Identity

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 8 (v.1)

Submitted: March 22, 2014

Reads: 229

Comments: 6

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Submitted: March 22, 2014

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Chapter Eight

 

For weeks, the same hollow feeling resonated throughout Mia's being. She hadn't been going to college, despite the end of term being only a week away, the pile of coursework perched on the edge of her desk were left forgotten. Emails for her tutor went unread, phone calls from her friends were unanswered, texts ignored. Amelia didn't want to be a part of the world anymore. Not in the godforsaken world where humble fathers were robbed from their homes in the late afternoon. She wouldn't dare trust it anymore.

The police worked too slow. They had taken their time analysing the 'evidence' they'd bagged from her father's office, sent out the odd officer to chat with his colleagues, and hadn't revealed anything. Every morning when Amelia would call the inspector leading the case, he'd tell her that they'd discovered nothing new and would get back to her when they hear something. It was beginning to test her patience.

Her mother barely noticed. She'd just float around the house, dusting spotless ornaments, polishing already gleaming windows. Even when Amelia tore the duster from her mother's clawed hands, replaced it with a steaming mug of tea and eased her into an armchair, she wouldn't speak. Clara Brookes would examine the coffee table with a look of disdain, deciding that there were one too many dust motes settling on its surface, and would get scrubbing. Mia would sigh and leave her to it.

Being busy was probably the easiest way to deal with the hopelessness, it forced the mind to think about something else, but that didn't always work. She'd hear her father's voice as she read her favourite dog-eared book, catch his scent as she shovelled the laundry into the washing machine, see his car's headlights pull into their drive late at night. Trying to forget what had happened was impossible; even when she thought she had managed it something would remind her and she would be struck with the loss all over again.

She had given up trying to forget. Instead, she thrust herself into the role of finding him.

To start with, she came up with a list of names and places. Names of people who knew her father, however vaguely. Places he'd loved and places he longed to forget. She trawled through any remaining files in the office, went through any calls he'd made within the past three months, dug out any scrap of paper he'd thrown away. She tacked anything helpful to her notice board and tear things down once she'd examined their worth and came up with nothing.

Jerry, a man who came very close to calling himself a friend of her father's, became very informative. Mia found herself phoning him quite often to check names of companies and people her father may have dealt with. "I'm pretty sure that he had a meeting arranged with High Solutions Pharmacies the other week, I remember him moaning about the director once." Jerry confirmed through the speaker of her phone.

"Have you got a number for the guy?" Mia asked, jotting down the name of the company on a scrap of paper and pinning it to the board with her free hand.

"No, but it'll be in the phone book. I'd love to help, kid, but I've gotta go. It's getting late."

"No problem, Jerry. Thanks for your help." Mia hung up and dropped her phone on her bed.

She glanced out of her window and into the dark and shadowed street. The street light across the street illuminated the grey-flecked snow, no longer glistening but reflected the blue-tinted light. The bonnet of a black Corsa twinkled in the light, catching Amelia's attention. It was odd, she'd sworn that the car belonged to the Millers who lived opposite, yet the Millers had gone to visit family for the weeks leading up to Christmas.

So who's car was it?

From within the abyss of the car's interior, she noticed the faint glow of a lit cigarette. The small red circle moved as the unseen smoker took a drag. She felt the burn of eyes graze her skin. Instinctively, she pulled the curtains closed, breaking any view the shadowed watcher had. There was no way she was going to be able to sleep after that.

 

The next morning Amelia dragged herself from her bed; restless from yet another night of fighting gruesome nightmares. Her head felt as if it were wrapped tight within a smothering blanket that refused to loosen and there was a tiresome throb locked somewhere just beyond her eyes. She avoided looking in the mirror as she dressed, knowing that even in the dimly lit room the dark circles around her eyes would be prominent, and her hair would be virtually untameable. As she tugged back the curtains to allow the streams of light to dance around her room, she remembered.

Her eyes grazed over the usual scene of an idyllic street, ignoring the dog-walker and the postman, then finally settled on the black hood of a car. Although it was midmorning and the sun was bright in the cool and icy sky, the interior remained the same dark void as it had been the night before, the only distinguishable feature was a pale hand resting on the steering wheel.

