Warning: PG-13 for Violence, Gore and Language
I can’t move.
It’s not just a bleeding nose, or a scratch on my lip. I can see the dark red mixed in with the concrete. My blood everywhere.
A hand dug into my back pocket and pulled out my wallet.
“You were asking for cash? Here’s a 20.”
“Nikolas Whitelight.” The wallet hit my face and I grimaced. “We know who you are. Don’t say a thing. You’ve been warned.”
“Just a 20? He doesn’t have anything else?” Now I regret even having cash on me at all.
Footsteps? Are those footsteps? Or just my heart drumming in my ears?
“Huh. What’s going on here?” Someone else is here. I lay as still as I could. Didn’t take much of an effort.
“Who the fuck are you?”
“I’m a detective. What about you?” The newcomer replied. There was a slight hesitation, and then the three pair of feet surrounding me walked away.
Some new feet arrived and crouched beside me.
“You look like a mess.” He said.
I shoved my arms underneath me and forced myself to get up. My sides screamed in agony, my shoulders told me they were probably sprained or something close to that, and blood was pouring off my face onto the ground.
Get up. Get up!
My eyes grew warm, and the dripping blood got diluted in my tears.
He grabbed my arms and lifted me up, helping me lean onto the fence.
I wiped at the tears on my face and only managed to spread blood where there hadn’t been any before. I sniffled angrily, trying not to look at the detective, trying to stop crying, trying to ignore the pain signals my body was sending me.
“That’s quite the beating you took. Unless you’re a hefty bleeder. Anything broken?”
I moved my arms, poked at my legs and sides, checked my shoulders. It hurt like hell, I had scratches all over from hitting the ground, but nothing felt broken. Well nothing physical.
“Why didn’t you arrest them?” I croaked out.
“Nothing broken then, I gather.”
Anger started to replace the humiliation, and I forced myself to stand up, ignoring the complaints of my limbs.
“Why didn’t you arrest them?” I asked again. If he’s a cop he should’ve!
“What are you doing in this neighborhood? Doesn’t seem like your home.” He asked, once again, not answering my question.
“How can you tell?” I half muttered. Talking made the wounds on my face hurt.
“You got beat up, and your clothes definitely don’t come from any of these stores.”
“Maybe I shop somewhere else.” I hmphed, glancing down at my now dusty and bloody clothes.
“There’s no reason for you to try to prove you live here. Do you need a ride to the hospital?” He asked.
Hospital? There’s nothing broken I don’t want to go to the hospital where they’re likely to- “No. No.”
“Ride home then?”
Home is even worse. If my family sees me like this, I’m going to be attacked by questions and then I’ll probably get lectured and a whole bunch of things I really don’t want right now. Or ever. “I’m good.”
A small summer breeze hit us and I winced as it touched my wounds.
“You’re not and I can’t in my right mind leave you here to bleed out.”
“Feeling guilty because you didn’t arrest them? Yeah well no surprise there.” I grumbled.
“Do you dislike the police?” He asked with a frown.
“I don’t really see how useful they are.”
“I’m feeling a little insulted now. You probably think I’m a corrupted cop because I’m hanging around here and not arresting bad guys I didn’t see beat up a kid.” He said with a small maybe a little bit apologetic chuckle.
“You said it, not me.” Though I might’ve gone more with Lazy Cop.
“I’m investigating a case.”
“….what kind of case?”
“You think I’ll just tell you?” He scoffed.
“You owe me.” I said, as determined as I could. Even if all I wanted at the moment was to pick at the wounds on my face. The blood was already beginning to dry.
He raised his eyebrows. “You can tag along if you want. Till you decide you’re ready to go home. I’m investigating the missing kids case.”
I’m surprised he actually agreed – in a way.
“But…isn’t that against rules or whatever? Letting civilians in on the investigation?”
“Then don’t go blabbing about what you hear.” He said with a nonchalant shrug. And with that he brushed past me and started to walk away. I hurried to follow him. My legs weren’t hurt that bad – what really hurt was mostly my sides, my arms and my face.
He’s not really what I expected a police officer to be – or well a detective in this case.
“I overheard those three guys saying they saw some kids get kidnapped, and some get released.” I said, once I matched my walking to his. “With marks on them.”
“Yeah I know.”
“Oh. What are the marks?” I asked.
“I said you could tag along, not know every single piece of information.” He said, checking his phone.
“My friend’s brother went missing here. I just wanted to know if they’d seen him get kidnapped. But he’ll get released too right?” I asked.
“Well…more of them stay missing. Here,” He said, pulling out a cloth and dripping some water from his water bottle on it. “Er, not that I’m trying to scare you. It’s just fact.”
“Shit…” I took the cloth, dabbing my face with it. It was soon caked with blood. “I promised Elvis I’d help.”
“By getting yourself beat up?”
“I thought I could take them on.” I mumbled.
“Hahaha! Wow you must be full of yourself.”
“It just happened so fast…”
“You were in over your head that’s what. Ah right here,” He said, turning right and opening the door of the first building.
It was a sort of coffee shop for hipsters or something I don’t know. Guess everyone already left for supper cause the place was completely empty apart from the employee.
