Two weeks went by in a flash and nothing was heard of Black. Kress and his team were starting to think it wasn’t him that attacked Eden. That whoever went after Eden, did so for another reason or it was merely a random attack.
“I am going back home tomorrow,” Eden told Oliver as he drove her to the clinic.
“I told you I will leave after Granny Wess’ funeral.”
Granny Wess’ funeral was three days ago. Thinking about her death was still a lot to deal with. She was her Grandmother for the nine years Eden knew her. Dying on the road like that wasn’t the way anybody should go.
“Black doesn’t leave this much time before he follows up on an attack. The detectives are thinking this might be a copycat killer or someone else who has a grudge with me.”
“Even if it is not Black, it is still not safe.”
“The security details will be called off tomorrow,” she looked at the rear-view mirror. Garret and Rossford were in a sedan behind them. “It doesn’t make sense for me to keep staying at your place. I have to go back to my apartment someday.”
Oliver didn’t want her to leave. He enjoyed coming home to her. She was within his reach. He enjoyed their conversations and squabbles. He had gotten comfortable with hearing another voice other than his thoughts in the house and now, he didn’t want things to go back to the way they were. Also, he wasn’t fully convinced that the attack at Eden’s apartment was random. That unsettled him. He wondered if Eden would like to maintain a close relationship with him if Black wasn’t in the equation. He said a silent prayer that she would. “Okay,” he resigned to respect her decision. It wasn’t like he could force her to stay.
“Thank you for letting me stay,” Eden said.
Oliver huffed. “What is with the goodbye now? You are around till tomorrow.”
“I always say goodbye before time. It’s easier that way.”
“Is it really?”
Their smiles were nipped off by a call that came through the car speaker. “It’s Detective Kress,” Oliver announced and pressed the receiver button, “Detective?”
“Mr Hastings, where are you?”
“Mhmm, I am going to work.”
“What about Miss Johnson?”
Oliver glanced to his side. “She is with me. Is anything wrong?”
“Micah Strong was murdered last night.”
The sentence hit them like a train without a brake, causing them to exchange jaw-dropping gasps.
“Three is dead?” Oliver didn’t want to believe his ears.
Guess this wasn’t over afterall. Oliver immediately parked on the side of the road without turning off the ignition. Driving wasn’t an option given his state of mind. “What happened? Was it Black?”
“We think so, yes. We need both of you to come to the precinct.”
He glanced at Eden and rubbed his forehead, perplexed. He didn’t have the time to play tag with a serial killer. He had matters to attend to at work but priorities— It would have been okay if it was just him but Eden was involved too. He made an instant U-turn and drove straight to the precinct. He made phone calls throughout the journey, mostly to Jane, to adjust his schedules.
“Are you sure it was Black?” Oliver asked Kress as he escorted them to his team office.
“A Calla lily was found beside his body. He killed the two agents assigned to watch Micah.”
“Does that mean he wanted to kill me?” Eden asked fretfully. “But that doesn’t make any sense. When he came up behind me, I am sure he wanted to knock me out and Black doesn’t kill people on the spot. He abducts and kills them on the tenth day.”
“Yeah,” Oliver agreed with Eden. “Also, the Calla lily, it is for his students, not his victims and Micah wasn’t one of his victims,” he pieced all that together as they entered the Unit 2 office. “He was one of us, his trainees. Why would he kill him?”
“Because he failed his purpose,” Lori chimed in.
“What do you mean by he failed his purpose?” Eden asked.
“When Black took you guys, you were supposed to carry on his legacy of dispensing judgement to bullies but you escaped without becoming what he wanted you to become. Now that he is back, he is starting with cleaning his house, you guys,” Lori pointed at Oliver and Eden. “Think of it this way, the four of you that survived are the only ones that know him. Even though you were little and too scared at that time to gather enough information, the four of you could easily become a gap in his operation.”
