Authors: T.K. Harris
The next morning, or afternoon or evening - Tommy was no longer quite sure - the buzzing of the florescent light began to wear on his nerves. He became obsessed with finding a way to turn it off, even if it meant breaking it. But it was encased in a wire cage and that, coupled with the thought of spending that much time in the dark, stopped him. The next day, he began screaming. And, still, no one came.
On what was actually day six, though he no longer knew, Tommy remembered a prison movie he had watched with his dad in which the prisoners had marked the passing of their sentence on a calendar. Thinking this was a good idea and may be a way to maintain his sanity, he took his bar of soap and began making marks on the wall for every three meals he could remember. By his recollection, he had been there three days.
Proud that he had managed to think of something productive and realizing he was tired - though he couldn’t understand why - Tommy decided he had earned the right to lay down, and tried to sleep. But at some point the florescent light had actually managed to get brighter and the buzzing louder and, no matter how hard he tried, sleep seemed unattainable.
When food arrived, he ignored it, no longer hungry, instead spending his time trying to remember stories out of books he had read. When he felt his sanity begin to slip again, he grabbed the bar of soap and began drawing out complex math problems. As he did, he explained out loud what he was doing, finding comfort in having someone to explain it to. After explaining a particularly complex problem, he turned with intense satisfaction to find the room was empty. That was when the shakes started.
Somewhere around day seven, the temperature in his cell, already cold, began to drop. He shivered uncontrollably and tried to huddle on the cot under his sheets and blanket. Time passed with no increase in temperature. Shivering and now hungry, he started to wonder when the food would arrive, regretting not eating the last four, or was it six, meals?
More time passed and Tommy actually began to doze sporadically. Eventually he fell into a dream in which he was running and running but seemed to go nowhere. Up ahead he could see a warm fire and a table filled with food, but no matter how hard he ran, he couldn't get closer. He started screaming and the screams filled his ears, causing him to clamp his hands over them to stop the sound. He tried to stop screaming but still it echoed on, blaring and painful. Now he began to scream for another reason.
The sound tore Tommy out of his dreams but the screaming didn't stop. As his hands clamped tighter, trying to block the sound, Tommy realized that deathcore music was being blasted into his room. Frantically, his eyes darted around the cell, trying to find the source of the sound. It grew louder and louder until he thought his ear drums would burst. He began screaming from the pain.
Stop! Please stop it!"
His only answer was the grating sound of the singer's voice growling out words Tommy couldn't even understand. He rocked back and forth, trying to clamp his hands tighter to his ears, screaming for the music to stop.
Hours seem to pass, maybe days, and his screams slowly turned to sobs, intermingled with the beginnings of a cough. Exhausted, he tried to sleep, but it was no use. Even with toilet paper shoved in his ears, the music blared too loudly. It had become unbearably hot and Tommy tried to tell his mother what was wrong. He looked over at her by the door and wondered why she didn’t come closer and why the music didn’t seem to bother her. Eons ticked by as he alternated between screaming, crying and coughing. And then, just as suddenly as it had started, the music stopped.
So deafening was the silence that, at first, Tommy hadn't realized the music no longer played. When he did, he cautiously removed his hands and the tissue from his ears. Tears spilled out of his eyes as the exhaustion in his body took over and he collapsed, wanting nothing more than to sleep.
He had just fallen into another dream when the blaring sound of deathcore tore him once more back into the nightmare that had become his reality. He awoke with another scream, shouting, "Turn it off! Please turn it off! I just want to
He raged and screamed until his voice gave out and then began throwing anything he could get his hands on and beating the walls. And the music screeched on.
And then, one day, someone finally came. Just eight days after Tommy was first taken.
Commander Lee hung up the phone with Mrs. Borne, assuring her they would continue to do whatever they could to find her husband. She still refused to believe that her husband may have just skipped town, even after Lee had mentioned the five thousand, plus, dollars from Frank's computer hardware sales that had disappeared with him. But he'd been working on the force nearly twenty years and had seen a lot. The picture his men painted from questioning the neighbors was one of a troubled marriage with the threat of divorce. Add that to the amount of money that had disappeared and the fact that there had been no signs of a struggle in or around the store, and the picture didn't get any better.
The only oddity was that her husband's car still sat in the parking lot a few blocks down from the store. But, by his way of thinking and experience, Lee figured that Frank Borne had decided to bail rather than face a messy divorce, and he'd left the car and taken the cash to go off the grid. They were looking for traces of other cash he may have been stock piling for this moment. Whatever his plan, Lee didn't think he was coming back. He hated to see it, especially when the woman was left high and dry with three kids, but it happened. More times than he cared to know.
Sitting back down at his desk, Lee turned to his next case, this one in another district. The Moore kid. Gone now for over a week, with no clue as to his whereabouts. There had been no sign of a struggle in his dorm room, his car was still at the college and they knew he’d disappeared sometime overnight only because he’d shown up for class on the Wednesday but not on the Thursday. The kid didn't seem to be a partier, had only a few friends that they knew about, and seemed to be making good grades. He had no real money of his own, wasn't using his credit cards, and had made no phone calls though his phone was gone. So was his computer.
