Scene 1 : Sunday, March 11, 1990 : 12:02 AM : Southwest Washington, DC : Night, 50 degrees Fahrenheit, drizzle, light breeze
Mark Waters was getting ready to head back into his precinct after working a night shift for his precinct when the dispatcher radioed in. There was a missing child in his area. The call was from 410 O St. SW Apartment 221, Washington, DC 20024. He was the first responder, and spent a couple of minutes just trying to calm down the hysterical woman that met him at the front door to her apartment. When she became coherent enough, she managed to choke out that she had been out on a date, passed out drunk, and awoken in her own bed with neither her babysitter nor baby present in the apartment. A call to the babysitter had yielded no answer, and calls to family and friends failed to yield the missing child, at which point she had called the police.
Already other officers were arriving on the scene. Once Waters was through briefing them on the situation, they began to canvass the area. Waters took the phone number of the babysitter and asked dispatch to provide a corresponding address. Leaving the distraught NAME with detectives now arriving, Waters drove to the babysitter’s address.
Scene 2 : Sunday, March 11, 1990 : 12:30 AM : Northwest Washington, DC : Night, 50 degrees Fahrenheit, foggy, light breeze
Waters arrived at the residence of NAME. A single car stood in the driveway. A knock on the front door summoned a man in a bath robe, the father of NAME. He was surprised and frightened to find his daughter not at the house and the vehicle that she had taken still gone. He expressed fears that she and her ward had fallen victim to the same kidnapping. Waters calmed the man as best he could and left. He called for an APB on the vehicle and began searching around town himself. After two hours of fruitless searching, already working past his shift, he went home for the night to rest.
Scene 3 : Sunday, March 11, 1990 : 8:53 AM : Northwest Washington, DC : Day, 51 degrees Fahrenheit, foggy, light breeze
Father Evan Garcia had just concluded the morning service at CHURCH and, as was his custom, moved to greet visitors to the service. There were two, NAME, and with her a man in a business suit. NAME was obviously distraught, and conversation revealed that her child was missing. The man in the suit, a detective staying with NAME, handed Garcia a flier with information pertaining to her missing son and asked him to put it up on the church’s bulletin board. Garcia instead offered to photocopy it and have it distributed to his congregation as well as by volunteers around town. Another woman from the congregation, eager to greet the visitors, approached and joined the conversation, when she heard of NAME’s plight, she suggested that the church hold a candlelight vigil for NAME’s son. Garcia agreed, and scheduled a midnight mass in front of the apartment complex that NAME called home for that night. The visitors departed. Garcia had a lot of work to do if he was going to conduct the next morning service and the regular evening service, all while trying to prepare a mass for midnight…
Scene 4 : Sunday, March 11, 1990 : 1:00 PM : Waters’ House, Bethesda, MD : Day, 63 degrees Fahrenheit, drizzle, light breeze
Waters protested with a groan as he rolled out of bed to answer the phone. Under normal circumstances he would have already been awake, but he had been up late last night trying to find this missing babysitter. It was one of his acquaintances from the force, calling to let him know that members of the department had been invited to a midnight candlelight vigil for the infant that had now been missing for more than thirteen hours. And oh, by the way, they found that babysitter. A half hour after Waters gave up looking for her, she and some of her friends died in a sideswipe when they ran a red light just a few blocks from where Waters stopped searching. They were drunk and high on pot after a night of clubbing. They did not have the missing child with them…
Waters agreed to be there and the call ended. As he showered and shaved, Waters looked forward to the day ahead of him. There was a reason he worked the night shift, it gave him free time during his days. Beside that, it certainly was not boring. Last night Waters was not even supposed to have been on duty; he had been covering part of a friend’s shift. He normally worked Monday-Friday, 1:00 AM to 9:00 AM. These were the unpredictable hours of the night. Not much happened after midnight, but those things that did happen were more frequently seriously criminal than events that occurred during daylight hours. For now, however, he did not need to stress over things like that. He had the whole day to relax. He planned to visit his sister when she got home from work in the evening, but before then, he could do whatever he wanted.
