Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.
I quickly prepared spells for the day, then I cast Flight from scratch on myself
and on Mara, followed by Invisibility and Mystic Vision for each of us.
"How does this work?" she asked as we stood, invisible, on the front porch.
"What do I do?"
"It's hard to explain, but I think you can do it. It's like walking; you don't
really think about it." I rose off the ground a foot or so, to show her. I was
invisible, of course, but the Mystic Vision would allow her to see me glowing
faintly, just as I saw her. "Just relax, and then take a step off the porch."
"Oh!" she cried, as I saw her spectral form step into the empty air. "It's
working!" she exclaimed. "I'm floating! I can fly!"
"Take my hand, you beautiful ghost," I said, and we flew off together into the
We arrived at the Burke residence about nine-thirty. That early in the morning,
the front door of their west-facing house was in deep shadow, so we stepped into
the recessed entrance and I dismissed our Invisibility spells.
Once again I was poised to knock when Mara, grinning, rang the bell. I smiled
sheepishly at her.
The door opened after a moment, and Miyuki Burke beckoned us inside. "Come in,
please. I understand you want to speak to me this time?"
"Yes," I said, "we do. Are any other members of your family here?"
"Well, Walter is at work, of course, and Kimberly spent the night at a friend's
house. Daniel is in his room upstairs, probably still asleep."
She led us into the living room, and offered us tea. Mara and I both accepted a
cup, and I sipped at mine once out of politeness. I don't see how anyone can
drink such a flavorless beverage; even coffee is better.
Mara and I took seats on the couch, while Miyuki sat down on an adjacent
overstuffed chair. "Now, how can I help you?" she asked.
"Miyuki, there's no easy way to ask this," I said, bracing myself for all sorts
of responses. "Is Daniel Walter's son?"
"Oh," she said, surprised. "I wondered if you would ask that." She took a long
sip at her tea. "No, he isn't," she answered quietly.
She opened her mouth to speak, then thought twice, and quietly she went up the
stairs, waving at us to remain there. After a moment she returned.
"He's asleep. I wanted to be sure." She sat down again. "I was raped," she
"Tell us all you can, please," Mara said. "I know it's not a pleasant thing,
but it may be important."
"Yes. Well... Walter and I had just come to San Francisco, after he left
the Air Force. He took a job for an import firm, in the sales department, and
he had to go on a lot of business trips. They were never more than a few days,
and I spoke English fairly well, but I was lonely when he was away.
"One night I awoke to see a man in a ski mask standing over me. Before I could
scream, he had covered my face with a pillow. I tried to fight, but he was too
strong and heavy for me, and I passed out.
"When I woke up again, I was in my bed, lying on my back, just as I had been
before, but my panties were gone and I could tell I had been... used." Here she
paused, drinking her tea and pouring another cup for herself. Her composure was
amazing, but I sensed she was working hard to hold on to it.
"I did all the wrong things then. They didn't talk much about rape in those
days, so I didn't know what to do, and I just wanted it all to go away. I
showered, and I threw my nightgown and panties in the washing machine along with
all my bedding. I checked every door and window in the house, and found one on
the first floor which didn't latch properly; I was sure he had entered the house
there. I couldn't leave it that way; but Walter was something of a handyman, so
I got his hammer and some large nails and I nailed it closed.
"After I had done all that, I remade the bed, found new nightclothes and
went back to bed.
"In other words, I tried to believe it had never happened. For the most part I
succeeded; I had terrible nightmares a few times, and several panic attacks, but
no one would have known, except for one thing.
"You see, we had decided to start a family, Walter and I. When I told him I
thought I was pregnant he was so happy. He could see I wasn't, and he asked me
what was wrong... well, I told him everything.
"I was afraid he would think I had cheated on him, but Walter trusted me. We
had no way to know if the child was the rapist's, or Walter's, but he told me he
didn't care. He said, 'no matter who the father is, this child will be your
child, and I will love it as I love you.'" She poured herself the last cup of
tea then, and drank it slowly.
"When did you know it wasn't?" I asked.
