Status: complete

All the Madness in the World


"Man usually avoids attributing cleverness to somebody else unless it's an enemy." - Albert Einstein


“Last year the Williams family was killed in the exact same way, they lived in Newport News.” Rossi announced as we stood in front of the taped off graves that the unsub had dug in the backyard. The field agent with us, Ann Hudson, had given the go-ahead for Spencer and me to walk through the house and get an idea of what we were dealing with. It was the ideal family home, complete with pictures on the fridge and sugary breakfast cereal. The shell casings and blood smears, however, were out of place.

“The father Dan Williams was serving overseas, just like this one.” Derek added. Hudson explained how the police were getting some serious heat from the military to get this solved quickly, the pressure mounting as JJ informed us all that the media was already calling this the work of a serial killer. A jet roared overhead, drawing all of our attention upwards.

“It’s about to get a lot louder around here.” Hudson said. “Tomorrow is Langley’s 50th anniversary airshow.”

“Whoever’s doing this has to know that the husbands are overseas.” Derek said, eyes glued to the graves as Hotchner and Rossi headed inside to survey the rest of the scene.

“Laura Downey’s wedding rings are missing, any other valuables?” Prentiss asked.

“I’ll have to ask the husband.” Hudson replied. “From the Williams’ house only jewellery and watches were taken.”

“The unsub’s only taking what he can carry,” I offered. “Which means he’s most likely on foot.”

Rossi mentioned that there had been a photo in the living room, one that had been shot, and that he wanted to see it. Hotchner then pointed out that there were no signs of sexual assault, not even on the only drowned victim, Lucy. There was also the fact that in the Williams’ family the little girl had been suffocated instead of shot. So far we had it narrowed down to one unsub instead of a gang. Penelope called and JJ put her on speakerphone. She explained that an inmate in one of the local prisons had received two letters in the past two days, both containing newspaper clippings of the different murders and a note claiming responsibility for the crimes.

“Who’s the inmate?” JJ asked wearily.

“That’s the part…It’s, um, Carl Arnold.”

“The Fox?” I looked from the phone to Spencer for confirmation that this was indeed the man he’d aided in apprehending a few years back. The Fox, the family annihilator and frequent favourite of behavioural analysis seminars that I’d attended back on the force. Hotchner started to list the similarities between the case and explained the general persona of the Fox to Hudson.

“So, we’re working with a copycat here?” Hudson asked.

“It’s too early to assume anything.” Hotchner said.

“It could bias the profile.” Spencer added. “Not to mention the police, the media, and the military would jump all over it.”

“Until we’re positive, none of this information leaves the eight of us.” Derek said. “Hotch, you gave evidence at Arnold’s trial, maybe you should go see him?”

“I think that’s best. Prentiss, Reid, I’d like you to come with me.”

“Which Reid?” Spencer asked before he could continue.


“You know,” I began. “Maybe it’ll be easier if you guys just call me by my first name?”

There was a general consensus before the rest of the orders came flying out. The rest of the team was to go back to the station with Hudson where the father and husband of the latest victims had just arrived. We parted ways as I followed after Prentiss and Hotchner. When we got to the prison I brought up something that had been puzzling me.

“So why wait a year to send Carl a note—unless they were communicating the whole time?”
“That’s the first thing we need to find out.” Hotchner said. “But Carl has a big ego, he’ll want to answer every question with a question. He’ll start with asking me why I’m not wearing my wedding ring, then he’ll turn his attention to you, Natasha.”

“Knew I was here for a good reason.”

“Your presence will throw him off, and he’s going to want to explain to you in detail every sexual act he did to the families in order to pull you into his fantasy. Prentiss I need you in the surveillance room watching his every move in case we miss anything that could give us the upper hand.”

As we walked through the wing holding some of the worst criminals this state had seen, I was working at draining myself of all emotions. I wanted to be as unaffected and blank as a robot until I needed to be something else. I tried not to think about the body count all these men combined would have, and how sometimes even though justice was served by legal terms it didn’t feel so good knowing these people were still alive.

Knowing they were still out there.

This was where Emily left us, following one of the other guards to wherever the surveillance room was in the facility. I could see Arnold from where I stood, sitting in a plain blue jumpsuit on the opposite side of a table, a smug smile as full as the beard on his face. At the last moment I turned, facing Hotchner so that he couldn’t see me as I worked open the top two buttons of my shirt. I was here as a weapon, so I wanted to make myself as effective as possible.

“Just pretend you’re saying something important.”

“He’s probably going to want to see pictures of the children.” He said, eyes trained on Arnold.

“Are we actually going to give him them?” I tugged the bottom of my shirt down so that, at the right angle, you could see inside.

