After realizing that Mrs. Jacob’s case file was gone, I panicked. I didn’t panic outright, and no one noticed a thing, but I definitely panicked. I looked through my entire office, and I even checked at home. I didn’t know where else I could look. I didn’t tell anyone that it was gone. The case file that was missing was one that I needed to be careful with. It was one of the few real claims of memory loss. I needed to keep control of the situation, and bringing that case together with a case of a break in could get out of hand.
I didn’t understand. How had the intruder reached as far as my office? I would have heard him much earlier if he got that far, so why didn’t I? How careless must I have been to not notice? But I wasn’t being careless. I was looking for exactly what I found, so why did I find it so late? I needed to find the file, and I needed to find it on my own. Unless, no, that wouldn’t be a good idea. Jaden was a trustworthy friend, but he also got too involved. It was hard enough to say no to him; how would I keep limits on his involvement if I myself let him in? Still, I needed help. The situation needed to be put to past as soon as possible.
I was at home, trying to figure things out, trying to make a plan. I had my lights dimmed in my living room, which was empty except for a dark red, suede sofa and a dark wooden coffee table with thin legs that spiraled both at the top, below the surface of the table, and at the bottom, where they touched the floor. There floor was covered in black carpeting, but the walls were all a crisp white. I liked the way my black curtains stood out against the pale walls.
I was fidgeting with a key in my fingers as I laid on my back on the sofa. I found it just that morning while I was looking for the case file. My stomach grumbled loudly, and I ignored it for the fourth time that day. I was trying my best to shrink my appetite. With all that was going on, I could hardly bother myself with meals. Sometimes, I had a hard time holding them in. I sighed, sitting up to place my key on the coffee table; the door it granted access to was now safely locked up.
My stomach gave out another cry, but so did my doorbell. I picked up and placed the key under a couch cushion before answering my door. I only opened it a crack, but the light that shone in was enough to make me squint my eyes. It was not a pleasant change from the lighting within my home.
“Sorry to bother you.” It was the chief’s voice.
“But you need to hurry up and come with us,” Jaden’s voice finished.
“What?” I asked, my voice putting my lack of sleep to sound.
“Mind if we come in?” Jaden asked, as he pushed past me.
As he came in, he knocked my door open and I stepped back. I could see that Roy was shaking his head.
“Come in,” I told him. “You can tell me what’s going on while I get my tings together.”
“Alright,” he said, stepping into my house and shutting the door behind himself.
I smiled. “What is it?” I asked.
To be honest, I was a little uncomfortable. It was the first time that Night Watch had stepped foot into my home. I could only hope that he had no intentions of using a bathroom. I did not want him looking around or getting curious about any of my locked doors.
“It’s about Mrs. Jacobs,” Jaden explained.
“Is she at the station again?” I asked. “Did you tell her I’m not in until late today?”
“She’s not in the station,” Roy said; his face was suspiciously solemn.
“She’s in the hospital,” Jaden informed.
“What?!” I asked, shocked. “What happened?”
“I don’t know the details,” Roy told me, “but I need you to find out. This is your case, so I thought it should be you going to see her. I’m sorry to be intruding like this, but I need you to go as soon as possible. I don’t have any of the details that you do, and I have my own work to attend to. I just wanted to come down here personally to make sure that you understand that it is important that you get there as soon as possible. Her condition is critical. Jaden will accompany you. You can send him back with news if you have any for me and do what you need to after you’ve finished with your visit.”
I nodded. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the whole situation. I found it hard to believe that whatever happened had anything to do with her case. It just didn’t fit. I was starting to believe that there was something entirely different going on with her. Maybe someone followed her from her hometown and thought her vacation would be a perfect opportunity to take care of things. I would need to go into further questioning. If there was more to her case, I needed to start from scratch.
“I’ll get going immediately,” I said, grabbing my coat from the coat rack at the left of my door. I swung it over my shoulders and pulled the hood up. “Are you ready to go,” I asked Jaden.
He gave me a nod and a smile. “Yep.”
When we got to the hospital, it seemed to be pretty dead. Hollowville was not exactly full of accidents, but beyond that, they even seemed to be pretty short staffed. Yes, it was slow in town, but shouldn’t they be ready for anything? This was a building for emergencies, what if something went down in the city? I sighed and pushed my thoughts past the hospital. I was there for a reason, and I couldn’t waste my energy on complaints for the hospital. We didn’t stop at the front desk, and the receptionist didn’t bother asking us what our business was. Jaden had a lot more experience at the hospital than I. His mother had been admitted in the hospital a few years ago. She was very sick and died not many years after being put in. Guilt settled in my stomach like a rock.
“Where are we headed?” I asked.
“Floor seven,” Jaden answered. “They were just putting her in, so they didn’t give us a room number when they called, but they said that she would be on the seventh floor.”
Jaden looked back at me, but looked to the right, pretending to be interested in the strange art. I didn’t want to meet his gaze.
“Why did they call us so soon?” I asked.
“Mrs. Jacobs asked for you,” Swift Wing told me. “She doesn’t have any family in Hollowville. You are the only one she really knows here.”
It would have added to the guilt, but my connection to Mrs. Jacobs was strictly work related. I wasn’t one to pity a client. If I was, I don’t think I would have chosen the job. It’s hard to help people when all you can do is feel bad for them. That, and I already knew that Mrs. Jacobs had no family in the area. I knew before she came to me asking for help. My thoughts drifted back to possibilities. If Mrs. Jacobs didn’t know anyone in the area, it would be hard to assume that she had enemies. Finding a suspect for her case would be difficult, unless I found some very direct clues.
