One Thousand Mornings: Chapter 2: Rebirth
“Let me ask you detective; is this the first time we’ve met?”
Thoughts of former detective Akita’s words playing back in his head danced around his psyche like a taunt. Could I be losing my mind? The detective briefly questioned himself, but insanity was an excuse. He needed details. He needed reasoning. He needed answers.
“I don’t understand.” Saori murmured as she pulled the document closer towards her. Kawamura slowly eased back into his seat as he dipped his head into his hands. Caressing his palms against his forehead, the detective filed through every thought he could conjure.
Kawamura suddenly stood to his feet, his legs nearly colliding into the table as he scurried over to his desk. Accessing his computer, he swiftly pulled up Yuki’s file; unsurprisingly landing on the missing person’s report from the day before… and nothing else. Hovering his hand over his keyboard, a weight of pressure dropped onto his chest. A heated sensation crawled around his neck and slithered its way down his spine. His hands began to waver.
Placing his fingers on the keys, the detective began to type.
Staring blankly at the computer screen as the seconds passed, he caught a faint glimpse of himself in its reflection. He saw more than just an image of himself… what he saw was all that was left. A faded representation of the man he once sought to be. The spirit of his character barely visible much like the obscure reflection right in front of him. Soon enough I’ll just fade away, the detective passively thought to himself.
The computer finally loaded, dragging the detective back into focus. He gawked at the results listed before him.
“Fuck!” he cried out. Tucking his head into his arms
Saori stood silently some distance apart. Quietly observing the humanity of the detective. Feeling his emotions come to surface.
Holding the scroll in her hands she slowly made her way over to his desk.
Kawamura lifted his head and vacantly gazed at the computer screen once more, twisting the ring on his finger. Turn after turn after turn. He peeked at Saori as she crept ever so closer, before finally picking himself up and typing away at his keyboard once again.
Saori stepped up beside the detective, struggling to find the right moment to speak.
Pulling up a personnel file, Kawamura spoke out to the agent, finally inviting her back into his world for once. “That scroll was hanging on that wall ever since I got this office. It belonged to former detective, Akita, before he moved to another room down the hall. One of the first things I asked him about was that scroll. He claimed it was there when he got the office.”
“Well, so much for ornamentation,” Saori tagged, not wasting a single moment to inject her cheap jokes.
“This precinct used to have a psychiatrist on site that assisted with profiling. They figured they needed someone to understand the mind of the criminals. This room always felt a bit out of the usual to me. It never did feel like it was meant for a detective.”
Saori languidly passed her eyes over the room. Taking note of the exquisite interior wood finish molding and textured wallpaper. The diverse furniture propped on top of a distinctive rug, with plants characteristically placed throughout. The room certainly did “speak” to her in a manner unusual for a typical detective’s office.
Kawamura tilted the computer screen towards the agent, with the employee profile of a psychiatrist plastered on the screen.
“Oh shit! Any history on this guy?” Saori blurted at the revelation.
“Used to run his own business before joining the Tokyo police.”
Kawamura searched the net for the psychiatrist’s former self owned office. Letting off a depressed sigh as his shoulders drooped. Saori leaned over the desk further to take a closer look at what had the detective so beaten.
Company information revealed that the psychiatrist was once contracted with Quantum Ten as a private counselor to aid in maintaining employee satisfaction.
Kawamura looked towards Saori with a hint of frustration elevating off his face.
“That’s no coincidence.”
The detective then reached into his pocket for his phone as a feeling of loss was evident in his posture. “Maybe we should try Akita once again. Perhaps he can give us some insight,” Kawamura suggested as he looked to phone the retired detective. “Uso daro!” Kawamura uttered, drawing Saori’s attention.
“What is it?”
Turning the screen towards the agent, he notified her, “We need to go.”
The Chief’s face soured with disdain as the two of them stepped into his office. “You two seem to have your priorities all fucked,” he spoke in a calm but bracing manner. Lee eyed the two of them as they approached the chief’s desk. Both men stood facing a computer screen, watching camera footage of the drugstore employee sitting across from Detective Hankyou. “Just watch closely you two. We’ll fill you in as we go.”
“Loud and clear,” Saori replied as she leaned against the table with her arms crossed; drawing a silent rebuke from Kawamura who refused to verbally respond. The Chief then slowly relaxed back into a chair and sat with his eyes glued onto the screen.
“I found out about the camera in the storage room when the technician came to repair the camera system. My father must have had it installed recently and it’s what caused the glitch in the older cameras. But the newer storage room camera still operated as usual.”
Hankyou slowly bobbed her head without a word in response. Reaching underneath a clipboard, she pulled out a tablet and accessed a video file. She gave the employee one last glance before hitting play.
“Why are we doing this in your office? If you don’t mind me asking.” Kawamura queried to the chief. “Something is not right here, Detective. Something is not right…” The chief’s words came as a bit of surprise for Kawamura, who knew the chief to never say things carelessly.
“What’s on your mind?” he dug further.
“I have the slightest feeling that I recognize that kid.”
