Clarice glared up at the sky, as if the rain had been sent to plague her personally. She should have checked the weather forecast instead of listening to the travel agent who assured her that it was a myth that it always rained in London. Since she’d stepped off the plane a week ago, it had done nothing but rain.
The reason she was in London really shouldn’t be examined to closely. She was hunting a wanted criminal, but she was no longer an FBI agent. The incident at the lake house had put the final nail in the coffin of her career. Now she was just a lowly PI with a hunch, and she always tried listened to her hunches. Especially when they involved a certain cannibalistic doctor.
There had been an article in the Tattler some weeks ago, about a Lecter sighting in London. The FBI held a press conference denouncing the source and saying that it wasn’t worth the taxpayers’ dollars to go on a wild goose chase. Clarice gave the article more credence, it was written by a young journalism student fresh out of college, who got the job at the paper because the article he wrote was guaranteed to sell. As she boarded the plane, to Heathrow, she told herself she was going to London to apprehend the son-of-a-bitch, and win back her place in the FBI. At least that’s what she kept telling herself. The fact that she wasn’t quite sure how she was going to arrest him was something she ignored. As was the fact that she kept wondering if she really wanted her old job back.
Clarice continued to glare up at the offending rain clouds, as if her look alone could scare better weather into being. The water was running down the back of her neck and her hair was thoroughly soaked. She’d been standing under the limited shelter of a balcony across the street from a town house where she was told an eccentric writer lived. She had yet to see the man, but his description fit well with her memories of the doctor. Then again, she could be spying on some poor old man who liked the company of his books better than he did real people. She wondered briefly if perhaps he didn’t have the right idea. She had to drag herself back from her flights of mental whimsy to concentrate on the task at hand.
She’d been out in the rain for more than two hours when she decided that enough was enough. Crossing the street quickly, she bolted up the stairs to the front door. She paused a moment to decide whether she should knock or just barge in. Prudence dictated that she knock, as she didn’t want to get on the doctor’s bad side immediately. She knocked twice, hard and fast, and then twice more. There was no response. Suddenly worried that perhaps he had divined her immediate presence, she had the lock open under thirty seconds later.
The big oak door swung open silently into a dark entranceway. She stepped into the hall and shut the door behind her. She immediately noticed the chill inside the house. She shivered as she lifted her wet hair away from her collar. There was no heat or lights on; it was as if no one was there. She cursed her luck at coming so close once again. She was contemplating returning to her hotel and finding some dry clothes before continuing to search the house, but something made her stay. Perhaps it was the faint scent of fleece in the air. She wanted to see where he had been living with her own eyes. She’d only seen pictures of his apartment in Florence.
She moved out to her right and found herself in a formal dinning room. Memories of the lake house flashed before her mind and she quickly backed out of the room. She was contemplating heading past the stairs towards what she assumed was the kitchen when she heard something coming from the room on her immediate right. She spun around with her hand on the butt of her gun. There was no one there. She shook her head and continued into the dark room. Groping along the wall for a light switch, the room illuminated as her hand came into contact with on of the old push button switches. She was in the den, the walls covered with floor to ceiling bookshelves. No wonder he picked this place, she thought.
The sound came again from behind her and she spun around, lightening quick, to face the couch. Here eyes widened as they locked on a gaze of cobalt blue.
"Clarice," came the hoarse whisper, before the penetrating gaze was locked behind a sea of oblivion.