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Beware of the Dog

Gender: Female

Location: Wherever there's still hope left.

Rank: Decisive Witness

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:23 pm

Posts: 250

Spoiler: Chapter 1
Chapter 1 – The Girl inside the Cab
The young man got closer to the large, abandoned droshky standing in the darkness. First he thought his eyes were fooling him, but no – there was something inside it, something or someone. He got just a little closer, leaning over the vehicle made of polished black wood. It was a little girl with black hair lying all around her, and she was wearing a plain, greyish white dress. She lay on the wood like somebody would lie while having an awful nightmare, pale, her eyes squinted, her whole body shaking, and heavily breathing. The man just leaned a little more forward to reach for her, her skin felt cold as he touched it. The girl’s eyes didn’t open, and he wasn’t sure whether she had even noticed it. Who was she? Where did she come from? He searched the droshky for some kind of clue, feeling for something in the darkness. Then his fingers stroke a small, cold object. He grabbed it and held it into the street lamp’s dim light. It seemed to be some kind of charm made of dark metal, a circle with some strange, abstract ornaments inside it, looking like a forest or like dense brushwood. The light was piercing through holes in between, shining through that strange thing hanging from a thin leather strap. “Is that yours, my dear?” the man asked, not really expecting a response. He carefully took the strap with both hands and put it around the girl’s neck. Right at this moment, she rolled over and led out a scream, suddenly opening her eyes that seemed to be made of pure amber. First he thought that she was staring at him in pure horror, but then he noticed that her gaze went, strangely, a little more to the left, right to the wall of the giant house behind him. She started shaking again. “Can you hear me”, he said, “What’s wrong with you?” No response, the amber eyes were still watching something on the empty wall. Her breath was getting faster. He reached for her again, but she moved back. “Stay calm, please! Do you know your name?” “SHADOWS!” she screamed, obviously in panic. Shadows? “Is that your last name?” No answer. “How strange…” He looked around, at the dark, empty street. Who was that weird girl? Would someone come to take home again? Unlikely. He looked around again, at the street, at the wall that seemed to be so scary for her, at the lonely cab, at the girl laying inside it, pretty in a strange way with her dark hair, the slightly shining charm around her neck and her eyes made of amber. Then he grabbed her, although she was shaking and squirming, holding her tightly and making his way through the night.
Even though I had spent most of my youth on preparing for this day, I wasn’t really sure what to think about it this moment. “You want me to go there alone, Sir?” I tried hard to look into his small brown eyes behind some glasses with thin metal frames, but I just couldn’t stop myself from glancing right onto his pale shadow on the wall behind his desk, which was standing there with its arms folded, looking at anything but me, and obviously feeling uncomfortable. I though I’d got quite a good reason for mistrusting more or less every human being I met. “Well, yes, Amber”, he said, trying to look more confident than his alter ego standing at the wall, “I would really like to support you, but I got that case yesterday, and it’s very important for this law firm…” Was he sure that he didn’t want to say: I have to prevent being connected to my first and only female protégé’s disastrous first case, and that’s very important for this law firm? Both I and my shadow-self were now glancing at Mr Knight’s shadow reproachfully, but I managed it to do it in a much more inconspicuous way, because I knew he was able to see me, but not her. That made me a little envious. “And it’s even an easy case. The perfect start for someone like you.” I stayed calm, managed it not to lose my temper. It gave me some kind of relief seeing how my shadow clenched its fists and angrily stared both at my so-called mentor, Isaac Knight, and his nervous shadow that obviously had a bad conscience. There were no “easy cases” for a defence lawyer. In this context, “easy” was nothing but a synonym for “easy to lose”. “Yes, Mr Knight”, I answered, “I’m looking forward to it.”
While going off, I looked at one of the paintings hanging on the wall. It was a picture of a couple standing in a clearing in the middle of a large green forest and holding hands. There were only a few clouds, the sun was red and low, and you could see both their shadows and those of the trees around them. I focused on those of the couple, like I had done so often during the last years. They just started at the lovers’ feet and stretched on the ground, nearly shapeless, hardly even looking human. Their shape was pure coincidence, related to nothing but the people in the painting, depending on nothing but the painted sun. And it was just the same for the shadows of the trees. Then I looked at the shadow of the big, framed painting cast itself, and I could clearly see a pair of black little girl’s arms, which’s tiny hands reached for the painting’s frame. The hands of a little person who had started understanding that not everybody was able to see their conscious and subconscious thoughts just by looking at some shadows on the wall.
I turned away from the painting again, and my shadow-self followed me on the way back to my room. The shadow of the person who didn’t trust anybody. The shadow of a girl with an insane, unbelievable secret. The alter ego of Amber Shadows. Was this my destiny? I didn’t really know.
Maybe it was destiny that I saw shadows moving and changing their shape, and that it hadn’t taken much time for me to notice that this perceptions anybody else would call insane hallucinations often could be much realer than a lot of things people said or did in the “real world”. Maybe one could call it destiny that I had been found by a quite famous defence attorney when I was five years old, instead of famishing or perishing by cold inside an old, abandoned droshky standing on the street. At least, this was what Knight had told me, because I couldn’t really remember it. But I could vaguely remember how he had taken me to a doctor a few days later. He had examined me without finding anything, and then had asked whether I had been feeling unwell or seeing something strange or scary. I had answered in the negative, and he had sent me home again. Of course hadn’t told him about his shadow, which, while we had been talking, had grabbed mine, holding its mouth open to pour hands of different-looking pills into it. I had been quite smart for a five-year-old girl, especially for a five-year-old girl who had no idea where she came from.
I grabbed the charm hanging around my neck, the only thing to remind me that there had to be something that had happened before I had come to this house. I wore it day and night, and I could only remember one time when I had taken it off. I had been twelve years old when I had stopped taking that weird thing around my neck as given and had decided to take a closer look at it, sitting in my room alone in the evening. While holding this mysterious thing made of dark metal in my hands and slowly pulling the strap off my head, I had had a strange feeling in my chest, my head, my entire body, and when it finally had come off, I suddenly had realized that it hadn’t been a good idea to totally ignore it. I couldn’t really remember how it started, but from one minute to the next I had been surrounded by shapeless shadows, unable to see anything but bizarre silhouettes, drowning in a wild sea of darkness and insanity inside me and everywhere else. I had screamed, had felt like suffocating, blindly fumbling for the charm I had dropped on the floor. Somehow, I had finally managed to grab it and put it around my neck again, and had found myself lying on the floor and gasping for air, although the darkness had gone, along with my fear and my confusion. I had even sat up when Mr Knight had come rushing in, obviously worried. “Did you get a seizure or something?” he nearly had shouted, grabbing my arm, which wasn’t usual for him. I hadn’t wanted him to take me to that doctor another time, so I just had shaken my head, trying to smile. “No, I’m fine, really, Sir.” He had looked at me doubtfully, then had shaken his head too and had gone out the small room. “But you’ll tell me if not, Amber?” “Yes, Mr Knight.” In my mind, I had sworn to never try something like this again, in spite of knowing nearly nothing about the charm, my seizure and the connection between both. Then I had looked at it again, this time without taking it off, at the weird ornaments and patterns enclosed by a plain black circle. There had been a flickering lamp behind me, and its light had pierced trough the holes between the ornaments, casting a big and perfectly round shadow on the wall, which had looked like a silhouette made of black paper. There had been no abstract patterns anymore, but a little house, surrounded by huge trees and thick bushes, and birds flying through the sky. But I just hadn’t been able to look away from the couple standing in front of the house, in the middle of the scene, a young, intelligent-looking man who had been holding a pretty woman with a long dress and very long hair in his arms. They hadn’t moved while the wind had made the leaves move and their hair flutter. I had looked at this scene for hours, without moving, and I had done it again countless times after that day.
This was one of the things I honestly would have called destiny, contrary to probably everything that would happen today. I entered my room, took my briefcase and put the papers in I had gotten from Mr Knight. Then I took a last look in the mirror. I looked quite pretty with my raven-black hair plaited into a long braid, only a little darker than my plain black dress and shoes, and the rather unusual amber eyes Mr Knight had named me after. My shadow stood beside me, holding its own briefcase which wasn’t brown, but black, and wearing its hair down, which was as black as mine. I hesitated, but then I removed this silly ribbon and let my not really straight hair hang over my shoulders. I looked first at my shadow, then in the mirror. At my shadow. In the mirror. My shadow-self looked just like me. And this hadn’t been the case for more than eighteen years.
