The Past is Dead

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic


When a fourteen-year-old boy finds himself with a case of amnesia, and as the central suspect for a murder, he must find his memories with the help of a new acquaintance.

Submitted: January 17, 2018

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Submitted: January 17, 2018

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There is light. Only light. It is white, but it is not pure. It hurts me.

I can see nothing but it.

There are, on my shoulders, strong hands. I try to wrench free of their grip, but I am too weak at this point. I don’t know why. I simply can’t seem to remember.

The whiteness fades to reveal the silhouette of a teenage boy pinning me to the ground. He has brown eyes that flash at me with curiosity, concern, and for some reason… accusation.

“Dude, are you okay?” he asks for what seems to be not the first time. What happened to me?

I nod slightly and he lets out a sigh of relief. “You were twitching as if you were having a seizure,” he explains. “ I’m going to let go of you now, okay?”

I nod again and the pressure is released from my shoulders. “Where am I?” I ask quietly.

“He speaks! What a wonder,” he exclaims. After a moment: “You must be kidding! You have to know how you got here.”

“Where is here though?”

He laughs as if I am joking.

I try to stand or prop myself up with my arms, but my muscles refuse to. I try again, but it’s no use. “Could you possibly explain to me where I am?” I ask politely, having given up. “Please.”

It is then that the young man realizes that I’m serious. He runs his fingers through his mouse-brown hair. “Well, um…” he says. “You’d better come to the car with me, and I’ll explain it to you there on the way.”

I don’t trust his words. I wouldn’t drive off with a person that I only met for the first time, of which I have only seen for less than a minute. “I don’t think so. Where would you take me?”

“The police station,” he explains simply. “I find a boy laying twitching and bloodied in the middle of a desolate road who can’t seem to remember why he is here. Isn’t that a bit suspicious to you?”

He has a point. Using only my eyes, I look away from him and look down at myself and realize that there is blood on my hands and clothes, crispy and dried and old. My own, I assume. “Fine…” I sigh. “By the way, what is your name?” I ask. At least I’d better know who is helping me, to say the least.

“Jack,” the teen answers. “Jack Baker. What about you?”

“What about me?”

“Your name,” he hints.

I think, and then look up at him blankly. “I… I can’t seem to remember…”

He doesn’t smile, but instead stands up and offers me his right hand in assistance. “Hmm. Like I said, suspicious.”

My arms finally work and I reach up to grasp his hand. Mine looks very pale in his, aside from the fact that it is covered in crisped blood. He pulls me to my feet and ushers me over to a slightly rusted disgustingly light green pickup truck. I weakly walk to the passenger side and simply pull the door open, and then drop myself down in the seat. I pull the seatbelt across my body and stare at the road ahead of me. It seems to go on for a while, surrounded by crops of corn.

What am I doing here?

Jack closes the door behind him and starts to drive the car. I realize that he didn’t put his seatbelt on, but I say nothing. He drives quickly, so much so that as soon as we start moving, I am pressed back against the seat.

There is silence. It is thick and deafening, heavy and crushing.

Finally, Jack speaks again. “So you can’t remember anything? Anything at all?” He seems to struggle the last part.

I ponder this and then turn my head to look at him.

“I don’t know.”

Finally we arrive at the police station and Jack brings me inside. The woman currently stationed at the front desk slowly puts her coffee cup down and walks over to us. She is slim and muscular, and has dark skin and black, frizzy hair that is tied up into a large bun.

She shakes Jack’s hand but her eyes dart down at my own, which are still covered in dried blood. I hide them behind my back, and then remember that my shirt is messed up too. She is trying so hard to hide it, but it’s clear that she is afraid of me.

“I’m Angie,” she says in a voice like silk. “And I think it’s best that you come with me, young man.” Her eyes glare down at me and I reluctantly leave Jack’s side.

A little later, I find myself in an interrogation room after having been told to wash up and give them my bloodied shirt in exchange for another to change into. Jack was not allowed to follow me. I assume that he is not nearly as suspicious as I am.

The man sitting before me is not a small man. Most probably, he weighs two hundred to two-fifty pounds. He studies me curiously as if I am not a human, but an amoeba in a petri dish.

