Elliott's eyes snap open.
It didn't feel like he regained his consciousness, it felt like he woke up from a nightmare.
Elliott hesitates and sits up. That's when it hits, the crippling pain throughout his body erupts once again. He falls back, grunting.
"Easy boy. Don't get all worked up." Elliott heard George's voice say.
Jack walked up to him and helped him sit up on the bed.
"What... happened?" Elliott manages to say, trying to limit his movements. His head was jammed and felt too heavy. He couldn't keep his eyes open for too long.
"I don't know. You tell us. What the f**k were you doing at Joseph Street? No one asked you to go there." Jack snapped at Elliott.
He knew that Joseph Street wasn't safe for them for its high security and irresponsible people. If Elliott wasn't lucky enough, he would've been into something worse. But Jack didn't know half of it.
"I.. predicted that the.. serial killer's next target would be there. So... I went.. with my prediction and ended up.. there." Elliott said, leaning back further.
"Are you insane? Why don't you ever listen to me? You could've been killed if the serial killer was actually there." Fred groaned, annoyed by Elliott's ignorance.
"Stop being outdated. The serial killer has a name now." Jack remarked. "The Phoenix is what people are calling him."
"He was there," Elliott said, looking at everyone's faces one by one.
"What?" George exclaimed.
"Uhh," Elliott grunted as he tried moving.
"Just stop moving, you pathetic i***t. Tell me what you need." Fred said as he walked towards him.
"The.. laptop." He said and Fred handed it to him.
Laid back, Elliott immediately started syncing the device with all the tracking chips he had connected to the laptop, just hoping they'd be intact.
His eyes shifted to the corner of the laptop and he flinches.
"It's been 2 days?" Elliott gasps.
"Exactly. We got a lot of time to discuss whether to kick you out of the agency or not while you lay there still as a rock." Jack scoffed.
"Are.. you going to fire me?" Elliott asked, unsure.
"No, you absolute dumbass. Shut up and do what you do best." Fred said, trying to suppress his urge to slap Elliott's head but then reminding himself that Elliott was sick.
"What I do best? disobey you?" Elliott asked.
"No. Waste our times," George replied this time.
Elliott brought his attention back to the laptop to see that the sync was complete. A map of the whole city of Wellspring was spread out on the screen with yellow dots glowing in the areas the tracking chips were at.
"Why are there so many yellow dots at one specific place?" George said, pointing at the screen.
"It's.. a long story," Elliott said as he remembered how he used the chips as baits to make at least one of them get stuck to the Phoenix's feet. But it did work, his plan was a success.
That's when he looked at the other yellow dots. Three were spread out at three different areas. All three of the places were at a long distance from each other. While the rest of the dots were at the place Elliott saw the Phoenix.
"Explain," Jack said.
That's when Elliott explained everything in details to them. From the guard to the body, to the dark figure, to the...
No. Elliott didn't utter a word about her from his mouth. He didn't dare to.
Who was she?
Elliott did try to suspect her as the Phoenix but he just.. couldn't. She wasn't tall, neither broad like the figure he had seen that night.
She had patient clothes on. She looked ridiculously weak. Elliott's memories from that day were blurred but the gaze of her lifeless eyes was intact in his mind.
Her memory felt alive, gasping and thriving inside him like the same song on repeat.
Who was she?
Was she to be forgotten or to be remembered as a bad dream? Was she even there? Or was he being delusional?
Whatever was going on, it wasn't normal.
"You followed Phoenix all the way to the main road and then you fainted? You really expect me to believe you are that brave?" Jack scoffed. Elliott shook his head.
"So that means one of these locations might be of his?" Fred said, pointing to the screen.
"We'll only know if we check. But I'm sure. And before he finds out about the chip and destroys it, we have to find him." Elliott said. He struggled to sit up and tried to stand on his feet.
"Wait. Why am I at my own house?" He said, looking around.
"Where else would you be, genius?" Jack scowled at him, munching on something.
"Umm.. a hospital?" Elliott asked, finally being able to stand properly. Fred walked to him and shoved some medicines in his hand.
