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Taking Flight

copyright 2002, by China Mail

Disclaimer:    These characters 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




The Miami-Dade International airport was busy this Friday afternoon. It was just after four
o'clock and Dr. Hannibal Lecter was sitting near his gate waiting for his flight to be called. He pretended to be immersed in a rather worn copy of the Wall Street Journal but anyone who cared to notice could see his that eyes frequently flickered from side to side. Though he was careful to hold the newspaper up to block anyone from seeing his face, he periodically glanced over the top as he turned a page, keeping on eye on his surroundings and the multitudes of people arriving and departing. He was also keeping his eye on a fresh-faced security guard who had followed him down from the main concourse and seemed to find him quite fascinating. The only question was if his interest leaned towards the romantic or the professional. He hoped it was neither, maybe the kid just likes my shoes. He looked down at the brand new pair of Nike Air on his feet. It was the second pair he'd bought in just over a week – the first pair had been forcibly removed from his feet at the Verger estage and were no doubt sitting in an FBI evidence lab by now.

He pulled his fedora down a little lower over his features and stood up letting out a sigh. He folded his newspaper and tucked it under his arm. Guess it's time to find out what fresh-face wants.Too bad I wasn't able to carry the Harpy but the razor blade should do the job nicely. He headed towards the men's room about fifty feet away, glancing into the reflection of a magazine shop window to keep track of the young man following him. Just as he passed the store's doorway another guard stepped through it and blocked his path.

"Excuse me sir, I'm afraid you'll have to come with me."

Quick as lightning the razor blade sliced the inside of the arm that reached for him, cutting through shirt, muscle and veins with ease. The guard stared down in shock as blood began squirting fountain-like from his arm. "Argghh!"

Another arm grabbed Lecter from behind. Fresh-face was busy shouting into his radio and never noticed the razor blade that came arching towards his face until a good part of his nose had been sliced off. His screams of pain mingled with the other guard’s screams and Lecter took the opportunity to break into a sprint.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Former Special Agent Clarice Starling was driving through the rain-slickened streets on her way home from a job interview with Equinox Security. She thought that protecting foreign diplomats who were temporaily residing in D.C. could be a halfway decent way to make a living but unfortunately the interview hadn’t gone well. Funny thing was it was they who had called her and offered her the job. But once she got there it became evident that they were only curiosity seekers who had more questions about her encounters with Hannibal Lecter than they did about her law enforcement experience.

A week ago the FBI had asked her to turn in her resignation. She did so gladly. She was still reeling from the events that had transpired at Muskrat Farm and since that time the press had been merciless. Although the Bureau had tried to contain the story, the Tattler went out of its way to set the scene for the reading public, including front page photos of her sitting in the back of a squad car in that low-cut black dress.

She flipped on the radio and was scanning for a music station when she heard the news.

“If you’re just joining us, the news out of Florida is that Doctor Hannibal Lecter has been captured!”

She nearly hit a parked car as all of her attention switched from the road to the radio. She reached for the volume button and took a wide right at the next intersection at high speed. Her car swerved slightly and then bumped up into her driveway before screeching to a hard stop. With her head bowed to the steering wheel and her fist pounding the dash, she didn’t notice the police officer who tapped her driver side window a moment later. She raised her head with a start and reached to roll down her window.

“Yes officer?”

“Are you alright miss? You took that turn awful fast.”

“Uh…yes. Sure, I’m alright. Sorry about that.”

“You live here?”

She nodded her head.

“Have you been drinking miss?”

“Not yet,” she choked.

“Excuse me?”

“No officer, I haven’t been drinking. I just got some bad… some unexpected news, that’s all.”

“Alright miss. Well, in the future, please pay closer attention to your driving. You could have hurt someone.”

“Yes, sorry. I will. And thanks.”

“You’re welcome miss. G’night.”

“’Night.”

She didn’t make a move to get out of the car until she saw him drive away. She thought she might be sick to her stomach and he might definitely think she’d been drinking then. As she saw his taillights disappear down the street she emerged from the car and made her way up the walk to the front door. She fumbled with her keys, all thumbs now, before letting herself in and heading straight for the stairs. She found herself standing in front of her bedroom closet and yanked it open. Her hand reached in and twisted around the black velvet fabric. With a hard tug she pulled the dress from the hanger and burying her face in it, sank to the floor.

No! No! Damn him! She’d thought he’d be out of the country by now. How could he have let himself get caught again? It’s his own fault damnit, not mine. It’s not my fault he came back to the States, it’s not my fault we were at Union Station, and it’s not my fault that we were at Krendler’s house. Why the hell hadn’t he just stayed in Florence? He’s taken too many risks and look where it got him.

He must realize they’ll show no mercy this time. None. They’ll be fighting over who gets him first. The feds will of course, he killed one of their own. And no Hospital for the Criminally Insane this time. Nope. This time the death penalty loomed large and he was sure to get the max of maximum security until the time they slipped him the needle.

She took a ragged breath and thought about the last time she'd seen him. It was only a week ago but it seemed like so much time had passed. She had already admitted to herself that she was glad he had gotten away that night. Fuck the FBI. But it was only now that she knew that she couldn't stand the thought of him behind bars again. Would he be able to free himself one more time? Or would he need her help again? Oh, no. Get those crazy thoughts out of your head Clarice. This isn’t Bonnie and Clyde here so don’t even think about it.

She sat on the bed, holding the dress and imagining how she had looked in it through his eyes. She rolled over still clutching the dress and lay her head on the pillow. I can't think about this anymore. There's nothing anyone can do for him now, except maybe a really good lawyer. God knows he’ll probably need a whole team of them.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The ringing of the phone woke her with a start. She turned her tousled head and glanced at the clock. 11:00 PM. The next ring set off a pounding in her head of hangover magnitude. And she hadn’t even had a drink. She snatched the receiver from its cradle, “Hello?”

"Hello Clarice."

A shiver went up her spine and a long silence ensued before she found her voice. "Hello Doctor Lecter."

"Have you listened to the news lately Clarice? If so, you know that I was captured today outside of the Miami-Dade airport.”

“I….I heard. On the radio in the car.”

“I see. Well, I do hope it didn’t result in a driving mishap. My apologies if it did.”

“Yes. I mean no.”

“You don’t sound quite sure. I hope you’re feeling alright?” He paused waiting for a reply but got none. “Now, they tell me I’m in…where?" there was a muffled sound in the background…“Right, I’m at the Dade County Sherriff’s office, Troop B, right outside of Coral Gables.”

Another long silence while she tried to get her bearings. “Doctor why are you telling—“

"Oh, perhaps I didn’t make myself clear Clarice - you're my one phone call."

FIN

Part 1 of 7

copyright 2002, by China Mail

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