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Chapter 4

It was snowing and it was very cold but she couldn’t feel anything. The snow was up to her ankles and she was barefoot but that didn’t matter because she couldn’t feel the coldness or the snow itself. Ava knew she was dreaming which only made her feel worse. She was remembering it again and soon enough the memories were going surface during days as well.

The neighborhood was silent and looked empty from her spot on the street. No one was out so late at night but then again, it was her dream and the neighbors weren’t going to actively participate in it. However, she could hear their voices whispering around her about a certain house and a certain man.

He is such a noble man.

He takes care of children with family problems.

He takes them in and offers them a better life.

Remembering those words, she couldn’t help but feel just as empty as the dream felt. The tip of her lip twitched as her whole body crouched a little and her hair swayed slightly in the wind.

With all those whispers following her, Ava walked towards the green house. From afar it appeared to be a normal building built for a family with several children but as she was walking closer, the angst and terror were surfacing through the walls and it was suffocating. Her hands started to tremble as she was getting closer to the front door but it wasn’t from coldness; her subconscious was reacting. The door was a bright ugly yellow and it looked like someone tried to make a joke and failed. Ava closed her eyes tightly and licked her lips, trying to calm herself down and grasp the idea that it wasn’t real.

A sudden scream forced her to open her eyes wide and turn towards the window. Hearing the scream again, her heart started to beat faster and she felt her whole body sweating uncontrollably. Suddenly, the screams stopped, alerting her that something was happening inside the house. Ava hurried to the window that was facing the street but she couldn’t see much because it was half frozen.

Two children where inside what looked to be a messy living room: one was crying while the other was getting pushed around. The living room was equipped with everything needed for a family and even more but the children looked like they weren’t being taken care of properly. One was a girl with short brown hair that seemed cut by a novice and swollen brown eyes. She was crying so much but Ava could notice in the way she was grasping her dress in fury that she wanted to react with strength to what was happening in front of her. That little scared girl had courage but not power.

On the other hand, the second child was an older boy and he was the one who looked the worst. His clothes were torn apart, his black hair was missing in certain spots on his head and he had many bruises on his arms and legs. Unconsciously, her eyes moved on his back where she knew he had a humongous scar.

“Shut up and move aside, boy!” The man screamed, pushing the boy aside harshly.

He was young and wounded but the boy got on his feet right away and moved between the man and the little girl.

“I’m not going to warn you again, Iwan! Move aside or you will take her place upstairs!”

Ava felt a shiver go down her spine when the adult smirked at young Iwan with an evil glint in his eyes. She moved closer to the window and placed her hands on it so she could see as much as possible.

“No! Leave her alone. I will go in her place.” The boy was brave but he regretted those words as soon as they got out of his mouth.

The adult chuckled and agreed, leaving the two alone. The boy turned to the girl and hugged her tightly.

“I’m sorry, Iwan. They’re going to-“ She whimpered, not having enough energy to finish her sentence.

“Shh. It’s alright. I promised I will keep you and Lory safe. It’s fine as long as you two don’t get upstairs.” He mumbled softly, rubbing her hair gently as she continued to cry in his arms.

Ava watched the two interact as if they were brother and sister but it was obvious they were from different families of different social statuses. Seeing Iwan care so much for a girl he had never met until they had been brought to the house was warming her heart yet at the same time it was breaking it.

“It’s time to go play, Iwan~” The man sung as he walked inside the living room with a grotesque smile on his face.

The little girl wasn’t stupid and immediately squeezed the boy, not letting him go. The adult narrowed his eyes at her and grabbed Iwan by his hair, dragging him away. The girl screamed but in return she got slapped so hard that she fainted.

Ava watched the adult drag the 12 years boy into the hall and up the stairs to what he used to call ‘the playground’. Her heart clenched when she heard Iwan try to run but get caught and punched in the kidney. Whatever was happening with Iwan was creating loud noise and the owner of the house couldn’t have the neighbors think anything bad about him so he turned on the stereo.

The brunette leaned her head against the frozen window and breathed out as tears were uncontrollably pouring down her cheeks. The little girl was spread on the ground, hurt and lonely while her only guardian angel was getting abused in another room.

The cries and screams of anguish were getting inaudible as Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto was growing louder and louder covering the pain of three innocent children.

