“Has he been identified?” Kress asked his team as he strode into their Unit room with Oliver.
“Yes,” Dash answered. “Jeff Romano is not his real name, which is why we don’t have anything on him. We ran his fingerprint and his real name is Jeff Draven. We have him in the system.”
“We do? For what?”
Uncurved rays from the digital screen reflected across their faces as they watched. Dash pulled up a newspaper article with a featured picture of a burning office building. “What are we looking at?” Kress braced his feet apart, arms akimbo.
“On June 21, 1998, a fire broke out at an insurance company in downtown Red Hill. The fire killed 43 workers. The prime suspect was Jeff Draven.” The profile of a young man popped on the screen. He had short dark hair and lonely cold blue eyes. It was a perfect match with the composite sketch beside it. “On the day of the fire, he was the only worker absent from work. He was questioned and investigated but no evidence connected him to the arson and murder. He called in sick earlier that day and has an alibi for when the arson happened. That’s all we have on him, till today.”
“We know why,” Jax said. “He has been busy.”
“Everybody,” Dash tapped the tablet in his hand, “meet Jeff Draven a.k.a Jeff Romano, a.k.a, Black,” he gestured to the screen. “Born February 23rd 1969 in Green County. His mother died of a drug overdose when he was five years old. Jeff was there when it happened. He moved to Red Hill with his abusive father in 1956. He was physically abused by his father at home and bullied all through middle and high school. He endured some bullying again while attending Red Hill University. He graduated and joined the workforce, but things didn’t get better for him. His colleagues often picked on him and cheated him because he appeared weak.”
“Camera caught his colleagues bullying him one time,” Jax added. “It was bad, very bad.”
Dash played the video on the screen. Five men on a scrawny man, kicking him on all sides. When that wasn’t enough, they dipped his head in the water closet.
“I don’t understand,” Kress said. “Why was this never reported?”
“One of the men is the nephew of the then Mayor of Red Hill. The case was swept under the rug and four days later, the entire office was razed to ashes,” Dash said.
“Monsters don’t exist, we create them,” Kress muttered.
“The video and the fact that he was conveniently absent from work that day made him the prime suspect. However, no evidence linked him to the crime and his alibi was tight,” Jax said. “That was the last record we have of him.”
“What about his father?” Kress asked Dash.
“He died when Jeff was in the University. Cancer. He had it coming. The man was a chronic alcoholic and he smokes more than a chimney.”
For a moment Oliver was sorry for Jeff. Considering how messed up he was and how difficult his life was while growing up, no wonder he snapped. No! that didn’t excuse murder. It didn’t justify bringing innocent children into his sick game of justice. Some people had it worse than him and didn’t turn into serial killers. “The man that attacked Eden limped after he jumped from the balcony,” he said. “He must have hurt his leg from the jump. Was he limping when he was arrested?” he pointed at the screen.
“Yes,” Lori answered. “He has a fractured ankle.”
“Then it is probably him,” he said and stuffed his hands in his pockets.
“Anyway, our record is wrong,” Dash said. “He murdered 16 people on record but adding the murder of his co-workers, it brings his total kill to—
“59,” Oliver finished Dash’s statement.
“My God,” Jax said under his breath.
“This is him now.” Dash put up Black’s mugshot taken earlier that night.
He was much older and he had an ugly red burn scar on the left side of his face. The other side of his face which wasn’t plastered with healed melted skin was marked by wrinkles. He had scanty, short white beards around his jaw and lower cheeks. Oliver remembered the icy blue eyes and rough hands. His hoarse voice and empty stare. The eerie itch at his nape told him that he was indeed staring at Black.
“He confessed to the arson and told us his real name?” Kress asked Jax and Lori.
Jax answered him with a nod.
“He is chattier than I remember,” Oliver voiced.
“I found it strange too,” Lori said. “He confessed to being Black and told us his real name. He also allowed us to run his fingerprints without resistance, even before any question was asked. And his arrest was too simple. He killed Percy Tabbit and didn’t even try to escape. He was found in Tabbit’s living room, waiting for us to show up. There is something we are missing,” Lori said her last statement to herself.
They all got her point. Black wasn’t the type to surrender without an escape plan. What were they missing?
“Where is he now?” Kress asked.
“Interrogation room 3,” Jax replied.
Kress and Lori entered the interrogation room while Jax and Oliver watched from the observation room.
