Previously“The FBI is taking over this case, and my team’s headed back to Washington this afternoon.” *Michaels was a habitual criminal, aged sixty-one, who’d spent more than half his life behind bars. He’d been jointly responsible for the death of a jewellery store clerk and a customer during a robbery in the early nineties, and killed all three of his partners in a fight over money after they fled the crime scene.*Michaels was going to be released at 11 AM on Monday. The parole conditions included regular appointments with a probation officer, but he had forty-eight hours before his first check-in. That would have been a good time to catch up with him, but I couldn’t be sure that the FBI would hold off until Wednesday. I had to do this fast and cleanly, and without leaving a trail. *I made my way to the only outbuilding, a barn that would be just about usable as a kill room, and covered the floor with plastic sheeting. There was no operating table, but I could bring something from the house once I had Michaels knocked out.A little after midnight I decided I’d waited long enough.Show time…Dexter Morgan
I crept out of the barn as quietly as I could, and went towards the house very cautiously. Most of the houses were dark, their occupants away or asleep. I was fortunate that Michaels’ house was well back from the main road, making the most of its five acres; that left it at least a hundred yards from the nearest occupied building, with trees obscuring their view. Unless I got very careless his neighbours would never know I was there. There wasn’t much to be heard; an occasional night bird, the hum of the transformers down by the river, distant traffic noise.
A quarter moon had risen while I was making my preparations; there wasn’t much light, but it was enough to keep me from tripping over or falling into holes, with some very cautious use of a flashlight when I was sure it couldn’t easily be seen from the house. Someone had been digging the ground around the house; maybe police looking for Michaels’ alleged loot, or Michaels recovering it. I tried to avoid leaving footmarks in soft ground, and made a mental note to check the ground when I cleaned up after the kill. If that wasn’t possible I’d buy new shoes before returning home, and ditch the old ones well away from the apartment.
I got to the back porch quietly, got out my picks, then on a hunch tried the handle. The door began to open. I pocketed the picks, got out a syringe, and carefully crept inside, risking the flashlight again to look around. The kitchen, old furnishings and equipment, mostly covered in dust, and a doorway leading further into the house. There was a big table that would have been ideal for the coming operation, but looked too heavy to move by myself. Somehow I couldn’t imagine asking my victim to lend me a hand. But if all else failed maybe I could do the show right here, and forget about using the barn as my kill room.
Harry was leaning against the stove, and said “Isn’t it a little late to be getting cautious?”
I murmured “I’m working, dad,” and wondered why he’d chosen to show up. Or, since I occasionally try to be realistic about these things, why my subconscious had decided to dream him up at this particular moment. But it’d have to wait. I held my fingers to my lips and went on into the house.
The rest of the floor was as shabby as the kitchen, smelling of dust and dirt. I was leaving footprints everywhere I went, I’d definitely have to ditch my shoes before I went anywhere near my apartment. One of the rooms was stripped of furniture and seemed to have been prepared for redecoration, presumably before the previous occupant died since there was dust everywhere. There were a couple of trestles that looked sturdy but reasonably portable, and some planks that should do as a work surface. I had my table. But I had other things to do first.
Once I’d checked all the rooms I crept up the stairs, helped by a little light from above, staying near the wall to minimise creaking, and stopped when I was half-way up and I could see the upper floor, a narrow hallway lit by one dim bulb. Up ahead of me was a half-open door. I could hear the faint dripping of a tap, and guessed it was the bathroom. A couple of steps confirmed that. There were two other doors, one at the other end of the hallway, the other to the side. If I hadn’t got turned around Michaels’ bedroom was the room at the end. I couldn’t risk any noise this close to him, so I bypassed the other room and went straight for Michaels.
The knob turned smoothly, and the door opened without a sound. In the dim light I could see him lying on the bed, one foot sticking out from under the blankets. From the position of his foot I could tell he was lying on his side facing away from me. I listened, but couldn’t hear anything to suggest he was awake. The foot gave me an obvious injection point, but not one I preferred; there are plenty of blood vessels there, but if he had circulatory problems I might end up injecting a muscle or a clogged vein. I’m much better with arms and the neck. So I moved into the room, gently took hold of the sheet and blanket, and yanked them back, while I stabbed for his neck with the syringe.
And that would have been the end of that phase of things. Except that the man in the bed wasn’t Michaels, and wasn’t alive. It was a younger man, maybe in his forties, fully clothed apart from one shoe and sock. From the way his head lay I guessed that his neck was broken. The body was still warm. I had no idea who he was, but if he was here, where was Michaels? I was still trying to figure it out when I heard footsteps coming upstairs. There wasn’t time to find a good hiding place, so I silently shut the door, covered the body, and waited to one side, where the opening door would conceal me. After a pause that felt interminable, but was really only a few seconds, it opened and Michaels came in, carrying a plastic gasoline can, and began to pour it onto the bed and body. He couldn’t have been positioned more perfectly, and it was ridiculously easy to reach out and stab him in the neck with my second hypodermic. Seconds later he was out for the count. I checked him over, and found a SIG-Sauer P229 tucked into his belt. Where had a con on parole found a gun so fast? Probably taken from the man he’d killed.
