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Sandbox - Episode 3: Babies in the Night (Part 1)
By
samokish

Sandbox - Episode 3: Babies in the Night (Part 1)

A covert intelligence officer discovers that our universe is not what we imagined it to be.

Episode 3 - Part 1

A strange entity kidnaps young teenage girls, who are then transformed into babies.

Scene I


It was a calm and peaceful summer evening near the shores of Grand Lake. A massive body of freshwater spanning a size of approximately forty thousand football fields, the lake was situated forty kilometres away from the capital city of Fredericton. Being New Brunswick’s largest lake, it was also the province’s most popular tourist attraction during the warmer months. Not far from the muddy, tree-studded coastline, a spacious, two-story home stood overlooking its spotless reflection in the water. The building was painted a bright crimson red and was surrounded by a white picket fence. Across the gravel road running next to the house, stood an abandoned house that looked more like a barn heavily trampled on by time itself. Its metal roof was covered in a dirty-orange rust that spread down the sides of the house, staining the walls in an ugly outburst of corrosion. The nearest neighbours were several kilometres apart, hidden within a thick forest that stretched out as far as the eyes could see. The wild cries of coyotes echoed in the dark recesses of the forest understory, reverberating through the leaves and branches. Yet the density of the canopy could not hold back the raw outburst of Nature’s creatures yearning for a meal. A gush of fervent squeals and howls pierced the deafening silence like rolling thunder.

A man sat on the front porch of the crimson house. He was barely beyond middle-aged, with a small beer belly and short beard. His practical, non-analytical gaze and yellowish-calloused hands were those of a dedicated working man. From dawn till dusk, he had worked nearly half his life as a mechanic, before finally settling down in a cozy spot in the Maritimes. Now, he pulled out a cigarette from a pack resting on the arm of a rickety chair. Holding the tobacco roll between his bruised fingers, he took a deep breath of fresh air before placing it in his mouth and lighting it up. The smoky white stick burned into a satisfying pile of ashes that were carried away by a gentle breeze. Coughing lightly, the man rested more comfortably into his chair, staring at the lake several meters beyond his house. Daylight had not yet faded. There was still time before it would be too dark to enjoy the view.
After a few minutes of silent reflection, the front door opened. A woman came out carrying two beer cans. She handed one over to the man.

“How’s the view this time of day, Paul?” she asked lovingly, placing her hand gently on his shoulder.

“It’s just amazing honey,” replied Paul with a deep sigh. “I can’t get enough of nature. I just can’t believe I spent half my life living in some kind of dump. I’d never go back to the city life.”

“So many people, so much noise and pollution…” said the woman, adding to his thoughts. “So many meaningless hurdles you have to jump through every day, just to make a living.”

“Exactly dear, that’s exactly what I’ve always been saying,” said the man passionately. “You work all day to afford the unjustified high costs of living in the city. Want to live in a house? Work all day, toil away your soul to pay off a mortgage you’ll practically never pay off. And here, for a fraction of the cost, you can live peacefully, in a forest, with a lakeside view, on your plot of land. To me this is bliss.”

“I’m glad you love it here Paul,” said the woman even more lovingly. “I’m just worried about Christina. You know how she’s having trouble getting used to it here. Maybe you can have a chat with her sometime?”

“And chat with her about what?” exclaimed Paul with a sudden burst of emotion. “She’s a big girl and mature enough to understand our financial situation. We couldn’t afford the city life, and I don’t want to go back. I understand she’s missing her friends, wants to go out. I know perfectly well that there’s nothing like what she had in Toronto, to be found here. But, she’s got to see that once she finds or figures out a career, she’s stuck here. When she becomes independent financially, she can go anywhere she wants. I’m not holding her back, but I don’t want to sacrifice my peace of mind so she could be closer to a downtown area filled with nothing but expensive shops, exotic cafes, and banks.”

“Honey, don’t overreact.” the woman replied with a stern tone. “You’re doing it again!”

