Posters everywhere, showing a young girl with long dark hair and blue eyes, looking her best for school picture day. A photo initially only to be printed to hang on the wall of her parents and relatives. Not to be put on missing posters all over the country. Offering a reward for information about her whereabouts.
Detective Mark Niven was sat at his desk, staring at the same picture, deep in thought. His desk piled high with reports on where little Emily could be. Most of them bogus, people calling in for a quick payday. Making money off another family’s misery. Mark’s eyes were glazed over, he was trying to think of any possible evidence that they had overlooked, that would end up being the key to where Emily was; and get her home to her family. The thought of her already being dead had been constantly denied access to his thoughts. He couldn’t lose another child to a cult or psycho killer.
A PC came and dumped more files on Mark’s desk breaking his mug of coffee. The hot liquid splashing into his lap, instantly breaking his train of thought.
“What!” he snapped, at the fresh-faced PC, who was clearly not long out of training.
“The files of potential suspects you wanted.” He stuttered. Mark always made him feel nervous, he was always grumpy and ready to snap. The PC had heard rumours about his previous missing child case but had never dared to ask if they were true. Mark grunted and grumbled as he picked them up to take them home, grabbing his jacket; leaving the mess of the broken coffee mug for the cleaners.
Ilona was sat in her daughter’s bedroom, staring at the mess that had been made by the forensic team. She didn’t care that she may have contaminated a potential crime scene, she just wanted her daughter back.
Ilona sat on the bed, a bare duvet and pillows covered it as the covers portraying a princess had been taken away for testing. Testing, that’s all the police had told her. Ilona thought of the first time that she held Emily in her arms. Vowing to do whatever it takes to protect her from the evil in the world. And now, her baby was gone, her little girl. All she had was a cuddly toy bear told hold close to her chest, her heart; as she sat and wept.
As she cried, the sound echoed around the room. To her blue child eyes, the room seemed massive. Bigger than her bedroom. Tears were gently rolling down Emily’s face. She was scared, longing for her mummy to come and make it right. But her mummy never came. She didn’t want to cry too loudly, didn’t want to disturb the man that she thought was her friend.
The next morning Mark awoke from his deep slumber as the sound of the alarm clock hurt his pounding hangover. A small cheap store-bought bottle of whiskey was empty on the cluttered bedside table. A single malt could only be bought on payday. Stumbling towards the shower his dark brown eyes glanced over the potential suspects files he was meant to have read the previous evening. But he had been in too much mental agony to do so. Work was going to be hell.
Dropping the files on his desk, Mark sat at his desk, rubbing his reddened dark brown eyes.
“Someone been burning the midnight oil?” said the young PC, who Mark hadn’t noticed was in the office. “This arrived for you.” Handing the brown envelope to Mark, Mark grunted and snatched it out of his hand. So bloody enthusiastic, he thought as the PC walked out of the CID office. Mark tore the envelope open and inside was a single folded piece of paper. On the paper was a single question.
Will you find her, or do you need a clue?
Mark thought that he was going to throw up, that he reached for the bin beside his desk. He’d received a similar note on his last missing person case.
Mark pulled himself together, thankful that it was still early and nobody else was in the office. Mark got up and stretched, straightening his shirt as he did so. He walked down to the inspector’s office, knocking on the door a few times; before it was clear that there was nobody in yet. Mark just knew that real or fake, either way the note had to be investigated. Mark pulled out an evidence bag and dropped the note inside, sealing the bag so that it could be tested by the forensic team.
Ilona woke from a fitful sleep where she had been crying, tears staining the pillow case. The space next to her was empty as always. Carly’s father had never been on the scene. Ilona shuffled to the bathroom, staring at her pale and stressed reflection in the mirror. She didn’t recognise the depressed reflection of the person looking back at her. Normally, these days she didn’t bother to shower, but the press wanted a television interview. And as she believed that the police were not doing anything she decided to say yes. Ilona also wanted to keep the news of Carly’s kidnapping in the media.
