I found myself in front of the place in question in no time. The very beginning.
I tried to remember… though there was barely any need. There was no way I could forget a single detail.
The first scene – two characters, standing in the middle of that lonely street.
ME: Main Character.
I stood there behind the trees, in the center of a small plaza.
Middle school kids and high school teens were going home, but I didn’t want to go back just yet.
So I didn’t move.
“Hey, &£/^¶! What are you doing here? Waiting for someone?”
I looked up, and there she was – Claudia, the closest thing I had to a female childhood friend.
Despite her cheery voice, after looking at her, I couldn’t help but feel… unsettled.
I knew she couldn’t help it. She was probably having it rough.
But it was also painful for me to see her like this.
“No, I’m just thinking about stuff. Zoned out for a bit. And you?”
“Ah… Hmm. Nothing in particular, I guess. Just passing by.”
“Hey, so… do you have anything to do right now?”
She asked shyly. I wasn’t used to hearing that tone from her.
“No, not really. Do you need anything?”
“So, I was thinking if you’d like to go for a walk around here for a bit. It’s been a while since we last had any free time…”
“Ah, yeah, no problem. Actually, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you for a bit now.”
“Oh, what a coincidence. I’ve also been meaning to ask you something for a while, hahaha!”
We both laughed together like in the good old days, forgetting all our problems if just for an instant.
And then the scene was over. I was in the exact same place I’d been, but all signs of life had disappeared.
I had returned to Ellie’s world.
I had all the time I could possibly want or need, so I slowly walked towards the next location in the list.
The inside of an old abandoned building, terribly kept and very much a potential hazard if one didn’t take enough care.
And once I was inside – the second scene.
ME: Main Character
“Ahhh… Ahhh… AAAAAAAAHH!!!”
I was scared. Panicking. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening in front of my eyes.
“No… No… Aaaaah…”
I managed enough clarity to pick up my phone and call an ambulance.
But I still couldn’t accept it.
I wanted to close my eyes and look away, but my sight was glued to that horrid spectacle.
In my state of utter panic, I was only able to do one more thing – type a message to Nick.
And then I fainted.
When I came to my senses, Nick was right beside me.
“Hey, friend… are you all right?”
“Huh? Wha-? Hey, wh97!$”#@Ç´`ç´:¡¿+\|@=#€¨l¬€#32?”
“Ah… Don’t worry. It’s gonna be okay. The doctors said so a million times. Just rest and you can worry about it later, ‘kay?”
“No. Don’t lie to me. That thing… You can’t just say it’s going to be okay! DON’T LIE!”
I broke out of Nick’s grip, and summoning energy from where there was none, ran towards the exit of what once was a storage building.
I couldn’t let it stay like this.
It was my fault.
Completely, unequivocally my fault. If I hadn’t decided to come here… If I hadn’t moved towards that particular corner…
If I had noticed just a moment earlier…
If I had jumped instead…!
But even so, I had allowed it.
Even so, I hadn’t seen it on time.
And now… And now (/&/(“(/&$%/·&(/”)(==)(/&/()(=)(YT//UY/(/)“$%$·$%”·”$%$!%&!!!!!!!!!!
… I tripped over a rock that had fallen in the accident.
Slammed my head against the floor.
And then, black.
A difficult scene to remember, it was…
I couldn’t help but feel a single tear going down my cheek.
But I couldn’t give up, not yet. Getting sentimental isn’t something a detective should do in any case.
And I was a detective. Nothing more, nothing less.
So I simply kept moving, leaving the building in ruins behind me.
My next destination – the closest hospital.
Inside that one room…
ME: Main Character.
I stared at the ceiling in silence.
My wristwatch had been taken away for some reason, and since I was told not to move, I had no way of knowing how long I had been like this.
Doing nothing, powerlessly laying in bed as time slipped by.
“I’m really sorry, but… there’s nothing we can do anymore. It’s a lost cause.”
So had said the doctor when he first came to visit me after I’d woken up.
There was no hope. In the end, this is how it had ended. I cursed my past self, whose selfish decisions had led him to where I was right now. They had changed the fate of other people for the worse – and sentenced a person to their death.
And I could only stare at this ceiling, wailing in self-loathing and filling the pool my tears had slowly but surely been forming in the pillow.
I was in a room with two beds, though the second one had been empty so far – but it didn’t really surprise me when the doctor came in with a girl about my age, with wounds all over her body.
She was being carried in a wheeled bed, and was moved to the one beside me – bigger and surely more comfortable, though I’m sure those aspects in particular were not precisely at the forefront of the doctor’s mind.
The girl was completely conscious, and her expression scared me more than I would have thought possible.
She didn’t look tired. She didn’t look hurt. She didn’t look weak.
She looked furious.
She was struggling and fighting against the doctor, who had to firmly tie her wrists together behind her back before laying her in bed.
And upon closer inspection of her wounds – it was obvious nobody had done those to her.
The doctor gave her what I could only assume was a strong sleeping drug, before going outside once more.
My heart sunk to a new low as the room was left in silence again – with only the girl’s occasional snores to remind me of the existence of a world outside my own pain.
As cruel as it sounds, thinking about what that girl must have been going through was the only thing keeping me sane.
That girl and that doctor. Two people I would never see again, but who somehow had left such a big impression on me…
Now, the trip down memory lane was close to completion.
There was only one place left to visit before heading back to that park, where Ellie was surely waiting for me in the exact spot I had left her at.
So I decided to hurry.
I needed to get it over with soon.
Else, I didn’t know if I could resist much more-
I got to the place.
This is it, I muttered to myself, as I went towards the final location.
... And so there I was, before I'd known it.
ME: Main Character.
I can't do it.
I give up.
I couldn’t gather up the courage to revisit the last scene.
So, this was it. I would have to fill in those blanks for the last part on my own, but that's okay. Ellie did want me to 'solve a mystery ' after all. Though it was only ironic - that even for the last mystery, all the rules would be twisted and altered.
Still, I wouldn't have it any other way.
So I thought one last time, as I gathered up all my courage and went back to that park - where it all began, and where it all shall end.