Disclaimer: This story was written purely for entertainment and is not for profit. It is not meant to trespass in any way on the holders of the rights to Starsky and Hutch.

Mahalo to all of the wonderful people in my life, who continue to encourage, support, and inspire me in my endeavor to write.

Many heartfelt thanks especially goes out to these special ladies:

Brook . . . mahalo girl, for getting me over the “humps” and for always inspiring me to move my lazy fingers; I don’t know if I’d still be around if we didn’t talk everyday,

Strut (my big sis) mahalo for being my ‘ohana, for your insightful suggestions and sweet encouragements that continue to shape and mold me into the writer I want to become.

And to my sweet buddy Wuemsel, mahalo for being the best cheerleader around, you always know how to brighten my day with rainbows and sunflowers,

Starskysgal, mahalo for never failing to make me smile and for sharing your hammer,

And a big mahalo goes out to you Eli, for your unfailing belief and never-ending patience when it comes time to post on the beautiful “Ruminations” website you created for me.

You wonderful ladies make writing so much fun! I am truly blessed indeed.

Warning: “Episodes” might be considered a dark tale and contains some graphic scenes and foul language that may be offensive to some readers. This story also revolves around a paranormal/metaphysical genre; if this is not your cup of tea, then please refrain from sipping. I would hate to spoil someone’s fun.


October . . .

She sat up abruptly on the lumpy and uncomfortable mattress, gasping, her small frame quivering in the darkness as she attempted to catch her breath. She tried to slow the rapid beating of her heart as she gathered her bearings; gradually remembering that she was in the cheap motel room she had found late last night as she had exited the interstate freeway. Although the motel looked run down and weather-beaten, its gaudy neon lights had boldly declared a vacancy and it had become a beacon to her weary soul. She rubbed the goose bumps from her thin arms and pushed her long, dark hair away from her damp face with shaky hands. Breathing hard, she closed her eyes and mentally forced herself to calm down.

She glanced at her small travel clock and saw that it was only 4:25 in the morning. She had been asleep a whole two hours and three minutes. The diminutive woman got out of bed and slowly padded to the window. She cautiously drew back the stained curtains to peek out at the quiet street, listening to the distant sound of the cars whizzing by on the interstate highway, her dark brown eyes darted about, ready to track any movement in the darkness below; the glare from the neon sign accentuating the hollows of her high cheekbones.

She closed her eyes and sighed softly, putting out her sensors, but could feel nothing that would jeopardize her safety. Even as a little girl, she always knew when danger was nearby; self-preservation always seemed to enhance her abilities somehow. She intuitively knew she was safe for now, but she didn’t allow that knowledge to lull her into a false sense of security. He was out there . . . somewhere . . . and he was looking for her.

She turned away from the window hearing the soft swoosh of the dirty curtain fall back into place. Walking into the small bathroom she clicked on the yellow bulb hanging from the ceiling and turned to stare at herself in the mirror. She self-consciously tucked some strands of her long dark hair behind her ear. She looked like a mess. All those many months of running were starting to take its toll on her.

She turned off the light and walked the few steps back to the lumpy mattress only to frown at it with disdain. Just the thought of climbing back in there sent shivers up her spine. She didn’t want to chance a sore back come morning, she didn’t want to go back to sleep and she most definitely didn’t want to dream again, for she always woke up violently like this when she dreamed about him.

Yet this time, the dream had taken a different turn from its usual horrific ending . . . and it scared her.

Closing her eyes wearily, she could still see them . . . those eyes . . . filled with horror and pain . . . eyes that were the color of the deep ocean. Mari quickly opened her large almond shaped eyes, her heart filled with despair. Whoever this curly haired man was, he was now somehow connected to this nightmare of hers . . . of that she was sure . . . and she knew without a doubt that she needed to find him and warn him about what was to come . . .

. . . CHAPTER 1 . . .

November . . .

It was chilly as she stood outside the “The Pits”, a place she had seen only once. It seemed almost surreal somehow to be actually standing in front of something that she had only dreamed about. She pulled her worn sweater closer together as a gust of wind blew bits of street rubbish against the leg of her jeans. She looked down at the pieces of paper and watched as another gust of wind took them away. She sighed, feeling unsure of her decision to come here, but she wanted to check this place out and make sure that it truly existed.

“Well Mari, it’s now or never . . .” she said softly to herself, adjusting the strap of her backpack upon her shoulders. Taking a deep breath to buff up her flagging courage, she walked to the door and entered.

She stood quietly to the side and looked across the brightly lit, smoked filled room of the crowded bar and grill. The room felt pleasantly warm after coming in from the brisk windy evening and she slowly took off her white sweater, gathering her long dark hair neatly away from her long, slim neck up into a ponytail. It took a few seconds for her eyes to adjust to the light, as they casually roamed around the room, but they were immediately drawn to the curly haired cop who sat huddled in a booth, in the back corner, across from a tall blond wearing a tan leather jacket.

She quickly looked around and spied a small, unoccupied table and an empty wooden seat by the side of the little hallway leading to the restrooms. Mari walked over to it and sat down, trying to remain inconspicuous as she curiously studied the brunet who suddenly laughed out loud at something his companion said. She watched as his familiar dark blue eyes twinkled mischievously, the grin that spread across of his face made him appear almost boyishly charming, although the woman intuitively knew that this was only one of the many facets that this ruggedly handsome detective possessed.

Mari had learned he was a police officer from one of the many recent dreams she had been having of him. She knew he carried a badge and a holstered gun concealed under the dark brown leather jacket that he wore. She also knew that the blond sitting across from him was his partner, though she had yet to see his face.

Mari watched as the cop in question took a quick sip of beer from his mug, returning the glass to the table, still grinning as he began to gesture with his hands, his mouth moving in response to something his partner had said. She saw the blond throw his head back, laughing; and she silently wondered what the fairer man looked like, as his back was turned towards her. Though she was clear across the room, it was obvious to her that these two men shared a very close and special bond.

She felt exhaustion creeping in, as she sat still and quiet in the warm room, listening to the buzz of conversations around her; the tinkling of glass, the occasional laughter and boisterous joviality on some of the nearby tables made her feel suddenly lonely and out of place. She was frightened too, but it was time; she could no longer run from what was inevitable.

He was here in Bay City . . . she could feel it as clearly as she had seen it. Her weary mind drifted back to the vision she had just a week ago. As in all of her visions, she could only see what was happening through the killer’s eyes, could only see whatever he gazed upon during the time lapsed in her “episodes” as she called them.

Mari knew the killer had been on the I-5 heading down towards California for some time now . . . leaving a string of missing girls as he traveled from Canada, through Washington and Oregon . . . always able to get away before suspicions arose. All this time, she knew he was coming for her too . . . she was as certain of this, as the sun rising. Hadn’t she awakened many times screaming from the images in her dreams . . . foreseeing her own death by this lunatic’s hand?

For months now, she had been able to stay one step ahead of him, but somehow he always knew where she was . . . somehow they were “linked” and that thought frightened her immensely. It was only a matter of time, she knew, before she would become one of those girls he had slaughtered.

But this time, maybe the element of surprise would be on her side . . . he would never think that she would stop running, especially after seeing what he was capable of. She knew he fed on her fear. Over the past few years, she had witnessed the horrendous things he had done to the women who were stupid enough to get into his car. Apparently he had a face that ladies trusted, though she herself had never had the opportunity to see it.

She could feel her heart accelerating with fear. He was here . . . somewhere . . . in Bay City. She closed her eyes, remembering the sign from the freeway . . .

It was dark and drizzling. She could see the wipers moving back and forth against the windshield of his car, could hear him humming off-key to some song on the radio. She strained to catch a glimpse of his face, or eyes, through the rear view mirror; but his eyes never left the road and all she could see was the dark ribbon of highway through the never ending spattering of raindrops. Yet, in the darkness of the car she could almost ‘feel’ his thoughts.

She sensed that he was in a good mood, feeling proud of his despicable accomplishments, relishing the screams that he had played back over and over in his mind of the young red-head he had repeatedly raped. Seeing in his mind’s eye, the terrified girl’s tear-stained face, the horror in her beautiful green eyes, as she saw the large butcher knife that he held above her . . .

Abruptly, Mari could sense his thoughts shift away from the brutal murder he committed and she knew without a doubt that he was now thinking of her. She could feel his eyes squint and she “knew” that he was grinning in the dark interior of the car.

The man suddenly focused his attention back to the road, looking to the off ramp from the I-5 and she could see the sign hanging above: Bay City . . . 11 miles. Mari could feel him smiling as his thoughts returned to her; she could hear his voice whisper in her mind, “I see you Mari . . . I know you’re there watching me . . . you can’t hide and run forever.”

She shivered, remembering his whispered taunting. He was right though; she couldn’t run forever. She hadn’t been able to save those girls, but maybe this time . . .

The young Asian woman bit her lip with trepidation, but she felt resolved in her decision. This time there would be no more running. It was time to be proactive . . .

No more cat and mouse games. Playing hide and seek was over . . .

Whatever was to happen, it would happen here in Bay City and somehow . . . somehow that curly haired detective would play a big part in all of it. She would do whatever it took to help the police catch this serial killer . . . maybe this time, they would listen to her.

Despite her resolve and her bravado, she shuddered in fear, as against her will, her mind drifted once again to his beautiful green-eyed victim. She felt suddenly nauseous, her eyes growing wide with horror as she remembered the young redhead sobbing and begging him to stop as he continued to ram the blade into her soft belly . . .

“Whoa . . . you okay girl? Hope it wasn’t anythin’ you ate here, and if it wuz, then I didn’t cook it!”

She lifted startled almond shaped eyes to the tall, skinny man who stood above her, a towel thrown carelessly over his shoulder, his teeth flashing white against his dark complexion.

“I . . .oh I’m sorry . . . I must have been . . .”

“Zoning out . . . either that . . . or you saw a spook,” Huggy grinned, admiring the features of the diminutive Asian girl who sat before him. “Man, by the look on your face, I thought you were gonna toss your cookies!”

The woman smiled, lowering her dark brown eyes from the perceptive gaze of the flamboyant black man. She pushed some loose strands of her hair behind her right ear and looked up at the smiling man. “Sorry . . . my father always said I have the most readable face . . .”

The dark man eyed the tiny woman as she smiled. Although there seemed to be an air of innocence about the young girl, Huggy could immediately sense something was wrong. His street smarts kicking in, intuitively knowing that the girl was in some kind trouble he asked, “Anything I can help you with?”

“Uh . . .yes there is . . . could you bring me a cup of coffee . . . please?” the young woman smiled hopefully, her dark, brown eyes shining in her heart-shaped face.

Huggy grinned, respecting the privacy the girl obviously wanted to keep. “Okay, okay I get it . . . no need to be so polite . . . ain’t none of Huggy’s business. I hear ya loud n’clear, so . . . one cup of coffee comin’ right up.”

The woman laughed softly when she saw the black man wink at her, and she watched as the tall, skinny man sauntered away from her small table. Mari sighed. Her father was right. Anyone could read whatever was on her face at any moment. She would have to be cautious of that . . . especially now with the killer so close.

She turned her attention to the back booth where the detectives sat. A big part of her wanted to run up to the brunet and pour out her fears, knowing he would want to protect her and keep her safe from the destiny she foresaw, and yet, would that be fair? To drag him into this now . . . when evil was close enough to reach out and touch her? She knew that being here was bringing the killer into the path of this man, but her dreams had told her that somehow their destinies lay entwined.

She pondered silently over that thought, rationalizing over and over again the reason why she should just pack up and leave. Yet, she was so tired . . . tired of running, tired of being alone with no one to talk to . . . tired of “knowing.”

Somehow this curly haired man would play a part in all of this she was sure, but just what that part was, she had no clue. Maybe she could help him . . . save him somehow from the horror that awaited him, especially since she had finally found him before the killer did. All she knew for certain was that her dreams always came down to this man . . . his bright blue eyes filled with pain and horror . . .

Mari looked over to the booth in which he sat. Seeing him now, sitting in the corner, as big as life, just a stone’s throw away, boggled her mind. When she came here to scope out the place, she had never thought he would be here tonight. Whatever the universe, or the powers that be wanted, it was certainly pushing it to happen . . . tonight.

She sighed again. Maybe she was pushing it. Maybe it was too soon. She knew she needed to warn him somehow, but how would she tell him without him thinking she was some kind of psychotic nut who needed to be locked up in one of those local mental institutions. God only knew, the people in her own neighborhood wanted to lock her up a long time ago.

‘Excuse me sir, you don’t know me, but I saw you in danger. You see, I have visions and dreams that usually come true, and somehow, you were being hurt by the killer who has been after me for some time now. I’ve decided to come here to warn you about it.’

The young woman snorted softly to herself, disgusted with the dialogue she made up silently in her head as she imagined herself walking up to the two detectives. “Just brilliant Mari!” she whispered sarcastically under her breath.

“Brilliance is the shine of your long, ebony hair” Huggy said, bowing gallantly over his arm as he placed the cup of coffee before her. “Your coffee is served Mari,” he grinned at her startled look. “I heard ya,” Huggy chuckled, “Not only do you zone out, but I see you talk to yourself too.”

“Oh . . .” she said lamely, feeling the heat of embarrassment in her cream colored cheeks, “I really have to stop that!”

“Hey Hug . . . we’ve been waitin’ all night for ya . . . I think Hutch might need another cold one,” Starsky said, on his way to the restroom, “What’s takin’ ya so long? Hey . . .” the brunet smiled down at the quiet young woman whose eyes widened as they connected with the twinkling blue orbs from the man in her dreams.

Mari smiled hesitantly, not knowing what to say with the sudden appearance of the very same man whom she had been wrestling with herself all night to talk to.

“Hey . . . have I met you before?” Starsky asked, frowning slightly, but offering her his patented grin that lit up his whole face, “Huggy . . . shame on you . . . keeping this lovely lady all to yourself back here by the john. No wonder we couldn’t find ya all night . . . and we thought it was just busy!” The brunet turned to Mari and winked playfully.

Huggy smiled down at the young woman, “May I introduce you to my loud friend . . . this . . . is David Michael Starsky, and this . . .” the tall skinny man said, extending his palm out towards the dark haired woman, “Brilliant girl . . . is Mari.”

“Hi . . .” Mari stammered, blushing even more, “I was um . . . I . . .I was being sarcastic when I said that . . .” she finished lamely, feeling even more embarrassed under the scrutiny of those intense blue eyes.

“She was talkin’ to herself and my sharp ears picked up on her conversation.” Huggy grinned.

Mari softly smiled, shrugging lamely, “It’s an annoying habit I have . . . one of many I’m afraid . . .”

“Yeah?” Starsky smiled, seeing her blush profusely, something about the shy Asian girl warmed his heart. “Then you should meet my friend Hutch . . . he has a lot of annoying habits too, just like you . . . he’s in the corner over there,” the brunet said, flicking his thumb over his shoulder, haphazardly pointing in the direction of his booth. Starsky reached his hand out to hers on the tabletop, and taking it firmly in his, he shook it, “Nice t’meet ya Mari.”

She tried to prevent him from touching her, standing up in the process, her wooden chair falling to the ground, but time suddenly seemed to stop, the air became thick and heated, swirls of sharp colors whirled around . . . vibrant bloody reds and deathly black ensnared her, suffocating her senses until the background noises of “The Pits” faded into obscurity and the vision took hold.

The sound of her heartbeat vibrated in her ears, “He’s there . . . I see him . . . he’s there watching you in the night . . .when . . . when you tell the woman to leave,” she panted, her dark eyes first seemed wild, then they grew distant and unaware, focused inward on something only she could see, her breathing rapid and shallow.

Starsky looked down at where their hands were joined. Her small hand had turned ice cold, her fingers digging into him with a deathly grip. The brunet quickly looked to the black proprietor who frowned and shrugged his bony shoulders.

A sharp gasp brought Starsky’s attention back to the small Asian girl who continued to speak in a voice void of all feeling . . . like she was reciting the events of something from the daily newspaper.

“You try to help her. Y-you go back into the alley calling for her, but it’s too late . . . he has her . . . he’s dragged her by her long blond hair, his hand crushing her mouth to keep her screams silent. He knows . . . he knows . . . about you . . . about me . . .”

A cold finger of fear raced down the detective’s spine. Hearing Mari’s soft monotonous voice, the vacant look in the woman’s eyes filled the brunet with sudden dread. “Hey . . . hey . . .” Starsky said, his voice growing louder as he shook the small woman, breaking her from that trancelike state, watching as Mari’s eyes rolled back, “Hey . . . c’mon . . . you okay?”

Mari would have fallen to the floor had the detective not been holding her up. She snapped to, awareness flooding her being, seeing the curious onlookers staring at her, feeling self-consciously aware of the intensity of the moment . . . the concerned, bright blue gaze that never wavered as he stared down at her, the firm grasp of his hands holding her shoulders. She had to get out, embarrassment flooded her soul . . . she had called attention upon herself . . . she had to get out . . .now!

She breathed heavily, feeling dazed and disoriented, trying to stop the tremors that continued to wrack her small frame. The “episodes” were becoming more and more frequent, probably because her self-preservation ability was kicking in. He was close. He was here in the city and she needed to run . . . now!

“You okay . . . hmm?” Starsky asked gently, stooping to catch a glimpse of the woman’s eyes as she bowed her head. She was very petite, the top of her head coming right above his chest, almost a foot shorter than his five feet, eleven inches. “Whatsamatter? What happened?” the brunet asked, letting the lady go when she started to struggle.

“I-I’m s-sorry . . .” Mari stammered, reaching to the back of the fallen chair to get her backpack and her sweater, “I . . . I have to go . . .” She nearly ran out of the bar and grill in her haste to leave.

Starsky and Huggy watched her go; the brunet turned to his long time friend, “What just happened?”

“Hey buddy . . . what’s going on?” Hutch asked, “Thought you might’ve drowned in the toilet or something . . .who was that girl that just ran out of here?”

“Maaan, that was freeeeaky!” Huggy said, the whites showing in his wide eyes, as he stared at the door Mari disappeared through, “What the hell was that?”

“Shit, if I know . . .” Starsky said softly, reaching down to right the wooden chair. The brunet stood to look up at his tall blond friend.

Hutch grinned, “Well, from what I saw . . . either you’re losing your touch buddy, or you offended her somehow . . . maybe something slipped out before you could get to the restroom in time huh?”

“Anyone ever tell ya that you’re a bag of laughs Blondie?” Starsky said sardonically, his face breaking out in a grin as he heard Hutch laugh out loud.

“No Hutch . . . y’should’a heard what she was sayin’,” Huggy said, his face dead serious, “It was like she was in some kind of trance or somethin’”

“Yeah?” Hutch said, looking to his partner, “What happened?”

“Ah nuthin’. . .” Starsky said, shrugging the whole episode off, “She probably freaked out, knowing I was gonna introduce her to you Blintz . . . being that you both have that annoying habit of talkin’ to yourselves . . . oh sorry . . . my mistake buddy . . . you just talk to plants!”

“What?” Hutch frowned, looking over at Huggy, “Now what’s he talking about?”

“Who knows . . . all I know is that she started off saying that someone was watching Starsky here and that one his many ladies was gonna be dragged off and abducted . . . right?” the black man looked at the brunet expectantly.

“Huggy . . . will ya just bring us more beer huh?” Starsky said, chucking the skinny man under his chin, “Look, I gotta go to the john . . . real bad!” the brunet said as he attempted to squeeze between his partner and Huggy.

“Wait a minute,” Hutch said softly, gently grabbing his partner’s arm as he tried to pass, his detective senses kicking into gear after listening to Huggy’s ramblings, “Just who did she say was watching you Starsk?”

Starsky let out an exaggerated sigh, lifting his hands in exasperation, “I don’t believe this . . . do you believe this?” he asked another customer who was coming back from the restroom. The customer stared at the dark haired detective for a minute then shrugged and went on. The brunet looked to his friend, “Hutch . . . can we just forget about this incident . . .huh?”

“Starsk . . . who knows . . . maybe this woman was right . . . maybe she can sense things

. . . see things that others can’t . . .”

Starsky rolled his eyes, “Hutch . . . will you go sit down . . . I gotta pee . . .”

“Or fart . . . if I understood what Hutch was eluding to earlier . . .” Huggy said, throwing in his two cents, grinning from ear to ear like the Cheshire Cat.

“Funny . . . very funny Hug . . .” Starsky grouched good-naturedly.

Hutch picked up some napkins from the table and handed it his partner, “Here, take this

. . . maybe it’ll help . . . you can breathe into it . . . ”

The brunet looked at his friends incredulously, “You know somethin’ . . . you two guys should be comedians . . . you’re a barrel of laughs! Now can you get outta the way? I gotta go . . . now!”


He closed his eyes, savoring the feeling of her fear, seeing her run out from a place called “The Pits” in his mind’s eye. His fingers tightened on the steering wheel of his car as he pondered over the curly haired man who had recently been making guest appearances in his dreams. Who was this man and more importantly, what did he have to do with Mari?

He threw the car into gear and headed for the nearest phone booth at the corner from the cheap motel he was staying at in Bay City. Throwing the car into park, he walked swiftly to the phone booth and flipped through the phonebook within, running his fingers along the tiny letters until he found what he was looking for . . . “The Pits”. He quickly scribbled down the address and the phone number of the place and hurried back to the warmth of his car.

