Ablaze: Part One
“Yaa, Joon... Young? Oh, Joon Kyung! Why can’t I get his name right?” complains the Chief to himself.
“Ye-ye-yess, chief?!” I respond to him with my stutter tongue after his thunderous voice wakes me up all of a sudden.
“Do you come here just to sleep? Is this your house? This is not your freakin’ bedroom, young man!” he yells with all the veins popping out of his neck.
“Sorry, Chief... I’ll go wake myself up,”
I half-consciously blink my heavy eyes a few times, letting them get used to the harsh, blinding sun that shines right into my face. Seeing me like that, my Chief is about to squeaks again for the umpteenth time, but I rush myself to the bathroom, make him lose the chance to do so.
The water runs wild as soon as I turn the tap on, racing each other to the bottom of the sink until I collect them with my palms and splashes it right onto my face, freshens me up.
“Morning, partner!” someone greeted me when he taped my shoulder.
“Hyung,” I slur after I see who it is. It was no other than Tae Hyun hyung.
“Asleep in front of the Chief again today, I see?”
My cheeks blushed as I lower my head to nod at his question, which he banters it by shaking his head and sighing.
“Hyung, you want coffee?”
“No, no need, I just drank one,” says Tae Hyun hyung as he washes his hands thoroughly.
“Hm, okay then,”
A loud buzzing noise from Tae Hyun hyung’s walkie-talkie comes between us out of nowhere, interrupting our conversation. The noise then changes into a man’s voice.
"Zz... Attention... There has been a robbery around Mapo... Attention... There has been a robbery around Mapo, in a small housing complex... Please response at once... I repeat... Please respond at once... Zz..." says the man, followed by a beep sound at the end.
“Come on! Let’s go!” cries Tae Hyun hyung in joy as he drags me along with him, out of the bathroom. He then sprints to the main door, worried we might get scolded by our Chief.
To our surprise, he’s still sipping his morning coffee in a relaxed manner as we pass through his room.
“Chief, we have a robbery case at Mapo now,” informs Tae Hyun hyung from the doorway in an urgent tone. Instead of reacting to it, our Chief remains unbothered. Tae Hyun hyung then knocks at the door without patience before he repeats the words once again in a louder voice and causes our Chief to choke.
“How dare you shout at me?!” he yells back in irritation. “What is it?”
Tae Hyun hyung become agitated, as he has to reply to our Chief with the same words he had said for three times.
“Let’s move then!” says our Chief as he knocks his shoes onto the floor with enthusiasm, increasing Tae Hyun hyung’s annoyance.
By the time we arrive at the location, two local police officers are eagerly waiting for us. The older officer introduces himself as Officer Song before he shakes hand with our Chief.
“What had happened?” asks our Chief.
“A few residents here reported that an unknown man had sneaked into their house and claimed to do a robbery, but he has taken nothing from them,” Officer Song recites the note on his hand with full attention.
“No. But the family member or friends of all victims stated that the strange man knocked out the victims, as they found them in an unconscious condition,” replies Officer Song again, with his lively eyes gazing our Chief’s hooded-slanted eyes this time.
“So all the houses he targeted are those with only one person in it?”
“Sort of,” replies Officer Song with uncertainty before he claps his little note together and puts it back into the pocket.
“Were the victims harmed in any way?”
“They say they felt faint after waking up, nothing else..” the officer adds as he scratches his clean chin with his head tilted to one side.
“How many households reported in then?” asks Tae Hyun hyung.
“Six,” says the younger officer who had stood next to Officer Song without making any noises throughout our conversations.
“Which house reported it first?” Tae Hyun hyung asks again before he even finishes writing on his notes.
“That one, in the corner.” Officer Song’s slim hand pointed at a house with the red-bricked roof without hesitation.
“Did they describe how the man looked?” asks our Chief again.
“Not quite, they say it happened too fast, so they can’t clearly remember him.”
“How about the witness? Or trace?”
“None,” replies officer Song in an upset tone whilst he scratches his head with frustration.
“Anything from the CCTV?” I ask, and both officers shake their head right away.
“It’s more complicated than it looks then... This man is very clever. But the pattern here reads he selects his victims based on the emptiness of their house,” I conclude, and the two officers nod without a second thought.
“Then, I guess, you guys may start your investigation now,” instructs our Chief right before we head off to the house of the first victim.
“Hyung,” I start as soon as we walked out of others’ earshot.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Yes, of course. What is it?”
“Why hyung became a detective?” I ask.
He glances at me with wonder. “Why so sudden?”
“Ahh... I’m just curious,” I reply, unable to find the correct words to explain.
“Really?” He smiles at me, revealing his laugh lines.
“I’m not sure, though. Because, to be frank, I don’t have the intention to be a detective. It is just because I had good performances when I was still an officer, so they raised my rank to detective. The only reason I joined the police back then was purely out of my eagerness to help the people.”
