Chapter 8 Relentless
“Alathea, I’m going to have to use Diamond Polish for this.” Ron stated as he stood up to straighten his back. He looked at a rusty faucet with disgust. They were currently cleaning an old preschool, and it seemed long overdue.
Alathea glanced up from scrubbing the tile floor. “What about diamonds?”
“Diamond Polish.” He cocked an eyebrow. “Sure, I would love this place to be filled with diamonds. Where’s your head?”
She rolled her eyes and didn’t respond.
“Are you about finished with the floor?” He asked.
“I think so.”
“Good, go ahead do a final walk-through. I’ll finish these faucets.”
“Why Diamond Polish? Couldn’t you use something else?” She hated that stuff. It was so powerful that it required both a mask and a pair of gloves to use, but it was also odorless and had the appearance of water. She didn’t think it was appropriate to use at a preschool.
“It’s the strongest stuff we have, and I want to finish quickly. Just do another walk-through, then I think we’ll be finished.”
“All right.” She dumped her dirty water down the toilets. “You think they’ll be recalling that stuff soon, since it’s so dangerous?”
“All good cleaners are dangerous. You just need to know how to use them correctly.” He slipped on his mask. “Well, go on.”
With a shrug, she walked out the door to tour the rest of the preschool.
As she checked the little boys’ bathroom, she took a quick glance at herself in the mirror. Her own reflection was proof the intruder had been her imagination. She should’ve been covered in bruises, especially on the neck. However, no discoloration blemished her pale complexion, which should’ve nullified any belief that she had been attacked.
“Hey, Alathea!” Ron called. “Don’t forget to turn off the TV!”
“Sure.” If there was a TV in the building, which in this case there was one in the break room, they usually turned it on for background noise. It was currently showing the daily news, a novelty she found conflicting. Though she enjoyed hearing what was going on in the community, every story seemed to be biased or twisted in someway.
“Dr. Grove will be publishing their findings about ultraviolet light paralysis next week.” The young anchor smiled, but he immediately sobered as he reported the next story. “We have an update about the death at Barty’s Cafe. Waiter, Blake Michaels was found next to the employee entrance of Barty’s Cafe on Forty-Fifth Street yesterday afternoon. It was reported that he choked on food he was apparently consuming, but investigators are releasing a warning.”
A young man who looked too young to be on the police force appeared on the screen. “There have been four strange deaths in the last month, including Michaels. Though we cannot confirm his death wasn’t accidental, we can confirm the other three were killings and he is connected to one of them. We ask that the public be wary and if they have any information concerning these victims, to contact the proper authorities.” A list of names appeared on the screen, Howard Tongal, Cassie Belvue, and Xander Mickel.
“Hey.” Alathea jumped a mile high as Ron walked in. “Aren’t you going to turn if off?”
“Yeah,” she said a little absentmindedly. She pressed the power button. “Time to pack up?”
“Everything looked good?”
While she helped him pack their cleaning supplies into the Volkswagen, her mind buzzed like she had bees in her head. Four deaths, one of them at Barty’s Cafe? Though the man on the news had not said it, they hinted that there was a serial killer on the loose, and that he might’ve been responsible for Blake Michaels’s death. Was there any chance he followed her home and tried to kill her too?
Fractals, that was all she had, not solid proof. But just because she had none didn’t mean there was none.
Was it possible to acquire another opinion from someone who wouldn’t assume she was crazy or unstable, and would look at the situation with a clear mind? Perhaps a police officer or….detective? There was no doubt Ron and Sarah would take a detective’s word over hers.
Tom was at Barty’s Cafe. He might’ve seen something. He was also the ‘hired’ detective, not someone who would have anything against her like Stanley O’Neal.
She needed to get away from Ron. That task was easier said than done. He would question why she wanted to go out on her own, and probably worry that she was going to do something notably stupid.
When they finished packing their supplies into the company Volkswagen, she dared to try to casually broach the subject. “What else do we have?”
“That’s it for today. I just need to do a couple things at the office. I can go ahead and drop you off at the house.”
She couldn’t believe her ears. “Really? You don’t need me at the office?”
“Okay, but you don’t need to drop me off. It’s out of the way. I’ll take a cab.”
“I’m not so crazy that you need to keep a constant eye on me. I can go by myself.”
“I know that...but...” He stopped.
He shook his head. “I don’t know what I was going to say. Fine, you can take a cab.”
“Great, I’ll see you later.”
'It’s not like I really need his permission', she thought to herself irritably as she rushed back into the preschool. She glanced back just in time to see Ron shaking his head as he ducked into the car and drove off.
She marched to the front desk and located a Yellow Pages book. “Wayword, Wayword,” she muttered till she located him. Oddly, he didn’t have a phone number listed, but he had his address. “Five-five-two, Chance Street, apartment five-one-three. Gotcha.” She smiled, then found a phone number for the taxi company.
Ten minutes later, the yellow taxi bounced over the lot bumps as it came to where Alathea waited. She rushed into it like it was a lifeboat. “Hey, you need to pay.” The grubby cabby stated.
She withdrew the cash from her purse and handed it to him while she told him the address. “Can you go quickly, please.”
“I love it when people ask me that.” He slammed his foot on the accelerator, causing Alathea to nearly scream as he turned sharply onto the road.
“That’s not exactly what I meant.” She stated breathlessly. He made another sharp turn, and she slid to the other side.
“Put your seatbelt on.” The cabby said.
“Thanks a lot!” She responded sarcastically.
When they finally pulled up to the apartment complex, she was clenching her seat for dear life. “What was your company thinking when they hired you?”
“Speed and love.” He said mischievously.
“Thanks for getting me here alive, at least.” She unbuckled and stumbled out. Her face darkened to a light shade of red when she heard him laughing. She slammed door disgustedly. “Idiot.” She muttered, ignoring the nasty fractals that erupted in front of her.
She looked up at the apartment complex in surprise. This would not be the place she would imagine someone like Tom to live. She expected more of a dark, secret sort of place. This building was bright, comfortable looking, and gave the impression that it jumped straight from the seventies with it’s orange colors, soft murals, and open balcony. It looked more like a place for relaxed, well-to-do retirees.
Doubt nawed at the back of her mind, but she located the stairs and scampered up to the fifth floor. She found door number five-one-three, raised her fist to knock...and hesitated. This felt like a desperate move, just to find some way to prove to Ron and Sarah she wasn’t crazy. But...if Tom Wayword agreed with them, there would be no convincing otherwise. They would undoubtedly believe him more than they would ever believe her.
Swallowing back her fears, she knocked.