Ava was hoping she could wake up, she even pinched herself but she was wandering through the depth of her subconscious and she needed a stronger reason to snap out of it. As her eyes scanned the room, she noticed the calendar above the telly. She frowned and took one step backwards, feeling incredibly nauseous.

That seemed enough to make her wake up from that nightmare. The psychologist was entangled into her white sheets and her appearance was messy because she sweated a lot and shifted a lot during her dream. Ava grabbed a hand through her hair and wiped her eyes, noticing that she cried in real life as well.

“December 18th. The date in the calendar was different but it was the same month. It can’t be a coincidence can it?” She whispered feeling even worse now that she was awake.

A flash of Iwan’s scarred body appeared before her eyes and she flinched. If only that was just a nightmare she could go on living peacefully.

But it wasn’t.

That morning she took her time showering and scrubbed her skin harder trying to get rid of that dirty feeling caused by the nightmare. It was really hot so she walked out knowing that she had a weak body and could faint from heavy steam. The brunette leaned on the sink and wiped the mirror enough to look at her appearance. Her face looked healthy and clean, her brown eyes were a bit swollen but not enough to draw attention at work. She was fine and it was sickening after she started to remember the difficulties of young Iwan.

After getting dressed and eating breakfast, Ava grabbed her keys and checked one last time for her overall image. Once she was content with herself, she went to work as if nothing happened.

Traffic that morning was better than the days before but still a pain. Cars were standing in lines from both senses and the horns going on every ten seconds was annoying. Ava’s head was already shaken so having such loud noise go on and on around her was getting her in a bad mood.

“For fuck’s sake, can they just wait in silence,” She mumbled rubbing her temples.

The car in front of her moved but before she had the chance to press the acceleration another car sneaked in between. Ava’s eyes widened and she hit the wheel, pressing the button for the horn without intending to.

The line was moving slowly once the semaphore changed colors and she couldn’t wait to get at least 2 meters before she could use a shortcut and get straight in front of her workplace. She was very focused on the way because she had to be careful how to sneak down that street.

She was almost there when she heard an explosion a few streets away in a bank. There must have been a bomb or something which only meant the terror was coming to London.

Well, that only helped Ava sneak down the street easier and she drove faster, knowing the police already had their hands full.

“Have you heard? A bomb exploded in the bank on 14th street. That is super close to us!”

Charlie’s voice was the first thing Ava heard when she entered the building. Most secretaries were in the lobby watching the news.

“Reporters are definitely fast,” Ava mumbled on the way past the front desk.

Everyone was getting busy with a problem that wasn’t theirs. Ava’s phone rang right when she stepped inside and it was from Isaac’s mother. He was too scared to get out of the house so they rescheduled.

Three more patients called and announced they weren’t going to make it and even if they lied saying something interfered, Ava knew it was all because of that sudden explosion.

“You know, with everything happening these days in Europe you can’t really judge them. They have a point.” Charlie begun since neither she nor her boss had any work for the first half of the day.

“And what’s the point?”

Ava decided to indulge Charlie with conversation since she had nothing to do. She knew staying all alone in her office was only giving her the best moments to remember her nightmare and ponder over it.

“Safety! You can never be too safe. What if it was a terrorist attack? Then there will be more and-” She stopped scared of her own theories.

It wasn’t the same to Ava, though. She turned on the telly and turned the volume up so they could hear what the reporter was saying.

Right now the police are inspecting the sight but we can say for sure that the bomb that exploded in the bank had a low amount of explosive. There are no deaths but we have been informed that 6 people have been injured.

“Such a low explosion? What were they expecting?” Charlie asked though it was obvious she seemed more relaxed than before.

“If it was a terrorist attack, many people would have died. I’m sure our best detectives are on it.” Ava tried to keep an optimistic view over the issue.

It seemed Charlie understood that as well and nodded.

“I wonder if it has anything to do with the bird mask guy from a few days ago.” Charlie started but didn’t get any answer.

The truth was that Ava was wondering the same thing.

At the Scotland Yard, officers were moving around chaotically as if the world was on fire. It wasn’t that bad and they had their best men on the field.

Detective Lanchester was unfortunately not one of them. He was at his desk, moving a pen in circles while the pile of paperwork next to his laptop was growing every day.

“You don’t have to look so pitiful, Lanchester. We know you hate desk jobs more than anything.” The detective who took Lanchester’s pile of crime reports commented.

