“The time is 10:17pm, present in the room are D.I. Keaton and Judy Skelton. Judy, your friend, Lusha Thompson, was reported missing at approximately 8:10pm earlier this evening. Can you tell me what happened?”
A harsh wind tacked the sea wall, just above the rocky coast where the two girls sat. Between them, a large McDonald’s fries which they picked at as they spoke, watching the waves feebly attempt to reach them.
“What do you make of him then?” the dark haired one asked as she undid her school tie and shoved it in her backpack.
“Lucas?” the other girl inquired, not waiting for a response. “Yeah, I mean, he seems nice enough. Annie seems happy.” She turned to her friend, a smirk occupying her face. “Why don’t you like him then?”
“Who says I don’t like him! I like him fine, he bought us all a McDonald’s on the way here, that was…. nice.”
“Lusha I can tell you don’t like him.”
“I just think,” Lusha replied, finally reciprocating her friend's grin, “that Annie is great and beautiful and very smartand as her friend I just want the best for her.”
“And, Jude, this Lucas guy isn’t on her-,” she gesticulated into the air for a moment, “intellectual level, shall we say.” she concluded at last.
Judy laughed incredulously. “You little bitch.”
“How am I!”
“You just called Annie’s new boyfriend a dumbass.” she said, still smiling at Lusha.
“Those were not my words!”
“You just called Annie’s new boyfriend a stupid little dipshit, and I’m totally going to tell her.”
Lusha leaned over and shoved her best friend, a faux fight quickly ensuing with mock punches being thrown past each other’s ears. The waves watched their shenanigans and the sky was darkening above them.
“I hope she doesn’t drag him along every time we go out from now on.” Lusha said, laying back on the rocks as clouds shifted quickly to conceal the moon.
“Hey you all right?” Judy asked, shuffling closer to her. “You’ve been acting kind of weird today.”
Lusha was quiet for a moment, her face stoic. Then she smiled again. “Yeah, yeah I’m fine, just sick of giving you and Annie lifts every time we want to go out.”
And so, the conversation continued, leaving the accusation of Lusha acting ‘a bit weird’ forgotten. Some time passed before Lusha’s phone ringing interrupted the conversation.
“One sec,” she said quickly to Judy, pulling the phone out of her pocket. “Hello? Oh. Wait hold on.” She gave an apologetic look before getting up and walking out of earshot. Judy watched curiously as her friend paced back and forth over the pebbles.
“What was that about?” Judy enquired loudly as Lusha ended the call and came walking back towards where she sat after only a few minutes.
“Nothing.” she replied with confidence, but the look of unease inhabiting her face suggested otherwise. “Watch my bag for me for a sec, I need a piss,” she continued, making her way towards the steps behind where Judy sat.
“You want me to come with you?” Judy yelled after her, concerned.
“It’s chill, Annie will be there anyway.”
She climbed the stone steps out of sight.
“And that was the last you saw of her?”
“Yes.” Judy answered, shifting in her seat nervously; the atmosphere of being questioned in a police station was daunting one. D.I Keaton shuffled through some papers. She had high cheekbones and thin black hair, the wrinkles on her forehead and drooping eyes giving away that she was weathered by stress.
“And you have no idea who that phone call was from?”
“No.” she paused for a moment. “You can find out though, can’t you? The police, like, you can trace the call?”
“Eventually we should be able to, yes. Alright, continue the events of the evening from where you left off please.”
After about half an hour, Judy finally got up from where she was playing on her phone and went to look for Lusha. Assuming she had ran into Annie and Lucas and somehow got distracted, Judy climbed the stone steps to go find her three friends.
She cut through the car park, feeling sorry for herself that her friends seemed to have forgotten about her, when she noticed what would be the first of many red flags. A shattered phone on the floor, abandoned next to a cigarette butt in the middle of the car park. Judy picked it up, the shining photo of Lusha, Judy and Annie smiling on the home screen serving as confirmation; it was Lusha’s phone. Confused, she pocketed it and doubled back towards where Lusha’s car was parked, a rather beat up looking Coursa she’d got for her seventeenth birthday. No one was inside.
The sky above her was now completely dark, typical of the early February evening. It must have fallen out of her pocket and smashed on her way to the toilets Judy concluded, quickly continuing her route towards the small building. Doubt crawled up the back of her neck. Something didn’t feel right. Trying to ignore this feeling, she picked up the pace. Lusha’s mum was going to kill her for smashing her phone, she affirmed herself, trying to drown her worry in something more trivial.
Annie was leaning against the wall outside the toilets and Judy breathed a sigh of relief. She was shorter than the other two, with coyly black hair thrown up into a top knot, dark skin and defined eyebrows she had perfected with concealer.
“Alright?” Judy smiled at her.
Annie smiled back. “Yeah, sorry we dipped for so long we were just about to make our way back. Where’s Lusha?”
Judy’s heart dropped.
Keaton held up her hand to interrupt, taking a moment to scribble something down.
“Um- D.I. Keaton?” Judy asked tentatively.
“Do you think we’ll find her?”
Keaton gave a poor attempt at a reassuring smile. “We’ll do everything we can.”