Croonford Detective Case 21: Multiple Cases









Lin's captured scene is based on this photoshopped work by ReefUK on deviantart here.


Bethan's capture scene is based on Aimee-Ffion Edward's scene in the horror TV series Inside No 9 episode The Harrowing.


The scene where the other captive is found is based on this classic Lifetime's Webcam Girls.


Author's note: Rest in peace Kenneth Tsang, the inspiration for Lin's father.  




Lin Ling finished her breakfast, cleared the dishes and headed out, waiting for the school bus. She raised her eyes as her classmate, close friend and fellow detective Michelle Summers still wasn't taking the regular school bus again. After rescuing her from that eerie unknown location, Chelle had to undergo constant medical test by doctors and police forensic personnel. They had checked her blood many times, her nervous system, menstrual cycle, urine samples all checks came out with the same conclusion - a healthy teenaged girl. Lin was also extensively question about the shady men who suddenly picked her up, gave her the unknown location where Chelle was held and the unknown vaccine. In the haste in rescuing Chelle, she had left the note with the geographical locations of that chamber behind as well as the syringe and canister filled with the vaccine. None of the test could detect the mysterious virus and authorities said they were looking into the explosions to gather more evidence. Lin found that as a cover up.


"Hey, you got special escort again," Lin noted the plain-clothed authorised firearms officer (AFO) following her behind she entered the school grounds. "Yeah, Nikki's idea. At least my mum agrees," Chelle waved at the officer. She was referring to Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Nicola Heath, their long-term ally at the local police.


"So far everything's been calm. No UFOs, no little green men." She laughed. Lin, having taken a scientific view over the last mystery but having saw those weird creatures emerging from the crypods, she was now a bit towards Chelle's view.


"And your parents are still formally stopping you from any detective work?" Chelle nodded glumly. As they talked, Jenn joined them and Chelle wondered about the smart student's look. "Bethan was late for drama planning and practice three times in a row. No, she's usual always punctual and always arriving on time and occasionally earlier than myself. I think..."


Lin excused herself as she spied Reinhard Tomas, the newest member of their team. Ask she headed towards, he smiled broadly, no longer shocked by her beauty. "Hey, ready for the new science club members?" After his 'yup', she added, "We do need to present fresh ideas for the club if we really wish to be co-Presidents in the senior years."


"You have the brightest ideas," he replied.


"We both do," she responded as the morning bell rang. "Beter button up or you'll be cold and the discipline mistress will catch you." She smiled in return although he didn't know if that was the right line to say.


The gang plus Mark the rugby player with the weird surname Cadvish came together as usual during their lunch break. "So, you're worried over Bethan's sudden lack punctuality?" Lin started.


"She didn't give a specific answer; just said she had some personal issues to deal with. It may or may not be worth investigating." The five of them debated but no conclusion was made. Chelle was disappointed more from the fact her parents had halted her detective work. With lunch break over, Lin was about to head to the library first until she heard a cry and spotted Julia Humes, her classmate shaking her personal laptop.


"Julia? Something bothering you?"


"Oh, hey Lin. It's..." the bell rang. "Explain about it later," Julia replied, but her facial features indicate she was worried.


After their French class, Jenn pulled Bethan aside and questioned her again for her late attendance.


"It's my personal activities," Came the short answer. When asked to explain further, Bethan simply replied that it was something like Jenn's detective gang and she’ll reveal it soon. Jenn still had doubts about Bethan's new activities but did not press the matter at that time.


"It's Fandom," Julia started explaining to Lin as she exited her extra physics class. She refilled her tumbler from the nearby water cooler then continued. "I'm being harassed on the Michael Crichton novel Fandom. Users named WaterKong1, Third_Indominus and Spinosaurus Magnis Wutanis claim that I'm posting inaccurate information." She drew Lin to a side table and showed the comments she received.


"Good gosh," Lin exclaimed. "I'm glad I've I didn't edit Fandom when I created my account and similarly with my Wikipedia account." Turning serious she continued, "What do the local administrators say?"