He could feel his heart fill with rage at the possibility of Mari being involved with someone, angrily slamming the door of his car behind him. He breathed heavily through his nostrils, trying to calm himself down. Mari was HIS and nobody was gonna get in the way of that . . . not even a cop! He quickly released the parking brake and started in the direction of the address he held in his hand.

CHAPTER 2 . . .

“G’night Hug,” Starsky said, slapping the thin black man on the back, as they were about to exit his place.

“I think it’s more like good morning,” Hutch said smiling, as Huggy frowned.

“I guess you’re tellin’ me that this night of carousing, will also go on that long tab you two gents have been accruing? The black man said, gesturing to all the empty beer mugs on the table that they were just sitting at.

“We owe you Hug,” Starsky said sleepily, his mouth opening in a wide yawn.

“You don’ need t’tell me that . . . I know you owe me!” Huggy grumbled, as he began to clear away the table, suddenly smiling when he saw the wad of greens under one of the glasses. “Hey . . . anytime you want more beer, your friend Huggy Bear is here!”

The detectives walked out of Huggy’s place laughing in the early morning hours, feeling the effects of one too many beers, but knowing that they didn’t have to report into Metro the next day, lightened their spirits even more.

A blonde prostitute dressed in a short, tight-fitting, low cut burgundy dress whispered to her black co-worker, who leaned blatantly against the concrete siding of Huggy’s place, displaying her wares wantonly. The women giggled, as the fair-haired woman seductively called out, her voice low and enticing, “Hey Curly-top . . .”

The two detectives stopped in their tracks as the prostitute sauntered over to them, her long, golden locks gleaming under the dim lights from the street. She gave the brunet the once over, licking her red lips in anticipation, “Mmm . . . you look mighty fine baby . . . wanna have some fun with me . . . end the day with a bang . . .huh cutie?” The hooker looked over to Hutch, “If your friend wants to tag along, Ginger over there, can fill in.” she nodded her head to the black prostitute wearing fishnet stockings who stood up on her black stiletto heels and winked at the blond cop.

“C’mon baby,” the blonde whispered, boldly reaching up to stroke back the curls from the brunet’s face, “I’ll give you the best head anyone’s ever given you before,” she whispered, as her hand inched down to the front of Starsky’s jeans. She ran her index finger up along the seam of his zipper, when his hand abruptly stopped hers.

The warm pressure on his privates shook the pleasant buzz from the brunet’s head. Starsky cleared his throat, feeling himself blushing slightly, “I wouldn’t go there lady for two reasons . . . the first, is that I’m not interested, and the second, is that I’m a cop.”

The wanton look on the hooker’s face faded and was replaced by fear. She looked to Hutch who smiled and flashed his badge. The blond cop waved his fingers to the black woman who after seeing the glint from the badge, immediately began to walk away.

“Now if I were you miss,” Starsky said, pointing in the direction of the quickly retreating hooker, I would do like your friend over there and call it a night . . . it’s late, and I would hate to have to take you in for soliciting.” The brunet winked, seeing the grateful smile of the prostitute who quickly walked away.

“Anyone ever tell you what a nice guy you are?” Hutch said softly, as his partner watched the platinum blonde walk under a dim streetlight, “Let’s go huh buddy?”

“Yeah,” Starsky murmured, seeing the shine from the blonde’s hair as she passed under the light. Something about that image bothered the brunet and he watched her until the hooker faded into the shadows.

“You comin’?” Hutch called from afar, snapping Starsky out of his silent ponderings.

“Yeah . . .” Starsky said, shaking his head as he stumbled after his partner. ‘Maybe I drank too much,” he thought, silently wondering why the image of the prostitute leaving unnerved him so. He followed quietly behind his partner to the bright red car that was parked a ways down the street.


He could feel hot, red anger rise from his gut when he watched the curly haired cop point in the direction of the retreating black whore. It was obvious the brunet felt he was too good for the blonde hooker and it pissed him off as he watched from the shadows. He hated guys like that . . . guys who knew they had that special something that ladies fell for. This cop, with all of his good looks and charm, knew how to use it, knew how to turn it off and on to fit his own sordid needs, knew how to lure innocent girls like Mari into his trap. Mari was his, and no one was going to take her away from him. He’d fucking kill that cop if he had to. The killer clenched his fists in silent rage . . . I’ll show him . . . it was time to leave a calling card . . .


“Hey . . . you okay?” Hutch asked softly, as they neared the Torino, “You didn’t change your mind about that hooker back there did you?” the tall blond detective joked, noticing how quiet and introspective the brunet had become as walked along the quiet street, finally coming to a stop at the bright red car.

“I don’t know Hutch . . . something about her keeps naggin’ at me.” Starsky said quietly, looking over the top of the Torino’s roof at his blond counterpart, “You ever get the feelin’ that you just missed something important . . . like when you skip over a missing puzzle piece that you’ve been staring at all night . . . I mean, it ‘s right there in your face, but you just can’t see how it fits?” The brunet suddenly opened his mouth and yawned widely.

Hutch snorted softly, “I think you need to go to bed buddy . . . you’re tired, your mind’s on overload especially with the Interstate murders that Dobey was drilling us about. You’ll feel better once you get some rest.” Hutch said gently, his eyes softening with fondness for his exhausted friend, “Want me to drive?”

“What . . . and get us both killed?” Starsky said sleepily. The detectives grinned, remembering a time in their past when these exact words were spoken. Starsky winked at his partner and fished the car key from his pocket, inserting it into the lock; his hand stopping in mid-turn as dark brown eyes, distant and unaware floated through his memory . . .

“He’s there . . . I see him . . . he’s there watching you in the night . . . when . . . when you tell the woman to leave . . .” The soft voice that whispered in Starsky’s mind, floated away on the sudden gust of wind that blew down the quiet street.

“Hey . . . it sure would be nice to get out of this wind buddy,” Hutch said softly, concern deepening the ever present crease between his brows, “You planning on standing there all night?” The tall blond knew something was bothering his partner, but for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out what it was.

“Huh? Oh . . . yeah, sorry . . . here . . .” Starsky said, tossing his partner the silver key over the shiny, red roof, “Get in the car and turn on the heater.”

“Where you going?” Hutch asked, the surprise look on his face made the brunet immediately grin.

“Back to Huggy’s . . .gonna check out a missing puzzle piece . . .” Starsky said, hunching his shoulders against the chilly night air, as he jammed his hands into the pockets of his jacket.

“What?” Hutch questioned, watching his partner as he walked back towards the bar and grill.

Starsky didn’t bother to answer, suddenly feeling the urgency to get back and check out the hunch he had. In his mind’s eye, he could see the hooker’s bright, blond hair as it shone under the light from the streets and he once again thought of Mari.

It was strange how he suddenly recalled the soft warning from the petite Asian girl, when he hadn’t thought about her all evening once she had left. Now, as he got closer to Huggy’s, he could feel the heavy hand of fear as it rested upon his shoulders. He began to walk faster, gradually increasing his pace until he found himself jogging.

The brunet stopped in front of “The Pits”, his detective senses on high alert though he didn’t know why he felt uneasy. About to walk to the door, he suddenly remembered the rest of what Mari had said before she made her hasty exit

“You try to help her. Y-you go back into the alley calling for her, but it’s too late . . . he has her . . . he’s dragged her by her long blond hair, his hand crushing her mouth to keep her screams silent. He knows . . . he knows . . . about you . . . about me . . .”

The alley. Starsky turned and ran to the darkened alley a couple of blocks away from Huggy’s, drawing his piece from his holster beneath his jacket. Holding his gun high, he pressed his back against the wall at the mouth of the alley. Taking a deep breath, he whipped around the corner, his legs firmly apart, crouched slightly in a stance to maintain balance. His dark blue eyes darted down the alleyway, adjusting to the darkness within.

It was quiet . . . too quiet; his senses were on overload. He could hear his heart beating wildly in his chest, as he cautiously made his way down the narrow, trash littered walkway. He could hear glass crunching under the soles of his blue Adidas, and he silently cursed himself for his foolhardy eagerness to rush back here. He should’ve had Hutch here with him, watching his back.

He made out the shape of a metal dumpster in the distance, his spine beginning to tingle as he neared it. His senses were screaming by now, and Starsky had the strange feeling of being watched by something in the shadows.

“Hey . . .” he called out, as he crept closer to the dumpster, walking at an angle, keeping his back to the walls of the alley, feeling his heart rate accelerate. He could hear no sound save the whistling from the wind near the tunneled entrance.

He stopped suddenly, his dark, blue eyes spying the shape of something lying next to the dumpster. He closed his eyes, exhaling softly as he made out the bright, golden locks shining in the dim lights from the street. “Shit!” he whispered in the dark stillness of the night.


The dark haired cop whipped around, his gun pointing to his blond partner, “Don’t do that!” he hissed.

“What’s going on?” Hutch asked, walking carefully towards his friend, “What are you looking for?”

Starsky took a deep breath, swallowing hard, trying to get his senses back down to normal, “How’d you get here so fast huh?” he asked his partner who came up beside him.

“Had the key remember?” Hutch grinned, holding it up, silver flashing in the dim light, “What’s going on?”

Starsky nodded in the direction of the body, “You tell me . . .”

. . . CHAPTER 3 . . .

The flashing lights from the police cars lit up the quiet night, eerily illuminating the small group of silent onlookers who stood at the mouth of the alley. Starsky looked back from where he stood by the dumpster, the strange sensation of being watched, once again flooding his being.

He silently scanned the expressionless faces of the street bums and hookers who quietly stared, as one of ‘their own’ was put into the coroner’s wagon and taken away. To the detective, their silence seemed almost apathetic; a tragic ending that to them, seemed almost commonplace and everyday. The brunet heaved a heavy sigh, turning his attention back to the forensic team packing up to leave, as Hutch came to stand beside him.

“Huggy just left . . . said this was gonna be bad for business . . . hey . . . you okay?” Hutch asked, laying his warm hand on the brunet’s shoulder, reading the weariness in his partner’s eyes.

“Yeah . . .” Starsky sighed softly, staring at the spot where the blonde was murdered, “You ever get tired of this job Hutch?”

Hutch glanced at his partner, concern etching his features, “Hey buddy . . . that’s not like you . . . you’re beginning to sound like me . . . what happened to the bottle being half full?”

The brunet shrugged then snorted softly, “Okay . . .” he sighed once more, “Okay . . . let’s call it a night huh?”

“Yeah . . . we’ll file a report in the morning.” Hutch replied, gently squeezing the brunet’s shoulder before he let it go, turning to walk out towards the street.

“So much for having the day off tomorrow.” Starsky grumbled, under his breath, following the blond out of the roped off alleyway.


“Wanna talk about it?” Hutch finally asked the next morning, eyeing his silent, brooding partner, as they drove along the main boulevard. Hutch had picked up the brunet a little later than usual, hoping the extra hour would give Starsky the time needed to recuperate from the night before, but the blond could sense his friend’s moodiness the minute he sat down in the car.

Hutch kept his eyes on the road as he thought about his partner. After they’d left the crime scene late last night, Starsky had barely spoken two words the whole way home. He seemed lost in thought and when he dropped Hutch off, the brunet barely showed any sign of acknowledgment when he heard his partner reminding him that he would pick him up in the morning. Hutch glanced over at quiet brunet, hopefully the little surprise he bought, would cheer up his despondent partner.

“Brought you some doughnuts . . .” the blond said, holding up the small, white bakery package that sat on the seat between them; almost lost in the clutter and paper that was strewn all over the battered interior of the LTD.

Starsky absently turned from the window and looked to the bag, “Huh?”

“I said I brought you some doughnuts.” Hutch grinned, shaking the bag enticingly, smiling when he saw the happy, excited expression that came over his friend’s face, as he turned his eyes back to the road.

“Hey . . . for me?” Starsky grinned, reaching out with eager fingers for the bag.

“No . . . for your mother. Of course for you dummy, but you gotta promise first.” Hutch said, holding the bag just out of reach.

“Wha’? Hey . . . that’s bribery . . .” Starsky grumbled, his face immediately falling into a petulant pout.

Hutch grinned, then lowered his voice temptingly, “There’s a sugared one and a chocolate sprinkled one and the white powdery one that you love so much Gordo . . . right there in that bag . . . all you gotta do is promise me that we’ll talk, then you can eat okay? Don’t shut me out buddy.” Hutch finished softly, sky-blue eyes looking over to connect with his partner’s dark, sapphire ones.

The pout faded, replaced by a look of concern, “Aww Hutch, I wasn’t tryin’ to shut you out . . . just been thinkin’ s’all,” the brunet said, as the dented, brown car came to stop at the red light; Hutch looked over at his introspective partner.

“Yeah? Well, try thinking louder,” Hutch grinned, “What’s been on your mind? What made you double back last night? Just how did you know that hooker was in the alley?”

Starsky sighed, raising his dark brows and shrugging, “That’s what I’ve been thinkin’ about all this time. I saw her blonde hair shining under the streetlight as she walked away from us, and it somehow made me think of what that girl at Huggy’s said.”

Hutch frowned, “You mean the one who ran out?”

“Yeah . . .” Starsky replied, his forehead creasing in a frown, “Hutch, you know how I feel about all of this psychic mumbo-jumbo. I mean for the most part, I think a lot of it is hogwash.”

“I know . . . I was there on that Haymes case when we used Collandra’s help remember?” Hutch said, “You sure gave that poor guy a hard time.”

Starsky snorted, “Yeah? Well, he gave me the creeps!”

The blond laughed, but soon quieted as the brunet continued, “ I don’ know Hutch, last night, after that girl left Huggy’s; I didn’t even give her words a second thought, but watching that hooker walk away from us, seeing her hair shining under the light like that, made me remember what she said . . . I mean I could almost hear her soft voice whispering in my head. That’s what made me go back.” The brunet thought silently for a few seconds, and the blond quietly watched the emotions that flitted across his friend’s face.

“I mean,” Starsky continued softly, “She saw all of this happenin’ before it happened. She said, that I was being watched and that I would go back in the alley and find the blonde dead . . . and last night in the alley, I swear Hutch, there were times that I really felt eyes watchin’ me in the dark.” The brunet shivered suddenly, remembering the eerie feeling of being watched when no one was there. “And yet, when I looked around, there was nobody there . . . I don’t know . . . maybe I was so spooked, I was just imaginin’ things in my head.”

“Or maybe it was a voodoo priest or a vampire stalking you . . .” Hutch grinned sarcastically, knowing how his partner feared those silly things that he watched on those awful B movies he loved so much.

“Funny Hutchinson,” Starsky sulked, “Still playin’ the part of the comedian from last night huh? Ya mind tellin’ me when you’re done with the jokes?” The brunet grouched, slouching back into the uncomfortable seat of the LTD, although his dark, blue eyes twinkled with amusement.

Hutch snorted softly, “Starsk . . . it’s just that you’re so quick to be skeptical when it comes to psychics, but just mention a vampire and you’re the first one buying garlic and crucifixes. Why is it so hard to believe that there are some people out there with more developed senses? I mean, we’re cops and we follow our “hunches” all the time out there on the streets, many times that’s what saves our necks. Look at you . . . what made you go back and check on that streetwalker last night . . . you had a ‘hunch’ right? And you followed your instincts. Believe it or not buddy, on a very simple level, that’s what psychics do.”

Hutch looked back to the road, letting his partner stew on what he had just said. Thinking quietly, Hutch gently stepped on the accelerator when the light turned green, “Okay let me ask you this . . . do you think this girl had anything to do with the hooker’s murder?”

“No,” Starsky said softly, his eyes once again scanning the streets through his side window.


Starsky turned to look at his partner who had his pale, blue eyes fixed on the road, “What? See what?”

“You answered without really thinking about it . . . you said that this girl wasn’t involved with the murder because you ‘intuitively’ sensed that. Logically, we would assume she had something to do with the murder because she knew about it before it happened right?”

“Yeah, but Hutch . . .”

“No, hear me out Starsk . . . you answered as quickly as you did, because you “know” she has nothing to do with that hooker’s death, with the exception of maybe “seeing” it in her head before it happened. I ‘know’ she’s not involved in this murder either, because my gut tells me so, and I didn’t even meet this woman. Hutch glanced over at his quiet partner with a grin on his face, “Do you know that what you just did . . . following your intuition, making snap judgments and reactions on gut instinct . . . that can all be labeled as “psychic.”

“Her hands weren’t big enough,” the dark haired detective mumbled.

Hutch turned to look at the brunet who continued to stare out the window. “What?”

Starsky turned to grin at his perplexed partner, “Her hands weren’t big enough to wrap around the hooker’s neck and she definitely wouldn’t have had the strength to strangle the blonde. That girl at Huggy’s was too small; logically there was no way that she could have done it. I don’t need to be ‘psychic’ to know that!” The brunet chuckled when he heard his partner snort.

“You could’ve just told me to shut up,” Hutch smirked.

“What? And miss out on all of that mumbo-jumbo spiel from the college graduate?” Starsky joked, “Anyway, maybe she knows more than what she saw at Huggy’s.”

“Well . . . we could look for her? What did she look like?”

“Small, Asian, long dark hair, dark brown almond-shaped eyes . . . her name was Mari, I think.” Starsky said, “She could be anyone or anywhere . . .” Starsky sighed heavily, his blue eyes roaming the streets through the side window, though he was not really registering anything he saw.

“How was she dressed?” Hutch asked, eyeing the people walking along the sidewalk through the dirty front windshield of his LTD.

“Hmmm?” Starsky looked from his window to his partner, “Dressed . . . um . . . brown tee-shirt, white sweater, jeans, a backpack . . .”

“A backpack?” Hutch reiterated, looking to his partner, “Maybe she’s a college student, or maybe she’s on the run . . . we could check some of the cheap motels around here . . .”

“Yeah . . . hey . . . that’s a good idea . . . anyone ever tell you that you should be a detective? Or better yet . . . a psychic?” Starsky grinned and held out his hand.

Hutch snorted softly, handing the package over to his partner, who peeked with quiet anticipation over the lip of the bag, his eyes widening with wonder.

“Hey . . . you even got jellied ones Hutch!” Starsky said, his eyes shining with happiness.

Hutch chuckled, enjoying the look on his partner’s face. ‘Like a little boy,’ the blond thought fondly, unable to resist reaching over to ruffle his partner’s curls, “Just for you buddy.”

“Hey . . .” Starsky said, reaching in for a powdered doughnut, “This one’s for you . . .” he said, leaning over, as he offered it to his friend.

“No thanks Gordo . . . already had my shake this morning,” Hutch laughed, “Those are just for you, but you better hurry before we get to the station or you’ll have to share ‘em with Dobey.”


“Well I can see you had breakfast.” Dobey grumbled, the minute the detectives walked into his office, “I ah . . . don’t suppose you brought any for me?”

“What?” Starsky said, eyes twinkling as he feigned innocence, “Don’t know what you’re talkin’ about Cap.” The brunet looked over to his partner, who tapped the side of his own mouth. Starsky rubbed the corner of his mouth and saw the tell tale white powder on his fingertip.

He grinned stupidly at his frowning Captain, “Oh . . . that breakfast . . . ah …nope . . . Hutch ate ‘em all . . . just had one for myself . . . a white powdered one.” The brunet held out his finger to show the white smear to the dark man.

“Starsky . . . shut up and sit down.” Dobey growled. The large man shuffled papers on his desk then looked up at both his men. “What happened last night? When I came in this morning and heard that a woman was found slain I was worried that the Interstate killer had arrived in Bay City, but the M.O. is all wrong.”

“Yeah . . . she was strangled.” Hutch said, “He did it with his hands from the marks on her neck.”

Dobey looked at the report from the lab, “And from the size of those marks on her neck, we can assume he was a big man. He must’ve been wearing gloves . . . no prints.” Dobey put down the papers and glared at his men. “Anyway, it’s a relief to know that it’s not the Interstate Killer . . . that sick bastard uses a knife in the murdering of all of his victims. And it’s usually girls who come from good homes . . . no streetwalkers in his M.O.”

“What makes you think that psycho is coming here?” Starsky asked, carefully placing his feet on the edge of Dobey’s desk.

The large, black man glared at the brunet, but said nothing, “From the reports that they’ve sent down, it seems he’s travels the 1-5. The killings started in Canada bordering Washington State. They found more murdered girls fitting the M.O in Washington and Oregon and in northern parts of California . . . Bay City is right along the killer’s path . . . we’d be more than lucky if he chooses to pass us by.”

“So any of you care to tell me about what happened last night . . . how you two came across the body?” Dobey continued gruffly, staring at his men from across his desk.

“We were at Huggy’s last night, having a few beers, since we didn’t have to report in today.” Hutch replied.

“And?” Dobey said, his blood-shot eyes shifting to the brunet, “Starsky get your damn feet off my desk!” The Captain growled, turning his attention back to the blond when he spoke.

“And . . . when we were leaving, some hookers approached us and tried to solicit themselves for a last go around before they ended their work day. We sent them on their way and went to the car to go home.”

“And?” Dobey said, when the blond paused, “You still didn’t tell me how you found the body.” The perceptive black man turned his gaze on the silent brunet who sighed and raised dark, blue eyes to his Captain’s face.

“I found the body, Cap.” Starsky said softly, “When we got to the car, I tossed Hutch the key and told him to start the heater, then I doubled-back and found her in the alley next to the dumpster. The rest is history.”

“Yeah, the rest is history, but it still doesn’t explain why you doubled back? What made you go back to that alley . . . how did you know that hooker was in trouble? Did she scream, or did you hear her struggling?” Dobey pressed.

