Chapter 5: .crows/and/worms
School seemed so dreadfully ordinary after the last two days. It was like going back to the world of colour after spending a year in a cocoon of horror. My scooter was probably still in the ditch outside France's, so Chris had to drive me. I had spent another night at his place. I was surprised that he wasn’t getting annoyed yet.
As I jumped out of Chris' car, I noticed two things.
The first was: It was raining quite heavily. I hadn’t noticed as I was inside the car.
The second was: The school was completely desolate. There was just a huge void where there used to be people.
I sprinted to class, afraid of missing it the second day in a row. My professors were pretty strict about absence. I couldn’t miss many days.
I went straight to the music building. I didn’t even stop by the canteen to buy some breakfast. Chris had morning classes today. That meant he didn't have time to cook an omelette before driving me off. Derrick was still asleep on the sofa bed when I left. I was guessing he took this week off. It was completely understandable. I wouldn’t go to school if something like that happened to my parents.
I met some friends in the hallways. They asked me what had happened at the petrol station. All had read the news and heard of Em’s death. They were even planning a party in her honour. First I was a little hesitant, but then I thought that Em would like that. She was quite the party animal, and she would have loved for them to have fun, even after her death.
I gave them my blessing. Chris’ friend Bruce was throwing a basketball around the hallway. Suddenly he threw the ball at me. I was barely quick enough to catch the ball before it hit me square in the head. On the ball I saw the face of John Bashor. It was printed out and taped on the ball.
“Do you like it?,” Bruce asked. He smiled from ear to ear like the idiot he was. What a distasteful thing to do, I said to myself.
“Of course I don’t like it! Don’t you realise there are people here that were directly affected by the incident, and here you are, playing around with it like it’s some kind of hoax. I was there, and it was very much real,” I said right in his face. Bruce went greyish as he listened to my voice getting progressively angrier.
“I didn’t mean anything by it…” He tried to protect himself. I tore the face off the ball and tossed the ball back at him. Then I strutted to the nearest bin and threw the printed out face away.
“Don’t try to pull anything like that again, Bruce,” I warned. He nodded.
This had delayed me severely. I was already late for class; I didn’t need all these distractions. Still shocked over Bruce’s behaviour, I rushed into the classroom. Only to find it empty. I then remembered that it was a Wednesday. We were all in the lecture hall, making music. I ran back across the campus. It was in the other end of the place, and I was getting pretty stressed out.
As I was walking towards the lecture hall, I got goose bumps on my arms and my back. I tried to shake it off, but it only got worse. An eerie feeling started in the bottom of my stomach and spread to the tip of my toes and to my head. I stopped, trying to listen if I could hear a sound. The only thing I could hear was the sound of raindrops hitting the pavement and the corrugated iron on the roof of the bike shacks. Then something changed. I could swear I heard footsteps in the distance. Yes, it was definitely footsteps. I was trained to recognise sound. Footsteps were pretty easy to distinguish. I turned to where the sound came from, but saw nothing. Maybe it was just the rain. It was then I noticed how alone I was. I stood there in the parking lot, completely and entirely lonesome. The footsteps continued but I couldn’t see anyone. Did it come from behind the bike shack? I got a little scared. Especially since my body reacted in this way, getting curious instead of fleeing. Curiosity killed the cat, so I was pretty damn happy I wasn’t a cat when my feet started moving towards the shack. I didn’t stop until I was on the other side. And it was empty. Not a living soul.
I felt my heart sink. Paranoia had gripped me, and I wasn’t ready to handle it. I started walking again, but stopped when I heard footsteps behind me. It was closer this time. I turned on my heel and scouted the area to see if I saw anything out of the ordinary. Once I stopped, all I could hear was the rhythmic sound of the raindrops. It was pouring down like a waterfall right now. My brown locks were soaked. Not that I really cared right now. There were more important things going on. Like figuring out what this sound behind me was. I started walking again, but I kept glancing over my shoulder. I could swear I still heard footsteps now they were coming from everywhere. I kept throwing glances behind me, as I tried to keep a watchful eye on my flanks and in front of me. My main concern was still behind me. If someone wanted to snatch me, now was their chance. I was alone in a big parking lot. No one would notice if I disappeared. Would anyone care?
Then I walked into something hot and soft. A bit dazed and confused I looked up to se a broad shouldered redhead with a cap and a blue uniform.
“Scott,” I breathed out and pressed my body against his.
“You’re wet,” he commented in a monotone voice.
“What are you doing here? How long were you following me?”
“I wasn’t following you,” dread filled me as I realised he didn’t make the footstep sounds. Someone was tailing me and I didn’t even know where they were. My bet was that it was Bruce trying to get revenge for humiliating him in the hallway. But what Bruce was capable of, I didn’t know.
“To answer your second question, I’m here to see you.” His face was still like a stone statue. Cold, expressionless, like you would imagine a pillar of salt.
“What have I done?” I asked, getting worried.
“You are going to help me do some police work,” he said. His features softened and he smirked at me.
“What do you mean?” He led me down the parking lot, towards his car. It was his civilian car. A blue one. Probably a Ford or something of the sort. I didn’t know much about cars.