“Probably why he dropped Calla Lily instead of Black-eyed Susan,” Jax said. “It wasn’t a judgement killing. Micah wasn’t a bully, he was a student.”
“We think he intends to remove all of you from the equation before he starts killing again,” Kress said.
“The four of you are witnesses to what happened twenty years ago,” Lori added. “You all lived with him, you know him. The only survivors of his terrors.”
“But we don’t know him,” Eden said. “I don’t remember anything from then,” she gestured to Oliver. “He doesn’t recognise his face.”
“I don’t think he knows or cares about that. He wants a clean slate,” Kress told her.
“I have been going over his files and analysing him since you were attacked in your home and a lot of things don’t add up,” Lori gestured as she spoke. “Maybe it’s because he has been out of commission for a while and he is rusty and losing touch, which is still the same thing,” she spoke fast. “But, Black never failed to get a target.” All attention on her, she realised, “You don’t understand me, okay,” she stepped forward. “Out of all his abductions twenty years ago, he never failed to get a target. He was very detailed and he planned his abductions and murders in such a way that he made them look effortless. He’s brilliant, actually,” her tone gave away how impressed she was. “One of his victims was a ruthless Commander in the Navy. Imagine what he had to go through to get to him and somehow he couldn’t get Eden?” she shook her head. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
“He was young then,” Jax said. “We don’t know his exact age but by now, he should be around fifty or sixty years old. Maybe he is not as strong as he was.”
“Yeah, and I have self-defence training,” Eden said.
“Okay, another one,” Lori went to the screen. “He always made sure there was no collateral loss. Everybody he murdered was a bully. He always found a way to remove the innocent from the equation. He goes in for his target and his target only. He killed two detectives yesterday. Dash.” Dash pulled up the autopsy pictures of the detectives, one gunshot each to their necks. “And according to his profile, he should have taken Micah and murdered him somewhere else. Instead, he pumped him full of potassium causing him to go into cardiac arrest. He died in minutes.”
“Maybe there was no point taking him someplace else since he was going to murder him anyway,” Dash said.
Lori swayed her head, not buying Dash’s theory. “He enjoyed killing, being a judge, jury and executioner. He would have taken his time to plan this, it is afterall his first kill in years. But this looks more like an assassination. No ritual, no MO.”
There was silence except for the low hums of the computers and AC. They had no choice but to subscribe to Lori’s observations. Then Oliver asked, “What is going to happen now?”
Kress glanced at his watch. “Phoebe Parker’s flight will land in about an hour,” he said. “We have to get to her first.”
“Phoebe is number four,” Oliver stated.
“That’s another thing!” Lori snapped her fingers. “As I said, Black is highly meticulous, systematic and intellectual. Look at all his victims,” she marched to Dash and took the tablet from his hand. She tapped it a few times and slid the images of Black’s victims on the tablet to the big screen. “Notice a pattern?” she asked them.
They observed the screen before Eden got a pattern. “All the names are in alphabetical order.”
“That’s correct! He kills from A, B, C,” Lori scrolled down the victims’ names, “D, E, F, until he gets to the end of the alphabet, then finds another A and continues, B, C, like that. He never picks a victim out of line. By this standard, based on his profile, he should come after you guys in this manner,” she pulled up the list of the kids abducted in 2000, “Fred DeRuno—
“He was number one,” Oliver said.
Lori nodded. “But he’s dead so he will skip to the number two, Oliver Hastings. Three, Micah Strong. Four, Phoebe Parker and Five, Eden Johnson.”
“I wasn’t attacked,” Oliver attested.
“I know. He went straight for Eden Johnson, number Five before coming to number three, Micah Strong. Although statistically, Phoebe Parker should be next, there is no way to be sure. It could be you, Mr Hastings.”
“I want it to be me,” Oliver muttered, angry and sad about Micah’s death.
“Why do you think he is deviating from his usual pattern?” Kress asked Lori.
