Detective Don Belarus had had a long day. He was finishing up his work at his desk, updating files on some cases that he had let fall by the wayside in the last two weeks that he had been hot on the tail of that Mulraney woman, and he was having a hard time focusing on anything but her.
The problem was, Belarus had nothing to go on. They had located that woman’s car two states away, but there was nothing in it but a pair of her shoes, the shoes her husband said she was wearing on the day she disappeared two weeks ago, and paperback copy of a book called “The Memory or Lies.” Both the shoes and the book sat in a box on the floor by his desk, and his day wouldn’t be over until he delivered it to Evan Mulraney, the woman’s husband, with the news that there wasn’t any news – they had no leads whatsoever on Hannah Mulraney’s disappearance.
Belarus sighed as he powered down his computer, and he looked down, nudging the box father away from him with his foot as if it held a nasty dead animal and not just some shoes and a book.
What did it mean, Belarus wondered, that the woman had left her shoes and book behind. She must have had other shoes with her, though the husband said that all of her shoes and boots were accounted for at the house, besides the pair of dirty black Converse they’d found in the car. She must have bought other shoes, Belarus thought, or else someone had snatched her out of the car and left the shoes behind. It was winter, there was at least two feet of snow on the ground where her car had been found abandoned, and there was no way that a woman in her right mind would have walked out into the snow without shoes on. Besides, they had searched the entire area, and had found no tracks or traces of her. They had just brought in the dogs today, searching for the scent of death, the scent of a rotting, putrid body, but they had found nothing.
Belarus put on his coat and picked up the box. He was one of the last ones in the office tonight, and he walked alone out to the fourth floor elevator bank, pressed a button, and waited. He sighed when he saw it was elevator two that reached him first, that elevator was known for clunking to a stop every once in a while, and since it had been deemed a small electrical problem and nothing very unsafe, the department hadn’t called anyone in for the repair yet. Belarus had about a fifty-fifty chance of getting stuck in the elevator for a few minutes, but when the doors opened and revealed a pretty woman standing inside, he decided to take a chance.
Belarus stepped into the elevator and pushed the button for the ground floor. The woman was standing in the far left corner of the elevator car with her face buried in a book. She had a halo of blondish, wavy hair around her face, and her scent carried over the few feet of space between them, and she smelled like hyacinth, a pungent flower that grew in his wife’s garden in the springtime.
They began their descent, and had managed to reach the second floor when the elevator car groaned and lurched to a halt. Belarus clutched the box in both arms and leaned his head back against the steel wall of the car.
“Don’t worry ma’am, it happens all the time. Just give it a few minutes and it will go again. No need to worry.”“Well, I won’t worry then, I’ll just read my book,” the woman said. Her voice was soft and pleasant, and Belarus looked up at her. He couldn’t see her face very well, what with the book obscuring most of it, and –
Don Belarus’s heart skipped a beat. The cover of the book she was holding, he could see the title clearly now and didn’t know how he had missed it before.
The Memory or Lies.
Belarus looked down, and there it was. The same book the woman in the elevator was holding was the same book that was still resting in the box in his hands.
“Who are you?” he asked, looking back up at her. He one of the woman’s eyebrows raise above the pages of the book and could see a hint of a smile in her eyes.
“Who wants to know?”
“I’m a detective in the department here. What’s your business here today, ma’am?”
“Oh, I was just looking for someone. I didn’t find them, though. It happens, I’m sure you understand.”
“Put the book down ma’am, let me see your face.”
Slowly, the woman lowered the book and looked directly into Don’s eyes. Her eyes were green and cunning, her skin a ruddy pink, filled with blood and life.
Don Belarus shook.
The woman smiled and the elevator lurched again, they resumed their descent.
“It’s you. Hannah Mulraney. We’ve been looking for you for two weeks. I have your shoes,” he said, feeling stupid even as the words left his mouth.
“It’s okay detective, I don’t need those where I’m going.”
The elevator bell dinged as it came to a stop, and the doors slid open.
“After you,” Hannah said, gesturing to the open doors with her book.
The detective’s heart pounded, he could hear the blood whooshing in his ears with every beat, and he stepped out of the elevator as she’d instructed and then turned right back around to ask her to please follow him, he would take her home to her husband who had been waiting for her.
But the elevator was empty, and Hannah was gone.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Kirsten Doyle challenged me with “You are trapped in an elevator, and realize that the only other person in it is someone who was recently reported missing in mysterious circumstances.” and I challenged Crosshavenharpist with “You’re getting on that train and you’re never coming back”.