Arthur scanned down his notices, one caught his eye and he opened it to view the contained message.
Captain. I finally got around to running the DNA through the database. Just got a whole load of shit coming down on my head. One of the samples triggered some serious special branch computer to start screaming at me. It shut everything down on this end.
Special branch? What the hell would special branch want with a bunch of misfit criminals? They managed to get IDs on half of them anyway. Nothing special. He read on.
It wasn’t on the suspects, it came up for one of the victims we were using as an exclusion. The girl.
Just a heads up, we are probably going to get one down here nosing about.
He took a moment to curse Greg, they were all girls! Which one? What the hell would the specials want with any of them? A teacher and two kids. There was no way they’d be of interest to the part of the government that dealt with… well, everything that needed to be under the radar. Dealing with the crimes that spanned state-wide, the atrocities and massacres, the direst abnormalities the modern world vomited forth from its stagnant society. The things you couldn’t let the public know went on in their backyards.
And whatever they themselves did behind closed doors… he was under no impression that was any better.
His phone rang, before he had a chance to answer he saw his inbox flash up two new messages…
* * *
The little one. Alexis, her name was. There was no indication she was wanted, not to the MCPS at least. No outstanding warrants, or even a Juvie record. One incident in a coffee shop a couple of months back but by the witness accounts she’d saved someone’s life. They did check these things. But the powers above had someone shitting on them, so he had to pass it down the chain of command until it landed on the poor kid.
He strolled down the corridor with three other men. Only one of them was his, in a neatly pressed uniform. The others were quiet, broad Specials. Nicknamed ‘suits’ by most.
It was overkill but the high-ups really wanted that girl ‘For a few questions’. They clearly wanted his department on side, letting him be the puppet pretending to lead the show.
He approached the wardroom he’d tracked her down to. At least this was an expensive hospital. Personal rooms. No other patients to witness it. No camera-phones.
Her registered address was in the Island of all places, and it would be hell getting her out of there without a fuss. He checked the hospital she was staying after the incident to see if she’d been discharged, then on a whim checked the visitors records for her friend.
He pushed through the double doors and caught sight of the high-flying general-or-whatever. The father that got him into this mess. He had placed himself firmly in the doorway of his daughter’s room, guard like. The stubble on his chin had gotten more out of control since he’d last seen the man, mustn’t have shaved for days. His eyes were supporting dark bags but were still sharp and alert. He leaned on the doorframe, arms folded.
“Sir, do you know the location of Alexis Loch?” Arthur asked rather than request to enter directly.
“Yes, she’s visiting my daughter. I hoped it would help them both.” Mr Spenser replied. He didn’t lie at least, but made no move to let him enter. “May I ask what it is you want with her?”
“She is required for… a few questions.” Did the people who told Arthur that feel the same way when they said it to him? Were they aware of the real reason or just as dumb to what the hell was going on as Arthur was saying it to this man?
Someone must have a reason for this.
“Well, I’m sure those few questions can wait while she talks with her friend.” Mr Spenser’s jaw set. Talks? He must have meant it figuratively.
Arthur was torn, the special branch thugs were clearly impatient. Their bosses could make his life hell. But here was a father, trying every last thing to help his daughter. A farther who just so happened to have friends who could also make his life hell.
He sided on the father, it felt like the right thing to do and he was fucked either way, but his little suited friends were getting restless.
One sidled over to him, crablike, and murmured in his ear. “We can’t wait for this, sir.”
He didn’t need a reminder of who was actually in charge here. He’d checked his watch, hopefully he could play along and ease the father down lightly. “That’s been time enough, Mr Spenser, we really need to take her now.”
The man frowned at them, he’d been watching carefully as they had been standing there. Chances were he wasn’t stupid – probably not spectacular chances, you didn’t need brains to rise up in this world. Who you knew was usually the most important factor.
Still, he could be intelligent. His eyes suggested so.
Do the sensible thing. Arthur willed him. Just let us do our job. You can see this shit is serious.
And after a tense moment, he stood aside with a fluid movement. Arthur and his friends slipped past into the room, single file.
Arthur walked in on three teenagers, two clearly grieving youngsters around the sick-bed of a friend. He hated this job sometimes.
The girl, Alexis Loch, had placed herself between the door and her unconscious friend. The other was a boy of similar age, even though he had a full head of height on the lean dark haired girl.
The first thing Arthur noticed was she had her jacket on inside out. Odd. Once again his eyes followed a long faded scar running from forehead to cheek. They never did find out where she’d gotten that.
Her eyes widened when she saw him, they jumped from his face to the Specials either side to the door. He wished, once again, that he could have brought a couple of uniforms instead of those bastards.
He could still never understand how this scared little girl had done what they said. How? She looked like a rabbit in the headlights. He’d couldn’t get that autopsy report out of his head… The only indication of hostility were her battered hands; somehow bunched into fists. And hadn’t she been stabbed? What was she even doing out of a hospital bed?
Business. He cleared his throat, “Alexis Loch, you need to come with us.”
She didn’t respond, did she know why the hell this was happening? He wished she’d tell him.
“We’d like to ask you a few questions.” he added. If he had to say that once more time…
She started speaking in a hushed rapid voice, “I didn’t mean to hurt her… Well, not for it to go that far. And I stopped, I managed to stop before-”
“Alex, shut up.” Her friend, who was lounging in a chair by the head pushed himself to his feet. Arthur noted the welcoming smile on his face, like this was a meeting between friends. It set his teeth on edge. “What does that name badge say there, Arthur Freud? MCPS detective… let’s see, you must work under Mr Davis?”
“Ah, good, Paul. He’s a good friend of the family you see.” The boy snapped his head around to look at Alexis as he stressed the word family. His mask slipped, he gave her a piercing look. “He throws a wonderful party every spring. Mrs Davis really can cook, she used to spoil me rotten when I was a toddler.” The grin returned, as did his conversational tone. But his eyes remained stone cold. This was a threat, and so much more effective that the usual physical ravings he hears when making an arrest. Nothing about his mother’s sexual habits, just a friendly ‘I know your boss’. Worse than ‘I know where you live’ if you lived alone.
Those parties. Only a handful of people attended. He must be bluffing. But Arthur wasn’t the one to react to the threat. The girl did, taking a step backwards.
She glanced at the boy and said, slowly and carefully : “Mike, you know these people?”
There was a silence, while everyone was thinking.
“Not personally, but this could be as a result of your… relationship with my family.” He replied as if he wasn’t sure that was what she wanted to hear.
She looked at him again.
He could see it in her eyes. He had a growing unease. This wasn’t going to go well.
What the fuck was going on?