A/N: Hello again, my dearest fans and loyal readers. I know I promised this sooner, but unfortunately I have been delayed by a brief struggle with the flu last week, so I was unable to concentrate for far longer than usual. But, now the flu has passed and I'm once again in writing mood. Therefore, I give you this chapter now.

And even though I have received a negative review (the first one I EVER got), I hope most of you will like it, or at least not completely hate it. I also noticed that some of you have once more commented on a 'lack of Haibara' in this fanfiction. To you guys I say, I'm sorry, I tried to put her in, but whenever I tried to write sequences with her in them, it just sounded forced and wooden. It's not out of any dislike to her character that I have excluded her, it's a simple writing issue. I have said this before, but apparently some have not read the authors notes I give you guys^^

One more thing I noticed was that some of you theorized that Conan could be tracked through the glasses. I'm not too sure about it (and several other fans whom I asked agree with me), so ... PAY ATTENTION! ... Thank you^^ Anyway, for the purpose of this fanfiction, let's pretend that Conan cannot be tracked through the glasses and he has no transmitters with him. Let's just pretend a little. I've taken a long time to piece this together and I actually know where I want to go with this, so just go along with it, okay? As I'm not too sure whether Conan can be tracked through the glasses or not, we'll just pretend he can't be traced. The police need to earn their salary too, you know? :-)

And the last thing, I need to explain something. The stuff Conan is bound with, is faintly resembling a very sturdy fishing-line. In Germany it's called 'flower-wire', I don't know the corresponding word in English (and believe me, I have searched^^)... It's very hard to get out of, since it has the nasty tendency to cut into your flesh if you're not careful. Being bound with it is extremely uncomfortable and painful and the more you struggle, the deeper it cuts. So please, don't start with me on how unrealistic it is, I've tried getting out of that stuff and it's virtually impossible without a pair of scissors... And yes, I really tried that one out... I'm one hell of a researcher, as I've told another fan just today^^

As you've no doubt deduced by now, this chapter is also the UN-BETA-ED version, written completely and solely by me. Twilight is still busy and will likely be for a while. I say it again, if you go for her throat, you'll have to go through me first^^ As always, spelling errors found may be kept for personal entertainment!

EDIT: I found a small plothole and patched it up. It wasn't that big, so most won't even notice, but if you've been following the plotline, it's pretty easy to spot. Well, it WAS easy to spot, since I changed it. Not the plot works again. Let's hope this doesn't happen again^^


Wednesday, 22nd September 2011

Time unknown

Conan POV

Ouch...

Not very much more made it through the shrunken sleuth's mind. Not much beyond the overwhelming knowledge that it hurt. Severely. And nearly everywhere.

Or at least it appeared like that at first.

But slowly the initial sharp pain receded a little, just enough to allow him a few moments of thought. Conan didn't know when exactly he had blacked out again, but he was glad he had lost consciousness at some point. He'd been roughed up before, but never like this.

The precision with which each blow and kick had been dealt out was staggering. Most of them had been aimed for his chest and upper body, but a few swings had also hit his head pretty hard.

Opening his eyes he found that his vision swam dangerously, already darkening at the edges once more.

Gotta stay awake...

Weakly he closed his eyes again and focussed entirely on breathing. He listened for any abnormalities, anything that would clue him in on his condition. So far, he couldn't hear anything out of the ordinary, besides the fact that his torso hurt like hell. But he had no real trouble with getting air into his lungs, so likely nothing was broken.

At least something...

Nonetheless Conan knew that bones might break the next time this animal came back. And he would come back, this had just been an overture. The whole bloody symphony had hardly started and he had next to no chance of getting out prematurely. Cautiously he tried to move his body, but found the pain roaring up in renewed vigour, causing him to groan quietly.

Okay, moving: bad idea...

A few moments more he tried to keep as still as possible, focussed on breathing and the rate of his heartbeat in order to stay awake. He had to find a way of getting out of this place, there was no telling if he'd ever get another chance. Certainly not if his captor came back for the second round.

