Summer Kids

When Lucas Tweedle, leader of Left Hand Private Investigators, receives a box containing a film he hasn't seen in years, he is prompted on a road trip across miles and years. He has to save Eva Grey, the only girl that ever loved his teenage self.
She may be in the clutches of the Nemesis Crime Ring but the memories of the summer after college graduation haunt the both of them.

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15. VICTIMS

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN - VICTIMS

LUCAS

Lucas made his way back to his hotel room with the phone to his ear. He was telling his team to come to his hotel room and he had good news to tell them. He had been to the police station and presented them with the filled out contract, even printed one out for them to keep on record, and he had grinned as officer Laswell gave him the digital records of everything they had on the victims.

He had a folder in his email inbox, waiting to be explored and studied and Lucas was feeling triumphant. He had even rung up the local Chinese and ordered the team's favourite foods just to celebrate. Plus he was craving Chicken Chow Mein in his victory.

“Hey Boss why did you call an emergency meeting?” Edward asked as Lucas swung open the already unlocked door of his hotel room. He wasn’t surprised that his team was already there because they were smart enough now to snatch a master key card from one of the maids.

“If you looked on DataRetriever then you’d know already,” Lucas smirked. DataRetriever was their online database where they stored all digital copies of documents and where the team could digitally communicate with one another. Edward had made it when he had first come on board and Kayleigh had named it Retriever like the dog. He supposed that it had a double meaning since they were literally retrieving information as well.

Edward logged into the site on his computer and the notification popped up about the adding of not only the contract of Mrs. Emma Grey but to the new file on Lucas’s email entitled NCR Casefiles.

Edward squealed a high pitched sound and Shawna and James crowded around him just to see what the big deal was. “You got the Greys to hire us?!”

“Indeed I did.”

“How on earth did you manage that?” Shawna asked, leaning over the computer chair to see Edward’s laptop clearly.

Lucas produced a crumpled up piece of paper from his pocket, a photo copied version of the ransom note. The original note was handed into the policing for forensic testing and this version was one that he had photocopied himself at the police station. Now the team even had visitor’s badges so that they could go into the back rooms of the police station when they required it.

“Well shit,” James whistled as he looked at it. While the team scrutinised the note Lucas went about setting up the clear board that he had shipped to Edinburgh and brought to the hotel. On every job that they went on they always had a Plexiglas board and it helped to organise their thoughts more clearly.

“Let’s interpret this note first before we go over the file that Mr. Laswell provided me with.”

“You saw Mr. Laswell?” Shawna asked, popping her jaw as she yawned.

“Yes, he was quite annoyed while he emailed everything over to me but hey ho, it’s not my problem he refused to give us it in the first place.” Lucas was smug as he cello taped the note to the Plexiglas. “Okay I’ve already mentioned the fact that this is the first time they’ve asked for money and the fact that they don’t ask for no police involvement. Something about Eva’s kidnapping is special and they’re taunting us.”

“Maybe it’s because they know that you’re a Private Eye?” Edward asked.

“Maybe but maybe it’s something else.”

“I don’t like how they mention how Eva has been special to them,” Shawna spoke up, poking her chin with a stray pencil. “It’s like she’s done something to bargain her life which doesn’t sound good.”

It even sounded suggestive of rape. In some cases the kidnapped victim would do anything to ensure that they wouldn’t die, and that had sometimes led to doing anything that the kidnapper had asked of them. Sex was a tool, an ugly tool, in the modern day society used to exploit rather than for pleasure. Lucas grimaced, he didn’t want to think about it but he had to.

“They have religious motives,” James pointed out, standing to be nearer to the letter, “They mention a higher purpose and sinners and saints. They must therefore believe that they have religious justification for this crime.”

“Good point,” Lucas muttered and wrote religion with a white marker near the letter.

“They are obviously taunting us, especially with the forever thankful send off at the end. They must get off on entertainment. That’s also proven with the sending of the box and the letter to start with.” Edward mentioned spinning around in the provided desk chair.

When Lucas had first entered his hotel room his mind had been too far away to appreciate it but now he knew that this hotel room were catered to the likes of him, having the space and a desk needed for them to theorise.

“The sending the money both digitally and physically backs that up,” James backed up, facing Lucas with his arms crossed, “They want to prove to us that they can beat us, and that trying to win against them wouldn’t work. In usual cases the drop off point is in a disclosed location which fits with the university carpark. The 5,000 is an odd number, it’s as though this part of the letter is unorganised and just thought of on the spot.”

“They must really want to taunt us.”

“Then why not go to the media?” Shawna suggested, “They’ve only ever involved the police and let the police issue statements to the media, they have never issued anything themselves.”

“Maybe the media is too much for them? They may be strong but presenting all of their cards to a dominating figure like the media doesn’t seem to fit their MO.” Lucas pointed out and was halted by the ringing of the phone in the room.

The team seemed perplexed about it too since it belonged to the hotel and not any of them. It was the delivery guy having left their food at the desk for collection. “I ordered Chinese for us all,” Lucas said to the room grinning at the slight cheer that arose from the other three people.

