“This is Inspector Davis of the Victoria RCMP. I’ve been in-
formed that I was to call you, Chief Inspector Carol Ainsworth, if there was anything found in the Nathan Evans disappearance case from 2017.”
“What?” Chief Senior Police Inspector Carol Ainsworth gasped. She was about to meet with the Vancouver Council on recommendations on what to do about the homeless camp set up in front of city hall. Nathan’s disappearance, she stared at the floating three-dimensional picture nearly twenty-six years old.
“The facial reconstruction program and DNA scans seem to indicate one of the five bodies, all of young preadolescent males, found at a demolition site, is Nathan Evans.”
Carol hung her head low; the one case that had eluded her after all these years, her own nephew. I still remember it. He vanished so close to his mother, just like the earlier one involving Jordon Gibson and the two others earlier, all about 26 years apart. That crazy, wonderful psychic, Agnes, warned me before she disappeared. Her mind raced as visions of those days long past surged through her. And oddly, that was about twenty-six years ago “Sorry, Details, give me the details and spare the sentimental crap.”
She heard the man swallow. “The Windsor Hotel was being torn down and the workers found something quite grisly in a walled off room in the basement. Five bodies of young boys, all badly shriveled and preserved like they’d been embalmed. They appeared to be positioned to be playing around a couple of balls, like they were throwing it to each other.”
“Okay order a ‘cease and desist’ and I’m on the way over.” Carol looked at her wrinkled hands as she got off the phone. More wrinkles adorned her face as she caught the reflection in the mirror. Her white hair — arctic blonde, she described it — was short with a layered cut. Everything about her spoke of being neat, precise and exact.
She stared at the picture of her old boss, big Dan McKinney behind her, or Big Dan as he was often called, although never to his face, due to the fact he liked to snack on the double arches burgers. For many years before she moved to Victoria and went undercover, he was her guiding influence. How many times did he drag her into his office and tear strips off her? Or thank her for a job well done. Or in rare cases poured his heart and soul out to her, often leaving them both in tears.
It was his recommendations that got her current rank, just before he passed away eight years ago. Speaking of old friends, I wonder whatever happened to that crazy old Shaman. Should give him a call. Oh yeah, last time I checked he still hadn’t listed in the Yellow E Pages of digital calling. Besides if I know him, he’s probably sitting in the forest on a large old growth stump with a Sasquatch and a Yeti debating if roller skating with Buddhists is more sacred than listening to Roy Orbison while drinking green mint tea and snacking on sage crusted crackers or some such nonsense.
She could accept the loss of many things and people in her life. Everything except the loss of the one thing she could never get back, her nephew Nathan. Carol stared at the image of Nathan on her desk, supported by the Imaging feature, it updated every year to show what Nathan would look like now if he was still alive. Nearly thirty years ago, how handsome he’d look today.
She was sure her sister still secretly hated her for it. I shouldn’t have listened to that old broad Agnes and instead quit the Empress gig in order to throw myself into his abduction. I’d have found him, I know I would have and at least I’d have my sister back in my life. She visualized the ball games and the school concerts she would have sat through for agonizing hours in support of him and Barb. In hindsight, I could do it, at the time, if I brought one of Agnes dainty flasks, full of whisky. Now, all I’ve got are memories and thoughts of what might have been.
“I’ll be right there, put up a police line around this. No one, not even the forensic team, touches anything until I get there. Inspector Davis, get a DNA sample of the four right away and the CDI#12, carbon dating infrared tool to determine the aging dates since death. I want to know who these boys are before I get there, and contact Victoria’s Chief Constable to let her know I’m on the way down.” Carol contacted her husband, “Hate to say this Brad, but I won’t be home for dinner, something very urgent just came up. Will let you know when I’m done, I’ll send a Vid call later to tuck the kids in.” He was such an understanding man, but being married to a police inspector, he had to be. Especially when your wife is the top man.
* * *
Carol hopped on the nearest jet-copter and jetted over. Within an hour she was standing in front of the semi collapsed bricked-in area. Carol stooped low to get into the partly opened room, bricks and mortar had fallen into the area where a wrecking ball had opened it up.
