He surveys the family he’s just come to know with a heavy heart. They only met a couple of hours ago but he’s seen them at their most vulnerable, clinging to one another and trying to stay strong as they tell, and retell, the details of how their youngest son went missing. Kidnapped. At each word, the parents and Lieutenant Weston flinch while the boy sits stone still – shocked. For Lee and Berjes, it’s a dagger to the heart, the fresh wound pouring anguish. For Lt. Weston it’s a painfully familiar tale, one he’s heard from three other families since dusk.
“We’ll do everything we can to get Jack back to you, Mr. and Mrs. Clarke.” He promises, just like he’s told the Perry’s around 8:00pm after their son didn’t make it home from the neighbour’s, with no clues left behind. Just like he told the Sowl’s at midnight, when there was no trace of a suspect after their daughter was snatched from her swings, her mother knocked unconscious. Then he’d had to make the same promise to the Goth’s after their house was broken into and their little girl was pulled from her bed.
We’ll do everything we can. The words echo in his head. Everything we can. Everything we can. Sometimes, everything the police can do just isn’t enough. He knows that, but hides the knowledge behind a weak smile. Berjes is still staying strong, but he looks as drained as Lt. Weston feels but Lee has been weeping softly for hours and Bean has been trying to mimic his father’s strength but is walking around in a daze.
“Get some rest and I’ll give you updates as soon as we have them. If you think of anything else or need something, my officers will be here for a little while longer.”They’ve been scouring the ground of the Clarke’s backyard and surrounding hillside for hours but there’s no sign of the boy, Jack, and not so much as a foot print to give away the shadowy figure that carried him off. Every officer on SVPD has been pulled from their beds over the course of the night, eager to rescue the children but there’s nothing to go on. The pair that arrived with the Lieutenant have canvassed the lawn dozens of times and they’ll keep going until they’re out of hope. This team is a couple of rookies, but he knows that even the most experienced cop, even the detective with the best record won’t find anything more than these two. There’s nothing there.
We’ll do everything we can. How many times has he told this to families here in Sunset Valley? His whole career. He remembers the Lieutenant when he entered the force, nearly 20 years ago, standing in a living room, assuring a grieving family that they’d do everything in their power to find a missing man. He remembers the body being found a decade later on a frozen mountain top, along with most of the Valley’s other missing citizens. These circumstances are the same, disappeared in an instant with nothing to lead the police in the right direction. He slumps into his cruiser and shakes his head to clear it. Its been more than 24 hours since he got out of bed and he won’t see it again until sometime this evening and there’s a lot of work ahead. Revving the engine he tells the unit to call the mayor’s office. Three times before the damn thing recognizes the command through his grouchy grumble.
A meager crowd has gathered at the bottom of the steps of City Hall. A couple of reporters and a handful of people who happened to be out and about. The rest of Sunset Valley is home, blissfully unaware of the drama unfolding in the city while they nurse their New Year’s hangovers. Soon, the kidnappings and this press conference will be all over the news though, playing on repeat on televisions and radios in every household until everyone knows that Sunset Valley isn’t safe.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great regret that I announce the reintroduction of Curfew…” Lt. Weston stands statue still at the side of the Mayor as he spins the night’s tragedy. The man’s voice cracks when he informs the population that the kidnappings that had plagued the city had started again and as the sense of security that had been rebuilt over the past years crumbles into dust. For the Lieutenant and the Mayor, who have worked so hard to reassure the public in the last couple of years, there’s a feeling of failure, like they’ve let the people of Sunset Valley down. For these families, many of whom have lived here for generations, there’s a near palpable gloom; Sunset Valley isn’t safe.