Monday, April 13, 2009, around 6:00 AM
The Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit — better known as VASCU — is typically critically understaffed, particularly in a city with a crime rate like Chicago. As such, VASCU agent Thea Matman is notified that she will be assigned with a non-VASCU FBI agent named Karen Murphy, along with two unaffiliated hunters whose options are to go to prison or work for VASCU. They are Preston Billingsly — better known by his stage name as a magician, “Preston Digitation” — and his young daughter Abby — better known by her stage name, “Abby Cadabby.”
Once formalities are out of the way, Agents Matman and Murphy are given the information regarding the case: over the past month and half, five dead bodies have turned up across South Side. This morning’s victim is number five. Each has been found in the early morning, having been savagely attacked, vivisected, and having had several organs removed. In all cases, the heart and liver are missing, though some others are also missing kidneys, gallbladder, and spleen. Once all details are given, they go to Marquette Park to investigate. Before leaving, Agents Matman and Murphy give the appropriate details to Preston and Abby.
They arrive at the scene to find a tent erected and police already at work. The body of victim Ricky Samwell is seen, his body marred by claw marks and having been cut open. The right arm has been removed. The trail of blood leads a little deeper into the park. After looking around, it is determined that he has been moved, but only slightly, as the rest of the blood is visible nearby. His heart, liver, spleen, and gallbladder have all been removed. Agent Matman is able to determine that this was done by hand, rather than with a rib-spreader. Agent Murphy and Preston begin looking for clues; Agent Murphy is able to track the killer’s bare feet to the street before losing the trail. In asking around, they determine that nobody saw anything last evening. However, as Preston asks around, he learns that some of the street folk have seen a girl wandering about around the time of the murders. Though she seems nice, she gives the homeless folks the creeps. She may be found in Calumet Park when she’s not wandering. The people on the street also indicate that local vagrant “Lonesome Teddy” has been seen around, and is known to have killed in the past. Additionally, the mutilations of stray animals have increased since the murders began.
Returning to Agent Matman, she decides to look around with her more focused vision. She manages to determine that the killer — dressed in ragged clothing, and appearing wan and jaundiced — stealthily approached behind Ricky, ripping into his chest and throat with clawed hands. Then, producing a scalpel, he cut into his chest, ripped open the ribcage with his bare hands, and cut out the organs he needed. He quickly ate them, and bit the right arm off, wrapping it in the man’s shirt and taking it with him.
Having broken from her reverie, albeit with a fresh nosebleed, Agent Matman explains her conclusions to the others and has a police sketch artist perform a rendering of the killer she saw. She then instructs Preston and Agent Murphy to ask around. Since they know that the killer is not a woman, they ask around for “Lonesome Teddy,” but learn that he tends to change location a fair amount. When asked, the police explain that they do not have any records regarding him; if he’s killed anyone, they haven’t connected him to it. Finding him difficult to find, they look for the girl.
Once they spot her in the park, sitting under the Chicago Skyway, Agent Murphy and Abby decide to hang back while Preston talks to her. When asked, she introduces herself as Lily, and answers his questions, although he determines that she is lying when she says that she does not know anything about the murders. After a little more digging, and once Agent Murphy steps in, she explains that this thing is bad, and dangerous. Once Agent Murphy assures her that they deal with strange things, she explains that she doesn’t know who the man is; she merely knows that he escaped from a lab out in the middle of nowhere — she apparently witnessed this, and the men who tried to catch him — and that upon coming to Chicago, she caught sight of him again. She explains that she was trying to follow him in the hopes that she could determine something to do about him. When Agent Murphy indicates that this is a dangerous murderer, Lily assures her that she can take care of herself.
After they exchange contact information, with Lily saying that she will contact them if she learns anything about the killer or the whereabouts of “Lonesome Teddy,” they return to Agent Matman. After explaining everything to her, they deliberate about what to do next.