Jeff Draven- Black’s demur was relaxed and eerily calm for someone facing a possible death sentence for dozens of murder charges. He wasn’t as chatty as he was when he was first brought in. He remained mute throughout the interrogation, staring into his cuffs.
“You think it’s him?” Jax asked Oliver as Kress kept throwing questions at Black; questions he never got answers to.
Oliver sighed, folding his arms across his chest. “Well, I am getting the ominous vibe I get whenever he is around us then. I think he is the same person that kidnapped me and chopped up bodies in front of me, yet something is different.”
Jax snickered, “His face?”
Oliver observed the large scar on his face. It was worse than the mugshot he saw earlier and the scar spread down from his neck to his left arm. Oliver was one of the two people alive who knew how he got that scar. Phoebe was the second person. “It is not the face,” he scratched his jaw. “It’s definitely him.”
Kress and Lori rose from the seat after fifteen minutes of failed interrogation.
“It doesn’t matter if you answer or not,” Kress said. “You are going away for a very long time.”
“Good,” they heard Black sneer as they went for the exit.
Kress and Lori halted and turned back to him. “What did you say?” Kress asked him.
“He who must lead must serve. He who is a leader must be a servant,” Black muttered with a low growl.
“What?” Kress leaned in to hear him.
“He has more insight than his teacher,” Black kept mumbling. “The scholar shall become the master. The scholar has become the master.”
“The scholar has become the master,” Lori repeated, her head interpreting possible meanings. “He has more insight than his teacher… his teacher… his teacher. The scholar has become the teacher,” she muttered thoughtfully. “More insight than the teacher. The teacher. The teacher.”
“What are you talking about?” Kress tapped the table. “Hey,” he snapped his fingers to call Black’s attention.
“The scholar has— he has become the master.” It clicked! Lori grabbed Kress’s arm. “It’s not him.”
“He is not the killer.” She tossed her hands, frantically, “He was, twenty years ago but not now.”
Black released an evil chuckle. “The new master is at the house,” he whispered.
Lori pulled Kress out of the interrogation room. “I was going over the footage from Micah Strong’s apartment yesterday and something didn’t seem right.” Oliver and Jax filed out of the observation room, meeting Kress and Lori in the hallway as she dragged Kress by the wrist back to their Unit room. “Look,” she played the video recorded by the CCTV at Micah’s apartment.
A man dressed in a dark hoodie, face cap, trouser, boot and nose mask— Black appeared from the stairs and swaggered down the apartment hallway as if he owned the place. The two detectives stationed at Micah’s door ordered him to stop but he marched forward. He was on them before they could pull their guns. They were down in about four strikes and he shot them with their guns. He dropped one of the guns and pocketed the second one before entering Micha’s apartment. “About four minutes later,” Lori fast-forwarded the recording, “he came back outside. Micah was dead. Pay attention to this part.” She rewinds the recording to Black’s fight with the detectives. “What do you think?”
“He knows what he is doing,” Kress observed.
“Exactly!” She flicked a finger. “He is a good fighter. Strong, skilful and agile. Too agile to be the man we have in that interrogation room right now.” She thrust the same finger in the direction of the interrogation room.
“You’re saying the Black we have in custody is too old to fight like that?” Dash pointed to the screen.
“Yes. According to his record, Jeff Draven was born in 1969, he is 51. This person,” she gestured at the big screen, “is younger.”
Dash scoffed. “Have you seen Red? Bruce Willis was 54 when he acted in that movie and he kicked ass,” he blew a raspberry. “Don’t even get me started on Sylvester Stallone in Expendables 3.”
Lori arched her brow, “This isn’t a movie. Bruce Willis and Stallone had stuntmen.”
“If that isn’t Black, who is that?” Kress stepped in before they got side-tracked.
“The scholar shall become the master,” Lori said. “We all thought Black died in the fire but he didn’t. What if the second person we thought died in the fire didn’t die too?”
Their minds synced to the same idea. “One?” Oliver whispered.
Dash rushed to take the tablet from Lori. He tapped it a few times and pulled up his profile. He was a lanky kid with ruffled orange hair.
“I think we have the real Black,” Lori pointed out, “but it wasn’t him that killed Micah Strong.”
“Then who attacked Miss Johnson?” Jax chipped in the question.
“If Black got his fractured ankle from when he jumped from Eden’s balcony, he should be limping in this video.” She pointed at the recording from Micah’s apartment. “This person wasn’t.”