It had been shortly after my estimated sixth birthday when my shadow had stopped looking like a six-year-old girl’s shadow should have looked like. Although I had been too young to understand most of what had happened that day, I could still remember every word, every detail of this strange event that had been more a coincidence than anything else, but would have defined the rest of my life in spite of it. It had been quite a normal morning until Mr and Mrs Knight had started talking about what I had been supposed to do in my later life. Martha Knight was a friendly, motherly person and convinced housewife. She was able to make nearly every pastry in this world in a perfect way, and sometimes it had a very calming effect on me watching her shadow baking in almost every situation and handing tons of pastries to my shadow-self. Sometimes both her behaviour and her shadow’s just made me mad. She was totally focussed on me, and I often thought that she cared more about me as a real mother would do. But the strangest thing about her was that she, in spite of probably being the most determined housewife of London, had always wanted me to become something much greater than her in my future.
And for this reason, when Mr Knight had asked her why she hadn’t tried to teach my baking, cooking and “all those things you can do so well, Martha” her response had been: “Because Amber is intelligent, Isaac. Intelligent and very creative. I just don’t want her to waste that creativity on making roast and pastries, that’s all. She is someone who could make a difference, you know?” And he had said: “Martha, she is a girl. About what difference to make should she care about? If she’s so creative, she maybe should sell cakes or sew dresses or work at a hairdresser’s.” But Martha hadn’t given up. “Amber will neither bake nor sew dresses! She will do something great, I sense that.” If it had something to do with me or with something she sensed, Mrs Knight, the perfect housewife, became straight-forward and didn’t care about anything her husband said. “And I will proof it!” She had walked over to me. “Amber, what do you want to do in your future, my dear?” I had never thought about this before, and the way both of them had looked at had made me uneasy somehow, so I had just said nothing. But Mrs Knight had had another idea. She had taken a sheet of paper and a big piece of coal and had handed both to me. At this age, I had loved to draw things with black coal, perhaps because it had made the drawings look more or less like my shadow world. “Just draw what you want to be when you grow up, Amber.” “And you’re going to be what you draw on this sheet”, Mr Knight had said, slightly grinning at his wife. “Now you will see that little girls don’t care about changing the world.” I hadn’t understood very much of what they had been talking about, but I had felt the pressure under their expectant gaze, and my hand had been shaking when I had held the piece of coal over the white, empty sheet. I had had absolutely no idea of what to draw, so I had done what I always did when I had to be creative: I had stared at the wall the sun had been shining at through the window, right into this other world that only existed for me. What I had seen hadn’t been the chairs or the table or all the things standing on it, including a breadbasket with quite a strange shape. On the wall, everything had looked different, like a totally different room, a bigger room, with high desks and some strange kind of thing looking like a fence or a basket. Mr Knight had gasped for air as I had started to draw, and his wife nearly had whispered: “Don’t you think she is drawing…” I hadn’t felt well, but I had kept on watching the shadows changing shape, and had drawn the silhouettes of people, one behind a desk, one sitting behind the highest, one behind that fence-like object, and another sitting on a chair next to the desk which was still empty. “You can’t draw something you have never seen before!” Mr Knight had said more disbelievingly than angrily. Also Mrs Knight had seemed to be confused. “And where are you, Amber? Are you a legal assistant… or something else?” I hadn’t answered, because I hadn’t known what a legal assistant was at all, and because at this moment my little girl’s shadow had stood up and had walked over to the strange scene inside the huge room, turning itself into a confident-looking young woman holding a briefcase. It had gone right to the empty desk. I had drawn it, and then my shadow-self had moved again, pointing her finger on the shadow person standing opposite of her with a graceful but determined pose. I had tried to draw it as detailed as possible. The only thing Mr Knight had said was “But that’s impossible!”
My shadow-self hadn’t seemed to care about what she had done and had just had walked off again, but she hadn’t turned back into a six-year-old girl again. She never had, all those years I had prepared for this totally impossible moment she had shown me. She always had looked like that older, more confident girl, and she had never looked like me. Not until now.
Spoiler: Chapter 2
Chapter 2 – Kai-awase
I turned towards the wall, reaching for my shadow-self. “Why today?” I whispered, “Why now of all times?” When I touched the wall, my alter ego moved too, and put its hand where mine was making it look more or less like she wanted to hold it. But why now, I asked myself again. Of course I had been waiting for this day, but now I was pretty sure that it would turn out to be a disaster. Mr Knight had been caring for me for nineteen years, and now the day had come when he could smash all of my and his wife’s hopes by sending me to a trial that could be hardly even called a trial. If this was the day my shadow had been waiting for, its aim must have been to ruin me.
While still staring at the wall, I heard Mr Knight calling me: “Amber, where are you? The cab won’t wait for us for hours!” Mr Knight and I had always ridden a droshky to the courthouse together, and everybody who had seen us had thought I was his assistant or something. I looked at my shadow, which had moved a little and was now pointing at the door of my room. Without thinking too much about it, I answered, “Thank you, Sir, but I think I can go there on my own”, and followed my shadow-self onto the street.
It was a normal, chaotic morning, and the street was crowded with people and different vehicles. There was also quite a mess in the shadow world, and so it took me a while to recognize my alter ego sitting inside the shadow of an empty wheelbarrow. The barrow was wheeled by an old lady who looked like an odd, scary creature with scrubby hair and two huge horns on its head in the world of shadows. Right when I looked at my shadow-self, the shadow wheelbarrow started to move forward on its own, taking my alter ego with it who had stood up now. “Stop, wait for me!” I said a little too loudly, causing quite a bunch of people to cast a confused glace at me, including the old monster lady who stopped wheeling her barrow. But my shadow just kept on riding its own black wheelbarrow down the street, waving at me gleefully. I ran after it, and the shadow monster ran after me. When I got around the next corner, it somehow managed to overtake me and tear the shadow wheelbarrow into pieces, while I was nearly torn into pieces by a very real and also very big dog which luckily didn’t rip my dress. My alter ego jumped onto the even huger shadow dog’s back and rode away. How you can be so unfair, I thought, but at least I had let the monster lady’s shadow behind me. It really wasn’t something I would have liked to look at all the time. When I got after the shadow dog, I almost couldn’t prevent being hit by a droshky. Why, I wondered, hadn’t I called a cab too, instead of running after my own shadow? Maybe Mr Knight had been right all the time, and I was both crazy and insane. “Can’t you watch your step?” someone shouted at me as I nearly crashed into him. Where was my alter ego? I couldn’t see it anywhere, so I just kept on walking towards the courthouse which luckily wasn’t so far away from where the Knights lived. Otherwise, my shadow-self maybe would have rushed me through the whole town.
My shadow was still gone when I stepped towards the huge building in front of me. I felt how I got slightly nervous, although I knew that there was nothing to be afraid of except of ruining my carrier before it even had begun. This wouldn’t be fulfilling some kind of destiny, I would just take on and lose a hopeless murder case all on my own. Why would Mr Knight even give a murder case to me if it hadn’t been a totally hopeless one? I had nothing to fear about, but I also had no hope at all. Everybody had known how this little experiment would work out, both Mr Knight and, most of all times, me. The only ones believing in that strange girl how had drawn a courtroom without having ever seen one had been Martha Knight and, first of all, my shadow-self who didn’t even want to show up now. So what was I nervous about? There would be a reason for being nervous if I had had no idea how this would end, and then I would have grabbed my charm in twitchiness and watched that mysterious shadow scene for ages just to calm down again. Although I knew that my current situation was totally different, I caught myself holding the little metal charm up so that the sun could shine through it on the wall of the courthouse. Surprisingly, I could see neither the trees and bushes nor the little house in between of them, and no couple at all. Inside the circular shadow there was nothing but a sea of silhouette-like, flaring black flames. I stared at them, fascinated. I had never seen something like this before. Slowly I reached forward, touched the wall, and I could have sworn that the flames had moved a little as I had touched them. I took my hand off again, and suddenly I noticed that something had changed. I took a closer look at the black fire. A small, human-looking silhouette had appeared in the background, making its way right through the flames. Although it came closer and closer, it wasn’t always easy to spot it because it seemed to become one with the flames from time to time. It looked like a person, like a girl… When I recognized that shadow as my own, I let go my charm I surprize, and the sea of shadow flames seemed to burst, I could nearly feel the heat on my skin. My shadow-self didn’t disappear. Obviously she wanted to see what she had done to me after all. I looked at my black silhouette one more time and went into the building.
Until now I hadn’t thought about how the defendant of a murder case like this one would have looked like, but I started thinking about it when I left the gate behind me and headed for the defendant’s lobby. I tried to imagine, and the shadows on the walls turned into a bunch of ugly, shifty men surrounding me. Well, it was very likely that he would look like one of those, wasn’t it?
