The girl who lived in the shadow

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5. Detective Amari Raguel Wattkins

11. 09. 2018.

It was one of those nights where I would end up waking up from another nightmare. A nightmare that I tried to run away from. My whole body was covered in sweat, shaking from the cold wind that was coming in from the half-open window. It was freezing outside, but I liked the coldness. It suited me.

"Are you okay?" I felt his arms wrap around me. My beautiful, pure-hearted husband always knew how to bring me back to reality.

I turned around to face him, looking at his beautiful dark skin under the morning glow. He was, like always, breathtaking.

"Yes, it was just a nightmare. I will be fine." I lied back down. "Go back to sleep, Jeremiah." As soon as I closed my eyes, my phone started to ring. I picked up the phone and answered it without bothering to look at who was calling. "Hello?"

"Watkins? It’s Alexander. You have 30 minutes to show up in my office," he said in a cold tone.

"Today is my day off. Is something wrong, sir?" My husband wrapped his hands around me, placing his head on my shoulder.

"Do I sound like I care? I want you in my office in 30 minutes, Watkins. You better hurry." He hung up.

"What is it?" Jeremiah asked.

I stood up and my beloved husband was now facing my naked back. "I have to go. Alexander called. Something happened."

"But it’s your day off. This is the day we have some time for ourselves," he pleaded. I wanted to be like that. The two of us having a day for ourselves. But I couldn’t, I needed to go to work.

"You knew that this will happen when you agreed to marry an FBI agent." I kissed him one more time before walking to our bathroom. Standing in front of the mirror, I took out a bottle of pills and swallowed two of them before I stepped into the warm shower.

After showering, I quickly dressed and made my way to my daughter’s room. I slowly opened the door, and from the small gap, I watched my six-year-old safely sleeping in her pink bed. I closed the door behind me and walked to the kitchen where I took out a sandwich that I made yesterday evening.

"Where are you going, mommy?" I heard an angelic voice coming from behind me. I turned around, seeing my daughter standing in her pink pajamas and the teddy bear that I got her for her fifth birthday.

"Mommy needs to go to work. I will be home before you even know it." I leaned down to her.

She looked sadly at me. "But you promised me that you will take me to the park."

Placing my hand on her shoulder, I kissed her on the forehead. "Daddy will have to take you to the park, but as soon as I return, we will go to the park and I will get you some ice cream."

She immediately smiled. "Promise?"

I nodded. "I promise you, Marocco, but now you have to go back to bed."

I stood up from the floor. Marocco started to tiptoe back to her room, but the moment I stepped to the door, I heard her voice again. "Mommy?"

I turned around. "Yes, pumpkin?"

"Don’t forget to take your pills," she said.

"Don’t worry. I won’t."

~ - ~

The giant transparent eagle appeared in front of me. His wings were so big that they covered the entire glass door. I didn’t even walk through the glass door when I already got cold glares from all of my white co-workers. They were staring at me, something that I still haven’t got used to.

Their eyes moved over my black suit, and when I glanced at them, they immediately looked away. There was a time I got angry when they would look at me that way, but now I know that they give me the look just because they are jealous of me being better than them.

I walked through another glass door until I reached a small hallway that leads to my boss’s office. There was a small bench next to his office, which usually was empty, but today, a young man sat there.

He looked at me and nodded his head, and I did the same.

I stood in front of the black door, waiting for a moment before knocking two times. I could hear muffled sounds coming from the other side of the door until Alice, my boss’s blond secreteary walked out, straightening her skirt.

"I thought those skirts were made to be wrinkle-free," I told her.

Alice glanced at me and narrowed her eyes at me. "He is waiting for you, Wattkins."

Walking past her, I entered into the office. My eyes caught my boss standing in front of the giant window, staring at the morning light.

"Good morning, sir," I greeted him.

He lifted his hand, telling me that I could walk further into his office. I walked to his desk where I saw his desk plate standing in the middle of his desk with his name written on it.

Arnold Dietrich.

He turned around, looking at me with serious eyes. He looked like he didn’t sleep for the whole night. His shirt was wrinkled and his blond hair was a mess.

"Sit down, Wattkins."

I sat down on the black leather chair and looked at him.

"Is everything all right, sir? Why did you call me so early in the morning?" I asked him.

Arnold took out his cigarette, and even if it’s against the rules, he lighted his cigarette and put it in his mouth. He coughed a couple of times before finally getting used to the burning feeling in his mouth.

