Hours later, Janice wakes up, her phone nowhere near her, and she sits up quickly, looking for it as if it is the key to the whole mystery. She looks around surprised when she finds herself lying in her bed, an ice pack falling off of her head and her cat looking up at her from the place where he napped on her feet. She looks around the dim room, the lights off and the shades drawn, trying to see if she can see anyone else in the room. The door slowly opens and hushed voices can be heard outside of the slightly open door; hushed angry and scared voices. She narrows her eyes against the harsh light as the door opens more and a few people who face are obscured by the light, step inside to check on her.
“Oh thank goodness you’re awake,” Elizabeth’s voice says from one of the figures.
A hand appears next to her, grabs the ice pack and sets it down on the nightstand beside her before it snakes back into the blur of shadows. She squints her eyes, blinks a few times, then squints some more as her eyes adjust to the room around her. Soon she can see Elizabeth, Jock, Simon, and Jarred standing in her room, each face either worried or angry. She lays back down as she grows dizzy again, even feeling a bit nauseous. Simon sits down on the bed beside her, pushing her hair back from her face, his eyes more angry than worried because he hadn’t been there to protect her.
She pats his arm gently then looks at Jarred, “He called me.”
Jarred nearly chokes when he hears this, “The memory thief?”
Janice nods her head silently, the voice or voices of the man behind the call still ringing in her ears before she blacked out from fear. She doesn’t speak for a moment, staring down at her cat, Tiger meowing gently as if telling her to go on and tell them about the call. She turns her scared gaze to Simon, seeing comfort in his face but only saw a dark cloud over his eyes. “He told me that he has been watching us and that he will break up the team one at a time. And that he has already started doing it to one of the team members but wouldn’t tell me which one.” She looks down at her hands, “Then he laughed at me but it didn’t sound like one person, it sounded like several people if that makes sense.”
The group looks at each other before they return their gaze back to the woman cowering in her bed, a bump visible on her head from when she blacked out and hit the floor hard. Jock moves around the bed to the window, pushing the drapes back, and stares down at the world below. Janice turns to look at the window, a bit scared that she is going to see a devilish grinning face appear behind Jock, staring in at her and laughing with the multiple voices. But nothing but the night sky peers in through at her as Jock moves to the side so that he can look down the street the other way. Night? Janice looks at Jarred then Simon and Elizabeth, who stands sort of behind Simon.
“How long have I been unconscious?” she asks.
Jarred purses his lips together as he thinks, “A few hours how. Jock came in to check on you and to see how you were when he found you on the floor. He carried you to your bedroom before he sent an urgent message to us.”
Simon looks at Jarred, “Her phone?”
“It is in the kitchen on the table where I had placed it once I went back to send you the message,” Jock tells them as he turns away from the window, the drapes falling back over the window. “Do you want me to check it for the number that called her?”
Jarred nods, “Yes, you and Elizabeth go check it out.”
Jock and Elizabeth disappear out of her room while Jarred walks over to where Jock had been standing in front of the window, pushing back the drapes to peer outside as well.
Simon turns his attention back to her and picks up the ice pack he had made for her, gently placing it against where her head had hit the ground. Simon looks into her eyes, “I am so sorry that I wasn’t here with you.”
Janice shakes her head and gently takes his hands into hers, “Simon, there was nothing that you could have done. Whoever this is, he is evil. I heard it in his voice. He gets a kick out of murdering people and we need to figure out who he is before he kills again. I have a feeling that he is going to kill one of us next.” Her voice shakes at the mention of one of them being killed.
Simon quickly scoops her in his arms and holds her tight, feeling her body shaking as he hugs her tight. Jarred turns away from the window as Jock and Elizabeth come back in, both looking upset and confused. He nods his head and walks back around the bed, exiting the room, Elizabeth and Jock close on his heel. Jock closes the door behind them so that they can give Simon and Janice some privacy while they talk.
Jarred turns on his heel and looks at the two, “All right, what did you two find out.”
“Whoever this is, they are very smart or very dumb. I can’t tell which because the phone this person called from is one from our office.”
“Our office? But it was full of people today so how could this person sneak in under our noses and call Janice?” Jarred scratches his chin as he stares off in the distance. “Call Mr. Stephens and give him the news.”
Jock heads off into another room where he can call Mr. Stephens and tell him what has happened while Jarred and Elizabeth sit down at the table and they begin to make a list on a pad of paper, that they had found by her phone, of everyone who had been at the office that day. Simon joins them a moment later, having coaxed Janice to rest more. He sits down and looks at the pad of paper, confused as to why they are naming everyone.
He points at the list and is about to say something but Jarred pipes in before he can. “The memory thief called her from our office today while we were all there.”
“But…how?” Simon looks concerned. “I didn’t see anyone out of the normal so he has our trust already.”
Jarred nods his head, his eyes showing disgust, “Exactly!”