A few seconds later I stared in the face of a young, good-looking person with auburn hair toying with some strange, complexly painted shells. While I tried not to do it too conspicuously, I got the slight feeling that my shadow-self was laughing at me stealthily. Shortly after that, I was confronted with the next surprize. “Well”, I said, trying to sound less confused as I felt like, “my name is Amber Shadows, and you are…?” “Norimoto Kai… I mean Kai Norimoto”, he said, with some kind of Asian accent. “Actually, I expected to see Mr Knight here… Then you must be his protégé or something?” In this moment I realized that my shadow-self must had been completely right: This day would change my life forever, because for the first time in my life somebody had called me his protégé and not his… “Oh, or are you his assistant? How silly of me…” “No, I’m really his protégé!” I said quickly. I didn’t really know what to think about that guy, and his shadow wasn’t a help at all. It mostly looked just like the real Norimoto, but these strange painted shells he was toying with somehow seemed to be more… alive in the hands of his alter ego, like they were moving on their own. I somehow wanted to ask him about the shells, but I felt that it would have been quite unprofessional, so I just asked: “Could you tell me what happened?” I thought that would have been better than asking him why he had started a brawl with his associate, a person named Carol Arterey, at a pub and had killed him by cutting his carotid artery, because that was what my files said. Norimoto didn’t look like a person one would have expected doing something like this, but what did it change? If there had been a chance of Norimoto having nothing to do with the murder, I wouldn’t have been here. And I had seen enough to know that people could be totally different from what they look like. “Don’t you already know it?” I got the slight feeling that he didn’t want to talk about it at all. “My colleague died a few days before, and they think it was me. That’s also what you have got in your files, isn’t it?” “Your colleague?” “Artery was studying to become a lawyer too. I came to London to study the British legal system. Although I thought I wouldn’t get to know British courts of law this way… You like these shells, don’t you?” “Yes”, I said, trying not to look at them that conspicuously, “they are quite pretty.” “Kai-awase”, he said, showing me two of them, “matching shells.” I took a closer look at the two shells in his hands. There was an Asian-looking warrior dressed in white painted on one of them and another warrior dressed in black on the other one. The way he held the shells, the two warriors were facing each other, their swords drawn. “It’s a game”, he explained further, “you take one shell and have to find the matching one. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Do you want to try?” Actually all that I wanted was him answering my questions, but it was quite obvious that he wasn’t willing to tell me anything about it. Despite seeing my shadow-self grabbing his shells and putting all of them into her briefcase, I smiled a little and answered: “Well, yes.”
Norimoto put a shell into my hand, with a picture of a strange young woman on it. Her hair was black and put up in a complex way, and I wondered why her face was completely snow-white, with red lips. The thing she wore was blue, painted and could hardly be called a dress, her sandals were made of wood and had impressive heels. She was standing in a little garden next to a blooming tree and looked at something behind her. Then he showed me a bunch of other shells, which all looked different. There was a picture of a palace, a big red gate leading nowhere, a big-eyed monkey and even a shell with no picture at all, but covered with strange characters I had never seen before. Suddenly I spotted the shell I was looking for. “This one”, I said, showing him a picture of a strange house with a black shadow on it, “she is looking at this.” Norimoto looked at the shell, slightly confused. “But that’s a swordsman’s shadow! How could she cast it?” “Does that mean this was the wrong shell, because that woman doesn’t cast a swordsman’s shadow?” I said. “Well”, Norimoto just said, “maybe. At least, I would’ve taken this one.” He held another one up, with the same garden and a big, rising sun. “Kai-awase is from where the sun comes from”, he told me with a weak smile, “just like me.” “Aha.” Hadn’t he got anything better to do than messing with my head by saying strange things about a place where the sun came from? “It is an island, a big, long one, and we lived on it for hundreds of years. But now the time has come for us to follow the sun and head for other countries we hadn’t even been aware of.” “To study the legal system?” I asked. “The legal system and anything else. But one day, we will maybe call Great Britain the country where the law comes from.” He looked at me, at the shell in my hand, and then around, at nothing in particular. “And maybe it’s also the place where the shadows come from, isn’t it?” “Maybe”, I answered. I looked at my shadow-self, who took one of the shells out of her briefcase and held it up. Both my and his shadow watched how it started hovering above her hand and turned into a giant black sun. He had come from where the sun had come from, I thought. And I came from where a woman on heels could cast the shadow of a swordsman. I came from where a little girl could cast the shadow of a defence lawyer.
Spoiler: Chapter 3
Chapter 3 – Protégé
We entered the room together, I, Norimoto, my shadow-self and shadow Norimoto. Although I did it just like I had done it a hundred of times before, on Mr Knight’s site, I was sure that every single person in the gallery stared at me, both male and female. I got behind the desk, just like I had done it a thousand times in my mind. I had started doing it the night after the occurrence with the drawing, and there had been a lot of nights like this after that one, even days and months and years later. I had lain in the darkness, imagining this moment with my eyes closed, or staring at the wall if there had still been some light, or already. Sometimes we had even done it together, me and her, synchronously. But I always had stepped out of character because I had had to look at my shadow instead of looking ahead, even though I had told myself not to get distracted. I hadn’t been able to get rid of my thoughts, and I hadn’t been able to look away from my older alter ego, from my future-self. And now we walked in side by side, and it wasn’t like it had been those times before at all. Because now it was real, realer than the shadow world, and I was real too, I wasn’t a little girl staring at her future alter ego anymore. When I put my hands on the desk and leaned forwards a tiny bit, all the shadows around me looked like an exact copy of the picture I had drawn with that piece of black coal sitting at Mr Knight’s table, and from the tail of my eye I could see how my shadow-self did just the same as I did, looking just like me in spite of being a black silhouette. I suddenly wondered whether this was my special moment or hers.
I looked around as inconspicuous as possible. Norimoto had taken his seat and was toying with his shells again, obviously in thought. Then a strange guy attracted my attention. His hair was a mess, and his suit seemed to be hundreds of years old. Next to him I saw a thin woman with long hair, next to her a skinny little man, then a rather fat person with a quite big hat, an incredibly old woman toying with her cane all the time, and, at the end of the row, a woman looking very familiar. It was Marta Knight, watching me from her seat, with one of her obligatory pastries in her hand, her hair plaited into a braid and put up like always. But that hair was supposed to be brown, not black. Her dress was black too, and even her skin, and it was just the same with all the others sitting next to her. Norimoto followed my gaze. “Don’t they have a jury for murder charges?” he asked more surprized than worried, while I was both surprised and worried, surprized because I couldn’t have even thought about a murder trial without a jury before, and worried because one hadn’t to be that clever to realize that this couldn’t mean anything good. “Maybe it will make it easier”, I answered, but all I could think about was that a murder trial wasn’t supposed to have nothing but a bunch of invisible shadows as jurors. Yes, it would make it easier, it would make the whole trial easier, easier to lose. I looked at my shadow-self, who had been waiting for this day for more than eighteen years, just like me. She definitely wasn’t here to lose, and neither was me. I looked at Norimoto again. Was he here to be convicted for murder? I didn’t know, but I felt that both of us didn’t deserve me admitting defeat now. He didn’t because that would have meant putting his life on a risk without even knowing what to think about him. And I didn’t because the last eighteen years were everything I was able to remember of my life, and I hadn’t been living them only to give up now and start sewing dresses or making cakes without fighting.
I was still in thought when I heard the quite familiar sound of a wooden gavel, but when I looked up, I saw something that wasn’t familiar at all, but just impossible. I hadn’t really taken notice of the judge until now, which I thought wasn’t very hard to do. But what really shocked me was how his shadow looked like. I was nothing but a strange, unhuman-looking piece of shade his body casted on the wall behind him, more or less like the shadow of the couple in Mr Knights painting. It was very likely that it looked exactly the same for everyone else in this courtroom, and for everyone else it was more than likely the most normal thing in the world. For me, it wasn’t. This only had happened to me once before, and that had been while looking at a rather small, grey stone I had found on the street. Although not only its shadow, but also the stone itself had looked like nothing in special, I had taken it home and spent hours with wondering about why its shadow looked that unusual compared to every shadow I had seen before. It had confused me quite a lot, given the fact that I had been around eight years old, but after that I hadn’t seen something like this again and had nearly forgotten about it. Now, I was actually rather irritated than fascinated by this phenomenon, and I couldn’t help myself of wondering whether there was something like a resemblance between the stone and the judge, although I knew that there more important things to think of.
