The next morning, Chase is having his breakfast in the kitchen. The house is big but the heater works perfectly and the room is already warm. After a while, the girl gets in too.
"Oh, hello! You found the kitchen" says Chase, smiling.
"Yeah, after I went around the whole house..." she replies, sleepy.
"How are you today? Remembered something?" he asks, pouring some coffee in a cup. She shakes her head.
"It's terrible. I can't remember anything. Who I am, why I was there, what I was doing there... It's all empty. It seems I never did anything in my life. But absolutely anything. I don't have a past" she tells.
"I'm not an expert on this... But I think you will recover your memory. How should I call you meanwhile?". She looks at him frowning.
"Stranger? Is it good?" he tells. She laughs.
"Perfect" she replies, smiling. "Probably I should go to the police... Maybe they can do something" she says, thoughtful.
"Maybe..." Chase says, a bit disappointed.
"But I don't want to. I mean, I'll go there and tell I don't remember who I am? They have more important things, they would just send me away. And I want to remember things on my own. But I don't know how to do that" she explains, discomforted.
"Mmm, we can try to make an inquiry on our own" he tells, happier. "We can try to understand who are you. You don't even remember your age?" he tries.
"Ok... I'd say... 25 maybe. You probably have a job or you studied something. We can see what you know better, what you like... And probably we can even find out what where you attending yesterday night, dressed like that"
"Oh, thank you for these clothes!" she remembers, about the clothes he lent her.
"Ah, don't worry, my ex surely won't come to have them back" he tells, joyful. She's a bit uncomfortable now.
"Ok. So, you think we should search for information for today and if nothing jumps out, I should go to the police?"
"Ok. It seems my head is exploding. But anyway. Let's talk about you. Are you rich or what? This house is beautiful"
"Yes... My dad is a rich man. He paid this house for me"
"Wow. Well, if I'll remember, I hope I have a rich dad too", he laughs. "And what do you do?"
"I sing in a band" he tells, proudly.
"Really?" she asks surprised.
"Yes, why so surprised?"
"Ah, nothing. And you sing Christmas carols?"
"No, I sing in a rock band!" he tells, confused.
"Oh, good! So the huge Christmas tree at the entrance and all the lights are not yours?" she asks, smiling.
"Ah, those... As you said, this house is big and cold sometimes. I feel lonely living here alone, so at least on holiday time, I like to make it a bit more... warm and welcoming"
"So, you can stay here how long you want. I'll be happy to have company" he tells, widely smiling.
<< Through the haze I had a vague vision of Holmes in his dressing-gown coiled up in an armchair with his black clay pipe between his lips. Several rolls of paper lay around him.
"Caught cold, Watson?" said he. >>. Chase gets in, coughing and sneezing. He's still wrapped up in his coat, with scarf and hat. The girl is reading a book in the sitting room, next to the fire, and looks up, surprised, when Chase repeats coincidentally Dr. Watson's acts in reality, though for a different reason.
"Caught cold, Chase?" she asks, smiling. He looks at her, confused by her happiness.
"Yes, I guess so... It's terribly cold outside, it's still snowing" he explains. He takes off the coat and puts a newspaper next to the fireplace, in front of her. He stands there to warm up his hands while she observes the newspaper.
"What are you reading?" he asks then. She looks up to him.
"Ahm... The Hound of the Baskervilles, I found it in your library."
"Oh, I love that book"
"Yeah. I think I had already read it, though"
"Good. It means you're remembering something."
"Maybe... Did you find out anything?"
"Yes, but I don't know how much this can be useful" he tells, taking the paper and putting it on her book. She takes a look at it. There's a marked article on one side.
"It just tells about a premiere of a show at a theatre. It was yesterday night and guess what? The theatre is at the periphery of the town, some kilometres from the highway. That's the only event that requires an elegant dress, that occured yesterday" he explains, proud of his findings. She looks perplexed.
"Ok... Let's say I was there... And then?"
"Do you like Opera?" he asks, disappointed.
"No, I wouldn't say that..." she replies, disgusted too. "In fact I'm a bit surprised."
"Well, anyways. We have some hints now. You like Sherlock Holmes and you were at the premiere" he repeats, realizing the fact that these aren't great hints. "We can get something more from the second"
"Wait a second..." she tells, carrying on the reading of the newspaper on another article.
"What?" he asks, frowning.
"Have you seen this one? It tells police found a dead body in an alley of the quarter"
"Mm, it happens even too often, lately" he comments. She looks to him.
"Few blocks away from the theatre"
"Oh..." he says and goes behind her to read. He scrolls the news rapidly with his eyes.
"Damn, I missed it..." he whispers, she smiles. "Ok, I admit it's weird. Two strange incidents near the same area... They can be related"
"It gives me chills" she says.
"We don't know if they're actually connected" he reminds her.
"Yes, but the whole story gives me chills"
"Alright. Let's try to discover some more about it" he says.
At late evening, the girl, a bit discomforted, goes around the house, searching for Chase. She finally reaches his bedroom, the door is half closed and the light is on. She knocks and gets in, seeing he doesn't answer. There's no one inside, she can just see a big stuffed black teddy bear stretched on the bed, with the belly down. She's surprised of finding such a thing in his room and she gets closer to take a look. Once there, she bends down and slightly pulls up bear's arm that was on the pillow. Suddenly, the bear jumps on the bed, startled and yelling something like "What the f...". She stares shocked at him when she finds out that was actually Chase, dressed with a bear-like costume. The eyes of the animal she saw before are now just attached to the hood of Chase's mask.
