Chapter 7

            Detective Barron sat at her office. While she appeared calm and organized, anyone that knew the woman could see she was stressed about something. Barron held the end of a pen to her lips and bit on it - a bad habit that was mostly kicked. It only appeared when something was bothering her to the point of it being all she thought about.

            Quincy walked through the doorway, carrying coffee and a plain bagel with butter. He set the items on her desk. “Here, you came early this morning, and I wasn’t sure if you had time to eat.”

            Barron looked up from the papers she was examining. Grabbing the coffee, she took a long sip. “Thanks, the coffee was definitely needed. Can I ask you a question?”

            Quincy waved a hand lazily in the air, “ask away.”

            “Why did you buy the forest? Is there something in there you are keeping secret? We sent our best dogs in there. They did not find anything. Those dogs are trained to find any trace of a person, even if attacked by an animal, but they just sat down and cried. I have never seen anything like that.”

            Quincy’s carefree attitude vanished. He gave his partner a cold look. “A child is missing in my forest. Do you honestly think I would keep something a secret if it was what caused her to vanish? I bought the forest because I thought it was beautiful. I wouldn’t have minded the child going into the forest, actually. The only reason I made it private was to stop the wood cutters from chopping down such a beautiful forest.” Detective Barron suppressed a shiver. This was the first time he had ever said anything without his usual carefree accent. It sounded much more threatening than anyone else she had met before.

            Trying to rectify the situation, Detective Barron shrugged. “I apologize for prying. I just realized that I do not know much about you.” It was true. She did not even know her partner’s age. At first, he seemed around thirty, but now looking closer, he seemed around his early twenties. Detective Barron frowned. They had been working together for almost three months now and she had never bothered to ask anything about the young man. If anything curious came up, she would shrug and say it was her boss’s job.

            “It is best that way. Knowing certain things about me can only lead to trouble.” Detective Quincy stood up and left the office without another word. His partner frowned at the odd behavior. Sipping again on her coffee, the hot-headed detective made up her mind.

            She would check the forest again, this time by herself. Her partner always took the same place to search, she would start there. If nothing was found, Barron would spiral out until the whole forest was searched.

 

***

 

            Detective Barron winced as yet another twig wrenched out a lump of her fire-red hair. Forests and wilderness were never her type of thing. She much preferred cities; which is why her boss paired her up with Quincy. He seemed almost to become a part of the forest when he searched, while Barron would stand to the side and watch. Not only was she now investigating in the forest alone, but the sky was pitch-black. And why was she doing this alone at night?

            “I am too involved in this case. Now I am even treating my own partner as a suspect,” Barron growled to herself. Detective Barron was a highly regarded detective, despite being a woman.  The reason was that she never became involved in a case, always staying directly behind the boundaries. That was one thing many detectives had a problem doing, but she never had a problem staying away from a case. Until now.

            Detective Barron stayed back so carefully because she had seen many people lose their minds from being too involved. They would bring their families and neighbors into their worries. Her father had been the same way. He carefully stayed outside the boundaries, but one case came too close for home. One of his neighbors went missing. Usually, they would not let someone closely involved take a case, but he was so careful about not being involved, his boss though he would be fine.

            He was wrong. At first, everything was fine, but once the neighbor was still missing he started to lose it. Barron was not allowed outside without at least two adults with her. Her mother would be interrogated whenever she left.

           ‘And now it’s happening to me,’Barron thought to herself. It was all because of the little girl. Her pleading eyes struck a deeply buried chord within the detective. The two sisters, Nemu and Rayen, and their friends, Scarlett and Noah; she could remember all of the names. The names refused to leave her head, echoing around. They just bounced around, popping into every thought, memory, and dream. So here she was; standing in the middle of a dark forest, searching for a clue that her partner was lying. About what, she wasn’t sure, but there was definitely something.

            Barron stood in the middle of the area Quincy was supposed to have been investigating. There was a small clearing, surrounded by dense pine trees. There was no trace of any clues, from what the detective could see. But with the moonlight gone, and her flashlight fading, there was not much she could see.

            A rustle came from behind her. She spun around, waving the almost-dead flashlight around. The third time the flashlight crossed the trees; Barron met with a pair of eyes. It took her frightened mind to realize that they were human.

            “Quincy, is that you,” She called into the dark trees. She watched as her partner walked out from the trees, just as her flashlight died. Trying to keep calm, Barron waited a moment for her eyes to adjust. “What are you doing here,” She snapped at her partner. She could only see the outline of his body, but it was enough to calm her down.

            “I could ask you the same thing,” He replied. His voice was cold. “This is my property, and you are trespassing.”

            “I just wanted to search for clues about the girl a little more. You gave permission to the police and detectives to search your forest. Are you taking that back now?”

            “No. I said they could look during the day. At night, harmful things can happen to those who do not know this forest ‘ell. Besides, there is not much you can do with a dead flashlight. Now leave.” Barron’s head was racing. That was a threat, she was sure of it. Maybe he had threatened Rayen as well. Did the girl not listen?

            Quincy was suddenly standing much closer. His eyes were scanning the forest, as if he had heard something. He grabbed Barron’s arm forcefully, making the woman flinch. “You need to leave. Now, Detective Barron. The exit is just over there.” He pointed to his left, the death grip on Barron’s arm never loosening. “Should not be too hard t’ miss, even wit’ a dead light.” He shoved her in the direction he wanted the detective to go. Barron stumbled a bit before hurrying in the direction she was guided to. The detective did not look back, or slow down. For the first time since taking her job, Barron was terrified for her life.

            Only once she was outside the forest, back into her car, did Barron slow down enough to think. Her mind was now acknowledging that she was safe. The detective was filled with anger. How dare he threaten her like that?

            Anger starting to get the best of her, Barron started to open the car door again. She planned to go back into the forest and show Quincy that she was not afraid, threats be damned. Looking to the forest, however, Barron decided to keep the door shut tightly. Even from this distance, a large human-shaped body could be seen. This time, it was not Quincy. The figure had a much, much, darker aura.

            Making a decision that most likely saved her life, Barron pulled out of the camp. She hurried back to her apartment in the city. It was time to think, and calm down the over-boiling emotions she carried.

            Silently, she swore to find the girl. There was no point in denying her attachment to the case. If this case was going to make her go insane, she was going to do all she could to solve it first.

           

The End

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