I can't remember the last time I got off work on time. For the past couple of years, it's just been work, work, work. Parallax Trading is one of the biggest trading companies in the country. And I recently got promoted to assistant manager of the middletown branch. The pay is great, and I receive great benefits too. But sometimes... I just get a little bored...
James: *sigh*... Another day, another dollar. Can't wait to just get home and curl up with a book. Until tommorow then it's back to the grind.
Woman: Hey, James! Clocking out?
(Oh, it's my co worker, Lily.)
James: Yeah. Finally.
Lily: Sweet! You're just in time! The guys, ladies and I are planning to grab some drinks after work. We're gonna celebrate Sophia's promotion! You should join us!
James: Oh, I don't know... I don't want to be too worn out for work tommorow.
Lily: Oh, come on! Aren't you always saying you want some excitement? Don't be a party pooper! Join us!
James: Well... Okay, sure. Why not? I'll just have to leave a little early so I can get enough rest for tomorrow.
Lily: Yes! You won't regret it!
She grabs my hand and eagerly drags me out of the office.
Lily: Wooo! See, James? Isn't this so much fun!?
James: Ah, yes, of course!
I awkwardly chuckle, a glass of cranberry juice in hand. Lily is already drunk, along with half of the party.
James: Oh, look at the time! I'm so sorry, but it's about time I got home!
Lily: Aww, come on! Dance with us!
James: I'm sorry, Lily, but I really have to go. Besides, I'm not feeling too well. It must be the stress... Thanks for inviting me. Next time, I promise!
I grab my belongings and ran out the bar. My head is pounding.
(Either it's a stress headache or that loud music really got to me... I've never walked home this late from that place. It looks so different. Spooky. I'm not drunk, but I should've called a cab anyway.)
I continue walking carefully through the alley. My head still hurts. I can't wait to get home and take a warm bath. Suddenly, I hear a screech in the distance.
(Huh? What was that? It sounded like a shriek. Bats?)
I quicken my pace.
(Whoa... I really don't feel so good. This is what I get for overworking myself, and then partying after.)
I need to lie down. I turn the corner and make my way out of the alley.
James: What the... ?
I stop dead in my tracks. There's a woman in the ground.
James: Miss... Are you okay?!
Barely feeling functional myself, I run to the woman. She doesn't respond.
(I wonder if she was at the party too? Maybe she drank too much...)
James: Hey. Hey! Are you okay?
I kneel down at her side. I'm overcome with shock and nausea as I notice what's wrong.
James: Oh my God...
A stream of blood trickles from her mouth. Her eyes are frozen upon in shock. And in her stomach... Is a large knife. Her clothes are drenched in blood, body surrounded by a puddle.
James: Oh my God. Oh my God... I have to call the cops... Or an ambulance... Or something!
It's no use. The gruesome scene makes me even feel sicker than before. As I pull out my phone, I feel my consciousness slipping away...
Voice: Hey! Hey! Wake up!
James: Huh... ?
A loud shout wakes me, and I slowly open my eyes. Everything is a blur.
(Where am I?)
A cop is standing over me, barking in my face.
Cop: You there! Wake up! But don't move! Wake up!
As my eyes come into focus, I see the cop standing over me. He's aiming a gun at my face.
James: AH! WHOA!
I suddenly jump awake, now fully alert.
Cop: I SAID DON'T MOVE!
James: Whoa, whoa! I'm sorry, officer! Please don't shoot! What's going on? Where am I?
Cop: I'll ask the questions here! Now put the weapon down, and nobody gets hurt!
James: Huh? Weapon?
I look down at my hands. My mouth drops in shock as I see what's in my hand. It's the knife that was lodged in the woman's stomach. It has a fancy custom-engraved handle depicting what looks like a pig.
(What?! Where'd this come from?! I don't own any knives! And I certainly don't stab people with them.)
Suddenly the scene from earlier returns to me. I glance over and see the woman still lying on the ground. Only the knife that was in her stomach... Is now in my hand.
James: Oh no, no, no... What the hell is going on?! This isn't mine!
I fling the knife at the officers feet.
James: I didn't stab her! I found her lying there! I was going to call the cops and-
Cop: Enough! You can make your excuses down the station. You're under arrest!
(Oh no... How did I end up here? And how did that knife get in my hands? I'm about to be arrested for a crime I didn't commit... With a murder weapon I don't even own! The murderer must have set me up to cover their tracks... But how do I prove that?)
Cop: Now you can come quietly, or we can do this the hard way.
He flashes his badge at me, gun still aimed.
(Officer Robinson... ? Wait, isn't he the head of the Middletown Police Department? What do I do? I want to make a break for it and go home. But if I comply, maybe I'll have a chance to plead my case.)
If there's one thing I've learned from detective shows, is that you should never run from the police.
James: Okay, okay...