"I'm sorry... I didn't know it was you..." she tells, still incredulous.
"Who else could it be? But it's ok..." he tells, yawning.
"What... were you doing?" she asks.
"Ah? I was resting a bit. Oh! This is just a kind of dressing gown, I didn't want to take out a blanket. It's really warm" he explains, noticing her surprised stare. "But I'm sure you came here to tell something, right?"
"Oh, yeah, yeah. I kept searching about the murder. You're right, there aren't many information on the web, it seemed no one paid much attention to it. I could just discover that the victim is a man, around thirty and he was dressed in an elegant fashion too. He was stabbed and died because of the bloodletting. Police couldn't find the weapon or any trace in general, though" she says, though it's complicated to speak seriously when Chase is looking a bit sleepy at her, from inside that furry thing, with his hair getting out of the hood and those bear ears on his head. Sitting with crossed legs, he really looks like an actual huge teddy bear. She tries not to laugh at him.
"Ok, that's it. I just came to say that I was going to bed, I'm really tired" she adds.
"Yes, ok, me too. Wait, don't you wanna have a dinner?"
"No, thanks. I'm not hungry"
"Ok. Better, because I can't cook" he replies, smiling. Therefore, she goes to bed, even if concerned and with a heavy soul. He lays down on the bed again.
During the night, the girl is sleeping in her room, all wrapped in the blankets, turning from one side to the other continuously. She's still nervous and she wakes up. When she slowly opens her eyes, she sees something at the window: it looks like the dark figure of a man. Scared, she sits on the bed and she can clearly hear the noise of someone using tools on the window. She yells terrified and goes out the room. She runs all along the corridor until she crashes into someone. She screams even more but he holds her.
"Hey, hey... Calm down... What happened??" Chase asks her. She stares scared at him and holds to him, catching her breath.
"There is someone... In my room, that is trying to get in from the window" she tells, with a trembling voice.
"What? Probably it's just my cat..." Chase says, perplexed.
"You have a cat?"
"Yes... He stays outside mostly and I let him in if it's too cold"
"But no, no, Chase I tell you, it was a person, I could see it!" she says.
"Ok, ok, I'll take a look. Anyway, the house is protected with alarms" he tells, taking a sword from the wall. He goes to her room and she follows him closely.
"Chase, please, be careful..."
"Don't worry, I know how to use this" he says, winking and waving the sword. She stays next to the door and he gets closer to the window. Everything looks fine now. Chase can't see anything, not even outside. Perplexed, he opens the window and looks out: nothing. But when he's closing it again, he notices something on the wood: it's a scratch that wasn't there before. It's even pretty deep. Confused and a bit alarmed, he decides not to tell anything to her. He closes the window and locks it carefully.
"There's nothing here. Probably it was really my cat, you're just a bit nervous for all this story. But if you don't wanna sleep here tonight, I can understand."
"And where should I sleep?" she asks, still shocked.
"You can stay in my bed and I'll sleep in the couch. Or in the same bed, if you don't have any problem. I'll put the sword in the middle" he jokes, smiling.
"No, don't worry Genius, I don't have any problem. I don't want to stay alone"
"Ok, Jasmine. We have a deal. I'll call you Jasmine from now on, ok?"
"Everything is ok" she says, following him out of the room. When they walk along the corridor, Chase checks out if the alarm is on, in one of the controllers. Everything is working so they carry on to his room. Then he suddenly stops and holds "Jasmine" behind him.
"What?" she asks. He looks around at the dark room, incredulous, when he sees his cat wondering around in the sitting room.
"Eddie, what are you doing here?!" he asks, scared. She gets he didn't let him in so, if he is in, it means someone opened a door or a window. She grabs his arm and he tends to hold her behind him, when the alarm starts ringing. She's terrified and he tries to stay calm and look all around.
"Chase, I told you!" she says, scared. He thinks for the best quick solution, while the siren keeps ringing loudly.
"Ok, you stay here. Don't move" he says, while goes back to the controller they just passed, cautiously looking around. Once there, he turns off the siren and checks all the cameras, especially the ones near the point of intrusion signaled by the surveillance instrument. He can just get a glimpse of someone dressed with dark clothes getting out of the backdoor to the garden. A bit tense, he holds better his sword and goes to take a look.
"Chase, where are you going?" she whispers.
"Don't worry. I think he went away, but I wanna check" he tells, going to the backdoor. She cautiously follows him. When he gets there, he finds the door still open and a cold wind comes in, freezing him. No one is here, so he goes closing the door and locks it. On the floor, he sees a little piece of paper with a dark writing. Taking it, he closes to the window to have a better light to read it. With what seems blood, there's a line, written with a finger. It just says "I will get you". Chase stares at it, thoughtful when Jasmine, in front of him, tries to take it.
"What's this?" she asks. He puts the note out of her reach. "Come on! This is about me too!"
"Ok... But I don't want to worry you even more" he explains. She takes it and reads it.
"What does this mean? Who's this person? What does he want from me?"
"I don't know but I don't like it. I'm almost sure it has something to do with what happened at the theatre. We still know nothing about it" he says, looking concerned at her.
"I'm sorry, my presence here is even putting you in danger" she confesses, sadly.
"No, don't worry. We'll talk to the police tomorrow. They will know what to do" he says, when his cat enters the room and jumps on the furnitures. He has some blood on his neck and some feathers in his mouth: they now know where that blood came from. *Meow*
The next day, a police officier is talking to Chase and his friend in the sitting room of his house. Some other agents are searching for evidences in the backdoor and at the windows.