So why couldn’t he get this kid out of his head?
Waters decided he could not just lie around while a baby was missing. Half an hour after he got out of the shower, he was in uniform and on his way back to the apartment complex.
Scene 5 : Sunday, March 11, 1990 : 2:03 PM : 410 O St. SW Apartment 221, Washington, DC 20024 : Day, 67 degrees Fahrenheit, drizzle, light breeze
Waters arrived back at the apartment complex. The police presence was no longer visible, save for a single, empty squad car outside the building. He canvassed the area for an hour and a half, but all he learned was that NAME normally did not drink much, that she liked to go out on a lot of dates, and that she was a single parent due to a divorce. Frustrated, Waters knocked on her door and was greeted by a uniform that had been staying with her. The uniform let him in, and he went to speak to NAME. He found her praying with a rosary.
The ensuing conversation with both NAME and the uniform yielded some information, but not much. Waters learned the name of NAME’s date, but found that the police were unable to find him with that name and suspected it might be an alias, especially because the phone number that he had given NAME last night was fake. The date was therefore the prime suspect in the crime. Waters also learned which restaurant NAME and her date had gone to, but also learned that no forensic evidence was available at that scene with which to identify her date. Finally, he came up with something useful: the date had driven a new Lamborghini Diablo. That would stand out like a sore thumb. Waters made sure there was already an APB out on it. Surprisingly, there wasn’t, which he rectified. He resolved to actively search for the vehicle. Reasoning that it was as likely in Silver Spring as anywhere and that being near his sister would make his life a little easier since he planned to eat with her later, he searched Silver Spring himself for hours. Eventually he gave up as it was time to see her.
Scene 6 : Monday, March 12, 1990 : 12:00 AM : Outside 410 O St. SW, Washington, DC 20024 : Night, 57 degrees Fahrenheit, scattered clouds, light breeze
Turnout to the vigil was good, and though the ground was still damp, the drizzle had ceased. The weather was accommodating the more than 100 lit flames gathered together. The faces gathered before Father Garcia hailed not only from Garcia’s church, but from the city at large as well. The members of Garcia’s congregation had been busy.
The DC Police Dept. was there as well, making its presence felt with nine officers standing near the front of the crowd. One of these was Waters. The mass went without a hitch despite the river, and Garcia’s sermon was particularly inspiring. Though a child was missing, he managed to bring home to others that there was a good and orderly nature to God’s creation, and that He was in all things. Waters felt rejuvenated by the sermon after having spent so much of his energies searching the city. After the service, Garcia was approached by two other people, Adam Euler Senior and Latoya Johnson, who each recounted stories of the recent kidnappings of their own respective infant children. Waters was within hearing range of this, and became interested. So it came to pass that he found himself following Johnson and Garcia after she asked Garcia for a chance for confession and Garcia tried to take her somewhere private. Although Waters was trying to be discreet, Garcia realized that the two of them were being followed by a police officer. After a confrontation in which Garcia threatened to take Waters’ badge number, Waters departed and began his shift.
Johnson confessed to Garcia that she believed herself to be indirectly but sinfully responsible for the kidnapping of her son. Her son had vanished from her house in Northeast while she was home with no signs of breaking or entering. She confessed that she had been having an affair with a man who always contacted her. He was not with her when her child vanished, but she surmised that he may have stolen her key when they were together at some point, replacing it later after copying it, or replacing it on the day of the kidnapping after taking her son. She had no evidence that he was responsible but police had no leas to go on and the investigation was at a dead end. Since her son’s kidnapping she had not heard from or seen her lover. He had always contacted her and she did not have a number for him. Nobody with the name he had given her that was in the phone book was him. She was unwilling to tell the police her tale because she was fearful of losing her husband.
Garcia granted her absolution, her penance to tell the police and her husband about her lover, and to pray the Hail Mary and Our Father a number of times. He impressed to the best of his ability the need for her to come clean with her story. In the end, her half-hearted “I’ll think about it” failed to inspire hope of her repentance. Garcia was concerned for more than Johnson’s soul, however. There were also three infants missing, not just one, and this was a matter that had to be dealt with.