“What am I doing dear?” asked the man rhetorically. “I’m just letting you know my thoughts in a calm as possible manner. Can’t I express my thoughts out loud anymore?”

“Of course, you can express your thoughts,” said the woman even more sternly. “But watch your tone. Sometimes you can sound so arrogant and annoying. And what’s even more troubling is that you don’t realize you’re being annoying.”

“Honey…” said Paul, double-backing on his initial heated comments. “I didn’t mean to upset you. All I wanted was….”

Just as Paul was about to finish apologizing to his wife, a sudden and horrific scream interrupted him mid-sentence. It was not a scream that the movies would have people believe sounds like a true expression of human fear. No, it was not that sort of fake scream. This was a gut-wrenching explosion of fear, defiance and suppressed dread that exploded from the inner depths of the monster lurking in every human being. Though usually when confronted with an unexpected threat to our lives or others, most would be overcome by a confused stupor that permeates our entire bodies, making us look like a rabbit suddenly stopping still in its tracks upon noticing a predator. It is when we finally realize that our life is at stake, that we strip ourselves of that unnecessary etiquette holding us back on a daily basis. It was a stupor that overwhelmed Paul and his wife in that very instant and it was their daughter unleashing a cry that stopped them cold for an instant.

Paul jumped from his chair and rushed inside the house towards the second floor. His wife pranced behind him like a young deer. Racing up the stairs, he heard a loud crash before he managed to get to Christina’s room. His daughter’s voice could still be heard, but seemed to be receding into the distance. Breaking into the room, Paul saw a broken window and quickly jumped to look through it. A hooded figure had her daughter on his shoulders and stood by the edge of the woods. Then in an instant, the figure vanished into the darkness of the trees.

With his heart beating violently from the heavy dose of adrenaline released into his system at the thought of losing his daughter, Paul ran down to the kitchen and grabbed a hammer from a drawer. Yelling to his wife to call the police, he disappeared into the forest in frantic search of the perpetrator.

Stumbling through the thick mud and fallen branches, Paul spotted a dim silhouette of the figure carrying away his child at a lightning fast pace. After only a mere second, the figure had disappeared yet again from view entirely, the distance between them increasing rapidly. Paul could hear his daughter’s scared voice receding as he stampeded towards her calls for help. It was then that he heard her yell “Lake!” before a chilling silence engulfed the forest. He could not hear her, but he knew where to go. A thousand violent thoughts raced through his mind as he gripped his hammer tightly.

Breaking free from the dark forest, Paul confronted the vastness of the Grand Lake stretching out into the horizon, its majestic waters unperturbed by the mortal troubles of a single human soul. The shadowy figure of the perpetrator shimmered in the faint light of the setting sun. Paul tried to focus on the face of the assailant for a brief moment but saw nothing resembling a face. There was no face! There was no body! It was a being that appeared as the embodiment of a jet black storm cloud in human form. It was dragging the girl into the water. She was paralysed and could not move any part of her body.

Paul rushed into the water with the hammer in hand, ready to strike. As he started wading through the slimy mud hidden beneath the water’s surface, it slowed him down exponentially and forced him to look down instinctively at his feet. As he approached, the figure remained motionless, holding the girl. It was then, just as Paul was close to freeing his daughter, that he slipped on an underwater rock, nearly tumbling into the lake. Quickly correcting his balance, he lunged at the dark figure with his hammer to wrest Christina away. As he swung his hammer, the figure vanished into a puff of smoke. His vision clouded, Paul felt something heavy deposited into his hands. His hammer was gone. He felt a warm, squirmy presence wriggling in his embrace. As the cloud of smoke gradually cleared away, he looked down to see what it was. A small baby lay in his hands. Twisting and turning, it unleashed a loud cry into the night.

