No, it's not a hallucination, it's a real update…enjoy
The AV lab was quiet; the only sound that could be heard was the soft crying of Sara on Brass' shoulder and the very colourful Texan curses from Nick. The screen still showed Grissom standing in a cage of some sort. The image showed the board sowed to his chest and, his hands that were in hard plastic, but the thing that got to all the CSI's was the fear in Grissom's blue, glassy eyes.
Grissom stood in his 'habitat', as the man called it, and looked around as much as he could. He knew there were people around him.
Earlier in the morning (at least he thought it was morning) he woke up to a loud siren. A few minutes later, a bowl appeared filled with either oatmeal or something very similar. It tasted horrible, but he knew that he had to at least try to keep the stuff down. It was then that he realised why his hands were 'sculpted' the way they were. He could scoop the stuff up with his hands and lift it to his mouth, like an elephant's trunk. Another siren sounded and he heard rather than saw the other unfortunate people place their bowls back to the slot on the floor.
Shortly afterwards a section of the wall parted and a loud voice told him to go into his 'habitat', he recognized the voice as that of the exhibitioner. He hesitated at first, but a low buzz from the implant in his neck prevented him from full out refusing. As he stepped into what looked like a cage, the panel behind him slid closed again, locking him into a standing position. The fit was tight; there wasn't even space to look around. He had to stay standing and looking forward. It left him wondering what was next and how long this would continue.
Grissom found himself thinking of his family. His wife that he couldn't live without was first on his mind. During the time when Ecklie tried to kill him several years before, they had been seeing each other secretly and during his prolonged hospital stay, she had not left his side. It had been during this time that their relationship came to light. The unexpected baby bump didn't really give them much choice.
Little Zachary was a godsend. He was the light in those difficult months. That little boy brought joy and life into both of their lives. And just when he thought that things couldn't be any better, Taylor came around and they did.
If he had to admit anything, it would be that he had been thinking of quitting spending more time with his family. These last years were good, but ever since he'd become a father (something he never thought would happen) he'd found himself missing his family and not wanting the job that had been a sanctuary for so long. He didn't want to miss anything. Still being lost in thought, Grissom didn't see the Exhibitioner walk towards him; he didn't see the evil smile on the guy's face either.
Back at the crime lab, Archie was busy looking into the website. Just as he thought he had the whole website figured out, something else caught his eye. This guy was good.
"How's it going, Archie?"
"Hey, Greg. Make some noise next time. Geez, I swear you're worse than Grissom with the sneaking around!" Archie had his hand dramatically on his chest as he was speaking, causing Greg to smile for the first time since the whole mess had started.
"Good to know I learnt from the best," Greg went to sit down next to the lab tech. "What'cha working on?"
"This damn website. Just as I figure one thing out, another pops up. Like this link here, every time I click on it to go in, it throws out something completely different. The other links are profiles to other 'exhibits', but this one seems to require…I don't know, identification, apparently," Archie said, frustration clear on his Asian face.
"Whoa, what other 'exhibits'?" Greg asked, frowning.
"Well, according to this website there are four other people besides Grissom in this Wacko's museum or whatever he calls it," Archie said as he showed the pictures he'd taken off the website.
"Damn, sound like this dude had a lot of practise. Why don't we know about these other people?" Greg asked.
"Good question," a voice said from the doorway. Both men turned around to see Brass standing there. He looked exhausted, but the fire in his eyes told both younger men that he wouldn't rest until his best friend was found.
"I did run it through the database and it didn't give me anything," Archie said.
"So either, these people weren't reported missing or they weren't taken that long ago," Brass thought out loud as he went through the pictures.
"So what do we do now?" Archie asked.
"I've got a friend that works at the FBI, he's a profiler, maybe he can help us figure out who or what we're looking for. In the meantime, Archie you and Greg will have to figure this website out, it's the only link to Grissom. I'll get Warrick and Nick to work on these other people. There has got to be something, we just need to find it."
"Brass, how's Sara holding up?" Greg asked, his voice laced with worry.
"She's barely holding on. The kids keep her busy, but you know Zach. He's just like his father, always wanting to know why; Taylor is fussy because she wants her daddy. They're in his office right now. Sara said she didn't want to miss out on anything," Brass said. With that, he grabbed the photos and left. Greg turned to Archie.