When I hear it, I wow him with full of respect straight away. “If everyone in this world was like hyung, it would be more peaceful. No one would have to worry.”
Tae Hyun hyung bursts into his unique laughter, unable to handle the praise from me. “Then how about you?”
I froze at once, unsure of how to answer him. “I just want to know more people.”
“Why? Shouldn’t you have a lot of friends, especially around your age?”
“I don’t have that much of friends.”
“I’m not good at making friends.”
“You still have me here to be your big brother. Isn’t that better than a friend?” he says in a cheerful tone as he embraces my shoulder.
“Thanks, hyung,” I reply him with gratitude.
“If you have no one to share your problems, just share them with me and I’ll help you.”
I nod and return him a warm smile.
After we take a turn to the left side of the street, we get to see the house of the first victim that is at the end of the street. Tae Hyun hyung rings the doorbell as we arrive, and we wait outside until a decent looking man in his mid-thirties comes out asking who we are.
“Good afternoon, sir. We are detectives,” I greet him.
“Ooh... please come in,”
The victim’s house is not too small nor too big, but he had two big yards. The front yard is filled with varieties of plants such as herbs and flowers, while the backyard houses a small, overgrown fish pond. The house was built in a modern yet simplistic style so it looks very nice.
The man then guides us to a garden table in his yard.
“So, how it happens?” ask Tae Hyun hyung as polite as he can.
“I don’t exactly know how, but I heard from my sister that a man came and calls ‘robbery!’ at her. After that, she was knocked out until I found her,” he replies with discomfort all over his face.
“Did anything happen before she knocked out?”
“She seems unable to remember it.”
“But what about your things? Did he steal anything from you?”
“Strangely, nothing was gone.” replies the man, flustered.
“Did your sister get injured?”
“I saw nothing.”
“Did the man leave or drop anything in your house?” I ask.
“I found nothing, just my sister lying on the ground!” he says, his voice raised.
“Then, how is her condition now?”
“She said she’s feeling weak and has a slight cold..”
When we realise that we won’t get enough clues, we seek out his sister. We enter the house through the old wooden sliding door and go upstairs, then head off to a bedroom. Inside, we find the first victim, sitting on her bed with a blank expression.
Her room is nicely made up and organised, a common view of a woman’s bedroom. The woman looks far younger than her real age although she is maybe in her late twenties. She is somewhat tall and fashionable as I see her wardrobe is full of trendy clothing and accessories that are scattered around her dressing table. Her small face is decorated with her deep yet big eyes that sit on either side of her beautiful high bridge nose, and a thin plump lips.
“Hyera-yah,” calls the man in a gentle voice as he knocks on her bedroom door.
“Good afternoon, miss,” I greet her, and she weakly nods back as a reply.
“Hyera-yah, how’s your feeling now?”
“A ... bit better...”
“Sorry, but may I know what had happened?” asks Tae Hyun hyung, straightforward.
“I’m not sure about it either.”
“I don’t remember much.” She touches her head.
“Could you tell us what you do remember?”
“Someone rang our doorbell around nine am after oppa left for work. When I opened the door, a man in his early thirties stood there. He looked like a drunk... He barged in and closed the door at once without a word. The next thing... I can’t really remember it.” She closes her eyes, trying to recount her awful experience, looking shaken.
“How about his appearance?”
“I only know all his attire is in black,”
“Hm, do you have anything else you want to tell us?”
“I don’t think so. No...”
I walk around her room and catch a pungent smell that strikes my nose as soon as I stand next to her. The smell of blood.
“Pardon me, but did you bleed somewhere? Any wound of some sort, I mean.”
“No...” The sister replies in confusion.
“What happen?” Tae Hyun hyung asks, intrigued. So, I whisper him my finding.
“Miss, can we come closer to you?” I ask.
“Hm, su-sure?” she stammers as she stared at her brother, confused with my sudden question.
“Do you smell it, hyung?” I ask Tae Hyun hyung when he steps closer, and he slowly nods as he squints his eyes.
“I think I see something,” he replies.
“What is it?”
“A blood stain.”
“At the collar of her shirt, it has dried out but still visible.”
I squint my eyes too, searching for that particular stain. After a few moments, I discover a fine round of brownish coloured stain on her collar.
“Miss, do you know where this stain came from?”
“I’m not sure, it wasn’t there before. But I’m sure I have no wounds at the moment,”
“In this case, do you mind if we take your shirt with us to identify the blood?” asks Tae Hyun hyung, shocking the entire room, including me. “We need it for further investigation, miss.”
“Oh...? ” Her mouth wide open, which makes her looks even more dazed.
“Can we have it?” I politely repeat his question once again.
The three of us then leaves the room to let her changes clothes.
“If your sister remembers anything she hasn’t told us,” Tae Hyun hyung said to the victim’s brother before we leave. “Please call us,”