“He could have gotten the fracture elsewhere,” Jax said.
“I saw him limp when he landed,” Oliver said. “It was three-storey up. Trust me, he was hurt.”
“Or,” Lori raised a finger, pacing, “Fred was going to use Black but when he sustained an injury at Eden’s apartment, he had to take over. Makes sense,” she shrugged. “He gave the order to kill Eden but because of Black’s ankle, he decided to get his hands dirty. That will explain why he was caught on camera and why he killed the detectives. Black would have avoided the cameras and not killed the officers.”
“So One is not dead?” Oliver couldn’t believe he was considering the possibility.
“Why would Black, a smart serial killer, allow himself to be a puppet for his underling?” Jax placed a hand on his waist.
“He who must lead must serve.” Lori pushed her hair behind her ear, “It was his plan all along. To train the children and serve them when they take over when they have learnt enough.”
“He rescued Fred from the fire and continued training him for twenty years,” Kress theorised. “Now that he has become the master, Black chose to serve him?”
“Who can know the intricacies of the mind of a demented killer?” Dash spread his lips.
Lori said, “Black is definitely working with DeRuno and he is not someone to be captured this easily. The officers said he surrendered.”
“The question is why then,” Jax sucked his lips.
It took them almost a minute to think before Lori shot her face at Oliver and blurted out, “Eden and Phoebe.”
Oliver’s brow snapped together, “Hum?”
“The new master is at the house. He was taunting us,” Lori said in a single breath. “Black let himself get arrested so security around the safe house will be relaxed.” Her line of sight went to Kress, “He is after them. Are the officers still there?”
“Not all of them,” Kress said as he started to walk hurriedly towards the door.
Oliver bolted past him out of the room. Jax, Lori and Kress dashed after him as they brought out their phones to call the officers at the safe house.
Phoebe and Eden heard a crash in the next room and sat up. It has been fifteen minutes since Detective Kress, Oliver and three of the five officers guarding the safe house left. All had been quiet until now. They cautiously went to the door and stepped into the empty hallway. Phoebe lumbered behind Eden as they approached the opened door on their left. She glanced at Phoebe before turning into the room, walking right into a hooded figure at the door frame. The threatening figure in black clothes towered over them by at least five inches.
Eden and Phoebe yelped, staggering back. The hooded man clasped his large hand around Eden’s neck, yanked her inside the room and pinned her to the wall. Phoebe bravely threw weak punches at the man’s back, squealing. He elbowed her jaw and her steps faltered, right into a decorative vase in the hallway.
While Eden gasped for air, she saw the two officers lying on the floor. Were they dead? She didn’t know. She knew one thing though; help was not coming from them. She kicked the man’s leg, pried his hand from her neck and pushed him aside. She rushed to Phoebe’s side to help her up. The second they were on their feet, the towering man began to stalk them back into the living room. Eden threw a pillow and darted towards him with her fist. He blocked it and landed a blow on her cheek before she could think. She bent her over on his knee and dug it in her gut, all in one second. Phoebe caught her as she fell back.
“You said you fought him,” Phoebe said to her.
They shifted back to create space between themselves and the man. “This is another person,” Eden observed. “He is stronger, bigger, taller and faster.”
Eden scuffled back with Phoebe behind her. Maybe she should give it another try. She made her fist and waited for an attack. The man came with the first missed blow which gave Eden an opening to drive her fist into his ribs. The blow did little to slow him down. He elbowed her ear and kicked her. While she twirled to the floor, his attention went to Phoebe. Phoebe threw everything her hands could reach the man. He avoided them all with ease.
Eden got up, picked a fireplace poker and slammed it on his head. He dropped to his knees with a low growl as Eden circled back to Phoebe.
“What do we do?” Phoebe asked apprehensively. The man was getting up again.
“Uhmm, run. We run. Go!” They ran towards the door. Eden felt a sharp tug at her hair and cried out.
Phoebe screeched to a halt and saw the man grab Eden by her hair. “Eden!” she took her first step to run back for her.
“No, go! Go get help!” She dug her elbow into the man’s gut and pushed him back. Phoebe was gone when she looked back. The left side of her face was met with a blow as she turned back to the man. All she saw afterwards were spots of colours and blackness as she slumped to the floor.
