One Thousand Mornings: Chapter 2: Rebirth
Kawamura and Saori peered over a page with an ominous collection of words. The ink barely hanging on as the elements of time caused it to partially dissipate into its surroundings like water being sprinkled through the breeze of a rainstorm. The two of them hawked over the letters as they wrenched their minds to try and bring it all into perspective.
Count the seconds. STANDSTILL
Saori pulled back as she pressed her fingers against her eyes, forcing out the exhaustion. She then placed her hands squarely onto her waste as she eyed Kawamura from behind. “You see something I don’t, detective?” she called out. With a glint of determination on his face, Kawamura peeked over his shoulder at the agent and replied, “Yeah, as a matter of fact I think I do.”
His tone left a sense of bewilderment in Saori, but amongst it was a tint of thrill churning and slowly crawling at the surface of her skin.
With tension growing in the interrogation room, Detective Hankyou sat firm, grilling the young store employee as he wavered his eyes from left to right; constantly pulling at his shirt sleeve. His apprehension leaking into the atmosphere like a pheromone. Hankyou dragged in a deep breath through her nostrils as she tipped back into her chair.
“You’re saying that she kidnapped her and held her hostage for an entire day behind your store?”
Her expression was rigid, composed, and direct. She didn’t want to dance, she wanted to shoot straight.
The employee no longer diverted his eyes. He no longer fiddled with his sleeve. He no longer questioned himself. He now simply looked forward and spoke. Detective Hankyou had a talent. Like a drug seeping in and dispersing into the vein of an anxious addict, she claimed instant control over her subjects. Her ability to rope a person in was uncanny. It made her respected… and it made her feared.
“Why?” Detective Hankyou asked plainly.
“My father owns the drugstore. I’ve known Reiko for years – since we were kids. She claimed that she needed the storage room space to run a project for class. Talked about how she didn’t have the space in her apartment to house the computer rig, nor the means to get it all the way up to the tenth floor of her building. She also blabbered on about how the cool temperature in the storage room would keep the computer temp low. I didn’t know what that meant at the time since I don’t study computer engineering like she does, and so I just left her too it.”
“You just handed the keys over to her… just like that?”
“I’ve known her for a long time.”
“An old middle school crush of yours or something? It would make the case for an absence of logic here.”
The store employee then followed with silence. His fingernail slowly grinding down his shirt sleeve.
“I checked the archive footage afterwards and couldn’t believe what I’d seen.”
“So much that you didn’t tell the police?”
“I didn’t know what I was looking at, I wanted to confirm with Reiko before I jumped to conclusions.”
“And how did that go?”
“I never got in touch with her. I heard the news and decided to come here.”
Hankyou hung her head as she peered down at the table. Tapping her fingers against its cold hard surface. The employee glanced back and forth as the abrupt end to their conversation came at him like a curve ball. He could sense his composure slipping once again.
Slowly lifting her head, Hankyou brought the employee back within her crosshairs.
“You know… whenever we’re investigating a case, we make reports that we then brief each member of the case with.” Shifting her sights to the camera beside them, she gestured to the fact that there was a team of people observing their conversion as she continued, “In fact, I was briefed by my team right before walking in here.”
Unable to catch Hankyou’s rift, the employee remained silent and held his eyes steady on her.
“You told two detectives that the cameras were not operational.” As her countenance slowly fashioned itself from informal to intimidating, her voice too became more pointed and direct.
“So, either you’re the dumb one, or you think we are.”
He huffed as he sat himself up straight; taking a moment to ease out the tension prickling his skin. As he zoned in on the detective, a foreboding smirk drew itself onto his lips.
Propped up on top of a chair, Kawamura raised his hands above his head as he dragged down the old Chinese scroll hanging just below the ceiling. Saori watched with her eyes glistening as he stepped down towards her wit the dust covered piece of artwork curdling in his hands.
“Chiasa was drawn to this thing. Practically mesmerized by it.”
“And should that raise a red flag?”
“Are you into Chinese philosophy, agent?”
“Why would I be?”
“Neither am I, but Chiasa happened to be. I stared at this thing for years never once knowing what it was, and after she told me I still couldn’t find much meaning to it… Until now.”
“And that being?”
“Standstill… This says standstill.”
Saori bent her neck sideways, scanning the scroll in search of answers. “Where does it say that?” “That’s the thing,” the detective replied, “I don’t know.”
“Well, is there anything else on it?” Saori then tagged. The detective flipped the scroll around to the opposite side, revealing something unusual.
Rewind the clock. REBIRTH
The two quietly looked at one another.
Kawamura nonchalantly eyed the file drawer just inches away from him. Folding the scroll in two as he gripped it in one hand, he then reached over and pulled out a file. “More secret messages written on pieces of paper, detective?” Saori untimely jabbed, referring to the words written across the edge of one of the sheets hanging from the file. “It’s a case file from two years ago.” Kawamura stepped over to the chair and dropped the file onto the table sitting in front of it. As the two of them gathered around, Kawamura’s eyes began to glaze over.
Dates, faces, names, timestamps, images, pained memories.
He could see it all… He could feel it all.
With his head drooped low and his sights fixated on the papers in front of him, Kawamura opened his mouth to speak.
“My son was murdered during this case.”
Bobbing his head faintly as his eyes met Saori’s he whispered, “…yeah.”
Saori reached down and fished through the pages, casually taking note of whatever info stood out to her. “It was six of them,” Kawamura explained, “six kids that all went missing.” Saori looked up at the detective. “Did you find any of them?” Nodding his head, he continued, “We found all six of their bodies.” Kawamura fell back into the seat just behind him as he pulled the energy to explain further. "All of them – had some sort of weird brain aneurism that was determined to be the cause of death. But it was all unusual.” With his hands gesturing his inner thoughts, he attempted to describe further. “You could say it was like someone had used something like a neurological weapon on them.” Saori then adjusted her posture as she interjected, “You mean like the one used on the precinct earlier?” Shaking his head slightly he followed, “I don’t know.”
Pushing through the papers he brought one specific detail to the forefront. “One girl mentioned that the clock was counting in the wrong direction. It wasn’t much to go off of, we assumed it was just a broken clock in the room she was being kept in. Regardless we never found that location. The dead body showed up a few days later in the harbor at Minato Mirai.
“You think that the words on that old scroll are referring to this case? Sounds like a coincidence to me. Or maybe even a case of you seeing what you want to see.”
Kawamura peered at the agent before looking back at the files. He then placed his finger down firmly onto the paper. As she followed his hand she rested her eyes on the words:
Name: Yuki Nakamura.