A dim lamp situated atop the desk was the only light source to be found within the cramped confines of the modest office. It barely illuminated the surface of the desk itself, let alone allowing its rays to stray even a few feet into the rest of the room.

The collective din of the evening downpour helped obscure the sounds of rustling pages, squeaking chairs, and crickets chirping lazily outside of the window.

Reed must have poured over his stack of collected evidence dozens of times. The lengths he’d gone to in order to amass such a stockpile had been both painstaking and time consuming. Frustration and impatience began to wear on him, knowing he had all of the pieces of the puzzle before him, but couldn’t quite fit them all together.

His secretary had left for the day hours ago, and he felt like he’d made zero progress during that time. With each passing hour, the pressure of his own self-imposed standards for success began crippling his progress. It had become a vicious cycle of confusion, distraction, and aggravation.

An anguished groan escaped him as he ran a hand down the exhausted features of his face. Then a long pause ensued before he began moving again.

Dragging his eyes away from the folder in front of him, he then turned and reached down to open up one of his desk drawers.

A bourbon bottle and glass were produced then set upon the edge of the desk’s surface. The elementalist was quick to pour his drink and raise the chipped glass up to his lips.

A defeated sigh rolled out as he finished his first sip and set the glass back down again. He ran a hand through his hair and let the effects of the overpriced liquor warm the back of his throat.

Perhaps he was looking at things too closely, or perhaps he needed to approach the mystery from a different perspective? The one thing he could say for certain was that he was getting nowhere with his current approach.

That was when he finally noticed the file that his secretary had left out for him. It had been sitting on the far edge of his oversized desk all afternoon, untouched, and unopened.

It was a brand new case, something that had just been filed that very same day. Something he’d been far too pre-occupied to take notice of when the client first visited the office.

As Reed tilted his head and squinted to read the handwriting on the file’s label, something about the title caught his attention with uncomfortable familiarity.

Author Jander
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