"So, you don't remember anything?" the officer asks to Jasmine.
"Mmm... Well, we can check your fingerprints to see if we can find a match with our records. I hope for you we don't, and I actually don't think this research will lead to relevant results. We can see if someone denounced the disappearance of some girl who can fit your profile. I don't think is wise to show your picture around: if someone is really searching for you, it can just help him", she silently nods.
"Excuse me, sir" Chase starts "During the past day, we made some researches, trying to figure out something... It's not much, but we read of the man that has been stabbed near the theatre. I know it's very light, but we think the two facts are linked. Probably they both were at the theatre". The officier smiles at him.
"Ok, little Sherlock Holmes, we'll check that out" he tells. "We'll also try to get some fingerprints from the note.", the other agents reach them too. Chase carefully observes their expression to see if they got something.
"Oh, excuse me, only one last thing" Chase adds. "What should we do in the case, you know..."
"In the case you're in danger again? I'll leave you my number, call me" he says, handing him his card.
"Ok, thank you" Chase replies, while the police goes away. Jasmine looks at him, like waiting for him to start the conversation.
"Well, he's been kind" he tells.
"I don't know, Chase. This story gets worse every day"
"Yeah, but you see they will help us. They have all the means to do that", his phone rings. He checks that out and writes a quick text. Then he puts it in the pocket again, annoyed.
"I feel like I'm in the middle of a trap that is closing around me. Like Sir Henry Baskerville in the book" she tells, he smiles a bit.
"I should be your Watson, then?"
"But I don't want to put you in danger. Who knows what this is story really is about, who this man is, who I am... I don't like you to risk because of me, you don't have anything to do with this story"
"I don't have any problem in helping you. My father will send a technician today to fix the lock and check the others", his phone rings again. "Ah! I'm sorry..." he says, taking again his phone, even more annoyed. He stares at it frowning and he looks a bit angry.
"Oh come on! What is he thinking??" he complains.
"Ah, nothing..." he says, with a gesture of the hand. She keeps staring at him, waiting for an answer, so he carries on.
"We have a gig, in a pub, tomorrow, and Andy, the boss, wants me to dress as Santa Claus! I won't do that!". She laughs, while he puts away the phone.
"Oh, why not? It's Christmas Eve, it will look perfect"
"No no no. I have a reputation to keep, you can ask me everything but not that". Smoke on the Water starts ringing from his phone. Bothered, he keeps it again.
"Yep. I have to answer, wait"
"Yes, sure". Chase answers to the call.
"Hey, Chase! Why don't you wanna do that?" Andy says at the other side.
"Because no! I won't dress up as Santa! I will look like an idiot on stage!"
"Look Chase, the owner of the pub asked me. He even wanted us all dressed as Santa, but I explained we would have problems with the gears, you know... So he proposed you to do that only"
"Oh, really? Why don't you ask Nick? He would be happy to do that"
"He's hidden behind the drums!"
"But I'd look more like one of the elves than Santa Claus!"
"Oh come on Chase... I can't tell him no, you know... So, go searching for a costume, and be quick"
"But...", Andy closes the call, knowing that's the only way to make Chase shut up. Jasmine was observing the whole scene, entertained. He goes back to her, after wandering around the whole room.
"Come on, it's not that bad" she says.
"I can't believe it... Who wants a metal singer, but only dressed up as Santa? What should I do next, a reindeer?"
"Hahaha, I'm sure you will look good in red. And you can't refuse it. If you don't play, your boss would fire you"
"Ah, Andy is a good guy... But yeah, he would probably do that"
"You need a costume then" she tells, all smiling.
"Yeah..." he says, scratching his forehead. "Will you come too, to our gig?" he asks, suddenly happy.
"Yeah, sure, I wouldn't miss it for any reason in the world. Have you already bought all the presents?".
During the evening, Chase and Jasmine go to a supermarket because he's late with some gifts. He convinced her to get out of home and breathe some fresh air, although the threat of the night before. They're sitting in a bench inside the market. It's a huge place with lights everywhere, decorations and Christmas trees. People are running everywhere with plenty of bags and Chase puts his ones next to him. He checks inside.
"This is for Andy, Ralf, Frankie,... Yes, there's everything" he tells. She smiles.
"You buy presents for everyone?"
"They don't tell it, but they actually want presents. So, yeah" he replies, smiling. "Are you sad?"
"Me? Ehm, I guess Christmas is the worst time to have an amnesia. Who knows if I had bought all the presents, if I have someone to give them to..."
"Give it time. You'll see you'll remember everything" he tells, rubbing her back.
"Yes, I'm giving it time, but..." she stops talking, she just looks down. Chase doesn't know what to say and he takes his vibrating phone. There's a facebook notification: Andy tagged him in a picture of a koala with Santa's hat. "This is how you'll look :D" says the text. Chase sends an angry face and then scrolls down the news.
"Hey wait!" Jasmine says.
"What?" asks Chase, taking some looks at her.
"One thing is missing: your Santa's costume"
"Ah, yeah... We'll look for it later..."
"What are you doing?" she asks, looking at his phone.
"Just taking a look at the news, to see if there's anything interesting"
"Just few pictures about the air show... Nothing else" he tells, disappointed.
"Wait!" she interrupts him and stops his scrolling with her finger. She stops on a post from History Channel.
"What? You like History Channel?"
"No, it's the news. "New inquiry on Tuthankhamun's tomb. The tomb analysed with X-rays". This sounds familiar.". Chase looks at her, perplexed.