Starsky sighed and leaned his head back on the top of the backrest of the chair, he closed his eyes wearily, “Long story short Cap, there was this girl at Huggy’s. A small, Asian woman, long, black hair, answers to the name of Mari . . . she’s uh . . . barely over five feet, not more than a hundred pounds or so. When Huggy introduced us, I grabbed her hand, intending to shake it and all of sudden she starts wiggin’ out on me . . . tellin’ me that this blond girl was going to be dragged into a dark alley by someone who was watchin’ us. She ran out after that. Later on, when we left Huggy’s and Hutch n’me sent the blonde prostitute on her way, it dawned on me that it was the exact same scenario that Mari described. I went back to check on the hooker, and found her dead in that alley.”

“You telling me, this girl . . . this Mari, is a psychic?” Dobey raised one brow doubtfully.

“I’m telling you how it went down last night,” Starsky said irritably, “Whatever happened at Huggy’s with Mari, it was damn freaky. It scared the shit outta Huggy.”

“We want to find this girl, Captain,” Hutch said, resting his hand soothingly on his partner’s shoulder, “We want to put out an APB and bring her in for questioning. After we write up the report, we want your permission to go out looking for her.”

“She was at Huggy’s last night . . . does he know her? Why don’t you just ask him?” Dobey said, standing up to shove the blue Adidas off the edge of the desk where they were perched, one on top of the other.

Starsky feet landed with a soft thud and the brunet sat up quickly in the chair with a hurt look on his face, “You could’a just asked me to put my feet down Cap.” The large black man rolled his eyes.

“In answer to your question Captain, I think she was just someone who came in from the cold,” Hutch answered, “Huggy didn’t know her from Adam.”

Dobey took a deep breath in, and leaned his chin against a hand propped up on his desk thinking, after a few seconds he said, “Alright, you finish up that report and I’ll put out an all points bulletin on that Asian woman. Once you’re done, you both can hit the streets and find this Mari . . . who knows,” the large man said, shrugging, “If she’s psychic, maybe she can even tell us something about the Interstate Killer.”

. . . CHAPTER 4 . . .

The sun had just about set when they finally called it a day. The two detectives wearily trudged into Starsky’s apartment, the blond flicking on the lights and closing the door, while the brunet went immediately into the kitchen to take two beers out of the ‘fridge.

Starsky tossed a cold bottle to his blond partner, “I don’t get it Hutch, it’s like she’s disappeared. Every lead we had on her went cold. The rooms she stayed at were vacant. The APB turned up nothing. It’s like she knows we’re looking for her and she’s staying one step ahead of us.” The brunet opened his bottle and tossed the small, metal opener over to Hutch who caught it with his right hand. Starsky quickly unsnapped his holster and hung his piece over the edge of the closet door.

The blond opened his bottle and took a swig from it, feeling the cold brew slide down his throat. Hutch ambled over to the couch and sagged wearily into its cushions, “Well, at least we know she’s not a student,” he said, remembering their futile attempts of matching her description and name with the local colleges in the area. “Maybe she’s been doing this for a while now . . . running, I mean . . . probably got good at it.”

“Yeah, but what’s she running from? You should’ve seen her, Hutch . . . she was shakin’ at Huggy’s.” Starsky said, plopping down next to his partner on the couch, “I mean she’s all alone out there . . .”

Hutch sighed and laid his hand on his partner’s knee, “You and I both know there’s a lot of monsters on the streets . . . whatever she’s running from, it’s scared her good.”

“Yeah,” Starsky said softly, his long, dark lashes hiding the expression in his eyes, as he used his thumbnail to rip through the wet paper that covered the sides of the bottle he held. If anyone knew about monsters, it was he and Hutch. Thinking of the young girl out there on streets all alone, troubled the brunet.

Hutch leaned his head on the back of the couch and sighed wearily. He rolled his neck against the cushions to look his partner, who by now, had peeled most of the beer label off, stuffing the wet peels in his empty bottle, the worry coming off of him in waves, “Hey . . . the bottle is half full remember?” the blond grinned.

Starsky snorted softly as Hutch gently slapped his thigh, “How ‘bout if I call for a pizza huh?” the blond said, “We could order a pep . . .” The blond cut his sentence short when they heard a timid knock at the front door. “You expecting company?” Hutch asked the brunet, who shrugged and quickly stood.

Starsky walked over to the door and opened it to reveal the petite, Asian woman he and Hutch had spent the better part of the day searching for. “Hey!” the brunet said, his bright blue eyes widened in surprise.

The girl seemed to cringe, stepping back from the tall man of her dreams, “I-I am s-sorry if this is a bad time . . . I shouldn’t have come, but I knew you were looking for me … I-I should go . . .” Mari stammered, color rising in her pale cheeks. Before Starsky could stop her, she quickly turned and started to run down the steps, her long, dark hair flying out behind her.

“Wait a minute,” Starsky snapped as he raced after her, reaching out to grab her by both shoulders, turning her into his arms as she struggled to free herself.

Pain and light exploded behind her eyes the minute he touched her, time seemed to once again stand still. In her mind, she could see his deep blue eyes, wide with horror and etched in pain. The gleaming blade falling viciously in a downward arc, “Noooo,” she cried out, her eyes rolling upward, as her body grew limp.

Starsky caught her slight frame as she fainted, and he carried her up the stairs, seeing Hutch at the top of the landing.

“What happened?” Hutch said, concern filling his sky-blue eyes, as Starsky easily carried the young woman inside and laid her on the edge of his bed.

“Dunno,” Starsky said softly, reaching out to gently push away strands of hair from her pale face, “She started runnin’, I grabbed her and she just collapsed.”

“She’s just a kid Starsk,” Hutch said softly, his kind heart reaching out to the young unconscious woman, “Wonder what she’s been through . . .”

Starsky sighed and carefully stood up, staring down at her lying still on his bed, “Guess we’ll find out when she wakes up huh?” The brunet turned to look at his partner, “ In the meantime, we should order that pizza . . . she’ll probably be hungry.”

“Yeah . . . I’ll go do that right now,” Hutch said, following his partner out from the bedroom, “Where you going?”

“Gonna get her backpack . . . she dropped it out on the stairs when she fainted.” The brunet pointed out, as he walked through the front door. Starsky picked up the bag and carried it back into his apartment and put it on the couch. He listened as Hutch made the phone order for the pizza; the blond cop walked slowly over to the couch once he hung up, his pale, blue eyes locked on the bag.

“You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?” Starsky said, his dark blue eyes connected to the sky blue ones of his friend, who sat down on the couch next to the bag.

Hutch bit his bottom lip in indecision, “Yeah . . . but I don’t think it would be ethical Starsk . . . why don’t we wait until she gets up.”

“I am up,” a small voice came from the doorway, Mari looked to the bag on the couch, “There’s nothing in there . . . go ahead and look if you want.” she said softly. The young woman looked so small and defenseless, standing in the darkened doorway of Starsky’s bedroom, that both detectives could feel a sense of protectiveness come over them.

“Hey Mari . . . how ya feelin’ huh?” Starsky said, his voice low and gentle, as if he were speaking to a wounded doe, “Why don’tcha come out here and sit down for a bit . . . this is my partner Hutch, the guy with the annoyin’ habits I was tellin’ ya about at Huggy’s . . .” Starsky said with a grin, when Mari’s eyes nervously darted to the tall blonde.

“Hi Mari,” Hutch said, his rich, soothing voice was both gentle and kind, “It’s okay . . . no one else is here, but us. You can come out . . . we won’t hurt you . . . we’re policemen,” he added, hoping that fact would put the young woman at ease.

“I know,” Mari whispered, “But your badges and guns won’t protect you . . . from him,” she said sadly.

Hutch glanced over at his dark haired partner, who quickly returned his look, then grinned reassuringly at the girl, “Look, we can talk about it over some pizza,” the brunet said enticingly, trying to charm the wariness from the girl’s eyes. “It should be here in a little while. Why don’tcha you sit down and I’ll get ya somethin’ to drink. What would ya like?” Starsky asked.

Mari walked hesitantly out into the living room, her dark brown eyes taking everything in . . . from the neatly folded afghan on the back of the couch to the tidy kitchen the curly haired detective walked towards.

“If you have coffee . . . I would . . . most appreciate a cup.” Mari hesitantly said, her voice soft and unsure; reaching the couch to nervously sit on the edge of it, “You have a very nice place . . .”

“It’s home . . .” Starsky replied from the kitchen, as he put the coffee pot on the stove.

The Asian woman nodded, and looked down at her clasped hands, “Home,” she whispered wistfully, so softly did she say this, that Hutch barely heard her. The blond could feel the sadness that emanated from the small woman beside him.

The brunet walked back out to the living room, “Hey . . . a kid like you shouldn’t be drinkin’ coffee.”

Mari smiled for the first time, the haunted look in her eyes fading, revealing a serene and beautiful face, “I’m not a kid, I’m nearly twenty eight years old,” she smiled shyly.

“You don’t look a day over nineteen” Hutch said, eyeing the petite woman. He could tell that she was feeling very nervous and uncomfortable being alone with two men, and his heart went out to her as she looked uneasily around the place. The blond wondered about the man she kept referring to and he knew his partner was probably thinking the same thing, yet he knew Starsky was trying his best to make her feel comfortable so he didn’t broach that topic. “The pizza should be here shortly,” Hutch gently said instead, “In the meantime, can you tell us how you happened to find us here?”

“I know you’ve been searching for me all day, but so has he . . . and because of that, I walked with the shadows.”

“The shadows?” the blond repeated, a frown marring his handsome features.

“The shadows are the people of the streets . . . the ones we walk by everyday and don’t see with our eyes . . . or our hearts. These people fade into the background and are lost . . . they have no one . . . they are like . . . shadows.” Mari said softly.

Starsky frowned, remembering the street bums and hookers who watched the body of the blond prostitute being carted away the other night. He realized then, that he couldn’t clearly remember any of those people . . . their features were just a blur in his memory . . . dark and misty like shadows . . .

“I-I was able to find your home . . .” Mari said quietly, drawing Starsky’s attention back on her; feeling uncomfortable under his bright, blue gaze, “B-because I have seen it before.”

Starsky quickly glanced at his partner, then turned to look at the quiet woman, “You’ve been watchin’ my place?” Starsky asked softly.

The dark haired woman quickly shook her head, “No . . . not like that!” Mari said, her eyes wide with fear, as she quickly stood up, “It m-must look like that, but I promise, I haven’t been watching your place and I haven’t followed you here . . . I just . . .”

“Hey . . . hey . . . take it easy,” Hutch said soothingly, regretfully seeing the fear back in the young woman’s face, “My partner didn’t mean it like that . . . we both know you haven’t been following us.” The girl looked like a frightened rabbit about to run. The blond reached out and gently tugged her back down to sit on the couch, “It’s okay Mari, we know you’ve been running . . . and we know you’re able to see things or know things before it happens.”

The Asian girl looked at the tall golden man sitting beside her, her eyes round and wary, “You know this . . . you know about my ‘episodes’?” she whispered, her small voice barely audible in the quiet room.

“Episodes?” Hutch questioned.

“My dreams and v-visions . . . I call them that,” Mari said in a whisper.

“That night at Huggy’s . . . you had an ‘episode’ didn’t you? You saw the blonde woman being dragged into the alley,” Starsky said, quietly walking over to the couch to crouch down beside her, “You tried to warn me, but I let it happen . . . I didn’t figure it out in time . . .” the brunet said softly, his deep blue eyes sad and guilt-ridden, “She was murdered last night . . . in the alley just like you said.”

Mari closed her eyes and bowed her head, her long dark hair falling from her shoulders, “I know,” she said quietly, “I ‘saw’ it all . . . I thought perhaps this time . . . maybe it would be different . . . that perhaps her life would be spared. I am sorry for the woman.”

Starsky swallowed and glanced up at his partner who knew he was feeling bad. The blond winked compassionately at him and turned his attention to the tiny lady sitting beside him.

“Mari,” Hutch said softly, purposely keeping his voice quiet and low, “Can you tell us anything about the man who killed her? Is this the same man who’s been looking for you all day too?”

The Asian woman turned to stare at the blond man, “Yes. That is why I am here . . . to tell you everything I know. I-I made a decision that I wouldn’t run anymore . . . not from him.”

Mari turned to look at the brunet crouched at her feet, forcing herself to meet the intensity of his blue gaze, “I have come to warn you. He will be coming after you very soon. He dreams of you, and he hates you. He is evil; he has killed other ladies before the one last night, and he was watching you when you came out of the bar and grill. He killed that woman because he wanted you to know that he was finally here, and he didn’t like how you turned her away. He wanted to show you that he was more powerful than you and he used his hands to strangle that blonde woman.”

“Y-you mean that this guy has killed before?” Hutch asked, his growing concern for his partner evident on his face.

“Yes, but this time it was different. In all the other times, he has used a knife on every woman he captured, dragging them into his car, as he travels from state to state along the 1-5.” Mari voice became even softer as she looked into the deep blue eyes locked on hers, “To you, he is known as the Interstate killer, but to me . . . he is the devil.”

. . . CHAPTER 5 . . .

Mari sipped her creamed coffee, her eyes downcast as she lowered the heavy mug to the table. The few bites she’d taken from the pizza, took away the gnawing hunger in her belly and the hot coffee seemed to draw the chill that was perpetually within her, leaving her feeling almost peaceful and lethargic . . .

She smiled, two small dimples appearing under her high cheekbones, as she listened to the comfortable, playful bantering between the detectives. For the first time, in a long time, she felt relatively safe. It was nice to be in a home, and that thought made her ache for her family.

“You okay?”

She raised her eyes to dark, blue orbs filled with compassion, and she silently nodded at the curly haired detective who sat before her, touched that a virtual stranger would be worried about her.

“How ya feelin’” Starsky gently probed, seeing the dark, tired lines under her haunted, brown eyes. He glanced over at his partner who understood his silent concern.

“Better.” Mari lied, lifting the mug to take another sip of the sweetened coffee. “I have to leave soon . . . I don’t want him to find you . . . in your home.”

“What makes you think he’ll come here?” Hutch asked gently, noting the tired lines under the girl’s eyes, “I mean . . . you didn’t “see” anything did you?”

Dark images flashed in the young woman’s mind . . . the sharp knife glinting brightly, as it caught the light while making its downward arc, bright blue eyes filled with horror and pain...

The young Asian woman lifted the mug once again to her lips and swallowed down her fear. She turned to look at the fair-haired man, “No, but if he is looking for me, I don’t want him to find me here,” she said softly, turning to look at the brunet.

“This creep . . . how do you know he’s the Interstate Killer?” Starsky asked.

“How could I not know?” Mari said sadly, “I see what he does before it comes out in the papers. No one can identify who he is and the nickname the newspapers have given him has stuck. The FBI and the police have consistently failed to apprehend him, always one step behind him as he travels from state to state, and that fact alone fills this killer with glee, as he continues to outsmart everyone. He loves knives. He has so many, although he only uses the same large one in every murder that he’s committed. That knife is cherished by him and he always uses it for his special victims,” Mari’s voice was but a whisper, her eyes focusing inward, as she clearly visualized the serrated edge of the butcher knife, dripping with blood, “It is stained with the blood of his prey . . . a memento that he treasures. He means to use it on you. ” Mari said, her voice trembling as she turned her dark gaze to stare into the turbulent ocean blue depths of the dark haired detective, “For some reason, he means to kill you . . . and me.”

The blond cop looked over to his partner and their eyes met briefly before the brunet turned away to look again at Mari, as the girl continued in her soft, frightened voice . . .

“One of girls he killed had hair the color of flames, and eyes as green as emeralds. When he abducted her, he raped her many times, and then stabbed her repeatedly until she was dead. He thinks about her a lot . . . and he’s growing more and more confident, as each of his crimes go undetected and unpunished.” Her hands shook slightly, and she carefully put the mug she held back down on the tabletop.

“Where was this woman, this red-head at the time of death?” Starsky asked, glancing down at the Mari’s hands, as she clasped them tightly together. He remembered how cold they felt as she dug her slim fingers into his at Huggy’s the other night. He glanced up at his blond counterpart, reading compassion in the pale blue eyes of his friend, as the blond stared at the young woman who sat beside him.

“Oregon . . . they haven’t found her body yet . . . they will though in a few days. He buried her in a shallow grave, but the elements and animals have already had their way with her remains.”

“Mari,” Hutch said gently, as she turned to look at him, “Do you know where she’s buried?”

“No . . .” the small woman’s voice quavered, “I just saw the hole that he dug and she was lying in it. Her eyes were open . . . staring up at the sky . . . there was a full moon on the night he buried her . . . I-I could see it’s reflection in her green vacant gaze, before the first shovel of dirt fell on her face.” Mari shuddered at the memory that flashed before her eyes. “It was probably in the mountains somewhere . . . I could almost smell the pine trees and the damp smell of the forest.”

For a minute, it was quiet in Starsky’s apartment, as the detectives silently digested what the young woman had just shared. Hutch was the first to speak, making sure his voice was soft when he asked her another question, “D-did you ever see this bastard’s face in any of your visions Mari?” the blond stammered, the vivid image of the young redhead lying dead in the shallow grave disturbed the sensitive blond.

Mari shook her head sadly, her long, dark hair swaying with that slight movement, “I am sorry,” she said, her dark almond shaped eyes rose hesitantly to meet the pale blue ones of the blond, “You see, I can only see what he sees . . . I can see all of the horrible things he’s done to these women, but from his perspective alone . . . I . . . I know this sounds strange, but it’s like I am looking out with his eyes. I can sometimes feel what he is thinking, but I have never been able to see the evil one’s face. I can only see his hands . . . and they are very large hands. S-sometimes . . . sometimes I used to get the feeling that he knew I could see him, that I was watching him, watching what he did, and now I know for sure that he knows about me. He is very careful about not looking into mirrors or into anything that might reflect his image. He doesn’t want me to see what he looks like.”

“You mean he knows you can see him?” Starsky asked, his eyes shifting to meet the gaze of his quiet partner.

“Yes,” Mari said softly, “I am sure of it now . . . we are connected somehow and he has been able to follow the psychic link or vibrations back to me. It is a game to him. He is powerful, clever and elusive and he knows I fear him greatly.”

“Well you’re safe now,” Starsky said reassuringly, “We’re here and we’ll protect you . . . I promise.”

Mari smiled hesitantly, wanting so much to believe the confident promise of the ruggedly handsome brunet, yet over the years, she had grown to understand and believe in the accuracy of her ‘episodes’ and this time, she knew without a doubt that Starsky’s promise, though sincere and heartfelt, were merely words. Fate had a way of dictating events that were meant to occur and Mari knew that this nightmare was far from being over.

“Thank you. I know you and Hutch will do everything within your power to help me,” Mari whispered, lowering her eyes to the cup before lifting it to take another sip of coffee. She looked up then and asked quietly, “Would you mind if I used your restroom?”

“Sure,” Starsky said, getting to his feet, “It’s right through there,” he said indicating the bathroom door that was shut at the moment.

“Thanks,” Mari said shyly, rising from the edge of the couch, “I guess the coffee is going right through me.” Hutch got to his feet too, taking the mug from the small woman as she passed in front of him. Both men listened to the soft “click” of the bathroom door being locked behind her.

“Geez,” Starsky said, shuddering, “The stuff that poor kid has to see . . . the way she described the killer burying that girl in the moonlight. . .”

“Yeah,” Hutch said softly, returning the coffee mug to the table. The tall detective ran his fingers tiredly through his fine, blond hair, then stretched his back, “I’ll run a check on that as soon as we get into the station tonight . . . and I’ll get in touch with the Oregon State Police Department tomorrow sometime, to check out her story . . . what?” Hutch asked as he saw his partner’s expression change. “Starsk, I know what you’re gonna ask me . . .”

“I don’t think we should bring her in tonight Hutch,” Starsky interjected, “It’s late and Dobey’s long gone by now . . . why don’t we wait . . . let her get some rest. Tomorrow will be soon enough . . .”

“Starsk . . . if she’s right and this is the Interstate Killer, the Feds will have to be notified as soon as possible. If we let her leave, we might never get the chance of bringing her down for questioning . . . she’s a pro at disappearing remember?” Hutch reminded softly.

“Yeah . . . I know,” Starsky said, “But what are we gonna do . . . lock her up until tomorrow morning? I was thinkin’ she could just stay here . . . she’s exhausted . . . you saw the dark circles under her eyes . . . I could keep an eye on her . . .”

“Starsky,” Hutch said, “If what she says is true, then there’s a killer after the both of you. . . you’d be sitting ducks in here! It would be safer for her if we took her down to the station.”

Starsky sighed, knowing his friend’s reasoning was right, but hearing all that Mari had been through brought out compassion in the brunet. There was something about that girl, and her fragile vulnerability that got to him.

The dark haired detective walked over to the window to peer out at the darkened streets below; he turned to his partner, “Look Hutch, she’s been through a lot . . . I mean, we don’t even know half of her story yet . . . and a part of me doesn’t want to even hear it . . . she’s been through hell and back . . . you saw her when I mentioned the word ‘home’, it’s obvious this is the first one she’s been in for a very long time . . . she’s probably been runnin’ so long, she’s forgotten what it’s like to even have a home.”

“Starsk, listen to me buddy,” Hutch said gently, his sky blue eyes softening with affection for his kind-hearted partner, “ I know you’re hurting for her, I am too, but we’re cops first, there’s a procedure we follow . . . we had an APB out on her . . . Dobey is expecting us to bring her in . . .we’ll get her statement, put her into protective custody if we need to . . .” Hutch stopped in mid-sentence, when Starsky raised his hand to silence him.

