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Detective Diana Ballard and her partner, Detective Pete Sheridan had arrived to a desolate country neighborhood in the very far outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland. The undercover squad car had been driving for almost an hour through unpaved backroads winding ridiculously through the trees before they arrived at the shabby cabin they were looking for.

The roof’s wood edges were broken due to rot with a few boards hanging perilously by single nails against the side of the house. Cobwebs against the corners of the house were visible from ten feet away, the porch poles were bent outwards swaying slightly in the wind and the windows were pitch black like a demon’s eyes. The neighbors were at least a few miles away in each direction and the trees provided thick, dark shade that blocked the bright spring sun and gave an atmosphere of doom around the property.

It really looked like a place where a serial killer would stay and ironically that was that the two detectives were hoping for.

While Baltimore is no stranger to crime and murder, recently the local PD had reason to believe that a serial killer was in their midst. Diana and Pete had been put on the case and for the last few months had been working night and day to find any lead on their unsub, who they have identified as a white male between the ages of mid-30s to late-50s. They have yet to catch the killer but through extensive research, they linked a possible connection to the unsub currently residing on this piece of land that has been unoccupied for many years now.

So, here they were, going into what was probably a haunted house looking for a serial killer.

Diana, though knowing that it was necessary to do so in order to move forwards on the case, also felt that what they were about to do was extremely stupid. She was not one to rush in blindly into any situation, which made her damn good at her job, but part of her was frustrated with the distinct lack of leads cluttering her office cubicle. There was also that familiar instinct that was insisting she go into that house though it refused to provide her any reasons why. It was an instinct gained through a decade of training and experience on the field as a detective and one that saved many lives, including her own, even if it was annoying at the best of times.

Diana followed Pete out of the car, checking that her gun and badge were hidden but in positions of easy access, before moving towards the front of the cabin. When she stepped onto the porch, the wood floorboards creaked dangerously in warning and Diana winced as she continued to tread lightly until she comfortably reached the door.

She grasped the old silver knocker, the center knob shaped with the head of a creepy screaming woman, and banged it forcefully three times. There was no response which led Diana to knock again while also stating loudly, “This is the police. Open the door or we will come in by force.” Again, there was no sound for several minutes, except for a light shuffling that was assumed to be the wind against the leaves.

With a look towards her partner, Diana took her trusty Glock out of its holster as Pete did the same, before stepping back to let him kick down the door.

Surprisingly, the door was tougher than its appearance gave and only dented an inch against Pete’s boots. He grunted in surprise and almost fell back as he struggled to regain his balance. Diana tried to not laugh at him as he scowled, gifting the door with a challenging stare. He stepped back, geared up, and managed to bring the door down the second time. It fell down with a groan and the two detectives entered the abode in formation, with Pete in point and Diana taking the rear.

She was surprised to find that the inside of the cabin was spectacularly clean for being supposedly abandoned. She did not see a single speck of dust or cobweb anywhere and automatically felt kind of bad for messing up the front entrance. Which was ridiculous since it was probably a serial killer with an obsessive need to clean his space who lived here.

But besides that, the rest of the cabin was not much to look at all.

The door they just rudely entered from was in middle of the cabin and was enclosed in what was supposed to be a sort of mud room, which consisted of two single four feet of wall on either side of it. Shoes were scattered against the left wall as well as an umbrella rack on the right wall. Leaving the mud room showed it was a one room cabin of about thirty feet in length and width, with a hideous floral curtain that divided the main space on the left with the bedroom area behind it on the right. On the back wall there was, surprisingly, a large flat screen tv with a small table hosting, and to the right of it, just before the curtain, was an open door that showed a bathroom inside. There was an old, threadbare couch in the middle of the left side of the room facing the tv on the back wall with a small coffee table in front of it. The front wall had a small kitchen in its corner with windows in the middle that allowed natural light to fall on the dining table next to the kitchen. 

They could easily see everything, so the two detectives were confident that no one was here. Nonetheless, Pete moved to cover and clear the left side of the cabin, making sure to check behind the counters and the other side of the couch for anything out of the ordinary.

Diana moved to the curtain and pulled it back slightly. She was greeted with a slightly sagging in the middle queen-sized bed on posts with another awful flower cover and sheets dressed over the mattress. On the right of the bed, against the front wall, Diana noted a large wooden dresser with two duffle bags leaning against its opposite sides.

She was just beginning to move to search them when the sound of a whimper drew her attention away from it. She looked over and realized it must have come from the opposite side of the bed, which she had not checked yet and was just out of her sight.

With her gun still in hand, she carefully walked around the queen-sized bed and drew her arm up when she stepped into view. She quickly lowered her gun though when she saw a girl curling around her bent knees and tears gathering in her eyes.

The girl was not tied up but she must have been trapped here all the same, came to Diana’s mind. All thought on why the girl did not answer the door when they announced themselves as the police was pushed to the back of her mind as the detective kneeled down in order to not scare her.

“Hello,” Diana said gently, keeping her hands out in a placating gesture. “I’m Detective Diana Ballard and I’m here to help you. What’s your name?” she asked.

The girl did not respond but lifted her head more in order for the two of them to better see each other.

Diana was captivated by the scraggly dark blond hair that fell over the glittering green eyes facing her. She did not notice the shuffling happening behind her as anything but background noise to be ignored.

Not deterred by the girl’s lack of speech, Diana continued. “Me and my partner, we’ll get you out safely, okay? I need you to trust me. Can you do that?” she pleaded towards the girl, giving her a hopeful smile.

The girl just continued to study Diana intensely which slightly unnerved the detective who quickly squashed those feelings deep inside. Her emotions were not important, only those of the girl in front of her who was clearly a victim of some horrible tragedy.

She was so consumed with the girl in front of her that when she heard heavy footsteps behind her she only tilted her head in the general direction of the noise. The girl in front of her lifted her eyes to meet those of whoever was standing behind Diana. The girl did not react to whatever she saw there, which left no alert on what was just out of the detective’s reach. Diana simply trusted that Pete was there with her, protecting them. 

“Pete, we need to help this girl,” she said, not moving her eyes away from the individual she was talking about.

It was her mistake, the warning bells in her head now falling eerily silent. In answer to her statement, Diana received a harsh blow to the back of her head and she fell onto the floor unconscious.

The last image in her brain were glistening emerald eyes that betrayed no emotion as her would be helper was struck down by a faceless danger.