Some of the rubble had disturbed the idyllic scene, dust rained over much of it and a few bricks had crashed into the frozen tableau, but it was as the Victoria inspector had stated. Five boys arranged in playful poses, all focused on a ball set in the floor before them. Some more desiccated than others. Someone had taken the time to not only bring them here, drug them and set them up.
“The environment of this small enclosed room, like a mausoleum, has kept them very well preserved.” She held a cloth to her nose, the stench of decay wasn’t strong, but locked up in this room for all of those years, a subtle musty rankness pervaded.
“Did you get the DNA and carbon dating results?”
“Yes.” He scratched his head. “The results are rather disturbing and unusual. In that this one is indeed Nathan Evans. We have the names of the others too as DNA samples were collected for each one and kept on computer.”
God, how do I tell my sister after all these years that he was right under our noses the whole time? “The others are all from unsolved cases, each around the twenty-six year range.”
“So, who can abduct four boys over a space of a hundred and thirty years? It just wasn’t possible even with today’s standards of longevity. Unless more than one person was involved.”
“Is there any other DNA on the clothing?”
“Yes, all of them, from a Gladys Townsend.’
The name was familiar. “The old spinster who owned the hotel up until about four years ago.”
“And that’s why the hotel was finally being torn down. She refused to sell, was very well off and didn’t need the money. She kept it going, even though it lost money most years and became a rundown establishment that Victoria council wanted torn down. She died well into her hundreds and even had it written into her will that the hotel must be left intact. Although it is reported that once every year, even while she was in the nursing home, or at least while she could walk, she’d come to the hotel. To spend a couple of hours there. No one was allowed to follow her.”
Carol glanced around the room, it had been set up with old posters to look like a boys’ room.
“Let me guess; she had no kids of her own?”
It has been a long time, but she had been here trying to help Victoria RCMP work on this case when she was here doing the undercover Mafia case from the then Fairmont Empress.
“The other boys?”
“The DNA results indicate that this is the Gibson boy, taken from the Quadra playground in 1990. The only one not in the same time gaps is the last one missing in 2017.”
“What? Not possible, Okay, get the scene-of-crime team in here quick. I want all of this taken to Vancouver where I can have it studied.” Carol walked out into the alley and stared around. I stood in this alley all those years ago. I stared at this building, at that door. Carol walked up to the rusting metal door as it stood there quietly like it had done for over a hundred years and ran her hands over the rough surface. I was on the ghost tours with Agnes. I saw something. I saw something here.
Carol hammered her fist on the door. What, I don’t know. Okay. Now the hard part.
She touched the little emblem on her chest. “Barbara, it’s me Carol. I’ve got something I need to talk to you about, meet me at the sight of the old Windsor Hotel right away at the corner of Government and Courtney.”
Carol senior hung her head. After all of these fucking years, he was here the whole time, and no one knew. I never knew. Only how did this happen? Without anyone being aware? And how is this possible in such a long time frame. It didn’t add up. It was like someone went back and forth in time. But that is still crazy, like science fiction. Although recent scanners the police have just purchased are able to pick objects before and behind in time. That was inanimate objects. These were young boys stolen, some from right under the parents’ noses, including my sister’s. Time to dig into my notes and files I kept at home on my computer. I’m missing something here. Who could have done this and how? Surely not this old gal?
She glanced up and looked closer at one of the posters, it was from early parts of the century. From a movie about a character called Indiana Jones, the movie was entitled the “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull”. Carol looked closer at the poster and swiped at the dust covering it. Hang on. What was the old girls name, Agnes, Ms. Teak. The paper had yellowed over the decades. But…
She pressed her emblem and snapped away a half dozen photos, including some close ups. There in the bottom left was an image she didn’t recall being there in the poster before. Below the Russian lady with the sword in her hand. An older lady holding a skull before her in both hands. The image fit the poster. Carol Senior scratched her head. Only it didn’t. The skull was not one of the deformed ones from the movie. I know that skull.
She waited for Barb to arrive. This wasn’t going to be easy.