His grey eyes bore into me.

I squirm beneath his penetrating glare until finally he blinks and pulls something from his pocket and slides it across the metal table to me. I stop it with a swift movement of my pale hand.

I pick the object up  and realize it is a folding pocket mirror.

The man across from me, Chief Inspector Altor, nods and I open it. “Do you recognise the person in the reflection?” he asks simply in a voice that sounds like he never drinks any water. On nearly every  syllable, he closes his jaw, and his teeth snap together with a crack.

I peer at the face that stares back at me in the mirror. Pale skin, white-blond mop of hair cut relatively short, and terrifyingly technicolor blue eyes that seem out of place on me. I look back at Inspector Altor. “No,” I answer truthfully.

The man nods thoughtfully, fingering his chin. “Do you… remember anything of the past or anything about what just happened to you?”

“No.”

Again, he runs his eyes over me again. “Will you please empty your pockets for me?”

I shove my hands into the pockets of my black pants and grasp the objects inside. Once withdrawn, I can identify the objects. Among them is a set of latex gloves, used, some bits of paper that have gone through the wash and have become white pellets, and a dog tag attached to a chain. But before I can read it, Altor pulls it away by the beaded string.

He raises it and then rests it in his meaty hand, reading the small engravings in the metal with narrowed eyes. Moving his face closer to the tag, he takes a moment more. He probably needs glasses.

“‘Ryder’?” he questions and looks up at me again. “Born fourteen years ago on November 13th. Is that you?”

“I don’t know,” I answer truthfully. “But it’s likely, considering that it was found inside of my pocket.”

Again, Altor nods slowly. “That’s not much I can go off of, I’m afraid, at this point. No last name, no memories or past. We will look into it, but for now,.” He then pauses. “Considering the state we found you in, it is best that for now you are kept in custody for further investigation.”

I nod, because what else can I do?

.

“You really don’t have to… And besides, wouldn’t your parents complain?” The Inspector strides to the spot next to me, out of breath from the short walk from the claustrophobic room of questioning. Now that he’s here, listening to my every word, I can’t tell Jack of the ludicrous questions he was asking me, as if I am a criminal.

He shakes it off with a wave of his hand. “I have my ways with them. They say I have to be responsible, and I think this could prove it to them. They probably wouldn’t notice you anyway.”

“Are you sure?”

He smiles coolly at me. “Nobody else will do it. I mean, who would take in a kid who was found covered in blood in the middle of a road left to die? I know these people. The police, the townsfolk. They may appear nice, but really, they’re not.” He says this as if oblivious to the fact that the inspector is standing over my shoulder. “Really strange people, I tell you, kid.”

“Oh,” I respond. “Well thanks, I suppose—”

“Ahem!” harrumphs Altor. “I’m afraid that our friend Ryder will not be going anywhere tonight. He is being held in custody for questioning and suspicion,” he says pointedly and almost scoldingly in Jack’s direction.

“Okay,” he sighs and then pauses. “Anyways, I have to go for a bit. I’ll be back though.” With that, he bolts to the front desk, chats with Angie for a moment, who nervously hands him some forms and then he is gone.

Then I feel alone. But for some reason, it feels… Right.

Without Jack here, Altor, Angie and a few other workers (one of which has a pistol strapped to his belt) are the only ones left.

I head over to one of the chairs of the room and plop down onto it. It definitely feels softer than the one in Jack’s car. I let myself relax and close my eyes.

“Sleeping, are you?” I hear a voice say.

I slowly open my eyes.

Inspector Altor. Of course. I’d forgotten about him.

I force a smile that probably looks out of place on my pale face. “Inspector. Nice to see you again. How long has it been?”

“Twenty minutes.”

It did feel shorter than twenty minutes, but I don’t mention it. “Do you need anything, sir?”

He doesn’t indicate yes or no, but instead drops himself heavily into the chair next to me. “Your shirt, Ryder, it was covered in blood. You know that, yes?”

I nod.

He turns to face me, his complexion serious, wrinkles deeper than I recall. I start to grow nervous under his penetrating glare.

“What?” I say. He’s giving me a strange look with narrowed eyes and pursed lips, as if trying to calculate me like an algebraic expression. But people are not that simple.

