There is some discomfort as try to shift my body to a more comfortable position. Something is poking in my side and I sigh and open my eyes. I am in a ditch, a trickle of water runs next to me and there is a rock that is poking me in my side. I slowly getup and have a look around. It is a bright day and there is a paved street some way in front of me. Other than that there is nothing but some rocks and sand. I stare down at my hands, they are white and my cloth look to be a white t-shirt with some kind of picture on it, my pants are wide dark blue jeans.
I try to find out where and who I am. I search my memory for signs but it is empty, it is not amnesia as I remember other things. I know that I am wearing pants and that they are jeans, just like I know what a pavement is. But any memory regarding me or this location escapes me. I get out of the ditch and walk to the pavement. I go through my pockets for clues but they are empty from any possessions.
There are several people walking along the path in front of me, I try to approach them as casually as I can to find out if they speak a language that I can understand. To my relief they speak English and I can understand them. I wonder for a moment if I should ask them a question but it is with some annoyance that I don’t even know what I can ask. I struggle to find any clues about myself and about where I am, but at least I should be able to find the location I am in. I walk along the pavement for several minutes until I reach a large shopping centre. There I walk through the different shops until I find one that sells shirts, printed on them I see “I love Sydney” as well as “I’d rather be in Sydney” and several other similar types of shirts. It is clear that I have somehow landed in Australia, Sydney. I don’t know however if I’m a native or not or if I’m even missed by anyone or how long I’ve been gone.
I rub my temple in frustration and get several strange looks from the people around me, I decide to leave the shopping mall and find the next answers. I need to find who I am and decide that the first thing I need to find out is if I belong in Australia. So I strike up a conversation with a girl that just happens to pass me by. She is wearing a short dress that has little yellow flowers on it. She has a brown tan and wears large black sunglasses. Her hair is dark blond.
‘Hello, I was wondering if I could ask you a quick question’
The girl looks at me, at least I think she does it is hard to tell with her glasses on. ‘If you are selling anything I am not interested’ she says.
‘No I’m not selling anything I am trying to figure out what my accent it’
‘Yes, do you think I have an Australian accent or an American one or maybe an Asian one?’
She tilts her head slightly to the left before she finally says ‘I think it’s European. But it’s hard to tell, you seem to speak English very well but I can’t hear any specific accent. Does that answer your question?’
I’m slightly disappointed and maybe it shows on my face because before I can say anything she says ‘not what you wanted to hear huh?! Is there a reason why you want to know what kind of accent you have?’
With a sigh I go and blurt out my whole story which takes me only several minutes.
‘So you have nothing on you at all?’ she asks
I nod my ‘nothing, no papers, but it’s not really amnesia either because I know everything around me, I mean not this place I don’t remember Sydney but I know what the beach is and the sun and the sand, I know all these words and their meetings. I just don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen them, or felt them, I don’t even know if there is anyone waiting for me, here or anywhere else for that matter.’
‘Well why don’t you go to the police’ she asks.
‘I don’t know,’ I answer ‘maybe because they will think I’m a freak or something or a drunk and just kick me out without doing anything’
She tilts her head again and says ‘What if I go with you? Will that help?’
I stare at her slightly lost for words. ‘Would you?’ I ask to which she nods affirmative.
‘Oh thank you so much’ I say my gratitude bursting out; in my haste I grab her arm and shake it.
‘That’s quite alright’ she replies smiling. She leaves her hand in mine for a moment longer than is strictly necessary and then pulls her hand out of mine, she looks at my hands and focuses on wrist. ‘What is that?’ she asks pointing at my wrist.
I lift my wrist up to my face and look at something that resembles a tattoo of some sort. It looks like a snake or something tangling although I can’t see a head or a tail anywhere. The only thing I see is a green tightly spun web that turns all the way around my wrist. ‘I don’t know’ I answer ‘It looks like a snake to me’
‘Or a bracelet’ she says. ‘I am Julie’ she says and extends her hand.
‘Hi Julie’ I respond smiling ‘I would tell you my name but I lost it for now, so where to Julie?’
Julie takes me on a walk along the boulevard and from there we continue on into the city. The city is crowded, and a large variety of people are walking around. Young people, old people, middle-aged people from all colours and races. It is busy and for a moment I am distracted by all the noises and things that pass me by. Finally after about a twenty minutes walk, we arrive at the police station.
