Xavier and I stood still without looking at each other. Neither of us made the first move. After a few seconds of waiting, I turned towards him. “What’s the plan? What do we do first?”
He was looking away from me, lost in thought. Then he answered so quietly that I barely heard. “We need to go to the hospital and meet the man who was attacked too. We need to know who attacked him.”
I nodded as it seemed like a good way to start. “Let’s go then. We shouldn’t waste any time.”
When we reached the hospital, it was quiet compared to yesterday’s craziness. After Xavier asked at the front desk about the man who had been attacked, we took the elevator to his room.
I quietly opened the door and saw two police officers standing around the bed. We couldn’t see the man, but we could hear everything from our position at the door.
When I tried getting closer, Xavier caught my arm and shook his head. We stood at the door and listened to the conversation.
“Where were you going when you were attacked?” the older officer asked. He was leaning close to the man to hear him better.
“I was going to the market to get milk,” the man answered weakly.
I noticed the other officer, who was way younger than the other one, writing on a notepad.
“Do you remember what happened? Did you see anything?” It was the older officer who asked the questions again.
“Not really. Everything happened so fast. One minute I was walking on the side of the road, and the next minute I was being dragged behind the dumpster in the alley.” His voice shook but he continued to elaborate before the officer could interrupt.
“Something hit my head, and I started to black out. But before I did, I saw him looming in front of me. I couldn’t see his face properly though. My vision was blurry from being hit, but I did see his figure.” The man stopped talking and took a few deep breaths.
I looked at Xavier, but his face was blank. His posture was rigid, and he was holding onto the door so tightly that his knuckles were white.
“Go on,” I heard the younger police officer say. He had moved away from the man and was now leaning against the wall. It gave us a perfect view of the man on the bed.
When I saw him, I sucked in a shaky breath. Behind me, Xavier shuddered slightly and softly whispered, “Oh my god.”
The man’s face was covered with bruises. More like scratches. Deep ones. His head and neck were wrapped around with bandages and his right arm was in a cast.
“He looks bad,” I whispered to Xavier.
“Worse than William,” he whispered back. I nodded and looked back at the man.
“He was a tall person. Lanky, but he looked young,” the man continued weakly. I saw in his posture and heard it in his voice that he was getting tired and was obviously in pain, but he continued to answer the questions.
“How young was he? Do you think you would recognize him if you see him again?” The younger officer fired the questions quickly at the man. His tone was flat and businesslike.
“I don’t know exactly how young but I could guess around eighteen. And as I said I didn’t see his face and a lot of men have the same figure as him. It would be hard to recognize him.”
The older officer was about to say something, but he was interrupted by the nurse who came through the door. “Excuse me?” the blonde nurse said to Xavier.
“Oh sorry. My bad.” Xavier moved out of the way, and that prompted us to move further into the room.
“It’s time for the patient’s pain med, officers. I suggest you come again tomorrow if you’re not done with the interview,” the nurse said stiffly.
The younger officer moved away from the wall to leave, but the older officer didn’t move. He stared at the nurse before responding quite rudely. “We’re not done with the interview and this is a serious case. We would like to finish it today and now.”
The nurse moved over to the bed. “Mr. Montgomery is very tired and weak, as you can see. I don’t think he’ll be any more help today. He’s in too much pain.”
The officer huffed and turned towards Mr. Montgomery, the patient. “We’ll be back tomorrow as we have some questions left to ask.” He nodded tiredly and closed his eyes.
As they were leaving, the younger officer smiled at Xavier and me and voiced out a quiet “Hello.”
After the nurse had given Mr. Montgomery his pain medicines, she turned towards us. “Are you family? Because visiting hours are over for now.”
“Yeah, we were just leaving,” Xavier responded hastily. We left the hospital and sat down on the bench just outside the main door. It was a pleasantly warm day for March.
“What’s next?” I whispered.
“I don’t know, Alexia. I have no idea. We told Mom and Aric that we are gonna take care of this, but I have no idea how.” Before I could respond, he continued. “This is borderline frightening. I don’t know exactly what we are up against. If that thing is really what attacked William and Mr. Montgomery, then it’s dangerous. Very dangerous. You saw what it did to them, and I don’t want to do something that would put us or others at risk.” His voice was low and each of his words came out deliberately, like he wanted me to understand exactly what he was trying to tell me.
I put my hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently to give him comfort. I knew exactly what he meant, and how he was feeling because I felt the exact same way. I was scared but I also wanted to get rid of that thing that was now prowling freely around in the streets of this town.
“Let’s go to the police station. We need to report it and then we’ll figure out what to do next. One thing at a time.”
Xavier nodded and said, “But we can’t waste much time. I don’t want anyone else to get hurt.”
“I don’t want that either, Xavier.” I stood up and held out my hand for him. “Let’s go.”
At the police station, we found the two police officers who had been interviewing Mr. Montgomery sitting at a table talking quietly. The older officer was looking down. With his bald head and serious expression, he reminded me of Professor X from X-men.
Xavier started walking over to them, but I grabbed his arms and abruptly stopped him. “Not them. I don’t want to report it to them. They were quite rude at the clinic.”
Xavier turned towards me and said in a quiet voice so that nobody heard us. “Alexia, one way or another, every police officer is going to find out when we report it. It doesn’t matter who we talk to.”
He looked at me patiently and waited for my response. I had to agree with him, and we kept walking towards the two officers.
“Hello, sir. We would like to report an incident. Well, it’s not really an incident, but we would like to talk to you about something. It’s very urgent,” Xavier said to the officers.
The officers looked up at us, and the younger one gestured for us to sit down. He looked way nicer than the other officer. His eyes and smile were inviting. He had bluish eyes and copper brown hair. And with his strong physique, he could easily pass as one of my book boyfriends.