Half an hour later she was panicking about being on TV. Ilona was worried about what the trolls on the internet, she had already seen so many horrid comments and sick photoshopped pictures of her daughter. But she had to do it. She had to do it for Carly, to bring her home. Ilona pulled on the last fresh pair of jeans and a light pastel coloured blouse, hoping that she would come across as a professional and competent, loving mother that she was.
Later that morning Mark had managed to get a hold of the inspector, Jan Turner. Jan had agreed with Mark that the best thing to do was to send the letter over to forensics for examination, in the hope that some finger prints, or anything could be lifted either from the paper or envelope. Forensics would know that it had only been him and other police staff who had touched the evidence and had been handed in to the station as there had been no post mark on the envelope. This meant that there were hours of CCTV footage to be crawled through. There was a camera that focused on the reception desk which would show the person who dropped it off. It also focused the investigation to potential suspects who had a previous for kidnapping or attempting to kidnap young children. It was the one time that Mark appreciated Jan’s strictness to the rules and procedure, leaving Mark feeling as though they were getting closer to the suspect. Something positive that they put on the six-o clock news.
Mark delegated the CCTV watching to the new PC, thought he’d appreciate not having to walk the beat in the rain. Calling him over:
“Oi PC Newbie” not bothering to look up from his desk, he just knew that the PC was somewhere in the office, he was always hanging around.
“Yes,” the PC replied.
“I want you to watch the last couple days of CCTV of the front reception desk, see if anyone hands in the envelope, that gets taken up here. It’s a single envelope, the one that you gave me earlier. I’ve already cleared it with the inspector.”
“Okay, thanks, the weather looks horrible anyway.”
“No problem, let me know straight away if you find anything.”
“Will do.” The young PC said as he exited the office, smiling.
Too bloody enthusiastic, Mark thought as he sat back down. Pulling the growing piles of folders of potential suspects towards him. His aim was to go through them and separate the ones who had previous, so that he knew which people to focus on. Just as he was starting someone shouted:
“Hey Mark, look at the news.”
Mark looked up at the mounted television to see the mother of Carly giving and interview.
“How have you been treated by the police?” asked the make-up, hair, body perfect reporter.
“The police haven’t done anything to help find my little Carly. All I ever get told is that they’re testing things, not looking.” Replied a sad looking Ilona.
“Have they been out looking for her?”
“They say that they have, but Carly was taken in the middle of the night. How do they know where to start, where to look?”
“And how are you coping?”
“Simply, I’m not. I can’t say any more than that.”
“Ilona thank you for your time.”
Mark sat there open mouthed, shocked at what was being said. Wondering what the family liaison officer had been telling her. They had been searching day and night. It wasn’t Mark’s fault that forensics were slow. He’d been chasing them but had not been able to get through. “What the hell was she thinking?” was all Mark could think, repeatedly.
The new PC was watching the news on his mobile phone. Smirking. He knew that the mother had been the weakest member of the family, and therefore the most likely to screw up the investigation. “Say goodbye to your daughter” he thought. He would bet money that she had somehow contaminated the crime scene. When he’d first responded to the call, she had been hysterical. Hysterical to the point they considered getting a doctor to sedate her. It had been as though she was acting a part.
Carly sat crossed legged in the corner of her makeshift bed. Her pyjamas were dirty and her favourite teddy bear no where to be seen. She still wanted her mummy. Her new friend was nice and did treat her well, but nothing was the same as having her mummy.
Carly heard a door open and close loudly, heavy footprints across bare floorboards echoed. The footsteps stopped outside her new bedroom door. It opened slowly, her new friend poking his head around the door:
“Hello” said a friendly voice, smiling, the beaming smile of Carly’s new friend. “were you good whilst I was out?”
“Yes” Carly replied.
“You know that I can check,” he said pointing to the camera in the corner of the room.
“If you are good then you can have the present I bought you.”
A smile crossed Carly’s face. Her friend had produced her favourite teddy bear. He gave it to her saying:
“I thought that he could keep you company when I’m out at work.” Carly took the bear and cuddled it close to her chest.