Inside there are several police officers standing and several others sitting behind desks in front of us, we assume that the first answers might be there. There are two women manning the front desk and they are chatting to one another without looking at me at all. They look incredulously generic, your typical policewomen. The one has brown hair and the other black hair, they are both in their late 30s early 40s and looks as though they have had the same job for a long time.
‘Excuse me’ I say to one of the women sitting at the first desk, disrupting their conversation, much to their chagrin.
‘Yes?’ answers the one with black hair.
‘I have a problem I need your help with’ I say trying to keep my voice from trembling. Julie holds my hand and gives me an encouraging smile. ‘A few hours ago I woke up in a ditch without any memory of who or where I am, I don’t have wallet on me or anything that could lead to an identity, the only thing I just found I have is this strange tattoo’
My story seems too generic even to me and the looks I get from the two women confirms that they do not believe my story or think they are part of a practical joke. They stare at each other not fully knowing what to do.
‘So what do you us to do about it?’ asks one of the women.
‘How about your job?’ says Julie clearly irritated. ‘You should be filing at least some paper work, check to see if there is missing person report or maybe get his fingerprint or something to see if he matches with anyone?’ Julie spouts all the points out like a machine gun and the two ladies were clearly not ready for it, because the one starts to scribble notes and types things on the computer while the other leaves the desk quickly and goes inside one of the offices in the station for whatever reason.
The black haired women finished writing something on her computer and turns back to us. ‘I have filed your story into our data and we will see if something comes up, could you give your contact details please?’ she says.
I know it is foolish but I let out a sigh of frustration, I have just explained to her that I woke up in a ditch somewhere without any recollection to who or what I am, how could I possibly have any contact details?! Before I can say anything Julie answers ‘Ocean drive 20/13, phone number 45235364’
The woman notes it down and I stare at Julie in surprise. ‘What are you doing?’ I whisper to her.
‘Well I can’t let you sleep out on the street can I?’ she replies smiling.
‘But you don’t even know me?’ I answer ‘I mean I don’t even know me, what if I am a really bad person or something?’
‘Don’t worry about it’ smiles Julie ‘I have a good feeling about you, so don’t worry about it alright?!’ with that the matter is closed, during this little exchange the black haired women just stares dumbfounded at us, she doesn’t react though which is a minor comfort. The brown haired women walks back to the desk and trailing behind her is a large man. He has a beard and is very nearly bald except for a small patch of hair just above his ears on both sides of his head.
‘Hello’ he says extending a hand to me and Julie which we in turn shake. ‘I am detective Jasper if you two could please follow me, I would like to get your complete story and start working on it’
He leads us to a small white office without any windows or decorations on the wall; there is a desk with a computer and a chair behind it and two chairs on the other side of the desk. Other than that the room is empty, and very plain. Jasper motions for us to sit while he takes a seat behind the computer.
‘Alright,’ he starts ‘Let me hear your story again’
I sigh and recount my story once again. When I am done detective Jasper asks me where the ditch was exactly, he asks me how I found out where I was and how I encountered Julie, he also asks me if he could take my blood for a drugs and lab test as well as my fingerprints. I nod to everything the detective tells me to. Finally the detective adds ‘I would also like to have all the cloths you are currently wearing. It might prove helpful in our investigation.’
I look at the detective somewhat funnily. ‘But I have no other cloths with me, or money to buy anything’ I say somewhat panicky.
‘Oh don’t worry we will give you some cloths which you can keep, there is a dressing room here as well, but before we go there I’ll take your fingerprints and run it in our system.’
I nod and let the detective do his job. He takes my fingerprint and a swab from inside my mouth for DNA he says and with that in hand he leaves me and Julie in the room. Several moments later he returns with a pack of cloths which he hands to me, and tells me to follow him to another room. Once there he tells me to undress and waits there staring at me.
‘Are you going to stand there while I am naked?’ I ask.
‘Yes’ he answers ‘I need to see if there are any other things on you that will help the investigation’
‘Like what?!’ I wonder feeling slightly embarrassed.
‘Like if you are circumcised or not, or if you have any scars or had broken bones or other tattoos or piercings, any one of those could narrow down the search significantly’
I resign and remove my cloths, I stare at my body and I recognize nothing. Several details though are apparent. I am not circumcised, nor do I have any tattoos or piercings other than the one tattoo that I have on my wrist. I am relatively muscular, and it looks as though I can take care of myself in a fight. I have no bruises or anything like that I don’t have any birthmarks or beauty marks either. My skin colour is mocha brown and it is then that I realize that I don’t even know what the colour of my eyes is.
