Thursday 31 December 2015 – Saturday 2 January 2016
‘Does your daughter have any distinguishing features, ma’am? Any birthmarks, scars, tattoos or piercings?’
She didn’t need to consider the answer to the detective’s question. ‘No, nothing that would make her easily identifiable. Her ears are pierced, just the once on each ear, but that’s about it.’
Detective Greene wrote the morsel of information in his notebook, and flipped it shut. He and Poole had been at the Quartermaine residence for over an hour, and had managed to wring every piece of information about the missing girl from her mother.
‘Mrs. Quartermaine . . . Susan . . . would you mind if I looked in Holly’s room again?’ Julia Poole recognised the pain Susan was going through. It was the same pain that her own mother had lived through after her sister’s disappearance.
Susan rose from the sofa, and gestured for Julia to follow her up the stairs again.
‘Susan, it’s okay if you want to stay here with Anderson. I can find my way back up to her room, and I promise I won’t disturb anything in there.’ Anderson Greene looked at his partner, and gave a minute nod. He understood what would come next for Julia. She’d sit herself in the girl’s room, and pore over everything she could see, touch, or smell. She’d absorb every piece of the girl’s life that she could uncover. She’d spend however long she needed in Holly Quatermaine’s room, and then she’d come out with some epiphany that she’d explain to him on their way back to the station.
He knew better than to ask Julia how she was able to find morsels of information that every other officer had missed. He’d learned that it was better not to ask how she knew things, but rather it was better to accept that she was right on the money. She usually was, and it was imperative that he kept the distraught mother out of Julia’s way for that time.
‘Mrs. Quartermaine, perhaps you might be able to find me a recent photograph of Holly. A nice clear photo that we can use for all the media releases, one that shows how caring and intelligent and beautiful she is,’ Greene said. It was just enough to distract Susan from following Julia to the girl’s room. She strode to a bureau in the corner of the room, and feverishly tore each drawer and door open in her quest for the perfect photo.
Before she even opened the door to Holly’s bedroom, Julia felt the familiar electric charges shoot through her fingertips. It always started the same way, had done since she was a child. First the electric charges, then the blurry vision, followed by the shooting pain behind her eyes, and finally, the visions, the reason she went through all of the discomfort. Once they started, there was no way for Julia to control the visions or the speed with which they came to her. No amount of practise over the years helped her to control them – they came and went when they wanted, and that wasn’t necessarily when Julia was ready for them.
Barely able to shut the door behind her, Julia flopped forward on to the girl’s bed. She held back the scream that threatened to rip its way through her throat, and out into the world. Neither Susan nor Anderson would benefit from hearing Julia’s pain. She focussed on the images filling her head, trying to remember every vision, every piece of information relayed to her.
As quickly as the visions began, they ended. Julia sat up on the edge of Holly’s bed, and propped her throbbing head in her hands. Water was what she immediately needed, but the girl’s en suite seemed too far a journey right now. A gentle knock on the door drew her away from the pain in her head. Susan opened the door a little, and poked her head around. Her smile, Julia recognised, was what the missing girl most loved about her mother’s face.
‘I brought you a cup of tea, Detective Poole. Your partner thought you might need a little something seeing as though you’ve been up here a little while.’
‘Thank you. Please, come in,’ she whispered to Holly’s mother.
Susan sheepishly moved into her daughter’s bedroom.
‘You feel funny about being in here without her permission?’ Julia asked.
‘I guess I do.’ She handed the mug of tea to Julia. ‘The last time I was in here, she was asleep in that bed.’ Susan dropped onto the bed beside the detective. ‘Please, Detective Poole, please find my daughter.’
‘I intend to do my very best to do just that.’
* * * * *
The drive back to the police station was unusually quiet.
‘What’d you see, Julia?’ Greene’s voice was barely audible over the ambient noise of the vehicle.
‘I’m still . . . I’m still trying to process it, Anderson. It’s not what I expected. Her mother’s ideas are so far removed from what’s been going on with Holly. She’s not the innocent, young woman that her mother believes her to be, but at the same time, I think she was coerced to leave.’
‘By whom?’ Anderson risked a quick glance at his partner.
‘I don’t know. An older man. I get the feeling that we’ve come across him before, or that he’s somehow linked to one of our other cases, but I can’t figure out if it’s an old case, or one of our current ones. I need to look at our open case files.’
‘Any idea where we’ll find her?’
‘In a manner of speaking . . . but it’s not going to be a happy ending.’
. . . To be continued . . .