“Thank you” she said.
“You’re welcome Carly.”
“What’s your name?” Carly asked.
“Freddie” he replied.
Mark sat at his desk flicking though files of potential suspects. Those who had previous for abduction or kidnap were put aside into a separate folder. Finally, he got to the final file, opening it, the suspects name was Freddie. Freddie King. The name rang a bell to Mark, as he looked to see if there were any previous convictions. There was. So, he went into the separate folder. Mark sat up, he needed a drink, a large one; it had been one of those days.
Ilona was outside the front door of her house, she was exhausted from a day of talking to the, raising awareness that her daughter was still missing. As she entered the house, something was instantly wrong; she had an odd vibe as she stepped over the threshold. Someone had been in her house, but a quick glance, there had been no sign of a break in. Ilona ran up to Carly’s room. On the bed was a note.
Carly wants her bear. You really shouldn’t sit in here. I know you have been. I’ve been watching.
The following morning Mark was greeted by an on-edge Ilona. Mark was on edge himself, hungover from his binge drinking the previous evening. Ilona handed him the note, shaking, she hadn’t slept the previous night. Too scared to go to sleep, wasn’t sure if she was being watched. Mark quickly read the note before bagging it as evidence so that it could be tested.
Mark’s hangover was pounding his head, just above his eyes; making it hard to concentrate. A second note, he couldn’t believe it. This was killing him. He would have to get the house searched again with the focus on looking for technology devices. No chance that this could be ignored. Mark looked at Ilona:
“You need to tell me what happened,” Mark said, starting to escort her to an interview room. Ilona nodded and walked.
The new PC was walking past the interview room, when he saw Mark and Ilona, walking towards him with the evidence bag saying:
“Any luck with the CCTV I asked you to do?”
“No sir, nothing yet.”
“Well, keep looking.” The new PC nodded, acknowledging the order and walked past. Mark was starting to grow suspicious about the new PC’s interest in the case. It had been bugging Mark, as he recognised the PC but couldn’t place him. It occurred to Mark that he didn’t even know his name. Either way, something didn’t sit right with Mark, making a mental note to keep an eye on him.
The new PC walked back into the CCTV room and went to double check the video tapes for the date of the first note being dropped off. He knew that the only person on the CCTV would be him clocking in for his shift, but no one handing over a note in an envelope at reception. This did put him in an awkward position, but he was sure that he could explain it away, there was no need to worry.
The new PC stood to leave the CCTV room, Mark came in, asking him to help search Ilona’s house for a technology device used for spying. The new PC’s smile faded from his face.
“Are you okay?” Mark asked.
“Yeah, fine” the new PC replied, composing himself; leaving the room. Mark thought the reaction was odd. He thought he’d better keep an eye on him during the search. There was something about him that he didn’t like, but still could not put his finger on it.
At Ilona’s house, Mark, the new PC and a small team started to search every possible place for where a technical device could be hidden. Searching the house, both Mark and the new PC headed straight for the bedroom of the little girl Carly. The room as a crime scene had been contaminated, Mark didn’t need Ilona to admit to it, it was obvious from the doorway.
Mark silently stood in the door way and observed the new PC search the room. The new PC oblivious to the fact that he was being watched. The new PC smoothed his hand above the curtain rail, finding a small recording device, connected to a small webcam. He pocketed the device and turned around to see Mark watching him. The new PC handed over the webcam part of the device:
“There’s this, but nothing else. I can’t find anything it might be sending images to.” The new PC said.
“Okay,” Mark replied, “I’m sure the rest will turn up.”
Mark turned away knowing that a potential suspect was right under his nose. He thought that he’d need to have a stronger reason to make an arrest and later a conviction. Mark knew that they were getting closer to finding Carly, and the kidnapper. But now let him continue digging his own grave.
The new PC was sweating, how much had he seen? Would it be reported? He needed to get home and download the footage before destroying the device. This game was getting dangerous.
