The agents had decided they would walk to where the body was found, for it was close to the police department. After five years working for the FBI, one should be accustomed to the brutal murders seen on a daily basis, but Cas and Gabriel felt this one was different. They felt as if there was a connection to them on a more . . . personal level. All sorts of deranged thoughts filled their minds. Perhaps it was someone they knew? No, no, impossible. There was no reason why anyone would so brutally assassinate good people.
“Gabriel?” Cas reluctantly asked, “Do you think the victim was someone we know?” There was silence for a brief moment, and Gabriel let out a deep sigh.
“Not very likely,” he replied without even staring at Cas, “But we’re about to find out.”
From the other side of the road, they were unable to see much. A small crowd of people gathered to see the scene, and there were many curious eyes all around. As they got closer, they pulled out their badges from the pockets of their suits and Gabriel firmly said, “FBI agents Castiel and Gabriel.” Immediately, everyone’s attention was turned to them, and people rapidly drifted away so the agents could pass through.
“FBI, huh?” A cop asked. Even though he was short and a bit fat, he looked intimidating. Castiel simply nodded, and asked, “Same M.O. as the other five victims?” The cop looked confused, and before he could ask anything, Castiel explained, “M.O., or modus operandi, means mode of operation. In this situation, it means a serial killer’s characteristic way of murdering his victims.” The cop’s face grew snow white, and it very much looked like he was trying to hide his concern for the situation.
“I wasn’t aware there had been other victims,” he said so low it almost sounded like a whisper. “It is very unfortunate that a killer would go on a spree here in New York.” Gabriel said, “But we really need to take a look at that body, Sir.”
As they slowly paced through the sidewalk, that bad feeling got worse, a feeling of emptiness, as if they had lost someone very dear to them. And they had indeed. Lying on the dirty sidewalk, on top of a puddle of blood, was Paul Rivers, a man who they had been very good friends with since their childhood.
Gabriel immediately looked away from that macabre scene. Castiel’s face grew pale and his eyes widened. Incredulous, he dropped down on his knees and let the tears roll down his eyes. He didn’t know what he was feeling, or what he was supposed to be feeling. Angry at himself for not being able to help, enraged at the killer who had done that . . . Out of the several thoughts that could have gone through his head, only one rang through his mind as clearly as a church bell, “I will revenge you, my friend. No matter what it takes, no matter how hard it gets, I swear on my mother’s grave that I will arrest the one who dared to so heartlessly end your life.”
Gabriel could not believe his eyes. No, he did not want to believe his eyes. His whole body was consumed by anger, like a log being consumed by a raging fire. He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. He should have known something was wrong from the moment Paul gave him that necklace two weeks ago. His great-grandfather had given him that necklace when he was only a little boy, and had told him to never take it off, what he had done for 23 years of his life. The necklace was a very old and dirty golden. Moreover, it had a small key with a red stone in its center.
Gabriel turned back around and firmly said, “We need to get ourselves together if we want to find out who did this to Paul, and you know that, Cas,” He held out his hand to help Cas stand up.
They started inspecting the body. He was stabbed three times in his abdomen, and shot once in the head. They found a tarot card, and a crumpled piece of paper on the inside pocket of his suit. It contained an address, and an unfinished note: If you are reading this, it’s already too late for me. My most valuable belonging is safe with trusted old friends, and only they can bring peace to my restless soul. If they choose to do so, they must be careful. Trust no one. Most importantly, beware of she from whom evil was born. Bewar…
“A tarot card of death?” Castiel muttered to himself, “I wonder why this looks so familiar . . . ” Like a lightbulb, an idea lit up on his head. “Gabriel!” He exclaimed, “All the other victims had the exact same tarot card on their pockets! That’s another of the killer’s M.O.’s!” Gabriel turned around, delightedly surprised. They were now one step closer to catching the killer. “Hey Cas,” Gabriel said, “we should also check out the address on the note, don’t you think so? Maybe we’ll find something useful.” Castiel simply nodded.
The two of them got in a taxi and Gabriel said, “1375 Willow Avenue, Manhattan, please.”
They stood in front of an old apartment building. It was a tall building, built with stones so dark it gave the impression that they had been painted. On the last floor, there were verandas in every other apartment, with pitch black window frames. On each side of the flight of stairs leading to the lobby, two menacing gargoyles seemed to stare at them.