Scene II


Felix had just grabbed a delicious caramel macchiato on his way to the office. Made warm to order instead of a regular hot, it was just the right temperature to drink immediately without accidentally burning the tongue. Each single gulp was pure liquid bliss. Smooth and sweet to taste, there was nothing that could ruin the caffeine rush as long as the cup remained full. He was enjoying the last few heavenly sips along the hallway when his eyes met the gaze of Tytus J. Sikorski headed in his direction.

“Officer Soris!” called out Sikorski with a tone that demanded attention and implied instant annihilation if not met with the due respect it implied. “A moment of your time please!”

“Good morning Mr. Sikorski.” replied Felix with a mockingly genuine air of respect teetering on the brink of sarcasm.

“Perhaps we can talk in your office,” said Sikorski as he approached closer and Felix neared the entrance to his office.

As both men entered, Felix quickly gulped down the last remaining portion of coffee and with it, the last remaining drops of his exhilarated morning mood. Throwing away the cup into the trash, he sat down and faced Sikorski with expectations of hearing undeserved criticism and being burdened with pointless tasks. As a former member of Sikorski ’s department, not a moment went by that Felix did not wish to choke the man to death with his bare hands. If only he could reach his intended target’s neck. Sikorski was a tall man and stood near two meters in height, but always acted like a nagging stubby babushka. The top of his head was bald while the sides contained a bush of dirty grey hair that grew so wide it rested on top of his ears like a chubby squirrel’s tail. Felix could feel Sikorski’s urge find out directly why he had been assigned to his wing, despite the intense but indirect animosity between both individuals. That urge was contained behind a menacing mask of workplace politeness.

“Officer Soris. Welcome back under my wing. It has been a while.” piped up Sikorski with a grin full of sarcastic malice. Always speaking in a tone that emphasized his utter superiority, Sikorski always made Felix feel like a pile of shit. “It seems that the Deputy-Director personally assigned you here to me. At the same time, it seems quite strange that I should also be directed to provide you with only a minimal workload. It quite puzzles me that there is this exuding contradiction. It is as though they want you here working for me, but part-time, with a specific hint at going easy on you. Soris, I will do no such thing.”

Felix looked on patiently at his boss, trying to put on an expression of compliant stupidity. It was then that Sikorski pulled out a file he had not noticed before and placed it on his desk with a hushed swish.

“Here it is Officer Soris. There is your assignment, directly from me,” spoke up Sikorski. “I need that data analyzed within today with a report placed on my desk by 18:00 hours. Otherwise, I will personally petition the Deputy-Director to suspend you without pay for an indefinite period of time. Good day, Office Soris.”

With those final motivational words, Sikorski exited the office with an overt arrogance, his entire body language teeming with discrete pleasure at having exercised power over a subordinate. Felix fumed silently, staring at the door with a blank expression that masked a deep vehemence. The morning had started off so well, and then it was ruined. The sweet aftertaste of caramel on his tongue churned into a bitter reminder that things could change at any time for the worse.

Relieved at Sikorski’s departure, Felix picked up the folder on his desk and ruminated on a chain of thoughts that had not occurred to him immediately. “I was placed by the Deputy-Director into a position of subordination to a superior officer that apparently had no relation to the top secret project assigned to him. Though being granted wide-reaching powers, which he had not yet had the opportunity to exercise, he had to patiently take orders from an individual without those powers, as could be reasonably assumed. The plan, of course, is to keep the operation as covert as possible, even if it meant deceiving any operatives of the CSIS itself. Taking into account Sikorski’s threat, I have the choice of either doing the work, thereby ignoring my true assignment or ignoring the work, and facing a reprimand. Alternatively, if I were to acquire some lead and ignore the work, then I would still face a reprimand, but definitely not be suspended if I have something more important to show. At least, it might buy me some time and get Sikorski off my back.”

