"Hello? Anybody here?" No answer.
The first thing that caught Pierce's attention in the dark room was the smell. Leftover food that was never finished or disposed of, definitely moldy.
The apartment was pitch dark. He reached out to feel the wall for the light switch, but his hand landed on something hard that scurried away when he touched it. He recoiled and cursed under his breath. He found the lights and flicked them on.
Yup, this place looked about as clean as it smelled. Everything was a mess. Dust covering everything, clothes and food lying about, overflowing trashcans. At least she tried to put stuff in the trash before it was full. There were several roaches crawling on the floor, over the walls, and on the food.
He never understood how people could live like this. He wondered if Maryanna was still alive. He didn't smell a dead body, so she probably had not died in the apartment.
He began searching the place for anything that might give a clue as to where she had gone. He looked at the papers scattered over the place, some bills, old flyers for some local metal bands, a calendar. Nothing gave an indication that she had gone anywhere in particular within the time that she had been missing.
In the middle of the living area there was a torn up old couch with a loosely patched hole in the back. On a hunch, he lifted the patch and shone his flashlight down into it. "What do we have here?" he said as he reached into the couch and pulled out a wad of cash. As he unwadded it, a roach fell out. He stomped it repeatedly and aggressively until it stopped moving, then went back to wondering why this girl who had supposedly never had a job before had $30,000 in cash just stashed away in a couch. Did she have rich parents? Was she into something illegal? Maybe that was why she went missing. Pierce pocketed the money.
After a little more searching in the living area, he went into the bedroom and turned on the light. The state of the bedroom was the same as the rest of the place, except there were newspapers and various documents neatly organized on a desk. Above them was a whiteboard hanging on the wall with information scrawled on it in nearly unintelligible handwriting.
As he began to decipher the writing, he realized that Maryanna Rivers had been trying to find someone, a girl who was taken by some thugs. Maryanna seemed to have found out that these thugs planned to sell the girl to some mysterious contact pending some sort of test. The last thing written on the board was an address. He knew the area, it was by New Salem Harbor, not far from here.
New Salem Harbor was rumored to be home to many nominally illegal smuggling operations, some more dangerous than others. Even if Rivers had not found the kidnappers, she could still be in significant danger if she was snooping around. Pierce knew that he had to act fast. It would be nice to have some SSC backup on this, but he could not wait around for it. He did, however, sit down at the desk and write a brief note detailing what he had found out, just in case something bad happened to him.
On his way out of the apartment, note in hand, he thought back to the walk here with Alexis. He was pretty sure she had mentioned her apartment number at some point, but what was it? 2B? 2D? He could not narrow it down. Once he got off the elevator at the second floor, he knocked on all of the doors that he thought it could be. No answer from any of them.
Well, he couldn't just stand around waiting. He walked briskly down the stairwell to the main floor. When he opened the stairwell door, he saw Alexis leaning against the wall near the building's main entrance on the opposite side of the hall. Was her shirt unbuttoned lower than it was earlier? When she saw him staring at her as he made his way down the hall, her face became flushed. She opened her mouth to say something, but he cut her short, "Alexis, I need you to take this letter to the SSC field office on Terry Street, do you know where that is?"
She nodded her head, but she was clearly confused. "Yes, but--"
"Do it as fast as you can, all right?" Pierce said as he handed her the letter and began walking quickly out the door.
She looked down at the letter, then up at where Pierce had been. She walked to the doorway, opened the door and looked out, and saw him shrinking into the crowd on the busy street.
After a moment's consideration, she turned and made her way to her apartment. If she was going to be fast, she would need more appropriate shoes than heels.