7th April 2016
Morburn Hospital, Sawbridgeworth, United Kingdom
Addison stopped short of a set of double yellow doors across from the lift she had just exited. The sign on the wall reads, Paediatric Ward. She clenched her fists before pressing the call button next to the sign. What did she have to be nervous about? These were just children, and she was a grown woman, a policewoman at that. Her fingers ran down the cold metal edges of her police badge as a woman's voice crackled, "May I help you?"
"Um, yes, Detective Sergeant Addison is here to speak with the children brought in earlier." She looked at the door frame for the camera, not sure if she should hold up any identification.
"Yes, of course. Please step through. The doors clicked, and Addison pushed them open. A rush of chilled air shocked her cheeks as if Jack Frost had blown her a kiss. The white tile hall reflected the brilliant fluorescent lights spaced every few feet in the cork drop ceiling. The walls were painted in colourful murals depicting cartoon characters, waving and greeting the occupants of the ward through dialogue bubbles floating above their heads. The murals were interrupted every few feet by numbered solid wooden doors. Addison made a quick peek inside the first open door where she only came to be met by the swollen eyes of a woman who was holding a small child in her arms.
"I'm so sorry, wrong room." She could feel her face growing flush. She stepped back and when she saw the uniformed officers.
"Look who it is, Addy the Detective. Congratulations," Officer Tony Poole waved Addison over.
"Thanks, Tony, how are the children?" Addison asked, trying to peek in to see them. She could see Jake sleeping in his bed by the window. The curtain was partially pulled covering Anna, leaving Jake in full view.
"They are quiet, not saying a word," Poole mentioned. "By the way, this is Officer Rebecca Smith. She's my new partner now as my old one ditched me." Tony laughed. Addison playfully punched him in the arm and then stepped into the dim hospital room. A green curtain was pulled across, guarding the children inside the world. The chemical smell of antiseptic filled her nostrils as she took a deep breath and closed her eyes, offering a silent prayer to a God she hoped was listening to. Clearing her throat, she pulled back the curtain revealing Hertfordshire's two newest orphans.
The frail frame of Jake, the younger of the two, was curled in a fetal position in a hospital bed by a large bay window, like a stray dog too tired to run anymore. Anna lifted her chin, looking at Addison, who moved around the foot of her bed and took a seat in a chair between where the siblings rested. Ribbons of dried tears stained Anna's rosy cheeks. She sniffed and wiped her bandaged arm across her nose.
"Mummy?" Came to the meek question from Jake, who turned toward Addison.
"It's not, Jake, try and get some sleep," Anna answered softly as Jake rolled back over facing the window again.
"Are you the police?" Anna asked Addison.
"Are you sure? I've never met a police lady before."
"Here, I'll prove it." Addison reached down, pulling her badge from around her neck and handing it to Anna.
She ran her thumb over the surface of the badge just as Addison had done in the hall.
"Were you at my house?" Anna asked, still looking down at the badge.
"Did you help my mum?"
"I'm here to help you now." Addison's throat grew dry as the pain radiated up her cheeks. She fought back the tears that welled up in the corners of her eyes.
"Mum needed help."
Swallowing hard, Addison looked down at her fingers, which were fidgeting with one another. "Your mum was hurt bad," Addison's voice cracked, "I'm so sorry."
"Mum?" Anna's doughy brown eyes grew glassy as new streams spilled over and down her face.
Addison moved, sitting on the edge of Anna's bed, the young girl crumbling into her, sobbing uncontrollably.
"Do you like watching TV?" Addison asked.
The young girl nodded as she pulled away from Addison's arms. She sat in her bed as Addison started to sort out the television for them to watch.
"They have two DVDs here, you can watch Finding Nemo or Toy Story?"
"Finding Nemo," Anna nodded to the one on the right Addison was holding up. She turned and put the DVD into the slot, playing it. She sat in her seat between the siblings as the film started.
"Do you watch films with your mum?" Addison asked.
"Mum always puts a film on before Jake goes to bed."
"Did she put a film on that night?"
"She put on Despicable me, that's Jake's favourite." Anna smiled as she glanced over to Jake's bed.
There was a short silence as the film finally began. Addison sat comfortably in her seat as she watched the film with her. She noticed Jake had turned in his bed to watch the television.
"What time does your mum normally put you to bed?" Addison asked. Anna shrugged her shoulders.
"I normally can go to bed when I want to, but last night I was tired. It was about nine."
"And what about Jake?"
Anna gazed upward as if the answer was scribbled on the ceiling. "About six, maybe seven, I think."
"Did you both go straight to sleep?"