“Oh man,” Gabriel mused, “it’s been so long since we last came here.” He slowly walked towards the stairs and sat on the first step. “Do you remember,” he lowered his head and mumbled, “that the three of us named the gargoyles? The one on the left was Greg, and the one on the right was Hunter.” Castiel, absorbed in his own thoughts, stared at an apparently broken window on the 13th floor.
“Huh?” He asked, turning his head in Gabriel’s direction. His sky blue eyes seemed to shine under the sunlight. Gabriel took one look at him, covered his face with his hands, and sighed, “You know what?” He said, standing up, “never mind, let’s just get in.”
The two walked into the lobby, and then pressed the elevator button. “Although it was unusual to find a tarot card and a rather… peculiar note inside Paul’s pocket, I have to say, I was not amused.” Cas confessed, turning himself to the elevator mirror and adjusting his black tie. Gabriel turned his head and looked at him with a straight face and cold eyes. Glancing at him through the mirror, Castiel said, “It really does puzzle me how you believe you are always right.” He commented, now facing his friend.
“I don’t. I just don’t think that it’s right to speak ill of the dead,” he explained.
“Though I have to agree with you. I was not surprised either,” Gabriel said, “He had been acting very strangely in the last six months. He basically cut all contact with us, remember? I think we only saw him around, let’s say, three times. He was always talking about some weird things he never even showed interest in before. He was not making a lot of sense either. Many of our friends, his colleagues from work, and even his neighbors said he was slowly slipping into insanity. I remember he once started talking about how work was stressing him out, and then he started talking about books and ended the conversation asking if Lilith was a pretty name. I believe that was the last time I saw him.”
But he was lying. That had not been the last time Gabriel saw Paul. The elevator arrived on the 13th floor, interrupting their many thoughts about the months prior to that horrific event. When they stepped onto the blood red carpet, one specific door caught their eyes. It seemed to have been broken from the outside, pieces of wood were on the floor.
“That is Paul’s apartment,” Castiel observed, walking towards the black door, or at least, what was left of it. He slowly turned the doorknob with one hand, and held down his gun with the other, fearing that whoever had done that could still be there. Gabriel followed right behind, his gun also on his hands.
The apartment was actually quite organized for Paul’s standards. There were no dirty cups or plates to be seen on the floor, and all seemed to be in order. Castiel let his guard down, lowered his gun, and confusedly said, “I cannot seem to remember Paul organizing his belongings, much less his entire apartment. Strange.” Meanwhile, Castiel paced through the living room, quietly observing it.
“We should go to his room to see if we can find anything. Do you think Paul kept a journal somewhere?” Gabriel asked, walking towards Paul’s room.
“He did find writing quite pleasurable, but I don’t believe so,” Castiel replied. “But given the wayward nature of his actions during recent months, I may be wrong.”
They turned the golden doorknob, however, they found the door was locked. Gabriel was extremely annoyed. Why did Paul have to make things harder for them?
“You know what?” he yelled, “we don’t have time for this.” He kicked the door open. Castiel looked at him, raising his bushy eyebrows. He was surprised, considering Gabriel rarely lost his temper in such a way.
The room had bad vibes. There was no rational explanation for that. Nearly everything there was either red or black, and there were old leather books scattered around the floor. Furthermore, the closet had been thrown on the floor.
Castiel looked around, eyes sparkling with curiosity. He loved his job, and he loved investigating, but the main reason he was so excited was because he would get to search Paul’s things. Something he would never be allowed to if Paul was still alive. His friend had always been secretive, even during their childhood.
While inspecting the room, he noticed a small door behind the fallen closet. “Gabriel,” he called out, “come take a look at this. I found a hidden door.”
Gabriel walked toward the door, “So that’s the reason for the key!” He blurted out.
“No need for keys,” Castiel said, “I had already opened it. Oh, and he indeed had begun to keep a journal. It was in there.”
Gabriel sharply turned his head, looking very surprised. The journal was on Cas’ hands, and he quickly read over the coffee-stained pages. For a brief moment, he lowered the book, and confusedly stared at the ceiling. He seemed to be mumbling something, but Gabriel couldn’t hear what.
