As a detective for LAPD, Matt was constantly plagued with new cases to investigate. Today things had gotten out of control. He was called to the precinct this morning at 4:00 AM. Having gotten little sleep on his friend’s couch, he wasn’t exactly in a good mood. But… duty calls regardless of sleep deprivation. Considering he had no keys, Officer Price swung by and picked him up with his squad car.
“Where’s your uniform?” he stared incredulously at Matt’s disheveled appearance.
“Long story.” he sighed, “I’ve got a spare at the precinct.”
“Rough night, eh?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” he brushed it off, “Give me the rundown.”
“You got it.” he nodded, “Three men were arrested a few hours ago. Officer Kent pulled them over for speeding, and found them in possession of several kilos of cocaine. Normally their arrest files would have been processed in the morning, however the precinct turned into a beehive the instant their fingerprints were scanned.”
“Oh?” Matt’s eyebrow furrowed, “Who are they?”
“Seventeen years ago, our precinct was tracking a local drug smuggling ring that had been linked to one of the biggest smuggling rings in the nation. In fact, your father was one of the primary officers assigned to the case.”
“Wait…” Matt stammered, “You mean to tell me these men are linked to my dad’s fabled case that got away?”
“One and the same.”
Matt’s mind was filled with memories of the old stories his father had told him as a child. His father had gotten very close to locating the heart of the smuggling ring, when their primary lead was unexpectedly assassinated in a car bomb. As time passed, leads grew slimmer and slimmer. His father’s squad had converged upon every empty warehouse in the city, but the entire case had fallen out of his grasp. At the time he was in line for a large promotion, but losing grasp of this case was a major blow to his police career.
Matt shook his head in dismay, “That case broke him.”
“He lost his badge.”
“Well… my understanding is that it was kind of his own fault.” Officer Price chided, “The Chief told him to drop it, but he refused to. He was obsessed.”
“I probably would have been too had my entire career been on the line.” Matt sighed as they pulled into the precinct.
Several hours had passed. All of the files regarding the old case that had been collected were stored, and had been categorized as ‘unsolved’ until they were dug out from the basement archives this morning. Matt recognized the faces of all three men from pictures his father had stored in a retired trunk in the attic of his childhood home. Curiously, they didn’t appear to have even aged a single day.
Although the three men in custody had proved to be impossible to break, they now had a new suspect. Matt sipped at his 5th coffee while he watched the ongoing questioning session through the one-way mirror. His colleague, Officer Melissa Hansen, questioned the teenager.
“Just leave me alone!” Jack yelled as he struggled to hold back his frustration.
“Come on Jack. If you cooperate, we can all go home happy.”
“But I didn’t do anything!” he insisted.
“If that’s the case, then you have nothing to hide.” she smiled, “Now in your own words, tell me what happened.”
“Well…” he hesitated, “It was kind of weird to tell you the truth.”
“Like I said earlier,” he rolled his eyes, “I was trying to stay awake during that stupid lecture in Orchestra, and I guess I must’ve dozed off…”
“Continue please.” Hansen urged after a period of silence.
Jack flinched, “…I woke up in a dimly-lit room where I was staring at my reflection in a mirror, and then a small door flew open near my feet…”
“Hold on.” Hansen huffed, “There’s a three-hour gap in this hair-brained story of yours.”
“Stop interrupting me!” Jack roared with eyes bloodshot, “Will you please listen to me this time?”
“That depends on whether or not you intend to fill in the rest of the details.” she scoffed.
“Fine then.” Jack shot a look of utter contempt, I hope you don’t expect to get any more answers out of me.”
With all the professionalism she could muster, Officer Hansen stood and spoke, “The psychiatrist will be in shortly.”
“Great.” Jack muttered as she left the room, “Now everyone thinks I’m crazy.”
It was nearing noon when the psychiatrist arrived at Matt’s desk to give him a report.
“I have both good and bad news.” she stated.
“Let’s hear it.”
“The good news is,” she paused, “he wasn’t lying.”
“That’s impossible.” Matt retorted, “This morning after the break-in I questioned him personally. Are you trying to tell me he was sleepwalking for over an hour?”
“Well, that’s where the bad news comes in.” she sighed, “My analysis confirms that Jack suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder.”
“Also commonly referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder.”
“You’re kidding.” he retorted.
“I’m sorry, but you may never find whatever it is that you’re looking for. He can’t answer any of your questions unless he falls back into another lapse, which likely won’t happen again anytime soon. I am recommending him to be monitored for a few weeks at the mental facility downtown.”
“Thanks.” he replied in frustration.
