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“The Express is calling him the Mutilator,” she said, tossing a thick brown folder onto his desk.

Jefferson groaned. “Get somebody onto that, we don’t want to let that name gain traction. Hastings has some connections there, doesn’t he?”

She nodded and made a note.

“Have we got the profile yet?”

She shook her head. “They’re still at the scene.”

He sighed. “Well. It’s imperative that we keep a lid on this until we have their advice. If we say the wrong thing, it could push him into killing again.”

She nodded. “The last thing we need is more girls dumped on the streets like garbage.”

She turned on her heel to go and speak to Hastings, and he pulled the folder towards him. He took a moment to brace himself before he opened it. The scene was different, but the horror was the same; brutalised and mutilated teenage girls, thrown out like yesterday’s paper. Not posed, not displayed, not even hidden – they didn’t mean enough to him to bother. His interest in them ended with their last breath. He didn’t need to wait for the profilers to know that the killer’s interest in the girls was their pain.

“Pain,” he said.

She stopped by the doorway. “Excuse me?”

“It’s about pain. He wants to see pain. Don’t let the families go to the press.”

She looked at him, confused. “What, are you a profiler now, Jefferson? They want to appeal for witnesses, we might need somebody to come forward.”

He steepled his fingers in front of his face and closed his eyes. “Maybe I’m learning something from them. Just hold them off for now, at least until the profile comes in. I think if we keep their pain private, it might pull our guy out into the open. Make him contact us. If I’m right, the profilers will tell us the same thing.”

“You’re right.”

The profiler stood beside his colleague in the doorway, a tall man with dark hair, an unsmiling face and a smart suit.

“But we also have to work quickly,” the profiler continued. “His cooling down period is getting shorter with each kill, and we will have a very limited time before he strikes again.”

Jefferson pinched the bridge of his nose. “How long?”

“Less than forty eight hours.”

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: This week the Three Word Wednesday prompts are Garbage, Imperative and Traction, and since I’ve just got into the TV series Hannibal (horrifically gory but beautifully shot and fascinating) my thoughts turned to a serial killer.)

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