This thought gave Conan enough strength to open his eyes again, trying to stop his head from spinning in circles. But no matter how valiantly he tried, the image his eyes glimpsed continued to be blurred and fuzzy with deep, dark shadows trailing through it. He concentrated on the windows he had spotted earlier, tried to figure out how much time had passed since the last time he had been conscious. Looking up, he saw that the rain had apparently stopped, since it seemed slightly brighter outside. However, judging by the angle of the light it was nearly late afternoon, perhaps even early evening. He'd been out for a while. A few hours at least.

Fuelled by the knowledge that he would likely not get another chance to attempt an escape, the small sleuth tried to twist his hands out of the bonds securing his wrists. He could hardly move them at all, but he tried nonetheless. If he could get his hands free, he could get the bonds around his legs off and get out of here. Or, if escape was impossible, he could try and call for help.

Trying to ignore the pain coursing through his numbed fingers, the small detective tried to twist his hands enough to slip one past the tight, thin material. Suddenly a sharp sensation passed through his right hand and arm as the twine-like material sliced into his flesh. Hissing sharply, Conan stilled all movements, breathing past the pain before trying again. He could ignore that pain, compared to his other assorted aches that was a piece of cake. He felt his wrists grow warm as blood oozed out of the wound, while the thin string cut deeper into his flesh.

If I go on like that, I'll likely cut deep enough to permanently injure something...

But even with that possibility, he continued trying to slip his hands through the bonds. Compared to what awaited him when his captor came back, a sliced tendon sounded like a small price to pay.

After a few minutes though, Conan began to realize that it was impossible to get his hands free. His wrists burned like fire and every little movement seemed to cause the twine to cut ever deeper into his flesh.

Slowly the shrunken teen cast a glance around the room, but he couldn't spot anything that he could use to cut the line. The murderer had thought about this carefully, there was nothing that might aid him in an attempt to cut through the thin string. Sighing, the shrunken detective let his head sink back onto the concrete. Thankfully he appeared to be alone and that damned musicbox was also silenced.

Small mercies...

He shuddered slightly (which unfortunately caused another wave of pain to emerge) as he recalled that cursed box and its queer effect on Conan's captor.

Several times before he had blacked out the musicbox had stopped playing and the man had gotten up, calmly as you please, walked to the box, rewound it and came back once again. Conan was glad that the box was silent for the moment. It meant that his captor; who only called himself 'The Sandman'; was currently absent from the room.

The Sandman.

Now that was a madman, as Conan had rarely seen the likes of before. The brief moment before the first blow fell and all coherent thought had fled from the mini-detective; when he had seen all emotion depart from the Sandman's eyes; it was fairly evident that lunacy had this person in its clutches.

Conan had rarely seen lunacy in such a pure form before. Sure, sometimes murderers were somewhat mad, but never to such an extent. He truly hadn't encountered anything even remotely close to this person before.

And if he was honest with himself, it frightened him. Partly because he was unable to speak with the man. If he had been rid of the gag he might have tried to reason with this person, try and make him understand what he did, but since the gag was still firmly lodged between his teeth, that option was unavailable now. Which was doubtless what the Sandman had intended.

With the disregard he had shown his previous victims it was unlikely that he allowed them to speak to him. And even if they did, he most likely would not heed them anyway. He didn't care about what they said, simple as that.

Just as Conan thought that, he became aware of footsteps on the other side of the door.

The Sandman came back.

Once again the panic threatened to overtake him, obliterate clear thought and leave nothing behind but the pure and primal instinct of survival. But Conan grimly held on, shoved the panic down again and concentrated.

This man operated out of a desire to control, it would be important for him to see his victim show fear. And since Conan didn't see himself as a victim (ever) he had no intention of giving the man that satisfaction. No matter how hard it was.

I have a Poker-face for a reason...

Slowly the door opened and the Sandman sauntered in. Grinning evilly the man met Conan's glare with just a twitch of his eyebrow. The shrunken teen's eyes followed the man's path to the table and witnessed him once more rewinding that damned box. Shortly afterwards the music started again. Conan became aware of the fact that his breathing had sped up and that his body had tensed on instinct. He knew what would happen. Round two would begin now. The second of many more to follow, until someone found him. With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach he realized that he would not be able to escape on his own after this. Someone needed to find him.