Julia scrolled down to show her classmate. "They gave rather bland response and blocked them only for a day and the..."


Lin's phone buzzed and noting the message and said she'll catch up later. The science club meeting she and Reinhard chaired later turned out to be rather short yet fulfilling as many Year 7 and Year 8 students were recruited after seeing the science demonstrations that Reinhard and Lin presented. The senior club presidents thus unanimously agreed to make the pair club presidents when they moved to Year 10.


Just as the meeting ended however, Lin exclaimed she had a family emergency and ran off with Reinhard unable to form any words of comfort. As he headed out, he spotted one new Year 7 girl crying. Asking her what was the problem was and didn't get a reply first. Still moving away, he heard a German accent stating her science project went missing. Reinhard greeted her in fluent German and learnt that she, Karin, couldn't find the project -- she remembered keeping in her locker but it was missing and now her teacher was not taking that as an excuse. "I'll help you find your project," Reinhard concluded though was not sure he could.


The team, minus Chelle planned to meet together at their meeting place but only Mark, Reinhard, Lin and Jenn appeared. A flurry of WhatsApp messages between the other teenaged detectives and the Malaysian-Hongkonger revealed that her dad was in A&E due heart problems. She messaged that he was stable now and it wasn't life-threatening. Reinhard finally managed to form words and wished her and her family well. Thanks, you're a nice friend, she wrote back, causing his heart to beat rapidly.


The group shared what they faced and only Jenn's case a detective-centred one. "Well, being harassed online and a missing school project may still count," she responded. "Got any new gadgets for us?"


"Uhm, haven't thought any," the newest member replied, though he wished Lin was here because she had the ideas when asked.


"Oh well, they usual ones will still work." The group turned to their homework but as Jenn solved some advanced algebra questions, her thoughts wandered what exactly her drama and debate club friend was up to.


"Hey, is your dad alright? I heard the news," Julia asked Lin as they exited their English class.


"Yeah, still in hospital but the doctors say after some checks, they'll release him tomorrow or the following day," came the reply. "You still getting that harassment on Fandom?"




"Actually, if you don't mind me asking, how did you get the surname Humes? I thought..."


"It's ok to ask. My dad changed his last name when he came over here to escape any conflict. The original surname is...well he never told me." Lin accepted that and looking at Julia's laptop, shaking her head. "The admins basically support those three abusive accounts deleting my polite messages regarding what I received. They've either deleted my messages, blaming the server and worse now look," Lin saw the phrase 'mentally ill' and nearly shouted. "Those twits, did you bring this up with the main Fandom staff?" Julia nodded but didn't have high hopes they would be more helpful. The Fandom staffer named with a simple profile name AnnaW replied. Her act was to globally block WaterKong1 for a week and sent warnings to the Michael Crichton novel Fandom admins and other to users.


"One week? That's like just a slap of the wrist," Julia commented with a slight groan.

"Let's see what happens after."


The next day, before the start of school, Reinhard spotted Karin, the Year 7 student and immediately learnt she searched everywhere and still couldn't find her project. "Could I perhaps take a look at your locker room?" That was a complex question as first each year had their lockers separated from each other and student from different years were not permitted to enter other Year's locker area and all locker areas were monitored by CCTV. After convincing her that he had no ill intentions, he followed, spotting a blind spot and entered it. This precaution was further necessary as lockers were separated also by gender for privacy reasons. "Here's mine," she pointed and he focused on the sides. "There are some scratches on the sides, no it's not paint peeling or rust." He used his hankie and tried to move the combination lock, finding slightly loose. It’s not secure. Did you tell anyone about where you kept your project?"


She shook her head and he replied they should report it. As they exited, he noticed a male student with a hoodie on - in violation of school rules inside - heading back to the ladies’ side of the Year 7 locker. Reinhard immediately stayed back and sure enough, the hooded student pulled out a small penknife and jabbed around the edge of a random locker, then around the combination lock. The door was forced open and the figure ruffled through the contents, pulling out a school workbook.


"Hey, you just broken into a locker and..." Reinhard's words were cut off as a blazer was flung at him and the figure darted off. The newest teen detective gave chase until both of them slipped on a just-mopped floor.