“Now what?” Hutch whispered.

“Didjya hear it?” Starsky asked, his ear cocked towards the bathroom, obviously listening intently to something.

“Hear what?” Hutch asked.

“The toilet flushing? She’s been in there an awful long time.” Starsky said, walking over to the bathroom. He leaned his ear against the wooden door.

“Oh god Starsk . . . don’t do that,” Hutch said, closing his eyes disgustedly, “She could be doing something . . . private . . .in there. I don’t think she’d appreciate you listening through the door!” the blond whispered.

“I don’ hear nuthin’” Starsky murmured, pressing his ear firmly against the door.

“What?” Hutch asked, his voice still low in a whisper.

“I said I don’ hear nuthin’” Starsky said in a louder voice. He rapped his knuckles against the door, “Mari? Hey . . .you okay in there?” The brunet turned to look at his partner, then knocked once more, “Hey . . . if you don’t answer me, I’m comin’ in . . .”

Starsky looked once again to his blond counterpart who nodded. Grabbing the doorknob, the brunet slammed his shoulder several times against the door until it gave way. The small, tidy bathroom was blatantly empty and still, except for the curtain blowing eerily from the wind coming through the opened window . . .

. . . CHAPTER 6 . . .

She walked along the sidewalk, keeping to the shadows, hearing her heartbeat accelerating as she quickened her steps. He was here . . . somewhere in the neighborhood, searching for her . . . she was sure of it. Somehow he had found her again and she would not be the one to lead him to David’s home. Once again, an image of the dark haired detective’s beautiful blue eyes etched in pain and widened with horror, flitted across her mind’s eye. She clutched her sweater tighter against her small frame, as the wind continued to pick up and blow through her thin clothes. After the warmth of being in a home, the night air seemed extra cold and bitter.

She had forgotten how wonderful it was to sit on a couch in a brightly lit house, surrounded by people who actually listened and spoke with her. Little things like drinking coffee with cream from a mug, instead of a Styrofoam cup was a privilege and a blessing that she had forgotten. So many things about his place reminded her of home . . . the blanket on the back of the couch, the curtains at the window, the aromatic smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen . . . even his bathroom resembled her home . . .

She quickly ducked behind a hedge as the lights of several cars drove past. She crouched down low, peeking out through the leaves until the last car went by. Mari breathed a sigh of relief, closing her eyes wearily, as her she remembered the ‘episode’ she just had in the detective’s bathroom . . . the vision that prompted her to hastily leave . . .


She held the soft bath towels against her face, as she stood in the bathroom, smelling the fabric softener that the detective obviously put into his wash. It smelled clean and fresh, reminding her of her own home. Memories of times long past, flitted through her mind’s eye …

She remembered how her mother used to put fabric softener into their laundry too . . . that was her despised chore at home . . . to fold the clothes and towels for the family. God, what she would give to have that simple, mindless job again . . . what she would give to have her parents and older sister alive and well again.

The day that her life was forever changed, she had been folding the towels. She was just seventeen at the time . . . a teenager who thought she knew all about life. Yet, nothing in her young world would have ever prepared her for the horror of what followed.

She remembered humming to herself in the laundry room, taking the time to make the creases in the right places as her mother had taught her, when she sensed something wrong. Her hands stopped over the white collared shirt she had been working on and she tilted her head to listen, hearing her mother gasp loudly, a soft thud hitting the floor, followed immediately by another muffled thud, as her sister began to sob loudly.

Frightened, Mari crept down the hallway to peek into the living room, holding in her cry of horror as she spied her mother and father dead on the floor . . . neat little bullet holes in their foreheads. Her eyes widened as she heard a muffled scream, seeing the large man on top of her sister, his pants dropped around his ankles, his hips moving erratically as he thrust savagely into her. Mari saw him lift the butcher knife in the air; the downward thrust of the blade buried the knife hilt-deep into her sister’s breast. Mari crept back into the laundry room and silently crawled into the hamper, throwing towels over herself to hide.

She didn’t know how long she stayed in there with the dirty laundry, buried under towels and linens, silent tears running down her cheeks. Her mind had left her for a while due to the shock, but she dazedly remembered strong arms lifting her out, a warm blanket being placed over her shoulders, feeling disoriented and woozy as they guided her out of the bloody living room. She vaguely remembered the soft, whispered words and pitiful stares of neighbors and policemen as they led her to the awaiting ambulance.

“Poor thing . . . looks like she’s in shock.”

“That bastard used a silencer on the gun . . . overheard the cop say that . . .”

“Naomi was stabbed with a butcher knife . . . I wonder why the killer didn’t just shoot her like he did her parents . . .”

“Wasn’t Naomi going to the community college? Poor thing . . . her life was just beginning.”

“Rape and murder right in our neighborhood . . . what is this world coming to?”

Mari’s safe and sheltered world had suddenly been turned upside down. She had been placed in a foster home soon after that, another tragic ward of the state, when the ‘episodes’ started. Visions of people she didn’t even know began to creep into her dreams . . . visions of seeing things and knowing what would occur before it happened.

When she became of age, she left her foster home, enrolling in some night classes as she worked during the day. She later did some research at the library on extra sensory perception and found out that sometimes, latent abilities came to the forefront after a tragic or horrific experience. Pondering this new gleaning of information, Mari carried on with her life, working at a local eatery, renting a comfortable apartment as she put herself through school and tried to piece her life back together again.

On her twenty-fifth birthday, the ‘episodes’ became more intense and Mari began to ‘tune-in’ to someone, seeing things from that person’s eyes. At first it was hazy and unclear . . . visualizing hands setting kittens on fire . . . seeing the blade of a knife carving into the flank of a dog . . . the visions were getting progressively more and more clear, as the deeds of this individual became darker, vicious and intensely cruel.

She knew he was a male by his large hands. When he killed his first woman, Mari went to the police who remembered the poor Asian girl and the tragic murder of her family. They patronized her and dismissed her frantic pleas as stressed induced fears. She knew they shook their heads at her when they ushered her out of the station, the whole small community in which she lived, thought she was a nutcase with her many attempts to warn others of the things that were shown to her through her ‘episodes’.

She knew many people feared her and they tended to stay far away from her, thinking she was mentally unstable. It was because of this, that she was eventually fired from her job. She was after all, ‘bad for business’ as her boss had told her before he let her go.

Isolated and alone, Mari grew more withdrawn and shied away from others, from their whispered stares and accusing pointing fingers. And after all of trouble she went through to inform the police, they had never found the murdered woman’s body, just as they had never caught the man who had murdered her whole family.

It was shortly after that, when Mari realized the killer could sense her watching him. Somehow this person had ‘abilities’ too, and he seemed to follow the psychic link or connection back to her. Her life as a fugitive began the night she felt her senses screaming out to her to run. He had found her, in her little sleepy town of skeptics and non-believers, and she had been running ever since, narrowly escaping with her life.

Mari sighed pressing the soft fabric into her face, feeling her eyes begin to burn with the unshed tears that she held within for so long. “Knock it off Mari,” she fiercely whispered to herself, “No time for crying!”

The woman in her, longed to be held and comforted by someone; a ruggedly handsome face, framed with dark curls and ocean-blue eyes twinkling over a lopsided grin flashed in her mind, but she quickly shoved that image away. There had been many nights on the run, when she had wondered if she would ever have the opportunity to just live a normal life with a husband, maybe some kids, in a nice little house on a quiet little cul-de-sac somewhere . . . anywhere, but life on the streets soon convinced her like nothing else did, that fairytales did not exist . . . the only thing that did exist in her world, were knife-wielding monsters who never gave up the chase.

The small woman sighed, leaving the towel rack to walk to the basin. Mari washed her face with the warm water running from the tap, wiping it with the soft cloth that she took with her. Throwing the towel over her shoulder, she lifted her eyes to the mirror above the sink and stared at herself. So pale . . . her eyes looked almost sunken in, making her cheekbones look even higher than they were. She self-consciously tucked long, dark strands of her hair behind her ears and sighed again. Those detectives must think she looked like a pathetic wraith.

Suddenly the room grew cold, hazy images filled her mind of a street lined with houses. A quiet street, a neighborhood, large hands tightly gripping a steering wheel as the car’s engine hummed quietly. She could tell he was searching . . . searching for her . . . he was so near . . . she could feel it. Her sense of self-preservation kicked in, forcing her to move. Mari shut off the tap water, looking towards the shut door as she heard the soft murmurings of the detectives deep in conversation.

She bit her lip, waffling in indecision, but she determinedly turned her back to the door … damn if she would lead him here into another home. Spying the window, Mari quietly opened it up, feeling the cold draft that immediately entered the room. Before she could change her mind, she quickly crawled through window into the quiet chilly night.


Mari quickly stood, her legs felt stiff from crouching behind the hedge for so long. She perused the dark street, making sure she was alone. Her senses were screaming by this time, as she quickly made her way down to the small grocery store she saw a couple of blocks away from David’s house. If her guess were right, there would be a phone there for her to use.


“Dammit, she’s gone Hutch . . . she took off through the window!” Starsky said, “Better call it in . . . Dobey’ll have our hides if we lose her again . . . Shit!”

After glancing at the open window in the bathroom, Hutch quickly picked up the phone, calling in for back-up. The blond had just placed the receiver down when it immediately rang again.

“H’lo?” Hutch said brusquely.

“David? This is Mari . . .” a small, quiet voice whispered on the other end.

“Mari? It’s Hutch . . .” the blond gentled his voice, “Where are you?”

“Hutch . . . I’m sorry I ran. I’m at the corner store . . . I had another ‘episode’ in the bathroom. I saw him Hutch, he’s somewhere near . . . I didn’t want him to hurt David . . . oh god, I might have led the killer to him . . . it’s all my fault” she sobbed.

“Listen Mari . . . calm down,” Hutch said, as he quickly looked around the empty apartment for his hotheaded partner, “Look . . .y-you stay in that store okay? I think Starsk might be outside looking for you . . . you stay there and we’ll come and get you alright?” Hutch quickly hung up the phone, his heart falling when he spied Starsky’s gun and holster still hanging from the closet door.

. . . CHAPTER 7 . . .

Starsky dashed out into the cold night, his eyes adjusting to the darkness outside, silently wondering if Mari had another vision that had prompted her to run. His eyes darted about as he searched up and down the street, seeing only his bright red Torino parked in front of his house.

The curly haired detective made a quick decision and started sprinting in the direction he thought she would head in. It was dangerous for her to be out here alone, in the dark. If he were a girl, he reasoned, he would make it to the store a couple of blocks down. At least at the store, it would be relatively safe with enough light and people around.

He passed several homes, his mind focused on finding the young Asian woman who had once again eluded him, when suddenly; he felt himself being yanked into one of the many narrow, dark side roads that flanked the main street. He had the air knocked out of his lungs, as he was slammed hard against the brick wall that lined the deserted thoroughfare.

“Uungh!” he gasped, stars exploding in his head as it bashed against the cold bricks from the momentum of the pull. Something razor sharp slashed across his lower abdomen, easily slicing through his thin, light-blue pullover. Gasping, Starsky fell to one knee, his right hand over his lower mid-section, feeling the warmth of his blood as it dripped through his fingers.

Breathing hard, the brunet shook his head, to clear the cobwebs and disorientation away. It was dark and the pain in his lower mid-section made it difficult to think and focus. He automatically reached with his left hand for his gun, only to find it missing. He lifted his dazed blue eyes to his assailant, who stood in the narrow street, his black-gloved hand clutching the large, sharp blade. Starsky gasped softly, blinking to clear his vision, trying to make out the dark shape of the man who stood before him.

“You think you’re something special . . . don’t you pig?” the large man snarled, contempt clearly evident in his voice, “Did you have your way with her yet? Did you fuck her? She was mine you prick and now you’ve dirtied her!”

“You think . . . she would ever be yours . . . asshole?” Starsky gasped, his fingers growing slick as his blood continued to seep out, “She was . . . never yours,” Starsky rasped, purposely trying to goad the perp into making a careless move. The way he was bleeding out, Starsky knew he had to move fast. “And yeah . . . just in case you’re wonderin’ . . . she was damn good!”

“Fuck you, bastard!” The killer snapped and charged the downed man, stopping himself in time from running into the wall, when the detective suddenly curled his body and rolled away at the last minute.

“Starsk? Starsky!” Hutch called as he jogged down the street . . . so far he had seen nothing . . . no sign of his partner anywhere. The blond felt worried, as the cold finger of fear raced up his spine, “Dammit Starsky . . . where are you?”

The large man looked over his shoulder, knowing the cop’s partner was just around the corner. He quickly grabbed the wounded detective before he could get to his feet, knowing the curly haired man was still trying to get his bearings after rolling away the way he did. Hearing the brunet gasping painfully as he pinned him up against the brick wall, brought an evil grin the killer’s hard, cruel mouth.

“You’ll die,” he hissed softly into the Starsky’s ear, “Knowing you couldn’t save her . . . that in the end, she’ll still be mine!” With a vicious upward arc, he drove his blade into the detective’s right side, just under his ribs, smiling with satisfaction when he heard the cop cry out in pain, his body tense and rigid against the wall. The shock and pain in the wide, blue eyes of the detective was forever ingrained upon the killer’s mind.

“Starsky?” Hutch called out, racing down the street when he heard the soft cry of pain in the night.

The large man grinned evilly, his face shadowed by the dim streetlight; his features were indistinguishable as he watched the detective slowly slide down the wall, the knife embedded to the hilt in his side. At the sound of feet running towards them, the assailant took one last look at the bleeding brunet and sprinted off into the night.

“Starsky?” Hutch called out, slowing to walk, as he listened to the stillness of the night. He could have sworn he heard something around this area. The blond looked down the narrow, darkened side street, “Starsk?”

“H-Hutch . . . help.” Starsky gasped softly, as red-hot pain brutally flared with each labored breath that he took. The brunet gasped, sinking slowly to the ground in a crumpled heap, by the time Hutch had found him.

“Starsk?” Hutch said, sliding to his knees next to his fallen partner, “Oh god buddy . . .

d-don’t move.” The sight of the blade’s hilt protruding from his friend’s side sickened the blonde.

Starsky gasped in pain, his vision beginning to blur, “Uungh . . . oh god Hutch,” the brunet panted, his trembling right hand trying to pull the blade out, “H-hurts!”

Hutch grabbed his partner’s seeking hand, restraining it from doing more damage, “I know babe, but I can’t let you pull it out . . . not yet, y-you’ll bleed to death.” Hutch quickly looked his partner over, noticing the pool of blood on the waistband of his jeans. “Shit . . .” he whispered softly, the concern and worry he felt for his friend was etched upon his face. “I-I gotta see where he hurt you Starsk,” Hutch said soothingly, easing his friend onto his back so that he could unsnap the top button of his tight jeans, wincing as he heard his partner’s sharp intake of breath.

Starsky groaned softly, tensing in pain, as Hutch carefully pulled the bloody bottom of his shirt from the waistband of his jeans. “Oh god,” Hutch whispered softly, hearing the sirens approaching in the distance, he looked over the six-inch gash that ran along the lower abdomen of his partner.

“Here . . . use this, we’ve got to stop the bleeding . . .” a small voice whispered above him. Hutch looked up to see Mari holding a towel that she began to shred into strips.

“I took this from his bathroom when I left,” she whispered, her almond shaped eyes locked on the dark haired detective, “It reminded me of home . . .”

“What are you doing here? Didn’t I tell you to stay at the store?” Hutch snapped angrily, taking his worry and frustration out on the small woman who ignored his outburst, as she knelt next to the wounded man.

She wiped the perspiration from Starsky’s clammy face with the edge of the soft towel strip and gently pressed another wider piece along the slashed area of the detective’s abdomen.

Starsky jolted in pain at the slight pressure to the wound, gasping, eyes tightly scrunched. He groaned softly, turning his head away from her as he gritted his teeth to hold back any more unwanted sounds, as he silently surfed through the stabbing waves of pain that bombarded his rigid body.

Mari bit her lip, silent tears streamed down her face. She looked up at the blond, “Listen to me Hutch,” she whispered, “You can’t take David to the hospital . . . he’ll be there . . . he’s waiting to finish what he started.”

“I won’t let him!” Hutch snarled, pressing his large hands over her smaller one to help staunch the flow of his partner’s life-blood that continued to spill out onto the dark narrow road.

“Uungh” the brunet groaned as he tried to twist his body away from the invasive pain that stabbed into his mid-section, his long, dark lashes lifted slightly to reveal a sliver of dark blue.

“Hey buddy . . . take it easy, no, no . . don’t move . . . I’m right here . . . we’re right here

. . . Mari is too.” Hutch said softly, using the gentle voice he reserved for his partner and best friend, the soothing tone, seeming to calm the wounded man who relaxed slightly against the hard, paved road, his eyes drifting to the girl at Hutch’s side.

“H-hey . . .” the brunet gasped, attempting to grin as he saw the worry that marred the pretty features of the young Asian girl. “W-where’dya go . . . huh?” he murmured, his speech becoming slurred as his long lashes lowered once more to fan out across his pale, damp skin.

Hutch could hear the doors slamming as the police cars lined the narrow road.

“Please Hutch, hear me . . . you must take him somewhere else . . . the killer is evil and so very clever, he’s been able to elude the police for over a year now . . . he will succeed in killing David if you do not heed my words,” Mari whispered, nervously eyeing the policemen who made their way towards them. She could feel her whole body trembling in her desperation to make the blond detective understand, but no one had ever bothered to listen to her before . . . why should this time be any different?

Hutch looked at Mari, his pale blue eyes seemed to shimmer like ice in the dark, as they crouched over Starsky. “My partner needs medical attention.” Hutch whispered, barely controlling the rage that wanted to flare up.

“Then get him help.” Mari snapped, keeping her voice low, “Take him somewhere safe and bring a doctor over there,” She looked down at Starsky, her small hand cupping the side of his face, her dark brown eyes softening as she gazed at the wounded cop, then she turned to glare at the blond, whispering desperately, “I feel the special bond you have with this man . . . I know you love him . . . and if this is so, then you must listen to me . . . save him . . . please Hutch!” she begged, seeing once again in her mind’s eye those dark, blue eyes filled with pain and horror. “Please!” she urged.

“Detective, the ambulance is on its way,” a uniformed officer said, crouching low beside the blond cop, his eyes taking in the damage to the downed detective.

“Thanks for calling it in,” Hutch said gratefully, eyeing the name tag of the officer’s uniform, “Roberts.”

“Don’t thank me . . . some anonymous woman called it in as we were heading up here.”

Hutch turned to look at Mari who continued to gaze down at the wounded brunet.

“Roberts,” Hutch said abruptly, making up his mind, “I need you to take my place here and apply direct pressure on Detective’s Starsky’s abdomen. He’s bleeding out. Try not to jar him . . . he’s also got a knife in his side. I need to use your radio to call Captain Dobey immediately,” Hutch said, carefully standing as Roberts replaced him. Mari also stood, her eyes never leaving the blond detective’s face, a hesitant, tiny smile touched her lips, as hope filled her eyes, making them appear almost luminescent under the dim glow of the streetlights.


The safe house was set up like a makeshift hospital by the time the ambulance pulled into its driveway. Starsky was taken into the nearest room that resembled an emergency triage unit. Dobey met them at the doors. “How is he?” the large, black man asked.

“He has a knife wound to his side, the blade is still in there. He’s also got a nasty laceration to his lower abdomen . . . he’s lost a lot of blood Cap.” Hutch said worriedly.

“And the girl?” Dobey queried.

“She disappeared again . . . like a ghost. I walked over to use Robert’s radio to call you. She was right behind me Captain . . . no one saw her leave from that narrow road. There was no way she could have gotten by without anyone seeing her, but she’s gone.” Hutch said softly.

“Detective Hutchinson?” a nurse called out as she hurried over to the blond, “Your partner needs you. Under the unusual circumstance that we find ourselves in, Doctor Bernstein has given his permission to allow you inside, in hopes that you can help with your partner. He’s refusing anesthetics and he’s in considerable pain.

“Go,” Dobey ordered, “Before your stubborn-assed partner does more damage to himself! We’ll talk later.”

“Yeah,” Hutch anxiously agreed, as he hurried after the nurse. The tall blond was allowed into the triage room where his struggling partner was laid out on a roll away gurney.

“Hey buddy . . . take it easy . . . it’s okay . . .” Hutch said softly, grabbing onto his partner’s trembling left hand, as he wearily lifted it, “What’s this I hear about you giving these doctors a bad time huh? You need to let them fix you up buddy.”

“H-Hutch . . . M-Mari . . .” the weary brunet gasped, his pale countenance gleamed with perspiration, his eyelids lowered at half-mast, dark blue peeping out from under heavy, dark lashes.

“She’s fine buddy,” Hutch lied, feeling sick and guilty at how easily that lie came out, but Mari was the last thing that his partner should be worrying about. The blond saw his friend open his blue eyes wider and he knew that Starsky saw right through his fib.

“Ya gotta . . . f-find her Hutch,” the brunet gasped, as he reached out and grabbed his partner’s jacket, partially lifting himself from the gurney in his desperation for Hutch to understand. Starsky cried out softly, feeling the knife slide deeper into his side with the sudden movement. “Uungh,” the brunet gasped softly, clutching the handle that was buried to the hilt, as Hutch gently pushed him back down.

