The Darkness in the Tree – Part 1

Detective Sergeant Leung was not a happy man. He had fought long and hard to be transferred to the Criminal Investigation Division, the CID, and he had just received the info that he was to head up a three-man team to investigate missing persons in the Tai Po area. Missing persons were the responsibility of the relevant station, not the CID. 

He went for the meeting scheduled with his boss, a Chief Inspector who had, so far, spent most of his tenure as head of E-Section sitting behind his desk issuing orders. Leung knocked on the door and received an immediate ‘enter’. He opened the door to wafts of cigarette smoke and found Detective Chief Inspector Wong sitting beneath the ‘No Smoking in Government Offices’ sign puffing away on a Marlborough. 

“Leung, take a seat”. Leung took a breath of relatively unpolluted air before entering the office and closed the door behind him. 

“You are probably wondering why CID is investigating missing persons, eh?” 

Before Leung could answer Wong carried on. He had little time for the opinions of his subordinates anyway. 

“As of yesterday three persons, two females and one male, have gone missing in Tai Po within the week”. 

“People go missing in Tai Po every day of the week,” offered Leung. He was met with a withering glare that silenced him. He would not speak again unless spoken to. 

“The link between the three is that they were all known to have enjoyed walking in the park area that runs along the Lam Tsuen River. And then, today, another link came up. A boy handed in a wallet, the type that joggers strap around their arms to carry their IDs and cell phones. It belonged to one of the missing persons”. 

Leung was quick to note that Wong had not used the word, ‘victims’. “When we realised the link we asked Tai Po to send the boy here so that you could interview him”. He handed Leung a file containing whatever information they had on the victims, missing persons, Leung corrected himself. 

“The boy will be here at ten. I told the desk to send him to you”. He was interrupted by his desk phone. He answered it and spoke briefly before turning back to Leung. “That’s him. He’s waiting at the front desk. Go and talk to him”. 

Leung met the boy, a secondary school student of around 17 at the front desk and took him to an interview room. The desk had also given him the wallet wrapped in a plastic evidence bag. 

He offered the boy, Andy Lo, a soft drink, and asked him how he had come to find the wallet. The boy related quickly and simply that he had been walking through the park and found the wallet. He had immediately taken it to the Tai Po Police Station. Although he didn’t say so, Leung knew that it was a good excuse to miss lessons. 

“Where exactly did you find it?” Asked Leung, producing a road map of the area that showed in brief detail the path that ran through the park. Andy Lo studied it for a moment and pointed to a spot about halfway through the park. 

“Are you willing to come with us and show us exactly where you found it?” Asked Leung. 

“If the owner doesn’t claim it within three months I get to keep it, don’t I?” Asked the boy. Obviously, a fine upstanding citizen thought Leung. There was an Octopus Card and a hundred dollars in the wallet. There was no sign of a cell phone and Andy Lo wasn’t volunteering any information on this issue. By law, any unclaimed item would be returned to the finder after 90 days. 

Leung assured him that it would be returned to him and left the room to organise a car and round up the other members of the team. Within ten minutes they were on the way to Tai Po. 

000 

The CID car dropped them off at the upmarket housing complex that lay next to the entrance to the park and Leung, two of his team and the boy, Andy Lo, walked across the footbridge into the green oasis that the park offered to the residents of the area. Leung asked Andy to show them exactly where he had found the wallet. Within a few moments, they had reached the spot and Andy looked at the bushes on the right-hand side of the footpath. He paused for a moment and then pointed to a spot between two bushes. 

“There,” he said, “it was right there”. 

“And when exactly was this?” Asked Leung. 

“Yesterday, around 8:45, I guess”. The boy answered. Leung made sure that one of the team, a Detective Constable by the name of Wong was recording it all on his small camcorder. 

 “All right, Andy, you wait over there, please. Said Leung. “Let’s take a look around, see if we can find anything. The sweepers will have been through here at least twice since the wallet was found so look hard”. 

A few walkers went past and Leung identified himself as a police officer and asked them to keep to the other side of the footpath. If there was anything to find he didn’t want it disturbed. The detectives crouched down and carefully examined an area two metres before and after the spot where the wallet had been found and it was after a few moments that Wong called him over. 

“Take a look, Boss”. He pointed to a leaf on a small tree just about a metre from the edge of the footpath. Leung peered at it. Thank the gods it had not rained overnight, and the sweepers only worked on the footpath. Leung took out his mobile phone and called for a forensics team. He sent one of his men back to the car for the evidence kit and cordon tape. The walkers and joggers were not going to be happy. The area was now a crime scene and no one was going to go through it until after the forensics team had finished their examination. Andy Lo would have to wait for a long time to claim the wallet. 

The leaf and those surrounding it were covered in dried blood and pieces of what appeared to be flesh. 

(c) Copyright John Stewart Sloan – 2017 – Not for Distribution
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