“Well, wouldn’t a quick ID search help?”
“Yeah, I did one. And it all checks out. He’s just some kid whose father owns a drugstore.”
“So, what’s the problem…?”
“My gut is telling me that I met this kid—here—during a case… but that was many years ago.”
“… like a strange case of deja-vu?”
“Yeah… just like that.”
The four of them continued watching closely as Hankyou played back the video footage to the employee.
The office was still, and everyone laser focused onto the screen before them. The tension was teetering on a full course anxiety laced episode. Saori glanced at the three men lost in their own sense of focus and quipped, “I can’t see the video on the tablet.”
The three of them momentarily raked at her without engaging. The agent gawked back and rebuked their attitudes with the shrug of her shoulders.
“What are they doing here?” Hankyou questioned. “I don’t know,” the employee retorted.
Hankyou scrutinized him before passing another glimmer towards the camera.
Saori then interjected once again, “It seems like she’s expecting us to know something that I don’t actually know because all three of you are acting like you have sticks up your ass.”
The chief grunted before Kawamura finally posed the question, “What’s on the video?”
The chief then explained to the three investigators how, “Reiko brought an unconscious Chiasa into the storage room of the drugstore. What they do after that doesn’t make much sense. She places what looks like a red piece of paper down in front of her and flashes a couple of lights in her face. She eventually leaves her alone in there for almost an entire day before dragging her back out. The kid claims he discovered the video by chance, didn’t know what she was up to when he handed her the keys.”
With her eyeballs jammed up into the corner of her eyes as she deliberated, Saori came to the conclusion that, “… It’s all… weird.”
“Exactly agent… that’s exactly correct.” The chief acknowledged.
Kawamura fished his phone out of his pocket and presented to the chief the profile of Rengoku Fujioka. The chief grabbed his glasses from his desk and slipped them on before pulling the phone from Kawamura’s hand. Staring at the device, an astonished expression grew onto his face. “My god, this hadn’t even come across my mind,” the chief admitted, “Key information was right underneath our nose.”
“Unfortunately, it’s starting to become a trend,” the detective then added.
Lee stepped in closer from the side. Feeling as though he was slowly becoming a bystander.
“Anything we have on him is in the server. He was here as an employee not as a criminal, so I doubt the information will go too far.”
“In fact, it’s gone far enough.” Kawamura swiped over on the screen, revealing further details about the psychiatrist. “His home address, it was updated on the day he left the job.” The chief took another look. Noting the location in Shibuya.
“Right on the outskirts,” Kawamura tagged, “I looked it up, it belongs to the Fukumori family.”
The chief handed the detective back his phone and removed his glasses. Neatly folding it in his hands as he spoke to Kawamura.
“So, I assume you want to go there and look around?”
“Just a peek.”
“We don’t have the warrant to check that house.”
“Probable cause. There’s a missing child and a potential suspect from the family that’s gone AWOL.”
“Then file for the warrant and wait.”
“We don’t have that luxury.”
“Interpol can.” Once again, Saori managed to draw everyone’s attention with her impromptu interruptions. “I’m here on request from the EU to investigate Quantum Ten. This is exactly that.” Saori proposed, looking around at the three of them awaiting a reaction.
“That’s not how Interpol works, agent, and you know that!” the chief cautioned.
“Then don’t let her go…” Lee finally articulated.
The four of them let the room settle as everyone’s faces fell into a silent confirmation. The chief sighed reluctantly before quietly nodding his head at the detective. Kawamura glanced at Saori and Lee and then turned towards the doorway. As the other two followed suit, the chief balked,
“Don’t force me to have to trust Hankyou with this, detective! Got it?!”
With a muted response, Kawamura looked over at the chief and nodded his head. The three of them then made their exit as the door slammed shut with a thud.
“What was that last part about?”
“The detective interrogating that employee doesn’t work for this precinct. She’s the daughter of the Tokyo High Court’s deputy procurator general and is employed with the Public Security Intelligence Agency.”
“So, they’re weaseling their way into the investigation?”
“Exactly. But the PSIA is rife with collusion. In a case like this they’re worst to trust.”
“And about that deja-vu?”
Kawamura’s footsteps slowed to a pause as he faced her. “When I first started here there was a man who used to work for the PSIA as a CSI. Much like this case, I came across him after the government made a powerplay and practically commandeered the investigation. I don’t remember what that case was, but I remember there were questions about him manipulating evidence. I suppose it was to protect someone up top, but I don’t think anyone ever made a move to dig into it any further… But what I can say is that… there’s an uncanny resemblance between that boy Hankyou is questioning, and that forensics agent from all those years ago.”
“You don’t think the PSIA is entangled with this supposed “organization”, do you?
Injecting himself into the back and forth, Lee exposed his theory.
“It seems like this group that calls themselves the Organization or whatever is trying to coerce us into targeting specific suspects. People that they’re specifically hanging out to dry. But they want to act like we came to that conclusion ourselves.”
“So that we don’t dig deeper into them.”