“Take it easy Starsk, d-don’t move,” Hutch soothed softly, sickened by his partner’s rigid, straining body; seeing the knife sticking out obscenely from his friend’s body made the sensitive blond want to throw-up. Hutch gently stroked the sweat-plastered curls back from his gasping partner’s face, “Easy, easy, just lie still buddy . . .”

“He’s . . . g-gonna rape and kill her . . . f-find her . . .Hutch.” Starsky gasped, his bloody fingers still hooked in Hutch’s jacket, as Dr. Bernstein made his way over to the gurney, “She’s all . . . alone . . . out there,” the brunet gasped, his face lined in pain, his rigid body straining with the effort if took to speak

“Shh, okay, okay buddy,” Hutch whispered, “I will, but first you gotta promise to lie still and do whatever the doc says okay?”

Hutch forced a smile to his lips, his sky-blue eyes softening as he saw his partner’s lips tweak at the corners, “H-hey ... that’s b-bribery . . .” Starsky whispered softly, a lopsided grin appearing briefly, before his face once again contorted in pain.

‘Was it only yesterday that his partner had said the same thing when he was offered a bag of doughnuts? It seemed so long ago,’ the blond absently thought, the crease in his brow deepened with concern, as Starsky stiffened and gasped once again with the pain that lanced throughout his body.

“Easy buddy,” Hutch said, gently restraining the hand that once again reached for the blade’s hilt. Hutch watched as the doctor injected something into the IV line that ran into his crook of his partner’s elbow. Starsky slowly closed his eyes; dark lashes hiding the familiar blue that Hutch longed to see once again.

“We’re starting the anesthetics now, we need to take the blade out.” Dr. Bernstein said.

“Yeah,” Hutch said, looking down once more into his partner’s face, listening to the brunet’s soft gasps of pain, wanting to stay, but knowing the doctor was asking him politely to leave.

“Detective?” The doctor said once more, impatience making his tone sharper than before.

“Yeah. Okay.” Hutch replied quickly, irritably, as he took one last look at his partner, hearing his rapid, shallow breathing. As he turned to leave, the blond felt a weak tug on the sleeve of his jacket. Hutch looked back to see his partner’s eyes wearily open once more; his long dark lashes were spiked with perspiration.

“F-find her Hutch.” Starsky whispered.

“I will buddy . . . and you better hang on and get through this, you hear me?” Hutch said firmly, placing his other large hand over his partner’s that still hung onto his sleeve. The tall blond squeezed the brunet’s clammy hand affectionately.

“L-loud . . . n’clear,” came the soft, sarcastic reply. Hutch smiled, gently placing his partner’s hand back down onto his chest, squeezing it briefly once more, before he reluctantly turned to walk out.

. . . CHAPTER 8 . . .

“Well?” Dobey barked, the minute Hutch came out, “How is he?”

The tall blond detective sighed; dry washing his face, as he wearily walked towards his Captain, and sat down heavily in one of the cushioned chairs in the living room. The tall blond looked to his hands and saw that they were stained with his partner’s blood. The sight shook him and he stammered, “They’re g-gonna remove that blade in his side now,” Hutch said softly, worry and concern evident upon his face, as he continued to stare at his hands, “H-he wants me to go out and find that girl, Mari . . . wouldn’t settle down until I promised.” Dobey handed Hutch his handkerchief and the blond smiled a weary thanks and began to scrub at the dried blood on his hands.

“What’re you going to do?” Dobey asked, knowing that his blond detective was torn with indecision . . . not wanting to leave here without knowing the condition of his partner, yet feeling the burden of the promise he made to Starsky, its heavy weight tugging on his conscience.

Hutch sighed heavily, lifting light blue, weary eyes to his captains’, dragging his hand through his hair, as he eyed the large black man sitting across from him, “I don’t know . . . I-I guess I should head out . . .”

“I put as many men as I could afford to out there on the streets to look for the girl,” Dobey said gruffly, wanting to ease the tired blond’s mind, “Why don’t you just wait here until you hear from the doctor. Anyway, you’ll only be distracted out there, wondering about that partner of yours. If they find her Hutch, we’ll be the first to know.”

“They’re not gonna find her Cap, especially if she doesn’t want to be found.” Hutch said in a quiet voice, “She’s walking with shadows right now . . .”

“What?” Dobey said, one brow rose in question, as he looked his detective in the eye.

“Nothing,” Hutch sighed, “It’s just that she’s been on the run for so long, she’s perfected that skill.”

“So what’s been going on with this girl? Did you find out anything else about her?”

“She came over to Starsky’s place last night. Captain, she said the man who killed that hooker is also the same man we’ve dubbed as the Interstate Killer. He’s here now in Bay City. This creep has murdered and raped so many women over the years and for some strange reason, Mari has the ability to “see” the horrific things he’s done. She thinks that he’s linked to her somehow . . . psychically . . . like he knows her every move, and that for some strange reason, Starsk is connected to all of this. She said she knows that the killer is going to try to kill her and Starsky too.”

“Well,” Dobey snapped, “Why the hell didn’t you bring her into the station . . . if what she said is true and this is the Interstate Killer, then she should be under protective custody. We’re also going to have to call the Feds in on this case. They’ve been tracking this killer for a while now, but he’s always eluded them.” Dobey frowned, and then reiterated, “You should’ve called me right away.”

“We would’ve Cap, but then she took off through the bathroom window . . . she knew the killer was coming and she didn’t want to lead him to Starsky’s place . . . she called me from the store she was at, and told me that. In the meantime, Starsky went out to look for her and this happened.” Hutch said softly, as he filled his Captain in on the details.

“Do you know if Starsky got a look at his assailant?” Dobey questioned.

“I don’t know, it was pretty dark and seeing Starsky hurt the way he was, I didn’t even think to ask if he saw the guy.” Hutch replied. “In any case, I think Mari knew Starsky was going to be attacked because she called the ambulance, that’s how we got help there so fast. I thought at first, that it might have been the back-up officers who arrived on the scene who called it in, but Roberts said it was an anonymous call from a woman.”

“And you think this anonymous caller was her?” Dobey asked.

“Who else could it be? And then, she came back to help. She had a towel with her . . . if it wasn’t for that, Starsky might have bled to death . . .” Hutch said with a shudder.

Dobey frowned, “You think she had another one of her . . .”

“Episodes . . . she calls them ‘episodes’ . . . her visions I mean,” Hutch interjected.

“And you really believe what this woman claims? That she is a psychic?” Dobey asked, his brow once again rising skeptically.

“What do you think I believe?” Hutch asked, his voice quiet and soft, as he looked his Captain in the eye, “The question is . . . what do you believe?”

Dobey’s frowned deepened; his dark, brown eyes were bloodshot as he glared at his detective. A few seconds later the large black man sighed, then gruffly said, “Well, obviously I believe something . . . or I wouldn’t have gone through all this trouble of arranging this medically equipped safe house right?”

“Yeah,” Hutch said, his voice warm with affection for his large, disgruntled Captain, who at times, was more of a father figure to both he and his curly haired partner, “I never got to thank you for that . . . for trusting me enough to do all of this for Starsky.”

“Well . . .” Dobey said softly, his voice mellowing a bit, feeling uncomfortable with the emotion that was shining in the blond’s gaze, “I would have done that for any of my men.”

“Yeah,” Hutch said quietly, knowing that his Captain had a soft spot for the both of them despite what he just said, “But thanks anyway . . . it means a lot to me . . . and to Starsk.”

For a long while both men sat quietly, deep in their own thoughts, as time dragged slowly by. Finally Hutch reluctantly got to his feet, drawing the attention of his captain’s gaze.

“You leaving?” Dobey asked.

“Yeah,” Hutch said softly, “I made a promise to Starsk . . .”

“Detective Hutchinson?” Dr. Bernstein said, coming towards them, as Dobey also struggled to his feet.

“We’ve removed the blade,” the doctor said, handing the bloody knife in a clear plastic bag to the tall blond, “I believe this is evidence, although Detective Starsky’s prints must be all over the handle.”

“Yeah, it is,” Hutch said, gingerly taking the bag, seeing the blade stained with a light shade of red and knowing that it was his partner’s blood, made the tall blond feel suddenly weak. He anxiously lifted pale, blue eyes to the doctor’s face and tried to read his expression, “How is he doctor?”

“Despite how awful it looked, your friend was very lucky. The blade missed his vital organs by mere inches. The damage he received on his lower abdomen from the laceration, believe it or not, was worse. He’s lost quite a lot of blood and we had to replace it intravenously with three units while we stitched him up. The abdomen has many tiny blood vessels that run throughout it and as such, any wound to that area will bleed profusely. It’s a good thing you had that towel to staunch the flow of blood.” Bernstein said.

“Is he gonna be okay?” Hutch asked, feeling the weakening sense of relief beginning to wash over him.

“Detective Starsky needed several stitches on the inside, as well as twelve stitches on the outside to close up the wound to his lower mid-section. We’re starting him on an antibiotic drip to prevent infection, however he was very fortunate in that the blade hadn’t sliced deep enough to rupture his intestines. He’s also suffered a slight concussion. It appears he hit his head against the wall or the street when he fell. Like I said before, all in all, your friend is a very lucky man.” Bernstein concluded.

“C-can I see him?” Hutch asked, needing to see for himself that his partner was fine.

Dr. Bernstein pulled off his scrub cap, and wearily pinched the bridge of his nose, before looking the blond in the eye, “They’re cleaning him up now and he’ll be under heavy sedation. Any type of puncture wound is extremely painful, Detective Hutchinson. He’ll sleep well for another hour or two, before he starts to wake up. We’ll probably have to keep him on a regime of painkillers until the pain becomes more bearable.”

“Thank you doctor,” Dobey said, “For coming to the safe house like this and for saving the life of one of my men.”

The doctor smiled briefly, as he shook the hands of both men, “Although this has been highly unusual, I am glad that it turned out the way it did for Detective Starsky. We will be packing most of this equipment up, however, he will have a nurse here to attend to his needs and monitor his stats. She is highly qualified and will alert us at once if there are any signs of infection.

“Thank you doctor,” Hutch said again, feeling ever grateful that once again, his partner was able to cheat the grave. The tall blond watched as the doctor walked away, before turning to his Captain.

The rotund Captain looked at his blond detective, a big smile on his face, “The boy had me worried for a bit,” Dobey finally admitted.

“Yeah,” Hutch agreed, “Look Cap’n, Starsky will be out for a couple of hours, I’m gonna swing back to his place. I just remembered that Mari left her backpack at Starsky’s. Maybe there’s something in there that can tell us more about her.”

“Okay,” Dobey said, “I’m gonna leave in a little bit too. I want to take a peek at your partner first, maybe sit with him for a while, and then I’ll head on down to the station, once the men who are going to watch over your partner arrives. Keep your radio on Hutch. If one of the units out there finds her, we’ll call you.”

“Listen Captain, could you do me a favor if you get to the station before me?” Hutch asked. At Dobey’s quick nod, the blond cop continued, “Last night I wanted to run a check on any missing redheaded, green-eyed females in the Oregon area. Mari said she saw the Interstate Killer raping and murdering a woman with this description. You might also call the Oregon State Police and let them know about the possible shallow grave the body was put in.”

“She saw that too?” Dobey asked. At Hutch’s nod, the large man asked, “Do you know around where the body was buried?”

“She wasn’t too sure on that; it was probably somewhere in the mountains. She could smell pine trees. She said it was a shallow grave that the killer dug and that the elements and animals probably already did a number on the victim’s remains.” Hutch said, suppressing a shudder as an image of shoveled dirt falling over green moonlit eyes came into mind.

“Okay,” Dobey said again, “Want me to take that in too?” the captain said nodding to the clear plastic bag holding the knife used on Starsky.

Hutch looked to the bag he held in his hand and lifted it at eye-level, “Nah, I’ll take it with me . . . if I find Mari, maybe she can get a reading on this knife that will lead us to the killer. In any case, I’ll bring it to the station and give it to the lab once I get there, but I already know they won’t find anything except Starsky’s prints on it. I’d rather place my bet on Mari . . . if we can find her in time.”

. . . CHAPTER 9 . . .

Hutch threw his car’s gear into park and walked up the familiar stairs to his partner’s apartment. He opened the door with the spare key Starsky had given him when he had first moved here. The place was quiet and empty, strangely reflecting what Hutch was feeling inside. Without Starsky at his side, the blond felt like he wasn’t complete, like he was missing his arm . . . or his heart. 'Maybe both,’ the blond thought silently to himself. His mind drifted once again to his partner, wishing he could be there to comfort him when he awoke from the anesthesia.

Shutting the door with a sigh, Hutch walked over to the couch where the small, black backpack still sat, quickly opening it up to look within. The blond took out the few, neatly folded articles of clothing, a small bag of toiletries, a little travel clock, a brush, and a wallet. It was obvious that Mari traveled very light.

Picking up the wallet, Hutch opened it, seeing the few dollar bills and coins that she carried. He silently wondered how she managed to survive on so little, surmising that she probably took odd and end jobs in whatever state or town she ran to, earning just enough to keep her going . . . to keep her safe.

Hutch took out the plastic photo sleeve, seeing a picture of what was obviously Mari’s family. She looked so young in the picture, smiling confidently, her dimples appearing under her high cheekbones, hair shining, falling becomingly around her heart-shaped face. She looked secure and happy, so different from the woman who had sat on this very same couch just the night before.

Hutch’s pale, blue eyes skimmed over the faces of her parents and her older sister who was also very beautiful in an exotic way. The blond quietly wondered what had happened to this girl’s family. Where were they? Why weren’t they looking for Mari? Behind the picture in another plastic sleeve was Mari’s driver’s license. Hutch took this out, reading her full name softly, “Mari Miyamoto.” The license had been issued in Washington State. Hutch got up and made a quick call to the station to check up on the information he had gleaned from the few things in Mari’s bag.


The window of the battered LTD had been left opened, enticingly beckoning anyone to look inside. Mari silently wondered why people would tempt fate and be so foolish as to leave their cars and themselves vulnerable to attack. Didn’t they even know that predators lurked about, looking for opportunities like this?

Her mind drifted back to another girl who was murdered in Washington by the bastard that hurt David. That young girl had been foolish enough to leave the window of her car down, as she dashed into the library to quickly return some overdue books. Upon returning to her vehicle, she jumped in and drove off, never suspecting that someone would be hiding behind the seats, crouched down low with a knife in his hands, never once thinking that this would be her last day on earth. Mari shuddered and focused her attention back to Hutch’s car.

She thought briefly back to last night, joyfully amazed at how the tall blond had actually listened to her, calling his captain to arrange a safe house for David with a medical team on hand, ready to help him. She smiled; hope once again shining in her brown eyes, as she thought of the dark haired detective. Perhaps now, he would be safe and that image of him, his dark blue eyes filled with pain and horror would be something of the past.

She mulled over that for a minute, silently wondering if the image she kept seeing of the David came from his attack last night in the narrow street. Sometimes her ‘episodes’ and dreams were not always very clear to interpretation, but her heart told her that the dread she felt whenever she dreamed of David’s eyes had something to do with death, and she knew for certain that David was still very much alive.

She quietly looked up at the windows to David’s apartment, knowing Hutch was within, probably going through her meager belongings. She had come back to claim them herself. It was time she left . . . staying here in Bay City would only endanger David again, and in his weakened state, he would be no match for the demon who haunted her dreams and followed her like a ghost.


“Yeah . . . I see,” Hutch said, “And nobody in the town of Blaine, Washington knew what became of her since she left the foster home she was put in?” Hutch asked, his heart heavy and sad for what Mari had endured in her childhood, “I see . . . this town . . . Blaine . . . this sits near the border of Canada right? Yeah . . . okay . . . wait a minute,” Hutch said as he fished his notebook and a pencil from his back pocket.

The blond quickly scribbled down notes to himself, “So her last place of employment there was at a local eatery called, ‘Sam’s Haven?’ Yeah . . . okay. Look, is Dobey in yet? No, no it’s okay. I’ll be in shortly myself and talk to him personally . . . yeah, thanks for the info.” Hutch hung up the phone and looked up to see Mari standing hesitantly in the open doorway.

“Mari?” Hutch said gently, walking slowly towards the door so that he wouldn’t scare her off, “Hey . . . I’ve been worried about you . . . Starsky too . . . he wanted me to find you.”

“Really?” Mari said softly, feeling a slight crack splinter the wall she had wrapped around her heart for so long. Could it be possible that someone really cared about her? “David . . . is he okay?” she whispered, her heart told her he was, but to hear it from Hutch would validate her feelings.

“He’s fine.” Hutch replied, keeping his voice gentle and soothing, “They operated on him earlier. Although he lost a lot of blood, the knife thankfully missed his vital organs. They’ve sedated him to keep him still, but he should be coming out of it shortly. I’d like to be there when he gets up and I know he’d like to see you again . . .”

Mari bit her lower lip in indecision. She wanted to see David and make sure he was fine, if only for one last time, but fear kept her back, “I-I don’t know Hutch . . . I just came in here to get my things and tell you that I’m leaving . . . I was hoping you would tell David goodbye for me.” She said softly, her eyes dropping sadly to the floor.

“I’m sure Starsk would want to say goodbye to you himself . . .”

“I have to leave now,” Mari interjected softly, looking the detective in the eye, “If I leave Bay City, then the demon will leave too. He will follow me wherever I go. He mustn’t find David when he’s weak and unable to protect himself.”

“Listen to me Mari,” Hutch said earnestly, cautiously walking up towards her until he was standing next to her, his blond head towering above her. “You cannot keep running forever. I mean you’re good at slipping away, becoming one of the shadows, but you’re tired, and one day you’ll slip and he’ll find you. You need to let us help you . . . l-let me take you into the station and introduce you to my Captain. He’ll put you under protective custody . . .”

“No!” Mari said, eyes wide with terror, “No . . .please Hutch, just give me my bag and I’ll go . . .”

“Mari,” Hutch said gently, his voice soft with compassion, “I know . . . I know about your family . . . about what happened . . .” The blond cop watched as Mari slowly backed away from him, her haunted eyes widening in fear. She quickly turned to run out the door, but Hutch grabbed her slender arm, pulling her into his strong embrace, feeling her slight form trembling in his arms, as she finally gave way to quiet tears, emptying her heart, releasing the burden of the pain and grief and abject loneliness that she harbored these many long years.

“Shh . . . it’s okay . . .” Hutch soothed, running his calloused hands down her long, dark, silky hair, feeling his shirt becoming damp with her hot tears. “You’re not alone anymore Mari . . . Starsky and I are here with you now, let us help you.”

Mari looked up into eyes the color of the sky as they hovered above her, feeling Hutch’s thumb as it gently wiped the tears from her cheeks. Taking a deep breath, Mari nodded slowly . . . maybe they could help her. God, she was so tired of running and to feel someone actually holding her . . . she couldn’t even recall the last time she had been held like this. To be touched by someone warm and kind . . . to be embraced by another human being . . . she had forgotten what it felt like . . . forgotten what it was like to be cared about . . .

“Okay,” she finally whispered, nodding hesitantly, seeing the tall blond man smile reassuringly, and taking refuge in his soft blue eyes. “Okay . . . I’ll go with you to the station.”


He sat unmoving for hours watching the comings and goings from the small house, tucked away in an inconspicuous rural neighborhood. He smiled, his yellow stained teeth gleaming dully from the waning sunlight that managed to trickle through the thick leaves of the hedge that he hid under. Did they think he was that stupid? Did they think that he wouldn’t be able to find that no good punk? He had waited at Memorial Hospital for a while, doubling back to the cop’s neighborhood after realizing that they weren’t gonna bring him in.

He cautiously drove by the narrow road. Some black and whites were still there, but the ambulance was gone. He parked down the road, angrily slamming the heels of his hands on the steering wheel of his rented car. Breathing heavily, he forced his mind to relax . . . sending out his “feelers” as he silently searched. It was only a matter of minutes before he honed in on the direction his nemesis had taken, and though he didn’t clearly “know” where the curly haired detective was, he knew he would find him. It was only a matter of time. Somehow that cop had become as linked to him as Mari was.

He clenched his fists as silent rage overtook him again, hearing the soft gasps of the cop as he taunted him on that narrow road last night, “You think . . . she would ever be yours . . . asshole? She was . . . never yours. And yeah . . . just in case you’re wonderin’ . . . she was damn good!”

A jealous rage overtook the large man as he lay stomach down on the ground a good distance from the house he had been watching. He had seen the doctors and medical people leaving with their equipment some time ago. He watched as the blond cop, and then later on, a large black man left the house, taking into account, the three plain clothed cops still left within the structure. He grinned to himself, his gray eyes glimmering in the dark, shady spot he hid in, “Soon pig . . . very soon . . . you’ll never get a chance to touch my Mari again.”

. . . CHAPTER 10 . . .

Hutch pushed the clutter over the passenger side of the seat, helping Mari in, as he closed the door behind her and walked around the car to the driver’s side. The tall blond got in and looked over at the diminutive woman sitting beside him, noticing her eyes were glued to something on the seat.

Hutch glanced at the clear, plastic bag holding the bloodstained knife, quickly raising his pale, blue orbs to dark brown almond-shaped eyes filled with horror.

“That’s the knife isn’t it?” Mari whispered, “The one that he used on David last night?”

“Yes,” Hutch said softly, “I’m bringing it into the station . . . gonna send it to the lab. I don’t think it’ll do much good though . . .”

