The sound of rushing hot water echoed through the apartment. Bare-naked, Eriol entered his steaming shower; a sigh of satisfaction left his dry lips. He picked up the soap with such gentility and caution, and rubbed its smoothness against his sweaty body. The water whispered soothing symphonies into his ear, while the steams seem to cloud him away from his phobias, massaging his woes away. Gratified from the motion, Eriol leaned his back against the icy wall, allowing the thrilling sensation to run down his spine with contentment. Just has his vigilance dwindled a little, the ring of the phone alarmed him. Cautiously, Eriol turned off the taps. The phone continued to ring. He wrapped the pre-heated towel around his manliness and entered the living room, where his phone was initially located. He slowly walked towards his phone and picked it up, time stood still as he felt the vibration emitting from his mobile. Warily, he flicked open his phone and answered the call.
"E. there's a case here with your name written all over it. We're sited at Hoxtonville Castle. Be here in ten minutes sharp," demanded a mono-tonic voice.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Eriol closed his phone, his face painted with relief on it. He sighed audibly before rushing into his bedroom and changing into a white top, with the top buttons unbuttoned, a black and grey scarf, a pair of black jeans and brown shoes. Before exiting his apartment, he swiftly grabbed his keys and a grey winter coat.
. . . . .
The click of Eriol's car echoed into the empty car park. Within a couple of seconds, the green Jeep roared down the shrinking, dark road. Eriol turned the radio on. Without any hope of finding a favorable station, he turned the radio off. As he continued his drive through the swallowing darkness, flashbacks of his nightmare irregularly appeared in his disturbed mind. His mind began to swirl, his vision becoming obscure. The ticking of his car clock became distinctive, as though it was ticking right next to him. In him.
The sounds of angry cars slapped Eriol back to reality. He ran into an intersection while the lights were red, which caused the opposing cars to growl in annoyance. Waving apologetically to the other cars, Eriol made his way to the other side before further mishaps could ensue.
Within a couple of minutes, Eriol arrived at his destination: Hoxtonville Castle. The sight of the ruins sent shivers down his spine, yet Eriol took a step forward. Then another, and another. His mind was sending him red alerts, warning him about the dangers lurking in the debris. However, Eriol continued, brushing off his immature thoughts, not realizing how imperative these thoughts would be in the future. The castle's walls were filled with moss and bacteria, with rotting rodents around the edges. The walls were damaged from missing bricks to scars of historic battles, gradually losing the taste of definite royalty. The roof tiles were erratically dying to the ground while the windows were painted with a new look via the accumulating dust, implying on the antiqueness of the castle. The castle itself was a lost cause, losing its respect of continuous protection and fixed obedience. Eriol felt sympathetic towards the castle. After all those years of unremitting defense and fortification, even though the building was begging for recognition and appreciation, citizens of this town seemed to have lacked the acknowledgement of its significance. Eriol looked up to the highest tower, in admiration of its stability, when something caught his eye. A shadow, he presumed, but it left as quickly as it came, causing Eriol to guess the possibility of seeing it in the first place. After all, the castle had not been inhabited in thousands of years. Alternatively, being employed in his line of jobs, one shouldn't doubt their own instincts. Brushing the idea aside, Eriol turned right, entering one of the many gardens of the castle and into a crime scene, where the scene was preoccupied by a number of policemen. Eriol searched the area in hope of finding a chubby, short man whose hair was graying in age. His searched ended when he saw the man walking towards him with a solemn expression on his facial features.
"Detective Eriol Hiiragizawa, you're finally here. On time, as always. Good," commented the short, chubby man.
"How could I not, you said to be here in ten minutes sharp, Chief Gordon Clerk," replied Eriol with a smug smile playing on his lips. "I dare not contravene your orders. As I recall the last time, it was not a pretty sight to behold."
"Good that you understand me, Detective E. You know me too well," replied Chief Gordon. "Let's get down to business. The victim was an eighteen year old teenager, her name is Jennifer Crimson. We've interviewed her friends. They said that it was a dare to celebrate her nineteenth birthday. However, before she even turned that age, she was found dead here, at 9:37 PM tonight, in the gardens of Hoxtonville Abbey. It was a couple that found the dead body. They were walking by the castle, to get to the hill on the other side, when they noticed that the soil was slightly denser when it hadn't rained in weeks. They walked a bit further and found the body. Her friends were getting worried so they headed towards the castle until they bumped into the couple and realized what had happened. They called for the police afterwards. The forensics figured that her time of death was 5:29 PM yesterday afternoon. So far, there's no trace of foot prints, fingerprints or any sort of D.N.A. What do you think?"