The man towered over Eden until he looked through the window to see Phoebe running towards the gate. He picked the poker rod and burst through the second window, cutting off Phoebe’s track.
Fear made Phoebe trip over her legs and she fell backwards. Her heart raced as the man stalked her with the rod. The sight of the rod coming down on her was her last memory for that moment.
Her nape hurt badly. A groan escaped her throat as she became conscious. Raising her head hurt even more. Eden turned her head to get blood flow going, wondering how long she had been in that position. She tried to stand from the wooden chair and then realised her wrists were cuffed to it on both sides.
Trickles of water somewhere around drew her attention to wherever she was. She was in one side of a double cell without windows. The only source of light was from a faint dusty bulb above her head. A similar source of illumination was beyond the bars of her cell and the cell next to hers.
“Is this Oliver’s vision? Is it happening now?” she wondered.
Being in the cell made her feel trapped and gave her a series of deja vu as though she had been there before. Her head hurt as abstract images forced their way into her head. She dusted the images off with a shake of her head. She needed a clear mind to focus. Phoebe. Did she escape?
Her question was answered less than thirty seconds later. The steel outer door flung open and the hoodie man appeared. He dragged Phoebe behind him shunning her screams and pleaded to let her go.
“Phoebe! Let her go!” Eden jerked on the chair and another wave of déjà vu rushed her. What was going on had happened to her or she had seen it somewhere before. She gasped and squeezed her eyes as a memory forced its way into her head.
Someone— a man was dragging a little girl across the floor. The little girl’s tears and screams didn’t move the man, instead, he backhanded her. The little girl was Eden, she knew it. Other kids watched from the cell, sobbing. The man hauled her and tossed her inside the cell with the other kids and locked them in.
“Eden! Eden!” Phoebe’s voice echoed, pulling her out of her mind. Phoebe was in the next cell; dry blood glued her hair to the side of her face and tears marked her freckled cheeks.
“Phoebe, are you okay?”
She sniffed between sobs. “Yes.”
“Where is he?”
“Where are we? How did he get you? I told you to run.”
“I did. I wanted to go get help but he caught up with me… he hit my head with a rod.” She showed her the side of her temple. “I woke up again when he threw us in a van. He came over to me and blindfolded my eyes. He started driving,” she spoke with a shaky voice. “He drove for a while and when he stopped, he took you out of the van first and came back for me. When he removed my blindfold, we were outside the door,” Phoebe pointed her head at the outer door. “That is Black, right?” her voice trembled.
“I don’t know. The person that came to my apartment wasn’t the person I fought at the safe house.” Eden folded her lips then spoke again. “Black took us when we were kids, don’t you remember anything?”
“I think I will recognize him if I see him, but I couldn’t see the face of the person that brought us here.” Phoebe looked around, “This place is very familiar to where he kept us as kids—” her eyes went to Eden, “Oliver’s vision.”
“We have to find a way out of here.” Eden jutted her arms, the cuffs slamming on her wrist bones.
“If this is the vision then that means I will soon die,” she muttered shakily.
“Hey, you are not going to die, okay?”
Phoebe managed a chuckle, “That is something E. J will say.”
“I am E. J—
The outer door clanked open and the hoodie man strolled in with a white box.
“Who are you supposed to be?” Eden queried him. “If you are not a cast of Men in Black, you should take better advice from your wardrobe designer or better still, fire him.”
He chuckled and removed his nose mask, exposing his annoyingly white dental. He took off his face cap and pulled down his hood.
It took them a while to recognise him. Phoebe clasped hands over her mouth when she did. “Oh my God,” she breathed. “One? Fred?”
Another memory took a quick detour to Eden’s mind- the first day she met Fred. Black had kidnapped her and she wouldn’t stop crying until Fred gave her a stale beef jerky he had hidden in his pocket. “Stop crying. Brave girls don’t cry,” he said, wiping her tears.
“Fucking Fred DeRuno,” Eden said, eyeing him from head to toe. He still had his orange hair and had thrown in orange beards in the mix. He was much taller now and could pass for an averagely handsome banker- if he wore suits and he wasn’t a basket case murderer.
“You remember me? I thought you lost your memory,” Fred said.
His voice was surprisingly tiny for his physique. Eden scoffed. “They have been coming in pieces since you brought me back to this hell hole.”