After speaking with his teachers, neighbors and the places Tommy had worked, Lee knew that Thomas Moore seemed to be a good, all-around kid. Of course kids were known to go a little wild in college, so maybe he
gotten into something. Lee really hoped it was some wild hair that had made Tommy decide to skip out with some friends for a couple of days without contacting anyone. Maybe just spreading his wings and experiencing his freedom. But if that was the case, how was he paying for it?
The one thing they had found that spawned a possible alternative scenario, was that Ken Moore was a man of considerable wealth, and that meant there might be a case to make for kidnapping. Although it was unusual not to see some demand for ransom after such a period of time, he had heard about it happening before. One kidnapper didn't reach out for over a month. By that point, the desperate parents of the eleven year old girl hadn't bothered to call the police until after they had handed over the money and gotten their daughter back. Lee couldn't blame them. Even if it meant they lost any possible way of tracing the kidnapper, since the traumatized girl could remember little.
Spreading his wings, or kidnapping?
Both options were slim chances, but at least they
chances. Lee had already presented the first option to the parents, who had been doubtful. Today, he would present the second.
The parents arrived promptly at two, and fairly barged into his office. Both looked as if they had aged years from the time he had first spoken with them. Lee indicated the two chairs in front of his desk and watched as the mother took a seat. He remembered how pretty he'd thought she was with her short blond hair and light blue eyes. Eyes that had been worried but hopeful. Now, those eyes were dull, and deep lines of worry were etched along the sides of her mouth and across her forehead. She was paler than he remembered.
Of the two, he could tell she was taking this the hardest. A missing kid was one of the worst cases to handle, especially since many of them didn't have happy endings, and watching what happened to a mother when her worst nightmare became a reality was brutal.
Ken Moore seemed to tower over his wife in a protective posture, the darks circles a marked contrast to the intensity of his eyes. Never one for small talk, he began to speak before Lee made it back to his chair. "Have there been any leads? I'm assuming you have something for us based on your call."
Lee took a careful breath and looked at them both. "We haven't found anything, yet, but we have come up with a theory." He held up his hand as Ken began to speak. "Now listen. It's important that both of you understand this is
a theory. There's no proof."
"We understand, Commander Lee. Please, just tell us." Karen Moore's voice was soft but strained.
"We have opened up the possibility that, due to your financial status, this may be a kidnapping."
The parents looked stunned. Finally, Ken Moore asked, "But who would do such a thing?"
"That's what we don't know, Mr. Moore. I was hoping you might be able to help us with that."
"But if he was kidnapped, why haven't we heard anything yet? It's been over a week!"
"That's why I stressed this is
a theory. But it's not uncommon to see no demands come through for several days. Sometimes even weeks. It's a waiting game and, for the kidnappers, a head game.
And I'm not saying we're just going to sit here and wait. Our investigations continue, and I know you've already hired a private investigator. There's a good chance that either this is the case or maybe, and I know you don't want to hear this, but – like I mentioned before - maybe he decided to go experience his freedom. Take a joy ride with his friends, or even a trip to California."
"Or he's dead," Karen said quietly.
He wanted to say something to ease the pain evident in her voice and in her eyes. But there was nothing he could say that would comfort her so he simply replied, "Yes ma'am. That's always a possibility."
"So what do we do now? Wait for a call to come in?"
Lee looked at Ken. "Keep doing what you're doing. Asking around, looking for answers. Try to think of anything that might help. We’ll send some people to your house and install tracing devices on all of your phones. We will even put some on your work phones if that's okay with you." Taking a deep breath, he looked at both of them. "I know this isn't what you wanted to hear. I was hoping for more by now." He stopped, not knowing what else he could say, if there was
say, that would help.
"Then I want to go public."
Lee looked at Ken, a question on his face.
"All we've done is post pictures around the neighborhood and campus. I want to take this to the press. If what you say is true, then I don't see why we wouldn't do this now. Our P.I. thinks it will be helpful. You asked me to hold off before, but if we suspect kidnapping-"
Lee held up his hands, "Mr. Moore, you realize that doing this could open you up to a lot more problems than it might help, right?"
Ken ran a hand through his dark brown hair, glancing quickly at his wife and then back to Lee. "We know. We've discussed it. But now it seems more important than ever. And we won't start offering a reward right away. We just want to get it out there that our son is missing."
His wife nodded in agreement.
Lee glanced at both of them. He could see their determination and knew they wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
"Okay. But please, wait until we get the equipment installed in your home and on your cell and work phones, and definitely don't mention a reward. At least not for a while."
Mr. Moore nodded, holding his hand out to his wife. "Thank you, Commander Lee."
Lee walked them to the door and slowly shut it behind them. He stood for a moment, watching the precinct outside the office window as it went about its daily business. So many new faces. Young, eager faces. He had been a police officer for over thirty-five years now. Police Commander, for nearly ten. And today, for the first time, he was beginning to hate his job.
He wasn't sure how many more murders he could take, or how many more young lives he could watch shattered by rape and abuse. Or how many more times he could bring parents into his office and offer them what his gut instinct told him was a false hope.
He really hoped this wasn't the case with the Moore kid. And he hoped his men weren't missing anything. With the budget cuts though, he was so understaffed he was surprised they were able to solve
Damn politicians and their delays,
They were probably too busy giving themselves pay raises to care about shutting up and passing the damn budget so he could get the people he needed.
With a weary sigh, Lee turned back to his desk and picked up the next case. A homicide.