“It wasn’t yours.”

“What?” I parrot myself. “What do you mean? How?”

He sighs as if I am a small child who doesn’t understand anything. “We performed some tests on the specimen from your shirt, and we tried to match them to your DNA from the sample we took from you, but they don’t match. The blood was not yours.”

I guess I knew that before, because there was no sign of injury on me. But still… it hadn’t sunk in yet.

I try to remember where the blood could have been from, but my mind is blank. My past is dead. No matter how hard I try, there is nothing but a void, a nothingness. The only things I can recall are the things that happened today after Jack found me.

“We’re going to run some more tests,” the large man continues. “And by tomorrow we should have some results. But for now, feel safe and relax. You’ll need it.”

I nod blankly, looking down at the floor.

“You will be brought back here shortly.”

I look up at him. “Why?”

“More questions,” he answers simply. “And if you need to, you can call me and we will talk about this.” With a flourish of his hand, he removes a card from his pocket, presses it into my hand and stands. Turning back to me, he narrows his eyes again. “Sleep well, Ryder, for tomorrow may be very, very hard for you.” With that, he turns on his heel and leaves me alone, at long last.

The business card he gave me is plain and with silver writing and a serious font. It states his name, occupation and phone number. I slip it into the pocket where the dog tag used to be.

But a question still lingers on my mind:

What was someone else’s blood doing on my hands?

Finally, Jack comes back with his parents. His mother has dark hair, a large nose and brown eyes that are too far apart. She is about half the size of her son, and her husband is taller than her, but Jack is taller than both of them. The man has red hair with the slight beginnings of a beard, and brown eyes.

Jack sees me in the chair and ushers his parents over to me, and for a moment, they glare down at me, almost accusingly, like an ant beneath their shoes. All they see is a fourteen-year-old kid with curious eyes and something off about him.

I get it, because I feel it too. I’m not normal. Something must have happened to me. Maybe I was trying to save someone from something, and they got hurt. Maybe I’m not the only one. Maybe there were other people like me who can’t remember, who got separated, and I was the only one who didn’t get hurt.

Jack’s parents turn to each other and share one of those silent conversations in a series of looks only parents can have and then turn to their son. “If you are right, then we will be very proud of you,” she whispers just loud enough so that I can hear it.

Jack nods, smiling at me. “Ryder, these are my parents. Mom and Dad, this is Ryder.”

His mother hugs her body with her arms, and his father stiffly shakes my hand with his sweaty and clammy one. Immediately following, they shift away from me as if being even within a close proximity of me will harm them in some way.

Jack sits down next to me, and in a low voice says: “About my parents… Don’t bring up the topic of family when they’re here, okay? Right now it’s a bit touchy, and it’s probably the reason they’re letting me visit you. So be mindful of what you say.”

“Why?” I ask in the same quiet manner.

He hesitates for a moment. “I had a sister. Her name was Mia. She was about your age.”

I immediately pick up on the word ‘had’. “What happened to her?”

“She was stabbed,” he answers simply, face becoming grim. I can tell that he is caging his emotions inside. “Five days ago. They never found the murderer, but they will. Justice will come. That, I guarantee you.”

I imagine that would really hurt. To have your sister taken from your life and then find a broken kid the same age on the road makes you want to help them… But it also makes you think that it could’ve been anyone else, but fate chose to take your own.

“I’m sorry,” I say, because there is nothing that can comfort him at this point.

“It’s not your fault.”

After what seems like a long time, Jack’s parents move out of the lobby, trying to get out of the uncomfortable, thick air in my midst. After checking that they can’t see him, Jack pulls from his pocket a small picture frame and holds it up for me. In the image is a girl, about my age.

She has dark brown hair that is tied into a snaking braid that reaches halfway down her back. Her eyes are hazel and shielded by rectangular-lense wire-rimmed glasses. She has fair skin, and her face is flushed red as if she was blushing at the time with a slight smile on her face. She is wearing a pair of jeans and a plaid shirt, facing the opposite direction of the camera next to a magnolia tree, but head turned as if the photo was taken as soon as she looked back.

This must be Mia. She’s pretty.

But the weird thing is that… Somehow… I feel a slight sense of familiarity to her.

