Chapter five – Interrogations
Careful, guys… This chapter is dialogue-heavy. Véry dialogue-heavy.
As soon as I started running, I knew what a stupid choice I had made. I didn’t stand a chance. There was nowhere I could go – I didn’t even have a car. And this wasn’t the same as running away from the Sunset Valley police after curfew, who ate so many donuts they could barely keep up with two teenagers. These guys were FBI. Trained federal agents.
But I panicked. And when I panicked at school, I always ended up at the same place.
So instead of fleeing out the back door, I dashed to the classroom of my home teacher, kicked the door open and walked over to his desk. Tolson was sitting in the same chair as in the afternoon, still organising his bag.
‘Miss Adams,’ Tolson said with an angry expression on his face. ‘School ended over an hour ago, and you have been absent all afternoon. Now you barge into my classroom without even knocking, ignoring even the most basic of school etiquette. I trust you have a very good reason to do so?’
I was still a bit out of breath from the sudden sprint, but opened my mouth anyway.
‘Two guys from the FBI just came and tried to pull me into their car to question me, but I hit one of them in the face and came running here.’
A small silence fell.
‘Let’s start over, miss Adams,’ Tolson said eventually. ‘I’m going to ask you what you are doing here, and then you’re supposed to say something like “Gee, sir, I don’t know. Maybe we could talk about my failing grades from the last few weeks, and I could write a proper homework schedule from the experience.” How does that sound? Better, no?’
He’d barely even finished his sentence when the door was kicked open once again, but with much more force than when I did it. The two agents came storming in, running straight to me.
‘That was sneaky,’ secret agent Davies growled. His cheek looked painful. ‘But hitting a federal agent happens to be a crime, young lady. Turn around, we’re going for a drive.’
I was frozen with fear. This was it. They were going to take me away and I’d get locked up forever for helping someone who was dead. Weren’t good deeds supposed to be rewarding?!
Those thoughts ran through me as the two agents placed themselves next to me and faded into the background when Davies grabbed my arm again.
That was it. Just “excuse me”. Tolson said it politely, as if he was merely going to ask what time it was.
But federal agent Davies pulled back his hand immediately, as if he got burned by touching my skin, and looked at my home teacher with a very guilty expression on his face.
‘Ah, yes, I forgot,’ the other suit said, turning to Tolson. He quickly showed his badge and put it back again, continuing to rub his neck. ‘Secret agent Johnson, FBI. We’re taking this young lady for questioning back at the station.’
‘No, I don’t think so,’ Tolson said, not even the least bit impressed by the people in front of him or the badge. ‘Not without her parents you’re not. She’s still a minor.’
Johnson remained calm, but Davies did not. With a clear display of anger he turned to Tolson and said:
‘Sir, are you aware of the fact that this girl is wanted in connection with a recent murder case?’
My home teacher looked at me with a curious expression on his face.
‘Sounds like you’ve been busy while you were absent from class, Micah.’
‘I didn’t do anything, sir!’ I said desperately. ‘I was just checking my phone and then these guys came up to me and they said they were FBI and I don’t even know what an FBI-agent looks like so how was I supposed to know if the badge was real or not and… and… mister Tolson, I don’t want to go to jail!’ I finally sobbed.
Tolson’s expression changed. He abruptly directed word to the FBI-agents.
‘Is Micah a suspect in your case?’
‘Well, not exactly, but-‘
‘Then ‘l’ll have to ask you to leave. She is not going anywhere without her parents. You can wait outside of the room.’
I had never liked mister Tolson as much as I did at that moment. He was a strict teacher, too strict maybe, but he was also there when you needed him.
‘We’re… we’re sorry if we startled you,’ agent Johnson tried. ‘We really just want to ask you some questions, that’s all. What do you say we find a quiet place to sit down and clear this misunderstanding?’
‘Of course,’ Tolson nodded, ‘but not until her parents are here. Now please get out.’
It seems Johnson knew there was no persuading Tolson. He slowly turned around and started walking away, perfectly calm as always.
Davies took his time to look at me in a threatening way before finally following his colleague. Then they were both out of the room. I slowly exhaled, my shoulders finally losing their tension.