“It won’t,” Mari said softly, her eyes growing distant, her voice becoming almost flat and lifeless as the “episode” took hold, “They’ll only be able to find David’s prints on the handle,” she said without expression, her features were blank and her eyes grew vacant, as she continued to “see” what was only privy to her.

Hutch stared in fascination as Mari continued to whisper, her soft, expressionless voice seemed almost to resonate in the stillness of the car, “He waited last night at the hospital, angry at being tricked, his hands . . . his hands are pounding the wheel. So angry . . . Red . . . he sees red and rage fills his heart. He knows . . . he knows . . . you took David away. He will follow . . . he is waiting there now . . . at the safe house . . . for the right time . . . to kill . . . to kill . . .”

“Oh God,” Hutch whispered, trying to still the hammering of his heart, instinctively grabbing Mari the minute he saw her eyes roll back, preventing her from hitting her head on the dashboard as she passed out. He gently pulled her over, pushing the paper and junk that littered his seat to the floor, so that she could lay comfortably with her head on his lap. Hutch quickly slammed his car into gear and raced back to the safe house, praying that he would be in time. “Hang on buddy . . . just hang on!” he whispered frantically.


Awareness came to him slowly, as he floated peacefully in unnatural slumber. He could hear sounds first, soft muted footfalls that walked around him, his own breathing, strangely labored and shallow. He felt his wrist being held for a minute before it was gently put down once again. He felt uncomfortable, feeling the pain in his side and gut as it slowly registered in his brain.

Groaning softly, Starsky groggily opened his eyes, a sliver of blue peeking out from under dark, long lashes. He closed his eyes again, his lashes fanning out across his pale cheeks, effectively shutting out the bright light that filtered in from the windows, hurting his eyes. He tried to move and gasped sharply, “H-Hutch?” he rasped, his mouth felt like it was full of cotton.

“Just lie still now,” a woman’s kindly voice was heard, “Don’t want you to be opening up those stitches we worked so hard on last night.”

The dark haired detective gingerly opened one blurry eye, spying a matronly nurse who clucked and hovered over him. “I know . . . I know . . . you hurt, don’t you? I’ll bring you more painkillers and some ice chips for you to suck on . . . alright dear?”

“H-Hutch?” Starsky gasped, opening two eyes now, feeling dazed and disoriented as the room spun crazily. He swallowed back the nausea that crept up his dry throat.

“Are you asking for that handsome blond detective who was with you before your surgery?” At the brunet’s stilted nod, she smiled warmly, “He left awhile back, but I’m sure he’ll be back. Do you need to speak with the other officers outside?”

Starsky slowly shook his head and closed his eyes. He just wanted Hutch by his side, feeling weak and vulnerable without his buddy to watch his back. “Where am I?” he rasped, his throat feeling dry and scratchy, watching the nurse as she adjusted the drip going into his arm.

“You’re at a safe house set up by the police. Your captain just left about an hour ago. He was in here with you while you slept, but then he had to go. Now, I want you to rest and don’t worry. Try not to move around . . . I’ll be right back.” The plump woman said, smiling as she ambled out of the room.

Starsky closed his eyes, and for short while, he drifted off again, still feeling the effects from the anesthetics in his system, but as the pain became increasingly more and more difficult to bear, he soon awoke realizing that the nurse had not come back as promised.

The dark haired detective opened his weary blue eyes, slowly tracking the marks on the ceiling, as he quietly surfed through the pain that ripped into him. He could feel perspiration running down the side of his face. He closed his eyes again, breathing rapid, shallow breaths, the pain in his gut and side making it difficult to breathe. The brunet wearily lifted his hand and gingerly held onto his side, which expanded painfully with each breath that he took in. Where was that nurse? What time was it? Didn’t she say she’d be right back?


Hutch parked quite a distance down the road, not wanting to give away his element of surprise. Drawing his large magnum from its holster, the tall blond glanced at the quiet woman sitting beside him. “You stay here Mari,” Hutch said, “I’ve already called for back-up so they should be here shortly. Wait for them . . .don’t come out until help arrives . . . do you understand?”

Mari silently nodded, her eyes wide with fear, “He’s here . . . so close” she whispered, “I can f-feel him.” Her instinct to run was so strong, and she trembled as she fought hard to remain where she was.

“Get down here,” Hutch said, gently pushing her down to the floor of the car, “Stay here and don’t move.”

The tall blond turned to leave, but stopped when Mari grabbed his hand, “Be careful Hutch,” she whispered, surprised at herself for impulsively reaching out to the detective the way she did.

Hutch grinned down at the small woman crouched in the litter that was strewn all over the floor of his car, “Starsk and I will be back,” he said reassuringly, and then he was gone. Mari wished she could feel as sure as Hutch did. She quickly looked down, as her hand brushed against something hard in the rubbish that was strewn all over the floor of the car.

Picking up the baggie that was buried in the papers and cups, she carefully lifted it to eye level, staring at the large, bloodstained blade. She knew this was the knife, the memento of the demon, the keepsake that housed all the memories of the lives he’d stolen. Her dark brown eyes widened as they ran along the stained serrated edge of the blade.

Why would he have left it in David? Why hadn’t he pulled the blade out and taken it with him like he usually did? He was always so careful to keep this particular knife within his reach. This was his treasure. Did he leave it with David knowing that she would soon stumble upon this moment? Did he somehow know that she would be holding this instrument of death in her hands, that she would soon look upon its dreaded sharp edge and “know” all his secrets?

She closed her eyes, wanting more than anything to throw the offensive article out of the car and run far away. Her senses screamed out at her to not touch it, to heed its warning, but she pushed down her fear, her small hands trembling, as she opened the lip of the clear plastic bag.


He dozed fitfully; the unrelenting pain pursuing and dragging him upwards to float near the surface of awareness, whenever he tried to evade its punishing grip, and sink back down into dark nothingness. He vaguely heard the door opening softly, concentrating on the soft pad of footfalls as it neared his bed. The nurse.

Starsky wearily attempted to lift his heavy eyelids that somehow felt like it was weighted down in concrete. He was exhausted from laboring silently against the burning, agonizing pain that stabbed into his side and lower abdomen with each shallow breath that he took. It would be a relief now, to accept some painkillers and rest his battered mind and body. It sure took the nurse long enough to come back. To finally open his eyes and see the large man looming blurrily above him sent chills racing up his spine. Starsky struggled to move away, feebly trying to block the man’s descending hand as it reached for him.

The killer chuckled mockingly, easily batting the brunet’s hand away, knowing the detective was weakened and in pain. Grabbing a handful of dark curls, the large man yanked the brunet’s head back, grinning as he heard the cop’s soft gasp of pain, “Not so tough now, are you?” the man smirked.

“Don’t know why you’re still alive,” the intruder continued, hissing into the shell of Starsky’s ear, his narrow gray eyes spying the IV line that was inserted and taped into the crook of the wounded man’s arm.

“This what’s keeping you alive . . . huh?” the killer whispered hoarsely. The angry man callously ripped the large needle from the cop’s arm, laughing as he heard the sharp intake of breath, watching in fascination as the blood welled up from the puncture site, before the brunet lethargically dragged his bleeding arm over his mid-section. “You should’ve died last night pig!” the murderer snapped irately. With that, the large man pushed the cop over the side of the bed, chuckling as he heard the grunt of pain that emanated from the dark haired detective.

Starsky knew he was in for a world of hurt, his mind comprehending this even as he braced himself, his body slamming down hard on the cold, concrete tile. Like fireworks on the Fourth of July, pain exploded cruelly, erupting blood red hues of agonizing shards that burst behind the ink black backdrop of his tightly scrunched eyelids, stabbing mercilessly throughout his broken and battered body. Although he tried to prevent it, a groan leaked out, causing his assailant to giggle with mirth.

“Well,” the killer said menacingly, as he slowly walked around the bed, “It looks like it’s just you and me pig . . . so we might as well have some fun before I slice your jugular open . . . so much blood that way . . . it spurts out you know . . . I could even finger-paint the walls with it . . . maybe leave a nice message for your blond partner to find . . . now wouldn’t that be something?”

Starsky lay on his side, gasping as he rode out the waves of pain that tore through his lower abdomen and side. His dazed mind vaguely registered his surprise at seeing the perp’s face. The Interstate Killer could have passed for the boy next door. He was deceivingly clean-cut and boyishly handsome. ‘How could someone so vile, look so decent and wholesome?’

He listened to the heavy footsteps as it came ever closer, hearing the smirk in the murderer’s voice as he talked about Hutch. ‘Hutch, I need ya now partner,’ Starksy thought quietly, willfully clearing his mind and stilling his heart to focus on the footfalls of the man who slowly stalked him; the red-hot pain that flared in his side continued to steal his breath away.

The dark haired detective forced himself to lie still, as his assailant shouted at him to get up. He bit down on the urge to cry out, as the large man drew back his booted foot and kicked him solidly in the back, forcing himself to continue to lie still, playing possum, waiting for the right moment, hoping his hurt filled body would cooperate with him when the time came.

Starsky could feel the man pause. He knew the killer watched his every move and he struggled to remain still and passive, although every nerve and muscle in his body were screaming to be heard.

The man swore softly, as he slowly bent over to check the unconscious cop, totally livid because his “fun” had been abruptly taken away. His cold gray eyes widened with surprise as the still form suddenly sprang to life, the cop rolling onto his back to face him, both legs coiled back, only to plunge them forcefully into his belly, almost lifting the killer as he flew backwards and tumbled over the bed, crashing heavily to the floor, a metal bedpan hitting him on the head.

Starksy gasped, feeling the stitches in his lower abdomen tearing, as his legs connected and pushed against the killer’s abdomen, his body shaking from the effort and strain it took to nearly lift the large man, the momentum carrying the assailant over the bed. Without waiting or looking back to see what had become of the bad guy, Starsky forced himself to crawl to the door, hearing the loud, resounding crash behind him, pressing one hand firmly against his abdomen in an attempt to staunch the warm gush of blood as it dripped through his fingers.

Breathing heavily, the dark haired detective hoisted himself to his feet, ignoring the agonizing pain that ripped through his mid-section. Biting back the groan that wanted to escape, he blinked the perspiration out of his feverishly, bright blue eyes, swaying as he reached a trembling hand for the doorknob.

Starsky’s eyes widened, as he stumbled out into the living room, tripping over something that lay just outside of his bedroom door. Gasping in pain as he fell to the floor, Starsky turned back, only to see the kindly nurse lying dead, her blue gaze vacantly focused on the ceiling above, blood trickling slowly from her ripped jugular, as it pooled in an ever widening circle under her neck. The brunet frantically looked around, sickened beyond belief as he saw the nightmarish gore around him, recognizing three men from Metro that he was vaguely familiar with.

Crawling over to the man nearest him, Starsky groaned, recognizing Roberts, the cop that helped him from the night before. The brunet remembered the young cop, hovering over him in the dark, causing him to gasp in pain as he pressed down firmly on his lower abdomen to staunch the flow of his blood when Hutch went to make the call. This man had helped to save his life, and now he lay dead, sacrificing his life in service to another cop.

Roberts’ sightless brown eyes, open and empty, seemed to glare accusingly at him. His hands, bloody once more, but now covered with his own blood, clutched the knife protruding from his chest. From the look that was forever frozen on his face, it was apparent that he had been caught by surprise, as were the other two officers dressed in plain street clothes, the razor-sharp blades striking them with deadly accuracy, obviously thrown by an experienced hand.

Realizing he could do nothing for those men and the nurse, Starsky struggled to get to his feet once more, making his way to the front door as quickly as he possibly could, his trembling, blood stained hand reaching out for the doorknob, when he was suddenly tackled from behind, the air expelling from his lungs, as he fell face first to the hard wooden floor. Gasping, trying to get his wind back, the dark haired detective felt himself being roughly rolled over, a sharp blade quickly indenting the tender flesh on the side of his neck.

Breathing heavily, Starsky looked up into the eyes of the madman, confusion striking him again to see hypocrisy staring him in the face. The handsome “All American” look of the deranged killer certainly didn’t match the gruesome and horrendous deeds he had committed. Someone who looked as decent as the man crouched above him simply couldn’t have done those despicable and ruthless killings. The face and actions of this murderer were as unlikely a fit as a pair of unmatched socks.

The brunet winced as his curly haired head was forced back, clearing his shocked mind from his wandering thoughts. His breathing, both rapid and shallow, made the murderer grin as he applied enough pressure to the blade to draw a thin line of blood.

Starsky winced as the razor sharp edge sliced easily through his skin and he shuddered in repulsion, as the large man leaned in close, his sour breath rasping against his face as he mockingly hissed, “Going somewhere pig?”

. . . CHAPTER 11 . . .

Hutch crept silently into the side door that led to the kitchen of the safe house. Crouched behind the countertop, the blond peered around its edges, his senses on high alert. It was quiet . . . too quiet. Hutch pressed his back against the wooden cabinets that sat under the counter, his heavy magnum held out to his side.

He knew that to get to Starsky’s room, he would have to pass through the living room and then go down the hallway where there would be no cover. The tall blond strained to hear the sound of sirens, but all was still.

‘Damn!’ Hutch thought silently, knowing it would be foolish to dash in there, but just the thought of his wounded partner at the mercy of that sick murderer, made the detective resolved to try.

‘Hang on Starsk, I’m here now . . .’ Hutch whispered quietly to himself, hoping his partner would sense his presence. ‘He would if he were still alive,’ a small voice whispered in his head, and the blond angrily pushed that morbid thought away, upset with himself for even thinking that in the first place. If Starsky were dead, he would know it. . . his heart would feel it. No. Starsky was definitely alive, the question though . . . was for how long?

Hutch got down to the floor and crawled commando style over to the back of one of the couches in the living room. The blond cop quickly hunched over and sprinted to its edge, his pale blue eyes widening, as he caught sight of Robert’s sightless eyes staring at him when he peered around the edge of the leather furniture.

Hutch quickly withdrew behind the couch, shaken, drawing in quick breaths. The young cop had apparently been sitting when he had been killed, falling down in front of the couch. From where he was crouched, Hutch could only see the upper torso of the man, his lower body hidden behind the furniture. It sickened the sensitive blond to see the young police officer who had helped him last night with his partner, lying dead like that, cut down in the prime of his life. The front of Robert’s shirt was soaked red with blood, the knife embedded to the hilt in the young cop’s chest. ‘Stabbed in the heart,’ Hutch surmised, as he closed his eyes and shook his head. Breathing heavily, he suppressed the urge to gag, trying to clear his mind of those eyes that somehow seemed to be glaring at him in accusation for getting here so late.

“Shit,” Hutch whispered, peering around the couch again, his eyes suddenly catching sight of the other dead officers, their bloody corpses lay motionless, strewn about the living room. Knives were protruding out in various parts of their bodies, making them resemble grotesque mannequins seemingly lying about in a macabre display for some advertisement of the latest horror flick.

Hutch got to the hallway, his eyes spotting the matronly nurse dressed in her white uniform, lying just outside of the doorway to Starsky’s room. Her throat had obviously been slit, the blood, soaking into the carpet beneath her, resembled a red halo surrounding her head. She looked like an angel that had been ritualistically sacrificed at a perverse gathering of some cult. The unwanted face of Simon Marcus rose in the mind’s eye of the blond detective, and he pushed down the fear that image brought to the surface.


The blond swallowed hard, making his way to the doorway to peep inside, his gun held high, pointing to the ceiling, as his horror filled eyes darted wildly about the room; from the empty bed, to the metal bedpan lying overturned, to the sheets and blankets hanging over the side of the mussed bed, to the blood on the floor. ‘Oh god, where are you Starsky?’ his mind screamed silently.

“He’s right here . . .” a low voice called from a distance, sounding almost hollow as it bounced off the walls and echoed down the deserted hallway. Hutch whipped around, peering down the corridor, seeing a door at the far end slightly ajar. If he remembered the layout of the house correctly, that door led to a storage room or den of some sort.

“That’s it cop . . . I got your friend in here, and if you want to keep him alive, you better listen up. You can’t see me, but I can see you. I want you to throw your gun into that bedroom behind you and I want you to walk on over to this door with your hands locked behind your head,” the voice instructed from behind the door.

“You wanna deal? You lemme see my partner first,” Hutch said, his voice harsh and angry, as he pointed his gun down the corridor, maneuvering his body into the doorframe of Starsky’s room, his pale blue gaze locked on the door down the hall that stood between him and his partner. Hutch ached to storm down the hallway, knowing Starsky was hurt and wounded. His partner had just come out of surgery for Christ’s sake, and though he knew the brunet was tough, there was no way he would be able to stand up against the killer in his weakened condition.

“You’re in no position to make demands cop,” the voice droned out, “I’ll kill him right now, if you don’t do as I . . .”

Hutch interjected harshly, “How stupid do you think I am? My partner might be already dead. If you wanna deal . . . I need to see him alive first!” the blond angrily snapped, pale blue eyes frozen on the door down the hall, his heart hammering on the thought that his partner might indeed be dead.

There was a pregnant pause for a moment, as Hutch waited with bated breath to see what would happen. He could feel his body grow rigid and tense as the door slowly creaked open another inch, and he strained his eyes to peer into the distant darkness within.


The door had only opened a fraction more and it was impossible to see anything from where he was standing. After several seconds of waiting, Hutch called out again, “Just let me see my partner and if he’s alive, I’ll come out . . . maybe we can work something out huh?” When nothing was heard, Hutch cautiously ventured out into the hallway, knowing there was no cover for him at all . . . knowing that he would be a sitting duck . . .knowing he was making a foolish move, but knowing that his partner needed him, far outweighed everything else.

The blond detective crept out, ready to duck or roll away at the slightest movement of the door, which remained strangely still. Hutch could feel the sweat dripping down the sides of his face and back, as he made his way stealthily towards the partially opened portal.

Safely reaching the end of the hallway, Hutch stood to the side of the door with his back pressed against the wall, his detective senses screaming out a warning, his lithe body ready to react, his adrenaline singing through his veins as he cautiously pushed the door open.

Breathing heavily, the blond whipped his body into the entranceway, crouching low, his magnum held out before him, as his eyes darted about the interior of the storage room, adjusting to the dim light that came from the one opened window at the right side of the room.

Hutch could see his partner, lying unconscious on his side, a dirty rag tied around his mouth, effectively gagging him. After making sure that no one else was in the room, Hutch slid to his knees next to his prone partner who had his arms tied tightly behind his back with what appeared to be a cut telephone cord.

“Hang on buddy,” the blond said soothingly, attempting to keep the worry from his voice, as he eyed the blood stained bandages on his partner’s lower abdomen, “Let me take a look at you . . .”

Hutch quickly untied his friend, first the gag and then the cords, hearing a soft moan from his partner as his arms fell limply to his sides. He carefully rolled his partner onto his back and lifted him gently against his chest, hoping to comfort the brunet with his touch, as he saw Starsky’s dark, lashes begin to flutter and slowly rise, the familiar blue peeping up from beneath them brought a sense of relief to the tall blond, and he let out the soft breath of air that he had been unconsciously holding in.

“Hey pal,” Hutch smiled down reassuringly at his partner’s dazed expression, squeezing him tighter against his warm chest, as he listened to the brunet’s labored breathing, “ Shh . . . it’s okay Starsk . . . I got you now buddy.”

Starsky visibly stiffened as Hutch probed the back his head, his long fingers connecting with the gash he received from the bastard who had obviously hit him, then fled through the opened window like the coward that he was. “Easy buddy . . .” Hutch murmured, as the dark haired detective gasped softly and began to struggle feebly.

“Hutsh?” Starsky groaned, coming around as waves of pain buffeted his body. He could feel the warmth of his partner’s embrace, feeling safe as Hutch held him close. “Hutch? Oh . . . my head . . . ” the brunet gasped softly, his hand reaching for the back of his head.

“Yeah . . . right here Gordo . . . take it easy,” Hutch whispered, “You got hit on the head from behind . . . he left through that window over there . . .” Hutch said, keeping his voice soft and soothing as he reached down to examine his partner’s lower abdomen.

His roving hand was immediately stopped and was weakly grasped by Starsky’s bloodstained fingers, “No . . . don’t,” the brunet gasped sharply, his breathing shallow and rapid.

“You’re bleeding again Starsk . . . I just want to check and make sure . . .”

“’m fine . . . jus’ tore some stitches . . . the creep . . . weighed a ton,” Starsky rasped, grinning lopsidedly when he saw the small smile that tweaked the corners of the blond’s mouth. Although his body was riddled with pain, the warm feeling of being in his partner’s embrace filled Starsky with a lethargic feeling of safety and peace. The brunet looked dazedly around the small storage room, “Did you . . . find Mari?”

“Yeah, she’s fine buddy. I left her outside in the car . . .”

“You what?” Starsky gasped, as he attempted to sit up, groaning softly at the sudden movement, his hand clenching his lower abdomen as he gritted his teeth against the lancing pain.

“Take it easy buddy,” Hutch soothed, noting the sudden fear and anxiety that washed over his partner’s pale, glistening face, “Shh . . . don’t move . . . help’s on the way.” Hutch gently turned his partner’s head, so that he could look at the trickle of blood that ran down the side of the brunet’s neck.

“Hutch . . . he went after her.” Starsky gasped, “He had me standing in front of him, tied up and gagged . . . he was waitin’ for you to throw your gun down . . . watching you . . . through the small opening of the doorway . . . when all of a sudden . . . I felt him tense up . . . heard him say Mari’s name . . . next thing you’re here . . . and he’s gone . . .”