"I was working all night, doing all the paperwork that needs to be done by the end of the week when I suddenly got a call about a murder in some fucking town named Raventown that is placed in the some mother’s pussy’s parts of Michigan." He looked at me.

"How serious it is?" I asked.

"The girl was found with a sliced neck and her head shaven."

I turned pale. "So you want me to go investigate it?"

He nodded his hair. "Was there a guy sitting in front of my office?"

I glanced at the door. "Yes. He was sitting on the bench."

"Good." He placed his cigarette into his ashbin. "His name is Rayan Birsen. He will be your partner during his investigation."

"No offense sir, but he looks too young to be my partner."

"There was a time that I didn’t trust you too, but look where you are now." He leaned on his table, staring me with his blue eyes. "The two of you will go to the airport now, and when you land, there will be a car waiting for you there."

"Is there something more that I need to know, sir?" I asked.

"If he does something, you will suffer the consequences too. So don’t let him off the reins to much," he answered.

I stood up from the chair and headed to the door. "Anything else?"

"Yes." He stood up too. "This case is off the books, Wattkins. Don’t mention to any person except to Rayan. If you do something stupid, I will make sure that the two of you will never find another job again."

~ - ~

I’ve seen death many times in my life. All of those innocent people being butchered in ways I couldn’t even imagine. But that was life. We were present in all kinds of deaths, but the way we were greeted at the beginning of this small town, I had a feeling that this wasn’t the same death that I used to experience. This death was something else. It felt like all of the deaths I used to see, stood in one place at the same time.

The prof was standing in front of me, on the half-broken board with Raventown name carved on. Two ravens were standing on the top of the board. One of them had a broken wing, while the other was starting to eat of its friend’s flesh. That was a sight I haven’t seen before.

"I’ve never seen anything like that before," Rayan said.

I glanced at him as he stared at the flesh-eating raven. His light brown hair was covering half of his grey eyes, and the pale skin was almost matching the greyish clouds that we're announcing the new death.

"You will get used to it," I told him as I drove the car next to the board, entering the town.

"This was the first time I heard you say something to me after our conversation in the office. You didn't even talk to me on the plane." He started talking again, and this time I didn’t answer him.

I looked over at the small road leading through the old, half-empty houses in the town. Every third or fifth house was abandoned. Windows were broken and the grass was almost as tall as the small bushes.

The other houses weren’t empty, but they still looked old compared to the ones I was used to seeing in my town.

There were a couple of kids playing in their yard while their parents were talking to their neighbors. I looked at their faces, memorizing them because each one of these people could be a potential suspect.

"Where did he say that he would meet us?" Rayan asked.

"There would be a guy waiting for us at the beginning of some fucking forest," I answered.

An old man was walking down the street, his shirt covered with red stains, and in his left hand, he was caring a small knitted sack that was stained at the end of the left side.

I pulled the car closer to him, and pulling my window down, I looked at the man who didn’t pay attention to me.

"Excuse me, sir," I said, but the man didn’t even flinch. "Sir? Are you all right?"

"That’s Mr. Flinch." A female voice suddenly said. "He’s deaf." I turned to the female voice, only to see a young blond girl with beautiful blue eyes, and a black hoodie over her head standing near my car.

"I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you," said the young girl.

Rayan leaned over, staring at the young girl who was now standing next to our car. She looked over to Rayan and smiled.

"It’s all right, my dear. We are searching for the entrance of the forest." I smiled at the young girl.

"Forest? Haven’t you heard the news?" The small smile she had on her lips was now long gone, and it was now replaced with sadness.

"What news?" Rayan asked the girl.

She looked at him. "A girl died today. They say she committed suicide." I glanced at Rayan who was still looking at the young girl.

"We are here for that," I said.

"Oh, I didn’t know that you were the police." She looked down at her locked fingers. "My apologies."

I smiled a little. "Why do they think she committed suicide?"

"Because the police said so," she answered. "But I don’t believe it."

"Why?"

"I don’t think a girl like her would do something like that."

I glanced at my feet before placing my hand on the window. "People commit suicide for the slightest things, my dear. Why should she be any different?"

"People in this town are happy. They love their lives. You may not see it now because you are only here for ten minutes, but I’ve been here my whole life. I know people and what their thoughts are."