Jock joins them after the call, standing behind Elizabeth. Jock, Elizabeth, and Simon look over at Jarred, their eyes asking what they have to do to keep Janice safe, but Jarred just shakes his head as he looks over the list. Janice’s words ring in his ears about getting rid of the team one at a time as he looks over the names. Everyone either was there asking for help or working there so could the memory thief be one of those who work there? The thought of one of his colleagues being the memory thief terrified him because he could have been sitting beside them or working with them that entire time the thief was out murdering innocent people for fun. Jarred runs the pen along with the names once again but no one out of the ordinary until he spots Zane’s name. His pen stops and he looks up at Elizabeth.
“Zane was at the office today,” Jarred says as he looks into Elizabeth’s eyes. “He doesn’t know anyone at the office but us, right?”
Elizabeth nods, “Yes, but…”
Jarred taps his fingers of the tabletop, “Do you think he could remember anything from today about his time in the office? Like if he noticed any stranger who was acting weird and asked to use the phones or maybe even one of our guys acting off?”
Elizabeth sighs, seeming to relax a bit from Jarred’s questions, about to get defensive if he started to blame Zane. “I can call him up and ask him. That is a good idea. He might have seen something.”
Jarred nods, “Zane might be the key to solving this. Go call him and see what he says. Get everything from him about what he saw today.”
Elizabeth nods and heads outside to call Zane to ask him what he had seen that day at the office. Once the door closes, Jarred looks at Jock and Simon, his jaw clenched. Simon stands up and returns to the bedroom in order to check on Janice while Jock starts pacing the kitchen, arms crossed over his chest and head down as he waits for Elizabeth to return.
“We need to watch Zane from now on, Jock,” Jarred breaths as he circles his name a few times. “I remember him using a phone today.”
Jock stops pacing and looks at him, “So Elizabeth questioning him?”
“To send him a message that we are onto him,” Jarred looks up at Jock. “If he is smart, he will see through me having Elizabeth question him. It will make him worried that we know who he is and he will speed up his plans to off one of us and then we can catch him.”
Jock sits back down and stares into his leader’s eyes, “You suspect Zane?”
Jarred nods, “He is the only new member in our group and he has been taking a lot of Elizabeth’s time away from us, seducing her with gifts and trying to get her to travel away from us, too. I hate to hurt her because she hasn’t had a real relationship in a long time but I would rather her have a broken heart and alive than her in love and dead without any memories of what happened and the thief is gone off to the next victim.”
Jock nods in agreement but doesn’t say anything as the door opens and Elizabeth walks inside, determination on her face. Jock pats the chair and she sits, “Okay, Elizabeth, what did Zane have to say?”
Elizabeth sits down, “Okay so he told me that he hadn’t really noticed anything out of the ordinary though he does remember one guy acting strange. Zane said he was shorter than him, red spiked hair, really blue eyes, and has a sort of lisp when he talked.”
Elizabeth nods, “That is who I thought of too when Zane described him. But I don’t remember Ronald being at work today. I thought he was out in town on a case?” Elizabeth’s eyes widen slightly then narrows, “Zane asked to use my phone to call a cousin about a lunch they were going to be meeting together for in a week. You don’t think?” She stares at them, her eyes wide and scared that she is about to be told that her boyfriend is the one who called Janice and is the memory thief.
“We need to get back to the warehouse and jump into the past tomorrow. I am calling Mr. Stephens and telling him what is going on and that we need to get back to work,” Jarred says, not looking at Elizabeth as he stands to head outside to talk to their boss.
Elizabeth turns her panicked face to Jock, “Jock?”
Jock sighs heavily, “We don’t know for sure but he is on the top of the list for suspects. Sorry, Liz.”
She leans back in her chair as Jock stands and walks back to check on Simon and Janice and let them know what they are planning to do. Elizabeth leans her elbows on her knees and buries her face in her hands as tears begin to fall, her heart aching at the thought of having been dating the memory thief. She could be one of those women laying in the back alleyway staring up at Jarred, Jock, Simon, and Janice asking why this happened to her and her memories being wiped clean of Zane.
She sits up, wiping away her tears and pulls out her phone. She messages Zane that she isn’t needed anymore and asks if she can meet him at the coffee shop where he took her for her first date. She tells him that she needs something sweet and coffee. She waits a moment until she gets a response from Zane telling her that he will be there within the hour. She thanks him and hides her phone when Jarred reenters the kitchen. Jarred looks at her as she just stares at the tabletop.
“We have the go for tomorrow. Go home and sleep. Meet us early in the morning at the warehouse so we can start working right away,” he tells her, patting her shoulder before he moves back to the bedroom to discuss everything with the others in the team.
Elizabeth nods, not looking up from the table, and once the door closes behind Jarred, she springs to her feet. She looks at the door, “Don’t worry, guys, I will take care of this.” She blows a kiss and heads out of Janice’s condo, ignoring Tiger standing at the door watching her with sober eyes.
Jock steps out of the bedroom and he looks around at the rest of the empty condo before looking down at the cat, “Hey kitty, did you see if Elizabeth left to go home or not?”
Tiger looks up at him, meows, then walk over to the door, patting it before he walks off to get some sleep himself in his own little cat tree that sits in the furthest corner of the living room.
Jock walks over, pets Tiger, “Thanks kitty.” He then heads out of the condo, also being instructed to get home for some needed rest before the work begins in the morning. He doesn’t give Elizabeth walking out another thought, just thinking that she left to go home and sleep.
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