Mystery Monday #6 – January 22, 2018

The Unsolved Case

By: Robin Gagnon

Damian Cain waited patiently, as his forensics teacher introduced the new girl to the class. Her name was Megan Pine and she was from London. It was a rare occasion, since new students were only ever transfer students.

She was rather cute, Damian decided. Her hair was light brown in colour and her eyes were green. The only problem was her attitude. Weeks after she started, and partners were assigned, Damian learned how much of a brat she was.

“I don’t even want to be here,” she admitted to him one day. “My parents are spies, so they wanted me to be like them, but while I was staying with my aunt, I was enrolled in a regular school. That was way better, y’know? There was no danger or having to learn how to use weapons or taking on missions for extra assignments. Of course, after my mom got a few days off after so many years, she had me enrol here. It’s not fair. I just want to be normal.”

They were walking down the hallway and Damien wanted to pull his dark hair out of head. Why, out of all the students in the school, has he been stuck with her. She was snobby, talked way too much and was horrible at everything. He wondered how she even got into this school in the first place.

“First of all,” he replied when she had finally stopped talking. “You never reveal that much about yourself when you’re a spy.”

“But I don’t want to be a spy. I just said that. Weren’t you listening?”

Secondly, how on earth were you even accepted into this school if you’re that bad at everything? This school has an insanely tough entrance exam and I haven’t even heard of any agents in the ‘Pine’ family.”

Megan shrugged, “I guess I can’t tell you that because I’m not supposed to talk too much about myself.”

Damian sighed, his blue eyes looking worn-out. A couple of girls walked past them down the hallway and shot Megan a few nasty glares.

“What’s up with them?” she asked miserably, as she clutched her books closer to her chest. “I haven’t even talked to them before.”

“They’re probably not happy that you’re my partner for the year,” he explained, casually holding his books under on of his muscular arms. “Not many people are happy about that actually.”

“Oh, right,” Megan muttered, turning into their shared espionage class. “You’re the great Mr. Damian Cain from a family of the best spies in the world. So much for not revealing too much about yourself. Everyone knows about you.”

There was a jealous sting to her words that left Damian feeling like he had been slapped in the face.

“What’s the point in having partners anyways?” Megan continued, taking a seat at her desk by the window. “I never wanted one. Why can’t I be a lone wolf?”

“You always need a partner or at least someone you can trust,” Damian explained, sitting in the desk next to her. “You need someone to have your back sometimes because you can’t always do everything alone.”

A dark look past over Megan’s face and she muttered something, but before Damian could ask what she had said, the bell rang and class started.

Megan definitely wasn’t Damian’s cup of tea and, apparently, he wasn’t hers either. It was the partnership from hell, Damian thought, but he supposed that was the point. Megan needed to get better and Damian was the best there was, so he tried to teach her everything he knew and even trained with her at school after hours. By the time the end of the year had rolled around, Megan’s skills had progressed significantly.

“Thanks for helping me with weapons training again,” she smiled sweetly at him, as they made there way to the auditorium. “I think I might be getting the hang of it.”

“You’re doing much better,” Damian smiled down at her, as he held the door open for her. “Maybe you’ll think about sticking around for your final year?”

Megan’s skills weren’t the only thing that had progressed over the months. Her and Damian’s relationship had also changed its tune. Unfortunately, Megan’s attitude toward the school and being a spy had not changed at all.

“As much as I appreciate your help with everything,” she replied, sitting down in the many, many chairs that filled the auditorium. “I still don’t want to be a spy.”

Damian frowned. He wished he could have changed her mind because he could see her becoming an incredible agent one day. He was running out of time and this assembly was the last chance to make her stay.

“Welcome, students,” a woman in a black suit, with her dark brown hair pulled back into a bun, announced. “I am proud to have the honor to announce this year’s Unsolved Case.”

“What’s she talking about?” Megan whispered to Damian. “What’s the Unsolved Case?”

“It’s something the school does at the end of every school year,” Damian explained to her. “The school releases all the evidence and information for an unsolved case. The case is different every year and the students to solve the case get very high recognition.”

“You seem pretty excited about it,” Megan commented, giving him a sideways glance. “But I thought you already had pretty high recognition. So why does it matter to you?”

“My grandfather, father and brother both solved cases when they were in school,” Damian replied. “So it has become a sort of a tradition. If I don’t solve this, I’ll never hear the end of it. My family will look down on me and I can’t have that happen.”

