Prologue to next book I'm working on, once I've finished last bit of previous one.
The cop who was looking through the glass divide into the interrogation room looked around to see a woman coming towards him. She was average height and weight, but heavily muscled, her mud-brown eyes displaying obvious irritation at being dragged into work at such an ungodly hour of the morning. Her short, straight black hair was cut short in a tomboyish way, kept well away from her delicate, Chinese features. Her skin was a light Mocha in colour, left smooth thanks to her being only eighteen- the youngest person in history to have been hired to a position such as the one she had. She was dressed in a black suit, with a red tie.
The cop snapped to attention instantly.
“Special Agent Li.”
“That's Special Agent Sang, detective. I may be Chinese, but I changed my name to the English form when I joined the FBI. Li is now my first name,” Li Sang snapped in an uncharacteristically bad mood, her usually kind-sounding tone gone. She regretted the snap, as it wasn't the cop's fault, but didn't apologize. She just wasn't in the mood.
“Sorry, Agent Sang.”
“Never the hell mind. Just explain to me what I'm being dragged in at two in the morning for. All I heard was about a missing persons case, which generally isn't our jurisdiction.”
“Normally it wouldn't be. But this one is weird.”
The cop tilted his head towards the interrogation room. Li entered the observation room fully and looked through the window.
Inside was a girl, no more than nine or ten. She looked remarkably downcast, her expression containing a bleakness that was heartbreaking on someone of any age, never mind someone so young. She had long, dirty red hair hanging to her waist, oddly vibrant green eyes even through the depression. She must have been quite tall for her age, and very, very thin, clad in a red, single-piece, ankle-length dress, which was badly stained and torn, and pink trainers. She possessed such cute features that the suffering evident in her features was even more horrifying.
“That the MP?” Li queried, trying to hide her horror.
“Yeah,” the cop nodded, then checked his notes “Teri Annabelle Isen, ten years old.”
“But why is this so odd?”
The cop handed Li a photo of Teri, what looked like a photo of her with who she assumed to be her mother.
“That's the snapshot given to us by her parents when she went missing. It was taken the day before.”
“I'm still not getting it.”
“She disappeared on the thirteenth of January, nineteen ninety-four.”
Li looked up, alarmed.
“What? But that was sixteen years ago.”
“No way can that be her then. She'd be, what, twenty-six by now?”
“That's the issue. But we've done a DNA test, and its definitely her. She's even wearing the exact same clothes she was then. There's a blood stain on them- looks like splatter, probably from someone getting shot in front of her. We've put that in for testing too, but it'll take longer.”
Seriously concerned, Li turned her eyes back to the girl. How was it possible? Sixteen years, and she hadn't changed a drop. Was it possible that someone had done an experiment on her to prevent her ageing? Or maybe an experiment that went wrong and just resulted in the same? But if that were the case, why was she in the exact same clothes?
“I want to talk to her.”
“Agent, I can understand, but without a child advocate...”
“I'm not questioning her, Detective. I just want to judge her mental state. If we get information from it, good. But I won't push.”
But Li had had enough, and just walked through the doorway that led into the interrogation room.
Inside, Teri didn't even look up as Li entered and sat opposite her. When the girl didn't respond at all, Li spoke, keeping her voice level and friendly.
“Hello. I'm Special Agent Sang.”
“How are you doing?”
“Is there anything I can get you?”
The girl slowly looked up, and Li felt a shot of fear as the eyes fixed on her. So much fear... it was near impossible to believe the girl could contain it all.
“Could... could I get a drink?” she whispered after a moment. Her voice was the same as her features- cute, but filled with incomprehensible pain.
“Of course,” Li nodded, relieved the girl was speaking “what do you want?”
“Just some water.”
Li glanced up, and the cop on the other side of the glass nodded, and picked his radio up to ask some water be brought in- at least that's what Li assumed, since although the cop could hear her and Teri over the speakers, she couldn't hear anything he said on the other side.
Two minutes later, the glass of water was brought in, and Teri accepted it with thanks. She drained it in one go, and accepted another glass, which she sipped from once, then just sat there, staring into the water's depths.
Eventually, Li spoke again.
“Can I ask your name?”
“You don't have to say anything that you don't want to, Teri. But if you can tell us anything about what happened to you...?”
Teri suddenly seemed to withdraw on herself, and Li noticed instantly.
“Never mind. You don't have to talk about it. Do you have any family?”
Again, Teri remained silent, but she seemed to tense even further than before. Li frowned, but then wiped her expression blank and just stood up.
“Alright. If you don't want to talk, you don't have to. I'll be back in a few minutes. In the meantime, if you need anything, just knock on the window and someone will come and ask you what you want.”
Feeling slightly depressed by the way the conversation had gone, Li stepped out the room, closed the door behind her, and walked to stand by the cop.
“So what's your take?” he asked as she approached.
“Scared,” Li said simply.
“What am I, psychic?”
The cop reddened.
“Sorry, Agent Sang.”
“Are you the lead on this case?”
“No. That would be Detective Kyle Oaks.”
“Is he here?”
“I'd like to meet him then.”
