One day a secretary for a police detective was sorting through some cold case files that had been overlooked during the general upload of files into the national data base. It turns out they had accidentally fallen out the back of the filing cabinet's bottom shelf onto the bottom at some point before 1992 when the department had implemented the new system, and had only just been discovered when a cop working on a different project noticed that several cabinets had become badly corroded. As the files were removed to be put in new plastic cabinets, the overlooked files were finally noticed. The cases were all missing children cases from the 1960's, six total. Five were fairly ordinary, and as she was loading them into the national database, she was pleased to find that one had been solved on it's own, a runaway who had returned home. Three others where already in the system, their relatives never giving up on the kids, and had apparently opened up new files when these had turned up missing. The 5th was more important, as it had never been loaded into any other surviving system that her research could find. The same for the other file, a little girl, but her photo was missing. She ran out the dumpster and rummaged into the bottoms of the old cabinets, and found it, but it was so dirty that the face could not be made out. It was a slow day in the laboratory, so the fellow there said he'd get it cleaned up for her by tomorrow. One corner of the photo could be made out; in the crook of the girl's arm she was carrying an antique expensive looking baby doll. There was something familiar about it. The girl would have been about her own age, but dolls like that were not common at the time, yet she felt she had seen it somewhere, as it had a rather sophisticated quality to it. She had a rather disturbing dream that night, but couldn't remember it in the morning. She went to the lab next morning sipping her coffee when the she received the cleaned up photo. Her eyes went wide and she dropped her coffee, to her colleague's outrage. A childhood memory came unbidden: "Avast ye lubbers! Get thee about thy business, lest I grind thy skin! Arr arr arrrr!" "You don't scare me you big bully!" "No fair, Janice! I'm the hero, why do I have to be the scardy cat!" JANICE. She ran like the wind back to her desk and the file.
Janice Mary Smithson, missing since June 5th, 1969. Parents had eloped and were mutually estranged from her grandparents. Father was drafted and was on tour in Vietnam when Melody Smithson asked her daughter to pick some strawberry's out back. When she did not return promptly, Mrs. Smithson found the basket half full of strawberries. Janice was nowhere to be found, as well as her valuable doll that her mother had given her that she never went anywhere without. An extensive search revealed nothing for ten days when the headless body of the doll was found 20 miles north of the home. It had not been ripped or cut off, but seemed to have been expertly unstiched and discarded. A good finger print was found on the porcelain hand, but was not identified. To twist the knife in Mrs. Smithson's heart, two days later she received a Gold star. Her husband, Corporal Bill Smithson had died for his country. Mrs. Smithson had a nervous breakdown and had to be admitted in to hospital for treatment. Investigation into the whereabouts of 5 year old Janice continues.
Yet, it hadn't. There had been no follow up at all since the file's last update on October of that year. Two years later, as she was flipping through channels, the secretary, then 7, noticed a new show called Candle Cove, and watched several episodes on and off over several months. She would have watched more often, but sometimes her big brother, then 16, would barge in saying, "you watchin' nothing again?", and she would protest, "Candle Cove isn't nothin'!", and sometimes he would stare at the TV while the show was on for a bit, squinting as though he had trouble seeing the screen, then he would rub his eye's saying, "This, whatever it is, is giving me a headache, what else is on?" He always had right of way, the big bully. Yet, she was not nearly as upset when he interrupted her watching Cove, as with Captain Kangaroo. Looking back on it, she realizes that she actually felt relieved at the interruption and would change to Happy Days without further protest. She would then sit with him and he would hold her tight, in an almost...protective way.
Staring at the picture of Janice Mary Smithson, she wished fervently that her brother was there to hold her now. It was the same girl. Absolutely the same girl. Her Kindergarten report indicated she had won an award for best actress in her class as the Virgin Mary in the School Christmas pageant, and was rated in 90th percentile of intelligence. This came out as their had been a peculiar incident at the pageant. A strange man that was not on the school staff or related to anyone attending had rushed the stage, demanding Janice's autograph, as though he were a Hollywood groupie chasing a starlet! Janice was already a pretty good writer, but that was besides the point. The principal was a very personable man, and noticed that this was a stranger who had snuck in at some point while the play had been on. When he actually knocked a boy over trying to get to her, the principal, a former linebacker, knocked him into the back stage area, where they got into a fist fight. In the midst of the fight, the man's nose seemed to fall off. It was a prosthetic. He then promptly ran out and was never seen again. No one noticed a car drive off from the school parking lot, yet it was amazing how such a fat man managed to run so fast, especially if his car was parked blocks away. The principal described the man as "a rabid pig", in that his flattened half nose combined with spittle as he fought. He seemed to have brown hair, but the Principal was fairly sure that it was a wig, and further thought made him realize the suspect was wearing a lot of make up to cover burns. Through all this Janice was tough, she showed no fear at all. "She's a girl that doesn't sweat the small stuff", the principal later commented.
Her memories would never be the same after this, the secretary realized. She stared at the doll in the photo. The hair had been shortened, and the eyes were painted a different color, but the style was distinctive. PERCY.