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copyright 1999, by Lectergrrl

Disclaimer:    The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling, Jack Crawford and Ardelia Mapp 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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October 2nd, 1995 - Baltimore

Special Agent Clarice Starling slipped her hands in her pockets and tried to enjoy her morning walk. The dead leaves crumbled under her feet with a satisfying crunch as she strayed from the sidewalk toward the deserted street. The sun hadn't risen yet, painting Clarice's world in the azures and reds of dawn.

She inhaled deeply.

She thought of many things during these autumn strolls. Often it had to do with the case she was working on. The crisp air helped her think and the silence that came with such early walks was a blessing.

But as it often happened, Clarice's mind turned to more sinister thoughts. It had been a few years since Doctor Hannibal Lecter's disappearance and Clarice found herself thinking more and more of the infamous psychiatrist.

Especially today.

The letter. The letter had done it. She'd found the first of many such letters neatly tucked in her mailbox two years ago; Lecter's fine handwriting had printed her name in small, precise letters. It had been with trembling hands she'd slipped the letter opener inside the slit, the cold metal pressing in her palm and permeating her entire being. Her heart had beat hard, her breathing had accelerated until she thought she'd run out of oxygen if she didn't calm herself. She found herself exhilarated. By the light of her night lamp, she'd feverishly read over the doctor's letter twice to capture every nuance;

Dear Clarice,

It is with disappointment I scour the newspapers, finding no word from you. Brave Clarice, I do miss you. Our last meeting was rushed, hardly giving tribute to your angst. But I savored each word, Clarice. I wanted you to know that.

I said, once, that it would be quite thing to know you in private life. Strolling through the streets of Florence (I assure you, this isn't some half-hammered way to lead you to me - I've moved on and am quite a distance from the picturesque beauty of Italy), I found myself wishing for you to be at my side. Such sentimentality is quite a novel experience, you see. But I think you would have appreciated Florence through my eyes, dear Clarice. I even savoured a rack of lamb, extra rare, in your name during my stay at the Belvedere. If you rush enough, perhaps you could trace my room and smell there the lingering scent of its blood.

Oh, and I am including an extra special gift for you, Clarice. I do hope you will appreciate the thought.

Hannibal Lecter

The gift Lecter had mentioned turned out to be Chilton's prized photograph. The one of the mangled nurse. Behind it, she found a crude, rushed inscription; Ron Mc'Teal, '88. No doubt the unlucky person who had to take the picture for the archives. Beneath the inscription, Lecter's neat print; I expect the good Doctor won't be needing this anymore.

It had been the last letter Clarice submitted to the bureau.


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