The cop nodded, and after getting someone to stay in the observation room, led Li through the police station. He took her over to a small desk in one corner of the room, where a small man, no taller than a teen might have been, was working. He had a little too much flesh around the waistline, but it was obvious he was no pushover- he was a pure block of muscle. His features were hardened by years of hard work, and Li estimated he was in his early thirties- a quick glance at his ID badge told her he was thirty-two. His head was bald, and his eyes a dark blue.
“Detective? This is Special Agent Li Sang. She's here about the MP case. The Teri girl?” the cop explained. Kyle just nodded, and after nodding Li towards a chair, the cop left to return to watching over Teri. Li took the chair, then looked at Kyle, who finally looked up from his work to look at her.
“FBI?” he queried. Li nodded.
“Are you here to take this case off my hands after I've been working it for sixteen years?” Kyle demanded, sounding angry.
“No sir. I just want to help find out what happened. You'll remain lead in the case.”
Kyle seemed to relax some after this.
“Well... I guess that's alright then. Would you like a drink, Mrs Sang?”
“Miss,” Li corrected “never married. And that would be welcome. Coke?”
“Only got Diet.”
Li waited until Kyle had poured the drinks, handed her one, and returned to his seat before she started asking questions.
“Can you give me the background of the original MP report?”
“Sure. Ten thirty-two on the thirteenth of January, nineteen ninety-four, Mrs Isen places a call saying that her husband and ten year old daughter have gone missing while out on a trip up some mountains, that they should have been back the previous day. The moron of a dispatcher at the time blew her off, saying that she had to wait twenty-four hours before she could report them missing, which I don’t personally believe should apply in the case of a child MP. But Mrs Isen did as she was told, and when she called back nearly thirty cops were put to searching. No leads were found.”
“This case has been my one big one. I know it off by heart. Anyway, the case went cold, but I continued to search. About a year ago now, a hiker found a ditch that had been uncovered by rainfall. What he found there were human remains, and he instantly called us. Because I was still searching for an MP in that area, I was given priority on the call, and I went out there. The remains were completely skeletal by that point, but the local forensic anthropologist determined that it was Mark Isen. DNA later confirmed. Only other thing we found in that pit was a gun, registered to him, and a badly degraded teddy bear that was listed as having been in Teri’s possession when she left her house.”
“Trace evidence at the scene? Fingerprints on the gun?”
“Negative to both. Any evidence was probably gone after fifteen years, especially with the weather up those mountains. Plus a lot of people go up there, so there was nothing concrete. We managed to salvage fingerprints from the gun, but they only came back as his own.”
“And Teri was never found?”
“No. Apart from the bear, there was no sign of her.”
“Until now,” Kyle agreed “we have no idea what's going on. Somehow she doesn't appear to have aged a single day, and she's even wearing the same clothes. But its been sixteen years.”
“Where'd she turn up?”
“Her mother called yesterday, told us that she had just turned up on the doorstop. At first Mrs Isen thought she was seeing a ghost, but then managed to overcome her shock and called it in.”
“At least she was smart enough not to have her daughter clean up. We could have lost valuable evidence,” Li mused. Kyle just snorted.
“Valuable my ass. All the evidence just points us to that mountain. Unless she talks, we might never find out what happened.”
“What if...” Li started, but then suddenly went silent as a load noise rang out- a noise that both of them recognized.
And it had come from the direction of the interrogation rooms.
Both shot to their feet, and rushed without words towards the room, drawing guns- Li her standard issue handgun, Kyle a highly impressive and large revolver.
Upon entering the hallway to the interrogation rooms, they were horrified to find carnage. Two bodies lay in the halls, both having been taken out by expert gunshots- one of them had been killed by a shot to the head, the other one to the heart. Bursting into the observation room, Li felt a pang of shock and pain as she saw the cop she had been talking to was dead, a massive hole through his chest, apparently having been shot through the spine.
Inside the actual interrogation room, visible through the glass, was a man, kneeling in front of Teri's chair, apparently talking to her. He said something, and she nodded vigorously.
Kyle tried the door, but the man must have locked it. Li couldn't see his face, but judging by his size he can't have been more than eleven or twelve himself, a mere boy. He was dressed in heavy boots, jeans and a t-shirt, topped with a trench coat, all of it black. He was very tall for his age, almost as thin as Teri, and had a head of straight brown hair that ran just below his shoulders.
Knowing they didn't have time to ask questions, Teri rose her gun and shot through the glass, which shattered. In a movement too swift to catch, the boy was on his feet as Teri let out a scream. He drew a gun from within his coat and shot at Li and Kyle, who both dived out the way.
“Surrender, or we'll be forced to shoot you!” Li yelled.
“I'll never surrender to you,” the boy shouted back, in a voice that was oddly seductive despite his age. Li closed her eyes a moment, regretting what she had to do, then dived up and fired straight at him.
Moving inhumanly fast, the boy swung one foot around and kicked the approaching bullet, sending it spiralling out of the way. Li gaped in horror- no way could anyone human do such a thing.
The boy fired again, and Li jumped out the way. Kyle fired three shots, one of which went wide, and the other two which the boy somehow managed to deflect by hitting them in quick, impossible succession with the flat of his free hand.
Before either Li or Kyle could get another shot off, the boy grabbed hold of Teri's wrist, and, after flashing a dark look towards Li, his ice-blue eyes, barely visible beneath the fringe of his hair, glistening in the dark, both he and Teri seemed to vanish into thin air, leaving Li and Kyle to stare in horror.