The group pulls out the rest of the pictures and lines them up side by side, making sure that they get the close-up pictures of the left hands visible. They examine each picture, seeing a tan line from a single ring on the males and two rings on the females. Engagement and wedding ring for the women and wedding bands for the men! Janice takes the first report and grabs Simon’s hand again, the two quickly heading back to the middle of the room. The blue light comes fast, whisking them away until they see the man’s life develop in front of them from the day he was born until the strange day he passed. Simon and Janice tell the others exactly everything that they see, Jock taking short-hand notes. Once they come out of the memories, Jock taps his finger on the screen and then on the dead man’s hand in the picture.
“There is no wedding day…nothing at all about a wedding or honeymoon or a life with someone at all. It’s like it never happened,” Jock tells them and looks at Janice, already typing down the next victim’s name and the date she died. “You need to check the others for a wedding.”
Simon walks away as Elizabeth takes her hand, readying herself to jump into someone’s past, “Let’s see if that is our connection then, shall we?”
Janice nods and allows her magic to flow into Elizabeth as she takes the new report from Jarred and gave him the other one. Elizabeth gasps as the magic engulfs her like a cold wave of water, making her shiver a little before she can see the woman being born. She blinks several times and looks around, the two of them in the hospital room as the woman gave her first cry. Soon they are watching her grow up, going to preschool, then elementary and middle school, then high school, going to prom, dating a few guys, and on her life went until again the day she went to get some food and died suddenly.
Elizabeth shakes her head as soon as they are out of her memories, “No wedding…nothing…only her life growing up until the day she died.” She walks over to the table with the reports and just stares down at the pictures. “Nothing…” she repeats again, astonished and saddened by what they are finding out.
Jock got up, Simon taking his place in front of the computer to take notes and picks up the third report as he walks over to Janice, letting her take his hand while he hangs onto the report. “Okay, time to check out victim number three.” He looks at her then prepares himself for the ride while Simon clicks away at the computer. Jock makes eye contact with Janice and nods, “Ready when you are.”
Janice nods and pulls them into the next young woman’s memories starting from birth. They run through her life, telling Simon each memory that they encounter with her life. Once again there is nothing about her getting married to anyone or having a life with anyone. Jock shakes his head, heading back around to check the notes and to take over again for Simon, his eyes scanning the information.
“Okay since we all have taken a ride into memories we need to get back to work and get through all of these people’s memories quick. Simon, get back in there with Janice and Elizabeth, get ready to hand him the reports as they finish each one. I will take notes and Jock, I want you to start calling family members and friends to ask if they knew anything about their loved ones being married,” Jarred instructs them as he walks over to his car and opens the back of it. Inside sits another computer and a phone that Jock can use to take notes and to call from while they work through the memories. “We need to get this done now.”
Jock helps Jarred hook up the other computer and the phone, placing them on the table beside the first computer, still giving the reports and pictures their own table. In no time at all, they are ready to begin their work in order to see if their theory of the memory thief stealing the marriage to someone is, in fact, the key that links all of the deaths besides the disappearance of their memories of their own death. Elizabeth grabs the next two reports, telling Jarred who is next, the day he was murdered, and where before handing one to Simon and stepping back, clutching the next report in her hands. Simon looks at Janice, taking a deep breath and letting it out slow, nodding his head to let her know that he is ready for the past jumping.
“Glad that you can get this information without having to touch the actual body,” Simon tells her as they slip from the warehouse and into the past for the next young man’s life sequence. “That would make this a whole lot harder.”
“In the beginning, I did have to be next to or touching the body but as I grew stronger in my magic, thanks to my dad’s help, I was able to learn to pull the information we needed through the paperwork. The name, time, date, and where they were last seen was all that I needed to help me out.” Janice explains to Simon and the others. “It was hard to do this in the beginning. So glad dad showed me how to do it this other way.” She shudders at remembering how she had to touch the dead body to be able to see into their past. She shakes her head and they begin to shuffle through the victim’s life, telling Jarred everything that they see.
