The beautiful, city of Leeds holds a secret. People disappear in quiet nights, from houses, parks, schools, hospitals, playgrounds, pubs, malls, you name it. Places that once were safe turned into food for fear. Since ’82, local police officers alongside a London criminal team are trying to solve the case of mysterious disappearances. Without a safe route, with nothing to solve the case, without a witness, the team now detained in Leeds, led by a young officer but with a sharp mind, hopes to solve the case, as the disappearance rate began to increase significantly in the past few months. From the rumours, the history of the summer of ’82 is repeated.
Alice Montenegro has the perfect life working as a police officer in the city, next to her life partner, Brian Rybacka, a young crime investigator, freshly moved from The Checz’s Republic capital, Prague, especially to help the team in resolving the case faster, more efficiently, more securely.
Alice, a girl with a kind of sixth sense, just like her father, she can just tell you the motive of the crime, a series of suspects and identify the culprit in record time with her partner, a thoughtful young person, very sensitive, but maybe that makes him good in solving all these mysterious cases. The quietest night can turn into a stormy one in just seconds. From a romantic dinner to the police uniform, it was just a phone call from Captain Mehmet. It’s something normal for them, that’s why they chose this job. A snow storm is exactly what they needed on the way to the crime scene, blocked roads and bypassed routes have only slowed down their arrival at the crime scene.
Again, there’s not much evidence, but from a blink, Alice noticed something unusual on the edge of the dark sidewalk in Hyde Park. A small book that did not seem to be there for a long time, rather lost recently. The yellow pages of the booklet suggest that it is not too new, plus that handwriting was defined by a very old ink pen. As never before, they are approaching the killer with quick steps. There have been 36 years of mystery but now with this notebook they have the impression they will solve the case. The notebook is taken to the lab and closely analysed, when one of the officers employed in the case notices the names of the missing persons over the years and how strange, a fingerprint is shown next to the name of each of the missing persons. Is it the same kidnapper? That’s what it is.
Both detectives headed for the house after a long series of debates and searches overnight. In all that silence, the phone rings. It’s Alice’s phone. She takes it from the bedside and runs hurried on the stairs to talk, only to avoid waking Brian. A few tones highlight Brian’s attention that decides to wake up and focus on the conversation on the phone that Alice carries with a mysterious person. At the sound of the steps made by Alice on the stairs, Brian falls into bed and pretends to be asleep. The next morning at breakfast, Brian did not resist the temptation to ask who was on the phone. Red in cheeks but like yellow at the same time, the pupils dilated, and a trembling tremor of the lips, Alice swallows hardly a sip of her coffee and says:
– What phone? Alice asks in a lost tone.
– The received phone in the middle of the night. I could not fail to hear it after the high tone rose. Who was it? Brian’s asking in a worrying tone.
– Ah, my dad, of course. He was worried about the case.
– And how your dad knows about the case, especially about last night?
Feeling under pressure, Alice seems to be angry, and in a moment she throws the mug of coffee on the floor and takes a hard look at Brian:
– Look, if you’re going to interrogate me, you better get me up and drag me to the station and you do it like you do with the rest of the suspects.
Alice seemed frightened and Brian more fragile decides to close the subject. They both follow their course, dress and go to the station. There is pressure and insecurity between them, but that will not slow down the case. Once they reached the station, captain Mehmet welcomed them with new clues on their mystery case. A mysterious phone received the next day morning provides significant detail in resolving the case. A young, rather relaxed voice tells the officers where the victim is and closes the phone suddenly leaving a trace of suspicion. It was not a public phone, it was not a cell phone number, it was a disposable phone. The deeper suspicions also arise. They have to find the mysterious caller as well.
The person who disappeared the night before is found in Harehills, not far from Hydepark, abandoned, scared and confused, seemed to be sedated and shocked. She did not seem to understand how she got there, but she can’t pull her head off a calm voice in a lost echo saying: “I lost my notebook, did you find it?” . A real shot for Brian to understand more and his suspicions make him think he is a little bit paranoid, “Will it be? No way!”, he answers in a thought. A few hours later from finding the missing person, they managed to interrogate the victim and get out some pretty important details.
– It was a fairly cold area, more like a basement with a wine-flavour, a little noisy but I swear to myself that I heard many voices talking, many women, old and young, in a language I could not understand but I could say it was strange and exotic at the same time, the victim said.
In Brian’s head, paranoia is deeply felt. Not necessarily all fit with the lighted discussion this morning, the mysterious phone last night but an exotic language and the smell of fine wine? Worried, he’s keeping his suspicions in his head and decides not to pay attention to them.
