Detective Hawson, veteran officer of the esteemed Metropolitan Police force, smiled at the small plastic baby on his desk.
His working day was long done, his bag packed.
Yet, as those around him left the poorly heated office for their marginally better heated homes, Hawson stayed behind, examining the unassuming plastic doll.
The thing was in poor condition; worn by time with dark smudges across its face. Nothing anyone would consider special.
However to Detective Hawson, incomparable sentimentalist that he was, the grubby doll shone with novel significance.
You are not supposed to keep mementos from cases, regardless of how bizarre and interesting they were, but this was the one impropriety that Hawson allowed himself.
Meredith in Evidence, who liked Hawson enough to indulge his vices, had picked the doll at random from some boxes holding almost ten thousand. Boxes labeled with the name "Lindsay Roscoe".
Lindsay was a salon assistant, committed to a mental institution after biting off a strangers fingers.
She'd fled the scene and a young Detective Hawson had been dispatched to the girl's registered address.
That was where he found them. 9,324 plastic dolls spanning every crevice of a filthy bed-sit. Not long after they were collected, it became clear that each doll contained human hair.
The girl swept up in the salon, and apparently used the cuttings to fashion makeshift voodoo dolls.
Hawson smiled to himself, remembering how disturbed it had made him. Then a playful, sideways thought entered his mind.
There was a simple way to test whether they worked.
Slowly, with the dumbest of grins upon his face, Hawson walked the doll over to his mobile, and mock dialed his office phone.
He stopped smiling when his desk phone rang.
Hawson stared at the receiver for what seemed like an age. It was a coincidence, he knew that, but there was something chilling about the timing, and how the phone wouldn't stop ringing.
Hawson's hand shot out and snatched the receiver to his ear.
"... ... Please..." A woman's crying voice answered. "H... How are you doing this?"
Hawson threw the phone onto the desk and stood up. After a breathless, still moment, he burst from his office and ran down the corridor.
Scarcely a minute later he erupted, panting into the small dark room at the back of Evidence. Pleading with Meredith to let him see the rest of the dolls.
You see Detective Hawson was a sensible collector. He'd never take something unless the case was closed, and Meredith would never pass him a memento unless the evidence was no longer needed.
"I'm sorry. You're too late." Said Meredith as she stood aside and walked back into Evidence.
Hawson stood immobile. His eyes wide. His pupils pinlike in the light of the incinerator.