She heard the rumble of the engine before she saw the car inch forward ever so slightly. He was pulling out. The stranger watching her, watching the house, was about to drive away. She couldn't allow that. For all she knew, that secret watcher had been a part of her father's abduction, or at least had seen it happen. There was no way she was letting him get away - especially since she was no closer to finding out what happened on her own. But what if they did have something to do with it all? How would she defend herself? Amelia groaned as she grabbed her keys from the nightstand, her heart winning over her head, besides she needed to be fast if she was to have any chance of following this guy.

 

A black Vauxhall Corsa with blackened windows. It seemed familiar somehow. She followed it cautiously, being careful to stay a safe distance away to avoid suspicion, yet her eyes barely left the rear bumper of the dark car. She'd never seen windows tainted so dark... it seemed as if the car's interior held all of the secret of the universe - darker than oblivion. But she had.

The memory was fuzzy and fringed at the edges, as if she were squinting into a fogged mirror, but it was there. She could remember staring out of the eternal darkness of a car window, the overwhelming stench of tobacco and cheap cologne, how she'd been unable to move no matter how much she willed herself to. And the sound of rain.

Mia scorned herself. There was no thinking about that...that...illusion. It hadn't been real. There was no way it could have been real. Yet...there was no explanation as to how she awoke on her bed hours after leaving school.

The Corsa pulled into the car park of an apartment building Amelia had presumed to be abandoned. It looked abandoned but now she wasn't so sure. It was a breezeblock of a building, standing about eight stories tall, it was as grey and foreboding as the winter sky. Most of the windows had been smashed and boarded up - and the ones that were mostly intact were smeared in thick layers of grime that no amount of bleach would ever hope to prise off. And once again Amelia felt the burn of eyes on her.

She didn't want to be here. Her heart was going haywire, her hands shaking on the steering wheel, but there was no going back now. She pulled her Fiat up alongside the road, out of view of the mystery Corsa, and stepped out into the cold breath of day.

Peering around the corner, she saw the door swing open and leather military boots step out. She saw the messy black hair and unkempt stubble and for a short moment she stood motionless; perplexed. And then she darted forwards. Her feet pounded against cracked and spotted tarmac, her lungs burning as she sucked in the icy air desperately, her bare arms screamed at the sharp decrease in temperature.

It took him a moment to realise what was happening. He turned to lock the car, and as he did so he saw her approaching him, steadily. There was no time to run, or to hide, and so he stood motionless and gawping at the girl.

"Mia?" Jacob choked.

"It was you!" She accused, grinding to a halt metres away from him, her voice rattled with her heavy breathing. "All this time, it was you!"

"I-I- What?" He stuttered, not entirely sure of what she was accusing him of.

"You've been watching me this whole damned time!" She exclaimed, eyes flicking between him and his car. And that was when she remembered. Of course it was him. That time when he'd picked up her art folder after she clumsily dropped it on her way out of school; he had been leaning against a black Corsa. And in that car park, with him stood only inches away, she had smelt nothing but tobacco and cologne. It had been glaring her right in the face the whole time.

Jacob's face was the picture of guilt. "I think you better come inside." He murmured.

"No way! There's not a chance in Hell I'm going anywhere with you!" Mia screamed, giving him a shove when he tried to approach her.

"Mia." He growled. She silenced her screaming at the rough and dangerous tone of his voice. And she was reminded of why she was there. "We are not discussing this in public. I will explain everything, but not here."

There was no arguing. Her desire for truth outweighed her wariness. She needed to know. Not knowing what had happened, to herself or her father, was haunting her. She couldn't sleep, she couldn't think, without toxic possibilities plaguing her. Truth was a hungry and selfish thing. It was cruel, unforgiving, it had teeth. There was no walking away from this.

She followed him inside the squalid building. Held her breath once the suffocating stench of poverty and urine hit her. Pools of an unspeakable dark liquid stained the concrete floor and stairs. The walls were tattooed with graffiti and offensive insults and crude sketches. As they climbed the stairs, she could hear heavy rap music vibrating through the walls, and from somewhere within the tower block a young child was screaming. On the fifth floor, Jake stopped and pulled out a key. Number 37b.

