Another early morning; another trip to Records. That had become a daily ritual in the life of Detective Whelan as he attempted to gather all the evidence he could in relation to the cases that he was working on. He hadn't yet found just what he was looking for, but he felt like he was getting closer. In his mind, he began to see patterns as they developed around him. He was able to narrow down the cases that appeared to be connected in some way via electronic means. Each one of those cases made reference to either heavy computer use or communicating using smartphones more than the average person. They also indirectly seemed to show a pattern of disconnect from normal society. This wasn't unusual in and of itself in today's society; plenty of people dedicated a large chunk of their day to phones and computers. But these men all had that in common along with vanishing in thin air without a single trace.
Today, he was picking up the cellphone records from the last few men to go missing, starting from most recent back to the last three. All of them disappeared within the past year and a half. Nothing in their case files mentioned anyone having searched through their phones for clues. That seemed like such an obvious thing to look at to Shane that he wondered how the other detectives working the cases before him missed it. Perhaps they were just out of touch? Maybe they knew that eventually somebody else would pick up the cases? He wasn't sure what the answer was, but it didn't really matter. He'd be sure to find everything that they missed. Besides, he wasn't alone in this.
[From the Author: I'd like to start off by saying that the following story is completely true. Nothing has been exaggerated for effect. I present to you the simple truth of what was by far the worst date I have ever been on in all its awful glory. -CJH]
When I got out of the Army in 2008, I was in a steady relationship with a girl whom I had known for about a year and a half. She lived and went to school in Alabama, which was only about 45 minutes away from Fort Benning, where I was stationed when I got out. I had been able to get a job with a Police Department in the city that was neighboring of the one she lived in, so I decided to move out there with her when I was discharged. I was there for about 6 months, before deciding that I should go to college. The catch was that I had the opportunity to go to school in Indiana completely free and save my G.I. Bill in the process due to having a Purple Heart.
The two of us initially planned on staying together while I went to school, but we sort of drifted apart after awhile and decided that it was best for the both of us to break it off. She went on to marry and divorce some loony Engineer Officer who was also stationed at Benning. I enrolled in a school in the city that I basically grew up in and around. It was an odd experience going from Army Infantry Non-Commissioned Officer and Combat Veteran to college Freshman. I felt like I was at Preschool in most of my courses, even though I was only 23 at the time.
I was truly breathless the first time I saw her. She was the most radiant, delicate thing I had ever seen. Even standing there alone, on the side of the street, with nothing but my headlights shining on her, she looked lovely. She wore her fair hair in an intricate braid high on the back of her head; her white dress gleamed in the light. Though her face was visibly upset, I was still caught off guard by how beautiful she truly was. I could have sworn that she looked up at me as I drove by and that we locked eyes for just a moment. But it's hard to say in that sort of light. Alas, I drove off with just a passing memory of a delightful looking wanderer on Archer Road.
I'll admit that I drove that way a few more times just with the hope that I'd see her again. I even went out of my way to take that path, when I could have gotten where I needed to go much quicker with different routes. I wanted to believe that I wasn't just imagining the look she gave me as I drove by that night. I wanted to believe that I'd see her again and that she would remember me. I went during the day the first few times, but had no luck. I soon forgot about it; forgot about her.
Tonight was the night. Tonight was the night that Chase would finally be meeting the Random Sad Girl, Molly. It had been a couple of weeks since the two of them first started talking on the dating app and in that time, they had gotten to know each other well. He knew that she was only fifteen, but there was something about her that made him not care so much about that. She seemed so mature for a girl her age. The way she talked wasn't like how most teenage girls talk. She was intense, passionate, and sexual like no woman he had ever spoken with online. Or in person for that matter.
That was the only reason he had even considered meeting her when she asked him to come over. He didn't ever plan on actually cheating on his fiancee, but there was just an allure to this girl that he had never felt before. He had to see just what was driving him so crazy about her for himself, in person. She had been talking about the two of them having sex together, but he wasn't sure he could go that far. Not just because he was engaged, but because she was so young. That didn't mean that he didn't want to at least meet her. He knew that he had the sort of self-control needed to not cave in that kind of situation. He was a deliberate guy who made plans for everything he did, including this.
What once seemed to be a fruitless venture suddenly had a focus. It started as a flood of senseless information that, with a bit of guile, became sensible. Workable. It was a nice turn of events for Detective Whelan after brooding over the complication of it all just a few hours before. Now he was on his way to what could possibly be a new lead on a dead case. Instead of a thousand different pieces separate from each other, things began to appear as one. Something deep inside of him knew that there was a connection between all of the cases he had been assigned. It just made sense in some way; though he couldn't say for sure why.
He found himself on the way to house of the former Mrs. Morris Kyle, whom originally stated that she hadn't heard from her husband for days before his disappearance. They had been on the outs, but still lived together. That didn't seem to make sense to Shane, and he wondered why the previous Officers assigned to the case hadn't found it odd. Two people live in the same house, one of them vanishes, and the other claims to have no clue where they are? It just didn't add up.