Still with his back turned, the man started to talk once again.

"You know, I am much more satisfied with you than I originally thought. You are the perfect choice for the final one to add to my collection. And afterwards, the entire city will quake in terror...what a glorious idea indeed." Suddenly the man gave a shudder, almost as if he was having a convulsion or a light seizure, causing him to fall silent and the bound non-child to frown.

The Hell...?

For a few moments the man was still, breathing heavily and leaning with one hand on the table. Then he turned slightly and Conan could see an expression he had not counted on. Helplessness and something akin to fear. It lasted only a few seconds however, before the emotionless mask slid back in place, hiding any trace of emotion, accompanied by another shudder.

Okay... This is really creepy, whatever it is...

The man looked up, his gaze unfocussed and spoke loudly to someone Conan could not see.

"I told you that you have no saying anymore. I decide now and you will obey me."

Disturbed, yet interested, Conan watched the Sandman. Either he was talking to someone he saw (while Conan could not, ergo a hallucination) or; somehow even more disturbing; the Sandman was talking to himself.

Forget 'around the bend', he's off the planet...

The faux child had no chance to reflect on this further, as the man suddenly crossed the remaining distance between them and grabbed him by the throat, lifting Conan off the floor while simultaneously cutting off his air supply. The chibi-tantei was yanked up and held very close to the madman's face. Conan desperately tried not to panic, but the restriction of his throat made it a difficult task to achieve. When choked, the body tended to work without the aid of the brain and even Conan was no exception to the rules of nature.

"I will not be deterred." the man growled lowly, making him seem more animal than human, before throwing the small body back to the ground.

Hard.

The impact with the concrete beneath knocked the remaining air out of Conan's lungs, causing him to cough harshly and struggling to breathe past the gag. His body curled itself together, while his brain frantically tried to focus on anything else besides the pain coursing through his muscles. Bright lights danced in front of the shrunken teen's eyes and the darkness crept closer.

Still trying to get his breathing under control, Conan failed to notice that the man once more crouched down over him.

Seconds later the blows fell again, aimed for his torso and head and the lights in front of Conan's eyes exploded in frightening cascades of light and darkness. A series of blows struck him in the same spot and gasping Conan felt something in his chest give way with an audible crack.

There goes a rib...

What a curse that his brain could still so accurately process what damage was done to his body, even past the pain. But the voice of reason grew ever more quiet as pain overwhelmed the small sleuth. Another kick propelled him back a few inches, but the Sandman followed him.

It seemed to continue for hours and hours, as if time had lost any meaning to the shrunken teen. Darkness advanced on him, like a luring beast that made ready to pounce upon him. And over it all, he heard the chords of the music-box filter through his clouded mind.

It followed him into the darkness of unconsciousness.


Wednesday, 22nd September 2011

4:30 PM

Sandman POV

Walking out of the room and throwing the heavy iron door shut behind him, the Sandman chuckled evilly. He had been right, this boy was a much better choice. He was glad he had decided on him now.

When he had entered the room again, the boy had once more glared at him. It intrigued the Sandman. All the others before him had been terrified, had cried and sobbed and pleaded with their eyes to let them go.

Not this boy.

He just glared. But there was a glimmer of fear behind that ire, the madman could see that. It would not take long for the fear to overtake all clear thought and then, the boy would break. Would cry and howl just like the others had done.

I cannot wait for that glorious moment...

For now, he left him. It was useless to continue his treatments when the boy was unconscious anyway. It was much more fun when the child was awake to appreciate his ministrations. Even though that child held out for longer than the others did.

And he didn't cry.

On one hand, this intrigued the maniac further, for none had shown such fortitude when he was near them. On the other, it annoyed him, he liked to hear them wail in pain.

But, such as it was, there was nothing to be done about it. Perhaps later he would cry. Or tomorrow. They still had time.

Walking into his small room with the TV, Sandman threw a look to his stopwatch. He still had over 66 hours to have his fun and until the boy woke up again, he could see if the child's disappearance had already made the news.