He ushered inside the dark flat and slammed the door behind them. He flicked the light switch, the bare bulb hanging from the centre of the ceiling blinked once... twice... and then illuminated the room with its yellow glow. Amelia stepped further into the room, glancing around her uneasily. It was a dismally empty little room. The walls were bare plasterboard, stained with faint wisps of yellow tobacco smoke, with one solitary window overlooking an old and rusting playground embedded in concrete. The only furniture was a threadbare sofa and an old and cracked TV set.

"You live here?" She asked.

"Yeah, cosy isn't it?" He replied coldly, shrugging off his leather jacket and throwing it into a dark and empty doorway (which Mia presumed led to his bedroom). "A long way from your suburban paradise."

"Even paradise isn't perfect, apparently." Mia frowned, turning to face him. He wore a long sleeved grey t-shirt, sporting the album cover of some metal band she's never heard of, and dirty dark jeans that hung low on his slim hips. If she hadn't been so angry, so hungry for truth, than she would have greedily grazed her eyes over his muscular build. Instead, she shot him a glare. "Why have you been following me?"

"I could ask you the same question." He gave her a half-hearted smirk, but his eyes were dark and empty.

"Jacob, I didn't drive all the way over here for nothing. I'm serious. Why have you been following me?" She repeated the question, slower and more forceful this time.

He sighed, dragging a pale hand through his scruffy hair, which was when Mia noticed the black tattoos trailing up the one side of his neck. "Honestly? I don't know."

"What do you mean you don-" Mia hissed, before Jacob cut her off.

"It's my job. I belong to an... um... uncertified and off-the-grid organisation and I get paid to keep an eye on you." He told her, his eyes fixed to his feet.

"Keep an eye on me?" She repeated. "Why? Who's paying you?"

"I can't tell you that. He'll fucking kill me if I told you that." Jacob insisted, his eyes were wide and pleading, and Amelia knew that it wasn't a figure of speech. He was serious. She'd always known there was an air of threat about Jacob, that he was a dangerous man who dealt with dangerous men, and it never seemed more apparent until she'd seen the fear in his blue eyes.

Amelia swallowed the rising pressure of something in her throat, calmed her trembling hands, and took a small tentative step backwards. "What does this 'keeping an eye' on me involve?"

Confusion flashed across his tight features. "Excuse me?"

"Have you- Did you..?" She squeezed her eyes shut as tears began collecting at the edges. Those wretched images came rushing back to her: the sharp pain in her arm, the firm hands around her waist, the tinted windows of his car.

"Oh God, no! I haven't- I'd never-" He stopped himself from breaking the distance between them and folding her frail figure in his large arms, to let her cry it out on his shoulder, but he stayed still. Touching her wasn't going to do him any good. He'd seen the accusation in her eyes, he knew exactly what she was thinking. "You've got it all wrong." He murmured softly.

"Did you drug me?" She almost choked on the words.

"Yes, but it was for your own good. I had to. You may not believe me but there is a much greater risk other than me. Someone wants to hurt you, okay? You would be dead, or worse, if I hadn't intervened. I got you out of there and took you home, I didn't- oh God." Telling her the truth, even when it was strictly forbidden, pained him. But nothing made his insides clench more than the thought of- with her, a child. He felt sick.

Amelia's head snapped up, reddened eyes bright with relief, fear, and... and it all made sense. She knew that something wrong had happened that evening - and she'd been right the whole time. Only it wasn't something perverted, it reeked of death and destruction, and it was stained with her father's blood. "Who? Who took my father?"

And for the second time that morning, Jacob looked at her as if she'd spoken Japanese. "Your father..?"

Amelia almost groaned in frustration. For some kind of twisted guardian angel; it was clear that Jacob hadn't been that observant. "Three weeks ago my father, Greg Brookes, was beaten and abducted from my house in the middle of the afternoon."

Jacob raised his brow with intrigue. "Tell me more. Tell me everything."

And she did. 

 

*** Note ***

Really sorry for taking so long to update.. I've just not had the motivation to write anything for this in a while...

Nonetheless, it's here, and it may be half rushed, but it's finished. And it's served with a side of truth for once. 

If you have any questions, let me know and I'll try to answer them in the next few chapters. 


© Copyright 2019 Emma Richards. All rights reserved.

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