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Chapter 3

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Saturday, December 30, 2017

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“Aside from Ariel Andrada, the other suspect was Rick Torres, right?” sabi ni Hayate at bakas sa mukha ni Inspector Warren ang pagkagulat.

“H-how did you . . .” His voice trailed off but after a few seconds, he gave him a quick smile. “As expected from you, Atama.”

“We found a common point among the victims,” Hiroshi said and a hologram appeared before our eyes. “They were all employees from a private hospital.”

“Wait, the doctor and the nurse, yes but the first victim wasn’t,” sabi naman ni Warren. “He was working as a security guard for a firm.”

“Yes but on the 8th of November three years ago, he became a reliever for the primary guard in that hospital,” dagdag ni Hiroshi at ipinakita niya ang record ni RJ Narita bilang security guard. True enough, he really had relieved someone that day.

We found the connection among the three victims three years ago, as well as to the suspects. According to the reports, Rick Torres also worked in the same hospital for a year and he was seen in the vicinity where the second victim’s body was found while Ariel Andrada was caught in the CCTV in the place where the third victim was brutally murdered, one hour earlier.

Speaking of Ariel Andrada, Kana seemed to know that guy. From what I heard, he’s an elusive S-class and international criminal because of that incident.

“So . . . is Rick Torres the murderer?” tanong ni Kana.

“Not necessarily but he holds the key to this serial murder case,” sagot naman ni Hayate pero parang may mali sa expression niya.

We were silent for a few minutes but it was broken when my stomach suddenly grumbled. All of them looked at me and Kana burst into laughter, followed by Hayate’s and Hiroshi’s sighs. Napahawak naman ako sa tiyan ko at na-realize kong hindi pa kami kumakain simula kaninang umaga.

“I guess we have to fill our stomach first.”

We grabbed some sandwiches from a café one block away from the crime scene and it was quite filled due to people who wanted to know what happened. I couldn’t read a humdrum’s mind, just like any other Erityian, but I could infer what one was thinking based on their expressions, habits and external factors. We were trained for that, after all.

Pagkatapos no’n ay umuwi muna kami sa apartment na tinutuluyan namin para mag-prepare. I equipped myself with a taser and a handcuff and Hayate did the same.

“C’mon, show yourself,” Hiroshi muttered while looking at his laptop’s screen.

“There,” sabay turo ni Kana sa gilid ng screen.

He projected the information above the laptop and expanded it, occupying the whole room. The hologram was a city map, with various landmarks highlighted in different colors, but something was amiss. On the right side, the hologram of an area flickered uncontrollably and I realized it was three blocks away from the crime scene.

“Is that . . . ?”

“Yes,” agad na sagot ni Hiroshi. “All the current hits and searches about Rick Torres were concentrated in that area and there’s a high probability that he is around there.”

“What are his motives?” tanong ko.

“Well, according to his their co-workers, he had a big argument with Dr. Samantha Dimas, the second victim, and that was one of the reasons why he was on probation for months. Being a suspect worsened his status but it wasn’t reported whether he was working on another hospital or became unemployed,” sagot naman ni Hayate pero gaya kanina ay may kakaiba sa mukha niya. He seemed perturbed about this case and he had already closed his mind, not allowing any of his thoughts to be heard.

I wanted to ask what was he thinking but I chose not to because I knew he wouldn’t tell me a thing. That guy trained under Sir Hideo and like him, he’d rather keep those troubling thoughts to himself than discussing them to others.

“Shall we go there?” Kana asked, pointing at the flickering hologram of that zone.

“Yes. Let’s meet the first suspect,” I said and all of prepared for another trip.


***


The area was quite unruly. The houses seemed empty and some infrastructures were either damaged or already in ruins. There were also delinquents staring and grinning at us, as if this was the first time someone had stepped in their territory.

One of them attempted to touch Kana’s hand and the whole gang got subdued in a minute. The others who saw that scampered away until the place became deserted.