Megan was quiet for a moment before looking over at Damian and saying softly, “Okay, I’ll help you this once, but after that, I’m going to go back to my normal life.”

They turned their attention back to the lady standing in the middle of the stage, who had just finished explaining the history and the meaning of the Unsolved Case competition. The light began to dim and a projector began showing a slide show on a giant, white screen behind her.

“This year’s Unsolved Case is a much more challenging than any of the years previous,” the woman explained, switching the slide to reveal a photo of a young girl and her parents. “This is the case of a missing person by the name of Taylor Chase. You may of heard of this case already because the Chase family is very well known in the spy community. After Taylor’s father, Paul Chase, past away during a mission in Tibet when she was only seven-years-old, Taylor was left to live with her mother. Taylor’s mother, Sydney Chase, was a world-renowned doctor and died after she caught a fatal virus that one of her patients had contracted. Taylor was twelve-years old at the time of her mother’s death and was never seen at her mother’s funeral. No one has seen or heard from her since and agents all over England have never found her. Some believe that she was kidnapped, while others think she went into hiding. This case is so important because Taylor is part of a family of highly respected spies. You will all know her great grandfather as Charles Chase. You have studied a lot of his cases and missions in your history class. The student or students who solve this case will not only earn high grades, but will also be recognized as one of the finest agents that this school has ever seen.”

The woman flipped through the rest of the slides, all of which showed the very few photos of Taylor, whom had dark brown hair and eyes. She was pretty and happy in all of the photos and it stirred a desire in Damian to find her.

When the assembly was over and the lights were turned back on, he turned to Megan and realized, “She’d be our age by now.”

Megan looked like she was going to be sick and said nothing. Damian studied her curiously for a moment, as she hunched forward and clutched her stomach.

“Are you alright?” Damian asked her, leaning forward slightly to catch her gaze. “Is something bothering you?”

Megan looked up at him a little startled and replied, “No, it’s nothing. It’s just that my father died during a mission like her father’s did and my mother and I didn’t get over it for a long time. It’s the reason I don’t want to become an agent in the first place. I’m just surprised my mom forced me to go to this school. I didn’t think she’d want me to do something like this after what had happened.”

“All of this is brining up bad memories, huh?” Damian realized, giving her a sympathetic look. “You don’t have to help me with this if you don’t want to.”

Megan regarded Damian for a long moment before replying, “No, I’ll still help you. I did promise after all. It’s no big deal.”

“Are you sure?” Damian asked with concern. “We only have a month to try and solve this case before the end of the school year and I don’t want you to be upset and slow me down.”

Megan nodded with determination, “I’ll be fine.”

For the next few weeks, Damian and Megan combed through the case, looking for any possible clues, but there were none to be found. Every trail led them to a dead end and the only clue seemed to be that there were no clues.

“Maybe she left on her own,” Damian remarked one day, as they sat in the evidence room and looked through and old family album. “I’m sure her parents had taught her some things, so maybe she was able to run away and hide.”

“Why and how would a twelve-year-old be able to do that?” Megan muttered, as she went through the evidence without really examining it. “I don’t think it’s possible.”

“Maybe someone helped her do it,” Damian continued, stopping to think about it. “Maybe one of her father’s old partners.”

Damian put the photo album back in the box it was in and turned to stare at Megan frustratingly. For the past three-and-a-half weeks, Megan had not helped at all. She only seemed to be causing problems for Damian and now that there were only three days left, he was becoming quite irritated with her.

“Are you going to help me or not?” he asked her, crossing his arms. “You’ve barely done anything to help me at all and I though you promised me that you would.”

“I just think this is all really dumb and a waste of time,” she muttered, flicking a piece of her light brown hair over her shoulder. “All the top agents in England, meaning your brother and your dad too, have tried to solve this case for the past five years to no avail. What makes you think that you’ll be able to solve this when they couldn’t? And who cares about this whole unsolved case anyways? You’re already a highly regarded agent because of your family.”

She said the last line with an attitude that bothered Damian and he walked over to her with a slightly broken heart. He really had grown to like her.

“If you cant see why this means so much to me then maybe you should just go home and dye your hair or something,” he muttered, pointing out her dark roots, which made her touch her head with a look of horror. “Because that’s probably more important to you than I am.”

Megan looked up at him with sad eyes and bit her lip. Her hand was still covering the top of her head, when she decided to leave. Damian watched her go sadly, as she decided to choose her looks over him. Perhaps the past several months of training closely with her had actually meant nothing.