“Chances are that box we found Reiko in wasn’t even sent by this group. It could be that Akazawa is attempting to expose them. She probably came here to buy herself some protection. Without knowing who’s working for them or not, she probably sees it best not to say any of this directly.”
Saori blankly stared at the two men before stating, “You should be more like him!” with her finger pointed directly at Detective Lee.
“Shut up, agent,” Kawamura hawked. He then stepped in closely to the two of them with a conviction on his face. “The day Fukumori died in that house, he set a fire in his office that burnt through practically everything in there. It’s more possible than not that we come up empty handed.” Turning towards Saori, “You sure you wanna choose this hill to die on?” he concerningly plead. Saori pressed forward. “I die… you both die too. So how about we all keep our fingers crossed.” She stepped around the two men and walked off ahead of them to Kawamura’s dismay. With frustration in his eyes, he looked to make his way behind her until Lee suddenly gripped his arm.
“I’m not going with you to Shibuya.”
Looking at him irritated, Kawamura questioned, “You got something better you need to be doing?” Adamant, Lee explained, “With what we just learned from that store employee, maybe I can get Akazawa to tell us something. At least try and talk to her before Hankyou does.”
With a glint of contemplation on his countenance, Kawamura softly bobbed his head in agreement. “Fine, text me if you get anything out of her.” Walking down the hall he continued, “And don’t let Hankyou know where I’m going.”
As he trudged down the corridor, Saori could be heard in the distance, “I said keep your fingers crossed, detective.” “What kind of European crap is that?” “I think it’s American.”
They had been driving for around thirty minutes as Kawamura and Saori bent around the corner onto a narrow road. The sun was now completely tucked away behind the buildings that lined up alongside one another, casting them almost in complete shadow. Kawamura slowly brought the car to a halt and switched the headlights off. “What’s wrong?” Saori questioned as she eyed a pedestrian passing by her window. Kawamura slightly dipped his head low as if trying to angle himself to get a better view of something. He then stuck his finger outwards, pointing directly at the front gate still left ajar. “Looks like we might’ve actually got ourselves something here,” he stated as they both hawked at the open gate. You think someone is in there?” Saori then followed. “Yup, I do,” Kawamura replied. With a perturbed look on her face, Saori rebuked, “It’s just an open gate?” Kawamura answered the agent with the slow turn of his gaze towards her. “You’re effin’ weirding me out?” she vented with needles to her words. “It doesn’t hurt to stay cautious,” the detective stated before adding, “at the very least we should leave no stone unturned.” As he reached for the door handle Saori reached out to him, “There’s no calling for backup this time, detective.”
Kawamura nodded his head, then both he and Saori made their way out of the vehicle. Watching her own reflection in the car window, she pulled her view upwards, resting on Kawamura across from her. Following him with her eyes, he walked around the front end of the car. Stopping himself just in front of the entrance. With his hand resting on the handle, he made a slight pause before pushing the gate and opening the two of them up to the brisk pathway before them.
The two trotted down the path observing their surroundings; neither of them making their thoughts verbal.
As Kawamura stepped up to the front door, he gave Saori one final look. The uneasy essence in the air was apparent. They could feel through the tension that they both were thinking the same thing. Sensing the same thing. But they both fell short on exactly understanding what that impression was.
Kawamura pushed the unlocked door open and the two of them stepped through the entryway. As the door slowly creaked closed behind them, standing in the genkan, Kawamura peered down at two pairs of shoes in front of him. “Chiasa,” he chimed, now glaring down the corridor ahead.
One unending hallway lined with doors on either side. Walls plastered in all white as they stretched on for eternity, but with an odd sensation of an enclosure… like a cage. The walls did not speak, but within the few seconds that they’d been standing there, it’s as if they’d listened to a thousand words. Only to forget what they were. Their thoughts felt… lost. Time felt… still.
His mouth agape, Detective Kawamura was at a loss. Saori too, could only stare down the unusual interior of the home without a single statement at hand. Before either of them could push themselves to take their first step into the house, a voice spoke out.
“You lost, detective?”
With a disturbed look, Kawamura replied, “… Yuhna?”
Back at the precinct, two knocks against the door of a cold, solemn cell drew Akazawa’s attention. As she looked through the single window at the top of the door, she saw a familiar face peering back at her. The door began to open as Akazawa leaned her back against the wall, holding her body stiff.
Hinges creaked as the person stepped through the doorway and into the desolate space. Detective Lee followed soon after. Shutting the door behind him and enclosing the three of them inside.
“You have five minutes. Hankyou will be back in six.”
As he slightly looked towards Lee, he gently nodded his head. Turning to face Akazawa, they looked each other dead in the eyes.
“You should have never come here,” Akazawa humorlessly barked.
Stepping forward carefully, he kept his eyes glued onto Akazawa. Expression as still as a porcelain doll. Inviting himself to take a seat just a few feet from her, he revealed, “Murano… the Organization is dead.”
As the words evaporated into the frigid atmosphere within the cell, the three of them simply stared each other down.
Akazawa, Detective Lee, and the drugstore employee.
Chapter 2 Conclusion in Next Episode!