“Court is now in session for the trial of Kai Nori… Norimat…” The grey stone judge was interrupted by a voice which sounded that ridiculous that it was almost scary: “The defendant’s name is Kai Norimoto, Your Honour.” I casted a glance at the opposite desk, just to see that the person I was going to face was a sickly-looking guy with greyish black hair that looked like it had fled from his forehead and somehow gone up his head to where it definitely didn’t belong. I was pretty sure that his eyes looked sickly too, but one couldn’t tell it because of the heavy, unnecessarily thick glasses in front of them. If this wasn’t enough, he wore a strange, yellow garment that somehow reminded me of something, but I couldn’t tell what it was. His shadow seemed to look just as sickly and arrogant as himself, despite the fact that it was nothing but a black silhouette. The human grey stone looked a little confused, but maybe more because of Norimoto’s name than because of that weird person opposite of me. “Well… Court is in session for the trial of Kai Norimoto. Are the defence and… Wait, aren’t you the assistant of that lawyer, Mr Knight?”
My shadow-self, taking advantage of her invisibility as usual, just lost all of her physical tension and banged her head against her desk all of sudden, and I felt quite a strong urge to do the same. There were exactly three reasons why I didn’t: First, it would have caused a lot of noise if a real person did something like that. Second, unlike my alter ego, I wouldn’t have been able to lift my head and look fine again and like nothing had happened at all. Third, what had I expected? Everyone called me an assistant, and banging my head against the desk would help nobody, especially not me. Today I could maybe keep people from mistaking me for a legal assistant if I did it right. I tried to focus on the last reason and answered loudly: “Pardon me, I’m Amber Shadows, Mr Knights protégé. My mentor put me in charge of Mr Norimoto’s defence. I am ready, Your Honour.” Already before I had finished my last sentence, I heard how the people in the gallery started to whisper, and it felt quite hard to ignore them. The judge looked even more confused, but then he seemed to realize that he had to say something and pounded on the desk with his gavel. “That’s… unusual, Miss Shadows”, he stated, and then continued: “Is the prosecution ready too, Mr Auchi?” “The prosecution is ready, Your Honour, but I’m not really sure what Your Honour means by “too”. After all, the defence apparently has decided not to appear and send his dishy assistant here instead. Maybe Mr Knight was too afraid of being crushed by someone who isn’t from his beloved mother country? Because he wouldn’t be able to handle the shame?” By the last sentence, Auchi shook his head, grinned even sicklier and took out an odd white fan with some strange black strokes on it. It took me some seconds to realize that I had seen something like this before: it looked just like one of the foreign characters on Norimoto’s shells. I inconspicuously turned towards Norimoto and whispered: “Does this prosecutor also come from your place where the sun goes up?” “I’m not the only one, Miss Shadows”, he shrugged. I looked at Auchi again, and at his shadow, whose fan had turned into a giant and obviously quite heavy shell while I hadn’t watched it. I wondered whether he hadn’t been a tiny bit too old for this, and like he was able to read my mind, Norimoto added: “Although he’s a little late, if you ask me. The worst thing I could think of would be meeting him back home in a couple of years again, with him claiming to have decades of experience and everyone believing it. It would really creep me out.” “Let us first think about how we can get you out of here, right?” was everything I said, glancing at my shadow-self. She glanced back, looking confident, but in another way than usually. We used to be something like friends, and she used to be something like a role model for me, but now I looked exactly like her, we looked like twin sisters. What would happen today was not her destiny, but equally mine, and if she could be a defence lawyer, I could be one too, even if it was unusual.
“Well, I think if this person is Isaac Knight’s protégé, there is no reason why we shouldn’t continue with the trial. Mr Auchi, your opening statement, please.” “If you think so, Your Honour.” Auchi shook his head again, moving his fan a little. His shadow did the same with its shell, nearly causing it to drop. “The night before last, there was a cruel and unforgivable murder at Violet Brawler’s Pub, a very calm and peaceful place, normally. But within this calamitous night, the defendant, Kai Norimoto, obviously not knowing how to behave at a British pub, picked up a fight with his unlucky cohort, Mr Carol Artarey, and profaned said place by killing him in a bestial way. Given the fact that the pub was nearly empty at this time, the prosecution can prove their claims without any reason for doubt, Your Honour.”
I had expected something like this, so I wasn’t shocked. There had been nothing in my life that I would have called easy, and I would prevent this case from being an “easy” one too. Because if I had learned something since I had been found by Mr Knight, it was that the term “easy” didn’t exist in my world, neither in the world of shadows nor in what other people called reality.
Spoiler: Chapter4
Chapter 4 – The Master of Science
“A murder at Violet Brawler’s Pub? It’s alarming how much crime we have to deal with these days, even at a quiet place like this.” The grey stone judge shook his head, and his shadow moved in a way that actually looked like nothing in special. “However. You may call your first witness, Mr Auchi.” “Of course, Your Honour. The prosecution would like to call Mr Bernard Buryspils to the stand.”
Buryspils turned out to be a small, confused-looking man with messed up black hair. He was wearing a white smock, which was a little too roomy and far too long and had a lot of dirty-looking, different coloured stains I didn’t really want to know how they had gotten there. “Witness, please state your name and occupation”, Auchi mewled. The witness confusedly looked to the left, then to the right, at nobody, although for me it looked a little as if he would have tried to catch the eye of his shadow standing behind him. If there hadn’t been anybody else in the witness stand, I surely would have thought it would have been another ones shadow, in spite of being used to see quite incredible things in the shadow world every day. Mr Buryspils’s alter ego looked like a totally different person: a tall guy with a his hair pulled back straight and a perfectly fitting coat without any wrinkles, who stood there both confidently and seriously, holding an object in his hands that I identified as a human skull. His glace went directly in the direction of real Buryspils, like if the shadow equally wanted to know what that strange person was going to say.
“Well, my name is Bernard Buryspils… And I’m a forensic pathologist! You must know… That’s not only a profession for me, but a vocation! It is like being able to talk to dead people, just… just… better!” Well… I nodded a little, asking myself how exactly this guy managed it to become a forensic pathologist. I didn’t seem to be the only one wondering, everyone looked at least a little confused. Well, not everyone. Mr Buryspils’s shadow just looked annoyed at its alter ego’s performance, and Auchi seemed to only think about how to go ahead. “Mr Buryspils, please tell the court about how the murder occurred. Then this little girl will maybe understand what her so-called client did to his colleague, won’t she?”
“Yes, I think so, Mr Auchi!” the mad pathologist yelled. “I’m not telling lies… It’s a vocation! It’s communicating with the dead through science! And when I examined that fellow, Mr Arterey, he clearly cried at me: “I was killed in a bestial and violent way, someone ripped me out of life driven by malicious emotions!” And I saw it, I heard him crying, the dead never lie! Carol Arterey was murdered by the defendant, Mr Norimoto!”
I really had tried to focus on what Mr Buryspils said, but it hadn’t been easy at all because I only had been able to think about one thing: Who did this guy think he was? I could totally understand why his shadow cast an angry glance at him, and there was no need to turn my head to know that it was the same with mine. Buryspils didn’t care about it, of course, but looked at everybody like he wanted to say: Well, I did everything right, didn’t I? Which was very easy for me to answer: No, you didn’t. I knew that if anyone was able to give me some important information, it would be that guy, but it didn’t really change a thing.
“Well, I wonder whether this testimony can be called decisive or not…” I couldn’t believe that the judge was still wondering. “However, the defence may cross-examine the witness.” “The so-called defence”, I heard Auchi mumble far too loudly. The so-called witness, I mentally answered, than focused on the uneven match in the witness stand.
“Mr Buryspils”, I started, “as a scientist, what do you base your claims on?” “I’m not just a scientist, Miss! I’m a forensic pathologist, an interpreter between two worlds!” I slammed my right hand down on my desk. “But you must have some kind of proof for your claims about the murder! You can’t simply state that you heard a murder victim say who killed them in a court of law!” Buryspils grinned at me and took something out of his pocket. I had to look at it very closely to realize that it was a tiny animal’s skull, maybe a mouse’s. “Who do you think I am, Miss?” He threw the skull from one hand into the other, then back. “For a real coroner, proof is like ink for an artist! And Mr Arterey’s injuries speak the clear language of a wretched crime!” “You are talking about the carotid artery cut that made the victim bleed to death, right?” “Carotid artery cut, Miss? It was the bloody red brushstroke of brutality, the mysterious line between life and death! I even took a photo of it to make this bestiality visible to everyone’s eye!” Before I could think of anything to say that maybe could have stopped his unscientific enthusiasm, he handed me a photo of something that only could be said carotid artery cut. Although it looked quite well-made, all one could see were masses of black blood on grey skin, and it was hard to tell where the actual cut was and where the bloodstain. I couldn’t help the feeling that it equally would have looked kind of strange if the blood hadn’t been black, but red.