After a long discussion with the victim, the police decide to make public the mysterious case in the press entitled “He’s back! 2018 is the new ’82”. Leeds, the once quiet city, once again became a battlefield, hunting. Citizens of the city are asked to guard their backs keep away from the dark places and walks in the middle of the night, unaccompanied. Another day, another loss of time but at the same time they have a very good starting point, the notebook. On the way home, Alice and Brian act normally again, Brian decides not to pay attention to ideas out of common and paranoia.
– I think we’re getting close to something, says Brian.
– Hmm, I do not know, I feel 36 years have passed in vain, what makes you think we’ll find him now?
– Well, we have a notebook, a suspicious phone and a victim found. Maybe he just got tired and wants to be found, Brian said very confidently.
– I doubt, Alice added. It seems to me that everything is just to get us confused in solving this case.
– What makes you think like that? That’s not you. You’ve always seen the full side of the glass. There are so many cameras mounted alongside where the victim was found, we can certainly get some pictures to identify the person who called the station.
– Do you want to stop? Alice shouts, realizing is not ok to react like that. It calms her voice and adds:
– I’m just tired and I want to end this endless discussion.
Brian forgets and acts as if he has not noticed and continues to drive back home.
The next day, Brian decides to wake up early and get to the station and get a court order to take CCTV images from where the victim was found the day before.
Alice wakes up and looks for Brian but can’t be found. She makes a coffee and puts her hand on the phone and calls him. Brian does not answer, he’s too caught in the case. Alice does not worry, she decides to take a bath and head to the station as well.
Meanwhile, Brian got the court order, he got the images and started a long analyse alongside Rob, Rob being a colleague of the forensic IT department.
– Captain Mehmet, we’ve found something, we have a clear picture.
– What the hell we’re waiting for, print it, send to all our colleagues, I want him “yesterday”, here, we have no time to lose!
It does not last more than half a day and the mysterious one is found. A young drug dealer and a dealer of lethal printable weapons well known to local police. Asked why he called from a disposable phone, he decides to call his lawyer.
– I do not think it makes sense to call your lawyer kiddo, it does not make sense. Do a good deed and tell me why and what do you know about this girl?
– I swear I was just passing through, as about the phone I have nothing to declare. It is more accessible to me, this is everything I can say for now. I want my lawyer.
-You wish kiddo. You wish.
Captain Mehmet angrily and anxiously grabs dealer’s neck with one hand and with the other hand it targets the gun to dealer’s head:
– Look at me, I’m not going to repeat, you tell me everything you know or I’ll take care that you rot in jail for the rest of your life. Those weapons and the drugs, what would your mother say? You have a baby. Better to be my friend or I’ll be your enemy. Do you want that? I don’t think you want that.
– Ok, ok! The phone was handed to me by a client of mine, always buying heroin from me. On ESTCOURT Avenue he told me that I will find a van with a person inside to leave it in a dubious area. I thought of Harehills. I did not want to go into details, he gave me a nice amount of money to keep my mouth shut. That’s all I had to do, I swear to you.
-Take him out of here! Handcuff him and get his ass to court.
-Shut up, you filth!
Alice also appears at some point. In Brian’s eyes, Alice seems a total disarray. He does not know and does not understand why everything is being broken in their relationship. He does not want to channel his energy on small things so he meets her with a nice, hot mug of coffee:
– Hi, excuse me, I was on the run this morning. The good part is that we found the one who called, Captain Mehmet interrogated him and we could find out who left the victim on the road. It was him, the caller, but I will tell you more on the way to the lab.
Alice seems to be losing her temper and says she should make a phone call. Brian nods and sees his way to the lab. He does not seem too excited because he feels, he feels something is wrong. Does not know what to blame, relationship, or can there be more? Brian, decides to follow her and listen to her conversation.
– Hello Dad, try to get the snow out of the yard.
Brian confused in his thoughts: “The snow is melting already. What the hell is she talking about?”
Among the many mumbled words, Brian hears something strange.
-Somewhere around 1 in the morning.
In Brian’s head, nothing makes any sense, anymore. He makes himself unseen and runs into the lab to analyse the evidence.
After a long day, Brian and Alice head for the house. They serve dinner and throw both of them into that old and noisy bed for a long sleep.
Somewhere in the middle of the night, Alice decides to get out in front of the house. Again, a mysterious phone call. Brian slept like a rabbit so he decides to throw an eye to see who the night visitor is. It is barely visible, and he understands that there is an exchange. Alice handles something small that looks like a book, notebook or something barely visible and the mysterious person a dark envelope. Concerned, Brian decides to run up into the room and make himself unseen. It does not take long and Alice decides to take the car and disappears. It was 1 in the morning. Brian observes that Alice does not climb the stairs up the room so he decides to get a trace on her phone. Seeing the car is not in the garage , at a moment of panic and nervousness, he decides to steal one from the street and head to Alice. He locates Alice somewhere in Headingley. She’s with her dad.