Next to him, Jock begins to make phone calls to ask everyone that they had interviewed before about their friend or family member’s life and if they had been married to someone. He looks confused as he continues to talk to a person after person, taking notes under each of the victim’s names on his computer. Elizabeth continues to keep everything organized and handing the reports to Simon. She would put the reports once they are done with them back inside their folders so that they don’t lose them. Jarred watches Jock’s face from time to time, growing curious as Jock continues to make the calls
About three hours later, they are finished with the task of jumping into the past to see if the men and women had been married or if they could see their death. After they finished, Jock and Simon brave the storm in order to get the group some food so that they can rest before their next jump into the victim’s mind to see if the memory thief had found the secret area of the brain that remembers everything. Jarred sits in front of the computer where Jock had been, reading over his notes that he had taken, his eyebrows knitting together as he reads.
She gets up from the chair and walks over to stand behind them in order to hear what they are saying as well as to read what Jock had found out from all of his phone calls. “What’s up, guys?”
Elizabeth turns to look at Janice, confusion written all over her face, “Jock has called almost everyone in our files and not a single one of them has heard of the victims having married to anyone.” She shakes her head, “How can they not know if they’re loved one was married to someone? Weren’t they at the wedding?”
Janice taps a finger on her bottom lip as she thinks about what Elizabeth has told her about the others swearing that their loved ones hadn’t been married to anyone. “It sounds like since the memory thief took the memory of the wedding from the victim’s somehow it was erased from other’s minds too. The memory thief must have some very strong magic then. It sounds like they put a spell on everyone that once he or she stole the memory from the dead person, their memories of the event are also wiped clean. I have heard of this kind of black magic before but I have never encountered it before and I don’t think my dad has either.” She looks at Jarred, “Have you…?”
Jarred shakes his head, “No, but we should call up Mr. Stephens and see what he says about this whole mess.”
A honk from outside startles the group out of their thoughts and Elizabeth hurries over to the door to open the garage door so that Simon can park the car inside again. Outside the rain continues to fall, the droplets hitting the metal roof louder than before, the storm now right overhead. Lightning soars down from the sky while thunder booms across the dark heavens. Simon and Jock step out of the car, carrying bags of food and drinks while Elizabeth closes the garage door, keeping the weather outside from coming inside. Janice and Jarred look up from the computer as the three others walk over to join them, Simon having a look on his face that says that Jock has told him what he has found out from the phone calls so far.
“So, what in the world is going on?” Simon asks as he hands a bag to Janice while Jock hands bags to Jarred and Elizabeth.
Jock returns to the car to retrieve the drinks while they all sit on the floor in order to eat, even though the ground is cold. Jock hands out the drinks with Elizabeth’s help then join them on the ground.
Janice opens the bag and pulls out a covered plate and a fork, “If this is what I think it could be, then it could lead to us not finding the thief. I haven’t encountered it before personally and I don’t think you all have either.” She takes the cover off of the plate as she tells Jock and Simon what she believes has happened with the memory thief and why the families and friends can’t remember their loved one getting married.
The group eats their food, talking about the cases and about the memory thief. The puzzles slowly fall into place as they continue to talk about how no one has memories of the weddings and the victims have no memories of either weddings, life with another, or their own deaths. But the puzzles still didn’t lead them any closer to who the memory thief is and the group is slowly growing more and more frustrated. After they eat, they decide to pack it up for the night and will come back in a day or two when their workdays have calmed down and give Janice and Simon a chance to jump back into the past and try and find the door in the victim’s minds that hopefully holds the key to the missing memories.
Janice tells her new friends that she will see them later and climbs into Jarred’s car since he had picked her up at her place that morning. Elizabeth opens the garage door allowing the two cars to drive outside into the nasty weather. She closes the garage door then exists the warehouse by a side door, locking it behind her before she makes her way over to Simon’s car, sliding into the back seat. Simon rolls the window down, waving at Jarred and Janice before he pulls away, rolling the window back up before he got too soaked. Janice stares outside at the bustling streets once Jarred had turned away from the warehouse district. Even in the rain, there are tons of people out and about. She shudders as she watches the people, wondering if she might be staring at the memory thief right now and not even realizing it.
Jarred senses her discomfort as he turns on the heater to help warm their chilled bodies but he doesn’t say anything. He didn’t know how she truly felt since all he knew is technology and science, not magic. He never put his trust in magic even though he had asked for Simon to be on his team when he was first given this case, knowing that Simon had magic that would be beneficial. Now he has Janice on his team with a gift that is strange and exciting but complicated and unnerving all at the same time. He didn’t know what he should say to her so he kept quiet, his own mind racing with everything that he had gone through and from what they had learned through Janice’s magic today.
