Where is Mary J Louis?
"I know Mary J Louis" the figure spoke
"What? Where is she? Tell me!" Andrew couldnt believe what he heard.
"I cant tell you, man"
"Why? Whats happened to her? Say something!" Andrew couldnt understand.
"If I told you, then my life would be over the next second and so would yours"
"Ill take you to the cops for holding evidence"
"Itll be your word against mine"
Andrew gripped the figure by the collar and spoke through gritted teeth "Ill kill you if you dont tell me"
"You wont kill me cause you need me!"
Andrew dropped the man and sighed in disgust. He was right. He could do nothing. Mary was gone and this man was possibly the only clue he had to finding her.
After regaining some composure Andrew began interrogating the man in the shadows again "So can you help me or not?"
"For the right price and conditions, Id go to hell"
"Tell me what you want and I will get it for you"
"Ok. But I wont help you here. Come to the Ritz at 5AM tomorrow and Ill tell you what I need" said the shadow and then walked off, never leaving the shadows.
"But " Andrew tried to speak, but his voice trailed away with the shadow-man. He now had to live another night not knowing where Mary was or what had happened to her. Each day and each night killed him, yet all that he could do was wait.
It had been two weeks since Mary had disappeared. She was at her flat at 10 in the morning talking to Andrew and the next thing he knew was that she suddenly cut the phone. When he got to her flat, he saw that it had been ravaged and she wasnt there. He had been to the police but they did nothing. There was nothing they could do. They had no real evidence that she had been kidnapped or anything like that. There were no clues, no signs that would point them in any particular direction. But Andrew still searched. He had been all over the city and had found nothing, until today. He was walking down an empty road when the figure in the shadows spoke. Now there was some hope, but would it help him live through another night not knowing where Mary was?
Mary was Andrews fiancée. Their marriage had been scheduled for the next day, at seven oclock at the Ritz. And he didnt even know where she was. But the shadow-man did. He chose the Ritz for a reason. He knew what was going on. All good sense in Andrew told him not to trust the figure of the shadows. But Andrews heart was controlling him now and he knew that he would do anything to get Mary back.
Andrew walked along the empty street and realised that he had never known what it was like to be alone until Mary disappeared. Just knowing that she was there at the other end of the city helped him live. The knowledge that she was there and that she was okay helped him live every second in her absence. But now he knew nothing.
Andrew spent the night at a homeless shelter, although he had a penthouse flat in a much better area of the city. But he looked more like a homeless person with an unshaven face and clothes that had been lived in for days. He had lost all his dignity as a rich businessman. He was going crazy and he didnt know what would happen next in his life.
Andrew got up at 4AM the next morning in an uncomfortable bed among people who didnt have a penny to their name. He walked out of the shelter and made his way to the Ritz. Some early joggers looked at Andrew and jogged away as fast as they could. But Andrew didnt care. All he was bothered about was Mary. He had to find her even if it was the last thing he would do. She had become an addiction for him. And he did not want to lose that addiction, like any addict.
He made it to the Ritz just before the appointed time. He had walked a fair distance to get there and he hadnt walked too fast either. He was lost in thought. He would have walked past the Ritz had he not seen a sign that he had put up "Welcome to the day Andrew and Mary are united forever". He hadnt cancelled the wedding. Everyone would turn up and find no marriage. Just plenty of free food.
Andrew knew that he wouldnt be allowed into the Ritz in his state, so he just waited outside, out of the sight of the doormen. He checked if he still had his watch or if it had been stolen. It was still there, a 14-carat Rolex watch that Mary had somehow got for him. It was exactly 5AM. He looked up and saw an empty street. Just then a black Rolls Royce appeared. There was something strange about it. He looked at it and stood up with astonishment. Mary was staring through the window and trying to call him.
"Mary !" Andrew shouted and tried to run after the car. He ran and ran as if he were running for his very life. She was looking at him helplessly through the back window. She was banging on the glass and screaming. Andrew ran, but couldnt run fast enough. He stopped, realising that it was fruitless. There was no license plate except for the words "Wait at the hotel!" on the bumper. He started to make his way back to the hotel, always looking back to check if the car would re-appear. When he reached the hotel, there was a package at the place he was standing and it was addressed to Andrew. It was Marys handwriting!
He tore open the package and found a newspaper. It was dated for the next day, the 15th of March. He checked the paper to see something but there was nothing. He was lost. He walked off to find a place where he could sit and figure out what had happened.
He found an alley nearby and stopped there, preferring the shadows of the garbage. He didnt mind the smell, because he couldnt smell anything. He read through the paper. The headlines were of the previous days paper, but the date was of the next day. In fact, the paper was the previous days paper. Each article had been dated for the 13th. Andrew carefully scanned through each page in the paper looking for some clue or just something. He made his way and finally found what he was looking for. It was the obituary section. There was one specifically dated for the "Ides of March". It read:
"Mary Josephine Louis was declared dead today
Her dead body was found floating in the harbour
She was reported dead by Andrew Hunt
A memorial will be conducted at the St. Pauls Cathedral at 7AM on the 14th
Visitors are advised to bring 10 million dollars for a donation"
Andrew knew where the cathedral was. It would take him two hours to get there if he walked. And he had to get to a bank before that and withdraw 10 million dollars. He checked his pockets for money, but he had none left so he couldnt get a bus or use the subway and he didnt have the time to go to his flat and get his car. The cathedral was on the outskirts of the city. He would have to run if he wanted to get there because he had less than an hour and a half till the "memorial". So he got up, put the paper in his coat pocket and ran on to the nearest bank.
The kidnappers knew about him. They had specifically chosen 7AM and had chosen the cathedral because it was very old and quite run down. Hence, it was empty most of the time. The perfect place to commit the perfect crime. But he had to try to get Mary back or he would never find out. He stopped at the nearest 24-hour bank and used his photo-credit card to get past the doubting security guards and into the managers office. There he said that he needed the money VERY urgently and within half an hour was out. He now had the money, but he only had an hour left till the "memorial".
Andrew started running. He ran as fast as he could, and probably faster. He hadnt had a meal for two days and was starving, but he couldnt care. All he knew was that he was going to save Mary after all this time. All he could think about was whether she would still be alive and if the kidnappers would let her go once he gave them the money. He just kept on running. He knew that he would collapse any second but he just kept on running, with nothing but the picture of Mary in the car in his mind.
He made it to the church, ready to die of exhaustion, yet he was kept alive just by hope. He entered the cathedral through the side and saw a man dressed like a priest, surrounded by what would be the coffin bearers. The only difference was that these coffin bearers were carrying guns. They all surrounded a coffin, which had a pipe propped out of it. Andrew guessed that was where they had Mary.
Suddenly he felt a prod in his back. He turned around and saw a friendly gun-bearing kidnapper who gestured for him to walk towards the other gun-bearers. Andrew slowly made his way across the path towards the coffin. When he reached the coffin, one of the gun-bearers stopped him. The priest came up to Andrew and said, "Do you have a donation for the dead?"
"Yes. I have brought 10 million dollars", Andrew said.
"Very good. You are so kind, as a gift I would give life back to that soul. Hand me the money"
Andrew gave the money to the priest, who looked at it and said "Very good. I will leave the soul for you so you may be reunited with her" The priest and his gun-bearers walked away until Andrew was alone. Andrew then rushed to the coffin and opened it. He expected to see Mary there. And there she was fast asleep. She slept the sleep of an angel. A bullet had been sent through her heart. She had gone and this time she wouldnt be coming back. This time he had lost her forever.