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The Basement

copyright 2000, by Hannah

Disclaimer:    The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Officer Stewart and Freddie Lounds were created by Thomas Harris.  They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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PART 1

“Officer Stewart left law enforcement after he saw Dr. Lecter’s  basement. He managed a motel now.”

“Unfortunate that his emotional problems got the better of him.  I thought he was a very promising young officer.” - Hannibal Lecter

The young officer looked around carefully as he moved through the rooms of the townhouse. He and his partner, a classmate from the academy, had been lucky to land such a plum assignment. Stewart wanted to make sure that he avoided any stupid mistakes, and he did his best to concentrate on every detail to make certain he didn’t miss a thing. Later, he would wish that he hadn’t been quite so thorough.

Hannibal Lecter’s home was well-kept. It was elegantly decorated in rich, deep colors; dark woods; and a good number of antiques. Looking around, Officer Stewart could see that the Doctor was tidy to a fault. The desk in Lecter’s study was neatly organized, and the well-appointed kitchen looked as though it had never seen use. 

Stewart and his partner were assigned to a forensics team sent to collect whatever evidence they might find in Lecter’s Baltimore townhouse. His partner was checking the back rooms on the lower level while the remainder of the team were looking around upstairs. Stewart was currently in the kitchen with one of the FBI agents from Quantico assigned to the Doctor’s case. Lecter himself was in custody. He had been apprehended in a hallway outside of his psychiatric offices. If the officers had not responded to the call that came in from the payphone there so quickly, Lecter might have had the opportunity to leave the building and an agent named Graham would most certainly be dead. As it was, Graham was in serious condition at Bethesda and Lecter was in a holding cell. They had gotten the warrant in less than an hour; and here they were, looking for whatever they might find in the Doctor’s home to strengthen the already air-tight court case. 

It was Stewart who found it. He opened a door in one corner of the kitchen, assuming it was some sort of pantry.

“Hey!” Stewart called to the FBI agent, a bulky man named Thoms. “This must be the   basement.”

“Check it out, Officer. I’ll be there in just a minute.” The agent was preoccupied with a rather extensive collection of knives neatly sheathed on the butchers block in the center of the cooking space.

“Yeah, sure.” Stewart replied, already heading down the steps, feeling the wall for a light switch as he went.

He descended the dozen or so  steps to Hannibal Lecter’s basement in darkness, finally feeling the  light switch only when he reached the bottom. He flipped it up and bright light flooded the space. The young officer took a moment to let his eyes adjust, and then began to survey the room.

The basement was lit with lightly tinted neon tubing that ran along the length of the ceiling. The walls were deep grey and the floor was covered in black tile. A drain was set in the floor at the foot of the stairs.

A counter spanned the length of the far wall -- a mottled-grey marble surface atop a solid wooden base. It held an impressive array of hunting knives and various surgical implements – all arranged neatly along a portion of its surface. There was one piece in particular that Stewart recognized as an autopsy saw and another that he later learned was a butcher’s bandsaw. A shelf was mounted over a large stainless steel sink in the right-hand corner of the work area. On it were containers of salt, sugar, sodium nitrite, and sodium nitrate along with a fairly large needle. Prague Powders #1 and #2 were also on the shelf. Officer Stewart was the son of a hunter. He recognized these immediately as commercial products used in the curing of meat. He recognized the type of needle as well. It was a special purpose implement used in spray pumping, a process whereby the cure is injected into the meat. Officer Stewart began to feel ill.

He turned away from his examination of the counter and noticed as he did so that the area underneath the stairs housed what looked like a large, walk-in humidor.  With some reluctance, he took a step in that direction just as Special Agent Thoms appeared on the cellar stairs. 

“Anything down here?” he asked, far too casually to suit Stewart at just this moment.

“Jesus Christ, yes!” Stewart  replied.

Thoms fairly clambered down the remaining stairs, an eager expression on his sharp features. Just as he was about to ask the officer to elaborate, his gaze fell on the collection of weapons positioned on the counter.

“I see what you mean.” Thoms issued a low whistle as he crossed the room to get a better look.

“Somebody could do some real damage with these.”  His tone was almost reverent.

“That’s not even the worst of it!” Stewart almost whispered, crossing to stand next to Thoms. “Will you get a load of this!?”

He pointed to the shelf, looking back at the FBI agent expectantly. Thoms simply shook his head, a look of bewilderment crossing his features.

“I don’t get it,” he said simply.

“My dad was a hunter,” Stewart began. “ I used to go with him sometimes when I was younger, but I never developed a taste for it. That’s not important. What is important is that I learned a fair amount about how he used to dress out his kills. He cured a lot of the meat...” He trailed off as a look of horrified understanding began to spread over Thoms’s face.

“You don’t mean to tell me...” he began, as Officer Stewart nodded with an odd mixture of eagerness and reluctance.

“Yep.”

“Jesus God!” Thoms exclaimed “What kind of monster are we dealing with here?”

“Beats me – but whatever it is, I think it gets worse.” Stewart nodded his head in the direction of the stairs.

“What the hell is in there?” the agent muttered, almost to himself.

“I don’t know, and I’m not so sure that I want to.” 

Stewart was quickly beginning to regret his readiness to volunteer for “some real excitement” in this case. He had a very bad feeling about what was behind that door. He and Thoms simply stood there looking at one another. Finally the agent drew in a deep breath.

“I’m not so sure I do either, but we’ve got no choice. Might as well get it over with.”

He nodded his head several times for emphasis and crossed the room. Stewart let out a resigned sigh and followed, standing just behind Agent Thoms as he cautiously opened the door...

Fin

Part 1 of 3

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