“Is the defence maybe not used to see blood?” Auchi grinned, making me realize that I must have looked a little strange, “If you’re going to pass out, Miss Shadows, it would be a good idea to tell the court in advance…” “I’m not going to pass out, Mr Auchi. I was just wondering about this…” I placed my finger on something in the photo that had caught my attention. “Can you see these traces of blood next to the wound?” Auchi stared at it. Maybe he needed some better glasses. “What are you talking about? Of course there is a lot of blood, it’s a carotid artery cut! What did you expect to see?”
“Objection!” I knew that every human being and every shadow in the room was looking at me know. “That’s not my point! Mr Auchi, please take a closer look at these bloodstains. Don’t you think they look a little… unnatural?” “Now that you mention it, they don’t look like the blood around them”, the judge mumbled, “Are you suggesting that someone made these bloodstains on the victim’s skin… on purpose?” I slowly shook my head, in exactly that way my shadow-self had annoyed me with a thousand times when I was younger. “No, Your Honour, I don’t. But if you ask me, those blood marks were left by someone who touched the body on its neck before the photograph was taken and blurred the bloodstains. May I ask you a question, Mr Buryspils? You were the person who carried the victim away from the crime scene and took this photo afterwards, weren’t you?” “Who else should have done it? A murder scene is like a painting, you have to look at it as closely as possible without destroying it… And who can do this job better than a real forensic pathologist, a master of science?” “So you grabbed the body at its neck, covered your hands with masses of blood and blurred every visible bloodstain around the injury, like a real “master of science”?” “But I just wanted to…” “There are many ways to refer to this kind of behaviour but for me it doesn’t sound “scientific” at all!” “I… I… I only… Waaaahhh!”
I wasn’t able to trust my eyes as I saw Mr Buryspils’s shadow rushing towards his real alter ego and striking him down with its big black skull in anger, who collapsed and fell down onto the witness stand as if he had been able to sense the or something, in spite of this being impossible. “How”, I continued, “can we trust anything stated by such a “specialist” who can’t even touch a murder victim without covering himself in blood?”
“Objection!” Auchi screamed. His voice sounded even more horrible than before, and he was holding up his fan again, his hand shaking hard. I just wished he had a shell instead of it too, like his shadow, because I would have loved to see him dropping it on his foot. Otherwise, that surely wouldn’t have sounded much better. “The coroner did a good job, given the circumstances!” “Which circumstances should that be, Mr Auchi, which justify tampering with a murder victim’s body that blindly?” “Well… The forensic pathologist actually had to do his job “blindly” in a manner of speaking!” He dragged out another photograph. It seemed to be a picture of the crime scene, I could see a table standing in a corner, between too wooden pillars. A broken lamp was attached to one of them, most likely the reason why there were quite many shining glass shards on the floor around the table. “This photograph was taken shortly after Mr Arterey’s body had been removed. As everybody can see, there are only a few lamps at Violet Brawler’s Pub. During the fight between the defendant and the victim, the one hanging next to their table broke, so that it got quite dark in that corner of the pub and stayed dark for quite a long time! It’s only human that someone makes mistakes if they can’t really see what they’re doing! It even happens to me!”
“Well, yes”, the human grey stone added, “It equally happens to me! One night, I nearly fell into the river and drowned because I wasn’t able to see my own feet!” If he had, I thought, he maybe would had met my real grey stone, which had met the same fate after I realized that I would have never found out why it hadn’t any characteristic shadow and that it wasn’t that interesting to look at nearly nothing at all.
But obviously that had had encouraged Buryspils, at least he was standing up straight and toying with his mouse skull again. His shadow didn’t seem to be happy about it. “Miss, I’m still a coroner and not a ham-fisted amateur! I have got the vocation to hear the dead talk! And Mr Arterey”, I wasn’t sure whether his voice was rather exited or desperate, “was killed by the defendant, that’s what science says!” “Once more: what do you base these claims on?” “The cut… One would definitely need a sharp object to cut somebody like this! And the only weapon found was Mr Norimoto’s knife!” And what, I mentally yelled, could you have called science about this?! “I didn’t do anything with that knife!” Norimoto whispered angrily. “So you really carry a knife around with you?” “No, I have carried a knife around with me, because they confiscated it. But I didn’t even touch it that night, I swear! It’s a keepsake of my father, I wouldn’t even cut bread with it!” But if that was right… “If it won’t scare the defence too much, the court could take a look at the murder weapon.” Auchi said, taking out a small, but dangerous-looking knife. “You… How dare you to…” Norimoto clutched his shells in rage. His shadow’s shells must have somehow escaped my shadow-self’s suitcase and were fluttering around like panicking butterflies. I looked at the knife. Its handle was black and shiny, and the sheath was made of black leather, with a few white characters written on it. “How can you…” Norimoto’s voice became louder. “He is doing that on purpose!”
“I wonder what the defendant is so upset about? Is it so hard for you to realize that you killed an innocent man with your keepsake, Mr Norimoto? “Objection! You can’t prove that this is the murder weapon! It was just a keepsake, and there isn’t even blood on it!” “Objection! He could have just wiped it off!” Yes, but there was still something odd… “Please look at the photo of the injury again!” I wasn’t sure whether everybody could see what I saw, but I had to try. “It isn’t a clean cut! If the murderer had used a sharp knife like this, it would look different! Didn’t Mr “I know everything about forensic science” tell you about that?” “Objection! How can you claim something like this? You are neither a coroner nor a scientist, but just a…” “…housewife who wants to be a defence lawyer, Mr Auchi?” I asked grinning. “At least I know that you get a clean cut by cutting a piece of flesh with a sharp knife!” I smiled at shadow Mrs Knight, mentally thanking her a thousand times. Buryspils looked at me appalled. “But, Miss, it is just a cut, and cuts… Well, Miss, they can be very… Aaaarrrrghhh!” For a moment I wondered about whether he got smarter or just more dim-witted by being hit with that shadow skull.
“Objection!” Auchi interrupted my thoughts, “What do you suggest was the murder weapon then? There were no other objects like that at the scene of crime, and one can’t cut anyone’s carotid artery with their bare hands, after all!” I and my shadow-self exchanged a short glance, then we whipped our right hands forward in Auchi’s direction synchronous.
“Objection! Just look at the photo of the crime scene again! When the lamp was destroyed, shards of glass were scattered everywhere on the floor! And an injury caused by a piece of shattered glass would most likely look like the cut on the victim’s neck! So everybody could have taken such a glass shard and killed Mr Arterey! Mr Buryspils claims are made up out of thin air!”
“Miss! I… I… I’m not a… Waaaaaaaahhhhhh!” It was sheer luck that Buryspils could cling to the witness stand and didn’t fall onto the floor as his shadow struck him down. The mouse skull fell out of his hand and broke into two pieces, and the shadow skull equally broke. Looking at it surely would have given me some feeling of relief, but only if Auchi hadn’t been grinning at me like that.
Spoiler: Chapter 5
Chapter 5 – The Mirror
“Nice suggestion, Miss Shadows. Really nice. With a tiny little problem.” I had known it. I totally had known it. “What are you driving at, Mr Auchi?” the grey stone’s reincarnation asked, “You are not planning to call another witness who’s that… easy to disconcert, are you?” I was very sure he didn’t have any clue, put he really took the words out of my mouth, or at least out of my mind. “Oh, Your Honour, I’m not”, Auchi answered confidently, “I just want to show that girl over there that her claim has a giant hole in it, and one that doesn’t look like it could be fixed with darning cotton. The prosecution calls Mary Silver as witness!”
“So that’s her name...” I heard Norimoto say as a young woman took the stand. She was wearing a rather short pink dress and had her light brown hair in a ponytail. Her eyes were deep green, the colour reminded me of huge trees’ leaves. “Do you know her?” I asked. “Not really”, Norimoto answered, “she was a waitress at that pub…” I looked at Mary Silver again. She had a little mirror in her hand which’s rear side was made of plain dark wood, but she wasn’t at it, she was looking at nothing in special. However, her shadow’s gaze was fixed on me in a way I couldn’t really describe.Or was it fixed on Norimoto? I couldn’t tell.
“Miss Silver, please state your name and occupation”, Auchi said. “My name is Mary Silver. I’m a waitress at Violet Brawler’s Pub… or at least I used to be. I think they will lose at least part of their good reputation because of the murder…” “But you will find another job soon, won’t you?” I couldn’t believe it, but the judge actually sounded a bit worried. “Of course I will!” Silver answered, “I mean, why shouldn’t I? London is a big city!” “Well, you’re right, Miss Silver”, Auchi said quickly, “Now, could please tell us what you witnessed at the day of murder? Especially how much people were in the pub when the incident occurred?” I couldn’t help the feeling that Auchi wouldn’t have been that nice to me if I had been his decisive witness. That woman seemed to change the behaviour of everyone here, but that didn’t irritate me as much as her shadow staring at us in that strange, confusing way.
