A cold breeze was blowing through the empty streets.
Max was walking back from a day-long job, humming an unknown tune. His walk was fast-paced because he was in a hurry to get back home. His mother hated being home alone for too long.
Max looked to his side and noticed an alley. It was dark and intimidating but he knew it was a shortcut. So, he stepped into the alley and started walking. A faint light from the street greeted the alley, illuminating it just a little.
He smiled at the thought of his girlfriend who was too scared of the dark. But that wasn't so for Max.
Suddenly, a thud sounded in front of him and he flinched. He couldn't see ahead clearly and decided to turn on his flashlight. He pointed it at the direction the thud sounded from.
His heartbeat dropped. Someone, covered in blood, stood in front of another dead body and the person was scraping the body with their claws. Max saw the raw flesh and the lifeless eyes of the dead body and the person who mercilessly pierced the body's skin even further.
Suddenly, the bloodied person's face turned to look at Max and a smile crept on their lips.
That night, and several nights after, Max never returned home.
"5 dead bodies have been found, yet again, this morning in the dark alleys in the city of Wellspring. The sources tell us that-"
The TV shuts off. Elliott gets up and walks towards it, rubbing his eyes. He raises his hand and bangs the top of the TV. The screen flickers back on.
"All the 5 victims have deep scratches all over their bodies and it is also seen that-"
The TV completely blacks out, giving up.
Elliott's face goes still with disappointment. He falls back on his bed, head buried into the pillows.
He reaches over, picks up his phone, dials and holds it to his ear.
"Pick me up," he said.
The black sedan ran through the busy streets flooded with people. Only a decent driver could drive through these streets without being stuck. That's just how the city was, complicated.
"Why do you look tense?" Keith said as he swerved the car to the left.
Elliott didn't reply. He continued looking outside, distracted.
Keith was someone Elliott had known all his life. They were close but not enough to be called best friends. Once in school, they were rarely together. It was more like a responsibility than friendship.
6 years ago, Elliott and Keith's parents used to work in a bank as colleagues. They were good friends. One Monday morning, some people broke in, open fired on the workers and robbed the bank. Elliott's parents and Keith's dad died on the spot while Keith's mom lost her life after a week in the hospital.
After that day, the two boys lived together at a foster home for 3 years till the day Keith's relatives showed up. Elliott was left behind. He lived there for another year.
At the age of 15, Elliott moved out and started working jobs to feed himself.
"Are you okay, man?" Keith said as he parked in the school's parking lot.
Keith had a lean frame with golden tanned skin. He was one of the popular jocks in school.
"Yeah. Thanks for the ride." Elliott said as he got off the car.
"If you wanna talk, you know where I'll be," Keith said, giving him a concerned look. Elliott just nodded and strode off with his bag slung over his shoulders.
Once in class, he got easily distracted. He momentarily escaped from the reality.
After class, Elliott sat down to eat with some people he knew. He didn't mind company but he spaced out a lot which was why he had almost no friends.
Suddenly, a loud noise dragged everyone's attention. Elliott looked back to see a girl on the floor while three other girls towered over her.
"We don't need a b*tch like you in our group anymore. So f*ck off and stay away." Sandra Kennedy said, her two minions stood behind her. She was the most popular girl in school.
The girl on the floor was her third minion, Meraki Knight. She stood back up on her feet, she had a calm face even if she was pushed to the floor.
"You underestimated me," Meraki said with an eerie smile. Then she punched Sandra hard in her face making her squeal in pain.
But Sandra wasn't one to stop as many people looked at her pitifully. With blood on her nose, she lunged at Meraki once again.
Meraki caught both of her hands, with one hand on the back of Sandra's neck, she pinned her down on the cafeteria table and arched back both of her hands.
Sandra whimpered in pain and everyone else looked at Meraki with terror. The other two minions didn't even step in once.
Finally, Meraki left her and Sandra tumbled on the ground.
"How dare you? You have the audacity to touch her?" One of the minions said while the other helped Sandra on her feet. Meraki silent laughed.
Sandra and her two minions were known for pushing people around no matter what they've done. So, it was only obvious.
