Tea Leaves and Opal Necklaces

Aceldama

Match Sixteen: Aceldama:

-Germany-

The deeper in he goes, the more it shows. When was the last time Ludwig slept? He spent most of his days locked in his office, looking over the Harel file. The town of Polanów was completely destroyed by World War II.

But why did this woman want to go there?

Ludwig stared at his ceiling. All he could see now was her face.

His attention returned to reality when his cell phone rang.

“Hello?” the German man asked. A faded whisper filled his ear on the other line.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” he asked. The whispering grew rapid in pace and the words slurred together.

“Hello?” Ludwig asked. “Who is this?” The whispering turned into a low growl. Whining blended in with the sounds.

“Who is this?” the German man asked again. “Hello? Hello?” The other line went dead. Ludwig stared at his phone.

This wasn’t the first time stranger things started to happen.

The phone calls all happened around the same time. 9:47 p.m. His phone would ring and Ludwig would pick up.

“Hello?” he asked. The whole line would yield screeching or a death rattle sound for three minutes before the line would go dead. For the longest time, Ludwig couldn’t wrap his head around it.

At night, the German man felt like there was something or someone watching over him at night. That woman in the red coat started to haunt his dreams more frequently. When it got too much, Ludwig voiced his complainants to Gilbert. His brother looked like he wanted to run away, screaming.

“Come on,” he said instead. “Quit joking around, West.” His words fell flat into his soup when he saw his brother’s eyes.

“Oh...” he mumbled. Ludwig’s hand trembled as he held his spoon.

“I don’t feel so good,” he mumbled.

“Hey,” Gilbert spoke up. “You know what we need? A nice vacation. Why don’t you and I go somewhere quieter for a little while?” The Prussian man paused when his younger brother mumbled something under his breath.

“I’m sorry?” he asked. Gilbert walked over to Ludwig’s side of the table.

“She wants me to go to Polanów,” the German man muttered. The Prussian man gave him a strange look.

“What are you talking about?” he asked. “Polanów doesn’t exist anymore.”

“She wants me to take her there,” Ludwig said. “She wants to go there.”

“But why?” his brother asked. “Who wants to go there?” The German man lifted his head. Gilbert backed up at the hollow look in Ludwig’s eyes.

“Hey... Are you feeling okay?” he asked. The Prussian man shook him on the arm.

“Oi! Oi!” he shouted.

“No,” Ludwig said at last. He stood up and walked away from the table.

“West?” Gilbert asked. The German man disappeared down the hall. His brother sat back, worried as he heard the door close. However, he turned around.

“Hello?” he asked. The Prussian man shook his head. What am I thinking? There’s no one else here in this house. Still, it wasn’t enough. Gilbert picked up his phone and walked out of the room.

From the outside, the woman in the red coat stared inside. She looked like she had been crying. The woman held her hand to her chest. She said only one thing.

“I want to go home.”

More tears ran down her cheeks. The glass frosted up at her touch.


-South Korea-

Im Yong looked down at his lap.

“My sister contacted me for the first time in years,” he said. The teenage boy’s hands shook in his lap. He grabbed onto his right wrist.

“What did she say?” Doctor Ryom asked. Her former patient took in a deep breath. He looked out the car window.

“She said that she wanted me to come back,” Im Yong said.

“Why would she say that?”

“I don’t really know. She says that the world will be ending soon.”

“The world is ending?”

“Yes.”

“Do you really believe that?”

Im Yong shuddered as he looked down at his lap. Mi-Soon’s words haunted him. “The world is about to end anyway. How low do you think Kiku has before he succumbs to her? I’m just trying to find a way to stop it all. What I’m doing it finding a peaceful way to end his suffering.” The older Korean twin held onto his stomach.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” he whispered.

“If you’re going to throw up,” Dr. Ryom said. “Do it out the window.” Her former patient nodded. Im Yong rolled down the car window. He took a deep breath.

“What do you want me to tell you?” Dr. Ryom asked. Her former patient shook his head.

“I don’t really know,” he said. “I just thought about calling you and here I am.”

“I’m so glad you did.”

“I didn’t know where else to turn.” Im Yong listened to the traffic outside of the car. For the first time in days, the Korean boy began to feel better. He clenched his fists in his lap.

“Hey, doc,” he said.

“Yes?” Ryom asked.

“Can I stay in this car for a while? It helps me calm down.”

“Sure.”

Im Yong closed his eyes. “Thanks.”

“Soo.”

“Yes?”

“Promise me that you will not self-harm.”

Im Yong turned to her with big eyes. “Doctor?”

“Please promise me you will not self-harm again.”

“Doctor...”

“Promise me!”

Im Yong sighed and dropped his shoulders. “Alright.” Doctor Ryom held out her right pinky.

“Pinky swear on it,” she said. The teen-aged Korean boy stared at her.

“Do I have to?” he asked.

“Please?” the therapist asked. Im Yong narrowed his eyes and held up his pinky. Doctor Ryom linked hers with him.

“There,” she said. “Repeat after me.”

“Okay,” Im Yong said.

“I, Soo Im Yong.”

“I, Soo Im Yong.”

“Will never resort to self-harm to cope with whatever my sister throws at me.”

“Will never resort to self-harm to cope with whatever my sister throws at me.”

“And...”

The Korean boy wrinkled his nose. “Do I have to do this?”

“Yes,” Doctor Ryom insisted.

“Fine. And...”

“I will not let my sister get to me no matter what.”

Im Yong couldn’t bring himself to look her in the eye for that statement. His former therapist narrowed her eyes at him.

“Say it,” she said. Her former patient took a deep breath.

“I will not let my sister get to me no matter what,” the Korean boy repeated. His pinky clung as tight as he could to hers. Doctor Ryom finally let him go.

“Would you like me to drive you home afterwards?” she asked. Im Yong closed his eyes and sighed.

“Yes,” he said.

“Okay,” the therapist said. The Korean boy let the sound of traffic outside calm him down.


-Lydia-

The winter in 1938 became her downfall.

She met a man back in January. Right from the beginning, there was problems. The young man wasn’t Jewish and came from one of the richer neighborhoods. She didn’t dare take him home to meet her parents.

“Why couldn’t you’ve picked a nice Jewish boy?” her father would’ve asked. But, she was tired of doing what she was told. She and her little brother grew up sheltered. There had to be life outside of the bakery. Ever since she finished high school, that dream grew stronger. Maybe this boy would be the key to achieving that dream.

She had no idea that this beautiful boy would lead her and family down a world of nightmares soaked in blood.


-Present Day-

The Woman in the Red coat watched Ludwig from the window. Her hand was pressed against the glass. The German man looked around inside of his office. He couldn’t see anybody, but he knew that he was being watched.

“Hello?” he asked. Of course he would be alone in the office. But, the German man knew that wasn’t true, was it?

Meanwhile around three in the morning, Doctor Ryom walked back into her apartment. She too felt like someone was watching her. The therapist pulled out her key and placed it into the lock. Doctor Ryom shivered as she went inside. Would she be next? Who can say...

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