She shook her head, ruminatively. “I am not sure. Maybe he is rusty? Which will be a good thing for us because that means he will slip up soon. It could also be that he knew we’d probably figured out his pattern. He wants to reverse or change his MO. We should also consider that this could be a copycat killer.”
“A copycat killer targeting the survivors?”
She twitched her lips aside, “Stranger things have happened.”
“Alright. In any case, we still need to get to Phoebe.”
Oliver and Eden accompanied Kress to Queens Airport. The Detective believed Phoebe would be more comfortable with the familiar faces of people who went through what she went through. Although that didn’t help with Micah, he hoped things would be different with Phoebe. They met Phoebe in the lobby, dragging her travelling case and dressed in her uniform with other flight attendants. Kress introduced himself to her but he didn’t need to introduce Oliver and Eden.
“Two? Five?” she squinted at them.
“Hello Four,” Oliver smiled at her. She still had curly auburn hair that was now longer and rolled into a bun. He recognised her olive-green eyes and freckled rosy cheeks.
Phoebe smiled back, half surprised. “What are you doing here?”
“Can we sit?” Kress asked a little louder, over the take-off sound of a flight.
Phoebe led them to a food court at the Airport and Kress brought her up to speed. Phoebe’s head pounded as she listened and the throbbing worsened when she heard about Three’s death.
“Phoebe?” Oliver called her.
Phoebe looked up with red eyes, not of tears but fear. “Do you know why I became a flight attendant?” she paused as the three of them traded glances. “Because I can’t stay in one place for long,” she folded her trembling hands. “When I stay in a location for more than two months, I start to feel like I can’t breathe. I’d even lose consciousness sometimes. I’d have constant anxiety like someone was watching me, coming for me. I don’t have a home because I can’t live in it for long anyway. I can’t sustain a relationship,” she sniffed and raised her face to them. “Fine, I already accepted all that as my lot in life. I was where I shouldn’t be and got kidnapped by a psychopath who hit me, made me torture people and cut up human flesh.”
Eden’s brow drew together as her body cringed. He didn’t know Black made them torture people too. Oliver left that part out. She knew he held back a part of the story.
“Fine, I accept that I was unlucky in this lifetime and I try to get by,” Phoebe pressed on. “As difficult as it is, even though I still have nightmares, when I wake up, I can sleep back knowing he is dead. Now, you are telling me he is alive and coming after us? After me?”
“Miss Parker, I understand how this must—
“No, you don’t,” she cuts in. “You really don’t.”
“But I do,” Oliver said softly.
Phoebe sighed. She couldn’t argue with that. “I can’t put my life on hold. I know it is stupid to talk about this right now, but my job…”
“It’s not stupid,” Oliver said.
“My job is all I have. If I lose that, that’s it for me. I can’t go into protective custody for an undefined period.”
Kress sighed, thinking of the next step.
“Maybe you should read her,” Eden whispered to Oliver.
“If you read her you can know when and maybe how she will die. That can help us know when Black will strike next.”
“Except there is something around her to tell me otherwise, I can’t know exactly when she will die. Only how,” he hissed through clenched teeth.
“I know, but you might see something helpful.”
Micah’s death bothered Oliver. If he had taken his hand, he might have been able to prevent his death. Even if he would die eventually like Granny Wess, they could have captured Jeff Romano or whatever the hell his name is. At least Lessie was still alive. Eden reminded her constantly not to use the train station for any reason. He saw Phoebe as a chance to make another choice.
“What are you guys talking about?” Kress asked Oliver and Eden.
“Phoebe, can I have your hand?” Oliver asked.
“My hand? Why?”
Oliver folded his lips and widened his eyes at Eden for an explanation. It was her idea.
Eden scratched her nape, throwing her eyes around.
Oliver pouted and rolled his eyes at her. Thanks for your help. “Erm, I see things when I touch people.”
“Things? Like you are a psychic?”
“You are a psychic?” Kress queried.
“Ehn? Yea, something like that.” He offered his hand. It was the first time he willingly reached out to touch someone to see their death vision.
