This is the prize winning of the article from the creative writing competition, WriterX, written by Rtr. Manelka Jayasooriya. Enjoy!
“A home-schooled boy suddenly disappears and the only clue is a short story he recently printed off his computer.” , the BBC reporter echoes.
“Three years ago, today, twelve-year-old Kent Richards, a young prodigy, author and artist, mysteriously vanished from his parents’ mansion on what seemed to be a delightful Tuesday morning. Kent was last seen at 2:37PM, by the house staff after they had served lunch. What was left in his room, the only clue that would cater to the boy’s case was a short story, one that was published last year on the anniversary of his disappearance; a short story that would later go viral, ranked number one in New York Times’ Best-seller”
Former Special Agent Carter O’Reilly watched the multi-plex screen mounted on the cream-coloured wall of her residence shrink into a dark abyss. Special Agent Lily Saraf, standing tall like a pillar, dropped the remote onto the ottoman and took a seat on the chaise lounge.
“When I was handed this case, I thought that I would be able to find the boy. Three years later and Kent Richards is nowhere to be found and here I sit inside my lavish four-plex, drowning my sorrows away in exquisite wine after being temporarily suspended from the Agency.” Carter scoffs at her predicament. Having had a fruitful career as a top-list Agent, serving her country from the shadows, she had been a proud Agent, earning star after star for every successful mission and yet, a horrific case of the disappearance of a twelve-year-old boy had been the cause for the epic fall in her golden streak.
Lily Saraf, the only other female agent from intelligence looked pitiful of her best mate’s ongoing turmoil. The case had taken a toll on the entire Agency but mostly Carter O’Reilly. She cleared her throat uneasily hoping to catch the former Agent’s attention. Having extracted a grunt, Lily continued, nonetheless.
“I received intel from the Agency that the Richards are still pushing to open the case. They want you in it.” Lily’s hopeful rasp echoed in the otherwise solemn apartment’s space.
“Whose they?” Carter took a sip of her wine; relishing in the exquisite palate of liquorice, kirsch, rosewater and dark oak. Refined, she thought.
“The Agency.” The Agent replied.
Silence was all that greeted her in return. Sighing to herself, she inconspicuously slid a book over the coffee table, tapping the glossy cover with her freshly manicured red nails, she stood up to leave when Carter interrupted her departure.
“You forgot something.” She slurred.
“Read the book, Agent. Kent Richards was a prodigy. One can only assume that his short story has a winding plot. It might lead you in the right direction.” With that, she left Carter to the company of her lonely apartment. Deciding to continue her mindless drinking, she realised that her glass was empty. Picking the bottle, she realised it was empty as well.
“I swear the universe is plotting against me.” She muttered. Stretching to her full height, she was about to head to the wine cellar to befriend a new bottle when her inquisitive corn-flower orbs glossed over the laminated cover of the book as it sat perched on her coffee table, mocking her. A million – now – sober thoughts raced through her mind. And without much hesitance, she dived right into the pages.
A few hours later, the only sound that resonated were the flipping of pages, light breathing and the occasional car revving past her lavish living-quarters. It was when she reached the last page that the Agent’s breath faltered.
Could it be true? Was it true?
Gasping she read the words again. Eyes wide, she read them again. And again. Having taken down criminal syndicates, drug lords and dirty politicians, she had learned but one very exclusive lesson: read between the lines. Yet, then, she had been working to stop criminals, bad people with bad intentions but this could not be the same. If only for one very minute detail. Kent Richards was a Prodigy.
No! Kent Richards is a Prodigy.
In no time, the once hibernating Agent was presently in her car, shifting gears and racing to the Agency to deliver the news. Reaching for her mobile, she dialed Saraf’s number however, the call was directed to voicemail. Having no choice, zero ways to contact the Agency since her temporary suspension, she continued her journey to the one location that remained the eeriest of them all. To the place where it all unfolded. A place of horrors. The Richards Estate.
Having dodged traffic, she managed to veer off into the deserted community that housed the Richards’ abode. Swiftly, she gathered her Glock, attached the silencer, and swept two magazines from under her seat. Reloading the Glock, she stepped into the night, welcoming the chilly breeze that left goosebumps in their wake. She took deep breaths as she stared up at the looming, gothic-inspired architecture. It truly was a horror.
She ignored the lifeless bodies scattered across the patio and proceeded to enter the building. The door was open. Curious indeed. Carter schooled her features upon the sight that welcomed her. There he was, blonde mane neatly coifed, black jacket adorning his once smaller frame, now fitting a slightly muscular teenager. And when he turned to meet her eyes, a sadistic smiled etched onto his face, Carter held onto her disbelief.
With droplets of crimson sprayed across his face, the glint of a blade winking from within his grasp, the several bodies mutilated before the two of them – including Mr. and Mrs. Richards – she knew.
“You finally pieced it together, Agent O’Reilly.” His aged voice sounded, sending chills down her spine, but Carter remained composed. “I assume you read the last page.”
“Age is just a number.” She replied, remembering the line that caught her eye. Although, she abhorred Kent Richards, she had to acknowledge his brilliance. It was something Carter respected – intelligence.
He smiled sadistically. “Finally, we meet…”
Penned By: Rtr. Manelka Jayasooriya (Editorial Team Member)
Edited, translated and published by: RACSLIIT Editorial Team 2021-22