“There is this woman mentioned here,” Castiel said, breaking the silence that had taken over the room, “that goes by the name of Lilith. I believe Paul mentioned that name in one of your conversations.” Gabriel had been pacing around the room, but stopped when Cas mentioned that name. He looked to the street through the dirty window and sighed.
“Yes, I think he was going out with her. He would always talk about this woman who had he met at a coffee shop one day, but he only told me her name the one time I told you about.”
Castiel quickly flipped the journal pages until he got to a blank one. He then pulled out a pen from the pocket of his black suit, and began writing something. His handwriting wasn’t turning out very well, for his hands were shaking. It was obvious that he was nervous, but he would not stop writing. “Paul was a man thirsty for knowledge. Had always been, since we learned how to read,” he said, while still writing. “He knew it was her the whole time, but wanted to help us out in this investigation. That’s why he left this journal, Gabriel. So that we would know. He never misspelled anything, but the quality of his writing was not very good.” He was almost done writing, and you could see an expression of triumph on his face.
“Tarot cards? Paul never believed that, no, he never did. But she did. Lilith, that’s the name of the serial killer.”
He raised the journal so that Paul could read. He had found certain patterns in the journal, and based on them, was able to find a hidden message. “Lilith is the one you must look for. It is the name of a woman who predicts your future based on tarot cards. Her little place is two blocks from here, on that dark alley we used to go to.”
Gabriel was speechless for a while. Then, a determined expression took over his face. “Well,” he said, smirking and cocking his gun, “What are we waiting for? Let’s go get that killer.” He bolted out the apartment door, dashing down the stairs. Castiel smiled, and ran after him, throwing the journal on the floor.
They rushed down the lobby, and sprinted down the streets of Manhattan. “Sorry, sir,” Cas yelled, bumping into someone. He wanted to avenge his friend’s death. He felt a mix of despair and determination. As they got closer to the dark alley, they slowed down, fearing that the woman would get away. Her “house” was . . . eccentric, full of macabre symbols on the walls, and unlit candles. The main room had only a small table with a crystal ball on top of it. It was very dark, which is probably why they did not notice a figure sitting behind the table.
“Stay close, and don’t let your guard down,” Gabriel warned Cas. Just as he ended his sentence, the candles started lighting up, faintly illuminating the small room, and they saw the strange woman hiding in the shadows behind the table.
“I’ve been waiting for you, boys,” a surprisingly smooth voice said. “Why don’t you take a seat? This is going to take a while.”
Both Castiel and Gabriel had their guns pointed in her direction. She simply looked at them from head to toes, and burst into laughter. “Hahahahaha,” her laughter was quite scary. She suddenly changed her tone, and she now sounded very threatening, “You wouldn’t dare.”
Gabriel was just too tired at this point. Without breaking eye contact, he yelled “I wouldn’t? I WOULDN’T? YOU KILLED MY FRIEND, YOU HEARTLESS HUMAN BEING. YOU KILLED ONE OF THE FEW PEOPLE I CARED ABOUT, A PERSON WHO I HAVE KNOWN SINCE I WAS A KID.” He now had a dark expression in his face, and fulminated, “So you can try me, you murderer.”
With quick movements, she took a knife from below the table, and threw it on Gabriel’s shoulder. Castiel shot the woman in her chest, a few seconds after that. She immediately blacked out and fell to the ground.
Gabriel howled like an animal in pain, and fell down on his knees. “Gabriel! Gabriel, I need you to listen to me.” His friend desperately said, “the paramedics will be here in a moment, just hang on.” Gabriel smiled, and weakly said “Dude, I was stabbed on the shoulder. I’m not going to die.” They both laughed, relieved that it was all over.
The next day, their boss went to the hospital to visit Gabriel. He looked scary, very tall, broad shoulders, and had a scar underneath his eye. Nevertheless, he was a good man.
“You two acted very irresponsibly,” he began. “What were you two thinking when you began the investigation on your own? You could have been killed!” He looked disappointed, but his expression quickly changed.
“Still, you did good, and because of that, we were able to arrest the killer,” he said.
Gabriel smirked and said, “Does that mean we will get a promotion?” Their boss laughed, and replied, “No.”
He was leaving the hospital room, but turned around, and said, “I expect to see you both next week on Monday,” Gabriel and Cas glanced at each other, and laughed. They were glad this case had finally come to an end.