"Pathetic. Save yourself the bruises, kids." Meraki said, as cocky as ever. Then she started walking away. Elliott spotted Meraki's trembling hands as she stuffed them in her pockets hoping no one saw.
Elliott looked at his watch, sighed and turned back around. He didn't want to be anywhere near trouble.
He walked out of the cafeteria.
The Spring Market was the busiest area at all times and was located in the heart of the city. People jostle around and city guards patrol the streets. Being the most populated area, the place hid secrets.
And one of the secrets were of Elliott Walter's.
He walked through the crowd, keeping a low profile. He had put on a grey overcoat to hide his school bag. He couldn't risk being discovered as a student in the streets of Spring Market because students were not allowed in the alleys.
Just as he entered an alley from where the City Hall was visible, he slipped through the little space between another two buildings after making sure he wasn't being followed.
He stopped halfway through the little alley as a door came up. He quickly got into the building and closed the door behind him.
He lit his phone's flashlight and kneeled on the floor. Then he ran his hand on the ground till he got hold of the latch of the door. Before opening the basement door, he knocked exactly three times.
The basement door opened up a way down through the stairs. Elliott quietly came down the stairs and secured the latch.
As he entered the basement, he saw 3 people already there.
"Took you long enough," A man wearing a vest said. He was going through some papers on the shelf. Fred Bowman, the detective.
The basement was small and jam-packed. Documents, shelves, wooden furniture, dim lights and hushed tones.
Elliott hung his coat on a chair and took a seat.
"I need time, I'm still a student," Elliott said, hinting.
"And an undercover agent of an illegal corporation." Another guy, with his feet propped up on the table, said. He was Jack Benedict, a spy.
"Shut it. You two have been here for an hour, you were of no use." The old man said, clearing his throat. He was their boss, George Douglas.
"So, what's the lead?" Elliott said. Jack passed him some newspapers. Elliott focused on them.
Even though everyone looked very intimidating and they had very mysterious and unique jobs, Elliott didn't feel so for himself. He wasn't a detective, neither a spy, let alone the boss.
He was a researcher. He was in charge of bringing cases that needed to be solved and dig deeper into them.
"Five more bodies today. The weapon is the same as the past few bodies, a metal claw. The bodies, well, it's gruesome." Fred said as he fidgeted further with the papers.
"Whoever did it, must be having some deep s**t with humanity," Jack said.
"Remember Viper? The 19-year-old boy who fled after attempting m*********r and failing. It could be-" George started.
"No, old man. Viper's been in prison since last summer. You're forgetting things, put your little brain to rest." Jack rolled his eyes.
Even if George was their leader, he was used to getting mocked by others. He pulled off a grumpy face and quietened down.
An eerie feeling crept up Elliott's neck as he flipped through the victim's pictures. Whoever doing it, was insane.
It had been two weeks since these killings started every few days throughout the city. But there was no lead, no evidence, no suspect.
Even if the detective agency Elliott was working with had their license cancelled by the authorities for an incident a year ago...
They were still the best. People who had witnessed their epic successes at case solving, counted on them.
Elliott didn't believe in all that. But he did like the thrill and the anticipation his job gave him.
"Here," Fred said as he handed Elliott another set of papers that he was finally able to retrieve from the messed up shelves. "These are the places all those murders took place. I want you to go there and do what you do best."
Elliott looked up at Fred.
"What do I do best? Bail out?" Elliott said, hinting that he could do it another day.
"No. Dig in deep," Fred said as he went around the corner of the room and took out a tracker device stocked up in the drawer. He threw it at Elliott. "I want some leads in this case and you're going to give me that."
Catching the device, he let out a grunt. As he was the youngest in the group, he had to meet everyone's expectations.
"I'll try," Elliott said, looking away.
"Yes. Try not to die. Not sure I'd like seeing you in one of those victim pictures." Jack said, scrolling through his phone.
"Thanks. That's very motivational of you." Elliott shot back, offering a disdainful smile.
"Good luck, Elliott. I'll treat you with dumplings when you're back," George said with both of his hands on his walking cane.
"See? Now that's something worth risking my life over," Elliott said as he got up.
He nodded at each of them and walked back to the stairs and out of the basement.