"When he was born. It was obvious to everyone that he wasn't, but our family
and friends were too polite to mention it." She paused a moment, then said "We
never told Daniel he wasn't Walter's. Maybe we should have."
"Miyuki, tell me, please... did the rapist raise your nightgown," said Mara,
gesturing to indicate that she meant, "did he expose your breasts" without
actually saying it.
"No," she answered quickly. "It seemed to me that he hadn't done anything but
remove my panties and commit the act."
Mara spared be a glance. It fit with Kimberly's rape.
"Do you think that my rape had something to do with my daughters?"
I didn't dare to voice my true suspicions yet, so I said "Possibly. There may
be a connection, or there may not."
"Solo Jones, I must tell you that I trust you. My sister is very wise in many
ways, and she has recommended you to me. Please do your best for us."
"I will," I said, rising. As I walked toward the door, I saw Daniel at the top
of the stairs. How much had he heard? I moved toward the stairs, but he turned
away quickly and half-ran back to his room. I looked at Mara, and I suppose I
A thought came to me then, so at the door I turned around. Miyuki, of course,
was following her guests. "One more question," I said. "The police have been
investigating this case for more than a month; I should like to talk to the
detective in charge of the case. Can you tell me who he is and where to find
"It's a lady detective, Mister Jones," Miyuki answered. "Her name is Moretti."
She told us the precinct's address, which Mara took note of. (My handwriting
in English was still terrible, and in fact has never become much better to this
Outside, we began a leisurely walk toward the afore-mentioned police precinct
office. We both still had the Flight spell in effect, and I had two
Invisibility spells prepared, but I thought we might be being watched. I leaned
close to Mara and told her so.
We walked, more like strolled, hand in hand down the streets. There were people
walking, jogging, skating, and driving all over, and once again I remembered how
many people lived in the world these days.
"I think we need to talk to Daniel, probably before Joel comes back," I said.
"He didn't want to talk to us," she answered, smiling as if we were sharing a
secret joke. It seemed a good cover, so I tried to emulate her.
"Maybe we need to wait until he leaves the house, then surprise him somewhere,"
I said. It was impossible not to frown then. "I don't know if this was such a
"What do you mean?"
"This role that Mark has created for me, an investigator, may not be the right
thing for me. I am a warrior, and a mage; most of all I'm a man of action. The
strategy and tactics of fighting or of magic, I know them pretty well. This
business of puzzling out what happened... I don't know if I can do it."
"Your accent is getting thicker."
"Ah, well, perhaps when I am frustrated trying to tell my feelings I revert.
I've been speaking English less than a month, you know." I looked off into the
"You can do this, my love. You are smart, and you have the best help." I saw
the impish smile on her face, and I kissed her, right there on the sidewalk. A
young woman in gothic dress passing by whistled at us, and I gave her a wink and
resumed kissing Mara.
At least, I assume it was a woman. San Francisco often surprises me; but I had
no idea what strange surprises I would soon face.
Fortunately it wasn't far to the precinct office. We went inside, making way
for two uniformed officers guiding an orange-uniformed man out to a waiting
police car. Inside, things were much more orderly than the police departments
shown on television, which of course was the only way I knew anything about
I am smart enough not to believe everything I see on television, by the way...
The desk sergeant told Mara that Detective Moretti was out on a case. Mara
turned back to me and we started for the door, but just then a dark-haired woman
in business attire came in. "Moretti!" called the desk sergeant, "these folks
want to talk to you."
"Yeah, what can I do for you?" she said, approaching us.
"I'm Solo Jones. I was hired to look into the rape of Kimberly Burke. I'm told
you are in charge of the police investigation?"
"Yeah, I am," she said, making a face. "Come with me." We followed her back to
a desk in an adjacent room. There were several desks there, some with
detectives behind them, and there were a few people scattered around talking
with the detectives. No one was very close to Moretti's desk, which I
"By the way, this is Mara, my assistant." Detective Moretti nodded at her, and
we all sat down.
