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  • Iston Wan

Cases of Life and Death

Case 001 - Lume Steele



2:03 AM, the suspect was seen chiding with an unidentified accomplice.


What a beautiful night in Lower Manhattan, the Hudson River flickered in the moon's limelight, and if not for the two undead-looking individuals, it would've looked like a nice place to die. 


When he asked Lume to visit, she didn't think that he would try to shank her. Lume knew she should've taken some precautions but after the events that spiralled over the whole week, she just wanted to take a break from everything.


Lume knew the man, but not in a very friendly way, more like a "you ruined my life, I want to strangle you until your eyes pop" kind of way. The two ghostly-toned loners had been 'chatting' for an hour already and his tone was getting more and more pissed as the time strolled by.


"Lume Steele, how has a little girl like you done so much wrong?" The hooded man still taunted her, even if his life was in danger. 


"What. Do. You. Want." The girl said, "I thought you left my life for good."


"I just want to know how you did all this in six months!" He held a document filled with bloodstains and all, which Lume thought did not help his case as being a killer He took out his dagger, pushing Lume on the peaceful grass blades. There was no way she could escape from this. "Theft, second-degree murder, arson, robbery, fraud, vandalism, underage driving, yadda yadda yadda you get the point. 


So tell me, 


how?"


---


TICK. TOCK. TICK. TOCK. 


An off-white room filled with potted plants and flowers, an old-timey gramophone, two off-yellow chairs and a very tiny wooden table that made the room look like it came straight out of Pinterest.


"Ugh, Where is she?" The young man sitting in one of the chairs groaned. 


The man was a 20-something-year-old therapist with brunette hair who usually wore a dusty beige sweater, milk-coloured cargo pants, and a huge hazel trench coat that made him look like a cattail. He had also managed to get a hold of Lume before she became one of the biggest criminals alive.


Lume was a tricky patient, wanting to talk with Viktor about 'something important', but when Viktor tried to hold a video call with her, she said that her wifi was 'broken' and that she could only talk in person.


BAM the door said as it fell onto the floor with a shrill scream that sounded like it came from a little girl (it was Viktor) to follow, there stood a young-looking girl with black hair and light gold skin who looked like she listened to death metal, but she actually listened to Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky. 


"LEARN TO USE A DOOR, LUME!" Viktor shouted, throwing Psychology for Dummies, the closest object to him.


“Whatever, ‘Grandpa’.” Whined Lume, who caught the book and threw it at an empty spot in a bookshelf. It fit perfectly, you couldn't even tell that the book was thrown ten feet by an overgrown toddler.


"You are as old as me," Viktor said through gritted teeth. Lume looked unfazed. "Our age difference is TEN DAYS," Viktor shouted, then sighed,


"Come in, Lume." 


---


Hunched over like a zombie with ZERO fashion taste, she jumped onto the other chair with a loud thud straight after. Even with the sun shining straight at her, she still looked like the walking dead, with her hardly brushed hair and slightly tattered clothing.


"Thank you for coming here today, Lume, I hope your connection doesn't 'go bad' today," Viktor smirked. Lume stared so deeply into Viktor like a predator to their prey, waiting to pounce at any moment. "Ahem," Viktor said, the teacup on the table being his patient. "What was it that you needed to tell me?" 


"Uh, wait a sec, I forgot," Lume confessed. Her memory had worsened over the past week, with everything she buried deep in her subconscious finally catching up to her, and with the new influx of memories, it was hard to tell what was when. The smallest oh sound escaped from her mouth as that thought hit her in the stomach. She wanted to tell somebody, anybody, but she had sworn never to trust anyone ever again,


but today she had to break it, she wanted- no, needed her life to change if she was to 'move on' as everybody said. Lume sharply inhaled, she needed to prepare herself for what was about to happen,


“I need to get something off my chest.”


“For context, when I was nine, my mom passed away.”




Case 002 - Emily Steele


“Lume!” shouted her mother, “LUME STEELE!” 


Delightful flowers, perfectly trimmed hedges, and where a statue had used to be standing, high and mighty, were a pile of rubble and a little Lume, covered in mud. Lume stood out like a sore thumb in every environment she participated in. She was a loud, obnoxious student who had gotten in trouble every day, starting food fights any chance she could, and picking fights with the kids twice her height and age.


“Lume! Come over here right now!” Screamed her mom. 


Her mother’s name was Emily Steele, and her young, shining skin was drowned out by tears of sadness and hatred for the man who broke her heart. Multiple shades of grey had popped through the dark brown hair and her smile was crushed by everything life had thrown at her. On the other hand, Lume was a ball of sunshine in a monochromatic world. When Lume was born, she had never cried and was always smiling. 