Phoebe slid her hand into his. Less than a second after their hands connected, Eden saw the intensity on Oliver’s face. She knew he was watching Phoebe die. After about twenty seconds, he gasped and peeled his hand away.
“What? What did you see?” Eden asked eagerly.
“I saw her,” he motioned his head to Phoebe, “lying on the floor, dying. And… there was someone else there.”
“I don’t know. The place looked very familiar. I can’t place it though.”
Kress, who was having a hard time wrapping his head around the plot of a company CEO being a clairvoyant decided to play along for now. “Is the other person Black?” he asked.
“No, he wasn’t there. I heard a voice a few feet away from me. It was a lady’s voice, calling Phoebe’s name.”
“She was calling her name?”
“Yea, frantically. The way you would call out the name of a dying loved one.”
“Do you have any family in Red Hill?” Kress asked Phoebe.
“No. My family and I moved to Peck Heights after the incident,” she replied. “I only stop over at Red Hill for work.”
“I will make a call to have Peck Heights officers watch them regardless,” Kress said and went aside to make the call.
While they waited for Kress, Oliver tried to register the voice he heard in Phoebe’s death vision. He scratched his head. “I know the voice though. It was unclear in the vision but it was also familiar.”
“Everything is familiar to you,” Eden teased.
Kress came back to the table. “Officers will watch your home,” he informed Phoebe and she responded with a nod. “Vass just called. The safe house is ready. We have to get the three of you there.”
“How long do you have before your next flight?” Kress interrupted Phoebe.
“Next week,” she answered.
“Where do you normally stay? You said you don’t have a house.”
“Then take the safe house as your hotel,” Kress said.
“Hopefully this will be over before you have to resume at work or before your reverse agoraphobia kicks in.” He paused for Phoebe to let the plan sink, then he whipped to Oliver. “You are a psychic?”
“Hum?” his eyes darted across the food court.
Oliver and Eden made final phone calls before turning their phones to Kress. “He can track you with them,” he said. Oliver instructed Jane to push back his schedules and appointments and attend to them like he was away on an impromptu business trip outside the continent. The same excuse he gave his mother and Niles, that he was going away on a trip. While he decided to tell Niles the truth once everything was over, he had no intention of putting her mother through that emotional stress. Niles could handle it, but his mother shouldn’t have to go through that kind of emotional turmoil again. Once was enough.
Eden explained the situation to her sister and her honesty caused her longer airtime. Phoebe also couldn’t put her parents through the fear of Black’s second coming. It was better if they assumed she was still travelling. Phoebe didn’t need to pack, she already had her travelling essentials. Eden and Oliver drove to Oliver’s house to pack what they would need at the safe house. The Ferrari was dumped in the garage and Kress’s Explorer took them to the safe house.
Oliver and Eden thought they were done with excuses and explanations until Kress who was still battling with unbelief asked if Oliver was truly a psychic.
“Not exactly. I see the moment of people’s death when I touch them,” he blurted out as Kress drove them to the safe house. If he hoped to use his ability to help capture Black, he must be honest. Eden didn’t see him as a freak, hopefully, the detective wouldn’t too and he’d be okay with having him around. He spent the next twenty minutes explaining how he got his ability and how it worked.
The safe house was a three-room duplex, a few miles outside the city. Officers in casual wear patrolled the house while Detective Vass waited on the porch to receive her partner, Oliver, Eden and Phoebe.
Vass left immediately after they had settled down to follow up a lead on another case the team was working on. They sat in the living room to listen to Kress give them a few safety rules they should stick to while they were at the safe house.
Phoebe barely listened to a word; her mind was someplace else. “When you touched me,” Kress stopped talking and they all faced Phoebe, “you saw me die?” Oliver pressed his lips together. “When?” Phoebe asked him.
“I don’t know. I didn’t see anything that could show me the time or date,” he said. “It was dark, so it will probably be at night but again, that could just be the room.”