* * *
Well that didn’t go well, as expected. Barbara, who hadn’t talked to her in years, while thankful for closure regarding her son’s death, called her several choice words, including useless slag and stormed back to her car. Didn’t have much of a sister before, none now. Carol Senior sat in her living room. Tears streaming down her face. Photographic images were projected all over her walls, the newest in police equipment, she could ask for the time or date of each photo, allow them to age forward in time, shrink or expand any section. These were the photos and notes from her case involving Nathan. It was brilliant what new technology can do these days. She pressed her emblem and new pictures from the hotel’s hidden room captured on her vid cam popped up.
So somehow unless there is two people involved this isn’t possible to have all these lads abducted. How? Why every twenty-six years, except the last one?
The ones she took of the crystal skull poster caught her eye. “Computer pull up all the known images of one Agnes Van Lunt aka Ms. Teak.”
The last time she’d seen the old gal was when she’d taken her to the Shelbourne vortex in Victoria. “Sure, suckered me in that night. Trusted her, she drugged me and set me up. Hadn’t heard from her since.”
It wouldn’t be Agnes doing this would it? No. I trust my intuition, she couldn’t do this. Could she and what was his name? Francis Rattenbury! He travelled forward in time, could she to now or the future? Or back to the past?
One appeared of Agnes in her stage act holding up a crystal skull. Cider, her name was Cider. Hang on, computer. Super impose that image over the image of the similar image from the poster.
It did and as the two slid together, they appeared to be very similar.
Now, shrink the two to the same size.
As they did the two merged into one.
More images began to pop up.
“Computer what is going on? I only wanted…”
Carol Senior stared at the photos popping up, the advanced system could recognize and pick up any known images requested and threw its entire library of historical photos regarding said Ms. Teak.
One was from a Charlie Chaplin movie, a picture of a woman walking
in the background who looked to be talking on a cell phone, the script read 1912. Another of an odd man taking pictures with a modern looking camera and dressed in clothes that didn’t match the period, the script at the bottom read 1947. Another of a woman who no one recognized walking slowly as the carnage of JFK’s assassination unfolded. And others.
Then one of Shelbourne vortex that was taken by the original Google camera team back in 2005. The elderly lady appeared highlighted in the left corner holding a sign.
Carol zoomed in.
Not possible, this wasn’t here in the original, as far as I remember. I remember staring at that image all those years ago. She scanned her notes and went into the archives she kept in the basement. Carol pulled the ancient photograph from her files that she kept all these years and squinted at the Google photo she hadn’t seen in decades. There was no image of anyone holding a card up.
What is going on here? She’d read recently about breakthroughs in possible time travel, bending time into the past.
Carol Senior marched back upstairs as fast as her elderly legs could take her and compared the two photos. She blew up the image until she could read what was on the card. It simply said, ‘sorry’.
Agnes what have you done?
Or more importantly, how?
* * *
The clocks arm slowed down until a dull bong echoed over and over. Carol snapped her head back to the smell of incense and candle wax. “What the hell was that?”
“That I believe is a parallel time loop of your life in the future.”
“But… I haven’t lived it yet... I don’t get it, it isn’t possible. You saying I don’t find my nephew, I have to live with this for the rest of my life.” Tears started to stream down her face, “How the hell do I tell my sister I failed?”
Agnes stared at her, “Sorry. I tried several times to find answers, clues to Nathan’s disappearance, but failed like I mentioned earlier it was like something or someone had put a filter around him. I can’t break thorough in this time frame.”
“What the hell do I do with this? This doesn’t help me at all.”
“Not much, I’m afraid.” Agnes walked around behind where Carol sat, staring dumbstruck and shell-shocked staring into Cider’s deep recessed eye sockets.
“Wait, several times? What do you mean?”
The old gal pulled a crystal from her pocket and slammed it against the back of Carol’s head. The police officer slumped forward, unconscious.
“No, this was meant to help me only.
You can’t remember any of this.”
With that she dragged Carol to her bed and placed her on it. She stuffed two pills into the back of her throat. “Midazolam. Dissolves fast, wipes out short term memory and you’ll sleep like a baby. Sorry about the lump, that won’t go right away.” She sat down before Cider.
Now the hard part begins.