I walked out of Mr. Prior’s house feeling drained. I’d seen myself out and left him crying in the arms of his sister, after making him coffee in his own home while I delivered the terrible news.
“Mr. Prior, I know you called the police and reported your daughter missing last night,” I’d begun softly, “well, I’m so sorry-”
“Oh God!” His gasped exclamation had cut me off. “She’s dead, isn’t she?”
“I’m afraid so.”
I was so glad his sister had come round when she’d heard Ally was missing. I put a sympathetic arm around his shoulder and let him break down beside me, but I knew that my sympathy could never be enough. I relinquished my hold to Ally’s auntie.
“Mr. Prior,” there was a steely determination to my tone now, “I will find out who killed your little girl - I promise. I won’t rest until I do. No one is going to get away with this.”
“Thank you,” he’d choked through sobs.
Now, taking a moment to gather my thoughts on the doorstep, I thought about another case I’d worked on a year-or-so ago; a hit and run. Another teenage girl with everything to live for. Laura Mallory - I’d never forget her name or the sound of anguish in her boyfriend’s voice when I’d told him what had happened. I’d had to tell the poor kid over the phone, and I’d felt so awful for it. The only redeeming thing about the situation was that I hadn’t had to look in his eyes.
‘Right, enough ruminations’ I thought to myself, and began dragging my feet back to the Rover. I climbed in and rubbed my hands together as the old thing chugged back to life. About five minutes passed before I was into the country lanes, winding past sloping hills and fields.
I was certain a scream broke the green country silence.
I carried on driving, but my foot was much softer on the accelerator as I listened intently. I rolled down my window so I could hear better.
"IT'S NOT FAIR! GIVE HER BACK TO ME!” The voice of a teenage boy ripped through the air and I pulled up on the side of the road, almost leaping out of the car while it was still moving. I ran towards the voice until I staggered atop a hill.
There he was, standing at the bottom of this muddy hill, his fists clenched. He continued to scream at no one in particular.
“YOU GIVE HER BACK TO ME RIGHT NOW!”
“OI!” I gave my own yell as I started to jog down the hill, grabbing branches as I passed to support myself in the mud. “What’s happened? Are you OK?” I said more calmly as I got closer to the boy.