Two years earlier.
James had picked up the phone, expecting the typical call from his mother, who lived on the other side of the country. She would call every so often, usually around this time, usually this time of the week.
James was surprised when the smooth but frail voice of his graying mother was not what he heard on the other end of the line. Instead, a sharp breath followed by several shallow pants. Somebody was catching their breath.
'Hello?' James normally deep but non-threatening voice emerged as little more than a squeak, confusion taking over and muffling his words. Clearing his throat after receiving no answer, James repeated himself. 'Hello? Who is this?'
'Is this a Mr Wright?'
Formal voice, almost like a member of the emergency services. He had that air about him, as though he was not too keen to make this call, like he was delivering bad news.
'Erm, yes, this is James Wright. Who is this?' The shock of an official phone call had only further confused and unnerved James, and now his sentences were little more than a stutter.
'This is Detective Carl Hudson of the City Police Department. We were wondering if you'd be able to come down to the station?'
'What's this about, officer?'
'I'd really rather discuss it in person, Mr Wright. If you could come to the station immediately, it would be greatly appreciated.'
James paused for a second, thinking things through. Why did the police need to talk to him? It must have been important. He agreed, and the man, Detective Hudson of the City Police Department, hung up immediately.
Thinking nothing of it, James hooked his coat off the back of the living room chair, and snatched his keys from the desk in the hall.