Matt thought back to earlier that morning when he dragged the teenager handcuffed to his squad car. Matt had found him in the attic of his father’s home with the retired trunk open at his feet. Matt had intended to seek answers from the trunk himself, and was shocked to find Jack there with old police records scattered at his feet. The boy seemed to be in an utter daze when Matt demanded to know why he was there.
Jack Timberland was seventeen, had apparently gone truant during the middle of a class, and had taken a winding detour to Matt’s childhood home. His method of travel was still unknown, but considering the distance and the gap of time before he was found, he may have walked there.
Matt had just finished processing the three suspects they had detained this morning, and had arrived at his father’s home around 11:00 AM. He was intending to seek out information from his father’s old trunk regarding the case, and couldn’t believe his eyes when he intercepted Jack in the attic.
Being very familiar with the contents of the old trunk, Matt knew immediately that several large manila folders were missing. The folders contained pertinent data regarding suspects in the case that his father had collected and stored. An inquisition against his father was now underway for having stored the files at home rather than in the police archives.
To his defense, his dad insisted that he had forgotten about the old trunk. The Information Security Act was passed in 2002, whereas he had placed the trunk in his attic three years prior in 1999. Regardless, Matt knew he had to retrieve the stolen files as quickly as possible before his father suffered even further for the biggest blunder of his career.
And now Jack, their only suspect for the stolen records, can’t be questioned on account of his delirium? This case was already getting more frustrating by the minute.
His partner Officer Price walked up just then with a disturbed look on his face, “I still can’t get any of our three detainees to squawk.”
“What have you dug up about them?”
“Several strange things, actually.”
“For one thing, all three of them carry expired drivers licenses.”
“How far expired?”
“Each one varies, however all three are at least ten years expired.” Price screwed up his face in consternation, “And they have never been renewed.”
“That is a bit odd, I must agree.”
“My first assumption was that they have been in hiding outside the country for all of these years, but there are some additional pieces to the puzzle that don’t quite add up.” he continued, “Somehow they successfully fell off the grid for seventeen years. I even ran FBI background checks, which didn’t offer me any leads either.”
Matt’s eyebrow raised as he continued, “The vehicle they were driving was registered to one of them, Victor Hernandez, and the tags are registered for May of 1999. The tags themselves have to be fakes, because there is no fading nor wear on them.”
“Why would anyone go to so much trouble to fake expired tags?” Matt stammered.
“My thoughts precisely.” Price agreed, “I can’t seem to find a motivation for it.”
“Are there any more details you were able to gather?”
He hesitated, “Yes.”
“The Odometer reads just shy of two thousand miles above the odometer reading after the May 1999 registration. The car is in pristine condition, and the engine runs as if the car has been sitting in a collector’s personal museum, carefully started on a regular basis to prevent corrosion.”
“Are there any car collectors in the area?”
“That’s just it. The vehicle in question is far from ever being considered a ‘collectible’ of any sort.” he breathed, “We’re talking about a 1993 Ford Taurus.”
Incredulous, Matt stared at him for a long minute.
“So, let me get this straight.” Matt’s eyebrows furrowed, “We basically have no leads. During your interrogation, did they indicate anything as to where they have been hiding for the past seventeen years?”
“Unfortunately, you could tell they had rehearsed their responses. All three of them vaguely answered that they have been ‘traveling’ for business.”
“Business, eh?” Matt scoffed, “Dealing cocaine, no doubt.”
Price nodded in agreement.
“Basically put, these men appear to have been frozen in time. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think we were being played as fools on the television show ‘Punked’ right now.”
They chuckled in unison.
“How are you so lively anyway?” Matt queried as he took another sip of coffee.
“What do you mean?”
“I logged in to my avatar a few hours ago to check my stats.” Matt whispered, “Your @doomsday16 avatar reached level 23 last night. You had to be up all night!”
“Dude. You really shouldn’t be logging in while you’re on duty.”
“I couldn’t help it.” Matt brushed him off, “Seriously? What’s your secret?”
“You pick the worst timing.” Price scoffed, “We can talk about it tonight.”
Matt rolled his eyes, “Fine.”
Chapter 3 is coming next Saturday!
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A primeval darkness threatens to destroy mankind…
The world’s largest gaming platform in the entire industry is led by a man with many secrets. The popular game DarkForce features the World of Zion which has been plagued by the destructive will of the Leviathan for centuries. What gamers don’t know is that the World of Zion actually exists, and the Leviathan has fed off of the souls of men and his fodder has become scarce. He now turns to Earth with an insatiable hunger. Only a woman from Earth who levels up to discover a divine inner power can challenge Earth’s Apocalyptic Fate.
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