He was tailing him. Kepler was sure of it.
So sure, that when he turned to his right, he fully expected him to be there. He wasn’t wrong. The man was watching him. From an alleyway not too far away. His hoodie hid his features. The man took it off and revealed what was behind. Scars and stitches. Eyes without irises. When he opened his mouth, no tongue. Kepler moved towards him. The man was in disbelief. He presumed Kepler would be scared. Start fleeing like a schoolgirl who’d seen her crush.
When Kepler arrived, the man had already vanished. He jumped over the wall at the very end of the alleyway. On the other side, a large field. No sign of him.
He was late for work. “What happened?” asked his friend, Mark.
“Saw a ghost. Sightings are becoming more and more common nowadays.”
“Some cults have started using black magic again.”
“We’ll have to find them before it gets out of hand.” Kepler said as he took his cup of coffee and sat at his desk. He saw a blue cover folder in front of him. “An unstable woman. A cannibal. A child who killed his own mother. Are you sure these are my cases? Most of them seem like they are for the police.”
“I get it. It's been getting worse.”
“Wish I could get one where they just tell me to go pick up some ice-cream.”
“Should not have chosen to become a ghost detective then.”
“Pays well though.” Kepler finished his coffee and took his bag. It had everything he needed to fight them. “See you later.”
The home was pretty nice. It had a garden, a pool and large windows. A garage that was open. Kepler saw a new model in there. It was always places like these, wasn’t it? From outside, perfect lives. From inside, well inside there was a high-ceilinged hall with expensive looking furniture. Kepler could only see all of this because of the sunlight radiating from the windows. The lights were off themselves. He put his bag down and looked for the switchboard. When he found it, he clicked every button. Didn’t work. Luckily, he had a flashlight. Kepler searched inside his bag and found it. He turned it on.
He counted three rooms apart from the kitchen. The first and largest one, the dining hall, was empty. He saw food on the table. He took a closer look at it. Cooked approximately a day ago, from the smell of the chicken and how it looked. Untouched. So no dinner then?
He walked up the stairs. The two rooms in front of him. Before opening the door, he pushed his ear closer to it. He heard nothing. The next one, he heard sobbing. He turned off the flashlight. No need to scare him. Kepler put his hand over the knob. His skin touched the cold metal. Then stuck to it and turned it around.
He saw a child on the floor. Knees to his chest, arms wrapped around himself. He rocked over and over again. On the other end, his mother. Eyes completely lifeless. Her face had lost its colour. A garish wound on her neck. Blood that had poured from it was now clinging to her skin and clothes. A knife beside her. The kid finally lifted his head. Pouring tears. Red in colour. “Save me.” he said as he got up.
He leaped, landing on top of Kepler. Both of them fell down to the main hall. Kepler was sure that some of his ribs were fractured. The child held his head and then inserted his fingers inside his eye-sockets. “Save me.” he whispered again.
Kepler punched him in the face. He slowly recovered and crawled towards his bag. He took out a book. He read the words. The kid was about to get up and have another go at it, but he was stopped. He plunged to the marbled floor. His limbs contorted from the agony. Blood was now spouting from his eyes at even a faster pace. He ceased screaming. The ghost left his body. Kepler felt its anger and rage. Its promise to take revenge.
He moved towards the kid and turned him around. He was dead. Kepler thought so. Most children did not survive this. Their bodies and minds were too frail to struggle for this long. He moved his hand over his eyelids. “I’m sorry.”