"You know, I used to know this girl who was extremely good with computers. Let me give her a call, maybe she can help us out," Greg said and Archie just nodded as he turned back to his most recent problem.
A little while later the entire team was gathered in the layout-room. The kids had finally decided they wanted a nap and Catherine had come back from checking on her kids. Brass looked around while everyone was busy talking to somebody else, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to find Al standing next to him.
"I didn't even see you come in," Brass said quietly to his long-time friend.
"This looks like a bad case of deja-vu, doesn't it?" Al asked, taking in the scene in front of him.
"Yeah, unfortunately," Brass sighed. He took a deep breath and whistled to get everyone's attention.
"Alright people, let's see what we've got," Brass said loudly. "Nick, Warrick why don't you start?"
"We checked every database we could find. We got their names from the DMV and their addresses, only Grissom was from Vegas, the rest are from all over," Warrick began.
"I've placed some calls trying to figure out where they were taken from, but so far nothing. I'm waiting for some detectives to get back to me, though," Nick finished off.
"Greg phoned a friend of his about the website and I think it's bigger than we thought," Archie said. At this statement, everyone turned to Greg who had been uncharacteristically silent until that moment.
"My friend, Abby, managed to hack into the site. Uhm, the part where Archie couldn't get into was a poll link or voting link. In other words, you can vote for something," Greg said, his voice so soft the team had to strain to hear it. "You need to have a criminal record to vote there, though." he finished softly.
"Vote on what?" Sara asked, breaking the shocked silence that followed Greg's statement.
"Basically what happens to the 'exhibits' on a day-to-day basis," Greg said, making quotation marks in the air when he used the word exhibit.
"You mean…" Catherine asked, trying to understand what Greg was saying.
"I mean that there is a list of things, such as 'hard labour, punishment, exercise'," Greg read off of a list. "And then whoever gets to the poll, can vote on the poll. You can also choose which 'exhibit' to do it to." He finished sadly.
"Wait, you said that you needed a criminal record?" Nick asked.
"Yeah, so criminals vote on the link and with Grissom there…" Warrick said out loud, a frown on his handsome face as he realized what Nick was saying.
"Means free pass for whoever wants to get back at him for whatever reason," Catherine finished, her blue eyes flashing.
Everyone was quiet for a while, trying to make sense of they had just learnt.
"So what does the poll look like today?" Al asked fearfully.
"The results were just posted. Grissom was the only one to get any votes and uhm, maybe I should just show you." Greg opened his laptop and connected to the site. He turned it so his screen was visible to the rest of the people in the room. Everyone gasped and a few swear words flew from their mouths.
The image was of Grissom kneeling, with his head and arms in what looked like stocks. His face showed pain and fear and his forehead glistened with sweat. A timer was on the top edge of the screen.
"It started at twelve," Greg said.
"Is that counting in...?" Sara asked softly.
"Hours, yes," Greg answered. "He, uh, he's kneeling in coarse salt. It was the punishment that won the poll - kneeling in coarse salt, while restrained in stocks for twelve hours."
"Damn," was all that Brass could say.
Grissom was in agony, his knees were already killing him and the timer standing just in his range of vision showed that he hadn't even been there that long. It was going to be one hell of a day.
'Sara, I'm sorry, but I don't know how long I can hold on,' He thought. 'Please find me soon.'
Grissom was unaware of the webcam watching him, of the people cheering and of the shocked people at the crime lab. He was only aware of the horrible pain in his knees and the soft drip of his sweat on the cold, hard floor…
Wow, horrible, aren't I?
Sorry it took me sooooo long to work on the update of this story, I really hope you are still interested in reading it. I've just had the worst year of my life so far, but hopefully I can get back on track. There have been some major changes in my life and it took some getting used to. Anyway, I have no claim on any character from the show, only the bad guy; his cohorts and the story are mine. (They come from Fleasia; I just met them when they attacked me one night for the story.) Thanks to all the reviews so far and the follows and the favs, you guys are awesome!
Major thanks to my beta, C. Nicole without who this would never be read.
Please let me know what you think, I promise you won't have to wait so long again.
Till next time,