12

What little visibility Director Grey had in his basement prison had long but vanished since it had gotten dark outside. There was no way in or out, was there? Surely there had to have been, or else he wouldn't have been put there in the first place. Had he not had has hands bound behind his back, it might have been a bit easier to navigate his surroundings before and devise a plan for escape. For now, he would simply have to improvise.

After a few moments, his eyes began to adjust to the darkness. He could just barely make out the walls surrounding him, boxes scattered about, a hot water heater, and a staircase. Perhaps if he slid along the floor, he could see how far the stairs went, or if there was a source of light nearby. No, it would be easier if he stood up to navigate.

Director Grey rolled over a few times until his back was against the wall, then in a corner. This way, he could at least have enough support to hoist himself up. Though it took a few attempts, this method proved to be successful. He simply needed to be steady and move slowly. About halfway up, the uneven concrete blocks began to tear holes in Grey's tweed blazer. This was the last possible thing he would have wanted, but his appearance was the least of his concern at the moment.

Though a bit unbalanced, Grey had no trouble standing at this point. He would just need to walk around slowly. From here, he could attempt to move around the boxes and magazines scattered along the floor. He was able to determine when he reached the center of the basement once a bead chain struck him in the face. There was his light source. Grey moved his head about until he could grasp the bead chain with his teeth. Then he gave it a tug. Nothing at first. After a few minutes, though, the light bulb hanging above started to glow- gradually becoming brighter.

Now, Grey could clearly see where he was. The hot water heater was leaking and a bit rusted, which would explain the musty smell. Most of the boxes had water damage. The ripped magazine pages under his feet were stained and moldy, but he could still make out a few pictures. The magazine cover, lying only a few feet away, was for an issue of Good Housekeeping, dated 1946. Whoever it was that owned this house hadn't cleaned this basement for over forty years.

Grey then looked in one of the boxes closest to where he was standing. He would do his best not to move too much in order to reduce his risk of falling over. Inside of the box were a few old photographs. Most of them were of scenery, like lakes and cornfields. One in particular, however, caught his attention. Though he could have been wrong, he was sure it was of a person. Very carefully, Grey tipped the box over with his foot, spilling the photos into the floor. Now he could certainly identify the picture's mystery subject. Now that he could see the whole of the box's contents, he immediately realized that many of them were of Helene.

Using his feet to scatter the photographs about, he found Helene and Martin's wedding pictures. It almost seemed abominable that they appeared so happy in each of them. Grey could clearly remember when Helene had first met Martin Glass. She was seventeen, and he was working in the local supermarket at the time. They had dated for a month and a half until Martin joined the police academy. Then, they spent a few weeks corresponding by letter, or telephone, depending on who was using the line. A few of the neighbors had complained about how long they had to wait before making a call, since Helene would often spend hours talking with Martin in the evenings.

Helene and Martin were married in November of 1946, shortly after he graduated from the police academy- that would definitely explain the magazines. The first month seemed to be fairly normal. Helene had called her family regularly, she had even visited them for Christmas. Grey recalled that Helene and Martin had given him a Lionel train set that year. It would be one of the last few times he would see his older sister alive, however.

Some time after the beginning of the following year, Helene found out she was unable to have children. Grey could recall Helene coming over to their mother's house in tears. She had always wanted to have a child of her own, Martin wanted them to have a son that could carry his legacy as a police officer. From that point forward, their marriage had turned sour. At least, that's what Grey had determined. He had asked about it once, but his mother quickly told him to drop the subject. It was rude for one- especially a child- to meddle in another individual's personal affairs. He and their family had heard from Helene less often. A few more months had passed, though it seemed a bit longer, and then Helene was found dead.

Grey's memories of Helene's death were vague, though he did remember being dropped off with his younger brother, Louis, at his grandparent's house. They would end up staying for a few days. It was early summer, so he didn't have to go to school. One early morning, his mother and father came to pick them up, they were dressed in black. Soon, Grey and his brother were stuffed into suits as well. They drove to a cathedral, then Grey finally saw Helene, dressed in lilac organdy and lying in a coffin. He had thought she was sleeping. His pleas for her to wake up, however, were futile. After being shushed, then spanked, Grey had to sit through his older sister's funeral in tearful silence. Louis was only three-years-old and didn't understand what was going on. He slept on their mother's lap.

