(Read description after read this chapter.)
It was late afternoon by now, but the streets were very quiet. A soft blanket of white was the only thing that could be seen through the windows, sometimes with the glimpse of a faded, phantom-like silhouette passing through the thick fog. There would be few passers-by with such a horrible weather. The Cafe was nearly empty too.
It was a small, cosy place – no much more than half a dozen tables, the counter with sweets and cakes on display, and the pleasant aroma of fresh coffee. The customers were only three, and two of them were already rising to go before it grew too dark and misty to reach their houses safely. They certainly had a nice home to come back to. And they would prefer to return to their families than to stay there.
But this didn’t apply to him, the young man sitting at the corner table. He should be about twenty years old. His hair was brown and curly, he wore a red scarf, and had sleeplessness bags under his eyes. They were just slight shadows, however they were rather visible against his pale skin.
The day had been long for him. Rewarding, since he had solved yet another case for the police. Robbery, this time: a wealthy lady who’d had an heirloom diamond stolen. He had identified, chased and caught the culprit, who now was locked behind the bars of the city’s prison. In one day. There was a reason for him being the youngest detective that this police had ever had.
Still, though, it had been long day.
“This work is a killer…” Neil muttered, taking a long sip of his coffee, with a sigh. “The station won’t give me a day off, they don’t accept me as the detective I am.”
He glanced down at the table before him. There were pictures spread on it. Many of them. Old photographs, with their so familiar and cherished faces gazing back at him as he stared at them. He gave a weak smile, half of it sadness, half remorse.
“My dear friends… family…” he murmured, his hand hovering close to the pictures, as if to touch them. “May you rest in peace.”
The silence inside the cafe was absolute now, and it seemed to weigh heavily on his shoulders. Outside, it was also static whiteness. A car was heard in distance, the sound muffled by the fog.
Neil gazed through the window. His hand finally rested upon a photograph of a beautiful woman. In the picture, she was about a dozen years older than him now. He raised it, holding it before his eyes. That same sad smile kept tugging at the corners of his lips.
“Mom.” he whispered. “You were a wonderful mother to me. I’m sorry…”
Both his family and friends, they were all gone – and it had been like this for some years. They all had died of strange, or mysterious causes: smoke inhalation, drowning, run over by a train. Shot on a dark alley by unknown thieves who were never caught, like his girlfriend, the only one he had ever loved in his life. His parents, too, had been kidnapped and murdered when he was twelve.
Neil contemplated these circumstances with a gloomy expression. There was no visible connection between all those facts. However, deep down, he knew that existed one.
It could be translated into one word. A name:
He gave a heavy sigh, and took another sip from his coffee, before gathering the pictures and rising. He stored them carefully in the inner pocket of his jacket.
Then, he was closing the door of the cafe behind him. A raindrop fell on his head. Followed by another one, marking a trail like that of a tear across his face.
And it starts to rain.
“It can’t really get worse, can it?” he murmured, sarcastically. Soon, though, the amused glint disappeared from his eyes. “I miss you… I’ll never forget…”
“…How I didn’t arrive on time.”
There was a reason for him being a detective, too.
Neil could hear a train rolling on at distance while he walked back to his house.
He placed the magnifying glass in front of his eyes. He was perfectly conscious of Sir Charleston still staring at him. He breathed in and out, slowly, analyzing the letters. A smile flickered on his lips. He raised his eyes. They were shining bright.
“The calligraphy is the same.” Edward spoke.
Agatha leaned back on the train seat, chewing the bottom of her pen in concentration. After a moment, though, her gaze unfocused, and she just let the pen drop on the open notebook on her lap. She looked distractedly out of the window.
“Lord, I’m so tired of Edward…” she thought. “I should kill him somehow and end this headache at once and forever…”
A thought crossed her head, and she sighed.
“No, I can’t… Neil wouldn’t like it. After all, Edward was our favorite alter-ego when we were younger… the perfect detective.”
The train arrived at the station, and the passengers 0-0disembarked, Agatha with them. The station was in half-light, like always, the cloudy sky could be seen through the glass panels of the ceiling. And, like always, it was buzzing with people.
“Neil.” she kept thinking as she walked. “How are you…? You didn’t reply any of the letters I sent to you on the last weeks. Do you even know that I’m coming back? Back to our odd city of sempiternal fog and night…”
She was so lost in thought that she wouldn’t have noticed the front news on the daily papers if the boy who was selling them hadn’t cried them out the right moment she was passing in front of him.
Agatha halted, in the middle of the crowded train station. For a moment, all the noise around her was blocked out of her mind – her own thoughts were partially blocked out of her mind. There were just those big ink letters, and the black-and-white picture of the front page of the papers. Some color disappeared from her softly sunburned skin.
There had been new murders on these last weeks. More than one. He was getting out of the shadows again.
She frowned. Why hadn’t Neil told her…? She had asked him to keep her informed about their criminal…
Agatha narrowed her eyes. She turned round, walking away with very quick steps. Now she was sure that it had been the best time to come back.
“If anything happened to you, and I’m not knowing… My God, I’m gonna kill you, Neil Crimson.”