Peter Pan Among the Shadows

Urgent Message

Henry adjusted his uniform as Aceline polished the badge on his breast. They worked in silence until she asked about the Sargeant’s message.

“It sounded cryptic, my dear. Like it was something that shouldn’t be said out loud to a messenger boy.”

“Then why couldn’t he tell you in the morning, like he always did?”

“I don’t know, Aceline. For all I know, he could just be telling us to close our windows at night. To be honest, my dear, I hope it has something to do with Victoria’s alibi.”

“Why so, Henry?”

“It would definitely help me trust my little girl again. I’m telling you I’ve never seen her be so adamant about something so outlandish.”

“Well, she’s safe upstairs now. Just remember what Sargeant says so that we could discuss it later, Sweetie.”

He looked into his wife’s beautiful green eyes. She gave a little smirk that children called a “kiss”. It reassured him of things to come, as well as help him fall in love with her all over again. He slipped on his helmet as she secured the holster for the billy club around his waist. Like a soldier, he clicked his heels, kissed his wife’s hand, and rapidly marched towards the Police station.

As he opened the pale wooden doors, he heard the unruly prisoners and the guards subduing them. He remembered being one of those guards but luckily had graduated to an officer position before meeting Aceline at a cafe near Picadilly. Sometimes he wished he wore his army uniform when meeting her for the first time, though luckily he did when he proposed to her-

“Oy! ’Enry!”

One of the officers called to him from the other side of the room, peeking out from behind a door that read “POLICE ONLY”.

As Henry snapped into focus and strode over to the door, he saw some new Policemen huddling around each other.

“Oy, Richard, who are they?”

Richard's muscular body showed more through the frame, his bright orange hair catching the fluorescent light.

“Police from a different district. They’ve had trouble with covering their territory, so they’ve asked us to help."

“Is that what this is all about?”

Richard hesitated.

“I...I don’t think so. The mates are thinking that it’s something far more sinister afoot. Sargeant hasn’t come out yet, but he should be any minute now-”

“ATTENTION!” The Lieutenant called for the room to settle down, sending Henry, Richard, and the straggling other officers to take positions.

“Sargeant Oliver Jameson is entering!”

The whole room stood as the grey-haired, haunched man reached the podium immediately. His brow wrinkled as he read the papers, his brown eye enlarged by a giant monocle.

“Gentlemen, we’ve got a situation from the Montgomery district. Three policemen were found murdered two days ago, with another two found dead today. All of them were new recruits.”

The slight murmur of the crowd was silenced by a rap from the Lieutenant’s desk. The other group of Policemen, with ragged uniforms and unshaven beards, huddled together in whimpers.

“The other station has asked for us to be on high alert wherever we go, whether in or out of uniform. Our detectives determined that the cause of death for all five victims were sword-related, so the murderer has a sword and is probably big enough to over-power these burly men. The last murders took place on ___ street, near Kensington Park Gardens. After an investigation, our joint efforts couldn’t find any clues. So, until further notice, we’ll be sharing duties across our sections of London, hoping to deter this murderer from striking again. The press will report this tomorrow morning, so I wanted you all to know and reassure the public that there seems to be nothing to fear. Robertson!”

“Yes, Sir?"

"A word in my office. The lieutenant will present the map for your new, shared territories. Everyone else dismissed."

The other policemen moved towards the door as Henry was beckoned to the back door, covered with yellowing lace.

The Sargeant moved to his seat as Henry stood on the other side of his desk.

"Officer Robertson, I don't know if you heard about this, but your daughter was involved with a gang recently."

Henry stood fast, in a respect he learned from being in the British Army.

"Officer Wilson caught a group of boys running up __ street. They mentioned being around a blonde hair, brown-eyed girl -with a line of freckles running down her cheek like yours does- until a boy threatened them with a sword."

Henry hid his loss for words behind inquiring eyes.

"Mind you, this is the first time we've heard about your daughter supposedly involved in gang activities, but I must warn you to keep a watchful eye on your daughter. Make sure she's safe, especially with a murderer on the loose."

"Sir, with all due respect, you just mentioned how the victims were killed by swords, correct?"

"Yes?"

"And this boy, this child, was threatening others with a sword, yes?"

The Sargeant waved his logic away.

"Of course we surmised that the murderer could possibly be that child, but better to have officers view him as a murderer more than a child."

"With all due respect, Sir. If the murderer can be presumed to be a child-"

"I appreciate your concern, but as I've seen, small children never become murderers until they grow up. I'd rather them find a man be the perpetrator. Anyways, children lie all of the time. The officer in question must have let go of them while laughing so hard."

"What would you do to that boy?"

"You've suddenly grown a conscious, Robertson?"

He shook his head violently.

"Not at all, Sir. I just wonder what would happen in that circumstance."

The Sargeant shrugged, his shoulder pads lifting slowly to meet his chins.

"Probably hanging or exile. Nothing too pleasant, I assure you."

"Anyways, if I may ask, who were those other policemen in the room? They certainly didn't look like keepers of order."

"Certainly not," Sargeant replied matter-of-factly. "But they're policemen from a different district, so I didn't want to force them to leave for a shave, a haircut and to pay someone to wash their clothes. Their colleagues just died, so I don't want to urge them to go out there until absolutely necessary."

Henry stared away in confusion. "I've ever even seen these men before. Are we sure they aren't imposters?"

"Their headquarters has the seal of the Queen on their wall, as per requirement. Their hiring policies have a lot to be desired. They seem to hire anybody, even those that look like bloody pirates."

"Did they give any names, Sargeant?"

"Yes, in fact. One of them was Captain Kenneth, which caused the other officers to giggle maniacally. I guessed they were driven mad with grief but I'm not too sure."

Henry shrugged along with his Sargeant before getting permission to leave the musty wooden room, to the chaos inside the Police building and out.

As he left, he never noticed a boy hopping from the rooftops, playing notes only children could hear.

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