‘Have you calmed down, Micah?’ Tolson asked eventually.
Seems he’d stopped calling me by my last name.
‘Good. Then what’s it going to be? Shall I proceed to call your father?’
It didn’t take long for dad to show up. Tolson had called him on the phone, and while his voice obviously sounded worried, he hadn’t wasted any time and hung up with a simple “I’m on my way”.
Dad had never had to come to school because of me before.
We waited for him to arrive, Tolson and I inside of the classroom and the two FBI-agents down the hall. Tolson then proposed the cafeteria as a place to talk, so I’d be more at ease. Something about a familiar environment other than the classroom, or something like that.
Though, if anything, it was merely awkward to sit at the same table that my friends and I ate together and made jokes at with my teacher, my dad and two agents.
But we sat there for a reason. Secret agent Johnson and Davies looked at me with much expectation on their faces, and dad and Tolson were silent as well.
So I began to speak. I already knew that they wouldn’t believe the full truth, so I told them only half of it instead. How I saw Gerry custard being reported missing on the television, how I went out with Milow and eventually found his body. How cold and weird his body felt. Me running away after that in fright and calling the police only when I was already back home.
Secret agent Johnson had a lot to say, as well. How he and his team tracked me, for example. It turned out calling the police office as an anonymous caller doesn’t work at all if they want to know who called them. They merely tracked the number, confirmed who I was and then sent me a text message while observing from close by, to see from my reaction if they had the right person. And that was that. Simple as pie, as Ethan would have said.
‘Let me get this straight, miss Adams,’ secret agent Johnson finally said. ‘You discovered the body on a walk with your dog?’
‘A walk with your dog at two in the morning.’
‘And all the way into the deepest part of the hills, which is on the opposite side of town while there is a fine, decently lighted dog park within walking distance from your house.’
Fudge. He knew I was hiding something. Even though they’d assured me I was no suspect, this made me seem… suspicious again. But what else was I supposed to say?
‘Something tells me you’re not telling the whole truth there, Micah,’ Johnson said sharply. ‘What are you hiding?’
‘Miss Adams, it’s my job to detect lies, and I have to say you’re terrible at hiding your feelings. We’re used to dealing with abnormal cases. If you have any other reason than just a dog walk to have gone to that particular location, we need to know. It could be of vital importance to our case.’
It sounded so logical… but… would they even believe me? What if they thought I was crazy?
I tilted my head slowly and looked right in dad’s eyes.
‘Tell them, sweetie. I have faith in you.’
He believed in me. Even though I looked so guilty, he believed I was innocent. My sweet, sweet dad.
I wished mum was here.
‘I sort of… dreamed about it.’
‘I had a dream on the night I went out,’ I said hesitantly. ‘In my dream, I saw the hills, and the place where… where Gerry’s body was… And earlier during school, too, when I was cleaning the cafeteria, I think I saw… something… that looked like Gerry Custard in the playground. It looked really weird. I thought it was just a lack of sleep, but then I had that dream… You must think I’m crazy for going out like that just because of a dream, but it just wouldn’t let me go.’
‘And then I found him and I knew I had to call the police, but I couldn’t exactly tell them I knew where he was because of a dream. They wouldn’t have believed me! I didn’t even really believe it at first… you probably don’t believe me, either, do you?’
A very long silence fell. Johnson and Davies were looking at me, dumbfounded. I could see their minds trying to wrap themselves around this situation. Mister Tolson was thinking in that typical way of him, but I was afraid to look at dad. What if he changed his mind and didn’t believe me, after all?
Eventually it was Johnson who spoke up again.
‘If this is true-‘
‘Íf?’ dad said sharply. I looked up at him – he stared the agents down with a very threatening look in his eyes.
‘Íf this is true? Are you doubting the word of my daughter?’
‘No, no, of course not!’ Johnson said hastily. ‘I trust the word of miss Adams as genuine, sir. What I mean to say is, well, if this is true, then she is a very special lady and deserves a very special treatment.’
Special treatment? What did they mean? My mind went wild right away and produced a scene of me standing in front of the Town Hall, a gazillion prizes around my neck. Maybe my own helicopter, as well. Or just no more detention, that would be nice, too.
