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Chapter 16

“Sir! Sir, I believe you should turn the television on!” An officer screamed, walking inside with a scared face. “They’re saying there’s a source that they will interview tonight!”

Ruben frowned, wrinkles of expression gathering on his forehead amongst wrinkles of aging and stress.

“Duval, bring any television you can find in here.” He told his most trusted co-worker, already feeling his hands and legs trembling from the lack of sleep and nutrients in his body. “Where the hell is Lanchester?!”

“Oi, chief inspector, sorry for taking so long. We got lost in this wonderful city.” Lanchester’s voice was booming even if there was a lot of other noise from the cubicles.

Unlike the ginger, Leo was meek now that he was standing before his superior. He shouldn’t have followed Lanchester but then again, he did like the witty detective. It was an adventure in itself to be anywhere around Lanchester.

“We did get lost, sir.” The youngster added in a quiet voice, looking anywhere but in Ruben’s brown eyes.

“Where’s doctor Atkins?” Ruben asked suspiciously.

“Who knows. She seemed to suffocate in here from all these tensions so she probably retreated in a quiet place.” Lanchester replied, surprising and amusing Leo with how colloquial he was being even though he was lying through his teeth.

It has been brought to our attention that there is an inside source that can tell us what has been happening for the past months. Is it a well planned attack or is it just a scam? Luckily, today, while filming on sight, our correspondents have found this lady that seems to know more about Anonymous.

The scene changed to the one right in front of the Galileo Hotel which was now a ruin. A blonde woman with blue eyes was standing next to a familiar face, one that looked uncomfortable yet firm and stable.

“You are right, Paula. We have met a person that told us she has important details for this case. Here, next to me, is psychologist Ava Atkins, who also worked before with the Scotland Yard on a few cases. She has been profiling political behavior for the Government of United Kingdom and recently joined the Interpol.”

“Oh, I didn’t join the Interpol. I am here on personal business.” Ava added quickly but it simply passed the journalist.

“What exactly is Anonymous? Is this group an act of terrorism or is it a farce?” The blonde asked in a polite yet cold voice.

“Anonymous is not a terrorist group but they are definitely not a farce. Everything they do is well researched and planned, up to the tiniest detail. They are meticulous and patient.” Ava answered in the same manner.

“Then what can you tell about these zeppelin attacks? Today many have been injured.”

“But no one died. If they wanted victims, they could have easily placed bombs in crowded spots around Europe. They didn’t. They tried to keep the collateral damage at minimum.”

“Then, if they do not want to kill, what exactly is their purpose?”

It was a bit annoying to see someone who had no idea what was really happening, judge with such obvious intentions and have the courage to blabber such questions in front of a camera.

“I am not sure what their final goal is. But for now, they want to be listened. The world has heard them but not listened to their words. Media can highly manipulate the citizen’s opinion thus Anonymous is using quotes from literature. If you go right now and replay what they have said until now you will notice that they have been accusing the church using the Bible but also accusing the political and bureaucratic world. This is not a threat but a manifesto.” Ava explained slowly, making sure she could see signs of understanding on the blonde’s face.

“What about your involvement with the Interpol?”

Ava took a deep breath before she realized she had to give the Caesar what was rightfully his.

“At the sight of every explosion, there had been found a letter. While for the common eye it looked like quotes from the Bible about sins, we have found the real meaning by looking through the paper. What the Interpol found is still closed for public eye but I can tell you that if you do not listen, Anonymous might strike back, worse than before and worse than anything you can imagine.” Ava finished looking straight into the camera. “A peaceful group can get offended by ignorance and discrimination, especially when they are fighting against those.”

“So, here is it. The answer we have been waiting for. Maybe it’s not as clear as we hoped but one thing we know for sure. Anonymous can bring panic and chaos if we do not comply with their requests.”

Ava glanced at the blonde with a sneer, finding it ridiculous how she just blabbed out the opposite of what she has been explaining.

In the Interpol, phones were ringing and agents were running around more than rats in a cage. It was stressful and complicated now that media from all over the world was crowding at their door.

In his office, Ruben was joined by Duval and Lanchester. For some reason, he had a feeling that the ginger was involved into Ava’s sudden need to share classified information.

“She just placed us all in danger. Now, Anonymous know that we know what the letters mean.” Duval started.

“Do we really?” Ruben asked, grabbing a hand through his hair. “We still don’t know anything.”

“They told us to listen and Dr. Atkins did. She just proved them that someone, moreover involved with the police, understood their messages.” Lanchester added with a grin, “If anyone can get inside their head,that’s Atkins. She might have not known Johnson but he definitely knew her. I’m sure his death was supposed to bring us together.”