"Probably because they're always studying on it"
"No no, I mean... This project. I have already heard of it"
"Yeah, well, never mind. It's not important" she tells, a bit disappointed. "What about going to buy your stage prop?" she jokes, taking some of his bags and going away.
"Oh, you really love it, uh? Hey, wait!" he jumps up and goes after her.
After a while, they're walking along the sidewalk, taking a look at shops. Blue Christmas lights hang along all the road, shop windows are enlightened with multicolour lights and everyone has its tree. It's cold and it's late evening, so it's a bit dark. You can't see stars in the sky but you can see the lights on London Eye.
"Come on, you looked adorable with that dress!" she says.
"I looked like an idiot! But that's fine... They should pay me an extra for this"
"You should thank Andy that didn't propose you to use that reindeer costume..."
"Oh please..." he comments, terrified.
"Hahaha, or you preferred the angel one?"
"No no, that doesn't suit me... I prefer the reindeer" he jokes, they both laugh. Suddenly, few gunshots are fired. They hear the whistle of the bullets and look around, scared. Few windows get smashed, near to them, and they understand they're the targets. Jasmine sees a black truck running away and a firearm sticking out of the window, pointing at them. She pushes Chase to the ground and they both fall in a bunch of snow, put there on one side, with all the bags spread around. The window behind them gets broken by the bullets and the glass pieces fall down onto them. Luckily their coats are thick and they're all wrapped in scarfs and hats and they try to cover their faces. Once the truck runs away, they look up and around, scared, aware of the danger they have just escaped.
In a few minutes, the police gets there. The red and blue sirens almost get masked among the city lights. Agents put tape around the broken shop windows, Chase and Jasmine sit shocked on the little wall of a store. The officier of the morning gets there and goes to them.
"Good evening, agent" Chase says, with a playful tone.
"Again you two?"
"Evidently, someone really wants us dead" Chase replies.
"What happened this time?" he asks, taking his casebook.
"Someone shot at us" Chase answers.
"From a black truck. I saw it running away. It missed us the first time, that gave us the opportunity to perceive the danger and escape the second time too" she explains.
"You didn't see anything else? Who was driving? The car plate?"
"No. The glasses were darkened and it was too fast to read the plate"
"Ok, I see" he tells, writing down.
"Did you get anything from your records, agent?" Jasmine asks.
"No, I'm sorry. You're not in our records and no one denounced your disappearance. Though we could find a partial fingerprint in the note but didn't get any match yet. I'll suggest you though not to leave home since we don't clear up this thing"
"But I have a gig tomorrow night! I can't miss it" Chase tells.
"A what?" asks the agent.
"A gig. With my band"
"Ah. Well, ask someone to come and fetch you. And lock doors and windows accurately" he tells, going to take a look at the scene of the gunshot. Chase takes a look at Jasmine, discomforted and with her head down.
"They didn't find anything" she tells.
"But... Probably it's just because... You never committed a crime" he replies.
"And no one noticed my disappearance"
"Ahm, you saved my life. Thank you" he tells smiling. She looks at him and smiles.
"Let's come back home" he tells, getting up and going to the agent who will accompany them home.
For the whole night and the next day, they're still a bit shocked about what happened. Jasmine is concerned about their safety and not knowing anything, not even who she is, really proves her. Chase is starting to realize how serious this situation is. Someone is really chasing them and wants them dead at any costs. But in any case, this won't stop them from spending a good Christmas' Eve night. Andy and the rest of the boys come to Chase's to take them and go to the pub. Chase is so eagerly to get out of home he's even happy with his Santa's dress. He keeps playing with the fake beard and puts the red hat on anyone is at his reach. Once there, they just play their show. Few metal songs, Chase running here and there on stage, audience headbanging for them. Jasmine enjoys their performances and she thinks Chase is really a good singer. He entertains the crowd and makes them even sing a Christmas song. At the end of the show, Jasmine reaches them in the backstage.
"Hey! Did you like it?" Chase asks, happily.
"Oh yes, I loved it"
"Do you think I'm a good singer? Say yes, or Santa won't bring anything for you tonight..." he says, winking.
"Surely you're a good singer" she replies, smiling.
"Don't you feel hot? I'm sweating..." Chase asks everyone.
"I'm actually freezing, Chase... I think it's just your costume" answers Andy.
"Your brown hair doesn't actually fit the white beard..." Jasmine comments, observing him better.
"A Santa without white beard is not Santa" Chase replies, when Jasmine pulls down the beard
"Now you look like Santa's son" tells Nick, laughing.
"Well, I really had enough of that thing" Chase tells, scratching his chin.
"I think you should take a shower as soon as possible" Jasmine says, slowly pulling up the hat. His hair are completely wet, and the hat too. He follows his hat with his eyes.
"Except that, you still look good" she adds, smiling.
They come home and go to bed soon because they're tired. During the night, Jasmine gets up and goes to the Christmas tree at the entrance. She turns on the lights and admires it all enlightened, a big Christmas tree, finely adorned with golden and red balls and thin chains. After a while, Chase notices some lights out of his room, in the corridor. He gets up and slowly goes to see. He can recognize the multicolour lights of his tree but doesn't get why it's lit up. When he turns around the corner, he relaxes, once he sees Jasmine sitting on the floor, next to it, observing the lights from a close distance.
"Hey, what are you doing here at this hour?" he asks, with a low voice, rubbing his eyes.
"Accidenti, Chase! You scared me!" she tells, caught by surprise.
"What did you say?"
