The inside of the building was vacant save for Brandon and about seven employees scattered into various areas.
“Mikael is over in the books and stationary department tonight,” Brandon said. “I arranged for him to be working where Zach was when he disappeared.”
“That does make things more convenient,” Bianca stated.
Hilde nodded. “Do your workers know why we’re here?”
“I’ve told them that I’m hiring people to try and find Zach,” Brandon said. “Since the police haven’t had any luck.”
“We’ll let you know immediately if we find anything,” Hilde said. “Just leave it to us.”
The detectives headed over to stationary. Mikael had boxes of stock arranged neatly and was making good progress getting the merchandise onto the shelves. He had rust coloured red hair and dark blue eyes.
Hilde noted that he arranged the stock neatly as he went. He also had a neat pile of empty boxes already flattened.
“Your clean up must be quick,” Hilde noted. Bianca moved off on her own, presumably trying to pick up any traces of magic. Looking closely, Hilde noticed Sakura follow after her.
Mikael didn’t look at her. “It is,” he confirmed. “Things always go faster when you’re efficient.” His pace didn’t slow as he spoke.
“Do you know where exactly Mister Schietzen was when he vanished?” Hilde asked.
“Not exactly,” he said, never once pausing his work. “I was stocking the wine that night. If I had to guess, probably bothering Herbert or Andrew to chat about nothing or staring blankly into space. He did that a lot.”
“You really didn’t like him,” Hilde stated.
“I might’ve done if I hadn’t had to work with him,” Mikael said. “We did share some hobbies. But you know how it is. It’s hard to like a co-worker when they’re a useless cunt.”
“But Andrew and Herbert liked him?” Hilde asked.
“Nope,” Mikael said. “They complained about him all the time when he wasn’t around. They just tolerated him when he was.”
“Did anyone actually like him?” Hilde inquired.
“Not anyone we work with,” Mikael answered. “We all had to do extra to make up for him doing bugger all.”
“But they suspect you of being behind his vanishing,” Hilde watched his response. It was the first moment he’d paused his work for a moment.
“Isn’t that always the way of it?” He almost sounded like he was talking to himself more than to her. “Something bad happens involving a person and everybody suddenly deludes themselves over how much they liked them.”
“And you aren’t like that?”
“Nope,” Mikael said. He was back to a steady pace.
“Are you glad he’s gone?” Hilde asked.
Mikael hesitated. “I’m glad I don’t have to work with him any more,” he answered. “I just hope he’s run off somewhere and quit.” He turned to Hilde for the first time. “Let me make one thing clear. I wanted him fired so I’d never have to put up with his shit again. I never wanted him hurt or gone missing without a trace.”
Hilde nodded. “Right. I understand. Sorry to disturb your work.”
She moved over to where Bianca was wandering with Sakura over her shoulder. “You two find anything?”
“Maybe…” Bianca’s voice was uncertain.
“It feels… like something happened but didn’t,” Sakura added.
Hilde rubbed her temple. “I’m not a witch or a magical being. You’ll have to give me some explanation.”
“I… I don’t know how to explain it,” Sakura said.
“I might,” Bianca said. “Have you ever glanced at an online comment only to have it removed in seconds so you aren’t sure it was actually there or you just imagined it?”
“Okay, I get what you’re talking about,” Hilde said.
“Yeah, it’s a faint impression like something might have happened with magic but it’s so faded I can’t be sure,” Bianca said. “What about you? Think that our suspect is responsible?”
“My instincts say no,” Hilde answered. “He’s very blunt, but I don’t think he’s violent or dangerous. I knew a lieutenant on the force who was like that.”
“Why do I get the impression you liked working with him?” Bianca asked.
“Her, actually,” Hilde shrugged. “I like to know where I stand with people. I’m not fond of worrying about what someone might be saying behind my back. With people like her and Mikael, you always know.”
“So, where do we go from here then?” Bianca wondered.
“I’m going to check the surveillance footage from the night in question,” Hilde answered. “I want to pinpoint the exact spot Zach was when he vanished. Is there any way for you and Sakura to confirm whether or not magic was used?
“There may be,” Bianca said. “But I’ll have to call in a favour and make some preparations.”
Hilde nodded. “Get me when you’re ready.”