Felix logged into the DUSK program to check up on any potentials new cases. Sure enough, there was a fresh entry in the system. It had been added during Sikorski’s unexpected tirade. Reading the description, Felix looked puzzled at its sheer absurdity:

Case File #RC-00888

Grand Lake
Whites Cove NB-106
New Brunswick

Note for investigation: The father and mother of a teenage girl claim that an intruder had kidnapped her when they were on the front porch. The father pursued the perpetrator on foot. As he was about to free his child, the perpetrator vanished, leaving behind only a small baby. Local police had arrived on the scene only after the father returned home, carrying the baby and was arrested as a potential suspect pending investigation. It is believed that the organization we have theorized is responsible. Any evidence gathered can be used to expose it.

REMINDER

Goal: Gather intelligence to either support or disclaim culpability of suspected shadow organization. Name of organization is currently unknown. No current suspects known.

Felix scanned the rest of the description briefly. It contained the same standard guidelines as previously, with nothing new worthy of attention. Taking another quick look at Sikorski’s folder, he tossed it aside and booked a flight to Fredericton. As he stood up to leave the office just as quickly as he arrived, he heard a quiet knock. Logging quickly out of the program, he turned his attention to the door, dreading another dramatic Sikorski reappearance. Opening it, readying an excuse of urgency to weasel out of a prolonged and excruciatingly weary conversation, he instead saw Aurelia.

“Hey there, Officer Soris,” she said, greeting him politely with a tough smile on her face. It seemed that just like him, the workplace etiquette was something that she would never get used to. Nor could she possibly expect to be on personal terms with a colleague she had nearly shot to death on a previous case. Her manner was quite stiff as a result, but she compensated for it by sometimes speaking informally and occasionally attempting to inject a dose of humour into the conversation.

“Hello, Officer Faust.” replied Felix with an avid sigh of relief. “It’s actually great to see you and not someone else!”

“Expecting someone nasty are we?” Aurelia asked amusingly.

“Well, yes and no,” said Felix implying that he could not reveal his personal opinions of a superior officer, as it would be inappropriate and compromising. “Let’s just say it was someone nasty that I was expecting, but since I consider them to be nasty, it doesn’t matter who it was. So what brings you back into my humble office Officer Faust?”

“Fair enough Soris,” said Aurelia a little offset by being unable to tell whether Felix was expecting her to laugh or sober up. “Anyway, the reason I came by was to tell you that I got assigned to a case in Moncton, New Brunswick and I’m headed there now. And I want to ask if you have a similar assignment and if so, we could head out there together.”

“What’s your case on?” inquired Felix.

“Some baby kidnapper it seems,” replied Aurelia. “Appears that he stole a young teenage girl from her home, but when her mother tried to stop the assailant, they vanished into thin air, leaving her with a small child. Weird, right? Downright sounds insane.”

“Hmm, I definitely agree with you on that,” replied Felix. “Officer Faust, don’t take this the wrong way, but I just tend to work better alone. I just don’t work well with others and I’m not really the conversation type. I would appreciate it if, we were to go on our own ways for the time being. I tend to focus all my thoughts internally, which can appear dismissive to you and cause you to think that I’m an asshole. But, it’s not that I feel any animosity towards you, definitely not. I just need room. I need my own space. I don’t mind sharing data or helping you in any way if you need it. All you have to do is ask. But I just don’t like being assigned or forced to work closely with anyone.”

“I see where you’re coming from, Soris,” replied back Aurelia with a gentle smile. “I prefer to work together but apart and alone. Quite honestly, I was hoping for some kind of rebuff. You strike me as the cunning introvert. The one that the easily blends in with the crowd when you have a vested personal interest. It’s then that you get all tensed up and start feeling as if the plainest conversation is a matter of life or death. No worries and no hard feelings!”

“Well, it seems you’ve gotten my psychological profile already figured out,” said Felix hesitantly. “Let’s see how our mutual cooperation goes and see what happens. Besides, in the end, this may all end up as one big elaborate joke, yet again.”

“I see you’re also highly pessimistic as well. I didn’t take that into account,” said Aurelia with a big grin on her face.