Throughout the ceremony, he paid more attention to Martin Glass than he did his aunt, Sybil's, shaky eulogy. Martin Glass sat there, his face blank, while his late wife's family mourned with quiet sniffles and whines. Grey had thought Martin should have been reacting the same way. He didn't press the issue, however, figuring he might be scolded. Still, he thought Martin was being too calm.

From then on, Grey had always believed Martin Glass was responsible for Helene's death. His entire family did. Naturally, their attempts to report it to the police were ignored. Martin Glass was an upstanding officer, they said. He was completely incapable of doing such a thing. Eventually, they did change her cause of death from accidental to homicide due to cyanide poisoning, but that wouldn't happen until many years later. By that point, Grey had already been halfway through college.

Time passed, and Martin Glass was remarried to a woman named Laverne, who suspiciously gave birth to a son only five months later. It turned out that they were having an affair not too long before Helene died. Grey spent his days in isolation. He poured his time and energy into studying science and medicine. Louis turned in a different direction and went down a more modest path as a door-to-door salesman as their father had done.

Grey knew his lifelong feelings of unnecessary melancholy were all a product of his inability to mourn over Helene. His parents died without knowing what truly happened to her, Louis had been too young to remember her, so he was mostly unaffected.

One thing Grey couldn't get his head around, however, was why someone had decided to keep him here of all places. It could have been a tactic for breaking his morale, but all it did was cement his theory that Martin Glass was, indeed responsible. There was no feasible way he could have brought him to the basement, much less be living independently, he would have had to be nearly seventy by now. But, whoever it was that did put Grey here obviously knew about Helene and what actually transpired. Otherwise, none of this would have happened.

Grey heard a noise from the ceiling above him. Someone had entered the house. He took a step back from the box of photographs. He lost his footing when he slipped on one of the magazine pages, causing him to fall backwards. He tucked his head in towards his chest to keep it from hitting the concrete floor. He still made a bit of noise on the way down, though- obviously enough for the person upstairs to come down to the basement to investigate.

He only had an ounce of hope that it would be Sandra- or any other person looking for him for that matter- coming here to rescue him. Instead, it was a man with broad shoulders wearing a white undershirt and black slacks. "You trying to escape?" he asked, cracking his knuckles. Grey shook his head. "I don't believe it." the man said. He lifted his foot and firmly pressed it onto Grey's chest. The man bent over and spit in Grey's face. "I could crush you and nobody would care." Grey took a good look at the man hovering over him. He looked a lot like Martin Glass. "Who are you?" Grey heaved, unable to catch his breath. "None of your business, old man." his captor replied.

The man took his foot off of Grey's chest, then he picked him up by the lapels on his blazer, causing it to tear more. He drug him across the floor and slammed him into the wall face first. Grey felt a sharp pain in his nose, then he suddenly became congested. Blood poured onto his shirt and the floor. All Grey could wonder is if Helene had gone through this when she was alive. If that was the case, then perhaps he deserved to be treated the same way. He couldn't help her then, she couldn't help him now.

How long would it be, really, until he met his own demise? His captor repeatedly kicked him in the ribs. A few of them must have been broken by now, as Grey felt it increasingly difficult to breathe. The only thing he could hope for now is that Sandra had found the photo in the drawer. In the very least, she would know where to begin in finding him. Then again, however, she was in the process of trying to locate someone else when he had last seen her.

Though he was quite reluctant to trust Sandra in the first place, Grey knew she was the only one of his employees intuitive and determined enough to get closure on Helene's case. Perhaps he would do something for Sandra once she completed her assignment. It would have to be something professional and appropriate, since he liked neither giving gifts or favors, nor was he one to show any favoritism towards any of his subordinates. Perhaps a small raise, or a new, hand-picked assistant would be in order. Dudley had quit only after a few days of working with Sandra, and the biology department had already received the funding for there to be two employees in the postmortem department.

And yet, all these things seemed secondary. What did it matter how many people were working in a basement, slicing up dead bodies? At any time, Grey could easily be the next corpse on a mortician's slab. His captor was definitely trying to make sure of it, at the rate he was pummeling Grey into the wall, then the hot water heater... But that couldn't happen, Helene's murder had to be solved first. Now, he needed to worry more about staying alive, at least until he was found- if someone, anyone at this point, knew where to look.