“That night, there weren’t many guests at the pub, so I could see how Mr Arterey and the defendant, Mr Norimoto, went to a table in a corner of the room. After taking their orders, I headed for another table… But then I heard the two men fighting, and shortly after it the sound of breaking glass! It became dark in the corner, and the fight didn’t stop, so I hurried to get out of it. We all know how it turned out in the end…”
“Yes, I think we all know”, the stone shadow judge said. “That young and already a witness of something that horrible…” “The world is full of horrible things, Your Honour”, she interrupted him, spinning the mirror in her hands around in a complex way that made it flash up for a blink of an eye, “and especially full of people who think they have to protect me all day.” For a minute, I wondered how my life would had been if I was that straightforward. “Well, for sure…” Otherwise, I knew that nobody would have forgiven me as much as the judge forgave Mary Silver. “Now… The defence may question the witness.”
Silver’s shadow hadn’t moved at all during her testimony, and that gaze still made me nervous, but I tried to ignore it. “So you are sure that there weren’t any other people sitting in that corner?” “Didn’t I just say that? I can understand you, Miss Shadows, because of your case, but… There were actually nobody but Mr Arterey, Mr Norimoto and me, of course. Nobody can change it.” So that was the reason for this case being “easy”, in the end. Because despite the possibility of a random person walking over to the victim and killing them, there were nobody else who could have done it. Miss Silver’s shadow was staring at me. My shadow was staring back. Was there anything else to ask? “Did you see how the murder occurred?” “It was dark, Miss Shadows. I couldn’t see very much after the lamp broke. But what would you think if you saw two men going to a dark place together and only one walked out alive?” “Didn’t you hear the victim scream or something?” “No, I didn’t. I guess Mr Arterey became unconscious when he hit the lamp and broke it. I could hear an impact shortly before the glass shattered.”
“Shortly before it? But if the victim had been tossed against the lamp, both the impact and the sound of the shattering glass must have been at the same time!” “Objection!” Auchi yelled. “I’m sorry that I have to tell you, but that isn’t a contradiction at all!” He took out the photo of the crime scene again. “The lamp was attached to this pillar”, he pointed at one of the two rather thin wooden columns between floor and ceiling near the table, “and during the struggle, Mr Arterey hit that pillar and caused the lamp to fall down and break! The impact Miss Silver heard was the noise of the victim striking the pillar, shortly before the lamp hit the floor!” “Mr Auchi, why do you have to take the words out of my mouth?” Mary asked friendly, though her mirror was spinning around again. “Yes, I also thought about that. You can’t attach a lamp to a pillar very well – I always used to look at those lamps and hoped they wouldn’t drop at somebody all of sudden…”
“Objection! Miss Silver, I’m afraid that’s impossible!” In spite of having no clue where it would end up, I decided that I had to press on now. “So what you are claiming is that the lamp dropped and shattered because of the impact when Mr Arterey hit the pillar, right? But if you look at the photo, you can clearly see that the lamp didn’t drop at all! The upper part of it is still attached to the pillar! Miss Silver, are you really that sure about what you heard?”
“Objection! How does this even change anything? The witness has, if I may quote you, Miss Silver, clearly seen how two men went into a dark corner and only one walked out again! What does it matter that she heard an impact which couldn’t have been there?” “Objection! There is a way how she could have heard first the impact and then the shattering lamp!” “Err, well, and how?” The grey stone judge looked quite confused. “Please enlighten us, Miss Shadows!” “It’s just a theory, but what if the victim didn’t strike the pillar the lamp was attached to at all? He still could have hit the other pillar as well! And if the lamp had broken shortly after it, it would have sounded exactly like the witness described!” “Objection! That doesn’t make any sense! Are you suggesting that lamp shattered by itself? It may disappoint you, but there are no ghosts at Violet Brawler’s Pub!”
For a blink of an eye, I could have sworn I had seen Norimoto wince, and as I turned towards him, he was looking at his shells again, apparently without even seeing what was painted on them. They lay in his hands without moving, but their shadows seemed to shake, and I wasn’t sure for what reason.
“That’s right”, I heard the judge say, “Glass normally doesn’t break by itself. So do you have any explanation for this matter, Miss Shadows?” “Well, yes, I… don’t.” My shadow-self looked aghast, and I didn’t want to know at all who else did. “So are you admitting that this will lead you nowhere but back to your last job as Mr Knight’s little assistant?” However, I knew that I had to say something. “No, I do… not! I mean, there is a way to prove it, because…” “Don’t you think it would be a good idea to think about what you are going to say in advance? Maybe it would even keep Mr Auchi from calling you a legal assistant for no apparent reason.” Miss Silver’s voice was totally calm, though she was toying with her mirror wildly again. “It doesn’t suit you to have no idea what you’re talking about, even if you can’t get a decisive witness who saw everything out of nowhere, don’t you think so?” A witness who saw everything out of… I mentally stumbled when I realized that there actually was a way how I could find out more, although I hadn’t got a good feeling. I tried not to think about that something really bothered me about my idea.
“The defence”, I said slowly, “would like to question another witness about this matter. I would like to call the defendant, Kai Norimoto, to the stand!” “Does the prosecution have any objections?” “Why should I, Your Honour? Of course it will take a bit of time, but if the defence seeks for tiny holes in their own client’s testimony as eagerly as they did so far, I’m sure we will soon have a satisfying result. Why should we prevent justice from taking its course?” I didn’t get angry about that statement. All I could think about was why I had such a strange feeling about calling Norimoto as witness and whether I was maybe getting him into trouble. When Mary Silver left the stand, her shadow didn’t move for a while, but just kept on staring. Exactly when I thought it wouldn’t have left at all, it slowly turned around and walked off, casting a last glance over its shoulder before it disappeared and became one with the other shadows on the wall. When Norimoto went to the witness stand, with the shells in his hands, Auchi was faster than me at saying something.
“Would mind to you describe the court what occurred at Violet Brawler’s Pub at the day of murder? And better ignore that facial expression of your so called defence lawyer. That’s no attempt to intimidate you, but rather the face of a person who knows exactly that everything they will help you with is getting the verdict you deserve”, he grinned. “I don’t think so” was everything Norimoto answered in this matter.
“What am I supposed to tell you about it? We went to that pub together, at roughly nine o’clock, me and Arterey, because we had to talk about something. We ordered one beer each, talked a bit… and then, for whatever reason… I know you won’t believe me, but suddenly Arterey freaked out and I had no idea why! He grabbed me hard all of sudden, I wanted to stop him, he didn’t let go but stood up and started to struggle, and ended up with hitting one of those pillars with his head… I really can’t tell if it happened exactly when Arterey struck that pillar or a second later, but then I heard something shatter and it became dark enough in the corner that one couldn’t clearly see their own feet, so I don’t know what happened. But I have nothing to do with that murder!”
“What a nice bunch of lies. Maybe it would’ve been better for the defendant to stay in his own country and become a storyteller instead of being convicted of murder here. Too bad that destiny had other plans…” Why, I thought, hadn’t Auchi just stayed in that country where the sun came from and become whatever instead of annoying everyone here?
“Do you know which of the pillars the victim struck?” I began my cross-examination with. “No, I’m sorry, Miss Shadows, but I have got no idea. Everything happened very quickly…” “Like brawls normally do, and murders even more…” I ignored it. “You’ve said Mr Arterey had suddenly freaked out and grabbed you… Have you really got no idea for what reason?” “That’s what I said… He suddenly told me I should have shut up, and when I tried to calm him down he got even angrier…” “And what did you talk about? Was it something upsetting?” “Objection! Miss Shadows, do you really think the defendant will answer a question like this? And talk about the problems of a dead man in public just because a little British lawyer tells him so?” “Objection! Mr Norimoto, what did you talk about? Please answer my question! I need to know everything you’ve seen or heard so that I can help you!”
Norimoto grimaced. Rather looking at the painted shells than at me, he said: “Well, I think I can tell you, but… it has really nothing to do with it. It was just… I noticed that Arterey behaved kind of strange recently, he obviously had some kind of trouble, but he didn’t talk about it, so I decided that somebody should… well… try to help him. That’s why I invited him to go to that pub. I chose a table as far away as possible from the others and asked him what the matter was…” “And what was his problem?” “I really don’t know whether I should tell you about something like that… I remember every single word: ‘Are you sure you want to know, Norimoto? Just imagine you knew a girl. A pretty one, nice, and even intelligent. You meet whenever she has time for it, what doesn’t happen often, but often enough, and everything is fine, until the day you catch exactly that girl meeting another guy and talking to him, about something that sounds as if she was already planning their betrothal. She does not see you, and you wish you could forget it, but you just can’t forget that everything she told you about herself was a downright lie.’” “And what did you say?” “Nothing that makes people become aggressive… All I said was that he maybe should had talked to that guy about it, and that it would had been easier to give Arterey advise if I knew who exactly that girl was… And then he suddenly hissed at me I should have shut up, like I had said something wrong… His whole behaviour changed, as if he would have panicked or something…”
I saw that my shadow-self had turned away from me and was looking at something that would have been located inside the wall if it really had existed, obviously she was thinking about something. “You don’t know something I have no idea of, do you?” I mumbled at her, but told myself not to forget what Norimoto had told me, in case that I was missing something.