The detective stands in front of me examining every crevice in my body, once he is satisfied with the front he moves on and tells me to turn. I turn to face the white wall and when I do he gasps and mutters something.
‘What?’ I ask alarmed ‘Did you find something?’
‘I am not sure yet’ he answers cryptically. ‘Here get dressed’ he says handing me the bundle of cloths and quickly leaves the room.
I get dressed only after I try to see what it was that frightened the police officer, but without a mirror I can’t see what is hidden on my back.
Several moments later the police officer returns he is not as friendly as he was and he gives a pair of handcuffs. ‘Wear these’ he says coldly and hands me the handcuffs.
‘Why?’ I ask
He doesn’t answer, instead he just looks at me with hate and I am struggling to understand what it was that triggered this change, whatever was on my back it must have been bad. I decide not to resist and wear the handcuffs, I am led from the changing room down the corridor passing the office where I can see Julie standing waiting for me to return, she sees me pass and comes out of the office.
‘What the hell is going on’ she demands pointing at the cuffs.
‘This is none of your concern’ answers the detective curtly.
‘The hell it isn’t!’ she snarls but before she can do anything drastically the detective stops and faces her.
‘If you interfere in this investigation in any way, I will be obliged to arrest you for interfering with an ongoing investigation’ without waiting for a reply the detective continues walking leaving an angry but stunned Julie behind.
I say nothing instead I lower my head and decide to let whatever happens, happen. After several more minutes of walking, through a maze of corridors, we reach a small cell. It is all in white, with a large window containing door as its entrance and no other windows inside. There is a mirror above a small wash basin that looks remarkably clean in comparison to the small toilet that smells of sewer. Next to that there is a small bunk bed.
Without even waiting for the detective to close the door, I take off my shirt and try to look at what secrets my back holds. It takes several tries and I get glimpses of something that looks like text but it is nearly impossible to see what is written there. After a endless struggle of craning my neck to turn left and right in an effort to gain a glimpse of what is hidden on my back I give up frustrated and suffering from a mild pain in my neck.
I sit down on the bed and wait for whatever the future will hold. At first I try to make myself feel better, but my thoughts keep turning to Julie who is somewhere, I feel as though I have failed her. I am still not closer to finding answer and now am most likely not going to find one. My biggest friend in the world, my only friend in the world, Julie was now gone. I am alone; this feeling was even worse than waking up without the knowledge of who you are. The idea of losing your only connection to the world around you, was a million times worse than just not belonging to the world in the first place.
I don’t know how long I sit in that room, time seems to crawl past at a snail’s pace, and I reluctantly start to become more and more depressed. The door suddenly opens and in walks a police officer I haven’t seen before. He looks at me with disdain and says nothing, behind him another person enters he is wearing a white robe and has a little nametag on his coat which identifies him as Dr. Phil. He has a small tray with him. ‘I’m here to take a sample of blood from you’ he announces and sits on the bed next to me. The guard, which is what I assume the police officer to be, stands in front of us.
The Dr. Takes prepares a syringe and a tube, he then puts a strap around my upper arm and tightens it ‘Could you make a fist for me?’ he asks and I proceed to do as he asks. He then holds my arm and opens the sterile syringe packing and puts the syringe in a plastic entrapment. He then pushes the needle through into my arm and quickly connects a tube on the other side of the plastic thing. Blood pours out into the tube ‘you can relax your fist’ he says and I do. The Dr. removes the strap and fills the tube completely when it is full he takes a piece of cotton and alcohol and goes on to put some alcohol on the cotton. In one quick movement he removes the needle and places the cotton on the place where the needle had been, he asks me to apply pressure on it and goes onto close the syringe in a plastic wrap which he places back on his little tray. He takes a plaster and applies it to where I am holding the cotton in place and he tells me that I can let go.
‘Dr. is there anything you can tell me about what is going on?’ I ask him, but the guard quickly intervenes and tells me to be quiet. The doctor motions that he is sorry and leaves me alone in the room to wallow in pity.
Time seems to crawl again and I grow more and more anxious to find out what is going on. What did they find on my back? Did it actually give them information on who I actually was or was it that they got something else. I tried to figure out how long they were allowed to hold me in this cell before I was officially charged with something because for now I had no clue what was going on. It was this uncertainty that was the worst of all. This aggravating feeling that there was nothing you could do, the knowledge that they, the cops, knew something about you that you didn’t. Most likely this something was criminal in origin and based on the reaction of the detective and the way his attitude changed it was clearly something serious but what could be? Was I a drug dealer or something? Or maybe even worse a murder? But if so wouldn’t he know me instantly?
