Some things are better not found
Lost River
CHAPTER
1
“I’d like to file a report for a missing key.”
Sally glanced up at the man, then returned to filling out forms on her computer. “Sorry, we haven’t had anyone bring in any lost keys in the past week. How long ago did you lose it?”
“No, you don’t understand. This key is important! You have to help me find it!”
“Whoa, calm down!” Sally stopped typing and looked at him properly this time.”The police don’t usually look for things like this, buddy. We have more important things to do.”
“Please. you have to.” The man was looking down, fiddling with a fancy-looking silver Celtic ring on his left middle finger. “It’s important to me.”
Sally sighed, giving in. “Do you have any idea where you lost it?”
“I know I last had it by the fast food shops on Southborn Avenue.”
“And this was when?”
“Last night, at 6:28pm.”
“That’s very precise,” Sally said. “Are you sure?”
“I distinctly remember glancing at my watch and feeling it in my pocket.”
Sally typed this all down furiously. “Do you have any other information?”
The man let go of his ring and looked up at her. With surprise, Sally noticed his left eye was a startling ice blue, contrasting with the dark brown of his right eye. “I don’t know what else to tell you.”
“Well then, if I can just have your name and contact details, and I’ll sort this out for you as soon as possible.”
“Of course. My name’s Jon Doven and-” He rattled off his address, email and phone number, and Sally wrote them all down.
“So just to confirm, it’s just the one key? It wasn’t attached to a keyring or anything?”
“No. It was just the one.”
“Can I have a description of it?”
“It was small and brass, with a round head. It unlocks a safe in my basement.”
“I see. Is there anything particularly valuable in this safe?”
“I suppose not. It’s mostly family heirlooms.”
“So why is it so special?”
“It has a more... sentimental value.”
“That’s possible.” Sally reviewed the info she’d written down. “Well, I think we’ve got enough info. We’ll contact you if we find anything.”
“Sure thing.” Jon left, giving her an appreciative nod as he did.
Sally sat, reading and re-reading what she’d written. Something seemed off here. Why did Jon have the key alone in his pocket? It was apparently a safe key, so he could have easily left it at home. And if he wanted to carry it around, why not put it on a keyring with his other keys? Why was it so special to him? Was it really just sentimental like he said?
Sally glanced at her watch. It was 5:47, almost time for her to go home. She looked at her computer screen again. She knew she ought to just leave it, but... there was something about this case. Sally wanted to know more about Jon and the mysterious key.
Before she could hesitate any longer, she printed the file off and stuffed it in her handbag. She could do this... right?
As Sally walked home, she thought about how to start solving the mystery.
She decided that reviewing the security footage of the shops near where the key was lost was a good idea. Maybe she’d be able to see him drop it or worse, if someone stole it. And she had a few favours to check in with some of the guys who did all the computer-y stuff for the police. Even if none of them would do it, she knew she could... persuade others. It would be easy to get them to secretly hack into the security footage.
She turned a corner, moving to walk along the very edge of a river. The strange shade of twilight reflected in the water with the streetlamps, creating a beautifully eerie scene. No other people walked here at this time of night. The only sound was the cicadas in the trees on the other side of the river.
Something flicked in the river with a faint splash, and Sally looked to see what it was. You sometimes saw fish here, if you were lucky.
There were no fish today, but there was something in the river. It looked a bit like a sodden pile of floating cloth. Sally squinted, trying to see what it really was, but it was impossible in the half-light.
But it had caught her curiosity, so she couldn’t just leave it. She backtracked for perhaps a hundred metres, until she got to the bridge. Sally ran across and picked up a long stick, then jogged back to the mysterious pile of cloth.
She poked it. It bobbed in the water, almost threateningly. So she drew it towards her, eager to see what it was.
It rolled over just as she got it closer, and Sally couldn’t help but drop her stick in shock.
It was a body. A man, as average looking as possible, except for one thing.
His eyes, which were staring wide open into the sky.
The right one was blue.
Strange, she thought. She could have sworn it was the left one earlier. Maybe it was a different person? Sally knew that couldn’t be true, but she took out her phone and rang the number Jon had given her anyway.
It went straight to voicemail.
Sally paced up and down the pavement, wondering what to do. Should she finally call her higher-ups? Or could she still solve this on her own?
“Don’t be daft, Sal,” she told herself. “You joined the police three months ago. You’re a newbie! There’s no way you can deal with a dead person.”
She walked away decisively.
It took approximately thirty seconds for her to come running back.
She leaned over the body, long dark hair almost touching it. It had been what, twenty minutes since she saw him? He didn’t have any visible injuries, so it was possible he’d just fallen in and drowned. His open eyes suggested he’d died in an instant, however. Murdered, perhaps?
She noticed his right hand was curled in a tight fist, like he was holding something. The Celtic ring glinted as she pried his hand open.
It was the key.
Round-headed, brass, about the size of Sally’s pinky finger. The one that had been ‘lost’.
Everything in her body screamed at her not to touch it, but Sally picked the key up anyway. It was a skeleton key, thick and old fashioned. Not really what you’d use for a safe.
Sally frowned, and moved to put it in her handbag. She’d study it properly later, at home.
A cold hand grabbed her arm. Sally jumped in horror, dropping her handbag. She slowly looked down at the body in the river.
Jon stared back at her, his blank, dead eyes slowly moving to rest upon her face. Sally screamed, trying to pull away.
But he was stronger. She struggled as he yanked on her arm. Her screams were cut short as she was pulled beneath the dark surface of the river, limbs flailing.

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