“Who could the other person you saw be?” Eden wondered out loud.
“Can’t you read me to see the other person?” Phoebe asked, desperate.
“My vision is restricted to the person’s death. I can’t see before, after or beyond the visionscape,” Oliver answered.
“Maybe that is because you have never tried,” Eden said. “Every ability can be developed. You didn’t develop yours or try to harness it because you hated it—
“It’s not something anybody would like.”
“The truth is, you don’t know if you can’t see beyond the frame of people dying because you haven’t tried to. You don’t know the extent of your ability.”
“You are saying it’s possible he can if he tries to?” Kress shifted in his seat.
“There is no reason why not. I think he just needs to practise. If we know the second person calling Phoebe, that might give us a clue on Black’s next plan,” Eden gestured as she spoke. “Try,” she placed her hand on Oliver’s shoulder. “You have the ability, it is not going anyway. You might as well learn how to use it properly.”
Oliver rubbed his palms and brought them to his chin. It was worth trying if it would save Phoebe’s life. He fought through the deep doubt that Granny Wess’s death created in his gut. “Okay,” he rose and offered his hand to Phoebe.
Phoebe got on her feet slowly and held his hand.
“Focus,” Oliver heard Eden say before he was back in the dark cell.
Phoebe lay on the ground, gasping for air. Her face slowly turned to her right side, to the anxious and worried voice screaming her name. Oliver clenched Phoebe’s hand as he projected himself forward in his vision to see the lady in the other cell. “I know the voice,” he told himself as the voice got clearer. Trying to see beyond Phoebe’s death was as though Oliver’s brain was being dragged between two walls, each tugging it in different directions. One away from looking at anything else, like he wasn’t supposed to see anything beyond the visionscape. The other part was his will, forcing his head to turn and the pain was nerve-wracking.
After what seemed like hours, he heard the voice clearly and knew it instantly. “Eden!” He exhaled sharply and released Phoebe’s hand. He found Eden next to him and said, “You are the person calling her. You are in the next cell.”
“What? Me?” she touched her chest.
Oliver squeezed his eyes shut and gripped Phoebe’s wrists again. He had to see more. With grunts and groans, he saw Eden tied to a chair, screaming Phoebe’s name as her breaths faded. He knew Phoebe was dead the minute he felt the push to exit the visionscape. His vision always ended when the person was dead. He groaned and squeezed Phoebe’s wrists as he resisted the push to leave. Sweat trickled down both sides of his face and his teeth clenched so tightly, it was a wonder they didn’t crack.
Phoebe groaned as her wrists turned white under Oliver’s hold. She attempted to pull free when she couldn’t withstand the pain but it only made his grip stronger.
“Oliver.” Eden and Kress tried to separate his hand from Phoebe’s. “Oliver, let go of her!”
Phoebe cried out. Her wrist bone would shatter any time now, she knew that.
“Oliver!” Eden snapped at him. Not that it did anything. His eyes were squeezed as though he was in severe pain.
“He is going to break her wrist,” Kress said, trying to pry Oliver’s hand away from Phoebe while avoiding skin contact with him.
“He is taking my advice too literally. Oliver!” Eden grabbed his cheeks but he would not respond. Her eyes caught the red liquid flowing down from his nostrils to his lips. “He is going to kill himself.” She tapped his cheeks harder. “Oliver, you are hurting yourself. Stop. Awake up!” Phoebe would lose a hand at this rate and Oliver would end up with a brain aneurysm. His nosebleed was getting worse. She searched her arm bag for a tissue and cleaned Oliver’s nose, while Kress tried and failed to separate their hands.
It took another minute before Oliver released Phoebe and slumped. Luckily, Eden caught him with a grunt and held him up while Kress braced Phoebe as she staggered back, rubbing her red wrists.