Getting back to the case, Damian dug into the files until he found the name of a man that had worked closely with Paul Chase. After calling him, Damian learned that Taylor had been taught from a young age about how to be a successful spy. Therefore, Taylor could have easily been able to cover up her tracks and run away. With a better angle on the case, Damian tried to concentrate on figuring out more clues, but could only think of Megan.

At some point, his investigation turned to her and he began to dig into her past. Everything seemed normal and was described exactly as she said, but when he looked into the obituaries for lost spies. He could only find one man with the last name of Pike and he had died long before Megan was born. A sneaking suspicion crept over Damian and he dug deeper. When he found Megan’s birth certificate, he found out that her birthday was March eleventh. Something about the date raised a red flag in the back of his mind, so he went back to Taylor’s case.

After a few moments of researching, he cam across the date again. March eleventh had been the day of Taylor’s mom’s funeral. The one that the missing girl had never attended. Staring in shock at the one of the photographs of Taylor and her parents, he suddenly noticed the girl’s dark brown hair and remembered the look of horror Megan had given him when he had pointed out her dark roots.

Damian looked at the time and realised that it was three in the morning. He had almost been up all night. Searching up Megan’s address, he gathered up his things and left the school.

When he finally reached her house, he used the night to his advantage and snuck in. All the lights were out and as he headed slowly up the stairs, he could smell the scent of hair dye coming from the bathroom. No one appeared to be up and he quietly peaked into one of the bedrooms. No one was there. Doing the same to the next bedroom, he found that no one was in that room either. The last room was the main bedroom at the end of the hall and he moved toward it, carefully placing his hand on the doorknob.

Turning the handle slowly, he inched the door forward until he could see inside. The room looked empty, but the bedsheets had looked slept in. He moved his way into the room and when he thought the coast was clear, the door slammed shut behind him.

“Don’t move,” came a voice in the dark. “Who are you?”

“Megan,” Damian replied. “It’s me.”

Megan flipped on the light switch, illuminating the room around them.

“What are you doing, breaking into my house in the middle of the night?” she asked in exasperation, as she put the gun she had pointed at him down. “You scared me.”

Megan had changed back to the fairly ditzy character she had been using for the past several months, but this time Damian saw through her act.

“You’re really Taylor Chase, aren’t you,” he asked immediately, making her eyes widen in surprise. “There is no aunt and you were never forced to go to school by your mom.”

Taylor’s shoulders fell and she put the gun on the dresser. She was silent for a moment, before turning to stare at Damian with a steely look in her eyes.

“You mustn’t tell anyone who I really am,” she threatened him. “I never meant to go to your school. I enrolled by accident. I thought it was a school like any other, but I was careless and I was wrong. So I had to quickly make a bunch of stuff up and hack into their database to create a bunch of fake records. I was telling you the truth when I said I don’t want to be a spy. I just want to leave that stuff all in the past. It’s the job that tore apart my family. Can’t you understand that?”

Damian regarded her for a moment before replying simply, “You know I can’t do that.”

A look of sadness washed over Taylor’s face before she began to fiddle with the bottom of her pyjama shirt.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” she started, looking up at him with determination. “But you leave me with no choice.”

She suddenly ran at Damien and swept his legs out from under him, but he reached out and caught her, causing them both to fall to the floor in a heap. He quickly pulled her into him and grasped her tightly in a bear hug from the side, as they sat on the floor.

“I don’t want you to leave,” he murmured, as she wiggled to break free, but Damian was just too strong. “I was really hoping I could convince you to stay.”

“I don’t want to,” she mumbled, slowly giving up. “There’s nothing you can say to change my mind.”

Damian held her for a moment before speaking up again, “I’m really sorry about your parents. I’m sorry you couldn’t be there for your mom’s funeral and that you never got to say goodbye to your dad.”

Damian could feel Taylor’s body tremble, as she started to cry. He figured that she had never had someone to comfort her since her mom had died five years ago and it was all catching up to her now. After several minutes, she finally stopped.

Turning her face toward his, Damian rubbed his thumb along her tear stained cheek.

“You know, I think you’d make an incredible agent,” he told her softly. “One that your parents would be proud of. I think we’d make a great team and I would always have your back if you decided to stay.”

Taylor looked up at him and sighed, “Well, I have gotten tired of being on the run. It would be nice if I had a place to live for a while…”

 

 

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