The next few hours passed in an haze of uncomfortable questions by the police and the disquieting notion that I had, if only peripherally, been touched by something very unpleasant. They were very insistent that I account for my whereabouts, and how I knew Mandy Whitmore, and what we talked about today. They also searched the Yellow Peril with more forensic tools than I thought existed. Eventually, however, they let me go, with strict instructions not to leave town.
Driving home from the police station the next morning, I was able to find a radio news program that filled in some of the gaps. Apparently not long after I left with the car, Mandy had barricaded herself inside the daycare's nursery and called 911. She stated that "the thing wanted her soul" and "it wouldn't get her" and "please come get me before more children are hurt." By the time the SWAT negotiator had gotten her to release the infants and surrender herself, she was nearly incoherent with terror, shrieking that "it thirsts for the blood of the innocent" and herself bleeding from nearly a dozen self-inflicted wounds.
Later, in the police station, she had apparently confessed to the abduction and murder of an 11 year old boy who went missing from that neighborhood a week ago. He had gone riding on his bicycle after supper and simply never came home. Further details were being witheld until the police could determine the truth of her claims.
It wasn't until I had arrived at my apartment and was unloading my cameras that I noticed a small daisy decal, the exact shade of Mandy's hair, blooming on the dark fender. I was certain that it hadn't been there earlier in the day.