“We have to give him something.” With a nod that I was ready the guard paged for the door to be open and we walked inside. Arnold stood, looking only at Hotchner while he spoke.

“Agent Hotchner. I wasn’t informed you were bringing a…” He turned to me for a brief moment. “They just said two agents.”

“This is agent Natasha Reid.” Hotchner said, lying his briefcase on the table and opening it. He began to lay out a series of envelopes, letters, and newspaper clippings for Arnold to see as I took a seat. When he was content with everything he sat down and folded his hands on the table. “Carl, it seems you have a fan.”

“Admirer.” He corrected. “Not a fan. Big difference, right?”

“Is this the first time you’ve been contacted by your admirer?” I asked. He turned, looked at me the same way he had before, and snorted almost before turning back to Hotchner.

“I have many fans. Even my own website.” He took a breath before focusing on me. “You’d be astounded at some of the questions they ask. I make a log of all of them, would you like to see them?”

“I would love to.”

“You would love to? Yes. Here, look.” He pointed his finger to a book before him on the table. Without hesitating I stood up and reached for it. He immediately leaned forward and took in a deep breath, Hotchner moving quickly to take the book and hand it to me himself, allowing me to sit down.

“Maybe later.” I said stiffly. “Your admirer is taking wedding rings, just like you.”

“But maybe not for the same reason.” Hotchner said.

“Like how you took all of mine. But I see you’ve lost yours.”

“Eight rings, four families. Or was it one ring for each family?”

“How’d you come to lose your ring?” He pushed. My stomach was churning. Spencer had called me the day that Hotchner’s wife had been killed. He’d told me everything, and for a man like Arnold to be toying with that knowledge…it was evident how good at his job Hotchner was for not breaking an inch. “Wait, don’t tell me—a ‘casualty of the job’.”
“My job is what put you in here.”

“True. But it’s the children who suffer most, wouldn’t you agree?”

“You’d know more about that than me.”

“Which is why you came to me. I can help you with that, agent Hotchner. I certainly can. But I’ll need to see those photos. May I?”

The thought of using pictures of a dead little girl as a bargaining chip made me feel horrible, but I knew that he couldn’t hurt her and that what we learned from him might be the difference between another family’s life and death. Hotchner would probably leave the room at some point, leave me alone with this sadistic serial killer. I had to get him talking, to find out what it was for him that made the children different. I had to build a rapport. With a nod from Hotchner I got to my feet, laying out the pictures as he retold the story of the Downey family, piece by bloody piece.

“What I don’t understand is why he didn’t separate the children. That way you’d have more control, less room for error.” Arnold said, a sick smile plastered on his face as he left oily fingerprints on the glossy surfaces of the photographs. “The girl, she was drowned? And yet the others were shot. May I see her?”

“What’s so special about the girl?” I questioned, pulling the case files out of his reach. He huffed, sitting back in his chair and almost glaring at me.

“To suffocate, to feel the life leave her body means everything to the man who did this.”

“To you maybe, but not to this killer. Not in the same way.”

“All I did was show them how weak fathers could be, that’s all.” Before Hotchner could respond both of our pagers went off, but I didn’t want to have my fears confirmed—they’d found another family. It might as well have been, though, because Hotchner excused himself. I tried to stay focused, knowing that the time had come to play my part. “He’s killed again, hasn’t he? Luckily for me.”

“Luckily?” I asked. He smirked at me, shrugging his shoulders.

“Now we’re alone.” He tilted his head to the side as I tucked my hair behind my ear, giving what I hoped would come off as a nervous laugh.

“You stated that the families don’t know the killer—why?”

“Now we wait, right? You and I? See if my admirer contacts me? He will.” I figured that he wasn’t going to give me much else if I continued on like this. So I switched up tactics, shifting in my seat and folding my arms under my chest.

“You know, yours was one of the first cases I studied.”


“Mhm. I’ve been, well…” I threw a glance behind me as if checking for others before shrugging my shoulder. “Fascinated ever since.”

“With what?”

“You.” I batted my eyelashes just once before averting my gaze. I could feel his eyes burning on me, the fluids in my stomach threatening to force their way up. He smirked once more, leaning forward.

“And now you want to know what I did to the children?”

“Yes.” I said quietly. “Tell me.”

“Children are so precious. So clean. They need guidance, especially the girls. Girls have much more to lose than boys. It’s a fact a female body can handle pain much better.”
There were things I could remember, images and smells, the sight of trees outside a small window and the coolness of metal and the taste of spring in the air. Things I did not wish to remember. Things I could not presently afford to recall. I needed to be a robot. I needed to forget how to feel.

“What did you do?”

“I showed them what men, their fathers and brothers, are capable of.”

“And what is that?”

“Are you sure you want to know?”