Elliott looked around, his room looked no less than a hospital. Shabby white walls, worn out pieces of furniture and nothing homely enough.
"Oh come on, you weren't that sick," George said, looking away.
"Just say you didn't have enough money, old man. He's no stranger, he knows how broke we are." Jack added in. Then he got up from the couch and headed straight to the door. Then he turned around and looked at Elliott.
"We leave exactly 3 hours from now to find that bastard. If you recover and not be a burden to us, you can come along." Then he left.
After that, Fred and George stayed with Elliott and discussed further what they had to do. Everything depended on their last resort, the locations.
If they lost that, they'd be left with no leads.
Elliott decided that he had to recover to go with the others. He was curious, he had to meet the person he had been following that night.
He wanted to know about her.
"There's no way you recovered that quick," Jack said, nudging Elliott's stomach to see if he flinches.
"Okay.. it hurts a little but nothing I cannot handle," Elliott said, rubbing his hand over his stomach.
"Just try to make yourself useful," Fred said, his eyes focused outside the window while George drove the car. Elliott nodded.
Elliott had the laptop in his hand, looking at the directions. The first yellow spot was somewhere in the middle of the street, occasionally moving to and fro from its location.
The car stopped in front of the Midday Market on the outskirts of the city. The yellow spot was blinking in the middle of an intersection of two roads in the laptop. The four of them got out of the car and started walking to where the tracker was.
They tried looking unsuspicious by pretending to be strangers as all of them looked out for the Phoenix. They walked apart but together, cautiously.
Elliott didn't think they'd find the main culprit just by his vague plan. But Elliott just expected to find a lead and not die in the process.
As the terror of Phoenix grew in the city, an emergence to stop him was growing. And all four of them knew that if they somehow solve the case and throw the culprit in jail, they can reapply for their Detective agency license.
Then things wouldn't be as difficult for them.
As Elliott walked through the streets, his eyes focused on the people around him and his teammates, something on the ground dragged his attention.
He stopped in his tracks and saw the faint glow of the tracking chip on the ground. He bent down and picked the chip up. It was a bluff. They came here for nothing.
Elliott headed back to his car with the chip in his hand. He sent the signal to his teammates from his phone, calling them back.
In 5 minutes, the rest of them came back to the car.
"What did you find?" Fred said. Elliott quietly handed him the chip.
"I threw all of the tracking chips I had on the ground. After that, other people who have passed through that passage might've stepped on a chip too. That's how this chip might've ended up here." Elliott explained.
"Why didn't you just try to get the chip on the Phoenix's body?" George asked, huffing.
"And what? Get himself killed? He was unarmed, remember?" Jack shot back. "Ugh, get in the car. Let's waste our times on yet another location."
So they did. They drove away leaving the place towards the second yellow spot.
The car stopped in front of a dark alley on the right side province of the city. Even Elliott had never seen that alley before.
Together, they entered the alley, with all the necessary weapons they needed to cover up.
All of their eyes were alert. Even if George was limping, he looked very cautious.
The alley took a turn as the four of them stuck to the edge of the wall. Jack quickly peeked at the alley ahead of them and then started walking further. The rest of them followed Jack.
Suddenly, they flinched together when a flock of crows who were wandering around the dumpster, flew away together.
Elliott turned to look at the dumpster and his body went still. His eyes couldn't leave the sight he was looking at and his body won't react.
A dead body lay inside the dumpster, crows swarming over it. George was brave-hearted enough to walk closer and inspect the man.
"He died the same way." George sighed. "The Phoenix."
Elliott also walked towards the body. The wounds of the metal claw didn't look too old, his skin was grey and his clothes were torn off. But that's when Elliott noticed it.
He stepped even closer and reached over. Elliott touched the man's forehead and picked up the tracking chip.
Blood boiled inside Elliott. Phoenix or whoever he was, he was playing with him. He was trying to lure him to different places only to laugh at the failure of Elliott's plans.
That's when Elliott saw something pass at a distance just like that night he spotted the dark figure.
At that moment, without thinking, he started running towards the shadow.
"Call the police," he yelled as he ran, not looking back.