Switching on the TV, Sandman let himself plop into the chair and put his booted feet on the table, idly reaching for a boxed sandwich. He needed his energy, if he was to give the boy a good performance.

Suddenly, his attention diverted from the thought of further pain for the boy to the TV.

"...just received confirmed reports that Edogawa Conan, age 7, has been reported missing. Young Conan-kun vanished from school this morning and police are already investigating the incident. Also in on the on-going investigation is Mouri Kogoro-san, renowned Meitantei and guardian of Conan-kun, but upon our queries he refused to give information."

The woman reading the news seemed to be concerned, her hands even shook slightly. Munching down on the cheap sandwich, the Sandman continued to watch, a satisfied grin around his lips.

"Megure-keibu, of the Tokyo Police Homicide squad and Senior Detective upon the current investigation, has called a press-conference which will convene shortly. We will, of course, be there to bring you the latest of information live."

Well, well... a press-conference, hm?

Considering the body-count, it was none too surprising that the police would call for another conference. However, the maniac laughed over their useless efforts. They had no data, absolutely no information to give to the public aside from what they already knew. They had no evidence to show the broad mass that was the Tokyo residents and therefore, the public would tear them to shreds.

Ah, finally it happens...

Sandman had waited months for this, had spread terror and fear over the city to see them finally turn upon themselves and rip the police apart. He loved seeing what fear did to people. It elated him, gave him a feeling of power and might. That the broad masses would turn upon the police, who always were so cocky, was an added bonus.

Lost in thought for a while, the Sandman finished his lunch and continued to imagine all the things he would do to the boy. And all the while he remained seated, with his feet upon the table and his eyes staring sightlessly past the TV-screen.

Much too soon for his liking, his attention was drawn back to the happenings on TV again as the station went live to report the press-conference. Interested, the madman watched as the police filed into the room, the fat Inspector at the head of the small group, followed by what looked like to be a senior detective and Mouri. Behind them came a few plain-clothes detectives, with them the two Sandman had already seen in the café. Their expressions could only be described as haggard, but their eyes held an unusual glint. Something the maniac had never seen before, at least not in their eyes. Taking his feet off the table, Sandman leaned forward even more, rested his elbows on the table to prop his chin upon his hands. He did not want to miss a single moment of this.

After a few minutes of unintelligible murmurs while the seniors got seated and the rest remained standing behind them, Megure stood up and addressed the reporters crowding near the table.

"Thank you for attending on such short notice." he greeted them (and the public watching on television), but the reporters descended on him immediately like a pack of starved hyenas.

"Keibu-san! Is it true that the count has now risen to 10 children?!" one of the reporters barked and leaned forward, his microphone in hand. At the table, Mouri's face darkened and the Sandman chuckled in delight.

Another reporter joined the first, no less interested.

"Why the sudden conference? Do you have a suspect in custody?"

As if... the Sandman thought with an eyeroll.

"Please, Gentlemen. One at a time," Megure tried to keep order, probably already seeing that he was on the verge of losing control over the gathered crowd, "Sadly, we indeed have to confirm that as of 12:30 today, another child has been reported missing." the official added grimly, seemingly already prepared for the next onslaught by the reporters, who now started talking simultaneously, making it hard to follow the questions.

The Sandman suddenly wished for someone ordering them to pipe down, it was way more fun to get a chance to watch the subtle emotions cross the faces of the officials, before the inevitable happened.

"Is it true that it is Conan-kun? Where has he vanished? What are the police's efforts?"

They'll sit and twiddle their thumbs while I have fun with the boy...

Temporarily distracted, the Sandman missed the next set of agitated questions, but quickly returned his attention back to the screen. Now Mouri held a hand up and fixed the reporters with such an icy glare that most of the reporters quieted down. Even the Sandman was impressed by the man's demeanour that could command such silence without even one spoken word.

"Your sources were correct. It's indeed Conan-kun that has vanished today. We surmise that Conan-kun has been surprised during school-hours, when he was alone for a moment." the moustached man said calmly.

