Lola began to walk upstairs to go and quickly change, but Derek grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
“Come on,” he said, “I’m driving. We need to leave now!”
“B-but I have to change and my cars-”
“I know it’s breaking you’re routine, but we need to go.”
“I’ll meet you there!” she quickly said.
“No, we’re leaving now.”
“B-but my car. It’ll break-”
“We are leaving now.”
Lola tried to escape his grasp, but he quickly wrapped an arm around her waist and lifted her off the ground. Instantly, she began to pant for breath as she struggled against him. This was breaking the order! She had just broken the order with her little vomiting session! It was happening again! She needed to be able to get ready in the precise order she did so every morning! She needed to be able to drive the car that was next on the list!
This wasn’t right!
“ALICE!” Lola screamed. “Lock-”
Derek clamped his hand over her mouth. “If you try to lock down this house, I swear,” he grunted out as he continued to carry her squirming body.
Thomas could do nothing but watch on. A few seconds ago, she had been as calm as ever. She had joked, talked about her parents’ deaths in a monotone voice, came up with theories. Now, that person was gone. Replacing her was a hypoventilating OCD oriented person that’s world had been flipped upside down.
“You can pass out in the car,” Derek said as he slammed the door behind them. “I know, it’s not part of the order, but we don’t have time for this.”
“I know,” Derek said in a gentler voice. The tone alone made Thomas wonder just how much time Derek had spent with Lola after the accident. Sure, he knew how the house functioned and her ticks, but forcefully removing Lola from her house against her will seemed that it warranted another level of knowing one another.
Derek opened the passenger car door and placed Lola in it, her breaths still rasping out of her throat. He buckled her in and shut the door, knowing her mind was too preoccupied and fuzzy to try and escape; the system had already been disturbed.
Thomas got into the back seat, some notes in hand, and began to study them.
Derek shut his door behind him and started the car. The car was by no means as nice as any of Lola’s, but she didn’t even notice. Besides, that wasn’t something she would complain about.
“Just practice your arithmomania.”
Lola’s hand immediately tapped her leg twice, and a few seconds later, her foot took the hint and joined in. She began to calm down - at least to what she had been.
“I fucking hate you,” Lola swore at in a mixture of anger and tiredness.
“Yeah, I know,” Derek said with a smile.
Thomas sighed silently to himself. What was this dynamic?
Derek’s car pulled up to the scene, and everyone got out. Thomas was the fastest, having to listen to Lola tap/hit her feet and hands every ten seconds had nearly annoyed him to death. It was almost enough to make him feel sorry for her. He assumed that she didn’t have a choice in doing the arithmomania, but much like the order she did things, she had to do it. She had to do such specific things; otherwise, she would literally break down; it was almost sad.
They all flashed their badges and were allowed to pass into the building. Blank gravestones and slabs of stone were littered throughout the room. Off to the side was a bloody body, a giant slab of stone over the corpse. His face, hands, and legs were free while his chest and waist had been crushed.
Lola tilted her head to the side as she read what the gravestone said: Here lies Haymen Govern - thief.
“This was a hostage situation first?” she asked.
“We assume so,” an officer said.
Lola observed the man’s body more. There were no rope marks around his wrists or ankles. No chaffing around his lips to signify he had been gagged. However, just from looking at him, she could tell he had begun to bloat, and yet he wasn’t tense like a corpse usually was.
“He’s been here more than a day?” Thomas took the words out of her mouth.
“Why wasn’t he found yesterday?” Lola asked.
A police officer flipped through his notes. “The shop was closed yesterday. A customer found him like this today.”
“Is the customer still here?” Thomas asked.
“Yes, she’s outback.”
“Take me to her. Lola . . .” they made eye contact. “Do whatever it is you do.”
“It’s nice to see that my job is growing on you.”
Thomas mumbled something as he walked away, leaving Lola smiling.
Lola’s hands searched for her headphones, but they weren’t there. She swore as she re-patted down herself.
“What is it?” Derek asked, knowing he was about to get an earful from her.
“I forgot my headphones.” She searched her pockets again and cursed. “This is why we don’t do things out of order!” she spat out. “When things are done out of order, then mistakes are made!”
“This isn’t a mistake; you just forgot your headphones. I’ll get everyone to leave. You can play your music out loud.”
“What if that doesn’t work and I can’t get into the headspace-”
“Lola!” He grabbed her attention. “You are one of the smartest people I know. I also know, for a fact, that headphones won’t increase your IQ. Take some time if you need to get into the space, I won’t let anyone come in until you come and get me. You can do this.”
He was wrong; he was so very, very wrong. Lola knew that deep down but wasn’t going to say that. Not only was it too early for another fight between the two, but she was aware of how every detective or cop - much like Thomas - watched her like a hawk.
“Ok, I’ll try.”
“No, you won’t try, you’ll do,” Derek said as he tapped his finger against her shoulder two times, somehow him doing it to her also calmed her down. He handed her a new, clean pair of gloves.
She nodded, and he walked away. Pulling out her phone, she flipped to her song and hit play. The room was empty, save for her and the corpse, and the music bounced off the cold stone and virtually empty space like it did in her house. That familiarity calmed her down.
I’m laughing on the outside
Crying on the inside
’ Cause I’m so in love with you
She slid the gloves over her hands and stretched out the elasticity, making the rubber hug her skin, almost forming a new layer.
Bending down to the body, she breathed in deeply. Her covered hands carefully tilted his head to the side, finding that his ear had been cut off, his left eyes and left side of the mouth had been sewn shut.
She opened his eye and then his mouth, nothing was removed, which left the ear to be the clue: hear no evil. Sighing, she laid down next to the man, only far enough away to not get any of his blood on her.
Closing her eyes, she breathed in deeply as her body relaxed.
“Pl-please, I didn’t-” I was cut off when a pipe slams into my chest. I naturally double over and force out a breath. I watch as the person twirls the pipe in one of the hands, a switchblade twirls in the other.
The person swings the pipe again. I try to lunge out of the way, but it ends up hitting me anyway. I hit one of my stone slabs that the person had made me carve before they began to beat me. The assailant grabs the stone. I try to roll away but am stopped when the granite slams into my chest.
I open my mouth to scream, but air and blood force its way up my throat. The person sits down on the slab and more blood comes out of my mouth. They grab my face and turn it to the side. Pain shoots into the left side of my head and it only takes me a second to understand that my ear is being sawed off. But I can't scream. Can't move. Can't do anything!
Tears stream down my face as I think about this person. I know them and can't understand how they could be doing this to me. . . . How could . . . .
I’m laughing on the outside
Crying on the inside...
Lola sat up slowly, her body sluggish for some reason. She turned and looked at him.
“Congratulations,” Lola murmured, “a copycat didn’t kill you.”
It was official, Split had struck again, and though his face was puffy, pale, and deformed, Lola stared back at another person from her past. Someone else who was in the same dangerous web her parents had been in. With that thought, realization struck her.
Only a few people from that web weren’t dead. The list was narrowing, and the killings were becoming faster. But, with the copycat on hand, more people were dying, and that was yet another case that needed to be solved.
They were running out of time.