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I decide to go with the truth. “We don’t know that, but there is a possibility, yes. Just as there’s a possibility that something totally different happened to Holly. It’s our job to find out for certain what happened and get her back for you if we can.”Stop there, and pause as I catch sight of the framed family photos on the mantel at the far side of the room. Holly, smiling at me from behind the glass. Preserved, like a butterfly in a case. Next to the pictures are a couple of sporting trophies from some school tennis competition. A tiny model of a clarinet. Maybe she was learning to play the instrument. Fragments of a life preserved in miniature. Part of me wants to warn her parents, to soften the inevitable blow. To tell them that in child kidnap cases of stranger abduction for sexual purposes where the child is not released after the initial offence, ninety percent are dead within twenty-four to thirty-six hours of the abduction.Mrs Tynon opens her mouth and says in a quiet, clear voice, eyes blank and hollow, “Did you find out for certain what happened to the other girls, Agent Rourke?”That seventy-five percent are killed within the first three hours.“Did you make the same promises to their parents? In all those weeks, do you even know where those children are?”That chances are, she’ll never see Holly alive again.“My daughter is dead, isn’t she Agent Rourke?”
Somewhere in the desert, (it is whispered in red flowers that grow on the black-soiled banks of thick, dark-swollen rivers) there is a Tower which was once a Baobab tree, and in that tower there lived a little black prince-- or perhaps a princess, no one is quite sure-- who was born a vulture and was not very happy. In some versions of the story, it is not a human child at all, but a little doll of a baby, made by a mad toymaker who had some of the Pygmalion in him manifest in his insanity. What is Frankenstein but Pygmalion a little unbalanced, after all?Felice the Writer wrote a horror story about it, for all that she knew what it was really about. In her story, some Taxidermist-man lost his wife giving birth to a still-born child, whom he snuck away from the hospital in a jar of formaldehyde and attar of roses. He went into his laboratory filled with stuffed animals: springing cats and cougars, bears with glass eyes and beloved pets and hunted prey of eccentrically morbid rich people; deer, horses, foxes, hawks, eagles, rabbits, (not Those kind of Rabbits) and the like.He knew his doll-baby wasn't really dead, not in the way that they all mean. He could hear the little spirit-child hovering about his head, whispering and whimpering about the life it might have known, only there was this block that prevented it from entering the body to which it was supposed to belong. An invisible wall, which is really what you want if you are trying to confine the invisible, the ephemeral. He could hear it weeping, wanting to come to him and love its daddy. He could hear the beating of its wings, brushing against his face.So he took the child into his studio and he got to work. He made it an angel baby, he called upon the spirit of things which feed on dead flesh and he married them to his little doll: that is, he took the wings from a baby vulture and sewed them onto the child's back, plastered feathers on to make it dream of flight. He prayed and sweated and loved, carefully preserving the creature he had almost created with the help of a woman who was dead, and whose reflection he could see in the tiny, blue-black glass eyes beneath little lids, held open with toothpicks. Once he had done that he found among his bits and pieces of trade-materials: a little glass eye, black as the ace of spades, black as the night in Assyria when there is no moon: a black glass eye that had no mate. He sewed this into the baby's forehead, making a little lid of skin, perfectly from the model of the baby's perfect little eyes, and complete with tiny black lashes. A third eye, to see through space and time. So that the baby could be half in this world, half in the next: with its mother and with its father both, the one dead and the other living.And the baby cried, through its mouth and its cold nose, smelling of embalming fluid, and it began to grow. No breath did it take and perhaps it had no heart, but the thing grew: a Pinocchio golem of flesh and blood, a necromantic tribute to the miracle of creation. He did that, the mad taxidermist, who wanted more than anything in his heart to be a father. He listened to the black dog that curled up at his fireside, stuffed and dead with the glittering black eyes and the black top hat, dusty with age on his head. The piece was the thing that had got him into taxidermy in the first place: such an old, antique thing, its glittering glass eyes the very reality of life."Write on the back of the third eye with an etching tool the Hebrew word: Emeth, which is Truth, and you will see for yourself."So there it was, this squalling black Pinocchio, this nightmare Galatea: the father's Heart's Desire, his pride and joy.He loved it so, he kissed it and called it his own. He loved it in the way that one loves collections, built things, the work of one's own hands. How one loves children, I suppose.
And you already had a nickname, I told her. It didn't seem to matter at the time, she told me. I wanted her to elaborate on which part didn't matter- the fact that her old friends had given her a nickname, or that they were her friends at all.