Sandman was indeed almost impressed by the man's control of the situation. Perhaps he had underestimated Mouri Kogoro after all.

Ah, no matter... It's not as if they can find me and I already have my playmate...

And until they figured out that they had made a grievous calculation error he would continue to see them as mindless, bumbling idiots. All of them.

"Evidence found at the scene indicates that Conan-kun has not left willingly." Megure continued and the Sandman suddenly listened very intensely. He always paid especial care to not leave evidence behind, what was it they spoke of then? Sadly, the conversation steered away from this supposed evidence (probably it was a ruse from the police anyway), as two reporters had regained their ability to speak.

"What are your efforts regarding a suspect? Surely someone must have seen who took the kid, especially considering that it was broad daylight," one said, followed closely by another, "Is that not against the killers usual method? To take a kid so heavily guarded?"

"Unfortuately, there are no witnesses to the kidnapping as of now. Due to the heavy rain earlier today most residents stayed in their homes. Conan-kun left the school-building at 12:00 to take a call, which was confirmed by the caller. Conan-kun however never returned to the class-room after taking said call. Since we believe that Conan-kun merely left the building, but not the school-grounds, the culprit must have apprehended Conan-kun directly in front of the school during a brief opportunity when the surveillance rounded the building." Megure said, putting especial focus on saying the boy's name as often as possible.

Sandman knew that this was a cheap psychological trick by the police. They continued to say the boy's name in the hopes that they could somehow appeal to the maniac's humanity. An amused chuckle emerged from the madman's throat. As if they would achieve that with such a boring trick. The Sandman had way too much fun with his playmate, it did not matter that they kept saying his name. Such tricks would not work on him.

Just as the maniac thought that, another official entered the room, carrying a sheet of paper and looking very pale.

Ah, perhaps they have discovered the calculation error...

While Megure silently read the paper and afterwards passed it to Mouri sitting next to him, the reporters continued with their questions.

"Have there been any leads so far regarding the culprit? What are the police's efforts?" one asked, followed closely by another, "How could Conan-kun have been abducted? From what we know from our coverage of the KID heists, the boy is not so easily overpowered."

"I have just received new information. Evidence found at the scene, most assuredly left by the culprit himself, suggests a powerful drug being used." The official paused, either for dramatic effect or to gather his composure. The Sandman leaned forward in his interest, what was it they had discovered and could it potentially threaten his fun?

"Ketamine." Megure said grimly, his words hitting the reporters with all the might of a torpedo.

Quickly Sandman thought back to the time when he had taken the boy, trying to understand what he had overlooked. He still had the syringe, he knew that. He had thrown it away when he had arrived at his hiding-place. What could give them the correct answer to the chemical he used then? The answer came sudden and clear to the maniac's mind. He still had the syringe, but he'd thrown the cap away when he had neared the boy. And he had forgotten to take it with him when he vanished together with the unconscious boy in his arms.

What a foolish mistake!

Quickly Sandman thought through the possible repercussions his error could have. Would it interfere with his fun? Would the police be able to trace him through the drug?

After a few seconds of deliberation, the Sandman shook his head. Even though they found remnants of the Ketamine, it was impossible to be traced back to him. He'd had it for several months now, the trail had long since gone cold. And with the rain, it was unlikely that they'd find other traces, since he'd worn gloves and had not removed the cap with his teeth. DNA patterns and fingerprints were impossible then. Not that DNA would have been found, considering the rain.

All in all, his operation was still quite safe.

"Every available officer has been pulled on a city-wide search and all thoroughfares in or out of the city have been blocked." Megure continued, trying to remain calm in light of this new discovery. The maniac diverted his attention back to the screen, once again comfortable in the knowledge that his little oversight would not be disastrous to him.

A lot more questions were fired at the officials seated, but the Sandman's eyes fixated themselves on Mouri. Within the slight pandemonium that was unfolding, the man simply sat still, fixing the empty air with a murderous glare.

Interesting...

In his observation of Mouri, the Sandman had missed the questions and answers that followed the announcement of the Ketamine, but then the maniac's attention was completely drawn by the official and what he said next.