"You two, you both should know the school corridors are not for playing around," scolded Mr. James Henderson, the discipline master.


"And what exactly where you," Mrs. Janic Hughes the discipline mistress appeared pointing at Reinhard, "doing in another Year's locker area, especially the opposite gender?"


I'm a dead guy, Reinhard thought. Then he rattled off what he spotted. "Really, and what excuse do you have?" The other student angrily shouted that it was Reinhard who was stealing stuff.


Both boys were escorted into the CCTV room and the tapes were played back, showing Reinhard and Karin in that locker section. Just as Mrs. Hughes was about to call that student when she burst into the room and corroborate Reinhard's story. The tapes were playing until Hughes spied the other student damaging the locker. "Hoodie off," that had to repeated twice and the penknife fell out.


"Alright Mr. Tomas, you are cleared and back to your class. You," Mr. Hughes pointed his finger at the culprit, "Return the young lady's project and you're in serious trouble."


"That was an excellent case solved," Lin patted her fellow detective’s back at break time. The school had now rearranged the CCTV cameras so that would-be vandals or thieves could be easily spotted and ordered stronger locker doors. The thief and vandal, Lucas, was expelled from school and Reinhard received a thank you letter from Karin's mother.


"It wasn't much; just helping a junior student."


"Anything counts. People will take credit and awards from you, never remove it from yourself."


In another corner, Jenn thanked Bethan that her drama act was much better although she did miss one small line. "Ready for our debate competition this afternoon? We've got to take that Weaver guy and his team down." Bethan said yes but Jenn still suspected her friend's mind was somewhere else.


"The Fandom staff idiots unblocked that asshole WaterKong1before the seven-day block was over and won't tell me why. Now the Kong guy is mocking me on his profile and undoing my edits on the Andromeda Strain article and others," Julia reported ton Lin.


"I've not read The Andromeda Strain, Lin admitted. "What idiots indeed. Let me try activating my own account and I'll write a response to other Fandom staff on your behalf."


The debate competition was over and the judges declared the Michael Vincent school team the winner. Jenn was incensed, even though she was awarded best speaker. "Bethan, you totally screwed up your speech and rebuttal! What's wrong..."


A ginger-haired student came by and started congratulating Jenn for her award. She was still angry at her team's loss yet paused at the newcomer. "How do you manage to debate throughout without looking at a single note?"




Jenn excused herself abruptly, noticing Bethan was exiting fast. "Bethan!"


"Jenn, alright I own up. It's a drama training school that I discovered. The teacher, Mr. Jason Layton has an extensive CV and I hope to gain experience from him. Oh gosh, I'll be late, tell you more about it later. Sorry for the poor debating." One part of Jenn made her accept this explanation while another told her it sounded murky. Grabbing her bag, she aimed to follow her friend except that Bethan had already entered a taxi that drove off. Jenn could have classically hailed another taxi to follow but instead entered a bus that was on the same route as the taxi.


"Hey, look, another Fandom staff with username ReverieGuy overruled the decision and globally banned the WaterKong1 user, the others who harassed you and the local administrators were removed. He asks if you like take control of the Crichton Fandom?"


"Oh, yes I do! Thanks so much for all your help, Lin!" Julia shook her classmate's hand and typed her reply. In any other situation, she would have hugged, however, the school now forbade any such acts or signs of affections. It was a silly rule but the majority of students obeyed.


Jenn had change buses in order to follow the Taxi Bethan took. The latter had alighted and entered some house with vines all over the wall. She was greeted by the Mr. Layton and told to wait and the only other occupant was a taller girl named Sierra who just moved to the UK with her divorced mother. "This place sounds exciting," she remarked with an American accent, though Bethan now didn't think so, given the weird artwork on the walls.


After school, Lin headed, home to change clothes then to the local library with the aim of finding a copy of The Andromeda Strain. Just as she was about to enter, she had a thought, drew out her phone and scanned Wikipedia. I guessed right, that Waterkong1 person also has a Wikipedia account. No wait, the other Fandom accounts who harassed Julia also have Wikipedia accounts! Nothing much on their edits then she clicked on Waterkong1's talk page.