Whatever the answers, I at the moment, had nothing, all I could do was lie down in the bed and wait. The waiting was long and it felt like torture, I could imagine that if you have family or friends out in the world the wait is negligible but when you know nothing the wait is difficult, but maybe the wait is similarly difficult when you have family and friends waiting for you. The one big difference though is if you know why you are waiting, the uncertainty in sitting around waiting for something to come that you can only guess about, makes your mind spin out of control. I spend what feels like hours maybe even days in the room, it is hard to tell, the only thing I know for sure is that I get two meals while I wait. The two meals are horrible which at least tells me that I am used to eating good meals, or maybe just better meals.
After what felt like forever the door opened again, this time it is the detective I had met that opened it, detective Jasper.
I quickly rise to my feet ‘Please’ I ask nearly begging ‘you have to tell me what is going on.’
The detective stares at me and coldly says ‘follow me’.
Reluctantly I follow him along the corridors and finally into the same interview room I was in previously, only this time Julie is nowhere to be seen and I feel depressingly alone. He motions at the chair and I sit in it.
‘Alright, let me start by saying that you have no fingerprints’. He looks at me coldly as he says this, and I stare blankly back at him. I think he expects me to know what this means, but I have no idea. Finally he shrugs and says ‘the only people who don’t have any fingerprints are criminals’ he says quickly and before I can respond to this outrage he continues ‘I would like you to tell me your story’.
But I have nothing and so I start telling him the same story and I see a flicker of rage in his eyes, he bangs his fist on the table and says ‘I don’t believe you! You expect me to believe that a person without fingerprints or any documentation just wakes up? We ran your DNA and came back empty. You are unknown in all the databases we searched, you are negative in all the international databases and you are not missing. You are a nobody, that just leaves one thing: you are a criminal and a good one at that! So I will ask you again. Do you wish to adjust your story or spend several more days in the cell?’
I don’t know what to respond. I don’t even know what it all means, can it be that I am a master criminal without even remembering anything? I stare at the detective in astonishment. ‘Can’t it be that somebody did this to me?’ I finally ask. It is the only thing I can think of.
He looks at me with suspicion ‘why would anybody do this to you?’ he asks.
‘How should I know? Maybe because they did something bad and I am the perfect fall guy?’ I hazard a guess.
I can see the detective pondering the answer, he mulls it over and after some considerations says ‘if that is true than there is no crime yet, so even if what you say is true there is nothing to corroborate your story’
‘But I don’t know anything’ I cry out not able to contain myself anymore. ‘How can I just pull all this off, all I want to do is go home and I can’t even do that. And if I am the master criminal what kind of idiot would go to the police station with such a weird story in the first place? It makes no sense; please can’t you just help me?’ But it is clear that I am barking up the wrong tree. If I am hoping for sympathy I will not find it here, the detective just stares at me coldly and taps a pen on his desk.
Suddenly a knock on the door disrupts him and angrily he opens it. There is a muffled conversation and leaves me alone in the room. After a brief stop he comes back in and angrily he says ‘You have been released on bail’
‘Was I arrested?’ I ask him.
Instead of answering he motions for the door and says ‘get out of here, but we are not done you and me. You can count on that’
I feel like punching him in the face but I refrain and quickly leave the place hoping I will never set foot in that place again. Outside I see that it is early morning and I am greeted by an angel that is waiting for me, it is Julie and my heart loses a beat. I smile a big smile and run towards her.
‘You bailed me out?’ I ask in disbelief.
‘Of course I did!’ she responds ‘those idiots didn’t even charge you with anything and if they hold you for questioning they only have a very short time they are allowed to that without actually charging you with something so after a bit of shouting they had to release you. It still took them about 24h though’ She smiles a crooked smile and adds ‘I didn’t actually bail you out, I just sort of set the record straight the police can’t just do whatever they want without any regard for anyone’
I give Julie a heartfelt hug and we walk away. She leads me to her home which is a nice little flat no too far from the beach. Inside she tells me that she lives alone and that I am welcome to stay as long as I need to. I smile at her and feel my heart grow I tell her how incredible I think she is and that I can’t thank her enough. She just smiles and shrugs it away as though it was nothing. She makes me some food, croissants, bread, jam, nutella, cereals as well as some eggs all the makings of a good breakfast. We sit down outside on the small porch and enjoy a good breakfast in the sun. Interestingly I don’t feel tired even though I haven’t slept the whole day, it is as I think about this that I suddenly remember my back. The momentarily bliss is fading and I feel a need to know what it was that firstly set that detective against me.