"No, I was in bed with Jake; he was having trouble sleeping due to the storm that night," Anna replied. Her voice was weak and quiet, but Addison could hear just enough of her voice. She started jotting in her notebook what Anna said.
"What happened?" Addison asked. She saw Anna look over to Jake; he shifted slightly on his bed. His bed was next to the window and Anna was located on his left. Anna had asked them to have him next to her.
"The storm scared him, so I comforted him, stroking his hair until he fell asleep. It was what mum did to me when I was little, and it always helped. I closed my eyes and fell into a light sleep, and then I heard a noise. It woke me up. Jake was still sleeping soundly." Anna spoke again. As her confidence grew, she spoke louder.
"What type of noise did you hear?" Addison asked. Anna sat there in silence for a moment, trying to remember. She glanced over at her brother again, and he had fallen back asleep.
"I don't know how to describe it. It sounded like a chair screeching on the floor." Anna said trying to think. Addison saw the tears building up in her eyes again. There was another pause as they carried on watching the film.
"Was it just you, Jake and your mother in the house that night?" Addison asked, changing the subject slightly. Anna nodded.
"Did your mother have any visitors?"
Anna shook her head.
"Did you go downstairs to check out what the noise was?" Addison asked. She remembered what Nora had said about the faded barefoot prints. Anna nodded her head confirming their theory.
"Did Jake wake up at any point?"
Anna shook her head again and watched Nemo start school for the first time. She smiled when the little pink squid inked.
Addison noticed Anna started to fidget more in her bed, her hand stroking her bandages gently.
"When you got downstairs, what did you see?" Addison asked. She knew Anna was starting to feel uncomfortable. She shuffled into her bed before answering. Addison saw her eyes kept shifting from her arms to her brother.
"I peeked into the kitchen," Anna finally spoke. "I saw…" she paused. Jake was fidgeting in his bed as if feeling his sister's pain.
"What did you see Anna?" Addison asked.
"I saw my mum." Anna finally admitted.
"What was your mum doing?"
"She was on the counter, there was a knife in her chest and there was blood everywhere." Anna finally broke. She started crying into her hands. Addison shut her notebook for a moment. She moved from her chair to the side of the bed. She sat down and put her arms around Anna. She shuffled closer to Addison, putting her arms around her waist tightly and wept.
Addison, don't cry. Addison, don't cry. Be strong and keep it in, even if you know what the young girl is going through just remember to keep it in.
Addison rocked her gently waiting for her to calm down.
"I'm not allowed to speak of him," Anna muttered.
Addison moved away slightly, so she could see Anna's face. Anna glanced up at her, eyes full of tears.
"What do you mean?" Addison asked. Her heart started to pump a little faster, she realised this girl may have seen the killer.
"By my blood, I'm not to speak, or he will kill Jake," Anna spoke again. "But I've said too much."
Addison stared into Anna's eyes, searching for something. She thought the words sounded like something she had heard before. Her palms started to sweat. Her heartbeat quickened.
"Is there anyone you want me to contact, your father?" Addison asked. Anna shook her head. Addison stood up from her chair and headed for the door.
"Mandy Phillips, she's out auntie, also dad if you can get in contact with him." Anna said. Her full attention turned back to the film and Addison knew it was time to leave them grieving. Addison wrote the name in her notebook and nodded. The two officers came back into the room followed by an older woman. She had dark red hair pulled into a ponytail. She wore square glasses bigger than her eyes sitting on the bridge of her nose, green eyes blinking through them.
"This is Emily Carter; she is a social worker for these children." Officer Poole introduced the woman. Addison gave her a welcoming nod. "This is our Detective Sergeant Addison McCain who is working on the case," he carried on.
"How are the children? Were they able to give you anything?" Emily squinted at Addison as a critic examining the distasteful artwork.
Feeling scrutinised, Addison crossed her arms over her chest. She had always worn her departmental issued uniform when on official business, but now she could wear what she pleased if it fell in line with the department's scope of 'dress attire.' Had she committed a fashion blunder? She has seen plenty of businesswoman wearing pinstriped trouser suits on the streets of London, though without a Taser hooked to her waistband. Maybe she should have listened to her friend when she compared her outfit to a 1920s Chicago mob boss.
"They are tired and need some rest. They are our only witnesses, so I may need to come back and talk to them." Addison mentioned. She took a step to Anna's bedside again, and she glanced up at her.
"I want you to call me if you remember anything, I will be straight there." Addison handed her work card with her number on it. Anna politely took it. She glanced down at the card taking in the name and number. She gazed up at Addison and gave her a faint smile. Addison nodded, taking her leave. She started down the hallway until her phone started buzzing in her pocket. She caught it out of her pocket and answered it.
