An early winter's dusk fell on a gloomy afternoon. Smoke curled out of the chimneys. Foghorns boomed from the harbour.
A schoolboy hurried along deserted streets, clutching a satchel of books under his arm. The murky twilight gathered stealthily around him. He wore a navy-blue hooded parka. His heavy shoes beat out a staccato on the frosty sidewalks.
As he passed by a small grocery store, he waved to the proprietor who was working on a seasonal window display. Poinsettias and holly surrounded a basket of mandarin oranges.
He didn't have far to go now; his home was the third house down from the corner.
But he never made it.
For somewhere in that short distance of about one hundred feet, he simply vanished.
There was an uneasy silence in the viewing room after the clip had ended.
"So there you have it." Lieutenant Neil Slater switched off the projector. "His name is Martin Perry and he disappeared fifteen years ago. One week before his eleventh birthday."
"Then there's not much chance he's still alive?" Scott Preston of the Morning Herald poured himself a cup of coffee at the refreshment table.
"The odds are certainly against it," Slater agreed. "But either way, a case like this is never closed. That's why we're asking for the media's assistance in publicizing the details."
The other reporters filed out, jotting down notes and chatting to each other. Scott followed Slater into his office. "Any suspects?" he asked.
Slater shook his head. "That was one of the most perplexing things about this case. There were no known child molesters in the area at the time."
In the courtyard below, a floodlit fountain babbled beneath the eye of a mysterious moon.
"He was too old to be kidnapped by someone desperate to have a child." Scott scanned the file.
Slater yawned and ran his hands over his cropped black hair. "A door-to-door search of every house in the area, plus an extensive search of nearby parks and woods failed to come up with a single clue."
"It's certainly a puzzle." Scott raked through old newspaper clippings. "No wonder there were such wild speculations at the time, including UFO abduction theories."
He came upon a headline from the Morning Herald in inch-high type: "Did Martin fall into the Twilight Zone?"
"We've done numerous updates on the Perry boy's disappearance." Editor Greg Mowatt looked impatient. "Frankly, I don't see how another one would serve any useful purpose." He took a gulp of coffee thick as sludge. "There are so many missing kids today, I doubt if our readers would be interested."
It was a raw November day with the threat of snow in the air. A freezing wind knifed in from the North Shore Mountains.
"But the circumstances surrounding Martin Perry's disappearance are unusually dramatic," Scott argued. "Someone must know something about what happened to him, perhaps without even realizing it. A full-page article on the case might just be the memory-jolter they need."
"You'd have to come up with something new." Greg's icy blue eyes were as inhospitable as the weather. "A different angle about the case that up until now has gone undiscovered."
"December eighth is the anniversary of the boy's disappearance," Scott reminded him. "That doesn't give me much time to dig around and try to come up with something different."
"Take it or leave it." Greg shrugged dismissively, and began rummaging through a stack of papers on his desk.
"I'll see what I can do." Scott was far from happy. He knew Greg's lack of enthusiasm regarding the Perry case was because it did not contain the lurid type of sensationalism sure to sell newspapers.