– Chapter Fourteen –
Nothing made sense anymore. Every event that I came upon made no sense. People should die after an explosion but why was that scarred man still alive? I clearly remembered the scar that ran from his forehead down to his right cheek. He grinned. That was what pissed me off. It got me thinking why the hell I didn't listen to the little girl. She sounded like she knew what she was doing. But no, my pride had to get in the way. And now she wasn't here. The car ride was too silent.
I missed the crazy tantrums, the fake tears and the constant kicking of her tiny fragile legs against her seat. There was no point in hoping to see her again. There was no way I could do anything to make this right. They were long gone by now and here I was stuck in a pile up, trying desperately to sweep past the cars without colliding with them.
Once, out of what seemed like hell, I let out a heavy sigh. Not for relief but sadness. I was a fool. Why couldn't I do anything except tag her? That won't do much, except for my phone to beep when she was within a mile radius. Stupid Haru for not getting me a GPS tracking device like I asked for. Life would've been simpler if the guy could think about things other than food and computers. Technology was his forte. Why couldn't he do a simple thing and upgrade?
And now I was blaming him. I was good at that. Blame the people around me, but never myself. That was the kind of personality I have. A cold hearted eighteen year old killer.
I bit my lower lip; a habit that ended with the sweet taste of blood. I was frustrated at my incompetence and no matter how much I replay the scene in my mind; there wasn't anything I could do.
The border for Rockport appeared and I knew I was close to the district known for its docks and miles of ocean. But Syd lived nowhere near there. He lived in an enclosed area on top of a very steep hill, just on the border of Rockport. There were no roads leading up there, so the rest of the trip had to be on foot. Since I've been there before I won't get lost among the thick forest surrounding it. It was a good location to stay invisible from the eyes in the sky; Syd’s words, not mine.
Thirty minutes went by and I parked the car in front of a 10 foot gate, lined with barred wires above it. Signs of 'danger' and 'restricted area' were plastered in the gate but that wasn't going to stop me. I threw the gym bag over and watched it land on the other side.
With my hands on my hip I measured the gate, took a few steps back, leaned back and did a few stretches. I inhaled, shook my body and jetted towards gate. Using the hood of the car, I made a clean jump over it and landed onto wet ground. I felt my shoes along with my socks fill with water and mud. It was unpleasant but hey, what could I do about that?
It took me about ten minutes to climb up the hill. Exhausted but relieved I finished the hike and escaped the dark forest. I met with a mesmerizing and beautiful sight that only Mother Nature could create. It was an open field of bright green grass with random sprouts of all kinds of flowers, coated with a thin layer of frost. The gentle breeze past by me and instead of feeling the winter chill, I felt bliss; pure and utter bliss. I forgot almost all that had happened today. Even the little girl. But what still roamed through my mind was SIN. No matter how much 'at peace' I felt, that organisation was getting on my nerve.
Moving through the field, I no longer worried about the unpleasant feeling under my feet. I continued up the hill and came across a barn. It was old and barely standing on its own. New planks of wood covered the old ones but no amount of maintenance made this place look safe. However Syd was a stubborn guy and a real grumpy one too.
A thought ran through my mind that made me chuckle but the moment my eyes set upon Haru, a flow of emotions overcame me. I felt like an actual girl, wanting to cry on his broad chest. It was the hormones; they were to blame for everything emotional I ever felt. If I had a choice I would rather not be born with them.
I held back my tears, rubbed my nose and walked towards him in the coolest way which was back straight, chest out and marched towards him with a prideful expression. But it backfired. Instead I ended up face first in a puddle of mud and last night's rain
I didn't feel embarrassed - No, what I felt was worse and indescribable. I wanted to dig a hole and bury myself in it. When did I ever think I could pull of cool? I couldn't even walk normally towards my best friend.
I looked up and licked the corners of my mouth out of humour. I had to turn this into a comedy; a way to let loose from what'd we experienced. Haru had his hand over his mouth and a glint in his eyes. I could tell how hard he was trying to suppress the laughter for my sake. Guess it was his way of saving my dignity.
“Keep standing there then" I said, getting myself off the floor and wiped my face with my T-shirt. I was already muddy so what was more mud going to do to my clothes “You could at least be a gentleman instead of standing there like a freaking statue" I exclaimed.
It was then that Haru couldn't do it anymore. He entered a laughing fit followed by a series of hiccups, cramps and a sudden choke. Mean as I was, I didn't help him relieve from his choking fit. He got himself into the situation. What goes around comes back around. That was my motto.
What I found more important was that I needed a shower.
I entered the building and saw Syd leaning on a desk with his hand folded.
"Look what the cat dragged in."
I ignored his sarcasm and rushed past him towards the bathroom. I paid no attention to my surrounding with the only thought of finally being able to smell clean.
In the bathroom, I stripped myself, washed off the excess mud that dripped off my body and stood under the warm shower. I ran my hands through my hair, washing out every bit of dirt. I felt relieved, clean and presentable. Every time I went out for a job, I'd come back looking like a homeless person. Even they smelled better than I did. One of the things I hated about all the running and chasing; the lack of showers.
I hopped out and wrapped my body with a lavender towel that barely covered anything. Drying my hair, I stared at the ends. It needed a cut and maybe a change of colour. Going through the bathroom cabinet, I heard a knock.
"Eli, you’ve been in there for hours. Are you alright?" Haru asked.