“You’re going to come with me. I want to look at something with you.” We got into his car. He noticed that I looked very uncomfortable. To make the drive more enjoyable for me he turned on the radio.
“Billy Talent?” I asked, grinning at him. He shrugged.
“What can I say, I like miserable punk rock. I laughed as he started singing along to Red Flag. Suddenly my awkward car fear was gone. Scott’s mood just always lightened my mood. I wished I had gotten to know him better in primary school.
“Just holler if you want to change the station.” I shook my head. Billy Talent was just what I was looking for today.
“Are you even allowed to do this?,” I asked carefully.
“Make me be a part of the investigation.” A pause. Then he looked at me, taking the attention away from the road.
“I honestly don’t know what the hell is going on, and that scares me more than anything.” I chewed my bottom lip as he spoke. “I don’t know what the motive was, or if there even was one. I don’t know anything about the Bashor’s. I’m an officer of the law. My job isn’t just to persecute those that break said law. More than anything it’s to keep the public safe. And how can I do that if I don’t know what triggers the criminals.”
I stared blankly into the space in front of me. I hadn’t even thought of that. John Bashor needed to have a trigger. He couldn’t just go on that rampage for no reason. Maybe it was the debts. Something made me think that. Especially since he didn’t kill his son. But then I remembered how he raped and murdered Amanda. A sane man with a real motive couldn’t do that to a person. Right?
He turned off the main road and drove into the rougher hoods in the outskirts of town. I suddenly got an inkling, and I knew where we were heading.
My suspicions were confirmed when we drove into the driveway of a run-down shed of a house. Just like the bike shacks outside of school, this house had a corrugated iron-roof and walls made out of thin wood. It looked as if a single draft of wind would blow the house down.
“Here we are,” Scott announced.
“This was where they lived, right?”
“Yeah. John, Rose and Derrick. One happy family.”
“Only John was a drunkard that beat his wife and son,” I commented. We looked through the gardens before going inside the house. I didn’t feel comfortable. I asked if we had a search warrant, but Scott danced around the question. Maybe you don’t need one when the people are already dead. But technically Derrick still lived there, right?
The grass was well maintained, mowed down and sprayed. There was a set of swings in the back yard. Though they were rusty it still looked like it was safe to use them. Other than that there wasn’t a lot around the house. It all seemed pretty desolate and bare. And it was far too strange with this one well maintained house on a row of unkempt gardens.
Still, it wasn’t anything too odd.
We then entered the house. It was dark inside and it took us some time to find the light switch. I was the first to find it. It was well hidden behind a curtain. The surprise washed over me as I looked at the completely empty living room. There was no furniture there. No tables, no chairs, no settees… absolutely nothing. I felt this unnerving sensation again. Like I was being watched.
Scott took some pictures with a small compact camera he hid in his pocket. It wasn’t the best camera, but it still had an ISO button and aperture and shutter settings. I learned quite a lot about cameras in my journalism class.
“Look, there used to be a table here. I can se marks on the carpet,” Scott said and pointed at the carpet. And just as he had said, there was a big mark on the carpet. It was painfully obvious that there had been furniture here once upon a time. Only where had it gone? Had the strange men Derrick talked about left them with nothing?
“Let’s explore some more,” I said, feeling pretty anxious. There was nothing good happening in this house. I knew that from the moment I stepped inside.
We ventured further into the house. John and Rose’s bedroom was also empty except from a bed in the middle of the room. The bed had no bed sheets or mattress. The house was stripped of everything.
One door was marked with a caution-sign. We assumed it was Derrick’s room. Inside the room was beautifully furnished and we saw that it was a teenager’s quarter.
Derrick had one giant computer with three screens on his desk. I supposed he was a gamer. That was the only logical explanation for having such a big computer. His bed had a dirty, red, sheet on it.
Scott tried to turn on the computer. It started with a loud sound and we both jumped. The screen went blue for a while until the computer demanded we enter the password.
“I don’t want to mess up his set-up,” Scott said as he shut down the computer.
Then there was the basement. The hatch was rusty. He opened it. It went open with a screech. I looked at Scott before looking down into the depths of the cellar. A breeze came from the deep. It was almost like a stony medieval crypt.
“Shall we?” Scott asked. He signalled for me to step down the staircase. He gulped before I started descending into the darkness.
Scott lit a torch and waved it around to try and find the light switch. When we finally found it, the horrible scent of something that smelled like cat piss had completely done us in.
Event though it was dimly lit, I could see the outlines of the horrifying cages that stood in the middle of the floor. I walked up to them, as slowly as I could manage.
There were chains lying all around the floor. The bloodstains were dried, but I could still clearly see them. I choked out a scream.
In the innermost corner of the room we found a table. Lots of chemical equipment was placed on the table. It was what looked like a meth lab. I had never seen a meth lab in real life, but from the horror on Scotts face, I realised I was right.
“What was he doing down here?” Scott whispered. “This is Scott Winchester, I request immediate back up at Sundrive Avenue 45, repeat, immediate back up.” He was talking into his radio. “I found remains of a drug lab, and evidence of forced labour. We need forensics down here.” Scott said yes a few times before pressing the button. He looked at me and said: “Let’s get the hell out of here.”ns 126.96.36.199da2