She had spoken to him, once, two years before. They had both been waiting at the bus stop across the road from her house waiting for the 39 into town. He watched her texting on her phone and smiling at whatever was being buzzed back to her. He noticed that the green top she wore, just peeking out from under the mustard colour coat, matched the colour of her eyes. There was nothing about this girl that made her stand out but he couldn’t shake the intense urge to talk to her. ‘What time does the next bus usually come?’ He felt instantly stupid. Of all the things he could have said and he had enquired about the bus, the girl probably hadn’t even noticed he was there. The girl looked up from the text she was writing and looked him in the eye, making his heart race. ‘should be here in 10 minutes’ was her reply, Nothing out of the ordinary but the sound of her voice made the hairs on his arms stand up with excitement. This is the one, he had thought.
Laura straightened her hair carefully making sure to get the kinks out of every last strand. Then she applied her make up with steady, slow hands. This was the most important interview of her life and she was determined to make biggest impression on the company. Her portfolio and the letters from Dotanica lay on her desk by the window. Her walls were a canvas of free hand drawings and oil paintings of various people and objects. Above her bed was a huge poster sized image of her and her family that she had drawn whilst at college. The picture had won prizes within her small course and was a fantastic piece with dragons and various other mythical creatures weaved into the picture. It was all she had ever wanted to do. Other girls at her school had followed career paths to be actresses, airhostesses or beauticians but all Laura had ever wanted to be was an artist. Now she had the opportunity to go and work alongside one of the most prestigious names in America. The meeting was to be held in a hotel on the outskirts of her small village. She picked her outfit carefully, making sure to wear the most sophisticated pair of heels and her lucky green top that matched her eyes. She kissed her mother good bye and waved off their good luck speeches as she bounced out the door to the bus stop.
Sargent Gracey was in his fourth year with the station when the call came in. An 18 year old female had been reported missing 2 hours ago by her mother but unfortunately, due to having to wait 24 hours to call in missing persons, it wasn’t until possessions of the persons involved had been found at a bus stop that the local police had been notified. Gracey and his team made their way down to the scene where the girl was last thought to have been. A young patrol officer was standing by a withered bush just to the side of the bus stop where a large folder protruded out from the pile of leaves underneath. The young girl’s father stood metres away arguing animatedly with one of the team and another two turned away curious neighbours. The report had stated that after hearing nothing from either his daughter or the police, Laura Barde’s father had decided to retrace her journey to the hotel, getting as far as the bus stop before noticing the girls cherished portfolio thrown in the mud. It was possible the girl had used the interview as a ploy to run away or that she had simply gotten lost. Was it also an option that the parents had planted the folder in the bush to escape blame? The police had to follow every possibility before announcing an 18 year old woman missing. Gracey assigned members of his team to knock on the houses across the street to see if anyone heard anything. He himself would take the father back to the house where he would interview the parents.
She was beautiful. Full red lips, bright green eyes and long curly blonde hair she was perfect. Ever since he had laid eyes on her he knew he had to have her, Finding out where she ate lunch, thinking of ways to make conversation when he couldn’t sleep. She was always kind to him, this stranger with the messy clothes. He was waiting for her, as he had waited every morning so he could see her before college, but today she didn’t come. He was panicking at the thought of not seeing her this morning. What if something had happened? Should he go and ask her parents if the girl was okay? He waited for hours as he bit his nails down to the skin. Eventually she came into view swinging a large see through zip lock case at her side. She had her music playing and didn’t even realise the man standing across the road. Something was wrong he thought.