“That’s Mia,” Jack explains, falling into an instant state of nostalgia. He sits down next to me.

I don’t tell him that I’ve seen her before, and I don’t even remember where so I just keep it to myself as not to upset him more than he needs to be. Instead I look to him through the corner of my eye.. “I lost someone too,” I admit.

He perks up a bit. “You remember?”

I sigh. “Not necessarily. I lost myself. I don’t know what I was like before,  I don’t know who my family even is, and I don’t know how I became like this. The ‘me’ from before, I assume, is gone, and there are few ways to retrieve the past.”

“A trigger,” he says plainly.

“What?”

“A trigger,” Jack repeats, looking at the white-tiled floor. “One way to remember something is to trigger it. Using a smell or something like that. Vision, maybe.”

I narrow my bright blue eyes, a spark of hope blossoming in my mind. “Then, perhaps, one day I will remember.”

Inspector Altor wrenches my hands behind my back and clips them together with the silver cuffs, just in case I get any ideas of trying to escape. I would be able to—my wrists are thin and hunger-ridden so I could easily just slip out of them without causing an up rise. But why would I, when I have nowhere else to go?

We’ve made our way through the labyrinth of the police station and I figured that it’s a complex consisting of the jail, court, and the police station.

I am brought to another lobby, where Altor speaks to an elderly, shriveled, asian  man who has him sign off on some forms. Following that, he whistles to the two black-suited guards standing in the entryway to a hallway and they walk over to me.

“Take dis boy to protect him, yes?” Croaks the asian man.

“Just for today. I need time to arrange the case files.”

Case files? Before I can ask what he is talking about, the burly guards nod in his direction, salute to Altor and then each one takes one of my arms. The one on my left takes a set of keys from the desk and a smaller set from the Inspector, and then they lead me down the hallway.

After a bit of walking they bring me to a hallway lined with a few floors of bars. Within these cages are loud, gnarly-looking men and women in orange jumpsuits. Just as I suspected.

The room goes silent as they see me. A kid. In a prison. How unlikely. They stare at me, but I keep my eyes to the ground in order to avoid eye contact. I hear rumors blossoming around me in hushed whispers, as if I can’t hear.

I know what it’s like to be a convict.

A criminal.

An outcast.

It’s in the way the people that see me stare at me, the way they say things to or about me, turn away when they see my eyes, their own filled with hatred and sometimes pity. I know that they don’t realize that I can be good—I can—but based on what little they know, they judge and judge until all that’s left of me is a cold-hearted beast that I can’t get rid of. Hurt and torn at the center.

But there’s nothing I can do about it.

The guards lead me down the hall until we reach the other side and we exit through a double set of locking doors. They put me into a cell with a barred door on the side of this hallway and remove my handcuffs. In the cell neighboring is a fearful-looking pregnant lady who has scratches all over her skin.

I’m here to be protected.

They’ll keep me safe.

So why do I feel like I’m here to be contained like the other convicts?

The bars that keep me from the outside world make me feel as if a wild and untamed beast, but I quell my fears of this place and instead try to figure out why I can’t remember my past but still remember Mia from somewhere…

My thoughts are interrupted as a grim, large man in a navy blue suit comes out from the hallway that leads to the other criminals.

“Ryder. Come,” says Inspector Altor. “There are things we have to discuss.”

He unlocks the door and takes me by the arm and I grudgingly let him push me along. After all, anything is better than being in the claustrophobic concrete room.

Altor guides me to an interrogation room, the same one I was in yesterday, to be exact. I sit in the same chair I sat in then and fiddle with my hands beneath the table.

On the shiny surface of the table, there is a manila folder with papers in it. It makes me nervous. What was in my past that I have a file full of things in it?

The Inspector lowers himself into the seat, which gives a wailing squeak from the sudden drastic increase of weight. After letting out a sigh, he looks up at me with stormy grey eyes.

“Ryder,” the man says, breathing labored as if the short trip took everything out of him. I nod slowly. After regaining himself, he continues with his work.

He slips his meaty hand into the folder and pulls out a small slip of paper, the average size of a school picture. He holds it up for me to see. “Do you recognise this girl?”