"There's not much of an investigation at this point," she said. "Forensics
managed to find a few hairs for comparison, but we don't have any suspects, or
"There are some things about this case which are strange," I said. "Only one of
her assailants actually raped her, and neither one of them really seemed...
interested in her otherwise."
"You mean like, they didn't play with her? I know what you mean. Rapists do it
for power; they like to talk to the victim, play with her, inflict as much fear
as they can. These two didn't." She sat looking at me, as if debating
something with herself. "I bet you know some things I don't," she said.
"Probably, but I don't know what to make of them." I decided then to tell some
of what I knew in the hopes she would reciprocate. "Kimberly Burke is pregnant,
and she insists it's by the rapist."
Moretti leaned forward. "Pregnant? That's like, impossible! Didn't the doctor
do a D&C at the hospital after the rape kit was collected?"
"That's what he says. I'm inclined to think he's lying. We spoke with Doctor
Rabo, and he insisted that her pregnancy must be by some other man, and that it
had been enough time for that to happen. It's a stretch."
Moretti made a perplexed face. "Even if the D&C was a fake, she still shouldn't
be pregnant. The Forensics team downtown had a hard time finding any sperm in
the rape kit, or on the sheets. The rapist's sperm count was almost zero."
I had heard that before, and now I had confirmation; but what did it mean? I
decided to take a different approach. "Did you know that Daniel Burke is the
result of the rape of Miyuki years ago?" She shook her head. "There was a
single rapist in that case, but he behaved much like this one did... he didn't
play with or talk to Miyuki. He overpowered her, smothering her with a pillow
until she was unconscious, then removed her panties and did what he came for.
She told us that she didn't report it because she wanted to forget it, but she
told her husband when she found out she was pregnant."
"I thought there was something strange about that boy." She absently
chewed her lip, thinking. "I'm going to tell you some things I probably
shouldn't. I think you probably have a better chance to solve this case than I
do, but if you don't mind I'd like you to call me before you approach any
I nodded my agreement, and she opened a desk drawer, retrieved a stack of file
folders and handed them to us. As Mara and I began to look through them,
Moretti said, "I'll save you a lot of time here. Those are all unsolved rape
cases from the last twelve months. There are lots more before that. All of
them have one or two perps, but just one actually performs the rape. The rapist
doesn't show any other interest in the victim, doesn't even talk to her. In a
couple of cases where there are two perps they talk to each other. It seems to
be strictly business to them."
She took a sip of her coffee as we looked briefly through the folders. "The
strangest thing to me is, almost all of these rapes resulted in a pregnancy.
People usually aren't that fertile. It seems real unlikely to me that all of
these women were ovulating at the time; several were on the Pill, and one even
had her tubes tied."
There were eight folders here; if there were eight reported cases, how many went
"How did you find all these?" asked Mara.
"Well, I was telling one of the older detectives what a strange case
this was, and he told me he had worked one like it a few years back.
I went looking for that case file, and once I knew what I was looking
for I found all these also."
Mara said, "Some kind of serial rapist, then."
"The chief says no. There are too many discrepancies between the
cases. Look, in this one there's just one man, in a T-shirt and
shorts, with a bandana around his hair and another over his nose and
mouth. This one has two men, wearing ski masks and sweatsuits. This
one here has one man in a Halloween monster mask, and this other guy
wore pantyhose over his head like a bank robber." She sat back,
looking disgusted. "I called an old friend who joined the FBI, and
asked her about this kind of case. Once she went looking she found a
lot of similar cases in New York City, plus at least a few in every
major US city she examined. She had a profiler look at a few of the
case files, and he couldn't even guess at a profile."
"That's strange," said Mara. I didn't know what a profiler was, but I
nodded in agreement anyway. (Mara explained it later.)
"So I took what I had to the chief, and he said he thinks it's just a
fluke. There's no way it could be the same guys all these times, and
he just laughed when I suggested it was some kind of club or
something. Told me to forget it." She looked disgusted.
"Detective Moretti, I promise, if we come up with something you can
use we'll let you know." I stood then, and shook hands with her.
"You may be hearing from us," I said as we walked away.
"Good luck, Solo Jones."
Next Chapter >>