Cold Cases

They both sat at a small wooden table staring at some photos scattered across its surface.

“Look, you’re new, we don’t have any new cases that we can give you. These four people, they are lost, still lost. 1975 they all dropped off the face of the earth.”

The man talking was heavier set. Wore a dark navy suit and a hat to match. He didn’t take the hat off indoors. He smoked cigarettes like they were going out of style. Not just a pack, but packs a day. He also drank as if whiskey was going to dry up. His nose filled his face and his eyes, which if you ever saw them, were a smokey gray. He spoke with a voice that reflected his habits. His name was Herbert Sandstone and across from him was the newly hired Tyler Shimin.

Herbert poked a photo of a younger girl with his fat index finger which was being choked by a ring. “This is Cindy Mitchell. She walked to school one day and didn’t walk back. You might say, well easy, kidnapping, but she made it school. Went to class and in between classes, after her best friend accompanied out of school she said she slipped, fell and vanished right in front of her. Like she fell through a hole or something, right through the pavement.”

Tyler looked up at him.

“Not yet. Next, we have Jessy Myers. He was spotted on the highway. In the middle of the lanes, you know like the no mans land. He was just walking in between these. A car ended up stopping to help him. They said” Herbert stopped and wiggled his finger in the air “I quote ‘He tripped and hit the ground, as i approached his body fell, where I don’t know, I could see the movement from his body go somewhere, but it was impossible, he went right though. Right through the damn ground.’ So that’s two that have fallen through solid ground.”

Tyler sat, one arm propped on the table and his chin resting on a clenched fist. His eyes studying the photos.

Herbert moved to the next photo. It was of an old man. His skin was light brown, but his hair was as white as snow. He had a large smile on his face. “Sam Millard. Another M last name eh? Him and some buddies were hanging out at the mall. He was leaning against a wall when they say he slipped right through it. Like a trapped door opened and he fell into it. When they tried to see what happened all they got was a solid wall. Poof. Gone.”

Herbert took a drink of whiskey and cleared his throat.

“This is the job. We encounter crazy stuff all the time. Memory and reality are two different things. Until we have something better for you, this is your first job. I know, I know, not what you thought. And before you ask, this case is on the police cold case list. They have all the information we have. I was the one who investigated it.” Herbert pulled out a large folder from his brief case. “These are all my case notes. Pictures, witness testimonies, everything. They said you were smart. Really smart, tenacious, relentless with finding the truth. You were top of your class, and yet you came here, why?”

Tyler crossd his arms and ground his teeth. “They said you got the most interesting cases. You took cases no one else would take. Things that no other PI would even get near. I - I know there is more out there than the normal cheaters, beaters and scumbags. People get lost, they get taken, misplaced. Most of the time it’s people that are doing that. But -“Tyler stopped and looked into Herberts eyes through the rimmed shadow from his hat “but sometimes, people aren’t the reasons, nothing in our known reality is the reason”

They both sat and looked into each other. A common understanding was being webbed between them. Herbert struck his middle finger on the last photo and slid it directly in front of Tyler. Tyler closed his eyes and frowned then gave Herbert a weary look.

“The last, that we know of.” Herberts voice became a bit clearer. “My brother. Thomas Sandstone. No M in the last name. I was with him November 12th, 1975. We were both drunk. I get drunk, but I don’t forget. Sick stomach was all I used to get. We were stumbling home from the bar one night, celebrating his new job that he had just landed. As we hit the Main Street I hand my arm around his neck and we were singing ‘Summertime Blues’ when I felt him fall. It was like the ground had opened up under him. I strained against his neck and he grabbed on to me. I couldn’t “ Herbert stopped as his voice started to shake. He gulped the last of his whiskey and lit a cigarette. “I tried so hard to keep him, no matter where I pulled him, the earth was void, his body would not catch on anything so I could pull him up. His grip gave way.” Herbert sat motionless. His hand resting on the top of the photo. He was lost in the moment so long ago. Reliving the screams, the confusion and the pit that formed that day.

Tyler tapped the bottom of the photo and nodded “I understand. I’m on it”

“All that get hired go through this case. It is the price of entry here. And “ Herbert smiled and coughed with a laugh “we really don’t have any cases for you to help out with yet.” He gathered all the photos and shuffled into the case file and slid it to Tyler.

“See if you can find anything new. Don’t get to consumed, we will have something for you soon”

Tyler looked at the case file and then pulled a photo from his jacket. He held it up, opened the case file and slapped it on top of the others.

Herbert took off his hat and leaned forward to look “Oh god” he said under his breath.

“My Mother” Tyler said.

He closed the file.

I recently played a game called DREAM LOGIC which is a liminal atmospheric horror game, short, but very good in its execution and sound design. It’s is about a detective that is searching for some missing persons that have all gone missing in different locations. Vanished in thin air. I like the concept of detectives getting into things that they are not prepared for, things that fall outside of normal reality. Sort of like the H.P Lovecraft stories. For this, the character Tyler is a bit more familiar with the unknown, but the rest of the story is up to him to figure out. He has only seen the entrance. Be careful where you step. You never know when reality will bend or break.