Oh, I'm so going to get that loser who knows nothing about Crichton's work, Waterkong1 wrote.


Yeah, get her bro, you're in the UK, right? Third_Indominus wrote. Rough her up.


Yeah, Croonford right? Find the other who persuaded the staffer to get ya globally blocked, Spinosaurus Magnis Wutanis wrote.


The B&B location was identified in initials and thus easily guessed so and after sending messages to her friends and the police ally DCI Nikki Heath, Lin hailed the nearest taxi.


The drama instructor called Sierra further into the house, leaving Bethan still wondering about the paintings which now scared her. Outside, Jenn wondered if she should return home and her friend was really was in a drama school when there was an audible noise from one of the windows then suddenly shutters were close for all the buildings windows. That's quite strange for the now spring weather. She rang the doorbell but no one answered and there was no eyepiece at all. That was murky enough for her and also contacted the other detectives.


Lin couldn't convince her way into the B&B despite her reasoning and plea. Dejected, she didn't return until she spotted a nearby empty factory with lights on. It could be something to look at except there didn't seem to any entrance and....

Jenn managed to use the skeleton key and laser pen to unlock the backdoor, finding her in an extremely dark interior. Diming the special torchlight Lin made for all the detectives, she still wondered if she made the right move breaking into someone's building until she heard a loud muffled cry. There were two staircases nearby and she wildly chose the left, arriving in a narrow corridor. There were at least three doors on the right and the muffled sounds came from the second door. Again, she used her laser pen and skeleton key but the battery ran out. She turned on the special watch which also has a laser cutter and even with its lower power, the doorknob came loose and Jenn pushed with all her might, nearly slamming the door against the wall.


The room was freezing cold and quite dark. Bethan was sitting on an ornate and antique chair, just in her white bra and knickers. There was an IV drip, thankfully not connected to her nearby, with clear liquid in the bag. Her arms bent like the chair's arms, her secured with white cable ties, one end not cut away. Her ankles were bound together with yellow cable ties, also secured to a bar between the two front legs. A crepe bandage was formed as a rather strong cleave gag and she naturally yelped in delight seeing Jenn, then directed her cries to another part of the room.


Further away, Lin awoke with sore neck, immediately scolding herself not to watch out for assailants. A quick look saw that her coat and jumper were both removed, leaving her in her maroon tank top and skirt. She was bound to a wooden pole, wrists secured with coarse rope, and similar lengths of rope wrapped below her breasts. A simple wounded piece of cloth was forced between her lips and tied behind her head to form a weak cleave gag.


Jenn held her finger to her lips to tell Bethan to calm down while she advanced towards the other noise. It initially appeared as an old frail man in a bed but on close look, it was just a mannequin with a tape recorder playing wheezing and ghostly sounds. With that switched off, she used the special penknife hidden along the waistline of her skirt to cut away her friend's bonds. "Oh, Jenn, Jenn..."she lowered her voice as Jenn again placed her finger to her lips. "There's another girl, Sierra, he's got to hold her hostage here."


Lin was naturally tugging at her bonds when a guy in white singlet and black trousers appeared, smoking a cigarette. "Ah, you must be user ScienceWhizz? Well, I'll a show you a science test." He moved behind her and blew a puff of smoke then prepared to jam the cigarette in any part of her bare skin. Lin anticipated this and was about to strike back when she heard a familiar voice cry, "No!"


"I don't know; she was called ahead and I was left waiting," Bethan informed Jenn as she rubbed her sore wrists and bare skin from the chill. Jenn passed over her coat and pondered her choices. Checking her phone, the signal was somehow blocked. Should she get Bethan out or find the other girl? "Stay close to me," she advised, wishing the others were around. The two quickly heard more muffled sounds at another end of the corridor. The skeleton key easily opened the door and Bethan gasped. Sierra was still clothed but her ankles were bound with cable ties and in return secured to the railing of the bed she was on. Her hoodie was forced down and held down by a longer length of zip tie. Her arms were therefore held behind her and worse, there was a black ball in between her mouth held by black leather straps that around her head.  "Don't worry, we're here to rescue you," Jenn waved, thinking the restraints and gag reminded her of the netballers held hostage during a previous Halloween. She started working on the bonds -- Sierra's hands were also bound behind her back with cable ties but with the moaning Jenn worked her fingers and took time to unbuckle the gag.


