Mystic Red wasn’t the kind of town people actually stayed in. It was the town everyone vied to get out of once they graduated. It was the town that offered nothing and had nothing. That is why I am just as shocked as you are that I wound up here.  At twenty-five being the youngest in my precinct to make detective. I had been assigned a missing person case (my first case) that led me here. Where all hopes and dreams come to die. While I pushed and broke rules, even crossed state lines to find the young girl that had been abducted from her very own home. I wasn’t paying attention when my partner was killed while questioning some of the town’s people after accidentally stumbling upon a drug smuggling operation. Guilt-ridden and full of anger I took down this operation all by myself. The men responsible for Glen’s death are now serving a life sentence and yet I’m still here.

My precinct didn’t look too kindly on me getting involved with something in another jurisdiction and so I was put on probation, permanently! However, the local town’s people decided I was a hero and swiftly offered me the job of chief of police, and now it is ten years later. I still haven’t found the girl. The whole reason I came here and had my life turned upside down in the first place. I became obsessed with finding her, her vibrant emerald eyes still haunt me in the faded photograph that hangs on my wall. I am a disgraced cop with nothing to show for my years of service but a faded picture and a silent partner. Why not leave you, ask? Well, it’s simple I will not rest until I find out what happened to sweet Isabella. Yes, the likelihood that I will ever find her or her body is next to none as her trail ran cold shortly after I arrived in Mystic Red but she has become my reason to get up in the morning. The reason I put on my uniform and drive the three miles to town every day. My reason to live.

Upon my arrival in this town, I felt a sense of purpose, belonging even as if the town had been waiting for me all along.  Shrouded in mountains and trees bigger than my house I was intrigued by its beauty. Coming from “the big city” this was totally different territory for me. Even though only tragedy has befallen me since my arrival I still fell in love with this sleepy little town. I love my log cabin in the woods. My nearest neighbor miles away. It is so quiet I can actually hear myself think. Yet, I am surrounded by the demons of my past it is a double edged sword, this town. When I arrived it was as if I was suddenly under a spell. The spell of a town too mysterious to let me go. I watch the fog roll off the river every morning the reason the town got its name. The only place that I know of that has a red fog. It first appears suddenly over the lake then slowly makes its way inland as it pours over the town a thick ruby jeweled fog. It washes over the land and hovers off the ground like a bloodied blanket before finally dissipating into the atmosphere. No one can explain this non-toxic phenomenon and yet, no one believes it until they actually see it with their own two eyes. Some say it is the blood of all the soldiers that died in battle long ago, some say it is a reminder of the ancient Indian’s that once lived here peacefully before the white man came and wiped them out. All I know is it is beautiful and mystical, hence the town name Mystic Red.

There hasn’t been a crime here, ever! Other than the drug ring that I busted there has never been a reported crime on record. I mean there is the occasional dispute between neighbor’s and their fence lines, or the occasional dog terrorizing the town, and let’s not forget the town drunk Amos, that is drunk and disorderly all the time. He even has his own cell at the jail to sleep it off in, but a true crime, never. A town of only 500 people I sometimes wonder why we have police at all, and yet, I am grateful for the paycheck. The house is free from the town, the set up I have is pretty sweet. Somedays I go all day without actually getting up from my chair at the office, except to pee, of course. However, my life is dull. At thirty -five I have never been married never had kids and at this point in my life, I see none of that in my future.I mean I am the only man in town under sixty and the women Yikes! Yes, there is a few my age some younger, however, none of them appeal to me. The only woman in town that was slightly attractive to me was Sara.She was sweet enough but I ruined that relationship with my constant obsession with a certain green-eyed girl. She now lives in Shreveport with Hank her high school boyfriend, they married just after our split nine years ago and now have three of the most annoying but cute kids I have ever seen.The rest of the women here well if you like buck teeth and uncombed hair, dirty tank tops with no bra, and too much make-up and not enough poise, then there are lots of options.  Here lately, I have been getting complacent in my everyday mundane life. What I wouldn’t give for a real-life homicide or at least a grand theft situation. The only bright spot in my day is my morning routine. I get up, jack off to my favorite porn, shower, brush my teeth, get dressed and head to work.

Some say I have become that man. The hard man, that is handsome with an unapproachable edge. The son of a bitch that is dark and brooding. “If only he could find a good woman”, I hear them whisper behind my back. Some say I have become so obsessed with that green-eyed girl that I have somehow fallen in love with her and no one else is good enough to tame this grouchy bear. I do look at her and wonder. What if? Did I become obsessed because I had somehow fallen for the girl in the photo with her haunting eyes? Or did my obsession grow into something else entirely? I look at her now and I can almost hear her whispering “why haven’t you found me yet?” I used to dream of her nightly. I would find her body in a different state of death. Each and every time she seemed to pierce me with her cold lifeless eyes judging me for not finding her sooner. I would wake soaked in sweat gulping in lungfuls of air. Trying to breathe through the guilt that rode me. After finally forcing myself to go to therapy in the next county so as not to let anyone here know just how insane I had become. The dreams stopped. After ten years I am finally in a good place mentally and emotionally. My obsession now at a dull throb instead of a lancing pain. Some would say I have given up the search, but I know in my heart of hearts that will never happen.

