after she pulls at her jacket to hide her weapon. She takes the sandwich and a soda to the park on the next block, the one that’s been under construction since before she moved to this city. It’s warmer in the park than she’d expected, and a little bit humid too, but she keeps her jacket tucked around her, proud of her uniform but unwilling to flaunt her weapon for no reason.
Her diet black cherry soda is gone but half the sub is still wrapped up in wax paper and she leans back on the bench and basks in the sun for a moment. She thinks about going for a run tonight, then curling up and watching an old movie. Something, anything that is simple and achievable – that’s all she’s looking for at this point.
Someone sits down at the other end of the bench, and she turns her head curiously to see who’d park over here when there are plenty of open benches in the sun. Just a young guy, maybe twenty-five or so, and it’s clear from the way he settles in, opens his bag and takes out a book and a highlighter and gets to work immediately, that this is his bench, his usual work area, and she’s the intruder. She gathers up her stuff and leaves him in peace.
All conversation stops when she gets back into the main room. It’s not subtle, and she remembers just such a silence falling the first day she reported back at the station after her ordeal with the Benders; her gut clenches hard and the sandwich sits like a lead weight in the pit of her stomach. The quiet spins out for several seconds. Then someone whistles the theme from The X-Files and most of her colleagues break into laughter; she hears Ramirez call out, loud enough to be heard across the room, “Hell of a case you caught, Hudak,” and she realizes that her preliminary report – detailing her own findings and the expert opinions of Georgia and Dawes – has somehow made the rounds. She makes her way to her desk and checks her inbox and her email; all she finds is an email from the Cleanup Crew that repeats most of the ballistics information and promises her a complete listing of crime scene fingerprints within the next few days, by next week at the very latest.
The computer beeps insistently while she types up a quick response, so she sends the email and maximizes the IAFIS database again. The system has come up with three possible matches for the partial thumbprint she submitted. At last she’s getting somewhere.
Still gen, still R-ish.
Word count (today): 861
Word count (total): 14,398 (47.99%)