Brian hiding in the shadow of the night:
-What the hell? Brian noticed a dubious exchange, again. He got it. His only thought was to go home and behave normally. Once home, he only thinks of how to find out what’s going on. He does not want to believe or see too much. He decides to leave everything in time’s hands. Maybe at some point everything will make sense. Alice also appears behind him in just 10 minutes, enters the room already prepared for sleep, kisses him on a cheek and joins him in bed.
The next morning, the vibe between them was not so lit, suddenly it seemed like everything went back to normal.
– Strange, maybe I just got used to the idea, Brian thought, I’m not going to make such a fuss, and I’m going to leave it all to the will of fate.
He could not help and broke out:
-Look, I want to understand, I hunted you and it seems ridiculous to me. What happened? What are these nocturnal departures and a dubious meeting with your father, these nocturnal walks? I am your friend, you do not have to lie to me, he says it in a shaky way.
Alice seems to lose her sight, she tries to act normal and smiles:
– Honey, why would you have these doubts about me?
A perfunctory tone makes her even more suspect.
– I do not understand your accusations, hun!
– First of all you are not accused, it just seems to me but you run away from me and you are hiding something.
– You do not have to worry. I can not think of anything else but this case and I just want to relax my mind in a night walk, and as for the night meetings with my dad, they are just chit-chats about the case. You know, he worked on this case as well back in ’82.
-You have just said you take night walks to clear your head and… whatever! I know, I know and I am sorry to be the one pointing fingers but…
-But what? Can you just please cut it? Please! Make an effort for both of us and let’s just relax, please?
Brian with a mad tone yet in a rush:
-I am off, I will take a shower and will drink my coffee at work, sorry!
-Do it as you wish!
Brian leaves the kitchen and slams the door hard. Alice tries to keep her calm and continues with her kitchen duties.
Back at the station everything seems to be really fired up. Captain Mehmet thinks he has found something along with ROB in one of the CCTV recordings.
-What the hell is going on in here? What’s with all the fuss?
-Remember those CCTV recordings from Headingley? We have something really strange. Join me in the forensic IT room to show you something.
Brian grabs a cup of coffee on his way to the lab and asks himself, “What could it be?” Once in the lab, Captain Mehmet points his finger to one of the monitors:
-Here you go! A dubious car still appears at the crime scene, the day we found the victim, it can be seen from all angles. We’re trying to get a car number but it seems to be covered or dusty.
– Maybe some witnesses? We could identify one of the passers-by.
– Rob, how long can we get a result?
– No more than 2 hours, sir.
– Extraordinary. I’ll let you do the job, and once you find something palpable, please send the picture for identification.
Rob and Captain Mehmet after a brief discussion, decide to take a tour to where the victim was found.
– I feel like I missed something. They both climb into the car and leave in a hurry.
Between all that has happened so far, Alice also makes her appearance at the station. With a look of worry, she asks one of her colleagues:
– Brian, Mehmet? Where are they?
-No idea to be honest, field or something…
Alice serves a cup of coffee and heads to her office.
Meanwhile, Captain Mehmet and Brian, once at the crime scene, begin to look more thoroughly. It does not last long, and somewhere near the crime scene, Brian noticed something like metal, shining in a pile of leaves:
– Captain, I do not know if it’s about what we’re looking for, but I’m sure it’s something.
Captain Mehmet comes in a blink of an eye to Brian and begins to analyze the piece of metal found
– It seems to me to be a shred from a knife blade. Call the forensic team for a thorough crime analysis. We can find more than we expected.
-Right away, Captain.
Meanwhile at the station, Alice pays Rob’s visit to the lab. In her left hand she keeps an old file with a strange inscription, and in her right hand a cup of coffee.
– Here’s Rob, for you. What have you found so far? She handles him the cup of coffee.
– I think I’ve found something, I’ve already sent the photo for identification, and we hope to get a definite answer in less than 20 minutes.
-Can you show it to me?
-Sure, there it is.
Alice seems incredibly amazed:
-I don’t think this old lady can help us. Look at her, she looks lost to me…
– It’s all I could do, the rest of the photos were very blurry.
– Anyway, well done.
-No worries, I will get back to my office. Let me know if there is anything else you find, ok?
-Sure, I will keep you updated and thanks for the coffee!
-I got you!
Alice disappears into one of the toilets and makes a very quick call:
– Do not worry, I’m sending you the picture.
Alice does not know, but in one of the restrooms there is a person who could not keep the discussion unnoticed.
Alice continues her discussion that seems to be incomprehensible to the person we call anonymous.
——To be continued…
By Cristea Ionut Prodan aka Ibraheem Proers