He would drop her off at home and then return to the office to work even though he knew that he wouldn’t find anything new. But that is how he is, someone who just has to work and work even if he can’t find all of the answers at first. His dad had called him a workaholic when he was alive and Jarred had to agree. He knew also that Mr. Stephens would be at the office so he can at least talk with him since they had sent him some of the notes that they had taken back at the warehouse. Jarred knew that he needs to update his boss on everything that they have found out from the wedding memories to the phone calls. He sighs heavily as he turns down the street that will take him back to Janice’s place, his mind overran by thoughts and more questions about the memory thief. More puzzles added to the already confusing mystery.
Janice glances over at Jarred once she hears him sighing, the slight sound pulling her out of her trance and thoughts of seeing the memory thief and not knowing it. She could be sitting beside the memory thief for all she knows. She shakes away that thought and looks back outside, not sure what to talk about. She had never really conversed with Jarred before as they came from two different worlds basically so words escaped her at that moment.
Jarred squeezes the steering wheel before he forces himself to speak, “Thank you for your help today, Janice. You have unlocked some huge puzzle pieces.”
“And I have caused even bigger ones to form,” she says gloomily. “I just wish that we could have found out what he or she is doing. It seems weird that this person is murdering both men and women. I mean is the thief male? Or is the thief female? I can’t tell since the victims are not connected in any way and are of both sexes.”
Jarred nods his head slowly, also quite confused by that aspect of the case, “Yea, that part confuses me as well. And the men and women are from different ethnicities and classes. It’s almost as if the thief is just killing for fun.”
Janice sits back in the seat, slouching a bit as she looks out of the front watery window. “A serial killer murdering people and stealing memories because they felt like it.”
Jarred pulls up in front of her place and stops the car, “Well we will see how things pan out in the next day or two then get back at it with the past jumping.” He pushes a button on his door, popping open her door, “See you at the office tomorrow and again thanks.”
Janice smiles a small smile since she still doesn’t feel like she deserves the thanks but she doesn’t say it out loud. “See you tomorrow, Jarred, and thanks for letting me be a part of the team. I know you like technology better than magic but I am glad you are accepting me and my magic like you do Simon and his magic.”
Jarred smiles and nods, waving to Janice as she races for her front door, the rain starting to lighten up a bit as the winds over London pushes the clouds across the sky. He pushes the button again, the door closing and locking and waits until Janice has gone safely inside. Once she is gone, he turns his steam car away from the curb and drives back towards the office, maneuvering around some slow wet horse-drawn carriages. He thinks about Janice and the few encounters he has had with her at the office. She has always been quiet, following orders, and stuck to a desk since he had joined the detective agency two years ago.
He hadn’t really paid her much attention over the past two years either and he wonders if maybe he should have talked to her more. She is so awkward around him now that they have to work together but of course, he is also awkward, not really knowing how to strike up a conversation with the young lady. He scolds himself for not having better social skills, always being one to talk about work mostly, even though he knew that it annoyed the people he talked to outside of the office. That is why he mostly hung out with Simon, Jock, and Elizabeth. They understand him better than anyone at the office or outside of the office.
Pulling himself out of his thoughts, he parks behind the office and hops out, looking up at the gray clouds. The rain has finally stopped but the sun hadn’t come out yet as he enters the building from the back alley. The office lights are still on but only one or two other detectives sit at their desks working late. Sitting in his office, Mr. Stephens reads his computer screen with his hands grasped in front of him, his chin resting on his hands, and his elbows on his desk. He glances up when he hears the back open to see Jarred walking in looking grim and confused through the window of his office.
He waves for Jarred to come into his office so that they can talk about what he has read and what else they had learned from their work at the warehouse. Jarred walks into the office, greeting his boss, closes the door behind him, and sits down in front of the desk. He runs his fingers through his hair as he begins to tell Mr. Stephens everything that they have learned so far on the case and about Janice’s theory of the family and friend’s memories being erased by some strong black magic. Mr. Stephens listens quietly, his jaw clenched his mind reeling.
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