Oliver slowly parted his heavy eyelids. The bright fluorescent light that shot straight into them reminded him to take his time adjusting. Strenuously, he lifted himself to sit on the bed, rubbing his throbbing head. “Argh,” he winced. Once the throbbing settled, he scanned the room to recognise where he was. His eyes landed on the figure curled up in a chair at the foot of the bed.
He pushed aside the blanket and tiptoed to Eden. An owl hooted outside which snagged his attention to the window. It was dark outside. He must have been asleep for six hours or more. He squatted beside Eden, examining her oval face. Watching her as she slept reminded him of why he was in bed mere minutes ago. He had pushed himself beyond his limit because he wanted to gather more clues. Everything changed when he saw Eden in Phoebe’s death vision.
His hands went to a fallen lock of her hair, wanting to stroke it. About an inch away, Eden abruptly opened her eyes.
“Oliver!” she sprang off the chair to sit up. “You’re awake.” She held his cheeks and puffed them up.
He rolled his eyes down at Eden’s hands. “Why are you overreacting?” he muffled through puffed cheeks. “It’s not like I was in a coma for years.”
“You were asleep for,” she glanced at her wristwatch, “32 hours.”
“What?!” he fell back on his buttocks with widened eyes.
“It is my fault,” Eden crawled out of the chair to the floor. “I shouldn’t have told you to push yourself,” she crawled closer to Oliver.
Her movement toward him startled Oliver. “Why are you crawling like a ghost coming out of a cupboard?”
She inched closer to him, stopping right between his legs. “I am so sorry.”
Oliver couldn’t decide if she was making fun of him or if she was indeed sorry. She had an unclear expression as she leaned in towards him, their noses less than two inches from each other.
Oliver darted his eyeballs from right to left, stammering as he asked, “What are you doing?”
What started as a genuine act of worry had turned into fun for Eden. Now, she was having too much fun watching Oliver squirm like a 7th grader about to talk to the girl he had a crush on.
She stifled a laugh and then noticed his nose. “Your nose has stopped bleeding.”
“My nose?” Bracing himself on the heel of his right palm, he pinched his nose with his other hand.
“I had a nosebleed?”
She responded with four fast-paced nods and a wide grin.
Oliver swayed his head. “Is that something to smile about?”
She didn’t reply. Her eyes were locked on his and for a fleeting second, he thought she was going to kiss him. He saw her face inch towards his and he wasn’t planning on avoiding it.
Eden couldn’t deny she had feelings for him, no matter how little. Their chemistry had grown in the two weeks she had stayed with him. The urge to feel his plush lips between hers was overcoming her. Not that she ever resisted it.
A knock came from the door and before they could answer it, the door was opened. Kress’s torso appeared in the doorway. It was a scene. Eden was on her fours, perched between Oliver’s legs. Oliver slanted his upper body back, bracing it in his arms. They curved their heads back to the door to see who had interrupted them.
Kress forced a cough, suddenly finding the ceiling more interesting. “I shouldn’t have opened the door, right?”
“Yes,” Eden clipped. Oliver raised a warning brow at her, telling her to knock it off.
“I thought as much,” Kress said to the ceiling. “Somebody is probably insulting me for this,” he muttered. “I will come back later.” He began to shut the door.
“No, wait.” Oliver stopped him, holding Eden away so he could stand to his feet. “You came to see me?” he asked Kress, helping Eden up on her feet as well.
It took Kress a few seconds before his purpose for coming into the room came back to him. “I wanted to check if you were awake.” His gaze shifted between Oliver and Eden, “Good to see that you are up and about,” he smirked.
Oliver stole a glance at Eden and folded his lips. She looked like she might break the detective’s jaw for coming inside in the first instance.
“How are you feeling?” Kress asked. “You strained yourself.”
“I am okay, just a headache,” he massaged his nape.
“That reminds me.” Kress entered and went to the bedside stool as she spoke. “The doctor said you were under acute stress and you might feel a headache when you wake up.” He brought a small white plastic container from the drawer. “She said you should take two of this,” he jiggled the container before giving it to Oliver. “But you need to eat first. Come on, Phoebe cooked.”