“Back to this hell hole?” He sniggered and waved his right hand, “No, no, no. This isn’t that hell hole. It is just a replica. I even got some of the drawings we made when we were there.” He pointed to the wall behind Eden. “I assume you will feel more comfortable in a familiar palace.”
“Only a deranged human being with a sick mind like yours would think anybody will feel comfortable in the place of their childhood trauma.”
“You don’t like it?” There was a genuine sad expression on his face. “I am sorry. I will change it. I will fix it.”
“Why did you bring us here?” Phoebe asked.
“Phoebe,” he smiled wildly. “I almost forgot about you. Why did I bring you here? Huh, let me see,” he stroked his chin. “To kill you,” he answered.
Eden knotted her face at Fred’s unhinged laughter. “You brought us here to kill us?”
“Not us,” he made a quote sign in the air, “just Phoebe.”
“And what are you going to do with me?”
“You? I will never hurt you. You are my favourite girl… even though you don’t remember,” he stroked his chin again.
“Favourite girl?” Eden snorted. “My face is still numb and my body hurts like I was in a royal rumble,” she jutted her bruised face at him.
“Yes, yes, I am sorry about that, but you weren’t going to come easy,” Fred said in a high-pitched voice.
His voice and heavy hand gestures merely annoyed Eden the more. “Let Phoebe go.”
“I can’t, my love. She has seen my face,” he said. “Besides, I have to get rid of the old to obtain the new.”
“That is your plan?” Phoebe said. “Kill all of us and get another set of kids to train in the ways of torturing and dicing up human bodies?”
Fred replied with an eerie giggle.
“You sick bastard. You killed Micah!” Eden jounced in the chair. “He was your friend.”
“You all are my friend, but it must be done.”
Eden’s jaw dropped. She couldn’t believe the same Fred she saw in her memory was the same person standing in front of her with no positive human emotion. “What happened to you?” she asked softly, remembering the sweet boy she met twenty years ago.
Fred held the bars of Eden’s cell and whispered, “When the call came, I accepted it. I was chosen.”
He went back to the table outside the cell and opened the box he came in with. He brought out an injection. “If it will make you feel any better,” Fred approached Phoebe’s cell, “Three’s death was painless—
“He died of cardiac arrest,” Eden hissed.
“I will make Phoebe’s painless too.” He unlocked the cell, went in and locked himself in with Phoebe.
“No, no, no,” Phoebe tripped back from him.
“There’s no point running,” Fred said. “It has to be done so that the scholar can completely become the master.”
Phoebe was backed into the corner of the cell. Nowhere to run. In a swift step, Fred was over her, emptying the content of the syringe into her bloodstream. She dropped to the floor and crawled away from him. She began to feel the tightness in her chest almost immediately.
Fred dropped to his knees and stroked her curly auburn hair. Then he rose and marched outside the cell, leaving her to gasp for air on the floor. Phoebe heard Eden screaming her name from the second cell and knew this was what Oliver saw in his vision. It happened earlier than they thought. Her head fell to the side, tears flowing over her nose bridge as her eyelids fell.
Oliver and Kress met the disarrayed house. Dead officers. No Eden or Phoebe anywhere. Oliver knew they were gone, yet he couldn’t resist the urge to search the entire house. In minutes, yellow lines were tapped around the house. Police officers and RPD-CSU agents swam the compound.
“I shouldn’t have left her,” Oliver held his head with both hands, pacing outside the house. “I shouldn’t have left. I shouldn’t—
“It is not your fault. I should have thought about this.” Kress was badly beating himself up for the current situation. This was on him and if anything should happen to those women— “I shouldn’t have called back the officers.”
Jax and Lori strode to them.
“CCTV recorded a white van driving in from the gate,” Lori said. “The driver was dressed in black and he had a face cap on. We couldn’t make out his face. When he was asked to go back, he shot the officer at the gate. The bullet matched the same bullet from the gun used to kill Officer Hamon, one of the officers murdered at Micah Strong’s apartment.”
“The gun he took,” said Kress.
Lori nodded. “He then drove in and came in through a window in the second bedroom. He left thirteen minutes later. InfraRed caught two heat signatures at the back of the van when he was leaving.”
“We believe it was Eden and Phoebe,” Jax said.
“The van was traced to 14th street before we lost it there. No street cameras recorded him after that. We ran the van’s plate number, it was fake.”
“Nobody heard gunshots?” Kress asked.
“Silencer,” Jax replied.