“Hello Marian.” The detective said with a smile.
“Oh you.” She didn’t seem enthusiastic to see him at all.
“I’ll take a coffee.” He said, leaning on the counter. Oh. I thought he was going to interview her or something.
“You know I like mine nice and creamy Marian!” He smirked as she pulled out a cup with a dejected sigh. “Also, I’d like a side of info with that.” He added.
She sighed even louder. “I figured as much.”
“Well what do you have for me? I’ll give you a big tip this time.”
She began to fill his cup with coffee. “Terrance has been pawing at this too.”
“The kidnappings? Terrance is interested in that?” Who’s Terrance?
“He thinks there may be a link to one of his kids. He says they’re still here, in this neighborhood.” She said, handing him his cup. He pulled out a twenty and put it on the counter. I remembered the 20$ those guys stole from my wallet.
This time, she seemed a little more into it. She leaned on the counter like she was afraid someone would hear. She gave me a quick glance before answering. “Garland thinks the kid he saw is the same one that nearly burned down that store.”
“Really? Huh.” He dropped another twenty and took a sip of his coffee. “Thanks as always Marian.”
“Did you just bribe that woman for information?” I asked the moment we stepped foot outside.
“I just paid for my coffee.” He said simply, raising it up for emphasis. He took a few more sips and seemed to decide it was too bitter or something, because he set it down beside the door and left.
The weird feeling we were being watched crept up my spine and for a moment I thought it was those guys again – those three guys wondering how I was walking around after that beating.
But there was nothing. Not even Marian was looking at us, she was busy stuffing the bills in her pockets.
“Hey who’s-” I started to ask, but he’d already started to walk away again.
I’m really getting the feeling he’s not going to wait around for me.
“Hey who’s Terrance?” I asked, wincing as my sides complained.
“You mentioned him when you were talking to that lady.”
“Bah.” He shrugged. “You seem to be doing better. Ready to go home now?”
“Really not. What’s the next stop?”
“Not sure yet.”
While following him, we ended up walking past the laundry mat again, with its hundreds of advertisements. One of them caught my eye again, but for a whole different reason this time.
I plucked the Tae Kwon do classes! and stuffed it in my pocket.
“Magic trick! Magic trick! Want to see a magic trick?”
I actually screamed when the old guy popped out of nowhere. Jeesus I’m on edge.
“Not today old man.” The detective shook his head.
“A small magic trick, it’s a fortune telling. Fortune, fortune! You can’t see it coming!” People in this general neighborhood are weird.
“You’re scaring the kid.”
And suddenly he was all in my face. “Can you see it coming?? I can feel it, I can feel it deep in my bones, deep, deep, deep, deep, but no one else, but they do, but they ignore it, but its there you just have to listen, listen. Can’t you hear it, the warning bells. They’re yelling. I can hear them. I can hear them on you.”
“Boy you are a bell. A warning bell. A bell of horror. Of doom. Doom. It’s coming, oh it’s coming. And you’re the one bringing it with you. Watch it boy. They’ll come for you. Doom. It’s all around you. Doom. Just listen.”
“And you wonder why Marian never lets you in.” The detective shook his head, grabbing onto the old man’s collar and pulling him away from me.
Thank god, If I had to continue staring down that yellow mouth…
“That’s assault Seb! Assault!” The old man yelled from his spot of grass.
“Yeah, yeah.” The detective waved him off and kept walking. I made sure to follow closely.
I don’t remember why I thought it was a good idea to come here alone.
Guess I paid the price for it. Dealer’s avenue is worse than I thought.
But it’s not like anyone else would’ve wanted to tag along, they’re all soo occupied. Obviously Sal would’ve—er not too sure about that anymore. I think she’s really pissed that I saw her in the hospital room.
The detective turned around and stared at my feet.
“Is that your cat?”
“I thought it was a stray that got caught by some kids and bleached, but it’s been following you around since I found you.” He continued.
Wait wait “What cat?”
“That one. Right behind you.”
I turned around, my gaze going down only to notice that there really was a cat. A really oddly colored cat.
“Oh. I didn’t even realize.”
I can’t believe I didn’t notice it.
“It’s been in your blind spot.” The detective offered.
A few seconds of staring in its differently colored eyes, I was suddenly struck with a déja vu. “I recognize this cat.”
Wasn’t it…yeah wasn’t it the stray at summer camp? How did it follow me all the way here? Why did it follow me?
“So it’s not yours.”
“No.” I shook my head, glancing back at it. It was just standing there, waiting for something.
“Seems it’s taken a liking to you.” The detective noticed. He checked his phone. “Okay, it’s getting late. You should head back home.”
“I can’t go home looking like this.” I muttered. I don’t need a mirror to know I probably look like a horse trampled my face.
“Clean yourself up, and then tell your family you learned a valuable lesson – not to rush into fights where you’re outnumbered and outmatched. And most importantly, not to underestimate people.” He said in a much too serious tone.
“Do you have a side job as a teacher?”
“I’ll call you a cab.”
Guess I got lazy. Didn’t want to photoshop bruises on Niko’s limbs in every single screenshot. Hope y’all don’t mind.