"That you scared me"
"Oh, ok. Tell me! I'm sorry, anyway. Did you just speak in Italian or it's just me?"
"Ah?" she asks, confused.
"Ah... I'm evidently too sleepy. What are you doing here, though?" he asks, sitting down, next to her.
"Nothing, I'm just admiring your beautiful Christmas tree" she tells, smiling. The whole entrance is intermittantly enlightened with different colours and so are their faces.
"You know, I still don't remember a lot, but I know I always loved Christmas lights. And Christmas trees. I always wanted to have a proper tree, or a house decorated like yours. All lights and colours. Christmas period does something to me" she tells, smiling. "Somehow I relate all these things to my childhood, when Christmases were actually good. It's nothing in particular, just a feeling. That I love though. And I always tried to feel it again, but I failed every time. And this saddens me. One way or another, there's always something that takes my attention or keeps me busy and I can't even realize Christmas came and went away. But probably it's all just because I'm not a child anymore. I'm sorry, I'm bothering you with this idiocy..."
"Oh no, it's not an idiocy. It's how you feel, carry on, I'm interested" he tells, smiling. He was carefully listening to her.
"Well, anyway, your Christmas lights make me feel better" she ends, smiling. She looks again at his tree, towering over them, sitting on the ground. It gets intermittantly lit up.
"How long do you think it will take to the police to solve this story?" she asks.
"I don't know, really... Probably they're working on it"
"I can't help thinking I probably should have been somewhere else now. It's not against you, but I wonder what should have been my place now"
"I try to remember, I try every time but I can't get anything. And why no one noticed anything? No one noticed my disappearance, no one missed me, no one searched for me. What kind of family I have? Friends? Do I even have some? Or they just are better now?"
"Hey, don't think about it. I'm sure there's an explanation for this too. There should be one. If I were your friend before, I should have missed you. And actually you're starting to remember something. You were telling me before. But, well, now you're forced to spend Christmas with me. You saved me even from my parents' Christmas lunch!" he tells smiling. Then they hear Big Ben's bells strokes: it's midnight.
"Merry Christmas!!" says Chase happily.
"Merry Christmas to you too, little Santa"
"Oh, wait, I have something for you" he says, stretching out to reach a present under the tree.
"For me??" she asks, surprised.
"Yep. This is for you" he says, giving her a cubic box enveloped in green paper and with a golden tape around it. She looks at him surprised.
"Come on, open it!" he tells. She unties the tape and takes off the paper. He bought for her the whole collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. She takes every single book in her hands and observes it carefully.
"Wow, Chase! This is beautiful! Thank you!" she tells, happily and hugs him.
"I knew you would have liked it" he replies, hugged to her.
"But I couldn't take anything for you..." she tells, sad.
"No, when I get my money back, I'll buy something for you. You spent a lot for all this!" she tells, still looking at the books.
"You know I can..."
"How did you...? I mean, you were here with me all the time"
"Well, yeah... I sent Andy. He surely owed me something after my disguise as Santa Claus. He bought it yesterday morning and took here yesterday night" he explains, but she's all busy browsing the books. Suddenly she remembers of something.
"Wait a minute..." she tells, getting up and going toward the backdoor.
"Hey, where are you going?" he asks, getting up too. She exits on the garden and looks up at the sky. After a while, she fixes her look up, over her head.
"You wanna catch Santa's sleigh?" Chase asks, after reaching her. "I'm freezing..." he comments, tightly folding his arms.
"You see that star? The bright one?" she asks, pointing up. He looks there.
"Yes, I think so..."
"That one is called Algol. From Arabic, it means "shiny demon" or "demon's head" " she tells. "That's because it's a variable star. Its luminosity varies quickly and visibly with naked eye, in just three days. 2,86 precisely"
"Ok... Why are you telling me this?"
"This happens when the smaller star partially occults the bigger star. It's been observed for the first time with telescopes just in 1788 and its mystery has been solved. I don't know why I'm telling you this. I just remembered it and found it interesting". He looks perplexed.
"So, I guess you like astronomy too?"
"I don't know"
"Can we get in? I'm freezing" he asks, trembling and a bit suffering.
"Yeah, sure". They come back inside and close the door. Chase rubs his hands to warm up.
"I should search something about it" she tells, thoughtful.
"Now? But it's late... or early..."
"I'll go to bed, I'm tired..." he tells.
"Yes, ok, I'll go too. I'll turn off the tree"
The next morning, Chase and Jasmine wake up late, but just in time to welcome the police officier who comes to Chase's house. Jasmine goes to open when the bell rings.
"Good morning. I was searching exactly for you" he says. She looks at him surprised and even a bit scared.
"Who is, Jas?" Chase yells from the kitchen. She looks back but doesn't know what to tell. So she just lets him in.
"Who's..." Chase asks, going to see and stops when he sees the agent. "Oh. Hello"
"Good morning boy" the agent tells. They stay in the sitting room to talk.
"You have any news, agent?" she asks.
"Actually yes" he replies. She looks at him, concerned, unsure if she wants to know.
"Are you ready to know?" he asks. She nods silently while Chase just looks at her. "Ok. We couldn't find anything in our records so we asked to the immigration office. We had a result yesterday but it was at late night so I came here now. Your name is Samantha Cortese and you're from Italy" he tells, reading in his casebook. She looks confused at him. "You came to England for a research with university, at the Egyptology faculty. You live here since few months. We talked to your family in Italy and in fact they didn't hear from you in the last days, but they knew you were busy with work. Did you know anything of it?"