But my dad immediately figured they had something very different in mind.
‘What kind of treatment?’ he asked suspiciously.
‘Well, normally in cases like these – I have to tell you that we of the FBI have a very high opinion on people with extrasensory perception, like miss Adams. So much that we frequently call upon psychics for advise when one of our cases has stranded.’
‘No doubt that you do. But what has Micah got to do with that?’ dad asked, still frowning.
‘We’d like to invite miss Adams, with your permission of course, sir, to spend some time at one of our research facilities so we can find out more about her extraordinary gift.’
I thought of a book I’d read recently – one where sim-children with special powers were sent to so-called research facilities because the citizens were scared of them. They had small rooms and forced experiments and were pretty much prisoners of the government.
‘Eh,’ I said in a loud voice, drawing attention back to myself. ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’
Mr. Tolson must not have read the book, because he made a disagreeing sound and said: ‘Now just hold on, Micah. Let’s wait and see what else agent Johnson has to say. There are very few people with a gift like yours. I think it’s important that we find out as much as possible about it, for then we can understand the extraordinary use of the human mind better. We might even reach an evolutional breakthrough.’
I looked at him angrily. Such a traitor! I couldn’t believe it.
‘I am nót,’ I growled, ‘going to a secret army base in Bridgeport.’
‘Oh, but it’s not in Bridgeport!’ agent Johnson said, smiling. ‘It’s right here, in Sunset Valley, at the local science lab. Underneath it, actually. There we can study the extraordinary talent of miss Adams to the fullest content. We might even be able to help her control it. There are many more missing persons other than Gerry Custard, miss Adams. Don’t you want to find them?’
‘With your help, we could find missing prisoners of war,’ agent Davies added. ‘Their families have been praying for twenty, sometimes even thirty years for their safe return. We could track down and capture dangerous criminals, before they have the chance to strike again. The FBI offers big rewards for information on either one of those.’
I saw dad fall for it. Plumbob, I almost fell for it myself. It would be really awesome to find those missing people, and give the criminals what they deserve, locking them away for good. I’d be a town hero.
But why would I have to do that from inside an army base?
So I asked them that, and added: ‘Maybe it was just a coincidence. Or maybe it only works when I’m at home, in a familiar environment. Why would I have to do that from inside Landgraab? Why can’t I do it at home?’
Agent Davies and Johnson looked at each other while Tolson and dad frowned and gazed at them, their faces clearly asking: yeah, why can’t she?
Eventually, Johnson said: ‘… You can do that too, Micah.’ He stopped calling me by my last name as well. ‘Of course you can. But our researchers would love to do some tests. Seeing your recent lack of sleep and the effect that might have on your body, I can assume that is very welcome…’
‘I can do those at the hospital here, too,’ I said. I was feeling less and less comfortable in this conversation. ‘At a normal doctor. I’m not going to Landgraab, sir.’
‘And I’m feeling tired and unwell right now,’ I interrupted him. ‘So if we’re done here, I’d like to go home already.’
Both agents seemed to hate that idea. Especially Davies, who cut me off right away.
‘We’re not done here yet, Micah. We haven’t even asked everything we wanted to ask yet. Who did you talk to about this? Did you see the vision of the boy before, or after the announcement? It’ll take at least another-‘
‘No,’ dad said firmly.
‘Sir, you don’t seem to comprehend the significance of-‘
‘I said no. It’s been enough. You have frightened my daughter beyond reason. I’m taking her home, to her family.’
Davies and Johnson didn’t want to let me go. It was written all over their faces. But dadalready got up from his chair and gestured for me to do the same, after which he put a hand on my shoulder.
‘Come on, Micah. We’re leaving.’
We nodded a short goodbye and left through the cafeteria doors. Finally, finally we were going home. I let out a sigh of relief.
Dad was silent the entire way through the school. I expected him to give me a terrible lecture at some point, but when he finally spoke, it wasn’t like that at all.
‘Plumbob, Micah. Of all the kinds of trouble you chose to call me to school for something like this? At least cheat on a test or two next time, okay?’
I couldn’t help it. I smiled.