He left to collect it and came back to his room victorious once more, this time laden with bags of food. The team always thought better with food in their stomachs.

“Let’s have a look at the file that we got sent,” Lucas motioned, half way through a fork full of noodle goodness. He was curious and he could tell that the rest of his team were too. Edward was nearly buzzing in his seat with how excited he was at having finally gotten somewhere with the case. His fingers eagerly pressed on the file that Lucas had loaded onto DataRetriever.

In it there was sub files listing victims, possible associates and a timeline of when the NCR had been set up roughly.

“Let’s go on the victims first,” Lucas motioned, seeing how Edward’s fingers halted over each file as though he didn’t know what to do.

Opening that directory pulled up about sixty other folders, each labelled with a name and a date.

Lucas shut his eyes, “Go on the first one just so we can get a gist of their victimology.”

The first folder was labelled as Bethany Larkin and she had gone missing in February of 2014, the team were horrified and amazed that the Ring could survive for three years without being caught or found in any way. Bethany had been snatched while she was on a jog, she had been seen by her neighbours leaving the house at eight o'clock at night and then she never appeared. They had thought that she’d come back when they hadn’t noticed but two days later there was no activity and it was then that they alerted the police to her disappearance. Forensics had found her IPod and earphones in a park in London along with her shoes.

The shoes were an odd fact but forensics determined it was in the struggle, perhaps kicking her attacker or attackers that she lost her shoes.

“All the way down in London though,” Shawna gasped, “That’s a long way from Edinburgh which they may be based in.”

“How did you figure that?”

“The ransom note said to come to Edinburgh Napier and most of their victims were snatched from areas about an hour away from Edinburgh or in Edinburgh itself. They must have rules for the victims they take.” Shawna was looking at them like they were stupid enough to not point out that fact when they were going over the ransom note.

“Edinburgh is the common denominator in all of their victimology then,” Lucas started, “But because Bethany was their first victim they wouldn’t want to look obvious to the authorities so they travelled far away.”

“The fact that it was in darkness suggests that they were weak at first and that they’ve grown in strength because the recent victims were snatched in the daylight in public areas.” James inputted, making the team shiver with displeasure.

“They’re either really fast or really persuasive to get their victims on board as fast as possible.” Edward threw his thoughts into the mix. He then scrolled down the directory to the bottom of the list where Eva’s name stood sandwiched in between to others.

First there was Amy Charlton snatched at the end of July, then there was Eva captured at the end of August and finally there was Rebecca Nightly taken at the end of September.

“These are among the victims which appear organised,” Edward started, “If you look at the other victims, the first five victims were taken at the start of the month, then it gets random for a bit, around fifteen to twenty victims they get taken in the middle of the month then it gets random, then at about thirty to thirty five they get taken at the end, and so forth. They alternate being organised and being in complete disarray when they take their victims.”

“We may be looking at multiple kidnappers then, or we may be looking at the different states of mind that the Crime Ring go through, they may just do this to avoid the authorities from predicting their next victim.” Lucas muttered, finishing his Chinese with a quick bite and relieving Edward at the computer for the sheer fact that the other man didn’t like to get greasy fingerprints on the mouse and keyboard of computers.

Amy Charlton was taken from a shopping centre in the broad light of day surrounded by hundreds of others. They had picked her out of the crowd and taken her quietly to avoid all attention.

Eva was taken from her home.

Rebecca was taken while she was driving to her parents house. The car had crashed for some reason and Rebecca had been taken from that car as quietly and quickly as specks of dust on a slip road.

“We know that they stalk their victims from Eva’s post it notes, that lines up with the month in between each victim since they need time to see if their victim has what they are looking for,” Lucas thought out loud.

“But what are they looking for?” Shawna contributed, “All victims appear to be of different backgrounds, they have different appearances, and they aren’t religiously connected. Why would they stalk them if nothing seems to fit their profile?”

“There is something,” Edward murmured, “We just don’t know what it is yet.”

“But we have to figure it out,” Lucas said, “There’s no choice about that.”

They continued brainstorming, writing more names and qualities on the Plexiglas in Lucas’s room. Lucas was slowly drifting off, leaning against the headboard of his bed as the night drew on. James could see it in the way that his bosses head would slip to the side bit by bit as their conversations grew quieter, his boss’s voice got deeper as he fought off sleep and his eyes lost their focus on the board to the right of the bed.

“Tomorrow we’ll go to Eva’s house and see if there’s anything that the forensics team have missed.” Lucas almost whispered to his team as midnight fast approached.

The team didn’t hear him, not properly at least, and they still carried on with their conversation.

“What’s so special about Edinburgh though?” James had asked, a finger on his chin in concentration.

“It was where I and Eva fell in love,” Lucas murmured and the team certainly heard that. They turned around to find him curled up in his sheets, clothes on but shoes off, and then their boss murmured his previous sentence again about going to Eva’s the next day.

The team left it at that and left their emotionally exhausted boss to dream about road trips and endings. 

 

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