I hold out my hands and let the officer cuff me. He guides me into the car, and we start heading to the police station. While the car pulls away. I peek out at the victim. I get a glimpse at her face before she was taken away in an ambulance.
(Wait... Why does she look sort of familiar? I can't put my finger on it, but I know I've seen her before. The office? It's possible. But I don't think so. Friend of a friend? Well, maybe...)
Officer Robinson's walkie-talkie interrupts my train of thought.
Robinson: Yes, we've arrest the culprit for the murder of Ms. Mia Yalden. We're bringing him into the station for questioning.
(Mia Yalden? Now that name really rings a bell. Definitely not someone I know personally... But I know I've heard that name.)
I try to recall the details of the scene.
(She was definitely already Dead when I saw her. And there wasn't any murderer in sight. Whoever it was who framed me... But why? I don't have any grudges against anyone.)
I look down at my hands. I can't understand how the knife ended up in my grip.
(Wait... They're completely clean! If I had murdered her, wouldn't they be stained with blood? The killer didn't plan that so we'll did they? Wait till I tell the officer during questioning! I'm sure that has to count for something!)
I continue gathering evidence in my head to prepare myself. I know I can prove my innocence! I remember the knife. It seemed like some kind of specialty or custom knife. There was an image engraved on it... A pig or something. Could that be important? Maybe the killer likes pigs? Though I'm not sure how I can prove my innocence when it was found in my hands... I remain lost in thought until we arrive at the station.
(Wait... Of course! I was at a party tonight! All my friends saw me right before that happened. And I'm sure they can attest that I didn't have a knife on me! The clutch I brought is way too small to fit a knife! Surely Lily can provide an alibi for me!)
Feeling more confident in myself, I relax in my seat.
(It's fine I got this. I know how to prove my innocence!)
In the interrogation room, I get a better look at Officer Robinson. His a middle-aged fatherly looking man and head of this police department. He doesn't give the impression of one of those mean cops. Hopefully he'll listen to my side of the story.
Robinson: I'm going to ask you again. Did you murdered Ms. Mia Yalden?!
James: No, for the last time, I did not! Please beleive me. I was set up!
Another younger, somewhat handsome officer is also present. I wonder if he'll be nice to me.
Young Officer: Liar! The weapon was found right in your hands!
He slams his fists to the desk, causing me to jump.
(Yikes! Guess not.)
Robinson: That's enough, Alexander. Calm down. Don't worry. We have the evidence we need.
Alexander: But he's obviously lying! If he would just confess, we could get this over with. It's late and I want to go home.
James: But what evidence? I was framed! I can prove it too!
Alexander: How? We find the knife right in your hands with your finger prints all over it! We have pictures from the crime scene to prove it!
I hold out my hands.
James: My hands are clean. So are my clothes. The victim was covered in blood! If I was the killer, wouldn't I be covered in blood too?
The officers glance at each other. The younger one, Alexander, offers a conceited smirk.
Alexander: He thinks we didn't find it. Should I bring it out?
James: Bring what out?
Officer Robinson brings out a plastic bag marked as evidence. From the bag, he pulls a bloody plastic sheet.
James: What the hell is that?
Alexander: Don't play stupid! You thought we wouldn't find it in the trash can?
Robinson: The plastic raincoat that the murderer wore during the incident. You used this to keep your clothes clean. Then you tossed it in a nearby trashcan.
James: What? No, that isn't mine! Wait... I know. I have more evidence. Please just hear me out! I was at a party tonight! I was with my friend Lily. You can call her and ask her!
Robinson: And what time did you leave the party?
James: Around nine. I left early because I work tommorow.
Alexander: Well I guess you'd better call in sick for a while because that's not a solid alibi.
James: Why not?
Robinson: The murder occured at approximately 9:12 pm. Unless your friend Lily can physically prove you were with her at that exact time... I'm afraid you don't have a case.
(Oh no... He's right. If I were guilty, I could've commited the murder on my way home. And I was feeling so sick, I was walking slowly. I wasn't even paying attention to the time.)
Suddenly, a female officer comes in.
Female Officer: Here you go, Officer Robinson. The documents you requested.
Robinson: Thank you, Assistant Scott. I'll review this immediately.
She hands him a folder marked CONFIDENTIAL in bold letters. Then she gives me a hard look.
Female Officer: Hmph. He doesn't look much like a killer.
She stares a few more seconds before spinning on her heel.
Alexander: Damn! Looking good, Charlotte! Busy tonight?
He gives the assistant a lecherous grin.
Charlotte: Ugh. Screw off, Alexander!
She gives him the finger and slams the door behind her. Officer Robinson looks at them and shakes his head.
Robinson: Ahem. In any case, before we move forward with the investigation... We have some more evidence to evaluate.
He comes over and cuffs me to the chair.
James: Hey, Wait!
Robinson: I'm afraid you'll have to stay here until we're done.
James: Done? When will that be?!
Alexander: When you see us walk back through this door, of course.
