The Day of Reckoning
The Apion manor, WavesPort.
The Day of Reckoning.
In the front entrance of the manor, the expansive foyer opened up to a gallery of portraits; the revered hall of Apion history bordered with pedestalled busts. The palatial expanse seemed to stretch out into infinity, an undefined measure of opulence.
A maidservant led the two police officers down the hall. They streamed down the great stretch, the further they trekked, the more the temperature descended. Everything suffocated in a frigid silence like an invisible hand gagged the entire spread.
The policemen snuck glances at the dark artistry that had them surrounded. Alabaster faces sculpted in perpetual scowls, ochre ancestral paintings elevated in aged glory. Every pair of inky eyes observed them under their aloof and unending scrutiny.
Despite that the vaulted ceiling dangled diamond tiered chandeliers, nothing could pierce the gloom. Everything underneath the crown moulding was engulfed in an eerie melancholia.
All three of them passed through the wide Tudor archway and into the open floor lounge. The entire wall ahead was a succession of tall windows that exhibited the vast swathes of manicured gardens beyond. The openness that helmed in a wealth of golden light, yet still, the gloom prevailed.
In the Victorian styled living room, the walls had regal tones of light shades and vivacious hues of yellow with brilliant light fixtures. Smart ambient lighting brightened the walls with glittering metallic accents. Everything in sight bespoke affluence: Lavish ornaments, candelabras flecked with gold posted in the corners. The carpeted floor ornate with expensive Persian rugs all the way through to the intricate hearths on either side of the lounge.
In the far-left side, a man and a woman sat on a crimson regency sofa with their backs towards them. The maidservant carefully treaded toward them, her steps were light on the plush carpets, stringing along the two officers.
She stopped at the flank of the sofa. “Mr and Mrs Apion, Detective Ford and Smith are here.”
Mrs Apion’s ebony tresses were coiled in curls, caged in a hair claw. She looked up and swept the rebellious strands from her face. Her eyes bludgeoned by tears, blood-red and puffy. Her natural wrinkles only deepened, harried by stress and harrowed by trepidation. Mr Apion was a twin reflection, his outlook marred by dismay, both of their trembling hands were entwined together, clinging to hope.
The two detectives rounded the sofa to stand in front of them. Simultaneously, they both took off their khaki hats and held them to their chests. A veil of mourning masked their faces.
Mrs Apion looked up at them; two dark orbs, glossy like black waters at nightfall. With a mere glimpse of their show of condolence. She shook her head vigorously, first refusing to believe it as any mother would. A great, silent sob wrung from her core and tore through her, pummelled by the merciless barrage of grief. Regardless, not even a sound escaped her taut lips.
“We are so sorry for your loss,” detective Ford said.
Mr Apion engrossed his wife into a tight embrace and held her so that she wouldn’t fall apart altogether. She gripped unto his shirt with clenched fists, suffering silently.
“Where did you—” every word an effort, his voice thick with anguish. “Where did you find them?”
Detective Smith fixed his hat back on his head. “Their… defiled bodies were dredged up from Lake Cerulean, they're undergoing an autopsy as we speak.”
His cheeks numb to the rolling hot tears, Mr Apion said, “We want to see them as soon as possible, do you understand me?”
The detectives exchanged a worrisome look.
“Before you do. You should know that…"
The detective expounded on the ghastly details of their condition.
Mrs Apion’s grip tightened on him.
Mr Apion reined back a cry, for he knew if he released it. It would never stop.
“If… if that is true. How do you know it's them?”
“Through anthropometry, a forensic pathologist examined their size, weight and dimension that the bodies found belong to children. The crime lab will later confirm their deductions.” detective Smith answered.
Mr Apion was unable to ask or say any more.
“We will find those responsible for this atrocity, I swear to you,” Detective Ford said with iron conviction. “We have collaborated with the local publishing house and—”
“No,” Mrs Apion said into his shoulder, the word muffled. She released him and straightened her spine as she mopped her face with her hands.
Together, Mr and Mrs Apion rose to their feet.
Like a switch flipped, a shadowy cowl fell on their faces, casting it into darkness. Two pairs of glacial eyes stared back at them coldly. Two pools of chilling, cauldron black.
“You will not breathe a word of this to anyone,” she hissed, her tone acidic. “The autopsy report will be marked as confidential. Those who found their body must be sworn to secrecy or suffer the consequences if they do not.”
Both detectives stood there, eyes rounded, their minds suddenly failing to grasp comprehension.
“No one can and no one will report of this, because no one will ever know,” Mr Apion affirmed. His voice as lifeless as a catacomb. “No news coverage, no widespread gossip. To the town and to the world, our heirs, our children are still missing.”
Detective Ford’s gaze bounced between them with palpable shock. “But why? Don’t you want justice done and to find the savage that did this to your children?”
Mr Apion lifted a silencing hand. “This is about the Apions’ survival. Because of our families’ long-standing wealth, we are natural targets for extortion, an incitement for kidnapping and being held for ransom. So we thought our twins were.”
Mrs Apion added her arctic voice, “This would make us weak, grounding the impression that we are easy prey. Even though they were no ransom demands for our children. The policy of our line, it must hold that the Apions do not negotiate, if we did. We would never be safe.”
Detective Smith’s face twisted with true and horrified bafflement.
“Their deaths would weaken us, their absence exonerates us of all perils,” Mrs Apion said with finality.
Detective Ford batted the sands of surprise from his eyes. “Mr and Mrs Apion, I understand that but as the police, it is our duty—”
“To protect and serve!” Mr Apion boomed; his voice rung out with brutality. His eyes simmering with spite. He abandoned his wife’s side and took a threatening step towards them. “You failed to protect our children, but on your life, you will succeed in serving us." Belligerence lashed his tenor. “And we do not want word of our heirs’ death to be leaked and made a public spectacle.”
Steeling his resolve, Smith’s lips parted to speak but Mrs Apion swiftly interjected.
“Your careers depend on it. Those who know will be silenced. If they refuse, they will be dealt with,” she warned, her eyes glittering with malice.
“Now, whom of you that you know, do you think will be a potential problem?” Mr Apion asked.
The detectives traded telepathic looks, then Ford nodded his consent.
“A reporter, Maggie Richardson, tenacious and has the sixth sense of a bloodhound when it comes to sniffing out stories. She was there by the lake, snapping pictures. I’m sure she’s already at Blue Waters to print the story.”
This time. It was the Apions that shared ominous looks.
“It seems we better be on our way then,” Mrs Apion said, making a brisk start to the archway, and Mr Apion moves to follow.
“You don’t understand that woman is like a dog with a bone, she won’t let this go. The lot of them won’t. Not for money or by threats.”
Mr Apion wheeled on them; rage warped his face. “Detectives, we do not make threats, we only deliver warnings and if they go unheeded. There will be more bodies found in that lake.”