Laura could hardly contain her excitement. She stood in the shade of the bus shelter and skipped through the music on her iPod. It was a moment before she saw the familiar figure of a man heading across the road towards her. She had spoken to the man once before, a couple of years ago, but he always seemed to be around or waiting for the bus. She watched him curiously as he stumbled towards her shouting and waving his arms about. Taking out her headphones she realised the man was shouting at her. ‘What have you done to your beautiful hair Laura? What are you doing? Why are you late, you shouldn’t be here now, where have you been?! Who is he?!’ Laura took a step back absolutely shocked at what was unfolding in front of her. Surely he had been mistaken. He had a crazed look in his eyes, spitting as he shouted the obscene questions at her, his fists balled up at his sides. Laura was mute with shock, still backing up as he continued to approach her. ‘Who is he?!’ the strange man shouted again, ‘think you can forget me do you?! I’ll show you Laura! Il show you!’ Laura backed up into a bush, making her jump and spin around to see what it was she had hit. Her folder flew into the undergrowth but she left it there, turning round just in time for the screaming lunatic to slap her hard across the face. She was stunned, stars flew in front of her eyes, leaving her vulnerable and too weak to resist as the man hit her to the floor.
One of the neighbours had seen a man standing on the corner opposite the bus stop on his way into work that morning. Another had seen a young girl waiting for the bus talking to a man much older than her but could not confirm that it was Ms Barde. The police could not find any concrete leads to the disappearance of Laura and pretty soon Sargent Gracey widened the net to the entire village. If anyone had seen a middle aged man accompanied by a teenage girl they should get in touch immediately with the police stations hotline. Pretty soon, local women, eager to help, were ringing in with siting’s of the girl and the man they had heard about on the news. One call, a tip from the village shop owner had informed the police of a man carrying a sleeping girl in his arms into the remnants of a burnt out office building. Units were dispatched to the address and the building was searched. In one of the dark rooms within the heart of the building, the police found a den, probably built and disowned by kids camping out or escaping the cold. The den consisted of different types of tarpaulin and flattened cardboard boxes used as a carpet and a home-made fire pit. Spread over most of the den the police found a great amount of blood, not enough to pronounce the owner dead but enough that they would surely be weak. Restraints made from a green t-shirt were thrown in a bundle to the side along with an iPod and blonde hair, cut with nail scissors also found at the scene. Sargent Gracey couldn’t deny it any longer. Something terrible had happened to young Laura Bard and it was on him now to find her and ensure her safe return.
It had been easier than he thought to get Laura to come with him. The streets were almost empty with most the residents of the village at school or work. Finally he could touch her and speak to her. It was like something had woken up inside him making him the bravest man in the world. He told her of his family and the dog he owned when he was 5. He mentioned the boy in secondary school that made his life hell every day for years until his parents moved away. He told Laura how he had waited 2 years to finally have her in his company. Laura didn’t say much but he didn’t mind. She was a listener he could see that and he liked that about her. She was perfect. He watched as she lay staring at him, the fear in her eyes angered him but he let it be, maybe she just wasn’t ready. ‘Aren’t you glad we can finally be alone?’ he asked her finally. Laura didn’t reply. He had asked her a question it was only polite that she answer. ‘I said, aren’t you glad we can finally be alone? Just the two of us?’ he asked again as he removed the remnants of her t-shirt from her mouth. Instantly a piercing scream escaped Laura’s lips, her face ugly and contorted with the effort to be heard. The sudden loud noise had startled him and with sudden untameable anger he smashed his fist into her face. He liked her better when she was a listener. He moved her hair from her face and kissed her forehead, her cheek, her lips. She was exactly how he thought she’d be. She was perfect.
Amy couldn’t sit still. She paced the room, her hands shaking furiously as she held on to the now cold coffee. Laura’s portfolio still lay untouched across the coffee table, the mud now crusted over. A few weeks earlier Amy had sat down with her daughter over a glass of wine and discussed Laura’s future. She was so talented, her artwork earning her an interview with Dotanica. It was such a fantastic opportunity but Amy didn’t want her to leave. America was so far away, so unsafe. Laura had explained to her mother how she was no longer a child and that she had to find her own way, this was her dream. Amy thought of this as she stood looking out the window, dreading the next policeman to come walking across her front garden. The phone call from Dotanica had made her blood turn cold. Laura Bard had not turned up to the interview and unfortunately they could not wait any longer, she should contact them regarding acquiring another interview within the next week. This was such a huge opportunity, her dream. She would never have just not turned up. The police were wrong. It had been a week now already and all leads were pulling up nothing new. But Amy had known it from the beginning. She could feel it, mother’s intuition. Laura was dead.