Chapter One: Emil Svenson, Detective.

A large file slapped itself onto the desk of one serious over-worker.

The desk belonged to Detective Emil Svenson, Lewisburg PD. A young man in his twenties, he hardly looked the part of homicide investigator. He had too much of a clean-cut, close shaven look that seemed to belong more to a frat boy than a hardcore policeman.

The file was a standard manila folder, with string tying it close. On it was a rather large red stamp that read 'Confidential'.

In other words, it was hardly neither noticeable nor distinguishable on the extremely cluttered desk. There were papers strewn everywhere, Styrofoam coffee cups that were chewed on the ends, and various pens and pencils. There wasn't one single aspect that separated the manila folder from the other files and case-workings that covered his desk so.

The only things that marked the desk as belonging to a human, rather than a hard working robot, was a framed picture of a young woman. In it, she was smiling grandly, and her eyes shined bright from reflected sunlight. She looked truly happy.

The other feature, was a hunched over Emil, scribbling tediously on some sort of paperwork.

"We got another one," Grunted a man who appeared to be in his 50s. Overweight, greasy, and with a permanent scowl etched on his face, it was obvious he was one who called the shots.

His name was Tony Malloy, and he was what one would call a 'hard-ass.'

Emil let his attention be diverted from the paper for a moment, "Another murder?" he asked, his voice drawn out and scratchy from lack of sleep. His eyes were bloodshot and baggy, and he had the feel of a convict just released from twenty years in prison.

Tony clucked his tongue against his cigar-stained teeth, "Kid, you need to get some sleep," He paused for a moment before adding, "You look like hell."

Emil gave a wane smile, "I'll sleep when I'm dead." He muttered.

"From the looks of it, you're halfway there." Replied Tony.

Emil leaned casually back in his roller chair, he folded his hands behind his head, "The case, Tony?"

Tony smirked, "It's Malloy to you, kiddo," He once again paused, contemplative, "Sir Malloy to you."

Emil sighed, "The case?"

Tony sighed, flipping open the folder and scanning it with a disinterested expression, "Murder, suspected gang affiliation. Markings depicting an 'HH' logo," His voice trailed off and he slid it across the desk, "Sounds just like all the other ones lately."

Emil gingerly picked up the file, nimbly skimming over each page with the grace of a professional. Each line read nothing of vital importance. His eyes narrowed, there was always the one piece of information, the one piece that would unveil the killer, or at least point him in the right direction of him or her.

He glanced through. The victim was female, Asian, and estimated at 20 years old. She had markings depicted on her left forearm and the back of her neck. Forensics assumed that victim was shot, and then tattooed. The tattoos resembled the letters 'HH'

Emil carelessly tossed the folder on the desk, it landing complacently above all the other clutter.

"Same as the last two, correct?" he asked, pulling off his reading glasses and carefully cleaning them with his shirt.

Tony nodded, "This one was found in the alleyway, near Thoroughway and Clark." He rose his eyebrows, "You should check it out tomorrow, but for now," He said, his head gesturing around the dimly lit office building, "Try and get some sleep."

He sighed and lowered his head in defeat, "Alright, I'll try." He murmured, more to himself than to anyone else.

Tony gave him a reassuring pat on the back, "See ya tomorrow, kid."

"Goodnight Tony," Replied Emil.

Tony shook his head and left, this time not making a fuss over the name.

Emil once again flipped open the folder. It was the same as the others. Relatively young, marked with the 'HH' seal, and absolutely no identification. No fingerprint matches, no dental records, nothing. It was as if the person had never existed.

The first one had been a male, the second another female. The third rose questions to either a serial murderer or some type of gang affiliation. Emil himself suspected a type of cult, much similar to that of satanic followers.

He flipped it open once again, and carefully read each notation, each tiny bit of detail. After about an hour, he came up empty handed. Nothing.

The victims could have already been ghosts.

Later, Emil finally decided to call it a night. There had been no gathering facts from that case, nor when he had compared it to others. And the coffee machine had broken, so it was either face the repercussions of sleep deprivation tomorrow, or to go home tonight. As eager as he was to continue the case, it wasn't good to start off a day without a clear head. Especially since he was re observing the murder scene.

He meticulously filed and ordered his papers, making sure everything was in its rightful place. He surveyed the area, and after he felt content with it, he got up, put his coat on, and silently said goodbye to the framed photo on the corner of the desk.

The photograph was of his deceased wife.

######

The door barged open from the building, and Emil was hit with the wave of fresh night air. While not exactly a metropolis, Lewisburg had yet to hit the population of New York, or Los Angeles, meaning that the air was free of the smell of petroleum, or the sound of highway cars.

He quickly sped down the stoop of the building, which was a faded gray that displayed the age of the vicinity.

His work boots thudded easily against the black asphalt of the road, as he made his way across the street. There was an unexplained heaviness that clung to the air, and by the slick appearance of the road, Emil had assumed it had rained earlier.

He tucked his hands into his coat pockets, trying to keep warmth back in the fingertips. It has been a cold March week lately, with lots of sleet and chilly winds. Emil exhaled and watched his breath rise in the air.

The office had been slow on pay raises lately, so Emil didn't own a car. His old one had been destroyed a few years ago.

He watched his feet fall into place, one behind the other. The pattern of his steps almost had a beat, and he concentrated his efforts on maintaining it.

Click.

Click.

Click. Thump.

The last noise made Emil freeze in his place. It was not the sound of his steel-plated boots hitting the ground, but more of a thud from when something heavy had been dropped. His clear green eyes searched around carefully, darting between the dark shadowed areas where it would be sickenly easy to cloak a potential perp.

There was a pregnant pause in the air, and Emil could feel the adrenaline he had just received from fear easily residing. The sweat that was beginning to form on his brow subsided, and Emil realized he was simply overreacting.

He carefully placed his chill-bitten hands back into the pockets of his jacket, and continued his careful, easy stride.

Once he reached his dingy apartment, Emil promised himself, he would lay down on the couch, pull up a blanket, and leave the troubles of the office behind him.