I nodded my head. "Thank you for the information. Can I ask you for something else?"

"Sure," she answered.

"Could you please help us to find the entrance of the forest?"

The girl smiled again and pointed her finger at the road in front of us. "Go straight ahead and you will come across a small fountain, and then turn left. Go up the hill where an iron cross is placed, and then turn left. There is a small road that will lead you to the place."

"Thank you, my dear." I smiled at the girl and she looked so proud at this moment.

"Please, call me Monica."

~ - ~

We did exactly what the young girl has said. We drove ahead to the fountain, where we turned left and came across an iron cross where a white police car was waiting for us.

A man was standing in front of it, shoving a sandwich into his mouth. He was dressed in his green uniform that was all covered with stains, and his black hair was all greased up like he didn’t wash it for two full months.

The man saw us and waved at us a small green paddle while still shoving the sandwich in his fucking mouth.

I pulled down the window and the man came to us. His mouth was full while he spoke, "This area is closed due to the recent murder investigation. You can’t enter it, so I would please ask you to turn the fuck around and go back where you came from."

The man was rude, and I guess, he didn’t want to be the one who would wait for us to come.

"Sorry, but we can’t do that." Both Rayan and I took our badges out, showing it to the white police officer.

"Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t expect it to be you," he said. "I’m Gerson Myers. I’m the one who will lead you to the crime scene."

As he was about to enter his car, I called him by his name. "I didn’t expect someone like you too. I mean, someone who looks like he came out of a fucking trash bin." Pointing to his stained crouch, he looked down before he swore. He took out a tissue, trying to wipe off the greasy mess.

"He looks like a complete idiot," Rayan said and I couldn’t agree less.

We followed the man down an old road through the dark green forest. Old rusty iron fences were surrounding us. Some of them were broken while some of them were still standing straight. A few of them had already fallen on the road, and I had to make sure that I didn’t damage the car. Rayan tapped me on the shoulder, pointing at an abandoned child playground.

Everything around us looked like it was abandoned by someone in a hurry. And I could still sense the smell of fresh death around us. The smell of someone dying.

Officer Gerson lead us to a small open field that was already filled with people, news reporters, and the police. Everyone was mixed in a tight hole, trying to take look or a picture of the sudden death of a young girl.

I parked the car, locked it, and with officer Gersom leading the way through a bunch of people, we walked past the line into the crime scene. The forensics team was already walking around the place, searching for the evidence on the ground.

The body was already in a black bag, and three men lifted the dead body on a cart so it could be transported into the autopsy office. Turning my attention to the abandoned house, I looked at it from top to bottom.

It looked like it was abandoned for years, probably even decades. The bricks were dirty, almost black. Probably from a fire. Some of them were even broken in pieces, while the iron fences on the white windows were bearly holding on the rotten screws that were bearly holding them in the place. I looked at the rooftop, and it looked nothing like I expected to look like. It had giant glass windows, and a bunch of green ivies was hanging down from them, covering half of the abandoned house.

"Where is the sheriff?" I asked Gersom. The young man was confused and then he pointed to a tall white man talking on his phone. "That’s him."

I approached the man, and by the tone of his voice, I could tell he wasn’t having a good day.

"What do you mean she didn’t get home?" he screamed into the phone. "Where was she last seen?" The man in front of me turned pale.

"I will find her. Yes, I will call you." He hung up and moved his hands through his dark brown hair.

"Sheriff." Gersom walked to him. "There are the FBI agents you told me to wait for." The sheriff turned to us, looking lost in his thoughts.

"Yes. I’m sorry." He glanced at Rayan. "You must be Wattkins that I heard so much about." Rayan glanced over at me and I made a step forward. "I’m Wattkins, and this is my partner, Rayan Birsen." Both the sheriff and officer Gersom looked surprised when I said that. By the look on their face, they clearly didn’t expect someone like me to be the lead detective on this case.

The sheriff shook his head. "I’m sorry. I didn’t expect..."

I cut him off before he could even finish, "Someone like me?" I let a dry laugh. "I get that a lot." My voice was serious, and I wasn’t afraid to show him that I wasn’t pleased by his or his partner’s behavior.

They turned silent, not saying a word before I finally broke the silence settled between us. "I heard you talking to someone on the phone. Is there something happening that we need to know?"

The sheriff looked down, taking a deep breath. "My daughter, Hana. She is missing."

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