“No, no! Not a pessimist at all!” pointed out Felix. “You see, when you say pessimist, you’re automatically categorizing a person. From that, you make the assumption that since they expressed a pessimistic view, that means that they always have this outlook on life in general and everything in it. But no. I’m neither a realist, a pessimist, an optimist or a romanticist or anything else for that matter. I just like to look at something from a distance and remain sceptical, but try to keep an open mind.”

“So you’re saying basically that you’re a pessimist with a twist?” joked Aurelia, becoming more amused with her colleague by the minute. “From what I’ve found out about you so far, you seem more for the role of the sceptic philosopher rather than a CSIS agent. The work here is mostly analytical and data-ridden, don’t know how you can stand it if you have a more creative mindset.”

“The trick is, Officer Faust…” said Felix plainly. “…Is imagination. You need imagination to interpret evidence.”

“Well, why don’t we go our separate ways,” replied Aurelia in the same plain, casual tone. “Let’s exchange numbers so we can give each other a call just in case.”

Both colleagues quickly pulled out their smartphones and entered each others’ contact details. Once the deed had been done, Aurelia made one last remark.

“Just one thing Officer Soris,” she pointed out rather off topic. “I noticed that a briefcase is nowhere to be found. Instead, I see a black backpack? Why the sudden change?”

“You’re quite observant Officer Faust,” replied back Felix, surprised at her observation. “I’ve switched from a briefcase to something more practical. Besides, I use it as a form of exercise.”

“Exercise?” asked Faust surprised.

“That’s right, ruff sacking,” replied back Felix. “Helps keep the belly in check, I hope.”

“Ah, I see…” said Aurelia. “Call me if you find anything important while in Fredericton. See you and as always take care and don’t eat any apples lying around.”

She departed swiftly without giving Felix’s annoyed expression a second look. Felix gripped the shoulder strap of his backpack. As he was about to exit, the phone rang. It sounded like a hyena’s cry fused with a wind-up alarm bell. He walked up and answered the call bearing a frustrated countenance.

“Hello, Officer Soris speaking,” said Felix with a professional, courteous voice. He was in no mood to entertain any distractions. Any slight interference when he was focused on completing an assigned task ignited fervent agitation. The smallest indirect provocation could set off a seething temper. His tone barely masked the rush to end the conversation as quickly as it began.

“Felix! It’s me! Why the gloomy tone?” spoke up a woman’s voice.

“Dr. Pivovarchek! My apologies, I was just in a rush and was expecting to chat with someone else,” mumbled Felix with an apology for his glum greeting.

“And I take it this someone else doesn’t really stir up any positive thoughts?” replied Pivovarchek jokingly.

“No, not really. Far from it and beyond,” replied back Felix. His tone had changed to one much more polite and welcoming.

“The reason I’m calling… And I won’t take up much of your time with this.” started explaining Pivovarchek in a slightly more business-like tone. “The sample you provided to my lab for analysis, that is your blood and the apple core, contained no foreign substances. That is, there is no evidence they contained, as you noted, any hallucinogenic chemicals or any other substances.”

“That’s incredible. Are you absolutely certain?” said Felix with disbelief. “I was sure there might be something there to cause…” He stopped himself before divulging any more compromising details.

“I am definitely sure of it,” replied Pivovarchek with a hint of curiosity in her voice. “May I ask why you expected to find any hallucinogenic substances, Felix?” With a pause, she added. “I’m asking of course from purely professional interest. If you cannot tell me for any reason, I understand…”

“Apologies Dr. Pivovarchek,” replied Felix suddenly, making the move to end the conversation abruptly. “If I could, I would definitely like to relate all the details, but unfortunately, as you guessed, I’m not at liberty to do so. I really must be going, but I look forward to speaking again soon.”

“Of course Felix, I understand,” replied Pivovarchek with a slight disappointment. “Speak soon and take care of yourself!”