Today, however, today would be the day my life changed forever.  It would be the day this sleepy little town began to wake up and realize the horror that awaits it.  I arrived at work without incident of course, because nothing ever happens here! I say hi to Shelly my assistant and grab my coffee and donuts she always has waiting for me on my desk. Something tells me to go outside and for some reason sitting at my desk all day didn’t hold the same appeal it once had. “Shelly I am going outside to for a while call me if you need me”, I say as I walk out the door shoveling one of the sweet pastries in my mouth as I go. I climb back in my jeep and head toward the edge of town. The town line is my favorite spot it overlooks the lake that wraps itself almost all the way around the small community, and the mountains rise high in the back ground it is as if I am at the end of the world. This is the most peaceful spot in the area and for some unknown reason the place that takes the red fog longest to clear. It is beautiful in its magic and I am loathed to leave this place.

I quietly contemplate the rest of my day as I polish off the last doughnut and sip my now cooling coffee. When the fog begins to lift, I almost drop my coffee at the sight of what is on the other side. I slowly get out of the jeep hand automatically going to the but of my gun in the holster. It is nice to know you can take the cop out of the city but you can’t take the cop out of the man. “Excuse me miss are you okay?” I say as I continue to walk cautiously toward the young girl ahead of me in, the road. The gravel crunched underneath her bare dirt-encrusted feet. Which I suspect was once mud now dried, causing her feet to be encased in a block of filth. The contact with the loose gravel sounds like bones being ground into dust. The night gown she wore was faded and torn At a new length you could see the ruffle that once edged the bottom was now missing. Almost shredded in places, it too was splattered in a hard dirt. Her hair was something straight out of a horror movie with its dark tendrils falling in disarray covering her face and filthy. She had twigs and leaves in it as if she had been attacked by a tree. She walked along like a Zombie slow and shuffling with no apparent purpose in mind. Rail thin she looked as if she hadn’t eaten in a year. Her right breast exposed to the elements. I could see her bones through the skin that was not covered in dirt. I paused for a moment not knowing what to do, yet something was oddly familiar here. I didn’t know if it was the way she carried herself or if it was just the same feeling I felt all those years ago, the knight in shining armor raising his head, but I felt as if I knew her. If that was possible, I hadn’t even seen her face and yet, the feeling of recognition overwhelming me. I stumbled toward her like a blind man, as she came closer and closer still.

She began to sway and I caught her in my arms just as she began to fall. She fell into my arms as if she belonged there and I could now hear that her breathing was labored. I could feel her wheezing through the paper thin gown.A painful shock went through me as she reached out a skeletal finger to caress my face. I moved her hair away from her face and her eyes shot open, exhilaration coursed through me as I saw those familiar emerald eyes gazing back at me. “Isabella”, I whispered. “How? What? Where did you come from? I have been looking for you for ten years”, I rushed out panic setting in. I could see now that her eyes were more of a jade green and blazing with fever. She was hot to the touch and I knew she needed a doctor now. She began to speak just above a whisper, inaudible sounds another language perhaps. I didn’t know. All I knew is that if she didn’t get help, she may very well die right here in my arms.Her whispers became louder until I could finally hear her. “Isabella, can you hear me what happened to you?” I asked again voice almost panicking. “I, I, ” she said in an exhausted tone. I rubbed her head and cleared my throat to an encouraging tone  It’s okay, you’re safe now I will take care of you” I whispered with more strength than I felt. “I, I came from the mist… she pointed my eyes followed in confusion afraid the mist was still there.I looked back at her but she had passed out. The words seemed to have taken the last out of her.

She came from the mist. What was that supposed to mean?  She must be more delirious than I thought. I buckled her in safely and shut the door and called Shelly as I jumped into the driver’s side and turned the key. The engine roared to life as I did a u-turn in the middle of the road and headed back to town and the hospital. She was still breathing but the heat radiating off of her was worrying me something awful. I barked orders into the phone to Shelly telling her to get a bed ready at the hospital for the missing girl and dropped the call as she began to bombard me with questions. As I hit the road to the hospital I looked over to see that Isabella was awake again and staring at me and scared speechless.

“It’s okay, I’m not going to hurt you I am taking you to the hospital now!” I said in my most soothing tone. Ever the detective I began asking questions again. Terrified she may die before I could finally get some answers. “I told you I came from the mist”, she said with such annoyance in her voice I was momentarily speechless. “The, mist?” I said looking at her as if she had in fact, lost her mind. She rolled her eyes and said, “Yes, the red mist. It is a portal to another world. I was kidnapped, ten years ago and taken to this place by the king. I was only able to escape because I fucking killed him!” She said the last with a venom in her tone so strong I was visibly shaken. “I,I am sorry for what happened to you,” I whispered. Not knowing how to proceed as she was clearly insane. “What is your name,” she whispered still eyeing me cautiously. “I am Nick Sullivan. I have been looking for you for ten long years,” I whispered back. “Well, you didn’t do a very good job,” she said shooting daggers at me. “Besides, it is not your fault. You would have never found me. The red mist swallowed me whole.” she said so matter of factly that Nick got chills. They pulled up to the hospital without a word. I ushered her in and got her situated. I couldn’t believe she had shown up here after ten years. She was here back in the town where her trail had gone cold so long ago. She was getting checked out by a psychiatrist too, clearly, she had been through something awful and yet, I felt as if she really thought she was telling the truth. I could sense it on my tongue. Maybe she had had some kind of a break with reality. Either way, I  knew the case had just been reopened, and Nick Sullivan detective was back in business. Mystic Red was about to get its very first case.





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