"McCain." Her voice snipped and her eyebrows arching as Robert's voice began dictating orders. As the one-sided conversation grew on, Addison began gritting her teeth and her nostrils flaring as she paced the hall. At one point she knocked into a cleaning cart, sending most of its contents crashing to the floor and drawing attention from the nurses' station.
"Shit," she hissed. Mentally blaming Robert for the mistake.
After the line went dead, Addison felt like slinging her cell phone across the ward. The only thing she recalled from the call was that she was to rush back to the crime scene and update the man in person who had just crawled under her skin.
She carried on, walking down the corridor and into the blinding sunlight, though it was still freezing. She lost track of time, squinting her eyes as she walked to her car. Setting up shop in the car park was a food van Addison eyed from her parking space. Why not? She thought as she dropped her car keys back into her pocket, I'm thirsty and that bastard can wait.
The guy in the van handed her a piping cup of coffee, its paper protector stamped with an inspirational quote. 'Work together to achieve great things.' Great, even though her coffee was against her today. She slapped the money on the counter and headed back toward her car nursing a strong brew.
She placed the cup in the cup holder next to her pink metal tumbler, which would have been cold by now. She took a quick look at her watch, before setting off back to the crime scene to pick up her new arrogant partner.
Addison finally arrived back, and she saw Robert Arrows standing by the yellow tape outside the house, tapping his foot impatiently waiting for her to throw the butt of his cigarette to the ground. She grabbed her paper cup of coffee, locked her car and made haste towards Robert.
"I hope you are going to pick that up and put it in the bin." Addison nodded towards the fag butt on the ground. Robert glanced at it and then back at her.
"How long were you planning to make me wait?" He hissed through his teeth. His dark brown eyes bore into hers, waiting for an explanation. She tried hard not to talk back, but his next move took her a little by surprise. He glanced down at the cup in her hand, snatching it from her. She stood there with her hand still sticking out with a missing cup. She watched as he drained her cup of coffee and threw the empty rubbish into a yellow bin attached to a lamppost. He stepped under the yellow tape and started putting on his white Tyvek suit and a pair of latex gloves.
Mental note, always bring two cups of coffee in the future. She let out a sigh.
"He can throw things in the bin," Addison said of herself. She quickly dipped under the tape and put on a Tyvek suit and gloves as she rushed into the house after Robert.
He was standing at the table, there was paper spread out everywhere where they went through her post. Addison glanced at the papers on the table, she noticed one, and she recognised the medical symbol.
"Was Wendy seeing a counsellor?" Addison asked.
"I believe so, I've got someone contacting them for me to find out who she was seeing," Robert told her.
She started going through the papers and posting them one by one. School bills for Anna and Jake and letters from her counsellor and appointments.
"What will happen to those kids?" Addison asked curiously. Even though she asked, she already knew what would happen. They would either end up in foster care or be a member of Wendy's family who might take them in.
A familiar figure caught Addison's eye as he moved through the threshold of the kitchen door. Dressed the same as Robert and Harry Lynch, the senior crime scene tech approached them both; a wide-angle lens protruding from a Nikon slung about his neck. "The body is gone now." His genteel voice was frank but made Addison feel somewhat at ease. His eyes drifted from Robert to Addison as the corners of his mouth turned upwards. She felt like a school girl and turned away as she felt her face grow flush. Robert nodded as Harry walked out of the house. Robert carried on flicking through all Wendy's letters while Addison was looking around the kitchen. She saw the coffee machine and suddenly she wanted a cup.
"Could do with coffee right now," she said to Robert.
"Not my problem."
"You stole my one."
"And it was a good cup of coffee," Robert smirked.
"Pig," she said in a breath.
"What?" Robert glanced at her.
Robert was looking inside Wendy's cupboards. Nothing seemed unusual. Addison started going through the drawers. Tea towels, black bags, and cutlery in the draws. She looked at the last one, finding money and a mobile phone.
"Robert," she called. He came straight to her side, looking in the drawer. She moved her eyes to the side where he stood, he was close, looking over her shoulder.
"Is the mobile phone on?"
"No, it's not."
"Bag it," he said.
"And the money?"
"How much is there?" Robert asked.
"You want me to count all this?"
"Yes, that would be great."
Addison let out a sigh as she started counting the notes. They were all in twenty's, and she piled them up in hundreds trying to keep track of how much is there.
"Two thousand pounds," Addison finished.
"That's significant money," Robert acknowledged. He handed her a couple of bags in which she put money in one and the phone in another. She handed it to one of the forensic workers.
"Why does she have this much cash in her drawer?" Addison said her thoughts. Robert didn't say anything.
"We better go and talk to those neighbours and head back to the station as soon as possible." He finally said. Addison nodded following his orders.