"No..." she tells, perplexed. "I didn't even know I wasn't English"
"We informed on the murder case and we think probably you two could know each other" the agent says, first looking at Chase and then at her.
"Sorry, did you find out anything about him? Who was he, what did he do as a job?" Chase asks.
"He worked with the university too, that's why we think they knew each other. He was an astronomer, I don't remember his name now". Chase and Samantha exchange a look. "What? There's something I should know?" asks the agent.
"No agent. Nothing" she says. Chase gives her a surprised look.
"Ok. Now we're still inquiring about what's the actual link between you two and who wants you dead. This is what I had to tell you. In the case you remember something, don't hesitate calling me" he tells, somewhat feeling she's hiding something.
"Yes, sure" she says.
"Good. Merry Christmas" he tells, standing up and going to the door. Chase accompanies him. Then he comes back. She's still sitting on the couch, thoughtful.
"Hey, Sam? Are you ok?" he asks. She looks at him.
"Yeah. An astronomer? Chase, it can't be a case. Not after my exploit of yesterday night"
"Yes, I know" he says, sitting next to her.
"I have to search something. I need to know"
"So, you're not even English" he tells smiling. "You're Italian. I was right then"
"I don't know what to tell Chase."
"Don't worry, don't say anything. We'll see what we can find on the web." he says, rubbing her back.
Later, she's at his laptop, carefully reading something. He sees she's focused on something and she asks her.
"Probably" she tells, giving a fast look at him. He reaches her and goes behind.
"I found this article about some research related to Algol occultation period. It tells something about Egyptian calendar... There's a period of 29 days, surely related to the Moon's cycle, and then a period of 2,89 days. It's thought it can be related to Algol, and it would be an important discovery because it would mean variable stars have been observed thousands of years before than we think"
"Well, the period of 3 days is very close..."
"Yes..." she tells, thoughtful.
"What are you thinking of?"
"No, nothing, I'm just trying to remember"
"And is it working?"
"Just a bit... I think I already heard of it, I actually yeah, I think I know this" she tells, scratching her head.
"Well, this is good."
"I think we were colleagues"
"You and that guy?"
"Yes. Probably we were working on this case together."
"Maybe. But why should someone want to harm you? And they even killed him"
"This discovery is millions worth it"
"Wow!" he exclaims, surprised.
"The manuscript we found the information on, is very precious. I guess that's what they want"
"And where did you put it?" he tries.
"You're asking too much. I don't remember it" she holds her head on her hands.
"Alright, it's ok. We already cleared up many things" he tries to comfort her.
"Damn. My colleague died because of it..."
"We should call the agent"
"I have to go to the university"
"What? You're kidding me?"
"No, I must know. Probably it's hidden somewhere in my study"
"There's people who wants to kill us outside!"
"Don't tell me you're not actually willing to go..." she plays with him. He tries to slow down the excitement.
"Your parents are going to come here?"
"No, they're too lazy for that"
"Ok, we can go then" she says standing up.
"Don't you wanna hear Queen's Christmas address?" he asks. She faces him closely.
"Don't you wanna come with me?"
"Damn! Girl, you win. Let's go" he accepts, closing the laptop and leading her out of the room.
They take his car and reach the university, always carefully che king behind no one is following them. Luckily, the building is open even if it's holiday, probably because of the History Museum next to it. They get in and following her memories, they reach the corridor of researcher students. They walk along it, passing every door and checking the names on them. Finally they reach the door with her name, her colleague name and some other names. She tries to push the door and it opens. She looks at Chase, who is actually surprised.
"Why is it not locked?" he asks.
"I don't know, probably some other researcher came here even if it's holiday" she replies, pushing it a bit more. Chase puts a hand on the handle and stops her.
"And if that's not the answer, uh?"
"If they wanted to come, they would have already done it, at night maybe. They can't be here". Chase decides to trust her and they get in. The study is actually empty, just few desks and chairs, some closets against the walls. Chase closes the door while Sam goes to her desk that she soon recognizes. She finds some paper on it, some pictures of the manuscript.
"Are you so messy? I would have never said that" Chase comments, noticing the disorder on her desk. She looks at him, perplexed. She tries to open the drawer but it doesn't move, it's locked.
"Damn!" she says.
"It's locked, I need the keys"
"And where are the keys?". She thinks for a while.
"Down at the entrance, there are all the keys there"
"Ok, we have to get down again"
"Don't worry, I'll go, you stay here. I'll be quick" she says, going to the door.
"No, hey, I can't let you move alone"
"I'll be quick" she repeats, exiting. Chase makes a gesture of impatience but she's already gone. Quickly, she gets down the stairs and reaches the entrance. There isn't any guard, so she can directly have access to the keys. She takes her and goes up again, without noticing all the other keys are still there too... She gets back and sees the door is a bit more open than how she left it. Probably it's just an impression and she doesn't mind a lot. She gets in and finds Chase laying unconcious on the ground, he's laying on his back with the head on one side and his hair spread all around and on his face, but it doesn't seem he's wounded or there's blood somewhere. Anyway, she quickly runs to him and kneels down. She raises his head and calls him, slapping and pinching his cheeks to wake him up. Slowly and a bit confused, he opens his eyes and looks around, though his sight is a bit blurred. She is holding him up, looking worried at him.
"Chase, dear Lord, you scared the hell out of me! What happened?" she asks, relieved.
"Someone hit me..." he tells slowly and looking around.
"Someone? Who? Did you see him?"
"No, he or she attacked me from behind" he explains, looking at her.
