The sun shone down on Lake Ontario. It was the end of summer, school was only just beginning, and Cassandra was playing hooky with Kintaro. He had been reluctant at first, complaining, but she’d been able to browbeat him until he’d agreed to meet her out here. it was a perfect Monday for fishing, and the two of them sat together on the small raft. Kintaro checked his phone for the twentieth time, and Cassandra let out an aggravated sigh. “If your mom’s going to call you, wouldn’t you not want to answer? Come on, Kintaro! Show some guts!” She smirked at him over her shoulder, and shame-faced, he placed it back on the surface of the rubber raft.
Mortification wasn’t the right word for the emotions he felt when he returned to the hotel, only to find Heather waiting for him. But it was the best word he had. The dark-skinned woman smiled kindly as he got out of the car. “Tough day?” she asked, as he stood in his briefs, his slashed tie hanging around his neck.
Nash’s first stop was the police station. It looked as though a bomb had hit it. The front wall around the doorway was caved in, and shattered glass still lay scattered around on the pavement . Further inside, Nash could see the sergeant’s desk had been trashed. His heart began to pound, as his fingers went into his pocket, touching the ring. He got out of the rental car, running up to the small group of locals. Pearl was standing in front of the building, with Sergeant Dio beside her, surveying the damage.
In the night, Silas dreamt. It was the same dream he always had when he was unsettled. A woman screaming, a sharp knife falling to the ground. The soft bitter smell of gunpowder in the air. The sight of blood running down his fingers as he desperately tried to hold her life in. Staring into those bright, green eyes, as the woman died in his arms. The shame. The horror. The knowledge of what he had done, eating away at his gut. He knew it was a dream. He could wake up at any moment. But he didn’t. He was too busy staring at his hands, as the blood dripped down across his fingers.
The morgue was surprisingly relaxing and comfortable. A small stand of incense burned in one corner, the scent of cedar filling the air. Another corner held a small jade dragon about the size of a large frog. It looked like the kind of cheap piece of junk that he would’ve picked up in a Chinatown souvenir store. Someone had knit the dragon a fluffy little pink sweater out of wool. “We don’t get a lot of call for this sort of thing, you know. There aren’t a lot of deaths in this city, and as for deaths that are taken for murder…” Pearl was silent for a moment.
Silas Nash hammered the brake pedal as soon as he saw the tree lying across the road. Tires squealed as the rental car desperately tried to decelerate. It was still too late. The front of the rental car collided with the massive pine trunk, and he was thrown forward. The air bag met him halfway like a giant, yet strangely comfortable fist. The world spun around him. He knew this assignment was going to be a pain in the ass from the moment the assistant director had given it to him. As his senses returned, he checked his extremities. His nose ached a bit, but that was it. He reached for the door handle. It made an unpleasant grinding noise as he tried to push it open.