“What are you, a Huntres?” sabi ni Hiroshi habang ina-adjust ang salamin niya.

“What did you say, wimp?”

“Look at what you did,” sabay turo niya sa mga wala nang malay na lalaki. “We didn’t even get a single information from them.”

Hindi naman siya pinansin ni Kana at nagpatuloy lang siya sa paglalakad. Hinayaan ko na lang sila dahil normal na ang ganitong sagutan, lalo na’t may galit sila sa isa’t isa.

Napunta kami sa isang apartment complex at dito nanggagaling ang bulk ng hits na naka-display ngayon sa relo ni Hiroshi. We went to our designated positions and carefully approached the place.

‘Hey, can you see him?’ tanong ko kay Hayate.

‘No,’ he said, adjusting his position. ‘There are a lot of things in the way.’

‘He’s here,’ sabi naman ni Kana. ‘There’s a change in humidity and temperature. Someone’s living here.’

Napangiti naman ako. Sa sixth sense nila kami nakadepende sa tuwing iko-corner namin ang suspects. Hayate could see through things and Kana could detect minute changes of some parameters around her.

Dahan-dahan akong lumapit sa isang unit na itinuro nina Hayate at Kana. I was just a few meters away from the door when I heard Hayate’s voice behind me.

“Reina! Stop! Da—!”

The next thing I knew, we were already rolling on the ground after he lunged at me as consecutive shots were fired from that house. He stopped for a while, breathing heavily and his expression looked terrified.

“Did you get heavier?” Hayate grunted while I lay above him.

I punched his chest in return. “Did you say something?” inosente kong tanong habang nauubo siya.

“Y-you . . .”

“Stay down,” I said as I slit my finger with a sharp stone.

All of a sudden, the man found us and was about to fire at our direction again but I dashed at him as my twin swords appeared on my hands.

“Stop . . .” I yelled while jumping toward him, “shooting us!”

With a quick slash, his gun split into two and he cowered in terror when I landed in front of him.

The man who was once known as an arrogant doctor trembled as I approached him, yelling obscene words and throwing small rocks at me. I was getting a bit annoyed so I thrust one of my sword near his hand and his face immediately turned pale.

“Pwede ka na bang kausapin nang maayos ngayon?” tanong ko at dahan-dahan siyang tumingin sa akin.

“P-pinadala niya ba kayo rito?” tanong niya habang nakatingin sa tatlo na ngayon ay naglalakad na papunta sa amin. “You set me up! H-hindi ako a-ang pumatay sa kanya!”

Napakunot naman ang noo ko nang marinig ko ‘yon. The murderer’s behavior was regarded as psychopathic but this guy seemed to be experiencing anxiety attack.

“Kana,” sabay tingin ko sa kanya at tumango naman siya. She approached Rick but he backed away and continued throwing rocks at us so she had no choice but to sedate him. Hiroshi and Hayate moved him inside and the four of us started investigating his apartment.

As expected, he has medical kit and supplies that can be used as murder weapons. Hayate immediately tested them with luminol while Kana examined the tools and gadgets lying on his table and bed. I was about to search Rick’s body but Hiroshi suddenly called our attention. Pagtingin namin ay nandoon na siya sa harap ng laptop ni Rick at agad niyang ipinakita ang naka-display sa screen.

“His recent searches include the serial murders and a food poisoning incident that both happened three years ago,” sabi ni Hiroshi.

“Food poisoning?” tanong ko naman.

“According to an article, several college students were rushed to the hospital due to food poisoning and it seemed like we finally found the connection between the four victims.”

True enough, on that day, the four victims were present. The latest victim, Gabriel Corpuz, was among the students who were rushed to the hospital where the nurse, Krista Conny, and the Dr. Samantha Dimos were working and the regular guard was relieved by RJ Nieta.