Felix hung up the phone and decided to head out of the office before any more callers tried to reach him. The investigation into the case at hand was too intriguing to delay any longer than necessary. Double-checking whether he was logged out of DUSK, he took another quick look in his backpack to see if all he needed was packed. As usual, he packed along a ruggedized notebook, a heavy beast of machinery that had served him for well over ten years. Along with a notebook, a flashlight, a pocket knife and a larger buck knife, there was a change of clothes. Felix also slipped in a bulky, worn paperback novel. Checking his pockets to feel for the brass knuckles, cell phone and wallet, Felix left his workplace.

Scene III


The flight to Fredericton was short and uneventful, two things that airline passengers experience only on rare occasions. With a direct flight time of about two hours, it was the perfect amount of time to get neither too bored nor too weary. There were no annoying infant cries or ill passengers sneezing and coughing their lungs out. All the stewardesses were surprisingly polite. All that could be heard was the loud but dispersed hum of the airplane’s engines, roaring through the skies with a powerful, continuous blast of air. Looking through the window, Felix remembered his very first flight as a young boy. It coincidentally took place after watching a horror movie involving the discovery of a monster aboard the wings of the plane midflight. With the scene fresh in his mind, Felix remembered the profound terror he felt as he stared out the window throughout the entire trip, dreading to discover an ill-boding figure in the darkness of the skies. It was a childish fear, but after finding out there was no evidence of hallucinogenic substances during in his encounter with the Apple Man, he started to question the once rock-solid distinction between reality and fantasy.

The tranquil circumstances of the flight presented an ideal opportunity to catch up on some reading. Felix pulled out his paperback novel from the backpack resting snugly between his legs. It was an obscure title that caught the attention of an elderly man sitting directly next to him, on the right by the window, staring into the open blue. He was wearing an old-fashioned plain white dress shirt and a wide navy-blue tie that reached down to his ankles. His head was bald everywhere except on the back of the skull, the one place still containing a nostalgic bushel of youth.

“Say there young man,” piped up the senior with a high voice. “What is that book you have there?”

“It’s called “The Sunflower Fields” and quite an interesting read,” replied back Felix politely. “I don’t believe you would recognize the author, though.”

“Hmm, and who is the author?” wondered the old man.

“It’s by a self-published writer,” replied Felix. “A great read, but highly underrated.”

“What is it about if I may ask?” inquired the old man, pointing at the watercolour drawing of sunflowers on the front cover. “I really love the cover art. I appreciate a fine drawing when I see one. I think that’s what caught my attention in the first place.”

“Well, you would think that a story about a person walking through a sunflower field would be a boring plot…” started explaining Felix. “…But it’s far from the case. Quite the contrary it’s more of an insight into the character’s outlook on life. The author attempts to make a bold move by moving away from the standard plot structure.”

“How’s that?” asked the old man, his curiosity growing.

“Quite often in popular film or modern literature you have a very specific formula. There has to be some sort of conflict that the main characters resolves or a life-changing event. Another popular formula is the whole good versus evil plot. Instead, here there’s neither of that. It’s just an honest and creative insight into a person’s feelings.”

“That would sound interesting to read. Though I suspect many readers would find it boring for the exact same reason, they need conflict to spice up their lives.” replied the old man, offering a pensive insight. “Where can I get a copy?”

“Unfortunately, you won’t be able to…” replied Felix. “I bought it at a local bookshop that was soon one of many to go out of business due to the rise in online sales and pressure from larger bookstore chains. Anyway, a long story short, the shop owner told me that regretfully the author discontinued self-publishing the novel. Unable to catch a publisher’s interest after years of attempts or to sell enough copies to gather interest in his work, he gave up trying. Except for probably a few paperback copies, there are not many out there.”

“I always found it strange that people prefer to spend their time browsing through large bookstores, buying new expensive books when there are no many libraries someone can visit free of charge.” said the old man thoughtfully. “It’s a shame the author didn’t get any support, despite the fact that they spent years writing a story from the heart. I guess it’s all about marketing. Take our current prime minister for example. Just months prior to an election, he churns out an autobiography that somehow instantly appears on all the shelves across the country, getting on the best-sellers list with a nauseating amount of praise coming from almost every corner of the country. It’s absurd! Meanwhile, talented writers are utterly ignored by Canadian publishers. To be honest, I think the right connections and endorsements from the right people can make anyone famous overnight for anything.”