While we settled ourselves in the chairs in front of them, the older officer introduced himself and his colleague. “Hello, guys. I’m Officer Pearson, and this is Officer Grant.” He gestured at the younger officer.
Xavier gave my hand a gentle squeeze and acknowledged the officer’s introduction with a nod. “I’m Xavier Colleway and this is my friend, Alexia Mercier.”
“What do you guys want to report?” Officer Grant asked. I looked at Xavier nervously, but he was looking straight ahead.
“This happened a couple of days ago, but I think it has some connections with the two attacks that happened yesterday,” Xavier started in a flat tone.
Officer Pearson raised an eyebrow at us and leaned forward with great interest, while Officer Grant took out his notebook and started scribbling fast.
I nudged Xavier’s knee for him to continue. “A few evenings ago, Alexia, her brother Aric, and I were going to the theatre. On our way into town…”
I tuned him out and just watched the officers’ faces. I wanted to see their expressions. I wanted to see their reactions when Xavier explained everything to them. I wanted to see if they doubted us for even a minute.
As Xavier continued to tell the rest of the story, the officers’ faces showed just mild interest. As each second ticked by and Xavier continued the story, their expressions changed from interest to unease, to troubled, to disgust, and finally to horror.
Officer Grant had long stopped writing. His eyes were big and round with shock, as he stared at Xavier.
Xavier stopped talking and went limp against his chair. I turned towards him and saw that his eyes looked troubled. I knew he was worried that the officers wouldn’t believe us, but I had been watching their expressions. I knew they doubted us, but they also saw how serious we were. I looked back at the officers and saw Officer Pearson rubbing his bald head frantically. He looked disturbed but didn’t say anything. Officer Grant was gaping at us, but he too didn’t say anything.
Finally, the older man, Pearson, got up abruptly and pushed his chair away. It made a screeching sound, and I cringed. I looked up at him, and he looked furious all of a sudden. “Look, son, we don’t have time for these type of jokes. It’s a great story really, and I’m pretty sure it would make a great book or movie, but please don’t feed us this bullshit.”
I stood up fast and slammed my hands on the table. Both officers looked startled at my sudden aggressiveness. “Are you serious? Do we look like we’re joking? This really happened, Officers, and you need to believe us. It was unbelievable for us too, but it’s true!”
Xavier quickly got up and put his hand on my shoulder to calm me down. “We saw it, that baby growing in my brother’s arms, and we’re pretty sure it’s what attacked those two people yesterday. Our town is in danger; don’t you get it?” I knew I was yelling, but I didn’t care. They had to believe us. They had to do something before someone else got hurt or worse, killed.
Xavier grabbed my shoulder roughly and tried to pull me away from the table. But I still struggled against his grasp. “No, let me go. They have to believe us, Xavier. Please, you need to do something.” I started sobbing, and the officers looked at me like I had lost my mind. Maybe I had, but I didn’t care.
“Miss, I suggest you go home and rest. You’re clearly unstable right now,” Officer Grant tried to reason with me. I pushed away from Xavier and walked over to him. “I’m not crazy, OK? If you guys don’t do something to protect this town, and if someone else gets hurt by that thing, this will all be on you! You hear me? You will be blamed!” I yelled in their faces before walking out. I had totally lost it.
I wiped my tears away with my sleeves and waited for Xavier to join me.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and twisted around fast, throwing a hard punch. “What the hell, Alexia. Calm down. It’s me.” I shook my head and look at Xavier holding his jaw.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry.” He rubbed his jaw and shook his head when I tried to move closer to him. “I didn’t mean it really. I thought you were someone else. I’m really sorry. Please let me see.”
He glared at me and finally moved his hand away. I touched the spot where I had punched him. It looked red and probably would leave a bruise by tomorrow. “Sorry. It’s tender and it will most likely bruise.”
Xavier gave me a hard look and then said, “I know because it hurts like hell.”
I gave him a sheepish look and whispered “sorry” again. Xavier realised a shaky breath and looked at me curiously. “What happened in there, Alexia? You just snapped.”
I rubbed my arms and looked down. I was embarrassed by my actions. I knew I’d lost it in there, but I was really pissed off. “I told you, Xavier. Didn’t I? I told you they wouldn’t believe us, and now they probably think we’re crazy.”
“I know. Listen, I gave them our addresses and phone numbers. I also told them that when they finally realize that we’re speaking the truth, they can call us, OK?”
I looked at him for a minute and finally voiced my question. “Why are you so calm, Xavier?”
He shrugged. “I’m calm on the outside, but trust me, I’m pretty freaked out. But losing my shit won’t help us.” I nodded and then he said in a teasing tone. “After all, one of us needs to stay calm.”
I gave him my I-will-kill-you look and he laughed. “Whatever, Xavier. And how can you laugh right now?”
“I’m laughing so that I don’t snap too, because I’m so close to losing it. I’m trying to ease my tension and yours too.”
I gave him a quick nod and released a long sigh. “What do we do now?”
“I have no idea. I’m pretty lost. I was hoping the officers would believe us and send a search party for that thing.” He stopped and looked at me hopelessly before continuing. “But now I don’t know what to do.”
I went over and gave him a small hug before quickly stepping out of his arms. “Let’s go home. We’ll figure something out there.”
I started to walk away, but he grabbed my arm. “Listen, I was thinking we should alert the people in town.”
I turned back towards him and looked at him curiously. “How do we do that? Do you think they would believe us?”
Xavier groaned in frustration. “Look, Alexia, I don’t know if they’ll believe us or not but at least we’d be doing something.”
“OK! OK! Calm down.”
Xavier glared at me and said through gritted teeth, “I am calm. Can we just go now?” He started walking away before I could answer.
“Looks like you’re losing your cool,” I said to his back before quickly following him.