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12:56 a.m. Nationwide News Broadcast, CNN
“Now, we have our most unusual story. Today, at 12:27 a.m., a local girl got on an elevator at Reagan National Airport. The elevator went up one floor. There was a malfunction, and the elevator stopped between floors for one minute and eleven seconds. When the elevator reached its destination, it was empty. There was no one else on the elevator.
“The girl--Charlotte Jonsen--is 14 years old. She was, according to other passengers on her airplane, wearing grey sweatpants with the word “capitols” on it, and a blue sweatshirt with the words “Kettlar iceplex” written on it in silver. She was pulling a green skate tote, and was carrying a brown suitcase. She is Canadian. Her hair is light brown and long, and her eyes are bright green.
“Charlotte, if you are watching, please call 703-837-9284. If anyone has seen Charlotte, call 703-583-2019. Thank you for watching.”
2:13 a.m. Arlington, VA, Virginia Square Metro Stop
Lindsay’s phone rang, a loud tinkling sound that echoed off the walls of the cavernous metro stop. She yawned, and unzipped her fleece’s pocket to rescue the vibrating object from being consumed in the depths of tissues and gum wrappers. It was too early for anyone to be calling. Lindsay shivered. And too cold.
The phone rang again, ever diligent in its pursuit of her rapt attention, and this time the pressed accept on the touch screen, hoping almost reverently that it would be someone easy.
“Yeah? This is Lindsay.”
“Hello Lindsay. This is Jill”
Lindsay groaned inwardly. Jill was too much to take in so early. She pushed herself deeper into her fleece.
“What is it, Jill?”
“You need to get here. Now. The boss wants all of us.”
“Can’t he just start? It’s not like I’m gonna get anything important.”
“All of us Lindsay. The Canadian ambassador’s daughter is missing.”
2:19 a.m. Arlington, VA, Reagan National Airport
“Step away, miss, we’re not letting anyone else near the elevator!”
Tori Jonsen looks up. “But it was my sister!”
“Rules are rules, miss, we don’t want anyone else gone!”
Tori snorts at him. “But how can you turn me away? It was my sister!” Her eyes fill with tears. “Please,” she murmurs, “just for a moment?”
He gives in at last after five more minutes of pleading, and leads her to the elevator.
2:34 a.m. Washington, DC, Police central station
The door beeped as Lindsay pushed it open. “Name, please,” chided the metallic sounding voice.
Lindsay held her badge up to the grid of red lines on the wall.
“It better be,” Lindsay chuckled. The first time she had been to the station, the scanner hadn’t recognized her badge. Everyone inside had thought that she was breaking in. The morning had concluded with hours of interviews and finding out that Jill had had yet to put her name in the system.
Jill was going to be mad at her. Great! Lindsay thought. Jill is so gonna yell at me in front of the whole station! Just super!
As Lindsay walked into the room, she braced herself for the cacophonous rush of hollers. They didn’t come. She scurried over to her desk, and began scanning the crime report on the screen of her laptop. It was hideous. Line upon line of writing, no photos, everything to indicate that Rob wasn’t doing the writing as usual, but that some wave of super-literary being had just migrated to the earth.
A young man walked into the room. “’’K, so we got us a new case!” he enthused, plucking a pen from a canister and jabbing the smartboard with it.
“The Canadian… well just read your crime reports.”
Lindsay skimmed hers, and was nearly at the bottom when she saw three words highlighted in red: ‘Posted at elevator’.
A field job.
12:02 a.m. Arlington VA, outside of Reagan National Airport
The plane lands and I slip my book into my backpack, wondering what fate the girl-knight will come to. I can’t wait to see mom and dad and Tori. A shiver runs through my body. The time is passing too slowly.
3:09 a.m. Arlington VA, Reagan National Airport
Tori wanders over officer to security. A worried looking young police officer is talking to a dramatic young woman. Despite the circumstances, Tori smiles. The woman looks like Celeste des Fleurs.
3:09 Arlington VA, Reagan National Airport
“Why can you not let me go? I tell you, I see nozing! Why do you keep me? I do not know anyzing!” Celeste stopped for breath and wondered what to say next. “I be movie star, no?”
“No! I mean yes1 But Miss Fleurs…”
“Not Miss Fleurs, zat is too formal. It is la Celeste. Zee Celeste.”
“Yes. Okay. Well, the Celeste, did you see anything?”
“I tell you. No.”
From: Robert Billin
To: Lara Enfry
Subject: Elevator Records
Time: 3:39 a.m.
DCA El2 <press/2/on/1><go/up><stop/1/min/11/sec><go/up><stop/2><go/down/1>
4:01 a.m. Arlington, VA, Reagan National Airport
A young female police officer introduces herself as Rachael and leads Tori over to the security station.
“So. Do you know anything?”
Tori shakes her head.
“Noting? Nothing your sister saw in Canada that might have led to her kidnapping? Oh! Would the coach of the opposing skating team kidnap Charlotte?”
“No. I mean, I don’t think so…” Tori is decidedly uncomfortable.
“Anything. Anything strange. Anything. Try to remenber. The last time you were in Canada did anything happen?”
A shard of memory floats into Tori’s mind, suddenly. “ Well, miss, um… last time we were in Canada, we… Char saw a group of men who seemed kind of… hostile. Does that help?”
Rachael is already on her way out the door.
4:26 a.m. Arlington VA, Reagan National Airport
An Overall View
Lindsay Scott and Jill Amert sit on chairs on the balcony of the second floor.
Celeste des Fleurs is carrying on with her histrionics in the first floor security station.
Lara Enfry and a team of tech workers sit at a bank of computers in the basement trying to understand why the elevator stopped.
Rachael Maron sits outside in a police car, waiting for anything strange to happen.
Tori Jonsen paces the small security room in which Rachael has accidentally has locked her.
And high above the airport, in a helicopter, a Quebecois pilot, three men in grey, and a young girl with light brown hair and brilliant green eyes sit in wait.
4:43 a.m. Arlington, VA, Reagan National Airport
“We have motion!”
Lindsay startled at the sound of the voice in her earpiece. “Then get it up here! Jill and I are waiting,” she shouted into the tiny microphone. All other thoughts drained out of her head.
A metallic hiss filled the room. The door to the elevator slid open, and there, silhouetted by the lamp in the elevator, stood Charlotte Jonsen.
5:34 a.m. Arlington VA, Outside Reagan National Airport
It’s all so fast. One minute I’m sitting in a helicopter, the next I’m sitting in a police car with Tori and my parents. Somewhere in between there was a bright flash and a metallic shriek, but now all there is, is the quiet babble of Tori and the police officer.
I strain to hear them.
“Lindsay, who took Char? D’you know?”
That’s Tori, her light musical voice, the way she ends her questions with a slightly higher pitch.
“Well, Tori, I really don’t. But I have a theory…”
Tori’s voice is impatient.
“Rachael told me about the men Char saw. I think they’re Quebecois, trying to run the country.”
The theory seems ridiculous, even to me who doesn’t understand politics.
Lindsay goes on.
“Okay, so, if these guys saw Char seeing them, then they would think she knew something. Then they would kidnap you. Plus, if they held her long enough, the ambassador would turn over the embassy to them, and then it’s only a little step to the whole of Canada.”
“How’d they get in the elevators?”
“New government technology. Classified. I shouldn’t be telling you.”
She’s given this some thought.
“So will you catch them?”
“Maybe. If Char cooperates.”
“Really? Well, I’m sure she will.”
“She’s the center in this. If she helps us, we have much more of a chance of finding them than if she doesn’t.”
“I hope we find them.”
Don’t worry Tori. We will.