“I would have to somewhat agree with you sir,” replied Felix. “Though I believe that someone shouldn’t give up on their dreams and that a good book will always find a place in history, either in this life of beyond, either luck or connections can make an instant career if you write according to a prescribed and accepted formula.”

“Young man, my apologies for taking up your time,” said the old man abruptly. “I think I’ll have a nap while you enjoy your read. The thought of the inequality and waste of talent in this world tires my soul. Excuse me. Thank you again for the chat.”

The man turned towards the window, leaning on the edge of the headrest. He twisted and turned for a few minutes to find a comfortable angle before falling to sleep. Felix drank two cups of coffee with a copious dose of milk and sugar before starting to read intensely to wile away the time. He had reached halfway through the novel. Turning the page to continue, he discovered a page that was quite unexpected. It was a fully illustrated page containing a jumble of letters:

After turning to the next page to find a clue about the letter collage and finding nothing, he turned back to view it again. But it was gone! Instead, he saw the exact same page he had finished reading. Perplexed, he read on through the flight, pausing only to go to the washroom.

The in-flight announcement of an impending descent forced Felix to put away the paperback during an interesting scene. In preparation for a culminating landing over New Brunswick’s lush forests, he buckled his seatbelt. Staring out through the window, across his elderly companion’s over-sized nose, he admired the beautiful nature of the province. There was an ocean of trees that spanned straight into the horizon as far as the eye could see. The hills and mountains inspired a feeling of profound calmness. It would be a treat to trek through the wilderness in search of adventure, discovering a wild deer or moose in the woods and to enjoy the pine scented fresh air. If there was any place he would retire to, it would be here. A lonely cabin in the woods, with no neighbours in sight with only a panoramic view and the smell of a burning fireplace.

It was late afternoon when Felix arrived in Fredericton, the bastion of British-Canadian civilization in North America. The city was prone to flooding during the year, but it was a small price to pay for the residents who preferred the provincial capital’s quaint appeal. There was not as much lively entertainment as in downtown Toronto or other highly-populated areas of Canada, but it had all that was needed to live a peaceful, meaningful existence with the comforts of all modern services. The downtown area of Fredericton contained various historic monuments and buildings that symbolized one of the oldest civilized areas in North America. Its unique architecture and city-planning was perfect for those who longed for a stroll along narrow streets lined with an array of enticing small shops and cafes.

Arranging for a rental car, Felix drove to the local law enforcement division where the main kidnapping suspect was being interred for questioning. Upon arrival and providing his credentials, he was led to the interrogation room. As the suspect was led in, Felix greeted him with an outstretched hand and introduced himself cordially.

“Hello, Mr. Belkowitz,” spoke Felix in a professional tone as the accompanying police officers exited the room, shutting the door behind them. “Can I just call you Paul, or would you prefer me to speak in a formal tone?”

The man looked at his interrogator with a tired, saddened expression. “Oh what the hell…” he said wearily. “…Sure, you can call me Paul, go ahead if that’s easier for you. And you are?”

“I’m Officer Felix Soris, and I will be heading this case from now on. Now, Paul, I need to know what happened last night.” said Felix. “I need to find the kidnapper or else someone else this will happen to someone else again. Already in Moncton, there’s been a report of a similar case.”

“Really!?” exclaimed Paul. “So you don’t really believe I had something to do with this?”

“At the moment, I don’t believe it was you, seeing as how an identical incident occurred on the eastern side of the province about the same time you were held for questioning here,” said Felix. “Unless of course, there’s someone you’re working with that you would want me to know about?”