Reinhard aimed the portable net and it wrapped around the smoking captor. It wasn't large enough to cover the man's height but it did knock the cigarette away and the guy fell. Lin by this time managed to loosen her wrist bonds and her fellow detective help her loose. She kicked the fallen captor then asked if the police were coming.

"DS Ransom," Reinhard learnt not to mention her first name, "didn't exactly get your question but patrols should be sent. What n..." The captor struggled out of the net and brandish a knife.


Jenn had just managed to unbuckle the straps and as Sierra coughed, the door opened and blinding light shone along with a snarl. "Well nosey little girl breaks into my place. Good addition to my..."


Despite the glaring light, Jenn fired another gadget she had - the pen with the pepper spray. "Girls, run!" They did so but the whole building was a maze and the darkness further hindered their moves. Jenn and Bethan managed down but the front door couldn't open. "There's no way out girls," The evil man called and Jenn saw him holding Sierra by her neck and she was gagged again. With a pistol pointed at them, Jenn knew she had to surrender when there was a commotion and the front door broken open.


"Police!" The familiar cry of DCI Nikki Heath came.


"Oh, back away or her brains get blow away," Layton snarled, as Sierra whimpered.


The thug swung, nearly striking Reinhard's feet. "Let's get out!" Lin cried, yanking his hand. Unlike earlier, she spotted a door and thankfully it was unlocked. They were far from safe as two more men dressed similarly approached them from different corners. The pair managed to dodge them but quickly found themselves in a set of leafless trees.


"Unusual for spring," Reinhard muttered.


"What other gadgets did you bring?" Lin pulled him down and scanned the area.

They were trapped. He only had the male version of the penknife and the pen with the pepper spray and ink. "It's good enough, we can fight our way out." Just then, there were shouts and a whistles and grunts. "Ok, kids, you're safe." Kids?! Lin raised her head to see a PC waving at them. Ignoring the insult, the pair got up and saw a familiar face. "Didn't understand your message, " Detective Sergeant (DS) Bluebell Ransom remarked, "but knife crime sure is a chargeable offence."


"Where's Nikki?" Lin wondered.


In the dark building, Jenn and Bethan were now shielded far behind a female PC and watched Nikki Heath negotiating with the hostage taker. All his demands were for the police to get out and for the girls to return. Nikki would agree to that but signalled for her accompanying officers to withdraw. As Jenn reluctantly followed the PCs out, there was a soft thud, causing Layton to momentarily turn around. This finally allowed Nikki to draw out her Taser X26 CEW, activating the flashlight and fired.


"Subject is down!" She declared, advancing quickly, grabbing Sierra and removing her gag. "That was a risky act, Mark," she spotted the rugby player and knew it was him who caused the noise. "But thanks."


As per normal, the group, minus Chelle gathered in their headquarters. "Using an adult gag on a minor?!" Mark exclaimed.


"That girl Sierra is actually 18 going to 19-years of age," Jenn corrected. "But yes, using that sort of gag is horrible." Jenn also recounted that Nikki had to face much questioning from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) regarding her use of the taser and other recent activities, however, was cleared from her actions.


"Sorry, just went to check on Papa," Lin announced as she entered and told them he was fine. "Also learnt that it was the B&B owner who called the police to aid us," she explained to Reinhard.


"Well, that's two cases solved," the other science whizz declared.


"Three, don't ignore what you did," she reminded him. "We should update Chelle."


Chelle in fact was in her bedroom, wondering if the truth of her weird abduction would ever be revealed.


Michelle, Lin Ling, Jennifer, Mark and Reinhard will return in 'State Property'.







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