Ivory - 01
Two workers from the gas station at Bridge Barrow Street said they never saw any Yellow Brio past the street. They had been there most of the night before closing shop three hours after midnight. The street itself wasn’t the main one in Hollowstone, so most people believed it. The police shared the same conviction, but they still conducted a close interview in the convenience store’s storage room next to the gas station for about two hours because they had no options left and it was their job.
Selected people came in and out every fifteen minutes, and the list of questions remained the same. Most of the witnesses played along with the police, but most of their answers weren’t the ones they had been hoping to hear. The bottom line was; no one ever saw a Yellow Brio or the blonde girl who drove it.
The statements under consent were unsatisfactory so far. Whether all the witnesses were completely ignorant or the GPS report—installed in the Yellow Brio that they were looking for—had misled the whole search and rescue mission with no one noticing until now. Either way, the police were left baffled.
So Ivory—who held an even longer list of questions for all the witnesses she could grab to the shadowy corner of the gas station—didn’t have any choice but to fold the papers and turn back to her car.
As she shut the driver’s door next to her, two police officers exited through the side door of the minimarket and went to their car. The engine roared as they drove off, splattering reds and blues all over the gas station, leaving no marks but a couple of confused but intrigued people walking through the parking lot in the middle of golden hour, back to their own business.
Ivory rested her forehead against the steering wheel. She had been avoiding sleeping because of the dreams, and now the side effects started to weigh on her. Her mind floated, jumping here and there. Her eyes were heavy, but her mind stayed alert.
The fact that she didn’t get any clue worth following up about the blonde girl drove her fear out of track. She had zero relation to the police department, and the answer she was looking for would not magically appear in the morning news. But without any pursuable lead, she would likely not go anywhere.
Here was what the police got so far; a girl had been missing, and she drove a Yellow Brio on the day she did. The Brio had black floating feathers illustrations scattered on each side, from the side beam to the passenger seat’s doors, making the car look like driving through a giant pile of feathers and didn’t stop. The headlights were bright and bluish.
The girl had been missing long enough for the police to start prepping who would tell the parents the bad news. Despite the grim prospect, faint hope for all this to be just about silly tantrums was still floating in the air. But Ivory had a slightly broader knowledge than that.
She could foresee the future through a dream, and she had been seeing the girl’s death in her dream five days in a row to know that, one: No, it wasn’t a tantrum. And, two: The chance for the blonde girl to be alive and well at this point was close to zero.
It was always the same first-person’s perspective dream; Ivory sat in a car, out on the open road at night. Before she could guess the setting, a hand pierced past the opened window next to her and stabbed her neck with a metal blade.
The man’s face—which appeared on the side mirror—was blurry, and the car wasn’t hers. The windshield reflected the gory scene: Blood gushing away from her ripped throat as she gulped for air. But it wasn’t her face in the reflection either.
And then, like a basic survival instinct, consciousness arose, and Ivory woke up again—out of breath and wet with sweat. The first two days, she thought it was because of extreme exhaustion. Ivory had been working on a big website-building project, and her stress management had gone to hell since Hailee, her freelance partner, was on an extended day off, preparing for her wedding next year. But after getting the same dream for five days in a row, she was more than convinced that it wasn’t some kind of anxiety lashing out.
But then, yesterday, the news gave her a solid reason to worry.
The police wouldn’t believe her. And so would any sane person on the planet. Her older brother and Hailee were the only people who did. And without any solid proof, the warning statement was only a make-believe scenario. Without the advantage of credentials, she couldn’t go to the police, hoping they would buy whatever she told them.
Ivory started the engine. The blues playlist she had set on shuffle mode jumped back on; the twinkling rhythm of bass and piano filled the uneasy blank in the air. Despite the tight deadline at work, she had emptied today’s schedule to do some digging, but the effort most likely went in vain.
She drove in another direction, going around the east side of Hollowstone instead of heading back to her apartment. The paper she taped on the dashboard was her only lead. She spent an hour working through the complicated street only to look for a house with the address written on that piece of paper.
Vast, green gardens with cemented pathways led toward the closed front doors; all houses in the Oak Barn area were mass-produced. Those houses were the government’s property—and so were the occupants. Like the other government belongings, each item was numbered and stacked sequentially. The house Ivory looked for was the furthest house from the main entrance.
Despite having the address memorized, she glanced at the note on each turn, looking for clarification. The Google Map assistance she had set up was the more promising guide, but still, she found her eyes glaring back toward the paper.
She crept past the house, glancing back and forth between the numbers written on the paper and the one made of bronze and nailed on the concrete wall next to the closed front door.
After making sure both numbers matched, Ivory parked the car a bit farther. She put her feet off the pedals and cut the engine. She threw a long gaze through the closed window next to her. The house’s front door swung open.
A mid-fifties man came out, holding a stack of papers in one hand and a portable nail gun in another. Perched at the very edge of his nose was a thick, black-framed pair of eyeglasses. His shirt was wrinkled and buttoned unevenly.
He walked through the lawn, going straight for the sidewalk, and started stapling the papers to every nailable surface he could find. After putting up seven flyers about 2 meters apart, he turned left and vanished to the other side of the block.
Ivory took a deep breath and got out of the car. She walked across the almost empty street, going for the opposite sidewalk. The sycamore leaves littered on the ground produced a loud, crisp rhythm as she stepped on them, approaching the nearest tree with a thin poster stuck in its log. She snatched it, folded it four times, and slipped it into her jeans pocket.
She drove off before the man resurfaced.