Scene 7 : Monday, March 12, 1990 : 6:44 AM : Chevy Chase High School, 4015 Rosemary Street, Chevy Chase, MD 20815 : Day, 52 degrees Fahrenheit, foggy, light breeze
Violet Monroe hated Mondays almost as much as she hated her job. She was in class preparing for her Emotionally Disturbed Special Education students. Was she preparing class for them, or preparing herself for another day with them?
Her drudgeries were interrupted by the voice of one of the infant caretakers who worked in the nursery down the hall. “Violet? Can you help me with something for a sec?” Violet didn’t want to help, but she agreed anyway. She wasn’t sure why she agreed. Everyone has a fluke of out-of-character behavior sometimes. Normally, she just wasn’t very “nice.” Nonetheless, she found herself trying to pry open a window which was stuck. She eventually succeeded, and was given thanks. She left, annoyed. It wasn’t surprising that she would be asked to do this sort of thing; she was very athletic. That didn’t mean she was free labor for others, however.
She was all the more irritated five minutes later when the same voice interrupted her preparations a second time. “Hey, sorry to keep bugging you, but can you help with one more thing? There’s a parent about to drop a kid off, and I really need to go to the bathroom. None of the other caretakers are here yet.” Violet was unsympathetic, but when NAME offered to owe her a favor, Violet relented. So it came to pass that she found herself watching an infant alone for a few minutes.
She was behind on her preparations for class.
Scene 8 : Monday, March 12, 1990 : 8:54 AM : Garcia’s Church : Day, 55 degrees Fahrenheit, drizzle, breezy
Garcia had a number of administrative activities on his plate at any given point in the week. What most people did not realize was that the head priest was in charge of more than Sunday services and Adult Education. He was the CEO of a small business, and held all of the responsibilities which that title entailed. Nonetheless, there was much more on Garcia’s mind this morning than the Facilities Improvement fund or renewing the Assistant Rector’s contract. He picked up his phone and started punching numbers.
The nice thing about being a leader in the community was that one learned a few of the right names to get things done. Being a leader in the Roman Catholic Church was especially useful, as the hierarchical religious structure rightly instilled in many the sense that respect, deference, and reasonable obedience to the leader was a moral responsibility. When the officer on the other end answered Garcia’s call, Garcia could trust that his source would not hold back.
A few minutes of questioning and an appointment for coffee at noon was all the call entailed. During that call, Garcia learned that there had, indeed, been a number of recent infant kidnappings, and that his source was discontent with the Police Chief’s response. Apparently resources devoted to these cases had been lackluster compared to previous investigations. It was not a race issue; one victim had been white but the response had still been inadequate. More information could be given in person.
After the call, Garcia turned his attentions back to parish administration. He could already tell that he was going to be putting a lot of his energies into this kidnapping issue, and he needed to fit a lot of work into the few hours he had before lunch.
Scene 9 : Monday, March 12, 1990 : 9:20 AM : Northwest Washington, DC : Day, 61 degrees Fahrenheit, foggy, breezy
Waters was off duty, but you wouldn’t have known it by looking at him. He had gone straight from his precinct to the house of that Euler guy who he’d seen at the vigil. He hadn’t even bothered to change out of his uniform. The only thing that gave away the fact that he hadn’t just woken up was the stubble on his cheeks and chin.
Euler answered the door in a disheveled state, halfway through shaving and dressed only in boxers. It was obvious he had just finished his morning shower – his hair was still wet and beads of water clung to his skin. Though he was obviously tired, he perked up when he saw Waters. “Can I help you, officer.”