I let out a grunt. That guy needed to stop worrying. It was out of character for him to worry this much. He should be helping Syd with the investigation, instead of keeping tabs on my shower time. Only 'cause he was a guy, doesn't mean I got to act the same.
"Eli?" He called again.
I rolled my eyes and strolled over to the door, forced it open.
“Seriously stop acting like my mother." I snarled and shut the door on him and his flustered face.
I found the hair dye that I wanted and applied it onto my hair. Another changed look to stay under the radar.
Once I’d finished, I went through the gym bag and felt lucky to have packed a change of clothes. I didn't want to wear any over sized T-shirts as it prevents me from moving well. I found a grey denim three-quarter jeans that matched with the plain white long sleeved cotton top. I found a pair of black socks and put the wet clothes and shoes on the radiator. With a plastic bag wrapped around my head and the gym bag hanging from my shoulder, I rejoined with Syd and Haru.
The barn was awfully large, mostly accompanied by empty space. The size could be compared to a football field. In the middle were four elongated tables that formed a circle. Three of the tables had large monitors on them. It was a similar scene to Haru's room but with less equipment. Wires ran to every end of the barn from the tables. Most of them lead to a locked door at the far north end of the barn.
Syd sat in front of the monitor on the middle table and Haru moved from one monitor to the other. I shuffled towards the fifth table near the entrance. Unlike these geeks I liked my weapons more and on that table Syd had laid out every weapon he had. I looked around and placed the gun I had along with its magazines. At the moment I wanted to be unarmed, feeling safe that I could stop the running here. I had faith no one would get here.
I walked over to the guys and stared at a monitor.
"So?" I said awkwardly, playing with my fingers. "What did I miss?"
"Nothing much" Syd replies in an uncaring tone, keeping his eyes glued to the monitor. “What is more important is that girl. Who is she?"
I shrugged my shoulders “I don't know I just found her in a house."
"I have a question." Haru said, turning round to face me. “Who is Jett?" You said he stole my phone, but I have it right here." He revealed his phone.
I scratched the back of my neck and rubbed some off the dye off my neck. I didn’t want to answer. It was my mess and I wasn’t get them involved.
“Nothing special. Let’s just review what we’ve got on SIN.” I said, turning my attention to Syd who pulled down his reading glasses from his thin auburn shoulder length hair that he’d tied in a ponytail. There were faint strands of grey coming from his roots. It was weird to see a twenty six year old man with grey in his hair.
“It didn’t take me long to understand the origin of SIN but apart from that all I know is that any involvement with this organisation is either death or life imprisonment.” He took a breather, turned the page and skimmed through it. “SIN has been around for centuries, raising havoc from the shadows. Not many people know of them but those who do have either been silenced or put in prison. From what I’ve gathered, this is a dangerous organisation unlike the National or any other we’ve dealt with.
“So why have they got a right to judge us.” Haru asked.
“Well that is how it works. Every year, they apparently select those who have sinned and judge upon them. There are even those who’ve commit minor crimes such as lying to the authorities.” Syd answered, taking off his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose.
I thought at the last thing Syd said and it confused me. Why would they judge those who’ve done nothing major? I could understand the reason why Haru and I got chosen but not the others.
“Once they’ve selected their fugitives it is then those devices appear. Centuries ago it would’ve been a letter and a visit from a black armoured judge. These judges are notorious for their strength and their agility. The journals stated of three clans that form SIN, each with a task to bring justice to those who’ve sinned.” Syd looked up towards us, trying to read our expression but all we were doing was trying to process it all in.
“But there isn’t much information about the clans or their origin. What I did find was that a hundred people are selected from random districts and the way to find the districts involved is they black them out. Like a beacon to tell where these people are.”
“So which districts had a blackout?” I asked while staring at the clock. It was almost time to wash the dye off but I couldn’t dare interrupt Syd’s briefing. He would go mad; something I rather never see again.
He ruffled through the papers behind him, clicked the mouse a few times. A map of the city appeared on the monitor with blinking dots everywhere.
“Fairhaven, Rockport, Dirt Village and Drow’s market blacked out at midnight.” He pointed out on the map. “In the last 5 hours 3 other districts joined the black out and they are GNSix, Vesrad and Mayfair. But do you see what all these districts have in common?” Syd asked, pointing on each district on the map. His finger formed a circle and that was when I knew it.
“They are all districts around Black star.” I shuddered at the name and felt the blurry images appear again. I have tried for years to block out these images related to the Black star but every time the name rings through my ears this happened.
The Black star wasn’t a district, just a place that looked like a star on the map. It was like a black hole, filled with darkness and emptiness but known as the most feared area in the city. How do I know this? Well I’ve been there and I hope to never step foot in there again.
“That is right, Elizabeth. And guess what I have found.” He paused for a second to cause a bit of suspense. It was his way of having fun seeing as we were on the edge already with all the information he have given.
“Drum roll please?” He said, tapping his index fingers onto the table. I rolled my eyes and Haru grabbed hold of his fingers.
“Just tell us already.” Haru said impatiently, returning back to his seat.
“Fine. I was just trying to lighten the mood.” Syd said in a disappointing tone.
If this was any other time I wouldn’t have mind for him to have some fun and lighten the mood even though that wasn’t him, but at times like that seriousness was needed.
“SIN has its main base in Black star. Bang in the middle of the black hole.”
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