”Must you really be so stubborn, Nox ? ” asked mother.

Well, it was not that I was being stubborn; I just didn want to go in the middle of the forest for an entire night for a camping trip.

”As I said, mom, I don like going outdoors. Why would I even want to go out when we have such a nice house . ” I argued.

”It is about the experience, Nox. You can get the same experience if you are clumped up inside a room all day . ” Mother said as she tried her best to convince me.

”I promise I will come next time, mother. Please let me stay home this time. ” I replied even though I knew that I would say the same thing the next time as well.

”But you know that our trip won be as joyful without yo- ”

”Let us let him stay home tonight, darling, all of us know that Nox isn the outgoing type. But, Nox, you have to promise me that you will come with us next time. ” Said Father in his usual calm tone.

”Of course, Father! I promise I will come next time ! ” I promised father.

”See you soon, honey! I love you ! ” Mom said as father loaded the bags into the car.

”I love you too, mom! ”

Mother and father drove off. I kept standing at the gate as their car got further away.

Wait! Somethings off! Why couldn I feel the cold night air? Why couldn I breathe?

My eyes abruptly opened!

Was it a dream? Why is my face wet? Tears? No way!

My mother and father went missing 14 years ago. When I was twelve, I searched for them; when I was sixteen, I still searched for them. When I was twenty, I took up a private detective job to search for them using more resources. They said that they would come back soon but never showed up again!

What do I have to show for all my investigations? Nothing! Nothing at all! Mother and Father must have passed away. That is the only sensible conclusion. Why? Then why do I hope that they will come back? I do not know.

I need to move on! I need to focus on my life. I must ensure that what happened to me doesn happen to anybody else. That is the other reason I took up this job as a private detective.

Right then, my alarm started going off. Thats right! I needed to meet up with a client today.

Its 7 am; I have enough time to work out and head for my office.

After turning off the alarm, it was time for my daily morning routine. There existed an empty space in my apartment that should have been filled with furniture to greet people. However, humans seldom visited me.

In my finite wisdom, I turned it into my personal training and exercise space. My self-challenge of 100 pushups, 100 situps, and a 5-kilometer run on the treadmill had to be completed in 55-60 minutes before practicing essential martial arts. Nothing like a daily exercise regime to wake my soul.

Looking out of the open windows while I exercised, there wasn much scenery except into the living rooms of fellow neighbors. Then again, the airflow and circulation were excellent for the sourish stench of my sweat. Any foul smell could dissipate in my living room without needing room deodorants. I took a quick shower to freshen up, fried a few eggs for protein, and popped the bread into the toaster.

While leaning against the kitchen cabinet, a glance at todays newspaper was enough to convince me that it was the same old news and gossip. Same stuff, different day.

What even defines news nowadays? News about the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. Politics and promises. Gossips about idols and stars. Why did the newspaper even bother with such mundane trivialities?

After wearing my usual work clothes, including a black shirt with black jeans and a black Inverness cape, I slid my phone into my pocket, locked the door, and headed for the parking garage. Working as a private investigator didn pay very well if you didn take bribes. That was why I lived in such an abandoned neighborhood and owned such a run-down car.

Nobody with a brain would believe that one of the top 10 private detectives in City-A would be traveling in such a car and living in such a neighborhood.

Well, I need to work with what I have.

My parents were well off, but I used up all their money to find their whereabouts after they disappeared. However, it didn do anything other than make money vanish into thin air.

I was lost in my thoughts when I realized I had reached my office. Well, I guess my body knew how to come here without thinking.

My office was in the center of City-A along with the offices of most other private investigators, it wasn the most spectacular, but it was passable. Unlocking the door to my office, I was welcomed by the pleasant smell that my office somehow acquired, as well as the white walls and the wood-paneled floor. I seated myself behind my super comfortable chair that was placed right behind my desk, made of fine wood. I reviewed information about the client before she came in.

Her name was Marie Vladson . Twenty-two years old. Belonging to a political family. She was currently studying mechanical engineering at the most prestigious university in City-A.

She mentioned the reason she wanted to meet me was a secret and could only be shared in person.

The door opened as a tall woman with blonde hair and fair skin entered my office. She wore a black shirt with a yellow court and a pale yellow skirt. An expensive leather bag was hanging from her shoulder.

A red scar showed from beneath her court sleeve. Marie realized that I noticed it and quickly pulled her sleeve down without a word.

”Ms Vladson, I presume? ” I inquired.

”Nice to meet you, Mr. Nox Mill. My name is Marie Vladson, ” replied Marie.

”People don usually come to me to exchange pleasantries; please do take a seat Ms Vladson. ”

Marie stared at me for a second, then shook her head as if recollecting her thoughts. She sat on the cushioned oak chair right in front of the table.

”I need to speak with you about a matter of the utmost secrecy. May I put my faith in you? ” Asked Marie with eyes that looked like she was examining me.

”Whether or not to trust me is up to you, Ms Vladson. But, I can promise you that whatever you tell me will remain in this room . ”

Marie breathed a sigh of relief, ”Its about my father, Mayor of City-A, John Vladson. ”

I made an expression as if I was intrigued. John Vladson, if a corrupt politician ever existed, it would be him. He had numerous cases against him but using his place of power and influence, the issues would often be buried as soon as they rose. Even I had investigated him several times but ended up empty-handed. John Vladson was inhumanly discrete when committing crimes.

”My Father, he does horrible things. I decided to turn a blind eye to him but not anymore! Jesse! Jesse! He killed Jesse- ” Marie suddenly broke into tears.

”Calm down, please. I will be unable to help you if you don tell me what happened ”

”Jesse was my boyfr-, my friend. One day he came to me saying Father had done something terrible; the next day, he went missing along with 2 of his friends. I searched for him everywhere, called all our mutual friends but found nothing. ” Marie managed to say amidst her crying.

”Why do you think he is dead then? ” I inquired.

”I heard my father telling someone over the phone o take care of some problem in the usual way; that was the day Jesse went missing! ”

”I understand what your case is, Ms Vladson. May I see a photo of Jesse ? ”

Marie held up a phone showing the photo of a young man with black hair and tanned skin. He was wearing blue jeans and a white shirt. He also had a tattoo running down his entire right arm.

I inquired Marie some more about the events of the day and about Jesse. Marie then handed me an advance payment of around 200,000 citz. She then walked out of the office feeling relieved that she could talk about a burden she had been carrying.

{Comparison : 1 Dollar = 100 Citz )

Looking up Jesse in the city records, I noticed that he was originally from America, then moved to City-A not long ago. He had no known family associations. He was a musician who played in bars and pubs.

Well, it looks like I have work to do.

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