‘Julie’ I say as we finish our breakfast.
‘Hmm?’ she replied sipping from her coffee.
‘I need your help. The detective told me to take off my cloths and when he saw my back he became all weird, so whatever is written there has to be something significant, could I ask you to have a look at it?’
She looks at me with a strange look, but quickly she is back to her smiling self and she says ‘Sure no problem’
I thank her and go on to remove my shirt, but before I can do so, she stops me. ‘Don’t you want to do that inside?’ she asks me.
I nod and we head back inside the house clearing the table at the same time. When we are done I remove my shirt and show her my back. For several moments I hear nothing, I turn back to face her. Her face is lowered she is not looking at me.
‘Did you see it?’ I ask.
Julie nods her head.
‘Well?’ I ask ‘What does it say?’
Julie slowly lifts her head and smiles a strange crooked smile at me. ‘Do you really want to know?’ she asks.
For a moment I have reservations about knowing, it seems like knowing what it is, will change everything, finally I look into her eyes and say ‘Yes’
Julie sighs ‘it says This man is a serial killer’ she says.
I look at her to see if she is joking, but she isn’t. Well that seems to clear up why the detective was so hung up to keep me locked up. ‘You don’t seem too frightened’ I say.
Instead of answering she just smiles, she leaves me standing in the living room and goes into one of the smaller rooms in the house, at first I stand there awaiting her return but after several minutes of waiting I walk into the room I saw her enter.
The room is dark and I walk on something that makes a rushing noise, I reach to left searching for the light switch and notice that my hand is touching plastic, the door then slams shut and a light is lit. I am in a room that is covered in plastic, there is a table in the middle of the room, and in front of me standing is Julie. She is wearing something that looks like a butcher’s frock and is holding a cleaver in her hand. ‘Oh I had such high hopes for us’ she says ‘but you are just like the others, you don’t even realize what a blessing it is not remembering, I have to remember everything all the time and now you will be the next link in the chain.’
I have no idea what she is talking about it but she is clearly mad, how could I have missed it? Does that mean that she was the one who wrote on my back or was it something else? I don’t wait to find out and try to head out of the door but it is locked. I pull with all my strength but it is of no use the door is locked.
A sharp pain shakes me from the door and I face Julie, I try to remove something that is lodged in my shoulder blade, when Julie throws something metallic at me. I try to avoid it, but I’m not fast enough and the sharp metallic object hits me in my cheek. I feel warm blood spurting out, but for now adrenaline is my friend and the pain is still only dull. My shirt glows to my back but I don’t give it another thought I’m not sure what I can do when I see Julie is ready for another throw. I bend low hoping that a smaller target will be harder to hit, I am wrong and the metallic object now lunges squarely in my scalp sending shocks of pain through my body. This time Julie leaves me no time to recuperate and a barrage of sharp, small metallic pin like objects are thrown at me. Some bounce off my skin but most of them lodge deeply into my skin and it feels like I have hooks that pull me everywhere. The warm blood trickles from a hundred different places and I feel dizzy and numb.
A shriek that sends shivers down my spine reminds me that my torment is not over. I try to open my eyes and look at Julie, my right eye is useless one of the metallic objects has found its way into it and I am now blind. The pain is an everlasting torment and the eye is just one place that is pulsing, I lack the strength to scream, or shout all I can do is crawl on the floor and wonder why.
Julie stands above me I gaze at her with my left eye which although painful is still giving me a glimpse of the world around me; she has the cleaver in her hand. With horror I stare transfixed at her right arm which is now raising slowly into the air, soon it will be lowered and I will be no more, I can see that Julie is smiling manically and just before her arm descends I can hear her say ‘I should have left you in the police station than you would have still been alive, but then who knows when your memory would return. Luck was on my side my love’ she laughs as her right hand descends and the cleaver is lodged deep into my neck. I want to cry out but the air that was until now flowing into my throat is gone and I…
He pushes his finger out of his right eye, and rubs his eye trying to remove the pain, for some reason he feels his throat raw, he swallows several times hard and reaches down next to bed, where a bottle of water lies. He picks the bottle up and takes several big gulps of water before putting the bottle down again. He closes the top turns on to his other side and goes back to sleep…