“You are enjoying this case too much, detective.” Duval interfered, glowering at the man. From afar he didn’t even look like he could be taken seriously yet here he was, noticing signs that only he could see and understand.

“I’m telling you, Johnson left Ava more than his list of patients. She is a smart woman, very perceptive and never once have her patients relapsed. She knows how to get inside her patient’s head.” Lanchester continued, genuinely believing in his theory.

Actually, from the moment he met Ava in the street, he knew she found the answer to Johnson’s death. The Divine Comedy that she so dearly held the whole day was just another sign and having Leo decipher Inferno was also a sign.

“What do we have to lose anyway? Anonymous doesn’t target the low and medium class but the rich and powerful. A minister or two won’t really matter.”

“Take care what you laugh about, Lanchester. You are not in England. No one here can swear for you.” Ruben started his eyes moving on the ginger with newfound authority.

“I don’t need anyone to do it. As long as I have Dr. Atkins and my new friend Leonardo, I can solve this case without asking for favors.”

“I’m expecting actions not words.” Ruben said, signing for Duval to invite the ginger outside.

“There is a story that I invite you to read when you feel left out by the society. It’s about a person like us, a person who finds wideness in solitude and knows his existence matters, if not to others, to him.” Ava started, a thin and worn out book in her hand. She opened it at a particular page and read out loud the lines she had underlined.

The man who is alone, who stands on his own feet, who is stripped bare, who asks for nothing and wants nothing, who has reached the apex of disinterestedness not through blind renunciation but through excess of clear vision, turns to the world which stretches out before him as a burned prairie, as a devastated city —a world in which no churches, asylums, refuges, ideals, are left—and says:

The television channels interrupted everything for a sudden message, intercepted by an anonymous hacker. The person standing in front of the camera, looking at hundreds or even thousands of millions of Europeans, was slightly plump in shape and had to wear a cloak over his head because the mask was too small. In a voice that resembled Charlie Chaplin’s in his famous final speech from The Great Dictator

Though you promise me nothing I am still with you, I am still an atom of your energies, my work is part of your work; I am your companion and your mirror as you march on your merciless way.

The voice on TV and the voice in Ava’s memory were linear, no grain of emotion passing through the words onto the listeners.

As Ava entered a new hotel, this time of low cost because she had to pay from her personal savings, she noticed the crowds in front of every screen turned on. She licked her lips and calmed her beating heart, the grasp on her purse tightening in response to her brain registering the noise around her.

I know that our efforts all come to nothing. I know the end of us all is nothing, I know that at the end of Time, the reward of our toil will be nothing— and again nothing.

The voice continued, growing a bit in resonance and rhythm as it seemed it became very personal for the individual giving the speech.

“I’d like a room, please. Any available room, as fast fast as possible.” Ava addressed the receptionist. He was a young boy, not yet twenty years old so definitely a part timer.

“For one night or...?” the boy trailed, his attention shifting between the screen and the computer.

“Time is indefinite. I’ll just pay at the end.” Ava replied, her grasp tightening even more, the veins on her hand getting prominent.

“Ok,” the young receptionist said before he tasted quickly.

I know that all our handiwork will be destroyed. I know that not even ash will be left from the fires that consume us. I know that our ideals, even those we achieve, will vanish in the eternal darkness of oblivion and final non-being.

“Name?” he asked, looking up at the brunette woman with wide eyes.

“Atkins.” she mumbled.

“Alright. You’re all set up. Second floor, first room on the left of the stairs.” He answered and handed her an odd looking key.

Ava would have almost sprinted up the stairs if she wouldn’t have walked for so long. Her legs were growing numb and so was her brain. She needed to enter that room, get some water and gulp down two painkillers or else she was going to remember more than she was willing to.

But once the brunette psychologist arrived inside her room, she found the television turned on and the light in the bathroom switched on.

There is no hope, none, in my heart. No promise, none, can I make to myself and to others. No recompense can I expect for my labors. No fruit will be born of my thoughts. The Future—eternal seducer of all men, eternal cause of all effects—offers me nothing but the blank prospect of annihilation.

At the end of the speech, the anonymous individual took a pause, as if he was letting the Europeans understand the meaning of his speech. With silence as background to an alarming beating heart, Ava walked inside the bathroom and froze at the words written on the mirror.

I have revealed to you your soul, and you have made known to me my soul.

And that was the end of the speech. The channels resumed their usual commercial breaks or usual schedule and left Europe with many, many new questions.

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