It had been two weeks since Jay's dream that woke him up from a good nights rest. Since that time, Jay had hardly dreamed at all. He had also hardly slept sometimes, the stress of the work day getting to him. But also that nagging feeling of something reaching for him in what he referred to as "the dream" still persisted. The bruises had healed completely now, no trace of anything.
But this was only the beginning...
Now, two weeks later, a bigger issue had risen, one that prompted the Chief of police in the city of Smithville to visit his long time friend, the provost of the university.
With the work of the semester starting to grind on all the faculty and administrators of Smithville University, the provost was busily working away at his desk. At the moment, he was looking into matters of academic integrity that had, unfortunately, fallen across his desk. It always pained the provost to have to deal with such issues, but in lieu of recent scandals across the nation of grade tampering, the provost had to take these matters quite seriously.
A knocked wrapped on his office door, as the provost wrote endlessly on a sheet of paper before him.
"Come!", the provost yelled.
In walked his secretary, half in and outside of the doorway, holding the knob firmly.
"Dr. Ward, you have a visitor," his secretary said.
The secretary moved forward a little, and in walked a man in full police garb, donned in his hat. As the provost looked up, he took instance notice of the man that had entered, a smile coming across his face.
"Jerry, how in the world have you been?", asked the provost.
Jerry, the police chief of Smithville, acknowledged him with a smile and began moving towards the desk, as the provost jumped up and greeted him in earnest.
"Don, it's been too long, my friend," replied Jerry.
The two men shook hands, Don firmly grasping Jerry's hand with both of his.
Don gave a simple nod to his secretary who proceeded to exit the room and close the door behind her.
"I'm sorry I haven't gotten in touch with you over the last few months," said Don.
"Believe me, if you've been anywhere near as busy as I have, I completely understand."
Don laughed at Jerry's comments and offered for him to have a seat. The two men went over to a sitting area adjacent to Don's desk. Don offered Jerry a non-alcoholic beverage, assuming he was still on duty. But, Jerry declined.
Don sat across from him, bringing the drink from his own desk over along the way.
"So what has been keeping you busy these days, Jerry?"
"Oh, you really want to open that can of worms, Don?"
"Ah, same ol', same ol', budget crunching, trying to maintain order and peace. Just the old routine."
Don laughed, "I'm sure the budget crunching has been far more extensive in recent days than before?"
"You have no idea, my friend. I actually have to cut twenty-five positions by the end of the year. One of the hardest decisions of my life to say the least."
Don grimaced at the words, which echoed similar issues he had faced in recent weeks.
"Our cuts have been extensive as well, Jerry. It seems like every month the state pulls more and more funding. At this rate we'll have janitors cross training as physics professors, and gardening consultants just to keep things as they are."
"I would think that between the football and baseball teams you sport, money would be no object?"
"Oh, well, it's no object for the football and baseball teams, it just is for everyone else that works here."
Jerry laughed at the statement and removed his hat. He looked down at the floor briefly which prompted a somewhat curious gaze from Don. Jerry continued looking down as Don asked him a question.
"So what brings you here today, Jerry? It's not like you to just come over unannounced?"
Jerry looked up and sat his hat in his lap. "Well, I do have to admit, I came here on official police business as it turns out, this time."
Don's heart sank a bit, "You're not here for some issue the likes of what happened in Pennsylvania, are you?"
"Oh, goodness no, Don. No craziness like that, but it does involve a member of your faculty."
Don gave Jerry another curious look.
"A new nursing instructor of yours, to be exact. You're familiar with a Ms. Britton Giles, correct?"
"Oh yes, Britton, Margaret and Bernie Giles daughter! She's a quite talented nursing instructor, and a bit of a looker from what I've over heard from several drueling coeds and faculty alike."
Jerry chuckled and looked down. Don could see the tension on Jerry's face mounting.
"Has she broken some...law, Jerry?"
Jerry looked back up, "No, but someone did towards her."
Don just stared.
"The family had asked us to keep this quiet, which is the same thing I'm asking of you now. They've been calling in for her for several days until they decipher a way to break the news to the public."
"What news, Jerry?"
Jerry took a deep sigh, "Britton is dead. She was found dead in her apartment across town. Autopsy showed she had been beaten to death."