“No, no!” cried out Paul. “I swear to God I have no idea how this happened! But besides, I don’t even know how this kidnapping can really be a kidnapping…”

“What do you mean Paul? What do you mean by that?” asked Felix in a more stern tone that sounded more like a demand rather than a question.

“Well, they left the baby with my wife for a brief instant you see… Before they took the baby away.” started explaining Paul. “I got a chance to talk to her over the phone, and she swore to me that it’s our baby, our Christina! The baby is our daughter!”

“Are you serious? You are asking me to believe that your daughter Christina…” Felix pulled out the file and checked out the details regarding the girl.

“That Christina Belkowitz, aged seventeen years old, was transformed into a small baby? Do you know how that sounds Paul? It sounds completely absurd and unbelievable.”

“I know, I know by God!” cried out Paul desperately. “But, can’t you do a DNA test or something? Just to check! I mean, it’s longshot and probably unbelievable, but who’s baby is it then? Why would I kidnap my own daughter and come back with a small baby? Does that make sense?”

“There is a more plausible and realistic explanation Paul, one more convincing than the transformation theory you just told me,” said Felix. “And that theory involves you growing tired of your daughter for whatever reason, killing her somehow, hiding her body somewhere in the forest and replacing her with a small child. There have been known to be very disturbing cases where a family member would kill each other over the smallest things. In this case, getting rid of your teenage daughter for whatever feeling of guilt or doubt you harboured in your mind and to start anew by stealing another child, seems to be the only coherent explanation for the events that took place. It might be an example of some psychological disturbance that you are experiencing or radicalised religious expression. That or your part of some fanatic sect that performed some kind of sadistic ritual.”

“No, no!” cried out Paul even more intensely. “I would never hurt my daughter! I would never do her any harm! You just do the test and you’ll see my wife is right! And I won’t sit here and listen to your unfounded accusations! I’m in no sadistic sects so you can go to hell!”

“I might have taken it too far, but my job is to find evidence that will either prove or disprove your guilt Mr. Belkowitz. You can agree that my theory at the given moment sounds more plausible in the eyes of reason than yours,” replied Felix as calmly as a sharp-toothed lion watching its prey from the cover of the bushes. “Now whether you are innocent, the evidence will show. I have no idea at the moment whether you are lying to me or not since there is not enough evidence. As such, considering you are the only suspect and witness of the incident, I will keep you in custody until such time that I find more evidence. I will be examining the crime scene and searching your residence. Until then, Mr. Belkowitz.”

Felix left the room and instructed the awaiting police officer outside the door to lock up the suspect until further notice. After a brief conversation with the captain in charge, Felix ordered that Mr. Belkowitz be held indefinitely, pending his investigation.

“What do you mean, indefinitely?” asked Captain Roberts. “We cannot hold the suspect for more than twenty-four hours without charges. Unless this man is charged, I cannot hold him in custody.”

“Unfortunately Captain Roberts, I have the authority here as you were duly informed.” replied Felix in a commanding tone.

“Yes, that’s true Officer Soris,” replied Captain Roberts defiantly. “But that mandate did not include holding a suspect without due process.”

“I see your position, Captain Roberts,” said Felix and instantly made a radical move to exercise the powers given him. “In this case, I am ordering a transfer of the suspect to another facility. You are to transfer Mr. Belkowitz to Facility FNB-04 immediately pending further orders. This is within my mandate. Is that clear? Also, I need a rush DNA test performed. I want to compare results with the baby’s mother.”

“Yes sir, perfectly clear. You will get the results of that test soon as it can be done,” replied Captain Roberts hotly and in a dismissive, seething tone, looking at his colleague with unrestrained distaste.

It was not the notion of the suspect’s rights being violated that stirred up a dislike of Felix in Captain Roberts’ eyes. It was the thought at being kept at a lower level of authority despite years of dedicated service. It was a matter of having his unrealized dream of unrestrained authority in carrying out the law, suddenly being executed, with him being shunned the privilege of command. Despite the avid hatred bubbling up, orders were orders and they were duly carried out.

Continued in Part 2

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