The detective replayed the information over his head again, analyzing every single detail that was given to him. The Chief police looked at the detective expectantly, as though the detective would suddenly say 'eureka!' and solve another case. It wouldn't surprise him for it wouldn't be the first time that this situation had occurred. One of the forensics called the Chief over. Eriol glanced at the Chief while he listened to the forensic. The Chief's face seemed to not make up its mind for his expressions kept on changing from serious to confused, to shock, to annoy. When the Chief came back, Eriol queried about the situation. The Chief explained what the forensic had told him. It was believed that the reason behind the girl's death was caused by internal bleeding. So far, they had not found the cause of the internal bleeding.
"Is that so?" questioned Eriol. His instincts were telling him that there was more than meets the eye. "It's not that big of an issue to get all worked up about. We're seen worse cases than this. Or is there something you're not telling me?"
The Chief hesitated, and then he gave an audible sigh. As he closed his eyes, his eyes furrowed as though he was contemplating deep about an issue. After a couple minutes, he opened his eyes again. He gave Eriol a grave look. "The forensics believed that the heart was missing from the girl. There was no evidence that the heart is still within that body."
"Your point, Chief?" Eriol was honestly clueless as to where this was heading to.
"It is quite unprofessional of me to say this but there had been a legend around this town. It was said that hundreds of years ago, the Prince of this castle fell in love with a peasant, but she was already in love with a farmer on the other side of town. So, on the night of their wedding, the girl ran away with the farmer into the mountains. Jealousy got the best of the Prince. He ordered his soldiers to hunt them down and bring them back to him. Unfortunately, in the end the couple were captured and brought back to the castle, to the Prince. In front of the farmer, while the girl was still alive, the Prince cut out the girl's heart out and hid it somewhere. The Prince was a twisted person. Not only did he take her heart out, after she died due to internal bleeding, he tortured her body in the most despicable ways. They tore her limbs apart, skinned her, and finally, plucked her eyes out. Shocked from the tragedy of their love, the farmer died from a heart attack; he couldn't bear the pain any longer. Not long after the incident, the Prince died from a mysterious death. It was said that it was the work of the farmer, avenging for his love, also in hope of finding her heart again. They said that the farmer's still searching for the heart of his beloved woman, cornering any female that resembled her in his eyes."
Eriol had a skeptical look on his face, not believing what the Chief had told him. A professional policeman, that based his verdicts and statements on solid proof, was telling him of a century year old urban myth that was haunting the silent streets of this town. Unbelievable. Just plain unbelievable. In his mind, he was resolute that there were no such things as haunting, mysterious mishaps or supernatural phenomenon. And, in his mind, there were no such things as avenging ghosts.
However, the description of the victimized girl's unsightly death, from the myth, did not go unnoticed to the detective's contemplations. They tore her limbs apart, skinned her, and finally, plucked her eyes out. It appeared all too familiar to him. May be a bit too familiar. Flashbacks of his unnerving dream materialized in his mind. Just the thought of it made the detective unconsciously shiver.
"Chief, don't tell me you actually believe such things exist, do you?" queried Eriol, uncertain to what he was expecting. Maybe a resolute no from the Chief, just to feel secure that the world's most intellectual and wise policeman had not become as gullible as to believe such myths. Or maybe he, himself, did not want to think that his intelligence and competence was becoming vulnerable all because of the coincidence between the two issues. The chief displayed a frown on his firm facial features. He gave an audible cough before answering the dubious detective, quite aware of his ambiguous behaviour behind his questions. After all, if Eriol was not being suspicious the chief, himself, would be the one worrying instead.
"I know it sounds quite irrational however, to unveil the ulterior motive one need to start from the beginning. And sometimes, the beginning is a groundless rumor," replied the chief. His voice held confidence, while his speech contained conviction, causing Eriol to undergo a taste of guilt for his questioning.
"Okay, I see your point. Skeptical, but I see your point. I'll head to the headquarters and start on the investigation, but I highly doubt I'll be able to find any information about it." With that final remark, Eriol left the scene. Chief Gordon watched his retreating back, a knowing smile playing on his face, before returning to his investigation. To him, the detective may be a masterpiece of enigmas. He always would be. But after working years with him, Gordon believed he knew him well enough to trust him to solve any case, no matter how absurd it was. He wasn't wrong.