Hutch could feel the color drain from his face as he pictured the small woman crouched on the litter-strewn floor of his car with the killer creeping up on her. “You mean he sensed she was outside?”

“Go Hutch . . .” Starsky gasped, “’m fine . . . need to help her . . .” The brunet could feel his partner squeeze him tighter against his chest, indecision making the blond hesitate. Starsky knew that his partner didn’t want to leave him alone like this, especially if he was hurt.

“Hutch will you go on?” Starsky said firmly, “She don’t . . . stand a chance against him. Jus’ lock me in here . . . if it’ll make you feel better . . .I’ll be fine . . .” the dark haired detective said reassuringly, knowing how protective his blond friend got whenever he was wounded and vulnerable.

Hutch bit his lip in indecision, as he thought of and rejected the different scenarios that raced through his mind. The thought of leaving his hurt partner alone in here made his skin crawl, but he knew Starsky was right . . . Mari would die if that bastard got a hold of her, and she was defenseless out there. There was no way that he could drag or carry his partner with him and race back to the car in time to help Mari. The tall blond felt a weak tug on the sleeve of his jacket and looked down into stormy blue depths that locked onto him with a determined frown.

“Dammit Hutch . . .” Starsky swore, struggling to sit up again.

“Okay . . . okay,” Hutch soothed, “I’m going. Look, I’m going to move you over by the window, hang on okay?” At the brunet’s curt nod, Hutch stood and dragged his partner under his arms over to the far wall beside the window, carefully leaning Starsky against it. The tall blond crouched beside his partner, listening to the labored breathing of the dark haired detective as he tried to get a handle on the pain that coursed through his body. Hutch knew that dragging him by the arms the way he did, stretched the stitched wounds even more, but it was faster than picking him up.

“You okay?” Hutch whispered, glancing down at his partner after cautiously peeping through the window, failing to keep the anxiety from his soft voice as he gazed down at his hurting partner with worry.

Starsky gasped, attempting to control the pain that pierced his side with each breath that he drew in, “Yeah . . . whatta ya see?”

“Nothing. I parked the car away from the house. I can’t see it from here.” Hutch said softly, crouching down next to the brunet, the worry and anxiety he felt for both his partner and Mari caused the furrow to deepen between his pale brows.

The blond detective closed and locked the window. “Look Starsk . . . you take this and keep it pointed to the door,” Hutch said, handing his magnum over to his wounded partner, “I’m going to lock you in here . . . it might get a little warm but . . .”

“No . . .” Starsky said through gritted teeth, refusing the weapon, “Ain’t gonna take it . . . you need it out there Hutch . . . who knows what else he has . . . besides knives . . .”

Hutch looked over to where his partner’s hand covered the stained and bloodied bandages that wrapped around his abdomen. It killed him to have to leave Starsky like this, hurt and defenseless. What if the killer came back here when he left to look for Mari? How would Starsky defend himself in his weakened condition?

“Hutch . . . will you go on?” Starsky rasped, his blue eyes flashing with impatience, “I can take care of myself.” The brunet knew how difficult this was for his partner and he straightened up, biting back the groan that wanted to escape from the jolting pain that the simple movement had caused.

“Alright, I’m going!” Hutch snapped, the stress and anxiety he felt brought his anger to the forefront, making his usually soft and gentle voice, seem suddenly hard and abrupt. He knew what his partner was trying to do and though he understood it, it still irritated him to know he was being forced to leave.

A small grin tweaked the corners of the brunet’s mouth, “Now there’s the Hutch I know

. . .” Starsky whispered, his dark blue eyes growing soft with affection as he winked at his frustrated partner.

Hutch glared at his partner then snorted softly, lowering his golden head to press his forehead gently against the soft, sable curls of his dark haired friend, who in turn, reached up to finger the silky locks at the nape of the blond’s neck.

“I’ll be fine Hutch,” the brunet whispered breathlessly, letting Hutch’s baby fine tendrils slip through his fingers, “Ain’t gonna miss the turkey that Huggy’s gonna roast this year for nuthin’. . .” Starsky grinned, “Thanksgiving’s the next best holiday . . . next to Christmas . . . all them grinds to eat . . .”

Hutch snorted softly, “Yeah, it would be you to think of food at a time like this. Look, I’m locking you in here and you better be here when I come back . . . you hear me Gordo?” Hutch whispered softly against the shell of his partner’s ear, his voice soft and intimate with the love and concern he felt for the brunet. At Starsky’s slight nod, Hutch reluctantly pulled away, feeling the slight trembling and the soft gasp that came from his hurt filled partner who struggled to ride out the sudden pain that lanced in his side. It killed him to have to leave Starsky like this . . . so vulnerable and so alone.

Taking a deep breath, Starsky raised dark blue to his partner’s, “Ain’t goin’ nowhere . . .” Starsky said, feeling suddenly weary, giving in to the pain and exhaustion that wracked his body, but feeling pleased just the same because he had gotten his way with his stubborn, worried friend. Hutch really had no choice in the matter. He had to go. They both knew that. They were cops first and they had taken a vow to serve and protect. Starsky felt his partner gently squeeze his shoulder once more before he stood and made his move towards the door.

“Hey,” Starsky whispered softly, stopping the blond in his tracks, “Be careful out there . . .” The brunet heard a small snort come from his fair headed partner, and he watched as Hutch moved across the small room to the door.

The tall blond detective cautiously opened the door and glanced down the deserted hallway, dreading to see the bodies strewn out in the living room. He looked back to his dark haired friend who was slouched against the wall, his hand over his mid-section, blood trickling down the side of his neck; Starsky’s breathing was too rapid and shallow for his liking.

It tore Hutch up to leave his partner defenseless like this. Guilt and worry must have been apparent on his face because he saw his partner suddenly frown again, dark blue eyes connecting to pale ones across the small expanse of the dimly lit room, “You hang on buddy . . .” Hutch said softly, sky blue eyes softening with suppressed emotions.

Starsky swallowed down the lump in his throat as their gazes locked, “Yeah . . . and you watch you’re back out there Blintz.” To willingly send his best friend out there alone with a lunatic running about was the hardest thing for the brunet to do. Their eyes locked once more, sky blue to stormy cobalt. “See ya . . .” Starsky whispered softly.

The dark haired detective saw his blond partner give a small nod and then he was gone, locking the door behind him as he left. Starsky slowly let out a breath, unaware he had been holding it until Hutch was gone. The brunet closed his eyes, long dark lashes fanned out against pale, damp cheeks, as he said a silent prayer for his partner’s . . . and Mari’s well being.

. . . CHAPTER 12 . . .

He was floating on a wave of darkness just above the level of pain, until the soft continuous tapping slowly dredged him upwards from his troubled sleep. Heavy, dark lashes lifted to reveal dazed blue orbs that tracked its way to the window ledge above him. Starsky blinked the perspiration from his eyes, willing his hazy vision to clear, squinting to focus on the blurry shape that stood outside of the window, struggling to make sense of what he saw as he peered through the dirt stained glass. It was Mari.

Breathing hard and gritting his teeth against the sudden pain that flared through his side, the dark haired cop forced himself to sit up straighter, as he lifted his arm to grab the window ledge. Dragging himself to a standing position, his pressed his other hand against his lower abdomen, feeling the pull on his stitches, as he leaned unsteadily against the wall. Starsky unlatched the top lock and pushed the window up, a cool breeze immediately caressed his warm face, and the brunet briefly closed his eyes enjoying the fresh air that filled the enclosed room.

“Where’s Hutch?” the dark haired detective said, breathing heavily as he looked for his partner.

“Hutch? Isn’t he with you?” Mari whispered, climbing over the window ledge, “He left a while ago to look for you.”

Starsky grabbed onto the small woman’s arm and helped her over the ledge. He quickly closed the window and locked it, pulling Mari down to the floor with him. That simple task had drained the brunet of his already depleted energy, and he gasped softly as he once again slouched against the wall, turning his face away from the woman as he silently surfed through the pain that tore through his side.

“He’s out there,” Mari whispered, “I knew he was coming. Hutch told me not to leave, but I knew he was coming out to find me . . . I shouldn’t have left. I should’ve known that Hutch was coming back.”

Starsky turned to face the frightened girl, sending up a silent prayer of safety for his partner, “Hey . . . it’s okay,” the brunet said reassuringly, “Hutch is a big boy . . . with a big gun . . . he’ll be okay. It’s better . . . that you’re here . . .” The dark haired detective looked to the trembling girl, a small smile tweaking the corners of his mouth as he covered Mari’s hand with his own, his heavy breathing the only sound in the quiet room.

“You okay?” he asked softly. Everything swam in and out of focus for the dark haired detective who wearily fought against the nausea that roiled in his gut. He was so damn tired . . . tired of fighting against the pull of the dark tide that wanted to drag him under once more.

Mari lifted sad brown eyes to the brunet’s face which glistened with perspiration, and nodded silently, watching as the detective wearily closed his own eyes, concealing those beautiful blue orbs from her view, his shallow breathing filling the silence as he rested once more, apprehension and anxiety for his partner’s safety causing him to drift in and out of an uneasy sleep.

Was she okay?’ Mari pondered silently, in the stillness of the stuffy room she was cloistered in, the detective’s soft question still ringing in her ears. ‘Would anyone be okay when faced with the knowledge she had just gleaned?’ All these years of ‘seeing’ and running led her to this moment . . . this day of reckoning.

The small Asian woman shuddered silently with the knowledge that had been bestowed upon her. All these years . . . it was no wonder that she and the killer were linked; they shared something so horrific that the universe had bound them together in an eternal web of fear, pain, anger and death.

It was him . . . all this time . . . it was him and she never knew . . . how could she have been so stupid? Yet, everything that had been shown to her through her “episodes” about this man had until now, been out of sequence, vague and distorted until today . . . now everything was so clear and the clarity of all those years shook her to the core.

Mari bit her lower lip to still its trembling, feeling the overly warm grasp of David’s hand still upon hers. She looked down to where they were connected, her vision blurring suddenly, as a silent tear splashed down upon the wooden flooring. She closed her eyes, feeling the warm rivulets as they ran down her face, her mind drifting back to the source of her anguish.

She sat amid the Styrofoam cups and assorted paper that littered the floor of Hutch’s car, clearly disregarding her senses that screamed out to her to run, that warned her not to touch the blood stained blade. Shaking with fear, fighting down her instincts for self-preservation, Mari carefully opened the zip lock bag. Taking a deep breath to stop her quaking, she reached in, her hands shaking as she brought the blade out. Clenching the handle in both hands immediately brought bloody visions of death and slaughter to her mind’s eye, her senses were violently bombarded as her as ‘episodes’ rushed to the forefront of her mind with such force, that she felt her back slam against the glove compartment of the car.

She could hear herself gasping from a distance, as images of small hands breaking the neck of a pigeon came into view; the bird’s piteously limp head rolling to one side, its eyes forever staring at its killer as the boy chuckled, and tossed it without any remorse, to the stack of other dead birds he had previously killed. She witnessed those same hands over the years, hands that had changed and grown, but still left a wake of pain and destruction, as it killed and tortured kittens and other defenseless animals. Larger, brutal hands that graduated to wielding knives that carved mercilessly into the flanks of puppies and dogs . . . ‘familiar’ hands that held back the leaves from the hedge that he peeped through, as he watched the young Asian woman walking home from the community college he attended.

Mari gasped softly seeing her sister in her vision . . . feeling the lust of the man hiding behind the bushes, his hands frantically grabbing onto the front of his pants, stroking himself through the material, as he quickly brought himself some relief, the sticky moisture uncomfortably adhering his underwear to his skin. Gasping with pleasure as he rode out the last waves of his orgasm, he thought about the small woman who walked by unknowingly, watching with fascination as she opened the door and walked into her modest home.

“My home” Mari whispered, as she crouched beside the sleeping detective, her eyes vacant and distant, lost in the “episode” that took her over . . .

There was something about Naomi . . . her quiet confidence, her poise and grace, the way she carried herself that irritated him. Most girls found him attractive and he was usually sought after on campus with his good lucks and charming personality, but Naomi had no interest in him, even when he turned on his charm and flashed her the grin that seemed to make girls fall so easily for him. Instead Naomi just seemed to shudder and quake inside when she saw him and that pissed him off. He sensed somehow that she ‘knew’ . . . knew of the dirty and sordid things that he did . . . that she could somehow feel his thoughts . . . perhaps that was why she detested and stayed away from him . . .

Naomi intrigued him with her indifference to his ploys. It annoyed him as well, and his infatuation with the petite Asian woman grew to an obsession. He watched her all the time when he thought she wasn’t looking, wanting her, needing to be the one who would melt that cold, icy heart with his perverted passion.

Naomi was on his mind every waking moment, as he discreetly followed her around campus, watching her every move, noting what she wore, or what she ordered at the campus cafeteria. To see her one day, standing outside of the library, talking to a tall handsome student and watching as the young man leaned his dark head down to sweetly kiss her, brought his killing instincts to the surface, he could barely control the raging jealousy that coursed through his veins. No one would have Naomi. No fucking bastards would touch her if he couldn’t. He vowed to himself that he would be the first, and the last man she would ever know, and he plotted and schemed on what he would do to keep his vow sacred.

It killed Mari to see her family’s demise through the eyes of the gloating killer . . . to see the horror and fear on her parents’ face as they stared at the gun, to “live” through the agony of what her sister endured until all life left her body. To feel the triumph and the satisfaction the killer felt as he pulled up his pants and wiped the bloody blade against the hem of her sister’s dress . . . to subconsciously know, as her worst nightmare unfolded before her horror filled eyes in the present, that she was hiding silently in a hamper, unable to stop the madness from happening in the past. Everything swirled in a vortex of colors and sound as the truth was rapidly unfurled in her mind’s eye.

Her visions came one after another . . . rocking her world in a kaleidoscope of images, as she sat on the floor of the LTD. She could suddenly seeing herself with a blanket over her shoulders, in a black and white newspaper photo next to the article of her family’s slaughter, reading the headlines through the eyes of the killer as he skimmed over the details of his triumphant first kill, seeing his large hands tremble as he pondered over what to do about the little sister that got away. ‘Hearing’ his thoughts as he decided to get out of state and move up to Canada where it would be safer for him, where no one knew of him . . . ‘feeling’ how sweetly addicting and powerful the taste of that first kill had been which eventually drove him to kill again and again, though nothing came close to the sweet intensity and magnitude he derived from killing Naomi and her family.

Mari “knew” the exact moment when the killer realized that he needed to find Naomi’s sister and relive the power and glory of that wonderful first kill . . . feeling blessed in his ownership of the young girl who he felt belonged to him. She could see him now in her mind’s eye, cruising around the neighborhood in search of Naomi’s baby sister, who he deemed as his ‘property’. That was the day her life as a fugitive began, the day her never-ending nightmare started.

Mari shook as tears ran silently down her face, trembling, as she crouched under the window with the wounded detective who still held her hand as he slept. Everything was clear now … abundantly clear. Everyone thought the Interstate Killer had made his first kill up in Canada, only Mari knew that he had started his spree on home soil . . . in her home, horrifically stealing everything that she loved away from her, turning her sheltered life into a dark nightmare that she had been running from ever since.

The young woman sighed softly, and rubbed at the tears with her free hand. Mari looked once more to Dave’s hand that still held onto hers, the warmth from his large hand traveling up her arm and into her heart. Today, two people had held her, offering comfort and support, and though it felt almost foreign to her, it nevertheless filled her with solace and security.

She lifted her small hand nervously and gently cupped the side of the detective’s face, watching as the heavy line of his dark lashes rolled and fluttered up, revealing a sliver of dark blue. Mari smiled at the dazed look on the brunet’s face, watching as he focused in on her face. Something about that vulnerable look reminded her of a little boy who had just awoken from his nap.

“Hey,” Mari whispered, “You okay?”

Starsky snorted softly, a little grin breaking out, “You stealin’ my words? Didn’t I just ask you that?”

“That was a little while ago . . .” Mari said softly, concern for the detective making her frown, as she lifted her hand from his flushed cheek to his forehead, feeling the warm feverish heat that emanated from the brunet.

“H-Hutch?” Starsky whispered, closing his eyes at her gentle, cool touch to his brow. The dark haired detective drew in a shuddering breath and opened his eyes again when Mari remained silent.

“He hasn’t returned yet.” Mari said softly, the worry she felt evident in her voice, as she watched the concern darken the blue in the detective’s eyes, “Maybe I should go out and look for him . . .”

“No . . .” Starsky interjected, struggling to sit up straighter, squeezing her hand reassuringly, as he shook his head to clear the cobwebs away, “He’s okay . . . didn’t hear any gunshots . . .”

“A knife has no voice,” Mari whispered, gently reminding the brunet of the precarious situation that Hutch might be in.

Starsky softly gasped as he straightened up, the wound to his side jarring with the movement, “Look . . . Hutch wants us to stay here . . . when he finds you gone, he’ll come back . . . he’s probably . . . on his way back now . . . we gotta . . . ”

Whatever else the dark haired detective was about to say was lost, as both sets of eyes turned abruptly to look at the doorknob, when it suddenly rattled and turned . . .

. . . CHAPTER 13 . . .

Starsky struggled to his feet, his bright blue eyes riveted to the door, while Mari quickly came to his side to shoulder some of his weight.

“Listen . . .” Starsky gasped, “I want you to climb out . . . this window . . . if it ain’t Hutch that comes through that door . . . y’understand?” His dark blue, expressive eyes locked onto Mari’s, and it spoke volumes to the young woman. She knew he would stay back and sacrifice his life for hers, so that she could get away. The thought of this detective dying at the hands of the devil that took her family caused Mari’s heart to palpitate painfully.

“What about you?” Mari whispered, her almond shaped eyes were filled with fear, as she opened the latch and lifted the window up, “We’ll go together . . . I-I can’t leave you here like this . . .” With the opening of the window, they both could hear the distant sound of sirens which filled Mari’s heart with sudden hope, but Starsky knew the squad cars were still a while away.

Starsky could feel his adrenalin pumping, as he kept his eyes glued to the door. Something told him that it wasn’t Hutch out there and when the angry pounding suddenly erupted at the door, the brunet knew for sure. “Hurry,” he gasped, clutching his side as he turned to the young woman beside him, “Run and become part of the shadows . . . that bastard’ll break through this door any minute . . .”

Tears brimmed her dark, brown eyes, which shimmered as they touched upon the face of the brunet, “How can I leave you?” Mari whispered as she stared up at the dark haired detective.

Starsky grinned reassuringly and gently brushed a strand of her long, black hair behind her ear, urging her towards the window as he helped her over the ledge, “I’ll only slow you down if I go with you . . . I need you to go and find Hutch . . .” he said softly, “I’ll be fine . . . the cavalry’s on its way . . . now hurry and go . . . ”

The dark haired detective quickly closed and locked the window behind Mari, just as the door busted in. Starsky looked into the gray eyes of the killer, taken aback once again, by the clean cut look of the man who blocked the doorway with his huge frame, “Where is she?” the killer snapped, his slate-gray eyes darting around the empty room.

Starsky leaned wearily against the wall, feeling thankful that Mari had gotten out in time, breathing heavily to ease the sharp pain in his side and lower abdomen, “Sorry t’disappoint ya like this,” the brunet said smugly, a slow smirk tweaking his lips, “But it looks like it’s just me and the dust motes in here . . .”

“Get away from that window you stinkin’ pig,” the large man snarled, drawing a small gun from behind him where it was tucked into the waistband of his pants. The killer smiled evilly, his yellow stained teeth immediately morphing his clean cut visage into something vile and revolting.

Stormy blue eyes followed the point of the gun as it was lowered towards his midsection, a silencer screwed to the tip of the weapon. Starsky calmly raised his eyes to look the killer in the face, the perspiration running in rivulets down his neck, “It’s too late you know . . . you can kill me, but you won’t find Mari . . . and in a few minutes this place will be swarming with cops.”

The large man looked warily to the window, his mind obviously processing what the dark haired detective had said, as he cocked his gun and flicked it towards the door. The sirens were louder now and it grated on his nerves, making him want to squeeze the trigger. “I said . . . move away from the window asshole!” the killer snapped, waving the gun once again in the direction he wanted the detective to move.

Breathing heavily, Starsky stood unsteadily, his hand pressed against his lower abdomen as he slowly made his way towards the killer, his mind racing as he thought of possible solutions to get him out of this mess. He knew that his assailant was jumpy with the sounds of the approaching sirens, and the brunet made sure that his movements were slow and easy.

“Put your hands behind your head . . .NOW!” the killer demanded.

The dark haired cop slowly complied, wincing as he raised his hands, feeling the pull of his stitches, “Listen to me . . .” Starsky said, using a calm, low voice, spreading his fingers, palms held up as he locked them together behind his head, keeping his movements deliberate and unhurried, knowing the killer wouldn’t hesitate to shoot if he got spooked, “We can work something out . . .”

“Shut the fuck up!” the large man growled, as he suddenly grabbed the wounded cop and threw him to the ground, the sirens were agitating him, making him feel anxious and angry as he thought of his imminent capture. He could sense that Mari was somewhere near, but it didn’t matter anymore . . . he would never be locked up like an animal . . . never! He’d die before he let the cops take him in.

“Uungh,” Starsky grunted softly, barely having the time to catch his fall with his hands locked behind his head, almost blacking out from the impact as his body connected to the hard floor. He curled into the pain, squeezing his eyes shut, as he gritted his teeth against the overwhelming weariness and fiery heat that ripped through his broken and battered being.