“I knew it,” bigla namang sabi ni Hayate kaya napatingin kami sa kanya at may hawak siyang cellphone. “He’s not the killer. Someone wanted to use him as a scapegoat.”

“Is that his phone?” tanong ni Kana. “How did you unlock it?”

“He’s a doctor,” sagot naman ni Hayate.

“And?”

“Stethoscope,” he said and he went back to the lock screen, unlocked it by connecting the four dots, forming an inverted triangle with a line below it, and looked at us as if that should be a general knowledge.

After that, he showed us the conversation of Rick and an unknown number three years ago.

Pumunta ka sa lumang bodega malapit sa ospital

Who the hell is this? Fuck off

Red shirt. Jeans. Nakaupo ka sa labas ng kainan. Kung ayaw mong mamatay, sundin mo ang sinasabi ko.

Scared? Kita ko sa mukha mo. Subukan mong mag-report sa kahit na sino, hindi lang ikaw ang mawawala. I know where you live, your daughter’s school and your wife’s office. Kaya sumunod ka sa lahat ng sasabihin ko, Rick Torres.

Fine! Just don’t touch my family.

I won’t as long as you obey me.

Pagkabasa ko no’n ay napatingin ako sa wala nang malay na Rick Torres at naintindihan ko na kung bakit gano’n ang ikinilos niya kanina. He was living in fear for the past three years because of this guy who wanted to set him up as the murderer.

“Does that mean the murderer knows we’re here?” Kana asked and the four of us raised our guards.

“High probability,” sagot ni Hayate.

“Wait, let me access the footage that day,” sabi ni Hiroshi at nagsimula na siyang mag-type ng kung anu-ano. Several holograms of alphanumerics also appeared around him and I didn’t attempt to read them since I couldn’t understand those things.

Matapos ang ilang minuto ay tumayo si Hiroshi at nag-project sa harapan namin ang video na sinasabi niya. Ambulances and cars simultaneously arrived at the hospital with a lot of students. Some were unconscious and some were clutching their stomachs and heads. As the influx of food poisoning victims increased, a man with two little girls on his arms, tried to enter the hospital but the guard, RJ Nieta, stopped him. We couldn’t see his face but it seemed urgent as he grew impatient and shoved the guard away. When he got inside, he ran towards a nurse and a doctor but they were busy accommodating two food poisoning victims, one of which was Gabriel Corpuz. The guard he shoved searched for him and when he found him, he dragged him outside, not allowing him to pass anymore.

“I think we just found the killer and his motive,” I muttered.

“Yes, and we need to hurry because another person will be killed,” sabi naman ni Hayate kaya napatingin kami sa kanya.

“What do you—”

“Ah. The news earlier,” Kana said, cutting me off.

“News?”

“Hiroshi.”

Agad namang nag-type si Hiroshi at may isa pang video na nag-appear sa harapan namin. It was the news right after the murder in which a teacher saved a kid from being hit by a car.

“That guy . . .” sabay turo ko sa news video at napatingin ako sa footage three years ago. “He was there.”

“Yes. He’s one of the food poisoning victims who were accommodated by Kristy and Samantha,” Hayate confirmed.

The four of us immediately left the house after securing Rick since he might still get targeted by the killer. We assumed that he would be on the move because of the news earlier and the probability of him monitoring Rick would be low if that was the case.

“If the murderer doesn’t have any information about the students, he can’t kill them. Maybe that’s the reason why he didn’t have any movement for three years. However, both of them appeared on national television. Gabriel for being one of the topnotchers and this guy for his heroic deed,” Hayate explained as we dashed away from this zone.

“Got his details,” sabi naman ni Hiroshi habang tumatakbo kami. “He’s Luke Borja, 22 years old, a fresh graduate and currently teaching high school students.”

“Do you know where he is right now?” tanong ko.

“He’s currently teaching at St. Joseph Academy, about four streets away from here.”

“Well, then, let’s visit that school.”



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