“Once I killed the children, it always amazed me how little the father fought dying.” He continued on like this, explaining to me in excruciating detail what he did to each and every family member. The words wore stored in some part of my brain but I did my best to stick to the script and be the pretty female used to coerce him. At the end of his spiel Hotchner came back in.

“I’m surprised you were so honest, Carl.”

“Well, it takes a good woman.” He winked at me as I moved my hair to one side. “And let’s face it. She’s prettier than you.”

“Do you know why you killed all those families?” I asked.

“I already told you why.” He gave a small roll of his eyes and sat back in his chair.

“No you told me how, not why. And the reasons why in this case are very different than they were for you.”

“And as you have so eloquently been pointing out to Agent Reid, all of your motivations were for sex.” Hotchner added, standing with his arms crossed.

“Motivations you learned from your father.” I pointed out. His head snapped to face me and he took a deep breath before leaning forward. His eyes traveled up and down me before he smiled.

“You really have done your research on me, Natasha. I’m flattered.” He then turned to Hotchner. “It must be distracting, working with someone so beautiful.

“You’re also filled with feelings of extreme self-hatred. You forced those men to watch their children die and here’s why you are what you are.” The anger was coming out faster than I could control it. Like a trying to build a damn against an already overflowing river.

“Oh, the things I would do to you.”

“By killing the fathers last you were killing your own father and ultimately yourself, over and over again.” He was staring at me with this fury that he kept so much better controlled than my own, but I still knew I was right. It was only as I thought about what I’d said that something clicked and I turned to Hotchner. “Wait…For Carl, it was all about the fathers. But for this unsub, it’s all about the girls. They die last, they’re laid out last, none of them are shot—they’re laid out last, none of them are shot.”

“It’s something we hadn’t considered.”

“Why would we? It’s so rare.”

“What is?” Arnold asked, stroking his beard.

“The killer’s a woman.” Hotchner replied.

Nodding, I got to my feet and announced I would call Derek to let him know. I pulled out my phone when I met up with Emily, taking a seat beside her. Derek filled me in on everything they’d found out since—how the airshow was probably a trigger for some psychotic break, and how the way the bodies were laid out resembled mass graves. That combined with the knowledge that we had a female killer who’d probably grown up in conflict somewhere in the world greatly narrowed our search. I knew that Spencer would be busy but this feeling I was left with made me anxious to hear his voice. This was what usually happened: I would call Spencer and make sure he was okay when I doubted whether or not I was. Emily gave me a smile as I flipped my phone over and over in my hand.

“You did good.”

“I flirted with him.” I said, momentarily convulsing in disgust. It was so much easier to pretend that he was just in prison for something simple like theft or breaking and entering. Hotchner came in and told me I’d done a good job and helped the case, but it didn’t change how I felt. I resorted to flipping open my phone and calling Spence.

“Tash, we think we’ve got a potential.” He said quickly. It took me by surprise but I rushed to put him on speakerphone. “Her name’s Miranda Drakar, she was orphaned in Sarajevo, Bosnia in 1982 and adopted by a family in Srebrenica. She does outsourced work for a website called Photobug, it’s a place where users can upload things like videos and pictures and was used by both of the families. Rossi, Morgan, and JJ are heading over to her address now—wait, hold on that’s JJ.”

“If she’s not there, how are we supposed to find her?” Emily asked.

“She may have already picked another family.” I said wearily. Shifting in my seat, I waited anxiously for Spencer to come back.


“I’m here.”

“That was JJ…they, they found her next target and went over to the house. Morgan got into an altercation with her.”

“Is he alright?” My heart skipped a beat and I got to my feet.

“He’s fine, but the girl didn’t make it.” I heaved out a sigh and nodded, telling him we were coming back. “Hey, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I just…” I cast a look at the others before leaving the room. When I was outside I turned off the speakerphone and tried to phrase my thoughts appropriately. “Talking to Arnold…It just reminded me of someone.”

“Oh, right.”

“I’ll talk to you when I get back to the station, okay?” We said our goodbyes and I took a moment before going back in the room.

“Everything alright?” Hotchner asked. I assured him that I was fine and we promptly exited the facility. Sometimes it scared me how much I depended on Spence, but I figured it could be worse. He was just one person and he was family. Not some boyfriend who could leave me or parent who could die anytime soon—not if I could help it. He was my oldest and dearest friend. I didn’t really need anyone else. It was just nice to know that no matter what I could depend on him.

Although I detested burdening him with what I was feeling, when I got back to the station we kept to ourselves, cleaning up the evidence boards while I recounted the experience at the jail. There wasn’t really much to be said on his part but he was there to listen. Spencer Reid, the boy with the statistics, he never bothered with overused words of comfort. All I needed from him was to know he was there for me.