“And what happened after the lamp shattered?” He looked away from me, the shells still in his hands. “I ran away, out of the pub and onto the street. That’s where they caught me. I know it wasn’t a good idea, but I couldn’t think of anything else but getting out of there…” “Well…” Auchi was toying with his fan again. “Nobody will hold it against you that you tried to escape… We can’t force murderers to stay at the scene of crime, after all…” “But I didn’t kill him! I just panicked... Anybody would panic if they saw something like that! Those masses of red blood, on his neck, on his face, everywhere…”
“Objection!” “Maybe the defence didn’t understand that it’s not their duty to expose their own client’s cowardly lies?” Auchi shook his head. “Of course I won’t complain, but for the matter of fairness maybe someone should tell that poor girl…” Don’t call me that way, I thought, but somehow managed it not to get angry. “I see no need for something like this at all, thank you, Mr Auchi. Mr Norimoto, I know you were upset, but did you really see the victim’s blood like you’ve just said? Because that would have been impossible, given the darkness at the scene of murder!”
He clenched his teeth, looking at me in a strange way. “Why don’t you just tell me what happened?” “Because you wouldn’t believe me! You’d think that I had been hallucinating! That I had gone crazy!”
Spoiler: Chapter 6
Chapter 6 – Lightning strike
“That murder”, Norimoto began, with a voice which sounded more than feeble, “it wasn’t that… natural. I left that out so that you didn’t think I had gone crazy… but… but it was a ghost or something! When the lamp broke into pieces and everything became dark, I saw it! There was, well… something like a little spot of light, or rather a flash, out of nowhere! It made the glass shards on the floor glister, and then it scampered over to Arterey and the light fell right onto his neck and face… before it suddenly disappeared! I didn’t even have the time to think about what that was before I heard some strange, disgusting noise… And then that light came back again, flashing through the corner! That was when I saw it… Arterey’s bloody face, illuminated by that strange flash coming out of nowhere… All I could do was panicking. I could think about nothing else but running as far away from that corner as possible… I was afraid, damn!”
Norimoto’s face had become as white as a sheet, and his eyes were full of shock, the shock of remembering something terrible and definitely impossible that had happened right in front of him. His hands were shaking as he held the shells like they could turn into dust and be gone forever every second, but what worried me most was his shadow. It was the first time in my life I actually saw a shadow shuddering. It trembled violently and seemed to dissolve at the edges like black ink dissolved in water, there were nearly no trace left of the precise, deep black silhouette it had been before. Had Norimoto gone crazy? Or had I, after all? I didn’t know. I wasn’t able to look at anything but at his shadow which dissolved into the light, seemed to slowly turn into nothing. And I had no idea what to think about it.
“Your Honour, it’s obvious that the defendant didn’t know what he was doing at the day of crime. It’s nothing special that a murderer loses touch with reality, kills an innocent victim and then blames a ghost or phantom because they can’t admit that the only unsolved secret is located right inside their heart...”
“Objection!” I couldn’t prevent my voice from sounding desperate, and it would have been utopian to hope that nobody had noticed it. “How can you say something like that? You can’t proof that the defendant has lost his grip on reality!” “Objection! Miss Legal Assistant Who Does Not Want To Be Called Like This… Do you really think it was a ghost like in a fairy tale? A lightning with arms and hands holding a glass shard that came back from hell to kill people? Everyone even referring to something like this as possible could be called a madman!” “Yes, I equally think so”, the judge said, and it didn’t sound very friendly. “Miss Shadows, this is a court of law and no place for insane theories. Are you aware of that?” I was, but I couldn’t just watch without doing anything and claim that everything he saw had been cooked up by an insane mind. Not that I couldn’t imagine it – who else could have, if not me? But I somehow refused to believe that it was like this, that everything Norimoto had seen was himself losing control and killing an innocent person.
“The defence is aware of how strange this statement may sound, but also wants to remind the court of the possibility that it is neither a lie nor a hallucination!” “So what are you suggesting? That the victim was killed by a ghost that could only be seen by the defendant?” I couldn’t believe it, but Auchi had actually given me an idea. “Objection! How can you tell that Mr Norimoto was the only person who saw the flash? A lightning illuminating a murder scene is nothing one expects to see every day, at least not if one doesn’t suffer from hallucinations! Most people would leave something like this out if they were asked what happened that day, or even repress it because of thinking of it as too impossible!” I knew that I had no other chance, if it could even be called one. “The defence suggests questioning the witness again, regarding this matter!” “Objection! That’s nothing but ludicrous! There is no reason for bothering the witness with even more absurd questions about ghost stories! “Objection! All I want is one more chance! If the witness had actually seen the described phenomenon but didn’t say it, it would be a giant mistake not to question her!” The judge still seemed to be not amused, but I could see somehow that he wasn’t totally willing to ignore this possibility. “One more chance, Miss Shadows. If you do not find what you want to in this testimony, the court will pronounce their verdict!” “And then Miss So-Called Defence Lawyer will go back to where she came from. How could I say anything against something like this?” I tried to ignore Auchi’s sickly grin and looked at Norimoto’s shadow which still hadn’t stopped vanishing. I pressed my lips together. I had to find out the truth, both about the murder and the so-called ghost.
Nothing had changed about Mary Silver’s appearance, and I didn’t really know why I had expected it to have changed. Maybe because I felt that so many things had actually changed during the last hours, inside my own consciousness and also outside of it. But Miss Silver was exactly the same pretty young woman she had been when I had seen her before, with the same deep green eyes and the same little mirror in her hands. Her shadow had come back again with her, and its stare was exactly the same, or maybe even a little more intensive. This time, it was definitely not looking at Norimoto. It was looking at me.
“So you have some question, Miss Shadows?” she asked calmly. “Yes, I do. Miss Silver, did you leave something out in your last testimony? Something like the flash Mr Norimoto saw at the scene? Or something that looked similar?” I tried not to sound as nervous as I was feeling, but it didn’t work. Miss Silver’s mirror started spinning around, first slowly, than faster. “What do you want to know first? Whether I left something out or whether I saw a strange phenomenon at the crime scene? I admit that I didn’t say everything before… This murder… is also my fault, in some way. The thing is… Well, when I saw Mr Norimoto suddenly attacking Arterey for no apparent reason and banging his colleague’s head against that pillar – yes, Miss Shadows, you were right, it was the other one – I wanted to stop him somehow. And the only thing that came to my mind was, unfortunately, smashing that lamp hanging next to me with my elbow. I think I hoped he would have stopped attacking Mr Arterey in the darkness… But apparently I even assisted the murder by providing a weapon, and that’s why I wasn’t very keen on talking about it. However, I don’t think that matters. I know that it isn’t what you want to hear, but everything I saw was your client losing his temper and starting a brawl with the victim. And after that I saw him running out of the corner, and only him.”
“Now that this matter is clarified, I think it’s quite obvious that the culprit was no ghost or phenomenon, but the defendant, Mr Kai Norimoto.” It was over. I could think about nothing else. There were many things I could have been angry about, Auchi’s annoying, far too much self-confident grin for example, Mary Silver holding back information until it couldn’t help anyone anymore and Mr Knight giving me a case which now had turned out not to be “easy” at all, but totally unpredictable. I could even be annoyed of myself because of not noticing it until it was far too late, and because of being unable to do anything when there definitely was a need to. But I wasn’t. Because everything I was thinking about was Norimoto vanishing into thin air, left alone with the question of whether he knew what had happened that night or not. How did it feel like? Would I ever be able to imagine? Or was it maybe a little like I was feeling right now? Not very likely. I was sure that it had to be much worse, like being locked in in a nightmare.