Waters explained that he held an interest in the recent kidnappings. He asked Euler to give him all the information that Euler had. Euler agreed without hesitation, obviously eager to help anyone looking for his missing son. The child had been sold by his mother for drug money approximately two weeks ago. Nobody knew exactly when or where; the mother had been drunk and high nonstop for weeks and could remember little of the binge. She had sat down with sketch artists three times, and three times come up with vague, generic, and different faces of the man she sold Euler’s boy to. Euler, only in his early 20’s himself and trying to hold down a job, was obviously at the end of his energies, worn down by sleepless nights and tearful days. Waters asked him what hangouts the mother had frequented in the past. As Euler broke down and began quietly weeping, he described four different locations where he had picked her up from back when they were still a couple. Waters briefly tried to console Euler. When he regained his composure, Euler thanked Waters and Waters departed.
Scene 10 : Monday, March 12, 1990 : 10:01 AM : Chevy Chase High School, 4015 Rosemary Street, Chevy Chase, MD 20815 : Day, 66 degrees Fahrenheit, drizzle, breezy
Class was normal, which was to say that it was miserable. These kids were out of control. Monroe’s day became abnormal when the Assistant Principle walked in and whispered something in the ear of one of the teachers that worked with Monroe. Monroe’s curiosity was soon relieved when he came over and told her quietly that a child from the nursery was missing. They were to take attendance and make sure nobody left the room. Other than that, class should continue as normal for the time being.
Class continued for another 20 minutes or so before a police officer came to the room. Monroe was being detained for questioning. It seems she was alone with the missing student earlier, and nobody had seen the boy since. Monroe’s protests went unheeded as she was escorted out the building and to a waiting squad car.
Scene 11 : Monday, March 12, 1990 : 12:00 PM : Coffee Shop, Northwest Washington, DC : Day, 82 degrees Fahrenheit, mostly cloudy, breezy
One nice thing about being the head priest was that people tended not to be late to their appointments with you. Garcia arrived on time to find his contact already there. The meeting was mostly on the topic of the infant investigation, with the only real additional information being victim information. One of the two other victims, the young Johnson boy, disappeared from his home and the police thought his mother responsible. The Adam Euler, Jr. was sold at an unknown location.
Of course, there was also a little small talk. The coffee was mediocre, the food a little better. Garcia’s contact paid. An unrequested favor which wouldn’t really benefit Garcia. Whatever wealth he saved was really savings for the monastic order to which he belonged. His Vow of Poverty meant that all he held was owned by the order. Still, he thanked his friend. Saving the order money was a good thing, after all.
After the meal Garcia started making the rounds, in person, to every media source he could think of. Three missing infants in two weeks was a disturbing situation, and the fact that resources weren’t being devoted to the investigations meant that if he didn’t raise public awareness then these children would probably never be found. He spent hours going from place to place, but it was worth it. By the time he was through, he had gotten himself 150 seconds of air time on local Fox News.
Scene 12 : Monday, March 12, 1990 : 12:30 PM : Pond, intersection of River Road and Haig Drive, College Park, Maryland, 20740 : Day, 83 degrees Fahrenheit, mostly cloudy, breezy
Waters had been bouncing from one place to another, looking for any evidence that Euler Junior’s sale occurred at one place or another. One location had turned up empty, another he couldn’t find. This place seemed useless as well. Not that there wasn’t anything here. Quite to the contrary, there were plenty of used and broken items of drug paraphernalia and empty beer bottles were strewn about. There wasn’t however, anything he could see that looked at all identifiable as regarding the case of Euler Jr. Honestly, he didn’t even know what he was looking for.
But what was that?
It was a snake, right? Where was its head? It had to be a snake, it was about 16” long and 1” in diameter, and it was slithering. It was slithering toward him! Its thin, chitinous red-brown body parted the grass quietly but quickly. It brought its front up off the ground and continued moving. It just had a mouth on its front, one that looked like a lamprey’s, all round with rows of teeth on the inside.
Waters walked up and stepped on it.
The creature squealed briefly and died. Waters wasn’t sure what he had just killed, but he was happier for its absence from his world. Relief turned to horror, however, as it melted into a sickening red puddle and then evaporated totally into a foul black smoke. The smoke quickly dissipated, leaving no trace of its presence.
Waters stood there.