Detective Eric Jonas was not a friend but not an enemy either. He was insufferable at times and that was it.

“Piss off Jonas. Don’t you have to report to the chief about the ‘stuff’ happening between the Chinese and Russians?” Marvin asked, even showing the quote signs just to show how annoyed he was.

Jonas rolled his brown eyes and leaned against Lanchester’s desk.

“You should be happy right now. All your cases have been spread around the office and all you have to do is being nice and go to therapy.”

Eric’s words seemed like Marvin’s issue was actually a break but it was nothing like that.

“What about the explosion this morning?” Marvin asked raising his eyes to meet Eric’s.

Jonas knew what that look meant and he quickly left. Marvin chuckled and followed his colleague, placing his hands inside his jacket’s pockets.

“I know what you’re doing, Marv. You have done it so many times before,” Jonas mumbled yet not looking at his colleague.

“What am I doing? It’s going to be all over the news anyway. Might as well inform me before I get to read about it in the paperwork,”

That answer seemed to have triggered something in Eric’s head because he stopped and dragged Marvin to the coffee machine in the corridor.

“Chief took the case. From what I know it doesn’t seem like ISIS but something is definitely fishy with this one.”

Marvin raised an eyebrow and folded his arms in front of his chest, “How so?”

Eric surveyed the corridor before taking a step closer. “This is confidential but I heard they found something at the sight. A letter.”

“A letter?” Marvin repeated making Eric push him lightly.

“Shh. Anyway, I don’t know exactly what it says but I heard it’s a riddle or something.”

Marvin tilted his head to the side, his mind connecting dots that he found relevant.

“Was there any connection to the advertisement incident from a few days ago?”

Marvin’s question made no sense to Eric. They both knew what he was talking about but it didn’t seem like there was anything connecting the two together.

“That was just a prank.” Eric responded after a few seconds. His eyes were staring into Marvin’s with seriousness and his overall appearance made him look like a dog.

“You genuinely believe that, don’t you?” Marvin asked bemusedly. “Well, I guess I’ll have to get my point across,” He continued before patting his younger colleague and walking down to his boss’s office.

“You’re doing it again, Lanchester!” Eric screamed after the redhead but Marvin waved him off.

When Marvin Lanchester opened the door to his chief, he found out that curiosity may not kill him but impatience definitely will.

Chief Inspector Leyland was at his desk, shifting through some files that may have not been about the explosion. The elder officer didn’t have to look to know who barged inside his office unannounced.

“Go to therapy, Lanchester.” Leyland spoke firmly but Marvin hurried and took the seat across his boss.

“I can be a lot of help. You know me and my agile mind. They used to call me Marvin Holmes back in the academy.” Marvin decided to start on a happier tone than normally.

Leyland sighed and looked at one of his best detectives. If only he could see Marvin as before Fred’s murder everything would be fine and he would actually trust him with the explosion and other cases but he couldn’t. Leyland couldn’t forget the darkness he saw into Marvin’s eyes during his interrogation.

Even now, looking at him from under his glasses, Leyland could still see how unwell his detective was. Maybe he was feeling better and the anger subsided but for how long? How long will it be until Marvin will lash out?

“It’s been taken care of.” The chief mumbled before returning to his files, “And don’t bother Jonas with it either. I know he is an easy prey for you but he is a detective as well, Lanchester.”

The redhead scoffed and leaned back in the chair, placing one leg over the other but in a manly way. He rubbed his chin as he thought how to manipulate his superior into letting him on the case. He could use personal affairs but that would be risky moreover, he would use the sole personal leverage he had on Leyland. No, he had to think of something else.

“What if I tell you that it can help me with the therapy?” Marvin started not yet sure if it would work.

Leyland rolled his eyes, “Is that what your psychologist said or what you said?”

“Both.” He responded shamelessly. “Come on chief. Use my skills. If it makes you feel better, I’ll take the psychologist with me~”

“Why do you want to work on this case anyway?” The older man asked growing tired of Marvin’s whining.

“Because it will happen again. If there was indeed found a letter then it means whoever did it, will do it again and again until they have the response to whatever they’re searching for.”

Leyland raised his eyes and looked at the eagerness in Marvin’s eyes. If he squinted enough he could see the desire to fight crime and solve mysteries no matter the boundaries he had to break.

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