Friday, August 3rd, 10:25 a.m.

'Hello...Detective Hunter speaking.'

'Hello, Robert, I have a surprise for you.'

Hunter froze, almost dropping his coffee cup. He knew that metallic voice very well. He knew when that voice called it meant only one thing - a new, mutilated dead body.

'Have you heard from your partner lately?'

Hunter's eyes quickly searched the room in vain for Carlos Garcia.

'Has anyone heard from Garcia this morning?' he shouted across the office after pressing the mute button on his cell phone.

The other detectives exchanged silent, puzzled looks and Hunter knew the answer even before it came.

'Not since yesterday,' Detective Maurice said shaking his head.

Hunter pressed the mute button once again.

'What have you done to him?'

'Do I have your attention now?'

'What have you done to him?' Hunter demanded in a firm voice.

'As I've said, it's a surprise, Robert,' the metallic voice said laughing. 'But I'll give you another chance to make a difference. Maybe this time you'll put more effort into it. Be at the laundry room down in the basement of the old number 122 Pacific Alley in South Pasadena within the hour. If you bring back-up, he dies. If you don't make it within the hour, he dies. And trust me, Robert, it'll be a very slow and painful death.' The line went dead.

© Chris Carter 2009