A nightmare… I grabbed the little charm around my neck. Did I even need it right now? No, I answered my own question. If I couldn’t save a person who deserved it from vanishing, there was no reason for not vanishing myself, right back into the darkness where I had come from. I started taking the charm off, slowly, waiting for the strange feeling and the darkness to come. “The court is now ready to pronounce their verdict.” Back to where I had come from… Would I be able to see that mysterious place one more time? I held the charm in a way so that the light could pierce through it. Was that the couple I was used to see? I wasn’t sure, everything looked blurred. I couldn’t tell whether it was the couple or a completely other scene which appeared on the wall opposite of me. I recognized two people, not a couple, but two men fighting each other. Obviously I wasn’t even able to forget about it now, when it didn’t matter at all. I could clearly see now how one of the silhouettes struck the other one against a thin column made of darkness, causing pass out on the floor. Right at that moment the scene turned black, only a little angle stayed illuminated. Then another light appeared, wandering through the black circle in a ghostly way, for the left to the right, up, down, from the right to the left, from this angle to that angle, back… If the phenomenon at the crime scene had looked somehow like this, it was quite understandable for me that Norimoto had panicked, especially in that situation. From the left to the right, up, down, from the right to the left… I saw a shadow fleeing from the darkness into the light, or were there two of them? The light didn’t stop to flash through the scene, from the left to the right, up, down, from the right to the left, from this angle to that angle... It didn’t look like it was searching or trying to spot something. It just made its way, again and again, without pausing, and without any apparent reason, like it had nothing to do with the scene on the wall. So what had it to do with? I looked at every shadow on the wall, unable to find the source of light. Then I saw a movement from the tail of my eye. From the left to the right, up, down, from the right to the left, from this angle to that angle, back. The charm fell out of my hand as I suddenly realized where the light was coming from.
“The court declares the defendant, Kai Norimoto, for…” “Objection!” I didn’t care about everyone looking at me as if I had gone mad at all. “There is still something that needs to be clarified!” “Objection! Why don’t you just stop this nonsense? The only thing which needs to be clarified is when you will finally realize that there is nothing for you to do here!” “Miss Shadows”, the grey stone added, “I hope for your own sake that you have some good reason for prolonging this trial!”
“I do, Your Honour. I think I have got an explanation for the phenomenon the defendant saw during the murder occurred. It was neither a ghost nor a hallucination. Your Honour, please imagine how the crime scene looked like. After Miss Silver smashing the lamp, it became dark in the corner, but despite that, the murderer managed it to kill the victim quickly with one single cut through the carotid artery! Isn’t that a little odd at a place where one hardly can see their own feet? At least unless you have a lamp or something similar!” “Objection! Where should this lamp have come from? The only one near to the victim was already broken! Are you suggesting that someone took a lamp from another part of the room and carried it to the corner and nobody saw it?” “No, I’m not. It wasn’t a lamp that illuminated the crime scene, but a flash, a moving spot of light! The flash Mr Norimoto testified about couldn’t have helped anyone to see the victim if it had only existed in someone’s mind! And everyone can cast a spot of light on the wall – everything needed is a shining surface to reflect the light coming from the other lamps in the room…” I was aware of how unlikely it sounded, but there was nothing else I could do. “…something like a little hand mirror!”
“Objection! But that’s nothing but wild speculation!” Auchi shouted as he realized what I was driving at. “If you ask me, it’s at least interesting.” Mary Silver was looking at me at least as intensively as her shadow, and her mirror was still spinning around and around. “So you accuse me of seeing Mr Arterey passing out, smashing a lamp, grabbing a glass shard from the floor, doing some little magic tricks like this… and this…” She tilted the mirror first in one and then in the other direction, causing a little spot of light to flash through the room Norimoto followed with his gaze confusedly, “…and cutting his carotid artery? That’s quite a nice theory, Miss Shadows, especially for you and your client… But it has a tiny little problem.” She stretched out one of her long fingers in my direction, put her mirror on its tip and let it rotate fast on the edge. Then she gave me a presumptuous grin. “You are accusing a person who has absolutely no motive. Why should I walk over to some random people fighting and kill one of them? There’s no reason for it at all!” “I think there is. There is still something that doesn’t fit together, don’t you think so? Why did that brawl even start? Why should someone first talk his associate about an unnamed friend betraying him, just to tell him he should shut up and start a fight a minute later? There’s also no reason for this – especially because there was no one else in that corner who wasn’t supposed to hear what they were talking about, right? The pub was nearly empty, and they even chose a lonely corner, so there were only Mr Norimoto, Mr Arterey… and you, who just happened to walk by to take their orders! It was just a theory, but it suddenly made awfully much sense for me.
“You were this friend of Mr Arterey, weren’t you? That pretty, intelligent young woman who had been betraying him all the time! Arterey had no idea what to do, but Mr Norimoto had a suggestion: He said to his colleague he should first talk about it with the other man, the woman’s future fiancé! And that was when you walked over to the table, right? Mr Arterey didn’t know that you worked at Violet Brawler’s Pub, or at least he didn’t expect you to be there that day! There was a reason why he didn’t want you to know what he was planning to do, wasn’t it? You didn’t want your little scam to be exposed, so when you saw that Mr Arterey had fainted, you took your chance, smashed the lamp and attacked him in the darkness, using a glass shard as weapon and your mirror to see what you were doing!”
“Objection! That’s nothing but silly! How do you want to proof something like that? It’s ridiculous!” “Sometimes”, Miss Silver answered slowly, “It doesn’t matter whether something is ridiculous or not if it’s actually true”, was Silvers answer. She had turned away from us, the mirror was still spinning around on her fingertip. “Tell me, Miss Shadows, was it just a lucky guess or did you actually understand what happened that night? If you ask me, you did. Because you look like someone who sees a lot of things others are totally clueless about them even existing.” I looked at Auchi’s shadow, which desperately tried to pick up the pieces of its broken shell, while Norimoto’s seemed to hesitate in putting itself together again, like it wasn’t sure whether it should or not. I knew that she was talking about neither of them. There were things in life other people wouldn’t have even cared about if they had been able to see them on the wall. “I’m right, am I not? Then let me tell you something, if you haven’t worked it out before: It’s no advantage. You knew that? That smart women can only get into trouble? I could survive quite a long time by pretending to be a nice girl who didn’t cause any serious problems, and for you it was just the same, wasn’t it?” “At least I didn’t betray anyone!” I said without thinking. “Really? But you betrayed your mentor, didn’t you? He thought he would have taken a girl to his home, maybe a pretty, intelligent legal assistant, but you turned out to be a lawyer. You can’t go home and make everybody think you were the one everybody thought you were before, exactly like me. There will be no room for both of us anymore.” She threw her mirror up in the air, watched it flying and then turned back at me again. When it shattered on the floor, I wasn’t sure whether I could see a single tear on her cheek or not. I couldn’t get her words out of my head. She was right, and I knew it. Norimoto was a free man now, but I couldn’t help myself, and nobody else would do it for me. My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the judge’s gavel, but I couldn’t concentrate on what he said.
“That’s a very unexpected turn of events… It looks like the defendant’s testimony finally was correct. The court pronounces the defendant, Kai Norimoto… not guilty.”
When I went out of the courtroom together with Norimoto, I felt like a sleepwalker, like all this wasn’t real, although it definitely was. I knew that I had to say something, but I couldn’t, so I just stood there until Norimoto broke the silence. “Thank you, Miss Shadows. For everything.” His shadow made a step forwards, towards me, and I shied away, in spite of real Norimoto not moving at all. “You… you didn’t take it seriously what that woman said, did you?” I didn’t answer. “Miss Shadows, you just saved me!”
I stared at him angrily. “And who saves me? My so-called mentor will put me with trash!” “You will find a job somewhere! And one day I’m going to have my own law firm or something…” “So that I can tidy up files for you in the country where the sun goes up? Where nobody ever heard my name?” I turned around and started running. “Wait! Miss Shadows!” He failed to grab me when I left the courthouse. On the road, I began to run. My shadow-self ran after me, obviously trying to stop me, but in vain. How could a shadow have helped me now? I kept on running.
I entered Mr Knight’s house, and I heard him ask whether everything was fine. I answered yes and clutched at my briefcase even harder, trying not to think about what would happen if he heard the news. There was something hard inside the briefcase. Did I even want to know what it was? I took it out and saw that it was a shell. Between some foreign characters, there were a few words scribbled on it in English.
Goodbye, Miss Shadows. Maybe one day we will meet again, or even work together
I rushed into my room, clasping the shell so hard that my hand hurt. I was trembling violently as I knelt down on the floor, so that I let go the briefcase. When it hit the floor, something fell out of it. It took me some time to realize that it was a shell too.
Goodbye, Miss Shadows. Maybe one day we will meet again, or even work together
in the city where the shadows come from, as two colleagues.
Still shaking, I held the shells up with a little gap between them, slowly moving them apart from each other. On the wall, I saw huge black door slowly opening, with two silhouettes standing between the leaves side by side, entering the room.
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