He’d be out for at least half an hour, so I left the gun and gasoline in the bedroom and dragged him downstairs, and left him in the kitchen while I moved the trestles and planks to the barn.* * * * *
“Are you out of your mind?” demanded Fornell, staring at the monitors. “Morgan could have stabbed him as soon as he walked in the door!”
“It isn’t his M.O.,” Gibbs said calmly, “and Mike knows what he’s doing. Every inch of that house is wired, if we’d seen any weapon he would have taken him out.”
“Mike Franks is a fucking cowboy, but you should know better. What if he got an overdose, or had a bad reaction to the drug? Or chokes on his own vomit?”
“You know all this. We know what he uses, they found traces in some of the Bay Harbor bodies, and Ducky tested it. Mike’s fine with it. And Morgan doesn’t make mistakes, he likes to play with his victims.”
“I don’t like it.”
“It was Mike’s play, and he’s taken it. We need to follow up and make the case.” He picked up a headset and said “Sound off.”
“Morgan’s moving something to the barn,” said Ziva. “One of the trestles from the house.”
“Mike is breathing normally,” said Tim. “All vital signs are nominal.”
“What if Morgan finds the sensors?” asked Fornell.
“They’re subcutaneous,” said Tim. “He won’t find them easily.”
“I hope to god you’re right.”* * * * *
By the time Michaels started to come round I had him stripped and Saran-wrapped to my improvised table. He came back to consciousness faster than most, and I could see his eyes moving as he tried to take in the scene; the tent of plastic sheeting that enclosed us, and your humble narrator standing over him, wearing disposable scrubs, gloves, and a face mask, raised so that I could look him in the eyes.
“What the Sam Hill is going on?”
That was a change, the usual question is “Who are you?”
“Hello, Frank, you’re here to pay for your sins.”
“You some sort of fucking evangelist?”
“You’ve been a very bad boy, Frank. Three men you killed in ninety-three, and whoever that is in your bedroom.”
“What’s it to you?”
I slapped his face, fairly hard. “I’m here to punish you, Frank.”
“You a cop?”
“Get real.” I got my small scalpel and gently touched it to his cheek, and transferred a drop of his blood to a slide. “Any last words?”
“Why are you doing this?”
I put a wad of cotton swabs into his mouth, and said “I like killing people, Frank, and you won’t be missed.” I pulled down the visor and reached for my largest knife. Suddenly the barn was flooded with blinding light, so bright that for a moment I couldn’t see, and someone grabbed my hand, kicked my feet from under me. By the time I stopped blinking I was on the ground, face down, my hands cuffed behind my back, and something heavy on my back.
I heard a voice I recognised; Agent Gibbs. “You all right, Mike?”
“Asshole cut my face,” said Michaels, or whoever he really was.
“Let me get more photos,” said DiNozzo, who had also apparently joined the crowd, “then I’ll cut you loose.”
“Fuck the photos, get me my goddamned clothes.”
“Ziva,” said Gibbs, “read Morgan his rights.”
“You have the right to remain silent,” said Ziva David, who appeared to be kneeling on my back. “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
I thought about my options, and said nothing.
“It’s okay,” said Gibbs. “We really don’t need a statement. We’ve taped everything you’ve done and said tonight.”
“The house is wired top to bottom,” said someone I didn’t immediately recognise - I later learned it was Agent Fornell - “and we got a couple of miniature cameras in here while you were inside. So we have conclusive evidence that you abducted an innocent man and were prepared to kill him. Any questions?”
I knew they had me, so I might as well ask. “What about the body in the house?”
“A suicide, the family let us use his body. We didn’t want you doubting that Michaels was a killer.”
“So who is he really?”
“You’ll find out in court.”* * * * *
So that’s it.
Gibbs is a bulldog, but now I’m caught I stop being his problem; he’ll move on to other things. As for me… well, I know the Florida penal system; it’s run by people who are a lot less competent than Gibbs. It may take a while, but sooner or later I’ll find a way out.
I always do.The End"Eventually, most serial killers get caught. There's really not much of a retirement plan."
Dexter Morgan - Dexter episode 1.06
And that’s it. And no, I don’t plan a sequel.
At the time I began I had no idea how the plot of the Dexter TV series was going to evolve, nor that it would take me so long to finish this story. I’ve tried to avoid letting the show influence my plot, and hope that readers will be happy with the way I developed the original premise.
Apologies, again, to everyone who started reading this because it originally included an Angel crossover; it really didn’t work, and I think the story was improved by removing it.
If anyone was wondering, the dream sequence in chapter XVII was my first stab at the final scene of the story, written soon after I began - some time after writing it I realised that it relied on Gibbs knowing that Dexter is killing someone, but not stopping him, which seemed implausible. It also relies on Gibbs keeping a submarine and a coast guard boat on call for a prolonged period, which is very implausible, and I believe illegal since the US armed forces aren’t normally supposed to operate in US territory. Alternatives with the coast guard only, and with a French submarine, also failed the plausibility test. In the end I decided to go for something a little less melodramatic.
Thanks for reading!