Chapter 50: Revelation
I sat on my couch that night looking at Ian’s drawing of the inscription from the Old City while I waited for Lena to arrive. The collage of flower drawings that formed the large tree was beautiful. But something was off. I was obsessed with flowers as a child, and I knew the ones in the inscription well.
Behind some groups of flowers, the drawing of the tree didn’t fit into the larger picture. It was as if Lena had forced puzzle pieces into the wrong places. She must have been in a hurry when she hung them.
A few of the flowers lay on the floor. I picked them up, attempting to repair the damage of my episode earlier.
As I seated the pages, another mystery emerged. The pictures fit into place, and yet the flowers were still out of order from the original inscription. Ian had a photographic memory. He wouldn’t make a mistake like that.
I frowned, cocking my head. The out-of-place flowers must have been placed there on purpose. But why?
Something else was strange, too. Some of the flowers repeated. Why use the same flower twice?
An idea hit me. I went to my study and pulled a notepad and pen from a drawer, then brought them back to the coffee table. One by one, I listed the different types of flowers starting with those that I knew for sure were out of place. If there were one thing I’d learned from the Eastern philosophy of the Ancient Hebrews, it was that everything’s connected whether we sense it or not. And at that moment, I sensed it.
When a pattern didn’t immediately emerge from the list, I started to think maybe this was all just coincidental. But another idea came to mind.
I began writing down only the first letter of each flower’s name. The first several letters were gibberish, but when I reached the flowers that Ian had placed out of order, words began emerging. Then a sentence.
I love you, Abby.
Tears from my melting heart formed in my eyes and the hole inside of me grew. It would hurt even more if I found another message in the flowers. Regardless, I continued my search.
It was all I had left of him.
When Lena arrived a little while later, I’d given up on finding any more messages in the flowers.
She stood across the coffee table from me. “How do you plan to find the killer?”
“I’m gonna watch people in their quarters.”
Lena raised an eyebrow.
“I know it sounds bad, but if there’s any chance of catching him, it’ll be in private when he thinks no one’s watching.”
Lena took a breath, as if trying to come to grips with what she was about to help me do, then nodded with resignation.
“I found something, but I don’t think it helps any.” I picked up the notebook and handed it to Lean. “Those are the names of the flowers Ian drew for me. Look at what the first letters of these twelve flowers spell.
“I—love—you—Abby. Aw, that’s so sweet.” It sounded more romantic in Lena’s accent. She frowned. “That’s the only message you found?”
“Yeah, I don’t think there are any others.”
Lena looked at the flowers. “Huh. That’s too bad.” Her tone shifted oddly, and she handed the notebook back to me.
“What? Did you see something?”
She shook her head. “No.”
I was just being paranoid. All of this was getting to me. But something still nagged at me. How could that be the only message in the flowers? There had to be more.
I looked at the misplaced flowers around the outside edge of the tree. I hadn’t considered them before. Any messages Ian might have hidden in them would’ve been destroyed by incorrect placement. Maybe if I placed them in the correct order, a new message would appear.
I was about to rearrange them but stopped myself. What if they were already arranged in a message? Would Ian have done that at the expense of the picture looking completely wrong? It didn’t make much sense, but I went with it. I pictured the names of the flowers in my mind, ordering them according to the drawing. But no message appeared.
Then something occurred to me. Maybe it wasn’t the first letters of the flowers spelling something this time. Maybe it was the last.
I went back through the flower names in my head again but in reverse order this time.
There was a message. It was backward.
It wasn’t in English, though. It was French. It said Lena n’est pas Lena.
Translation: Lena is not Lena.
Slowly, my eyes crept over to Lena. She stood with arms crossed, looking at me, then back to the flowers. What was going on?
Her eyes perked up. “What? Did you find another message?”
Until I understood what it meant, I wasn’t about to tell her. “No.”
“Then why are you still looking at it? Obsessed much?”
I smirked at her then turned back to the drawing, letting her assume she was correct.
Searching through more of the out-of-place flowers around the outside edge, I found another French word, but not one I knew. The words after it were familiar, though. They translated to, …is the killer.
I swallowed hard.
What was that first word? A-M-A-T-H-E. French was very familiar to me, but not this word. Maybe I’d gotten one letter out of order. I started to ask Lena but stopped myself. A bad feeling crept up inside of me.
I frowned at a geranium hanging upside-down in this sequence. Before, I’d assumed this was just a hasty mistake made by Lena when she’d hung the sheets of paper. But was it? If someone wanted to put a G in the message, last letters wouldn’t work, because no flower ended with the letter G. Had they flipped the Germanium upside-down to use the G instead of its last letter, M?
When I replaced the M with the G, a pang of fear grabbed at my chest. It was a French name. Agathe. I knew that name. The message read Agathe is the killer.
I turned away from the drawings, shrugging, and walked toward Lena as if I were done. “Oh, well.” I kept my expression calm. Controlled. “Your sister was captured by Hunters when my father and the others found you, right?”
She nodded slowly. “Yes.”
“She was a little younger than you, right?”
“No.” Lena shook her head slowly. “We were twins.”
Her eyebrow arched. “Why are you suddenly interested in my sister?” She looked at the flower drawings, then back to me.
“No reason.” I kept my body still so its movements wouldn’t give away the lie. “I just hadn’t thought about her in a long time.”
Lena’s expression shifted suddenly to nonchalance. “So, are you ready to…uh…do your thing?”
Three months ago, we’d seen Lena attacked in the junkyard. She had a cracked skull and no memory. Her personality had completely changed. Her accent was thicker. She couldn’t use her powers anymore.
I watched Lena carefully. “Lena, what was your sister’s name?”
She leveled a gaze at me, eyes narrowing slightly. “Agathe.”
A thousand spider-like chills crawled up my spine. It wasn’t Lena standing across from me.
It was Agathe.