Daniels nodded. “Said we’d find a clue to what we’re looking for in the mailbox.”
A row of dilapidated mailboxes rested on a peeling piece of weathered wood. Some had names on the side like “Jimmy Hoffa”, “Elvis”, and “Bobby Fisher.” But Daniels’ source had been cryptic about which mailbox to use.
“Remind me again what he said about the mailbox where the pedophile product info would be.” She scowled at the weather-beaten boxes.
In this digital age, the pedophilia ring she was attempting to break had gone old-school. They didn’t leave a digital trace beyond a few phone calls and an innocuous gardening website with chat boards. It had taken the Denver PD months of painstaking work to decipher the codes buried in requests for seeds and planting instructions. But the latest clue had brought her and her partner out to this barely-there town outside of Las Vegas.
Glory, I hope this pays off.
“He said it would be out of this world.” Daniels snorted.
Cassie eyed the labeled boxes, one with “ALIEN” on the side. “Did this source think he was being clever?”
Daniels shrugged as he got out of the car. “Damn, it’s hot here. How do they live in this dust-bowl?”
She followed, the doors closing the only sound beyond the wind. “Dunno. Hey, wear gloves when you open that.”
He rolled his eyes. “I’m not going to disturb evidence, Tucker.”
“No, but you have no idea what else has put its limbs in there.” She shivered. Something about this place gave her the heebie jeebies.
“Don’t tell me you believe in aliens.” Daniels smirked as he snapped on gloves and opened the box.
She shook her head. “I don’t rule anything out. Find anything?”
“Couple of letters to the Mothership these funky pics on them.”
He handed her one. It looked like an artsy fartsy photo of a robotic woman with cables attached to her back and dreadlocked hair.
“That’s just a little bit creepy.”
“I thought you didn’t rule anything out. Could be an alien.” Daniels turned back to the box and pulled something else out. “A-ha.”
“What?” She peered over his shoulder.
He held up a picture of the missing girl. “Jackpot.” He flipped the picture over. A series of numbers broken with punctuation marks lined the back. “These look like latitude and longitude coordinates.”
“Yeah, they do.” She pulled out her phone and scrolled through her contacts. “I’m gonna call the local sheriff to let him know what we’ve found. No use stepping on toes out here in BFE Nowhere.”
“Okay. I’ll see if I can find out where these coordinates point.”
She nodded as her call was picked up. “Hello, may I speak with Sheriff Wolffe, please?” She eyed the double-wide trailer set off the highway that boasted a giftshop and bar. Someone had named the place the Star Gate.
“This is Sheriff Wolffe.” The voice on the other end of the line held wariness, experience, and authority all rolled into one. Cassie shivered despite the heat.
“Hey Sheriff. It’s Detective Cassie Tucker from Denver PD. I wanted to let you know we found the connection to our pedophilia ring here at the Star Gate Bar and Giftshop. I wanted to give you a heads-up that we’ll be talking to the local folks to find out what they know.”
“I appreciate the call, Detective, but I recommend you wait until I get there.”
“Randy and Millie Pilsner aren’t real keen on cops in general, but they’re even more suspicious of out-of-town law enforcement. They tend to shoot first, answer questions later.” She could hear the sounds of a vehicle starting in the background. “If you give me ten minutes, I can be there and smooth the way a bit. They aren’t your suspects?”
“Not currently. We had a source say the next clue in our ring would be left here in one of the mailboxes in front of the Star Gate. We just wanted to ask if they’d seen anything.”
Wolffe laughed, a rich, rolling sound that made the hair stand on the back of her neck. “Oh, they’ve seen stuff, all right, but it might not be stuff most folks take for granted. I’ll be there in less than ten.”
“Yeah, okay.” She hung up the phone and shoved it in her pocket, looking for her partner. He’d returned to the car despite the heat so he could read his screen. “What did you find out?”
“Looks like the coordinates point to somewhere in the Pahrump area. Over the mountains to the southwest.”
“Shit.” She shook her head. “We’ll head that way after we talk to the owners of the Star Gate. Apparently, they don’t like cops, so we’ll wait on the sheriff. Glory knows, I don’t want to get shot by alien aficionados or government conspiracy theorists. You know Area 51 is just northeast of us in those hills?”
“Yeah. If I see any flashing lights at night, I’ll be sure to get pictures.” Daniels smirked as he shook his head. “Hopefully the sheriff will be a little more down-to-earth.”
Cassie groaned. “Funny.”
“You can just beam me up.” He winked.
There you have it. And I got some inspiration about where this will show up in my series. Stop by the following other flash fiction authors below. Happy reading and happy April!