The new PC was starting to become paranoid, his jaw clenched as he drove past the police station; heading home. How much had Mark seen? Did he see the second part of the device that he currently had in his pocket? He had no idea whether or not he was judging the situation too quickly. Sweat was poring down his face and his eyes couldn’t focus on the road in front of him.
Getting back to the hose Freddie King ditched his new PC uniform, opting for scruffy jeans and a stained T-Shirt. Grabbing the device taken from Ilona’s house. Installing the device into the computer, Freddie downloaded the recorded content. Whilst this was happening Freddie was trying to figure out what to do with the child, Carly. Did he release her, leave her or kill her? Freddie was pacing up and down the small dirty room, the computer taking ages to download.
Mark got back to the police station, curious to see if the new PC had returned and turned in the rest of the evidence. He hadn’t. Mark walked through the police station to the CCTV room and checked the video for the night of the first note being delivered. It had been a quiet night and there was no footage of anything being delivered only the new PC arriving for his shift. And then it all clicked. The new PC was the one who had bought the note to him. Mark’s heart started to beat fast as he ran towards the CID office, he was close to finding the kidnapper; so close he could feel it. The similarities between this case and the last one Mark worked on, were narrowed down to the notes. There was only one suspect, Freddie King. Mark started throwing the files of his desk onto the floor. At the bottom of the pile was Freddie King’s file.
Freddie went into the small box room where he was keeping Carly. Carly was sat on the bed looking sad, holding her favourite teddy bear close to her chest:
“I want to see my mummy,” she said, he voice chocking back the tears.
“You will soon, first you need to drink your water.” Freddie replied handing her a glass. Carly gulped, then pulled a disgusted face.
“This water tastes funny.” She said.
“I know, but finish it, then you can see your mummy.” Carly drank the rest of the water. Freddie knew that the water was actually vodka, he needed something that would sedate her. Carly’s eyes started to become heavy as she finished the glass. Soon she wasn’t feeling well holding her hands to her tummy:
“I don’t feel well,” she said before violently vomiting over the bed sheets.
Shit, thought Freddie, he didn’t want her to die, he just wanted to hang out with her for a while. He grabbed Carly and ran to the car. He’d completely forgotten that he had the police car, his was still at the police station. He hadn’t heard the noise being made by his police radio. Freddie put Carly on the back seat next to a black duffel bag, containing cash and clothes. Freddie knew that the police would be on to him, he needed to leave. Speeding, he drove to the nearest hospital, and dumped Carly outside the accident and emergency department, before driving off.
Back at the station Mark was reading Freddie’s file, Freddie was known to have kidnapped a child in the past. The child didn’t survive, and Freddie was let out early due to a technicality. He would have been released nine months ago. Mark then pulled the employment record of the new PC, name Christian King. Born on the same day as Freddie, a look into his past showed that they had been twins, although Christian had died not long after birth. Mark was willing to bet that Freddie had stolen his dead brother’s identity to get into the police force. Mark looked up Freddie’s address before seeing the inspector.
Detective Inspector Jan Turner listened for half an hour as Mark laid out his theory, Jan agreed that there was enough to make an arrest. As Mark was leaving the office, there was a phone call to say that a girl matching Carly’s age and description was at the local hospital with alcohol poisoning. She’s been dumped by someone driving a police car. Mark rounded up a team, half to go with Ilona to the hospital, the rest go and arrest Freddie King. Unaware that Freddie King had already gone underground.
Mark and his team were outside Freddie King’s house, barren and on the end of an abandoned industrial estate. No one around to spy on him. The house was dirty and only had two functional rooms. One with a bed and a range of computer equipment, the other just had a child’s bed. Searching through the house Mark found the device that Freddie had taken away from Ilona’s house. As well as a range of documents and credit cards all in his dead brother’s name. But no Freddie, just a note:
DC Mark Niven, I was right under your nose and you didn’t see me. Now you will never see me again.
“Fuck!” Mark screamed as he threw his fist into the wall, snapping his wrist. Another case where he had failed. He just prayed that Carly was okay.