“If cameras lost him on 14th street, that is opposite Trench Valley,” Kress noted. “Vass should be back,” he glanced at his wristwatch.
“Should I call her?” Lori asked.
“Yes, thank you.”
Oliver kept pacing; it was the only way to temper the growing frustration. He plopped on the pavement, stamping his foot agitatedly as he fiddled with the button of his white shirt. He sprang up abruptly and started marching away from the house.
Luckily, Kress looked over at him at that second. “Oliver,” he called without getting a reply. “Oliver,” he hopped after him. “Where are you going?” he pulled his arm back.
“I have to find them,” he tugged his arm away and kept heading towards the gate. “Phoebe will die soon if she is not already. And after her, it will be Eden. It is happening exactly the way I saw it.”
Kress planted himself in Oliver’s path to stop him. “Did your vision give you any clue to where Fred took them?”
“I will start at Trench Valley. I told you the place I saw is the same place Black kept us,” Oliver said.
“Fred was last seen on 14th street, that is miles away, on the opposite side of Trench Valley.”
“Then what should I do?!” he stomped the ground angrily.
“You didn’t tell him about the plan?” Jax asked Kress.
“What plan?” Oliver asked them.
“While you were unconscious, Eden and I came up with a plan,” Kress explained. “In case your vision turns out exactly as you saw, Eden was the blank card we could use to save Phoebe’s life. My wife, the doctor that came to check you, taught Eden emergency procedures for cardiac arrest. She also gave her injections to help resume cardiac activity, in case Phoebe will be killed by potassium injection.”
Oliver’s cheek twitched. “Potassium? What are you talking about?”
“Fred used potassium chloride to kill Micah,” Kress explained. “He gave him an overdose which led to a cardiac arrest that killed him in minutes. We hope he will use the same on Phoebe, so my wife gave Eden epinephrine and sodium bicarbonate. If CPR is performed and the injections are given timely, Phoebe should pull through. I also planted a tracking device in Eden’s wristwatch but she needs to activate it before we can get a location. Which is why,” he showed Oliver his phone, “I have been looking at my phone none-stop.”
“Everything should be okay if Eden can get to Phoebe in time and activate her tracking device,” Jax said.
“We don’t know if Fred will scan them before taking them to his hideout,” Kress said. “If I gave her a tracker that doesn’t require activation and he scanned her, the scanner might pick it up. But without activation, the tracker in Eden’s wristwatch is only a piece of metal.”
“Eden just needs to find a way out of her cell first,” Kress said.
Oliver released a hopeful sigh and nodded. Eden could do it. If anyone could do all that, it was her, he assured himself.
Eden waited until Fred was gone before executing her plan. Since she heard of Phoebe’s death vision, she had run the scenario in her head at least a hundred times. The clank of the door as Fed exited the room was her cue. She jerked and bounced on the chair, pulling her arms until her wrists hurt.
An idea ran through her mind. Unsure if it would work, she said to herself, “It always works in movies.” She pushed herself up the chair and reversed her steps as fast as she could into the wall. The rickety chair splintered on the floor. A finger-sized splinter lodged in Eden’s right shoulder. She pulled it out with a soft painful moan and without paying further attention to the bleeding wound, she pulled out a pin from her hair.
“Since you were shouting for Phoebe from another cell, it probably means you are tied there and couldn’t leave,” Detective Kress had said to her a few hours ago. He gave her a pin and taught her how to pick the lock of a cuff and use the same pin to cut through any cable or wire that Fred might use to restrain her. Bless your soul Detective!
She unlocked the cuffs and dashed out of her cell. That was Fred’s first mistake; her cell wasn’t locked and after he injected Phoebe, he left her cell ajar also.
Eden rolled up her trousers. A paper tape held a small injection box to her ankle. She ripped it off and popped open the box encasing two injections. She checked for Phoebe’s pulse, she had none. It’s okay, she told herself. It hasn’t been up to two minutes since she stopped breathing, she encouraged herself and started CPR with ten counts.
“Phoebe, wake up,” she whispered after pinching Phoebe’s nose and opening her mouth to exhale in it. Phoebe was unresponsive. She did the chest compressions again. After four sessions, fear was starting to cloud her vision and water was welling in her eyes. No! then desperation set in. She made a fist and pounded Phoebe’s chest. On the third-pound, Phoebe responded with a sharp gasp, drawing in oxygen. Eden immediately gave her the two injections as directed by Detective Kress’s wife.