“You listen to me chump,” the killer whispered angrily, roughly turning the cop onto his back, as he crouched above the hurting brunet, bristling with rage, “I’ve got nothing to lose anymore if Mari’s gone . . . I’m not letting them take me alive y’hear me? And you’re going with me for the long ride to hell, pig . . .”

“I’m here . . .” a quiet voice said as Mari stepped into the doorway. Both men turned to look at the young woman, as she took a few hesitant steps into the room, stopping just before she reached them.

“Mari,” Starsky gasped, his bright blue gaze locked onto the Asian girl who wavered in and out of focus, as the detective tried to get a handle of the crippling pain that wracked his body.

Mari risked a quick glance at the wounded detective, and then turned her attention to the large man who crouched over him with a gun. She stared openly at the killer who had never stopped pursuing her, who had made her life a living hell. She took a long hard look at the beast who had been tied to her for years now, who snatched everything that she loved and held most dear, away from her . . . and it amazed her that evil could look so clean . . . so decent and . . . and wholesome. The thought sickened her. She always “knew” he had the kind of face that anyone would trust, and yet, finally seeing it for the very first time herself, it shook her to the core.

“Mari,” the large man whispered, breathing hard, his gray eyes growing soft with want, “Come here . . .”

“Let him go first,” Mari said quietly, her voice trembling as she nodded towards the downed detective, watching warily as the large man slowly rose to his feet.

Mari swallowed down her fear as she took a small step back, “I’ll go willingly with you. Y-you can use me to get out of here. The police won’t shoot at you . . . not if you have a hostage. I’ll go with you . . . if you leave him alone, but if you h-hurt David . . . I’ll run . . . I’ll run and hide where you will never find me . . . and you know that what I say is true

. . . don’t you?” the petite woman queried softly.

At the killer’s slight nod, Mari continued, her voice soft and almost hypnotic, “You’ve never been able to catch me all this time . . . and you’ll never have me, if you don’t let him go . . .” Mari took a few steps back as the man slowly advanced towards her.

Starsky knew that Mari was leading the killer away from him and he struggled to get to his feet. The Interstate Killer seemed oblivious to his sluggish movements; his sole attention was focused upon the young woman who continued to back up, leading him towards the opened door.

“I know how you think . . . I saw what you did . . . t-to my family . . . my sister,” Mari’s soft voice echoed in the small empty room.

“Naomi,” the large man whispered brokenly, as he took a few steps towards the young woman, staring in fascination at her face. Over the years, Mari had grown to resemble her beautiful older sister and the large man ached with the need to touch his ‘Naomi’ once more.

Mari stared with morbid fascination, as she faced her nightmare, warily watching him slowly advancing towards her like the snake that he was, feeling her limbs quaking as she continued to back slowly towards the door. She wanted to look at David so badly, to seek comfort and courage in his bright blue gaze, but she dared not take her eyes away from the beast who continued to stalk her, following her slowly, whispering the name of her sister the whole time he crept towards her.

The need to look at David made Mari quickly glanced at Starsky, who by now was standing unsteadily, his dark blue eyes locked on her face. Without warning, everything seemed to happen at once to Mari . . . events mixing together in a blur, as the killer took that moment to rush her, grabbing her by the arm, cruelly twisting it, as he dragged her roughly towards him.

Mari cried out as she saw the huge man turn and level his gun at the wounded cop, and before she could cower and change her mind, she determinedly brought the large knife out from behind her with her free hand from where she had hidden it, tucked away into the back of her jeans.

Without thinking of the repercussions Mari abruptly plunged the blade into the shoulder of her assailant, using the same knife that had taken the life of her sister and the lives of countless others. Trembling with fear, adrenalin pumping, she quickly moved away when the large man dropped his gun; hearing him scream with rage and pain as he abruptly let go of her arm to grasp the handle of the blade. She saw the look of pain and surprise twist the features of the hated beast as he stared at his treasure . . . his memento . . . that now was ironically buried to the hilt, embedded into his own shoulder. From the corner of her eye, Mari saw Starsky move into action, diving for the gun, as the killer simultaneously did the same thing.

Mari watched in horror, as the two men scuffled for the gun. Worry and despair flared in her as the larger man kicked the wounded detective just under his ribs, and she saw the brunet fall to one knee, gasping as he clutched his side in agony. She watched as the gun slipped out of the killer’s hand, sliding across the floor in her direction.

On instinct alone Mari ran to retrieve the gun, hearing Starsky cry out a warning as the killer pulled the blade out from his shoulder and threw it at her with deadly aim. Mari gasped, her eyes opening wide as she felt the sharp blade forcefully plunging into her body, vaguely registering the booming sound of a gunshot that came from the door behind her.

She locked her gaze onto the shocked face of the curly haired detective, whose dark blue eyes were filled with pain and widened with horror . . . those familiar eyes she had repeatedly seen in her dreams and visions. It was those same eyes that had haunted her these past few months that had also been the catalyst for her seeking him out. Beautiful blue eyes as deep as the ocean; that now watched in horror as she wavered unsteadily on her feet.

Mari could feel herself falling as the room began to spin. Gasping for air, she felt herself sinking slowly to the floor, only to be caught up in arms that held her tenderly, arms that sheltered her as she stared up at eyes that were bright with unshed tears, familiar blue eyes that were sad now, and filled with despair. Random, fuzzy thoughts ran through her mind as she stared up at the man who held her.


Her breaths were coming short and fast, as the peripheral edges of her vision began to grow dim. The sharp intolerable pain was almost numb now, as her body grew heavy and lethargic, enticing her to surrender, to give up and finally seek rest. She could feel herself begin to slip over the edge, sinking into the murky depths where the pain couldn’t touch her any longer. Yet, the intensity of those blue eyes held her anchored to the here and now, and Mari could feel his arms tighten around her, refusing to let her go.

“Don’t you give up, y’hear me Mari? You hang in there! Help is on the way!” Starsky said; desperation and despair making his voice ring with a sharpness that she had never heard before, as he squeezed her roughly to his chest, staring intently into her sad, brown eyes that never left his, as if he could make her stay with him by sheer will alone. “You stay here with me, I’m right here holdin’ ya, not goin’ t’leave . . .” he said as he wrapped his hands around her small one that held on to the hilt of the knife deeply embedded in her abdomen. The dark haired detective was sickened by the amount of blood that bloomed and stained her thin brown tee shirt.

It hurt Starsky to see Mari so still, knowing that she was struggling just to breath, listening to the soft gasps, so afraid that each breath she drew in, might be her last. The curly haired detective shook his head. It just wasn’t fair . . . her whole life had been messed up by this creep. To know that he had taken everything from her . . . her family, her freedom and now her life, made Starsky begin to question the existence of the benevolent God in which he believed. Some people had life so damn hard. “Just hang on Mari . . . just hang on . . .” he whispered gently, his voice breaking, as he watched the light slowly fading from her almond shaped eyes.

Mari could hear the fear in the brunet’s voice and she reached out a trembling hand to cup the side of his face, a sad, but serene smile came to her quivering lips . . . all this time she had thought her “episodes” were about him, that she had foreseen his death. Never once did she think that those blue eyes, widened in horror and filled with pain, appeared in her visions because he was watching her die. Never once, did she think that those eyes would be the last thing that she would see before she left this earth. And yet, a strange sense of peace filled her heart as the brunet held her close to his chest. These two detectives, one light and one dark, men that she barely knew, had only shown her compassion and kindness. Who would have known, how much they would have come to mean to her.

Mari took a shuddering breath, as the dark haired detective gently brushed a strand of her hair away from her face and tuck it tenderly behind her ear, her throat constricted with emotion as she felt his pain and she tried to tell him that it was okay, but she was tired, and it just took too much energy to speak. She was so cold now . . . and so weary . . .

“Mari . . . Mari,” Starsky whispered desperately, feeling her life slipping away from her, “Oh God, please . . .” the dark haired detective pleaded, unconsciously turning once again in his despair to the higher power he had just previously doubted.

Starsky watched as Mari slowly closed her eyes, her lashes fanning out across pale cheeks, only to see her head lolling gently into his chest. “No . . .” he whispered sadly, staring down at her peaceful face, “No . . .”

The brunet gently rocked her to him, as his cobalt blue eyes sadly lifted to meet the pale blue eyes of his blond partner, who stood rigidly at the door, his magnum still pointing at the large figure of the man who now lay dead.

. . . EPILOGUE . . .

The tall blond surreptitiously glanced over the bowed heads that were gathered together, his pale blue eyes traveled over familiar faces that were solemn and quiet as the prayers were being said. He could hear the cold November winds blowing outside, heralding the winter months to come, feeling thankful that he was indoors today and not out on the chilly streets.

Hutch’s sky colored eyes briefly paused in its meanderings, as he noticed that Huggy and Dobey stood somberly next to each other, the proprietor’s fuchsia colored jumpsuit stood out loudly next to the dull, drab colors that Dobey chose to wear for the function. Under different circumstances, Hutch might have chuckled out loud at the obvious and rather comical differences between the two black men who stood side by side, one being tall and lanky, the other squat and stout, but everyone was reverently quiet and still, and his humorous snickering would have been very inappropriate.

His gaze continued on until they alighted upon his partner’s face; and though the blond tried hard not to, he couldn’t help but crack a grin as he spied the brunet’s bright blues comically peeping out from under his ridiculously long eyelashes.

The blond’s smile widened, as he watched the impatient glower and exasperation that came across his partner’s face, as Starsky peeked in the direction of the person reciting the prayers.

From where he stood, Hutch could have sworn he heard the angry rumblings of his friend’s stomach and he chuckled softly when he saw the brunet cover his midsection with his hand. ‘As if that would stop the noise,’ Hutch thought, his eyes twinkling with amusement as he caught his partner’s embarrassed look from across the table. The tall blond winked reassuringly at his humiliated partner, who rewarded him with a lopsided grin just as the prayers of gratitude were reaching an end.

Everyone breathed a silent sigh of relief and gave a resounding “Amen” as Edith Dobey’s long-winded grace finally came to a close.

“Man sistah, that was some blessin’ . . . I think you included everyone and their mother in your grace,” Huggy said, white teeth flashing as he smiled widely at Captain Dobey’s wife.

“Why thank you Huggy,” Edith smiled, “I hope I didn’t leave anyone out. With Harold losing his voice from his recent cold, I was hoping I would do a good job. Harold usually says the blessings over our Thanksgiving get-togethers you know.” Edith said happily, as everyone began to pass around the plates and utensils.

“Is that why the big man is so quiet this evening?” Huggy said with a smile, “And here I thought I might’ve overcooked the bird. The way he was glaring at me, I thought he was going to arrest me for “fowl” play.”

Overhearing Huggy’s loud comment, Hutch chuckled and came over to put his arm around the tall, skinny black man, “Huggy, the turkey you roasted looks delicious . . .” Hutch’s compliment was cut short by a burst of loud giggles coming from one of the back tables at “The Pits,” which Huggy had graciously closed for the celebrating of this auspicious occasion. All eyes turned to see Starsky whispering something into Rosie’s ear, sending her into a fit of joyful laughter once more.

Harold Dobey cleared his throat and rasped, “Well this year we have a lot to be thankful for . . .” The Captain’s voice was strained and hoarse, but he nodded in the direction of his little daughter Rosie, who continued to giggle, as she held onto the hand of the young Asian woman who had been staying with the Dobeys’ since she had come out of the hospital a little over a week ago.

“Rosie just adores Mari . . . those two are like peas in a pod.” Edith said smiling, happy to see the joyful expression on her daughter’s face.

“Three peas in a pod . . .” Hutch said grinning, “Don’t forget the big kid with the curls,” Everyone laughed as Captain Dobey picked up the carving knife and began slicing the turkey.

“Starsk and I think it’s so great that you’ve opened your home and your hearts to Mari,” Hutch said softly to Edith Dobey who smiled warmly in return.

“It was Harold’s idea,” Edith said, as she looked into the pale blue of eyes of the tall blond who stood beside her, “Mari is such a lovely girl and after what she’s been through, I wouldn’t have dreamed of her being anywhere else. It’s a blessing that girl is still alive!”

“Yeah,” Hutch agreed softly, remembering how close they came to losing her. The fact that Mari and Starsky were here, celebrating Thanksgiving with everyone, was nothing short of a miracle. Hutch stared at his laughing partner and the smiling young woman, his mind drifting back over the past few weeks.

They had almost lost her several times on the way to the hospital. Shock and blood loss complicated matters; the blade had ruptured her intestines, which caused bacteria to enter into her system leaving her weak and nearly comatose as she battled the raging infection and a high fever that spread throughout her body. Starsky too, had suffered through a period of fever and infection, but luckily for him, his fever broke the next day and he was allowed to come home shortly after, much to his pleasure.

While Starsky had been recuperating at home after his short stay in the hospital, Hutch had been bombarded with paperwork regarding the case. The Feds had come down to take the body of James B. Anderson, a.k.a. “The Interstate Killer”, back to Washington State, and they needed the paperwork from Bay City to close the case. Ironically, they had only found out the name of the man responsible for the rape and murders of over seventeen women and the brutal slaughtering of Mari’s family, after he was dead and gone.

The Oregon State Police had called Captain Dobey to report and confirm the pitiful findings of Melissa Rutgers, a red head, green-eyed woman who had been raped, stabbed, and then buried in a shallow grave in a wooded area near Corvallis. They identified the victim through dental records and like Mari predicted, they located her remains a few days after Dobey had called to inform them of the possible homicide.

“At first she was a little shy with us,” Edith continued, drawing Hutch back from his reflections, “But now she’s warmed up to us and I think that my Calvin has a crush on her.” Mrs. Dobey chuckled, as she watched her son make his way over to the noisy table to join in on the fun.

“I think it’s wonderful that she can stay with your family for awhile,” Hutch said quietly, staring kindly at the young Asian women who smiled down at Rosie, the blond’s voice was gentle and soft, “After all, she wasn’t that much older than Cal when she lost her family.”

“Yes,” Edith said sadly, “I can’t imagine what she went through . . . I talked to her last night after Rosie went to bed, and Mari said that she would probably stay in Bay City for a little while until she could get back on her feet. She told me Huggy offered her a job as a waitress for “The Pits.” She said she just might take him up on that offer and earn a little money so that she can buy a ticket to go back to Washington.”

“She’s planning on going back?” Hutch asked surprised that she would even contemplate returning to a place where there were only bad memories. God knows he avoided going home as much as possible, because of those very same reasons. Hutch’s childhood memories were not something he took out to peruse very often. In fact, the tall blond didn’t even consider Minnesota his home anymore, although his family still lived there. Home to Hutch, was here in Bay City, with Starsky and everyone that was gathered around the table tonight. He had found his “family” and if he were honest with himself, a part of him was hoping that Mari would adopt them as her “family” too.

Edith smiled softly, “That girl is so wise for someone so young . . .”

Hutch frowned, puzzled by Edith’s comment, “What do you mean?”

“She told me last night that she’d been thinking about staying here. Said that this was the closest place to home that she knew of.” Edith said sadly, “Mari told me that she hadn’t been hugged by anyone for so long, she’d forgotten what it felt like, until you and Starsky held her in your arms.”

Hutch swallowed down a lump that formed in his throat, feeling terribly sad for the young woman after hearing Edith’s soft words, empathizing with Mari. After all, if it hadn’t been for Starsky, Hutch would probably have never known what a “real” family was like or what a warm touch could do to a person’s heart. “That’s what I mean . . . I mean . . . that’s why I thought she’d stay here with all of us . . . we could be the family she lost . . .” the blond detective stammered.

Edith smiled and cupped the side of Hutch’s face, “That’s so sweet honey, but that little girl has the soul of Solomon. She told me last night that even though she’d love to stay here, she couldn’t run forever. Mari said that there were things she needed to make peace with back home, things in her heart that she needed to heal. She said she needed to close some chapters of her life, before she could open some new ones. That girl has such a good head on her shoulders and a beautiful heart too. I told her last night that the good Lord was surely proud of her, and that He’d sent angels to watch over her this whole time that she’d been going through this horrible ordeal . . . and do you know what she told me Hutch?”

Hutch smiled down at his Captain’s wife, touched by the warmth of her hand against his cheek. The tall blond shook his head slowly, “No . . . no I don’t . . . what did Mari say?”

Edith smiled, lowering her hand as she looked over at the young girl who laughed at the antics of the curly haired detective, as he scratched under his arms and jumped up and down, doing his imitation of a baboon or a monkey of some sort, “She told me she ‘saw’ her angels . . . she said one of them had eyes the color of the sky and hair as golden as a wheat field; the other angel she said, was as dark as the other was light, had a head full of curly brown locks and ocean blue eyes that twinkled like the stars. Now why do I think I know these angels huh?” the dark woman laughed.

Hutch snorted softly, feeling himself blushing under the scrutiny of the Edith’s knowing gaze. The blond detective raised his brows and shrugged, “Dunno . . . maybe she was hallucinating or something, especially if she saw an angel with dark curly hair . . . now the golden one sounds more like something God would send down.”

“Riiiight!” Edith laughed, nudging the tall blond playfully in the arm. They both laughed together until they saw the “kids” coming over to the table. Edith leaned over and whispered to Hutch, “Mari opened her backpack and showed me something last night that her mother had given to her when she was young. I told her that I wanted her to share it with all of us tonight . . .”

“Alright everyone . . . it is time to grind!” Huggy announced proudly, gesturing a long slim hand at the cloth covered table ladened with delicious delectables.

“Oh man,” Starsky said, his eyes twinkling with excitement as he licked his lips, “Mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, cranberries and gravy . . .man oh man . . . I can’t wait to sink my teeth into that turkey Hug.”

“Yeah? Well you better hold on before ‘Harold’ over there takes a bite outta you, turkey,” Huggy whispered, “I think the Dobeys’ ain’t finished yet with the giving of thanks . . .”

“What?” Starsky said, dragging his eyes away from the food to look over at his Captain who stood at the head of the table with his large arm around the small shoulders of the young Asian woman.

“Starsky,” Dobey rasped, “Keep your hands off that turkey before I knock the stuffing out of you . . . Mari here, has something she’d like to share before we eat . . .” The large police captain gently nudged the petite woman forward.

Starsky stared at Mari, his blue eyes wide with disbelief, “Wait a minute . . . Mari . . . you mean you’re gonna say another prayer?”

Hutch gently elbowed his partner from behind, while Mari smiled then laughed at the outrageous look on the dark haired detective’s face, “No … not a prayer, just a poem. Mrs. Dobey thought that I should share it this evening . . . ” Mari said, grinning as she caught the look that Starsky gave Hutch.

“T’rrific,” Starsky mumbled under his breath, as his stomach gave a loud growl of protest, “First a prayer, then a poem, then maybe Hutch can grab his guitar and sing a few hymns . . .” The brunet abruptly stopped his mutterings, jolting forward as Hutch elbowed him from behind once again to quiet him down. Everyone watched as Mari unfolded a worn and stained paper that she took from the back pocket of her jeans.

The young woman looked to the paper, and then looked up shyly at everyone who stood around the table. Though her soft voice quavered, it could be heard by all, “Um . . . this was given to me a long time ago from my mother. When I w-was a kid, I thought I knew it all and sometimes I forgot be grateful for things that I got. One night, after she and I had a fight, she gave me this poem that was written by an anonymous author and I . . . I’ve always carried it with me wherever I went . . . read it a lot when I was on the run. I’d like to share it with all of you. It’s called, ‘Be Thankful’.”

Everyone quieted down, as the young woman started, her voice growing stronger as she read through the poem, “Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to? Be thankful when you don’t know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn. Be thankful for the difficult times . . . during those times, you grow. Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement. Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character. Be thankful for your mistakes for they will teach you valuable lessons. Be thankful when you’re tired and weary, because it means you’ve made a difference.” Mari paused and looked up, then continued to recite the poem clearly from memory, “It is easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks. Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings.”

The silence that ensued was almost deafening. Mari lowered the paper, tears brimming in her eyes. Captain Dobey put his arm around her shoulders again as Mari’s soft voice floated out over the table, “Tonight means so much to me, to be here with all of you . . . to give thanks . . . and share in this celebration. Now I know what my mother wanted me to understand, for I have finally found my blessings through all of the troubles I’ve endured, and my heart is so full of gratitude and love.”

“Aw Mari,” Hutch said, opening his arms to her, only to enfold her small form in his embrace. Soon everyone got a chance to hug the diminutive woman and she laughed gaily as Starsky gave her a big bear hug and a warm kiss on her forehead when it came to his turn.

“Okay,” Starsky said decisively, his arm still wrapped around Mari shoulders, “I think this celebration is getting a bit too soapy here. . . and anyway, that beautiful turkey is getting cold.”

“I wanna make a toast,” Rosie’s young voice sang out above the din of people filling their plates. The little girl raised the cup of grape juice that she held, as Hutch lifted her in his arms to give her a bird’s eye view of the gathering. Rosie waited until she had the attention of everyone there, watching as they filled their glasses, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

she said joyfully.

“Happy Thanksgiving Rosie,” the happy feasters replied.

Rosie giggled at the loud response that she got, her eyes twinkling merrily she said again in a louder voice, “Happy Thanksgiving to you all!”


Author’s Note: And may I take this time dear reader to echo Rosie’s toast. In Hawaiian we say, “Happy Thanksgiving” like this: “Hau’oli La Ho’omakika’i (pronounced: how-oh-lee la ho-o-mah- key-kah-ee) Wishing you and yours, a very happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. Love and aloha, Shawne