"Ok, well, stand up, come on!" she says, raising him up. "Ok. I have the keys, we have to be fast and we'll get out of here". She makes him sit at her chair and she tries all the keys in the drawer. He observes her, holding his head. She frenetically tries all the keys until the drawer opens. Obviously the manuscript is not there, there's just a folder with some notes of the things they discovered, calculations, sky charts... She browses them, nervous, he looks at her disappointed and aching.
"What does it mean?" she asks.
"I guess it's not here"
"Ok, can we go?". She takes a look at him, sees him silently holding his head and she feels guilty.
"Ok, yeah. Are you ok, Chase?"
"Yes, don't worry, I just feel a bit fuzzy". So, she takes the folder and moves in front of the desk, he follows her. But when they reach the door to get out, three men appear in front of them and stop them. They don't seem well-disposed toward them and Chase and Sam stare afraid at them.
"Finally we meet each other again. You won't flee this time" one of them says, while they get in. Chase and Sam step back, scared.
"Who are you? What do you want?" she asks.
"Stop with this charade, you know us. And you know what we want" he tells, menacious.
"I don't have it. I don't know where it is" she says. The man that have been talking, the boss probably, makes a sign to one of his men to take the folder from her hands. She puts up a fight, therefore the two take their guns and point them against Chase and Sam. They stay silent and froze with fear.
"Kneel down!" one of them orders. They take a look at each other and kneel down, with their hands behind the head. One man with the gun takes the folder from Sam's hands, she looks irritated. The man gives the folder to the boss who browses it rapidly. He finds nothing and throws everything to the floor. Sam and Chase start.
"Where is it??" he asks, angrily.
"Please, let him go away, he doesn't have anything to do with this" she asks, referring to Chase. He looks surprised at her.
"Mmm... And why should I? He can be useful" he says, going to him. Chase stares at him, half scared and half angry. The boss grabs his arms and forces them behind his back. Chase tries to resist but the strength is too hard.
"Hey, please, leave him!" Sam says. The boss pulls out his gun and points it against Chase's throat. Chase looks terrified and takes a deep breath.
"First, tell us where is the manuscript"
"I don't know, I swear!"
"I don't believe you! You worked on it! You counterfeited it and gave us the fake copy!"
"I, I... I don't remember, please, I don't know where it is" she says. Chase looks a bit surprised at her, for what the boss told.
"You don't remember? That manuscript is millions worth it and you don't remember where you put it?!"
"I lost my memory! I swear, I don't remember it"
"You lost your memory? What the hell?! Try to figure out where you put it then!" he ends, pulling Chase up. "Be quick. And when you find it, come to us or we'll find you". The man drags Chase in front of him.
"Hey, hey!" Chase complains.
"Let him go, please!" she asks, desperate.
"We'll keep him as warranty. If you wanna see him again, give us the manuscript" he tells, going away. Sam looks shocked at them, Chase looks scared at her.
"Shut up! If you don't want me to stick a bullet into your head" the boss replies him. They go away and bring him with them. Sam stays there, powerless, with just her notes on the floor.
Sam comes back to Chase's house, still trembling and shocked, with all her notes she collected from the ground. She spreads everything on the table and fixes her look on them, trying to remember. But the only thing she can think of, is that man pointing his gun at Chase and then them, taking him away. And now he's not here, they took him. It's Christmas and he's not at his home. She should have listened to him and shouldn't have gone to her study. Better, she shouldn't have involved him in this story at all. Now he would be lunching with his family, more or less happy. Instead, now she is the only one who can save him but she doesn't remember. She stares at those notes but nothing comes to her mind. Andy called that day to wish them merry Christmas but when he asked to talk to Chase, she had to invent he was feeling sick, he got a bad cold after the show of the night before. She couldn't involve more people and she couldn't let them know he's been abducted. She tried to sound normal at the phone though she was terribly sad. She said the same thing to his parents when they called, and she hadn't even talked to them ever before. And she said he would have called them back when he was ok, to avoid them to get there. At late night, she fell asleep on her notes. She awakes when Eddie jumps on the table and moves a bit the papers. She rubs her eyes and looks around, sleepy. She didn't even notice it was night. She stands up to turn on the light and when she comes back, a piece of paper catches her attention. It's her handwriting, there's a little poem on it.
"Calculating and taking into due account the hours of the propitious stars of Orion and the twelve deities who hold them, here the sixth among them leans on the edge of abyss, in the time of the defeat of the Demon"
She reads it and she finds it familiar. And then she remembers: it's a prophecy contained into the Egyptian Book of the Dead. She perfectly knows it and knows the interpretation many "alternative scholars" gave it previously. She moves the paper and a picture appears under it. It's a picture of London's planetarium and everything gets clear now. She wouldn't have hidden the manuscript in an easy place, she used pre-existing prophecies and tradition to hide it, in the case something went wrong and someone could have found it. And now she knows where it is. But it's still night, she can't go there now, she must wait for the Sun to rise and the planetarium to open to public.
The next day, at early morning, she goes there. She asks to see the main hall, where they project the night sky and if possible, with the projection on. The guardian doesn't look surprised actually, of her particular request. They know her there, and they know how many times she went there with her boyfriend. They loved to stay there alone, while he shows her the position of all the stars. The guardian thinks that, after what happened, she wants to go there one more time, even if she's alone now.
"How are you Sam?" he asks, friendly. "After what happened, it must be a difficult time". She looks a bit surprised at him but she must play his game.
"Yeah, it's a difficult time..."
"I'm sorry for what happened. I hope they find the killer soon. Is it this why you're here? For him? To remember him, even if he's not here anymore?"