Phoebe’s breaths became stable in a few seconds but her eyes were still shut. Eden remembered the tracker in her wristwatch and activated it.
“What are you doing?!” the voice echoed.
Eden shot her face at the voice and saw Fred. She didn’t hear him open the door. She hurriedly took off her wristwatch, pressed the activation button beside it and slid it under Phoebe’s body with the empty syringes. Hoping Fred would think she was mourning and not move Phoebe’s body, she fell on her and started crying. Fred hauled her out of the cell and dumped her on another chair outside the cells.
Eden adjusted on the chair and glanced back at Phoebe. She wasn’t moving and her breaths were shallow, almost undetectable. Dr Kress said despite the emergency procedure, she would need urgent medical assistance. Even if Fred took her someplace else, the tracker would lead Detective Kress and his team to Phoebe. She came first.
“You… you are…,” Fred scoffed, “you are one of a kind. You broke the chair? Why? She is dead!” he shot his hand at Phoebe.
If she hoped Fred wouldn’t get bored and go back to check on Phoebe, she must keep him busy long enough for the cops to get to them. “You killed her,” she barked at him.
“I miss your rebellious streak,” he giggled and brought out another cuff from his pocket. “I don’t know how you got out of the previous ones,” he pulled her arms behind the chair, “but you won’t be getting out of this one.” He cuffed her hands together. “You were like that—” He saw blood flowing down her shoulder. “You are hurt,” he said with concern, checking the slash.
His observation drew Eden’s attention to the pain she hadn’t had the luxury of feeling. Fred went out and came back with a first aid box.
“You are going to fatten me up before you kill me?” she snorted.
“This is going to hurt.” He held a bottle of disinfectant beside her. Eden groaned as the transparent liquid washed down her arm. He cleaned her wound and closed it with a skin stapler.
“Why are you doing this?” She asked as Fred wrapped a bandage around her upper arm. “Why do you care about my wound when you are going to kill me?”
“I don’t want to kill you,” he knotted his brows and looked into her eyes. “I love you.”
Eden cocked her head back with a jaw-dropping gasp. “You what? You love me?” she repeated as though she had never heard those words before.
“I know you don’t remember but I’ve always liked you. I took care of you when you first joined us but then you went to Two,” Fred explained, tying up the bandage. “You left me.”
“Gee, I wonder why?” she muttered. “Maybe I’ve always known you will become a murderer.”
“You don’t know anything about me!” Fred roared.
“Then tell me! What happened? We thought you were dead.”
“Obviously, you thought wrong. I—” A vibration in his pocket stopped him. He brought out his phone and went aside to pick up the call.
Eden looked over her shoulder to check on Phoebe again. She has not moved from the same spot. Eden prayed she was still alive and that Detective Kress found them in time.
Fred ended his call and swerved to Eden. “You have a tracking device on you?” his face shore with disappointment.
Eden’s eyes danced around in response, wondering how he found out about the tracker. Except someone told him. There is a mole in Kress’s team, she thought. They were the only ones that knew about the tracker.
“Where is it?” He checked her wrists. “Where is the wristwatch?!”
“I don’t have it,” she yelled back. “I must have dropped it when you were hauling me around.”
Fred didn’t notice a wristwatch when he brought her in. He couldn’t take any chances. He growled and snatched Eden from the chair.
“Where are we going? Let go of me,” she jerked as Fred nudged her towards the outer door.
The door led to the basement of a factory. Only a factory would use such huge steam pipes and they ran for several metres above them. Their footsteps were the only sounds as far as Eden could hear. Cobwebs hung down the ceiling and her body brushed against rusty pipes as Fred marched her along the corridors that seemed to have no end
“You betrayed me E. J,” Fred said in a guttural tone.
“I betrayed you? You attacked me, in my house!”
“I am sorry. That wasn’t me. That was the master—
“He wasn’t supposed to hurt you, only to bring you to me.”
“Bring me to you for what?”
“Because I want to see.”
“I spent years watching you from afar but…” he tittered, “why did you have to cross part with Two again?”
“You were watching me?” she asked with furrowed brows.
“After you started the fire twenty years ago—
“Wait,” she stopped moving. “I started a fire? What fire?”
Fred scoffed. “Your memory is really gone. Don’t worry, I will tell you everything in due time.”
Eden felt a sharp pain in her neck and blanked out.