I nod, slowly and hesitantly.Altor seems interested. “Where from?” he presses.

“Mia Baker, Jack’s sister,” I explain. “He told me that she was his sister.”

“Do you know what happened to her?” prods the Inspector.

I nod. “She was stabbed to death, six days ago, now, I believe it was.”

He nods. “That would be correct.” Slipping the photo back into the folder, he sighs and looks dead into my eyes. “We searched the school photo database, and couldn’t find you there, in any of the middle school grades, or high school ones for that matter.”

“Okay.”

He nods. “I’m going to try to trigger your memories somehow, to find a reason why you were in the middle of a road, covered in old blood.”

“Okay,” I parrot myself.

The large man pulls a file from the folder and starts to read. I don’t know if I would call this triggering. I’m literally just watching his eyes move slowly across the paper from left to right until they reach the bottom, which takes a long time.

Finally he looks up at me again. “Have you recognised anything since… You woke up?”

It would be ludicrous to lie to him, because at some point I would have to spill anyway. “Yes,” I answer.

“Oh!” exclaims Altor. “And what would that be?”

I hesitate and for the slightest second, I consider lying. I shake the thought away and tell him the truth. “I felt like I’d seen Mia before.”

The Inspector nods interestedly. “Well,” he proclaims. “That would make sense, being that the blood on your clothes and hands were from her.”

I gasp. “It… it was?”

“Yes,” he says with feigned sadness. “But perhaps you were at the scene of the crime trying to help her, you would insist. Of course in cases like this and in places like that, there are no security cameras, so we have nothing to go off of.”

I stare at him, shocked.

“Now, child,” Altor continues. “I think it’s best that I show you a little something my officers found at the scene of the crime, yes?”

I make no objections because it might get me in trouble. Only a psychopathic loon would think to do such a thing. Of which I am not, and hope I wasn’t before the forgetting.

Altor struggles to stand and I hold the door open for him as we walk out into the hallway. He leads me to a section of the place that is filled with people at research and documenting stations. We pass a lady typing away at a computer, a man watching the news and a woman observing a skull. At last we come to the desk that must belong to him. Papers have been strewn askew and without any sense of order.

The inspector steps behind the mess and opens one of the grey metal drawers. He moves some things around and I peer over the desk to see that the drawer is cluttered with things in plastic bags—evidence.

Is the trigger to my memories the trigger to a gun? That’s impossible… I wouldn’t have hurt anybody, would I?

Finally, he finds what he was looking for and withdraws a yellow ShopRite® bag and holds it at his side. “Now, do you recognise this?” I feel like the guy has said the word ‘recognise’ more than anything else in my presence.

“Yes, it’s a shopping bag.”

His face reddens a bit. “I meant after I take it out, you dimwit.”

I shrug.

Altor unties the knot at the handles of the yellow bag, and then sticks his right hand inside of it.

I wait for him to remove the object.

And finally, after long last, he does.

It’s a dagger inside of another yet clear bag. The hilt is made of dark, polished wood, and on the bottom has a carving of a skull being stabbed through by swords, forming an “x’ behind its head. The blade gleams with a deathly shine.

And suddenly, somehow, I remember everything.

I remember a city. The city from which I ran long ago, having been tortured and traumatized by my drunken father. I remember a man, a man that found me and offered me money to kill a girl in a small town whose father was the vice mayor.

I left, and I located her.

The blood… It was everywhere. The blade of the dagger ground against the vertebrae in her back. The terrible sound that I once thought awesome fills my mind—When the skin is pierced and blood starts to bubble out of it. I remember every detail. The look on her face as I creully brought the knife down. We hadn’t known each other at allbut I, then, became a traitor to my innocence. It horrifies me. My past may no longer be dead, but it is full of death.

My mind was twisted in a way I can’t even believe. It was polluted with the greed or the payment of the assassination and psychotic enough to believe that it was a fun activity. Was I really like that?

These memories may be mine, but I don’t want them to be.

The knife… It is the trigger.

Jack told me  that it wasn’t my fault.

True, he didn’t know at the time.

But now I do.

He was wrong. It’s my fault that Mia is dead.

Because I killed her.

 


© Copyright 2019 Melody Toccata. All rights reserved.

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