"Yeah, exactly..." she tells, now really understanding what he means and remembering even better what she vaguely had on her mind before. She gets in, the beauty of that place always attracts all her attention. She looks up, everything looks like real. Her memory clears, she remembers he used to take her there because the sky couldn't be that clear inside the city, because of light pollution. And she can't forget all that. Now hurting and even sadder than before, she focuses on what she came here for. Her boyfriend died because of this story, because of them trying to preserve an ancient document, but she can still save another life. She searches for Orion in the sky and for the twelve Zodiac constellations, or at least for those visible. She searches for Leo, the lion, the constellation the alternative tradition tells to start with, and from there she counts six constellations. Aquarius, the acquarius, is the sixth. She runs toward that side of the screen. The figure towers high over her. She bends down and starts pulling the moquette away from the pavement. Under it, well stretched, there's the manuscript she's looking for. She takes it and observes it: it's exactly that, a papyr full of hieroglyphs, no one noticed it was there. She rolls it up carefully and puts it inside her bag. Then, she goes away.
At late afternoon, Sam is nervously waiting for those smugglers to come to their appointment, in an underground deserted parking of a supermarket. She walks back and forth, until she hears the noise of an engine. She turns around and a black truck arrives there and stops in front of her. The boss gets down, together with other two men who stay behind.
"Here we are. I hope you made the right choice this time. Where is the manuscript?" he asks. Though afraid, she looks at him, she knows what she has to do.
"Let me see Chase first" she says, firmly. The boss makes an appreciation expression and makes a gesture to his men.
"Mmm, fair request" he comments. The men open the side door of the truck and pull Chase out of it. He makes some noises and tries to get free of their hands. He has his wrists tied up on his back, a handkerchief tied up on the back of his head, to prevent him to speak, and Sam can see a violet bruise on one cheek. They make him kneel down on the floor.
"See? He's here and he's fine. Now give us the manuscript" tells the boss. Sam opens her bag and takes the manuscript from there. Slowly and with heavy heart, she hands it to him. He looks proudly at her and unrolls it. After a through check, he sees it's original and rolls it again. Chase observes the scene from behind.
"Perfect. It wasn't that hard, was it? If you had done it before, your boy would be still alive. But you two liked to complicate your lives, and now he doesn't have one anymore" he tells. She looks at him angry and hurt. "Now, I hope you learnt a lesson at least". He turns around and goes to his trunk. The two men, giving bad stares at her, leave Chase there and get in. The one of them at the drive, starts the engine and they go away. After they're far enough and she recovers a bit, she runs to Chase and kneels down in front of him.
"Hey, Chase, it's so good to see you" she says, freeing his mouth from the handkerchief.
"Hey! I've never been so happy to see you! Or to see any person at all!" he exclaims, joyful. She hugs him tight, he closes his eyes, finally relaxing after more than a day with the fear of those people.
"Hey, can you free my hands? I'd like to hug you too" he jokes. She suddenly remembers of it and quickly unties the ropes. He hugs her back.
"Ah, I missed you..." he tells, with a low voice. She still holds to him, caressing and brushing his hair, searching for any kind of comfort that can ease her sorrow. Then she moves back, taking a better look at him.
"Hey, did you really exchange the manuscript for me?" asks Chase.
"Yes, it's the original. But police is waiting for them outside, probably they already caught them" she replies, caressing his face. He smiles proudly.
"What did they do to you? Are you ok?" she asks, referring to the bruise.
"Ahi... Nothing, it's nothing. And you, are you ok?"
"Yes, yes, I'm ok" she repeats to herself, but he sees she's actually just trying to convince herself. He stares at her.
"No, no, I'm not ok..." she eventually ends, starting crying. He hugs her again tighter, she keeps crying.
After some hour, when the sky is starting to get darker, Chase and Sam are leaning to the parapet of the sidewalk, who gives a beautiful view of the Thames and of the Tower Bridge. The wall is covered with a thick layer of snow, just like the pavement, and a yellow light comes from an old city lamp, near to them. They're all wrapped up because of the cold.
"So, he was your boyfriend" Chase says, she just nods. "I'm sorry..."
"You remember everything now, then?"
"Yes. Yes, we were working on this case, it was really an exciting discovery. For both of us. When we received a message from these people. We really didn't know who they were but then they proposed us to buy the manuscript, for a very high price. We got who we were dealing with, so we thought of preparing them a trap and then denounce them to the police. They asked us to meet at the premiere of that show, so we made a fake copy of the manuscript and hid the original one. But at the theatre, when we made the exchange, they noticed it was a fake. We were surprised and we didn't know what to do. One of them pulled out a knife and attacked Thomas, he yelled at me to run away. I didn't want to but he insisted and I didn't have any other choice. I started running and ended up in the wood. There, I kept going and you know the rest."
"If I can help you with something, even just to cheer you up, don't hesitate calling me" Chase tells, smiling. She smiles at him too.
"Thanks. Now I just need to stay on my own for a while."
"I'm sorry for what you had to face. I'm sorry for ruining your Christmas, for involving you in this story, for risking your life,..."
"Hey, stop now!" he interrupts her. "None of this is your fault.", she bitterly smiles.
"Oh, you should call your mother, she still thinks you're terribly sick at bed"
"What? Now this is something you should ask sorry for!" he jokes, she smiles. "Alright, I hope to hear from you again"
"Yes, sure. Give me some time and I'll be on touch"
"Ok, perfect, I count on it" he tells and hugs her again before saying hi to her.
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