They pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car. Nick quickly took Lauren’s hand in his as they walked in. The dispatcher, whom Lauren knew well, greeted them and let them back into the secured part of the building. Harold waited on her and beside him was Andy Massie, a top notch detective.
“What’s wrong?” Lauren asked immediately still holding tightly to Nick’s hand.
“Well,” Andy started, “we got something in the mail today and we thought you should see it. It was addressed to you. We think it might be related to those murders we’ve been reading about and that you’ve been working on.”
Nick released Lauren’s hand as Andy handed her a piece of paper inside a plastic evidence bag. On the paper were dozens of symbols, a cipher. Right away she realized what it meant.
Lauren looked up at Nick and said, “The Zodiac.”
“Between the years 1966 to 1974,” she started, “The Zodiac killer sent more than twenty written letters to the police. Many of those letters had ciphers just like this. To this day, some of those ciphers still haven’t been translated. The Phantom is copying The Zodiac Killer now.”
“But Lauren, why would this be sent here addressed to you?” Harold asked.
“Because it’s for me. It’s a challenge,” she answered.
Nick put his hand on the back of his neck, as he often did when he felt frustrated, and then paced.
“So, he is targeting you, just like we talked about.” He sighed heavily. “This just gets better and better, Doc,” he said under his breath.
“We have to figure out what these say. I will fax them to Travis at IT to see if he can make sense of this,” Lauren said calmly.
After scanning the document and emailing it to Travis, Nick and Lauren left. During the drive home, neither said a word. They pulled into the driveway and into the garage. Lauren started to open the car door and get out, but Nick quickly grabbed her arm.
“Lauren, this is too personal. You have to go somewhere that’s safe. Get off of the case.”
“Absolutely out of the question. There’s no way I’ll let him scare me into abandoning this case.”
Nick shook his head, disgusted. “You are so damn stubborn!”
“No, I’m just not going to be bullied.”
“I don’t give a shit about this case if it means putting you in danger. Hell, I’ll pull myself off of the case. Lauren, use your head!”
“I am. Everything’s going to be fine.”
“The hell it is!” he shouted.
“There’s no point in yelling.”
“You mean everything to me. I love you.”
They both looked at one another realizing that those words had never been said between them before. Then Nick quickly continued.
“I will not stand by and do nothing. We’re getting a security system in this house.”
“I already have one.”
“And you don’t use it?”
“My dad had it put in.”
“Well, then freakin’ use it!”
“If it makes you feel better, I will call to have it activated.”
“Well it does make me feel better.”
He turned his head away from her.
She touched his hand tenderly. “I’m going to be fine, Nick. It’s going to be alright.”