He replies snarkily. With that, they both walk out the door. I hear it lock behind them.
James: Ugh, I hate that guy already! Come on, somebody let me out! I'm innocent! I'll prove it!
I stop shouting, it won't get me anywhere. I have to think a way out of this.
(But no matter what evidence I think of... It seems like the killer was already one step ahead.)
I wait in silence for what seems like an eternity. Finally, I hear the doorknob jiggling.
(Oh, about time! They're back!)
The door keeps jiggling.
(It sounds like the lock is stuck... Are they having trouble getting in?)
The jiggling becomes more violent. I don't her the officers' voices.
(Wait... Is someone trying to break in?)
Suddenly the door bursts open. A handsome officer steps into the room. At least, I think he's an officer.
Stranger: Mister James?
James: Um, yes sir! That's me!
I straighten up, suddenly nervous. Part of me is frightened, but another part can't help but admire how incredibly good-looking he is. He scoffs and rolls his eyes.
Stranger: Cut the "sir" crap. It makes me feel old. You're coming with me.
James: Oh. Not another interrogation... Wheres Officer Robinson and his jerk of a partner? They said they'd be back when they were done evaluating some evidence.
Stranger: Yeah, that's not gonna happen. They're already gone for the day.
James: WHAT?! You mean they just left me here?! So who are you, then? Are you taking over for them?
Stranger: Nah. not my thing. Anyway, you're free to go. But you have to come with me now.
James: Huh? Are you serious?! But on what basis? Did they find more evidence?
He shrugs nonchalantly and taps his wrist. Something's fishy about this. I look at the door again. I see a wire contraption jutting out from the keyhole.
(Wait a minute... If he's a cop, why doesn't he have a key? Is he trying to break me out?)
Stranger: Listen, we don't have all day. Do you want me to leave you here?
James: Uh, no! Of course not- OW!
I immediately jump up, forgetting about the cuff on my wrist.
James: Oh, um...
He sighs heavily and rolls his eyes.
Stranger: Seriously, they went that far? What, do they think, you're some kind of murderer or something?
James: As a matter of fact...
Stranger: Well, I don't buy it! Come on. I'll get you out of here.
He approaches me in my chair and pulls something from his pocket. It's another wire contraption.
James: Huh? What's that for?
Stranger: What do you think?
Without another word he pulls me toward him. He straddles me and sits on my lap.
James: Wh-What are you doing?! Pervert!
He pushes the palm of his hand against my mouth.
Stranger: Shh! You want to get us both killed?
He brings his face close to mine. His hand over my mouth prevents me from making a sound. He speaks softly but sternly.
Stranger: Listen, I'm going to remove my hand. But you better promise me you'll be quiet and do as I say. Or I'll leave you here with this lock-pick and make it look like you tried to break free. Do you really want to make things worse than they already are?
Nervously, I shake my head.
Stranger: So do you understand? Will you do what I tell you?
I slowly nod, and he carefully removes his hand.
Stranger: Good. Now hold still.
He takes my cuffed hand and begins working with the wire. My face is burning red and dripping with sweat. The weight on his body on my lap is heavy and warm.
(I should be freaking out right now. Why is this turning me on? Why does he have to be so handsome?)
I shut my eyes and try to erase those thoughts. I just want to get out of here!
Stranger: Hmph. Don't enjoy this too much. You're almost free.
I shut my mouth as he glares in warning.
(Did he just read my mind? That's embarrassing...)
After another minute, the cuff breaks apart.
Stranger: Yes! I still got it.
He beams proudly, then looks me in the eye.
Stranger: Good boy. You listen well. Maybe I'll give you a reward later.
He pats my head and rises from my lap.
Stranger: Now run!
James: Wait! What are you doing?!
He roughly grabs my wrist, dragging me along.
James: What if someone catches us?
Stranger: They won't. I know all their schedules. All the head officers are out for the day.
James: What about the receptionist? The janitor? The other officers? There are plenty of people who could see us!
Stranger: Let's just say I took care of them. Every single person here.
I gasp in shock as I spot a janitor bent limply over a trash bin.
James: Oh no... Is he-
The man pulls me right out the front door. The receptionist also lies unconscious, her head on the desk.
James: Oh my God, you didn't...
He continues pulling me till we get outside. Looking back, he notices my concerned expression. We come to a stop behind the building.
Stranger: Relax, they're just asleep. I just mixed crushed sleeping pills in the coffee grounds. Anyone in this building who drinks coffee should be asleep by now. And based on my observations... That's just about everyone.
James: Sleeping pills in the coffee?
Woah, this guy really planned everything out. Who is this strange man? And why did he come to rescue me?
James: Um, I'm sorry sir, but... Who exactly are you?
James: Oh, so now your interested in me? I was wondering when you'd ask. My name is Liam Pace. Detective Liam Pace. I'm the head detective of the Middletown City Police Bureau.
James: A detective?!
Liam: Yes. And you're arrested. Again.