Sunday, April 12, 2009

Secret Identity #1.8

Andy and Barney, still in Independence, parked on the street and walked up the sidewalk to the Johnston house. Barney knocked on the door and a woman answered. Her hair was a mess, it was obvious she had been crying and had a cigarette dangling from her mouth.

"Yes?" she asked gruffly.

"I'm Barney Renauld, the detective from Centropolis. I've come to ask you a few questions."

"I'm heading out to work," the woman looked back at the man sitting on the couch in the dark in front of the TV. "'Cuz someone has to. You can ask him a few questions...if he's not too drunk."

The woman pushed by Barney and Andy and got into a car parked in front of Barney's. They stepped inside and slowly approached the man.

"And you are...?" Barney began.

"David Johnston. I'm Miranda's father. The woman who just left is Beth, Miranda's mother."

"This must be a difficult time for both of you," Barney said.

"You'd be amazed. We always act like this, Mr..., uh..."

"Renauld. Just call me Barney," Barney said. "This is my associate Andy Warren. Can we ask you a few questions about your daughter?"

"Sure. But let's be clear that I never touched her! You people investigating this kind of crap always say the father molested the daughter whether it's true or not."

"I assure you, sir that I was not even thinking that. And it is unfortunate that most police immediately jump to conclusions," Barney said. "But on that subject, was Miranda ever molested that you know of?"

Mr. Johnston was silent for a few seconds before speaking. "Not that I know of but in this world anymore, you never know."

Andy stared at Mr. Johnston intently but Barney continued talking. "What did Miranda like to do? After school or with friends?"

"She liked to draw and doodle. She has, like, a dozen notebooks in her room of drawings and little poems," Mr. Johnston pointed off toward a hallway.

"I would like to look at her room if that's all right, Mr. Johnston," Barney said.

"I don't care. Down the hall, first door on right," Mr. Johnston said and let out a small burp.

"Just a couple more questions. Do you know the names of any of Miranda's friends?"

"Not really. Emily something and a girl who dyes her hair pink. Their names are probably in the notebook."

"All right. Last question, do you love Miranda?"

Mr. Johnston turned his head and looked at Barney and Andy. Tears finally welled up in his eyes and he quickly turned back away. "Of course. She was my baby girl."

"Thank you, Mr. Johnston. We're just gonna grab the notebook and be on our way."

Barney and Andy found Miranda's bedroom. It was a typical teenage girl's room with a poster of a popular pop band on the wall, pictures of friends and boyfriends littering the wall, clothes strewn about the floor and a box spring and mattress laying on the floor, sheets and blankets unmade. There was a stack of notebooks on the dresser and Barney grabbed the top two.

Andy shut the door and stepped close to Barney. "He was hiding something."

"What? How can you tell?"

"His tone and breathing. His breathing became shallower and his tone changed pitch when you asked if she had been molested."

"You think he did something?" Barney asked.

"I don't know. I don't think so."

"Well, we got the notebooks, let's get back to the hotel," Barney opened the door and the two left the house leaving Mr. Johnston in exactly the same spot he was in when they arrived.

Jessica was glad to finally start her student teaching job at East Merriam Elementary School in the third grade class taught by Lucille Demarest. She was amazed at how the children were drawn to her due to her youthfulness. She noticed a couple of the boys had developed crushes on her but one caught Jess' attention. Eli Watterson, with his dark black hair and dark, inset hazel eyes, Jess felt there was something about him and soon found out that he was an extremely gifted student.

Eli was a quiet student who always seemed to be doodling in the margins of his papers. Eli had a friend in Anthony Wickersham but that was pretty much it. Aside from writing, reading and drawing, Eli's favorite hobby was magic.

It's was Eli's turn for show and tell but like usual, he passed and Mrs. Demarest went to the next student on the list. "Hold on just a minute," Jess said to Mrs. Demarest and walked over to Eli and kneeled down next to him. She whispered to him for a moment. Eli continued to shake his head and finally Jess gave up.

Jess caught up with Eli as the class headed out for recess. "Why didn't you do any of your magic?" she asked him.

"I wasn't ready. Besides, no one here would be interested in magic. It would just be used as another way to make fun of me behind my back," Eli said.

"That's not true. For all you know, showing off your magic would've opened a new door for you to make more friends and come out of your shell," Jess said.

"What's wrong with just being part of the background?" Eli asked.

Jess knew she was defeated and sighed. "Nothing's wrong with it. Absolutely nothing," Jess said. "Go on outside."

Barney and Andy sat with three of Miranda's friends in the teacher's lounge at the local high school. "So there was nothing different about Miranda around the time of her disappearance?" Andy asked.

"Not really. The only major difference was that she had started to go to church. She had never been religious or anything close to it but she had suddenly started going to church every Sunday for the last month or so," one of the friends said.

"Which church? We should probably talk to the pastor or some of the church regulars to see if they noticed anything," Barney said. "Thank you for talking to us. Hopefully we can find Miranda before anything happens."

"The Oak Street Church of Christ at Oak and 9th," another friend said.

Barney and Andy left the school and got back in Barney's car. "Do you think we'll find her?" Andy asked.

"Let's just go talk to the pastor of that church," said Barney. The tone of his voice seemed unsure and he refused to actually answer the question.

They arrived at the church and walked up to the door. It was unlocked so they walked in. They heard someone shouting toward the back of the church and stopped to listen. "Girls who dress provocatively, who dress like the whores and prostitutes you see in movies and in brothels, who show of the skin of their legs, backs, chest and stomachs, bring it on themselves! They deserve what happens as it is not God's will for girls to tempt the fates like that. They deserve punishment. They deserve what they get!" the pastor stopped and took a breath. "Oh, hello. I'm working on this Sunday's sermon. Can you hear me okay back there?"

Barney angrily looked at the pastor. "Loud and clear," he said.

"Bloody Hell!" Cal Nolan barged into NolanMark's Space Program Department. "What the hell is going on?"

"We're getting something on the radar," one of the men said.

"It's probably that blasted International Space Station again. Let me see," Cal said.

"It's not the ISS. It's something bigger. We've sent out beams of light and a sonar to try to get a better picture. It should be ready soon. It's nothing from this world, that we are sure of."

The man led Cal over to a read out of the sonar reflections. It wasn't the Space Station and it definately wasn't from Earth. It was a massive ship, oval in shape with massive wing-like flanks on either side.

"What the hell?" Cal exclaimed. "How close is this...monstrosity?"

"It'll reach Earth in 24 hours, sir," someone replied. "It appears to headed straight for Centropolis."

"Someone call the President and tell him that we have everything under control. Get ahold of the NolanMark Military and tell them to standby and wait for my orders. Centropolis is my jurisdiction."

BrainWave attacks Centropolis.