Jaden pressed the button at the side of the elevator door and it lit up. I watched the numbers at the top of the lard metal entrance. 5-4-3-2-1-ding.
“Ladies first,” Jaden said, in a slightly joking manner.
I didn’t really understand what he thought was so funny about it. When we first met, I honestly thought that he was a little rude. He told me once that he thought that general hospitality towards women was sexist. When he noticed that I seemed insulted, he asked me, “would you expect me to open a door or offer to carry the luggage of every man I saw.” I said no, and he went on to say, “well, then that’s sexist. You can’t just use the idea to your own advantage. If you want us to be fair, it’s a two way street.” I went as far as to tell him that I didn’t really think all rights that women demanded were really necessary, but he just laughed and told me that I was in the wrong day and age. I couldn’t argue there.
“What kind of state is she in?” I asked Jaden when the elevator stopped and we stepped out.
“I don’t really know,” Jaden admitted, “but it didn’t seem like the nurses knew much either. They just said that she’s kind of drifting in and out of things.”
We walked up to the desk that wasn’t very far from the elevator at all. This floor was much stranger than the first. The first level was much homier; the walls were colored and there was some art work. This floor was just white walls, white floors, white doors, and staff in white uniforms. It was a little disturbing.
“We’re looking for a Mrs. Jacobs,” Jaden told the receptionist.
The woman looked at him. “Can I get a name?” she asked.
“Jaden,” he answered.
The receptionist shuffled through a few papers at her right. She was constantly moving strands of her brown hair from her face as she looked down.
When she finally looked back up at him, she said, “I’m sorry, but Mrs. Jacob’s room is only allowing entry to one visitor in specific, and it’s not you.”
“My name is Lily,” I told the woman. “I believe it’s me that’s allowed entry.” I pulled out my badge to show the woman before adding, “I’m a detective from down at the station, and this is my partner. I need him with me, so if you don’t mind, could you please tell us which room she is in.”
Jaden seemed to be glowing with pride. I had never really referred to him as my parter to him. I just hoped he realized that I only said it to get him in. I didn’t want him getting any ideas. I still needed my space when it came to my work.
“Um, sure,” the woman said, seeming just a tad nervous. No one ever really seemed comfortable near a detective.
I learned to just accept that our jobs just made us seem a little intimidating. Not everyone was trying to hide something like I used to believe. Well, most were, but not every secret was worth my time, and not every secret really mattered.
The woman continued. “She’s in room 714. Just let me print you out a badge so that they know to let you in.”
“I’m sure that my own badge will suffice,” I told her. “Thank you.”
This time, I led. Jaden cheerfully jogged after me as I went down the hall, scanning each door’s number. It seemed that the smaller numbers were at the end. We were still passing 753 when Jaden broke the silence.
“So, partner, what’s the plan from here?” Jaden asked.
“We aren’t really partners,” I told him. “I just needed you with me and wasn’t sure they would let you join otherwise.”
“I d’know,” Jaden said. “I’m kind of like you’re partner right now, aren’t I? We are working together, after all.”
“You’re just here to send back some information to Roy if something comes up. Just let me do my work, please.”
“Alright,” he whined.
When I finally found the room, I knocked on the door. It was answered by an older man in a white coat. “You must me Lily,” he said, but he looked unsure when he looked over at Jaden.
I gave him a nod, and held out my hand to the doctor, who looked at it a little disgruntled. I let my hand fall back down to my side.
“I’m detective Lily, and this is my partner,” I said, pointing to my friend, who was grinning at the title, “Jaden. I hope you don’t mind that I brought him along.”
“I suppose there isn’t much I can do about it,” the doctor said, but he shot me a strange look. “Just try not to crowd her. She isn’t doing very well right now.”
Jaden gave a few quick nods. “Of course.”
The doctor stepped aside and let us in to speak with his patient, my client. She didn’t bother giving us a glance when we walked over to the foot of her bed. She seemed distracted by the window, as if she was afraid that something was going to jump in.
“Mrs. Jacobs, are you feeling alright?” I asked, trying to keep my voice down.
She finally glanced my way. “Who are you?” she asked.
I turned to the doctor. “Is this normal? Has she forgotten anything else?”
The doctor shook his head. “There isn’t much I can work with. She doesn’t know anyone here. She asked for you earlier. This is new.”
I turned back to Mrs. Jacobs. “Mrs. Jacobs, I’m detective Lily. I was working with you over your memory loss case as well as a recent attack. Do you remember any of that?”
“Attack?” Mrs. Jacobs asked. “I wasn’t attacked,” she told me.
I looked to the doctor again. “Why is she here?” I asked.
“She came in feeling light headed and dizzy. She passed out before we got much information on the situation. She’s been in and out all morning. We’ve been running tests all day. We’ve been having a hard time figuring out what the issue was. She seems to be suffering from significant blood loss, but I don’t know how. There aren’t any injuries to be found anywhere.”
I lost my voice. It wasn’t possible. How could it be possible?
“I-” my voice gave out. “I have to go,” I forced. On my way out, I added, “Please call me if she remembers anything, and if she says anything about what happened, I want you to contact me directly.”
“Alright,” the doctor said, seeming a little thrown off.
Jaden followed with questions all the way down the hall, but I answered none. I shut his voice out. I shut everything out. I didn’t even allow myself to consider the possibilities. I knew what they were.