They found Phoebe setting the table in the living room with Jax. She had let her curly hair down and was wearing a comfy maroon top and dark jeans. Oliver’s eyes dropped to the bandage wrapped around her wrists. “I did that?”
Phoebe heard the voice and spun around. “Oliver,” her eyes twinkled, “you are awake.” She spread her arms and they hugged. “You made us worry. Feeling better?”
“Yes, thanks.” He lifted Phoebe’s hands to his face. “I hurt you,” he said quietly.
“Oh, it’s nothing. It will be fine in no time.”
“I am sorry. I am so sorry.”
She smiled. “Thank you, but it’s okay, really. Come, let’s eat,” she urged them to the table.
About five minutes into dinner, it rammed into Oliver’s mind. “It will happen soon,” he blurted out.
The four of them turned their heads to him, blinking. Kress asked, “What will happen soon?”
“The vision I saw, Phoebe had bandages around her wrists,” he pointed at Phoebe’s wrists, “that bandage.”
“The doctor told her she can take them off in about a week,” Jax said. He arrived at the safe house shortly after Oliver passed out yesterday. Kress took the time to tell him about Oliver’s ability. He was sceptical but agreed to go along with it for now, at least until he saw valid proof.
“That means she will—” die was not an appropriate word, Eden thought. “Black will find her before next week?”
“Not just her,” Oliver said. “Both of you.”
“Alright, let’s pause,” Kress sighed. “Oliver, I want you to tell us everything you saw in the vision. Don’t leave out any details.”
“Phoebe was dying on the floor and Eden was screaming her name in the next cell. It was a big room with two cells, separated by bars. When Phoebe,” he glanced at her. “When she died somebody walked into the room.”
“Who?” Kress asked.
“I couldn’t make a face.”
“An accomplice or Black himself?” Kress thought aloud.
“That was what I was trying to do before I passed out. I am sure I can see who it was if I try again. Phoebe,” he shifted closer to her, stretching his hand. Eden slapped his hand back.
“Ah!” he clutched his hand.
“What do you think you are doing?” she demanded. “Are you trying to die?”
“Yes, I agree with Eden,” Kress said. “You shouldn’t read anybody, for now, especially to see vision away from the… visionscape, as you called it.”
“Who was it that told me to explore my ability?” he tapped his chin. “Oh! I know, you!” he shot his face to Eden.
“I didn’t ask you to die,” Eden retorted. “Practice takes time. Go easy. You woke up from a semi-coma less than twenty minutes ago.”
Oliver opened his mouth to protest.
“Don’t even dream about it,” she flashed her index finger.
“Yes, ma’am,” he folded his lips and looked away.
“Anything else?” Kress asked.
“No,” he slurred.
They continued dinner and Eden gave him the painkiller as prescribed by the doctor. As if the drugs activated a part of his brain, another important detail flashed in his mind. “Yes!” he sprang up to his feet, startling others.
“Stop doing that,” Eden groaned.
“How did I forget that?” he clasped his hands on both sides of his head. “It is the same place!”
“Wha- what place?” Kress asked.
Oliver snapped his fingers. “What happened to the hideout we were found twenty years ago? Black’s cave.”
Kress glanced at Jax for an answer. “The tunnels in the cave were filled,” he answered.
“Filled? Why? By who?” Oliver threw his questions back-to-back.
His shoulders sagged. “My parents?”
“Your parents bought the Valley when the investigation was over,” Jax explained. “The tunnels were used about 300 years ago to smuggle raw materials from Red Hill. Its entry access is at Trench Valley. The smugglers were arrested and the tunnels were shut down. Nothing was heard about it until the 2000 incident. After that, I guess your parents wanted to get rid of any reminder of what happened. Most sections of the tunnels were burnt down during the raid, but that wasn’t enough for them. They bought the entire Valley which was the tunnel’s entry point and filled it to the brim with concrete. You didn’t know?”
