Alone In The Darkness is a novel I wrote in early 2016. I will be releasing a new chapter every Monday and Friday, starting on July 18th 2016. If you enjoy the book and would like to support me please click the link and purchase my book through Amazon. You can also find my book on the mobile reading apps: Wattpad, Jukepop, and Inkitt.
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Officer Conners stood on the street corner with his hands pressed against the small of his back. He gazed up the street where the navy Civic once stood. His eyes traced the path from where the car stood to the front door of the bar. Conners was flanked by two police officers holding notebooks in their hands.
“Shall we go in?” Conners asked.
“It’s your show, boss,” responded one officer.
Conners walked the sidewalk to the front door. The officers were bathed in the light from the neon orange OPEN sign that was mounted alongside the door. The street was quiet this late at night, but when the officers entered the bar they were greeted by TV screens and the remnant of a darts game. A lone drunk sat at the bar nursing the last of his whiskey.
Amy was behind the bar cleaning glasses from the night. She looked up to see the officers. She walked down the bar line to greet them, “Hello gentlemen, is there anything I can do for you?”
Conners answered, “I know some officers came by earlier this evening when we searched a car outside. We came back to ask some additional questions. Do you have the time to talk?”
“It’s getting real slow here so I think I can help you out, no problem.”
“So we were originally interested in the owner of that car that we found, but we are also interested in the woman who had the earlier shift, Jennifer?”
“Yes, she works the shift before me. Is she ok?”
“We don’t know anything right now, but we’re asking people who have seen her tonight.”
“Wait, wait, is there something wrong with Jenny?”
“We just want to know if you knew where she might be heading this evening when she got off.”
“Well, I think she usually heads over to the bank to deposit her tips from the night.”
“That confirms what her grandmother said.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not following. You seem to be talking like she didn’t come home tonight.”
“We were called by her grandmother when she didn’t come in this evening. She placed a missing person’s report and happened to mention the bar. The dispatch knew the bar from earlier in the evening and called me up.”
“She didn’t come home?” The bottom of Amy’s eyes turned to a soft red color. She looked down as the first tear rolled down her cheek. Officer Conners pulled an unused napkin from the bar top and handed it to Amy. She took the napkin and blotted under her eyes so as not to run her mascara.
“As far as we know she is hasn’t come home yet. I spoke with her grandmother a little while ago to hopefully find out where she might’ve gone.”
“I don’t know, we didn’t talk about that. But I know she heads to the bank after work.” Amy was fighting back more tears as she thought about Jennifer and what might be happening to her.
“Alright.” Conners moved his hand through his hair as he thought about his next question.
“Do you think it might be related to the car you guys looked at?”
“That is an avenue we are looking at, but we’re still unsure. Do you know anything about her old ex-boyfriend down in Portland?”
“She told me a little bit about him. All I know is that she described him as one super douchebag.” One of the officers behind Conners smirked.
“Did Jennifer mention that she had been in contact with him recently?”
“No, not that I heard of and she would have told me,” replied Amy.
“The cameras?” The officer to Conners’ left said in a hushed tone.
“Oh yeah, you wouldn’t happen to know how to use the security system that you guys have? We saw the cameras outside the entrance. One of those cameras is pointing at the corner and might’ve picked up something.”
Amy nodded and motioned to the officers, “It’s right here in the back.” The three officers walked around the end of the bar and followed Amy around the corner. Behind the large wall of bottled alcohol was a tiny office. The office was sparse but for the table and chairs and a wall of documents and binders. On the back wall was the framed liquor license for the bar alongside the business license. Amy walked over to one wall where the monitor displayed a series of images from inside and outside the bar.
Amy pulled the keyboard out and used a mouse to navigate the screen. She typed in a password and a couple of clicks later, she turned to the officer, “When do you want me to go back to?”
“Can we go back to when you came on shift? Specifically the camera outside.”
Amy made a number of selections and the screen displayed the camera view. It showed the street in front of the bar. Amy moved the slider on the screen to the point out where she entered the bar.
“This is where I arrived to take over Jennifer’s shift.” Amy pointed to the screen where it showed her entering the bar. “I think Jenny left five or ten minutes after I arrived.”
Amy entered in the time and the screen jumped. She scrolled the time bar and the officers saw Jennifer leave the bar. Amy allowed the video to play showing Jennifer walking down the sidewalk and rounding the corner to where she had parked. After a moment, the video showed her walking back into the bar.
“That’s right, I remember. She came back in because she forgot her cell phone,” Amy interjected.
On the screen just off the street and out of the light of the camera a shadow moved quickly along the road. One officer addressed the other, “Do you think that was him?”
“I think it was,” Conners said.
Amy asked, “Who are you looking for?”
Jennifer exited the bar and rounded the corner. A minute later the headlights of her car pulled up to the street and turned right disappearing out of the camera’s vision.
“Can you go back and play that again?” Conners asked. Amy scrolled back the video to when the shadow walked across the street. Conners looked at the other officer, “What are the heights on the two guys?”
The officer looked down into his notebook, “The Portland guy is almost 6’4” and Steven is about 5’10”.”
Conners peered at the screen, “Well, that doesn’t look like a guy who’s almost six and a half feet tall.”
Amy looked at the screen, unsure what they were looking for, “Who do you think it is?”
“Would you mind giving us a shot of the bar before you arrived?”
Amy keyed in the changes and the screen updated. The monitor now showed the bar counter where Jennifer was working. Ahead were a number of people enjoying their drinks. A man got up from the back end of the bar and walked down the line towards the camera. He turned and disappeared under the camera’s view.
Conners pointed out the screen, “Can you pause it here?”
Amy stopped the recording and looked up at the monitor. “Who is that?”
Conners turned to the officer, “Do you have a photo?”
“Yeah, it’s here in my notebook,” the officer fanned the pages, pulled the image, and handed it to Conners.
Conners raised the image to the monitor so that the faces could be compared, “I think that’s Steven.”
“I agree,” said the other officer.
They let the video play through and they saw that Steven left shortly before Jennifer got off her shift. They flipped back to the camera outside and they saw that Steven exited the bar and went off camera. The footage looped back to show Jennifer returning to the bar and the shadow figure crossing the street to where her car was parked.
Conners broke the silence, “Do you think we would be able to get a copy of this video?”
“I would have to ask the owner, but I don’t see a reason why not,” answered Amy. “I will let him know and we can send it over to you in a day or so. He knows how to save the video, otherwise it overwrites the old video.”
Officer Conners reached into his back pocket and pulled out his business card and handed it to Amy, “Just contact the department and let them know it’s for me and they’ll run the video into evidence.”
Amy quietly held the business card in her hand, “Do you think she’s ok?”
Officer Conners looked down, “I don’t know, but we’re looking, and that is best we can do right now. If you hear anything or if you remember anything else please let us know. You have my card.”
The three officers thanked Amy and walked out of the room down the bar and out into the night.
Amy slowly sat down in the chair and put her arms on the desk. She stared across the room at the empty wall. She pulled out her cell phone and opened up a text message. She typed in Jennifer and composed a new message to her. After hitting send, she turned the screen off, put her head into her hands, and began to cry. Somewhere along a dark country road a phone sitting in tall grass buzzed to life. After a moment, the screen went dark and the message was lost to the night.