“You still haven’t been to your appointment. You’ve made everyone go but don’t think I haven’t noticed your absence.” Patricia’s voice left little to argue, but it didn’t mean she wouldn’t try.
“The others needed it more than I did. I am coping just fine.”
“You are hiding. Sooner or later those emotions you claim you don’t have will show themselves. You don’t know how to deal with them.”
Genevieve Black glared at her secretary. Most others would cower but Patricia was used to her antics.
“Now we both know that won’t help you. It only prolongs the inevitable. You are putting the blame solely on yourself.”
“It was my fault. I am dealing with it.” The curt reply did not deter her.
“Only because the high ups want someone to blame. They died doing their jobs, an honor considering how most of us go. You of all people should know and understand that.”
“I know, but it doesn’t mean I have to agree. They died because of me. Not their jobs. Now if you don’t mind, I have work to do.” Black looked away, paying close attention to the paperwork on her desk. It needed tending to.
“You know where to find me.” Patricia sighed.
Just as Black turned to her paperwork, her door knocked.
Owen Mathsfield poked his head in the door. “Where are the new guys? Came back to base expecting ‘em.”
“They are on a case. It is an easy one, and shouldn't take them too long. Although it has already been about 10 hours.” She shrugged. “They still have 14 hours to close the case and return.”
“You sent noobs out there? After what happened you still sent them out there unprepared!”
“Do not shout. The case is an easy one. I told them all they needed to know. The best way to prepare is for them to be in that environment. I will give them four more hours. If they do not return by then, I will bring them in.”She didn’t even look up from her work.
“I hope so, boss.” He stood uncertain.
She glanced up. “There is nothing you can do. Go home, rest, and return for the next case. Dismissed.”
“10 hours have passed since we came and we are nowhere near finding out where she is.” Jennifer said, dejectedly as they sat on a park bench surveying the calm night bustle of the town.
“Hey, we are still new at this. We still have 14 hours to go.” Will yawned.
“Are we even going to rest? We’ve been at it all day.”
“We don’t have time. Black said this was an easy case. We should have solved it by now.” He rubbed his eyes in frustration.
“Maybe we are going at it wrong. Let’s try a different angle. We know Sherry ran away because she wanted to be in charge of her own life. Considering she is only 12 that wasn’t the wisest choice. Either this Ben J took her where she wanted to go or somewhere she didn’t.” Jennifer sighed.
“And that’s where we are stuck. We don’t even know if Ben took her, the guy might have changed his mind and left. Then she just left on her own and, out of spite, made it look like he kidnapped her. We don’t know. At this point anything is possible.” He yawned again as he stood up from the bench.
“I’m calling it a day. Tomorrow we might find something, but for tonight, I’m done.”
Almost eight hours later, they both met up at the park bench, feeling more refreshed and ready to tackle the case once more. Heading to the police station, Jennifer dropped off the tip of a man named Ben taking Sherry, from a reliable source. Although she wasn’t sure how reliable Steven actually is, it was a lead. With only six hours to work with, time was very precious. To top it off, Jennifer could almost feel someone watching her. Was it someone who wanted to make sure they didn’t solve the case? Or someone who had information? Dejected, she told Will to meet her in her hotel room to go over the facts once more. Jennifer’s mind swirled as she entered her room. Turning on the light, she almost missed the figure sitting on the armchair.
With a yelp, she composed herself long enough to ask. “What are you doing here?”
“I’ve been following you. Making sure you are making progress in the case. As it is your first one, I wanted things to go smoothly. No need to get hysterical.” Ms. Black replied, calmly.
“You’re the one hiding in my room!” Jennifer defended.
“Of course, I didn’t want to raise suspicion. If another private detective showed up out of thin air, people would get pretty nosy. That is the last thing we want. Now, how is the case?”
“Lousy. We’ve hit a dead end. I thought you said this would be an easy case. None of it was easy!”
“Of course, it was your first one. Once you get the hang of it, this case will be quite the piece of cake for you. Now, where is your colleague? I want all the details of the case.”
Will made it to the room almost on time. Then they both took turns explaining the case and all the leads. Finally, Ms. Black held up her hand.
“All right. Now what is the problem? You should have eliminated most of the leads by now. Then you would have found what happened. Or what will.” She checked her watch.
“We have less than 5 hours to solve this case. I have already solved it so now I will explain it to you.”
Jennifer and Will shared a look before sitting on the bed.
Ms. Black began.
“Sherry was quite naive. She wanted a new life, but wasn’t sure how to change it. Leaving family at such a young age was the most dangerous decision anyone could make. She trusted a truck driver by the name of Ben with the last name initialed J. Or B.J. as he liked to be called.” She stood from the chair and started pacing.
“Unfortunately, she bit off more than she could chew. B.J. wanted something for his troubles. Halfway to the place she chose to go, it happens. Perhaps accidentally, or he got tired of her. Now she’s dead. B.J. disappears as only a ghost of a person knows how. All we can do now is find her body. Case closed.” Ms. Black stood up.
“Wait, that’s it? She’s dead?” Jennifer asked.
“Perhaps not yet, but eventually. By my calculations, approximately in two days. I don’t know where though, that is why I sent you here. But seeing as you were more than two steps away from everything I already knew, we cannot stop what is going to happen.”
She walked over to where the three Nitros lay on the table.
“So now we just leave. After all that we’ve been through, we just give up? You never told us we needed to stop her from being killed!” Will decided to speak.
“No, I thought you read the case file and already had a clear image of what happened before embarking on the timed mission. But don’t worry, almost everyone makes that mistake. Next time, you will be more careful.
“Remember, we are here to solve crimes and sometimes prevent death. Sometimes we are not able to, that is why each case is different. Now, give all the information to the police and meet me back at the warehouse. Don’t be late.”
She handed them each their Nitros and pressed the button. When she disappeared, they let out their breaths.
“So that’s it.” Will repeated.
“Yep. Apparently.” Jennifer shrugged.
After giving all that they had found to the rightful authority, they went back to the hotel room.
“Ready to go back?” Will asked as they took out their Nitros.
“On my mark. 1…2…3!”