Note: everything in They Never Left is included in the letter the detective reads in this story. Okay, as you were.
Detective Tremain read the note found in Liz’s cell and looked up. “Okay. Narcissistic personality, but that’s nothing new. Persecution complex, but those are a cottage industry around here, and it sounds like she came by it honestly. Okay. where did you find this letter?”
“In the cell where the suspect…”
“…In the cell where Liz had been held after being taken into custody.”
“And where is Liz now?”
“…She’s gone, Detective. That’s why we called you in.”
Tremain sat back. He wasn’t angry, not at the moment anyway. Things happen, people on the force shouldn’t beat each other up when they do. He’d get angry later, maybe, if it was worth it.
“Why don’t you walk me through the events of the night, let’s get a picture of what happened.”
The desk sergeant nodded and looked down at his form.
“At 18:22 we got a call on a domestic dispute in an apartment complex. Officers Brady and Cooper responded. When they arrived they found apartment 21 open, and the suspect…Liz…standing in the room over the prostrate form of the alleged victim…er,” he looked up the name of the alleged victim, trying to avoid getting asked, “Vincent. Emergency services were called and Liz was taken into custody. She was processed and held in the cells. At 21:30 after shift change I made the rounds and found her cell was empty.”
Tremain nodded, running his hands through his sandy hair, wondering irrelevantly if it was time to dye it again. Or maybe it was finally time to let the gray grow out. He focused again. He pretty much knew the answers to the next few questions he was going to ask, but he had to ask them anyway.
“Who was on duty?”
“Cooper. He was talking to the suspect in another cell. He didn’t hear the cell door open or close.” The Sergeant knew what questions were coming as well and rattled off the answers without being asked. “The door seems entirely sound, the lock works and was engaged when the cell was found empty. all keys are present and accounted for. And here’s the security footage.”
He turned his monitor towards Tremain and hit the space bar. The video was already queued up.
It showed a girl sitting in a cell, writing. Presently she finishes and then sets the letter on the pillow of the little bed in her cell. Then she looks at the camera and…
four seconds of static fill the screen. When the static clears everything is the same except there’s no girl sitting in the cell.
Tremain nodded and sat back. “Someone is hoping to make this a very long night for us, Sergeant.” The desk sergeant just nodded. “Okay, so, what do we have? Inside job? Does she have any friends?”
“Doesn’t look like it. She didn’t even have ID on her when we brought her in, so even the name Liz is just what she told us.”
“And the victim, how did she kill him?”
“Um, he’s not dead, Detective.”
“Okay, how did she almost kill him?”
“He’s not even wounded. No physical damage, nothing in his blood, he seems fine…”
“I’m guessing there’s more to it than that…”
“He seems fine except he won’t wake up. There’s nothing in his blood, no narcotics, some alcohol and pot but that’s clearing out. His liver and kidney function are both normalfine, brain shows no signs of trauma. Doctors say it’s like he’s sleeping, even dreaming from time to time. But it’s been hours, and we’ve picked him up and moved him around quite a bit. If he’s just a deep sleeper then he’s a very deep sleeper.”
Tremain sat back and misquoted the most famous detective line ever.
“I’m getting too old for this kind of…”
“We all are, Detective.” The Desk Sergeant had heard it before. Whatever else he was, this sergeant was good, so Tremain picked his brain a bit more.
“What do we know about the victim?”
The sergeant dug out a file and handed it over. “If anyone should be put in a mystery coma, it’s this guy. We can corroborate some of what the sus…Liz…said in her letter. He’s been brought in multiple times for harassment; pretty much once per girlfriend, it seems.”
“What leads do you have? Any Id on this roommate that moved to California? Any idea where Liz might be from?”
“Detective, they could be anyone. We don’t even know which casino Liz worked at, if she worked at one at all. She never gives a last name for her friend, and the only person who knew both of them is currently taking a nice nap. I know you’re just getting up to speed, but we’ve already asked all the easy questions and got nothing. That’s why we called you.”
Tremain just nodded. “okay, do you have Liz Doe’s mug shot?”
“Nope. Just a corrupted image file where it used to be.”
“This is getting frustrating, Sergeant.”
“I’m aware, Detective.”
“Can you tell me what she looks like?”
“She’s still got the Technicolor hair she mentioned in her letter, except now it’s blond, blue, and purple. But obviously don’t expect that to last. Skin tone is somewhere between caramel and milk chocolate, eyes appear copper colored, but that could be contacts. Height, weight, etc. is all in her file. Oh, and one last thing, Detective. She didn’t kill the alleged victim, nor is there any sign of any sort of attack on his person, except for the fact that he’s asleep, and this.”