"In addition, while we have no witness to the kidnapping itself, we do have a witness which we believe has seen the perpetrator of a failed kidnapping that took place yesterday evening."

Now the Inspector had the maniac's undivided attention. Witnesses were potentially dangerous to him and his fun with the boy. And since he usually did not go out in any elaborate disguise, it could be potentially dangerous for his continued freedom as well.

"This morning, an unofficial consultant that is working with us in this case has discovered a toy-store where a suspicious man bought a doll yesterday afternoon. We believe it to be the same doll involved in the attempted kidnapping yesterday, due to the descriptions of the child targeted."

The toy-store? This is not good... I should have killed the owner...

The madman's worries doubled as the white wall behind the police was suddenly taken over by a sketch displaying his face for all Tokyo to see.

"Take it down..." he growled menacingly, "take my damn picture down..."

But the sketch remained. Now he would have considerable trouble even stepping out of the door. People would recognize him and call the cops on him no matter where he went. In addition, once his face was known, the city would no longer fear him quite as much any more. It had been a lot more terrifying for them when he was a faceless menace.

"The suspect is between 30 and 35 years old and of Japanese descent. He has been described of having an average height of 1,65m. If you see this man, do not approach him. Notify the police immediately if you spot him or have information concerning his identity or whereabouts." Megure continued, a grim light in his eyes. The Sandman recognized that light. It was the thrill of the hunt. It was mirrored in the eyes of all the officials currently on screen.

"Also, I am offering a sizeable reward for any information concerning Conan. If you have information, please call the police station at once." Mouri said, while a hotline number flashed at the bottom.

By now, the Sandman's breathing had increased drastically, so much that he was nearly panting. This was devastating to his plans. He should have killed all who had ever had contact with him, so that no one could give the police information.

"Megure-keibu," one of the reporters said, "Do you believe this man is the killer?"

A short silence followed that question and the madman watching balled his hands into fists, while his rage rose to ever greater heights. And the sketch still remained in place.

"While we have no direct link to prove that this is the killer, we believe him to be directly involved in the attempt made on another child yesterday evening, to which I have already alluded. If he is not the killer himself, he might be a confederate. However, we cannot completely disregard that possibility. As previously stated, if you have information concerning this individual, please notify the police immediately. Conan-kun's life may depend on it. Thank you." Megure said and got up to leave, while the reporters took photographs and spoke hurriedly into their phones.

It was too much for the Sandman. With an enraged roar he surged to his feet, shoving the TV off the table to have it crash onto the floor. Miraculously, the signal was not lost, it continued to broadcast the news with his picture being the headlines.

This was not what I meant by being famous! I wanted to be feared as a nameless terror!

Furiously the Sandman paced through the room, growling and snarling like a wild animal. All his brilliant planning, his glorious schemes, it was all for naught now! And all because of a tiny oversight, a small error.

Angered, he kicked the television, finally succeeding in shutting the damned thing off forever. Pretty soon, the police would know his name, where he used to live, every little detail about his life. He would not get to be immortal, he would just be another criminal.

Curse them all!

Suddenly the man stopped. He still had a trump card. The boy was still in his possession, and even if he could not avoid being utterly exposed, he could still triumph over the police.

All he had to do was finish the boy, just as planned. But that did not mean he did not want his fun. He still had at least a day before they could understand who he was and until then, he could still enjoy the murder of the child.

He would have to do a lot more to see that beloved spark of terror in the boy's eyes, but it did not matter.

If the Sandman was destined to be taken down, he would still take the boy to the Dreamland before they came for him. Then at least he could delight in the defeat of the police, even if it cost him his freedom.

That too has its appeal...


Well, someone is pissed... Small wonder, that... The guy has a whole army of police-officers and detectives on his trail... He'll be lucky if he escapes with all his limbs still attached to his torso...

Anyway, review if you like. And if you didn't like it, why have you read this far into it?! *gg* Just kidding folks, you know I love you guys^^ I'm still waiting for folks to join our little circle on facebook^^ If you have a facebook-addy and want to talk to me, read through the headers of the previous chapters, I've put the info there ^^

See you guys in the next chapter!