“No.” Oliver paused. “The cell I saw was the same as the one we were kept in 2000.”
“That is not possible,” Kress said. “The land belongs to your family now, the Hastings. It is a wasteland. After they filled the tunnels, they shut down the valley. The entire valley is about 8 kilometres long. They built a wall around it and locked the valley in. The place is covered in trees and dead plants now.”
“It was the first place we checked,” Jax added.
“How are you sure it is the same place?” Eden asked Oliver. “Maybe it just looked like it?”
“No,” Oliver shook his head. “The drawings we made on the cell walls as kids were still there. You remember them?” he asked Phoebe.
“I do,” she replied. “We always draw and scribble on the walls with stones. You wrote our names on the wall,” she told Eden.
Once again, Eden was not pleased with herself for erasing her memory.
“Could it be a replica?” Kress said.
“A replica?” he intoned doubtfully. “If he planned to kill us, why create a replica of the place?”
“Maybe he plans to get another set of kids to replace the original five,” Jax said.
“That is possible,” Kress shrugged. “He made his new hideout exactly like his old one because he is planning to do the same thing.” He shifted in his seat, thinking, “But still, if it is as similar as you said, why go through all that trouble?”
“It is very similar, down to the creepy dusty bulb in the middle of the cell,” Oliver said.
Kress’s phone rang. “Kress,” he answered the phone. His brows slowly deepened as he listened. “Are you sure?” he asked the caller. “Hold on, let me put you on speaker.” He switched to the speaker and put the phone on the centre table. “Lori, you are on speaker.”
“The 911 call came in about five minutes ago,” Lori’s voice sounded through the phone. “The description matched Black’s.”
“Who is the victim?” Kress asked.
“Percy Tabbit. He owns a law firm, Tabbit law firm. Sexual harassment charges have been filed against him but never made it to court. He is arrogant, rude, bullies his female employees who refused his sexual advances—
“He’s an SOB, that’s what he is,” Jax voiced.
“Fits his victim profile,” Kress noted. “Let’s go,” he told Jax.
“Wait, something is off,” Lori said.
“This is the first time his victim made a 911 call. It was almost as if he wanted him to make the call.”
“You think the report is false?”
“Or a decoy. I think you should stay until the officers on ground confirm it is him,” Lori suggested.
Kress glanced at Jax who nodded that they should do as Lori had suggested. “Alright, Lori. Call me as soon as you have confirmation.”
“Will do,” she said and ended the call.
They waited anxiously for ten minutes before Lori called back.
“It’s him,” Lori said.
“Are you sure?” Kress asked her.
“No one knows what he looks like. However, he has severe burn marks on his face and arm. Since he reportedly died in a fire, it might be him. A DNA test will be conducted during processing when he gets to the station using the sample in the lab.”
“Okay, I will be there soon. Thanks, Lori,” Kress ended the call.
“I will come with you,” Oliver informed Kress.
“No,” Oliver told Eden sternly.
“What? I want to come,” she said innocently.
“Stay out of it and stay here.”
Eden folded her arms. “Why do you get to go but I don’t?”
“I didn’t say he is going,” Kress said.
“Apart from Phoebe, I am the only one alive who stands a chance at recognizing him.”
“You said you don’t know what his face looks like.”
“Yes, but standing in front of him might bring back the memory.” Kress had a sceptical look. “I can help, let me,” Oliver pleaded.
“He is right,” Jax said. “He might remember something when he sees him.”
Kress didn’t have the luxury of thinking it over. What is the worst that could happen? “Alright. Let’s go. Jax, call Vass,” Kress said as he left the living room with Oliver and Jax. “Tell her to do a recon of Trench Valley, in case Oliver’s vision is right. Even though he had been arrested, he is not going to tell us about his hideout easily and we need the evidence there. Tell her not to engage. She should check with other officers and report back.”
See you guys next week. -S.A. Trinity