The Sergeant handed Tremain an evidence bag. inside was a wickedly-curved dagger with a wire-wrapped hilt and an angel-wing motif on the needlessly large crossbar. The blade was stained brownish-red with drying blood.
“Don’t tell me.”
“It’s a perfect match, sir. This is Vincent’s blood. It was wet when we found it.”
“But there’s no…”
“But there’s no matching wound anywhere on the victim. If this is a hoax it’s a good one. But we can’t figure out what else it would be. And, again, without an actual crime, the best we can do is bring her in for questioning. We can’t get a warrant for her arrest. Unless she does something else, she’ll have to come freely.”
“I’m glad I’m not you, Detective.”
It would be nice to say that Detective Alan Tremain was the best the LVPD had to offer, that he was the one they went to when all others failed. It wouldn’t be true, but it would be nice.
In reality Tremain just happened to come on shift when this particular case came up. He was assigned to it because he was next on the duty roster.
But if someone had put some thought into it they might have chosen him anyway. Tremain’s specialty, if he could be said to have one, was not getting angry at infuriating suspects. He would sit back, smile, run his fingers through his hair, and just…talk to them. Maybe offer them a doughnut or some pizza. It was like he was doing the whole “good cop bad cop” thing but without the bad cop.
But his style was even more unique than that. He did a lot of work before interviewing people. He would study them, find out as much as he could. He’d read up on their family, look at their tattoos…anything that could give him a sense of who this person was. And then he would walk into the room where the suspect sat, and tell them the story of what happened. But not like a cop. He’d tell it from their perspective. His stories weren’t of the “on the night of April 14 you and several accomplices were seen approaching the bank. At 22:48 an alarm was triggered…” style. Instead he would sit down, look the suspect in the eye, and say, “you’re new in this gang, you’ve gotta get some respect. So when people are talking about how to get some cash you speak up, say you know a bank you can knock over…”
It didn’t always work. He wasn’t always right. Sometimes he got better results when he was at least half wrong. A lot of people would correct him and fill in details, seemingly out of a desire to be recognized, maybe even understood. It annoyed the other detectives no end.
Of course, right now he didn’t have anyone to interview. He went down to the lab, got a look at the knife and asked what tests were being run on the blood samples from the non-victim and the knife. He went over to the hospital and looked a some charts and graphs that said this sleazeball…sorry, possible witness…should be up and awake instead of acting like a vegetable. And finally, around two in the morning, he went home.
There was a letter taped to his door. That was never good. If someone knows where you live you should sleep somewhere else until the boys have a chance to check it out. Knowing this Tremain walked up to the door and ripped the letter off and walked away from his apartment.
The letter read:
Detective Alan Tremain,
Congrats, man. You just got stuck trying to find me. This is gonna be fun. Because you’ve got a lot of questions & I’m not going to answer the ones you want, but the ones you need.
Go ahead, look down at the signature, It’s Liz, of course, and no I’m not going to tell you my last name, you would do things the boring way if I did.
The scumbag you have in the hospital: he’ll be up and around in 3 days, but he won’t be like he was. Turns out 3 is an important number to angels, I guess. Look it up. Anyway he’ll be better than he was, I killed the demon, not the man. I coulda killed both.
Look Alan, I know you think I’m crazy. I would have thought that too, a while ago. But I’m not. And the thing is, you’re going to be part of this, too. I can sense Others now. They have like, a glow. And you’re one of us. Wouldn’t you like to know what you are?
I’ll give you a hint: go try some peyote. I know you have some at the station. Go take it, find a quiet spot in the desert, and let the Holy Smokes bring your spirit animal into focus.
Your apartment is fine, Detective, sleep well tonight, knowing an Angel is watching over you. I’ll see you again soon, but you won’t be ready to see me for a while. But when you are we’ll clean this place up.
No, not Vegas. Vegas can’t be saved. I mean the world. We got a lotta work ahead of us.
–Liz the Angel.
Tremain called the precinct. “Listen, is that cell still empty? The one Liz was in. Look, I got some new evidence for you, and I need a place to sleep tonight. Okay, I’ll be there in twenty.”
Uncharacteristically, the desk sergeant offered up some information freely. “Oh, Detective, news from the lab. They found some,” –here the sergeant rattled off an eight syllable chemical name– “in Vincent’s blood. Not a lot, but they say it could be why he’s out cold. We’re checking the knife to see if it’s got the same chemical.”
Tremain laughed. “So our self-proclaimed angel had some help from a local chemist, huh? Thanks, sergeant. That’s good to know.”
Putting his phone back in his pocket Alan Tremain turned back to the parking lot, not looking around. But behind him, and above him, he heard someone laugh.