"My God, Jerry. I honestly had no idea."
"Oh, of course you didn't, no one does but a select few in her family and at the police department."
"I don't understand."
Jerry took another deep sigh, "It's not so much her death that is unnerving, but the circumstances of how it occurred. You see, Don, we received a 9-1-1 call the night of her murder from Britton herself via her cell phone inside her apartment. Police units were dispatched in accordance with the nature of the call, but what they found was puzzling."
"Are you sure you should be telling me this, Jerry?"
"I'm telling you, Don, because I need someone to help me figure this out and you're the smartest guy I know."
Don chuckled only a bit and then implored Jerry to go on.
"When the units arrived, the apartment was locked from the inside, front door and rear. All of the windows were shut and locked. There was no sign of forced entry. They literally had to breakdown the door to get in. When they went in they found her battered, bruised, and bloodied laying across the bed, dead. Those circumstances and the call are what makes this very bizarre."
"What happened with the call?"
"The dispatcher said that Britton was screaming that her husband was trying to kill her."
"Husband? Britton was married?"
"I take you weren't aware of this either, Don?"
"No! I'm sure I would have known that. Could the dispatcher have been mistaken? Perhaps she said boyfriend?"
"No, I listened to the call myself and three different times she said her husband was trying to kill her. But we did a check with the county, vital records, even the HR department here at the university, and there is no evidence that Britton was ever married to anyone....anywhere."
Don sat there with a stunned look on his face, trying to take it all in. Surely there has to be a mistake in all of this? I can't believe Britton is dead! How is that even possible?
"I can tell it shocks you as much as it has me. But that's not the weirdest part."
"What's the weirdest part?"
"The officers on the scene found no evidence of anyone else being in the apartment when the wounds to Britton were inflicted upon her. It's clear to the forensics team that a second party was involved, but there's no trace that they ever even existed in the same room with Britton when it happened. No foot prints or anything to the physical location....except..."
Don was leaning toward Jerry now, on the edge of his seat, "Except....what?"
Jerry looked dead in Don's eyes, "Except on Britton's body. We found hair that didn't match with her's, skin under her nails, bite marks, hand prints, even....semen. Someone raped her, physically abused her, murdered her, but we can't even prove that another human being was in the room at the time. No trace they ever entered the apartment, no trace they ever left. It's as if whoever did this just disappeared into thin air."
Don sat there staring at Jerry, his eyes widened.
"Now if you can figure out how that happened, you're a smarter man than I ever will be, Don."
Don leaned back in his seat, taking in what he had just heard. He was still beside himself about Britton being dead, but this other information was so unbelievable he could hardly comprehend the implications of such a circumstance. He had never heard of anything like this in his life.
"I see why the family wants to keep it quiet then."
"Exactly! Unfortunately, despite the physical evidence on the body to the contrary, we have no other choice but to call her death a suicide. It just doesn't make any sense to any of us at all, Don. I have never seen a situation like this in all the years I've worked in the police force, and I honestly had no idea where else to turn to for help on this. So if there's anything you could offer, I'd be much abliged."
Don sat there for a moment pondering the words of his friend. He had no answer, he had no way of knowing how to handle this, other than the way it had already been handled. But he did have a remedy that might help his friend for the moment.
"How about that drink, my friend? One with alcohol in it?"
"That's a good start."
Jay was searching webpages on his laptop one morning, later in the semester, when he realized he had not seen Britton around the lounge lately. He hadn't seen her since the day his buddy had embarrassed him, to some degree. In fact, he had stirred clear of Britton purposefully because of the statements made with her in ear shot, so as to not give the wrong impression to her.
But today, Jay looked at the Smithville Gassette and happened across a story on a side bar link that grabbed his attention. The link read "Nursing Instructor Suicide, age 28." He clicked the link and was brought to the full length story on the webpage about the death of Britton Giles, the former nursing instructor of Smithville University. Jay was floored by this revelation. He knew he had not seen Britton around campus of late, but he had no idea she had been dead for weeks.
Jay eagerly read the short article about Britton, someone he had hardly known, but for one moment had made a connection with him. A connection that ran deeper than either of them could have ever imagined.