Petrichor

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Chapter 2 - Zatin

The victims all had two things in common, they were kids and were poor. The town seemed calm, rather frivolous- nothing remotely nefarious- had friendly people. Perfidious folk here seemed non-existent. Most of them led simple lives. There was even a sanctuary for endangered spotted deer, go figure. How were these kids going missing here? Did they simply run away? No, its too coincidental for this many, and the time frame, its almost... methodical.

Two days in, still no leads, this exceeds my expectations, the needs of the people here - too simplistic, getting pessimistic...screw this I’m gonna need to find something before the situation becomes incendiary.

And it did, another kid goes missing, the next day... the public seems furious, the upper echelon meanwhile is breathing down my neck. 'Need Results'. Was taking a walk in the food district, wanted to try out something local, there was an entire zone of street vendors and food carts- this food zone seemed to be the busiest place in the town, populated by locals and visitors alike.

Smell of abundant diverse flavours in the air- but the crowd...was too much for me, needed a breather, grabbed my pills, down the hatch.

I saw her then... a small cart selling something called "special sandwiches". She smiled, "would you like one Sir? They're really tasty, it will make your heart skip a beat". I replied "uh... sure". Ate it, felt delighted- I guess I needed something fresh. "Did you like it Sir? Its all fresh, the veggies, the meat". Paid her," yeah sure its fine, didn’t make my heart skip a beat as promised though", i joked. "Sometimes it takes time", she joked back. She seems sweet.

A couple of days later, finally a breakthrough, the PD had found out a cloth merchant had been leaving the town often, it was frequent... his businesses had almost been shut down and the locals kept saying had been acting suspicious. Another link was that he used to hire local kids for his factory for grunt work, and some of the missing kids had also worked there. We picked him up for questioning, seized his property and started to align his story with facts.

Relentless and evasive, he put a fight- after an entire night of rigorous allegations, compromises and threats- he contemplated about his family and livelihood. By design, we broke him and persuaded to come clean to minimize the damage... although at this point it seemed like something irredeemable.

What followed was a serendipitous chain of events, his information regarding his factory led us to a hidden underground warehouse full of... get this... dozens of dead spotted deer. Evidently he was leading in poachers inside the secured sanctuary to hunt the hapless endangered deer and would use his warehouse to stock up the goods before sneaking them out in smaller quantities. After grilling him harder, tenaciously, he snitched and gave up the entire network of the involved poachers and dealers, about 30 names. "What did you do with the kids?", I growled at him, the cops had messed him up pretty bad and he seemed flustered, but was still mindful. "A month ago...", he started snivelling and whimpering "one of the kids working had seen me getting out of the warehouse, so we had to... we had to silence him." He had buried the body nearby- we promptly excavated and found the remains.

There were two things off here, the remains of the kid we found was never reported missing and wasn’t a part our investigation to begin with... and what’s even more perplexing was, he was adamant that it was just that one kid, he never had to hurt anyone else ever.

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