Finally he left. It wasn’t that he had come to terms with what just happened, but there was little else to do. He drove on to the fourth location that Euler Sr. had given him, found nothing there, and went back to look for the first some more. He found that and a dealer there. He wasn’t on the job, but as he saw the dealer bolt his instincts and training took hold of him. He gave chase, but this was just about the fastest dealer in the city, and Waters, no slouch himself, could not catch the criminal.
By 4:00 PM a frustrated Waters was returning to the scene where he had previously found the snake-thing. When he arrived, a man was there, standing near a parked car. Waters could tell that this guy was also dealing, but he was out of his jurisdiction. He radioed it in to dispatch, and tailed the man as he got in his car and started driving off. Waters was careful to note the bag the man threw out of his window. When a College Park officer arrived and pulled the man over, Waters pointed out the bag. Waters convinced the cop to let him interrogate the man, and using the full force of his badge frightened the man into recalling the night that Euler was sold. By the time he was done, Waters had a description of the man that bought Euler and the vehicle that man had used. The dealer asked Waters to try to get him some leniency, but when Waters found out the bad the dealer had thrown had contained meth, he had no sympathy. He went back to the precinct to include the new information in the missing persons file.
Scene 13 : Monday, March 12, 1990 : 5:30 PM : Outside Potbelly’s, 7422 Baltimore Ave, College Park, Maryland, 20740 : Day, 82 degrees Fahrenheit, overcast, breezy
Eric Erickson was feeling very contented after his meal. A man as large as he was had to eat a lot, and he just had. His stomach gurgling its appreciations, Erickson left the restaurant. Contentment faded to anger, however, when he saw a man in the median of Route 1 punch a woman in the mouth. She fell to the ground, blood running down her chin and onto the bricks of the median. She screamed for help as the assailant stole an infant from her carriage and began running.
Erickson began running as well. Crossing the street deftly, he managed not to get himself killed by rush-hour traffic. A foot chase tore past dozens of bystanders, none of whom stopped to help. Erickson had to push himself hard, but he managed to catch this guy, grabbing him by the collar.
The man screamed in rage, his eyes wide. He dropped the child he held to the ground and punched Erickson square in the jaw. It wasn’t a new sensation for Erickson, a boxing instructor. He took the punch and delivered a return to the chest which yielded a cracking sound and sent his foe staggering. Before the enraged foe had recovered, Erickson struck him again, and he fell to the ground, unconscious.
He had fallen on top of the child. Erickson rolled the man over and took the child, only then to see a red, slithering creature emerging from the man’s mouth. It’s lamprey-like mouth seemed to be looking at Erickson and it came toward him. Erickson was tough, but he was smart enough to know that he wasn’t invincible. He backed right up away from that thing. He kept his distance for a few seconds, considering his options. Then he approached it and stepped on it. The thing crunched and died. Then it melted. Then it evaporated.
Erickson was stunned. Nonetheless, the baby in his arms was crying. He carried the child back and reunited mother and daughter. The bloodied woman was happier than anyone he had ever seen before, and thanked him profusely. He returned to the assailant and watched the man until the police arrived. Unfortunately for him, by the time the police were done taking his statement the local news was also on the scene. They interviewed him, and he tried to explain that he had just done what he knew was right. In the end, he was described as “a man of few words and strong action.” Pleased with his good work but exhausted from the day’s labors, Erickson retired to his apartment.
Scene 13 : Monday, March 12, 1990 : 7:24 PM : FOX News Suite, 1100 6th St SW, Apt 716, Washington, DC 20024 : Nautical Twilight, 73 degrees Fahrenheit, clear, breezy
Garcia had already made all of the arrangements at his church. He and the assistant rector would celebrate worship and prayer services each evening at 9:00 for the foreseeable future until the missing children had been found. Now it was time to make sure he got the word out, both about the services and the under-publicized crimes themselves.
The lights were brighter than Garcia was used to, and he normally didn’t wear makeup. “Without it, the lights and cameras will make your skin look bland and washed out,” that’s what he had been told before he’d asked. They took 20 minutes applying it, but at least they made up for the time he lost rereading what he had prepared by taking his PSA/mini-sermon and inputting it into their teleprompters.