That day they took a taxi to a quiet neighbourhood filled with large houses. For the entire ride neither of them said a word because they couldn’t talk about their job in front of someone who wasn’t part of the hidden world. That happens a lot in movies and books. The heroes talk about their dealings with the supernatural or their criminal acts within earshot of people that will either think that they’re crazy or will call the police. Sure oftentimes passersby won’t hear enough to actually understand, but you can’t always count on that now can you.
They paid the driver in front of a large white house with boarded up windows and a for sale sign. It didn’t look like anyone had gone inside for at least a few decades. At least someone had tried to keep it looking nice. The grass was mowed, the small flower gardens along the path had been weeded and planted, and the house looked like it had been recently painted. Even the boards over the windows looked pretty recent as though they were only there until the panes could get replaced.
Mr. Hoffmann noticed Rowan admiring the property. He smiled. “The council pays people to come here regularly so that someone may actually want to live here, but after what happened 40 years ago no one seems to want it.”
“A representative of the council will be inside to give us a quick tour and to tell you anything you need to know.”
Mr. Hoffmann walked up to the door and knocked. A young man of Asian descent opened the door.
“Hello.” he said with a smile. “Young Albin. Miss Winters. I’ve been waiting for you. Come in, come in. You should begin your investigation at once.”
They walked inside into a small entrance area. A small shelving unit lined the wall opposite of the front door. The other two walls contained doors to other rooms within the house. The man led them to the left.
“I’m Rei Keller by the way. A member of the Council of the Hidden within this fair city. I’ve been here for about 50 years at this point. If you have any questions feel free to ask me.”
Rowan stopped in her tracks. How could this man who looked like he was only just out of high school over 50 years old?
He smiled at her. “I look young for my age don’t I.”
“How old are you?” she asked.
“Only about 110 years.”
“If you think my age is unbelievable don’t ask Edmund how old he is. That information will blow your mind.”
Rowan continued walking following Mr Keller down a short hallway into a living room that for some reason looked familiar to her. “How old is he?”
“Well he’s never given me an exact age but he has told me about some of his adventures in the Roman Empire hanging out with Caesar.”
“Yeah. Oh yeah and just call me Rei.”
Mr Hoffmann looked irritated. “Can we start already?”
“Why yes Alby. We should get started as soon as possible. Sorry I got a little carried away.”
“It’s fine.” Mr Hoffmann sighed.
“Okay then, let’s get started.” Rei walked to the centre of the room. “This is the room where most of the action happened 40 years ago. We sent people through here shortly after it happened, but we haven’t had a rememberer until now since they all went into hiding. In the past rememberer’s were used to solve crimes between hidden individuals because oftentimes that is the only way they can be solved. Everything in this room is almost exactly as it was back then, except of course we cleaned a bit. The objects should still retain their memories. Miss Winters, why don’t you try accessing the memories.”
Rowan walked up to a sitting room chair and touched it. She closed her eyes and concentrated hard. This was a lot more difficult than it normally was. She couldn’t see past the memory the chair had of just after the murders had happened. She felt sick to her stomach. Blood had been spilled over the hardwood floor. Dead eyes stared up at the ceiling. She removed her hand before she could see more.
She touched other objects and got similar results. She looked over at Rei who looked concerned. “I’m not getting anything.”
“That’s strange. Objects should retain their memories no matter what happens. I wonder what’s going on.” He frowned.
Mr Hoffmann also frowned.
Suddenly Rowan remembered the books that had been thrown all over the floor after the break in at her apartment. “I’ve seen something like this before. After someone broke into my apartment the other day some things were disturbed and when I put them back where they belonged it felt as though they were brand new. They had no memories before or during the break in.”
“That is very interesting.” Rei mumbled.
“Rei, isn’t there a type of hidden that can erase memories?” Mr Hoffmann stepped in.
“Yes, but they don’t exactly erase memories. They are known as memory thieves and they take the memories of others into themselves making the other person forget things, but they only steal the memories of people. As far as I know they can’t steal the memories of objects because they can’t read those memories.”
“Hmmm. Maybe this is something that hasn’t been seen before.” Mr Hoffmann said with his arms crossed.
“Alby, that’s not possible. I already know of everything the hidden world has to offer.”
“Maybe that’s not the case.”
Meanwhile Rowan walked up to a wardrobe in the same room and stared at it in horror. With a careful hand she opened the doors. Inside some jackets were still hanging up and on the bottom sat a blue sweater and a red scarf, both things that she remembered clearly.
She remembered them because they often showed up in her dreams, specifically in the ones where a man called out for her and she hid terrified in a wardrobe.
“Um Rei?” she asked.
“Yes Miss Winters.”
“I think I remember being here in this wardrobe during the event 40 years ago.”
“That’s not possible because that would make you over 40 and you are still in your 20’s. Besides rememberers have the same amount of time on this planet as normal humans. There is no way you could have been there. But maybe that memory isn’t your own. I understand you have something of great value to you. A stone perhaps.”
Rowan pulled the stone out from under her shirt where it had hung since she had gotten up in the morning. Rei looked at it in amazement.
“Wow.” he exclaimed. “I never thought I would get to see this again. It wasn’t found after the crime all those years ago. There is no way you are one of them by blood though. They all died then which must mean that you are somehow related to the killer…” he continued rambling.
“Wait.” Rowan interrupted. “What are you talking about?”
“Well you see, that stone you have hanging from your neck is an objects that rememberers use to record hidden history. This particular item is known as the stone of Corbin and it belonged to the family that lived in this house. You having it can only mean one thing, that you are related in some way to whoever committed this grave crime. I’ve read into your past. Is it true that you don’t remember anything from before you were put into the system? Don’t lie to me now.”
“Rei, please. There is no way she has anything to do with this.” Mr Hoffmann exclaimed.
“I don’t have any memories from before I was about 5. I was found as a blank slate by my Father.” she ignored his complaints.
Rei smiled again. “Good. Sorry but I just had to use my powers on you to make sure you weren’t lying. It seems that you speak the truth which is good because that stone may be the key to solving this crime.”
Rowan stared at the blue stone for a second before enclosing it in a tight fist and closing her eyes. She was going to read the memories of the stone as soon as possible.
“No, no.” Rei exclaimed. “Do that somewhere else. There are a ton of memories in that stone, or at least there should be. Plus I want to leave this room. It may have been cleaned but that doesn’t change what happened here.”
She dropped the stone and let it dangle from the chain. “Let us be on our way then.”
Rowan followed Rei and Mr Hoffmann out of the clean abandoned house. As they walked down the path towards the side of the road where Rei had parked his small blue car she looked back at the house.
It looked like the perfect house for a large family to live in. It looked welcoming despite the boarded up windows. Did something so terrible actually happen there?
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