“Coming, Mom,” Lume responded innocently, not knowing what life had in store for her. “Mom, look!”


Lume’s grimy and soiled hands held up a tiny calico cat with blue and hazel eyes. “Can we keep him, Mom? Can we?!”


“No! You can hardly look after yourself!” Her mom snapped back.


“Pleeeeease?” Lume pleaded.


“Fine. But at least give him a name.” Emily sighed.


Lume was overfilled with joy, jumping up and down with the biggest grin her face could fit, she looked as if she were to explode. “I’m gonna name him Red!” Lume declared. 


“Red? That’s a nice name.”


---


Emily had enough money to afford a home, but if a passerby saw it, they'd think it was haunted. While caring for a child, Emily had to renovate the whole house herself with little to no help. It didn't look bad at all but didn't feel as comfy as any other normal home. 


"Lume, I'm going to work," Emily shouted from the bottom of the wooden staircase, with Lume sprinting down them so fast it looked like she was flying. "remember-" Emily started. 


"No sharp objects, don't grab the things on the top shelf, and don't throw anything, I know Mom." Lume quickly interjected.


As her mother paced through the door, Lume swore she could see her mother tearing up, but it was probably her imagination. Her mother spoke again, but this time in a quieter tone. 


"Lume, I love you, and you know I would never do anything bad right?”


"Yeah Mom," Lume said with complete oblivion. "I love you too!"


“All right, Lume, bye.” Emily responded a little bit louder this time but with a glint of sadness. The paintings almost looked like they frowned, the wallpaper almost peeled in sadness, and the door cried as it closed as if it knew what would happen next. 


“Little did I know, this would be the last time I saw her.”


---


“After a few hours, I heard she died in a car accident. But I knew better.” She had told Viktor, snapping him back to reality. 


“Huh? Oh- okay,” Viktor replied, still in a trance. “Ahem, this must’ve been very hard to tell anybody,” Viktor started, putting up a shield of professionalism, “do you feel any better after telling someone?” 


“Eh,” Lume quickly responded, “I feel fine.”


“You said there was something else?” Viktor finally remembered. 


“Well, after that, I was brought into an orphanage with only me and Red, with nothing to do,” Lume started.


“So I began investigating.”


“Well, as well as I could inside an orphanage.”


---


Everyone,” The old woman stated. “Meet Lume. She comes from a less fortunate family and is reserved. Please treat her well.” Lume could tell by the way she said 'less fortunate', she meant 'dirt poor'.


“Yes, Ms. Edith.” All the children collectively groaned.


“Now, Lume,” Ms. Edith continued, ignoring the children's groans. “Elanor will show you to the sleeping quarters.” Lume peered into the sea of greys and browns and saw a girl with loose brown hair and emerald eyes waving a hand in the air as fast as light. Lume clenched a fist at how Elanor was similar to Lume’s past self, but she’d keep it to herself. For now, she would begin her plan.


“Hi Lume!” Exclaimed Elanor, breaking Lume out of her thoughts. “Are you ready to see your bed?” Elanor continued, reaching out one of her hands to Lume with a grin on her face. "It's gonna be so fun! We haven't had new people in a long time! We're gonna have sleepovers and tea parties and gossip about everyone and..." Lume silently nodded with her expressionless face and grabbed her wrist, she didn't listen to anything Elanor had said. She felt a warm, tingling sensation in her body, but shook it off. Elanor was only an inconvenience to her. 


---


Hours, days, and weeks had passed since her first steps into the orphanage, the same place her mother planned to go to on that fateful day. The time was an hour after midnight when the only thing you could hear was your breathing. What a perfect time to go snooping around, wouldn’t it? Elanor tossed and turned in her sleep, Red snored peacefully on the lower part of Lume’s bed, and Lume sneakily crept into the hallway. She planned to sneak a peek at Ms. Edith’s files for anything about her mother. So she sneaked through the halls crept past the staircase and got to Ms. Edith’s office.


The door, high and mighty, was shut from the inside, with only a keyhole for the outside to see and a pot on each side. No key hiding inside pots or under rugs. But when she remembered that Elanor had put a tiny hairpin in her hair, she put it to good use. After successfully breaking in, the whole room was shining. Bookshelves lined every wall and a massive chandelier slightly swung from side to side. Glamorous would be an understatement, but she was snapped back when she heard the door shut behind her, remembering what she came here for. Lume darted to the filing cabinets near the back, rummaging through each one as fast as humanly possible, and skimming names. But wherever she looked, her mother's name was nowhere to be seen. But before nearing the thought of giving up, she took a tiny glance at Ms. Edith’s desk. And there, the name ‘Emily Steele’ was on top of a light brown file, front and centre. But as she reached for the dust, mysterious file, her name was called by a person she knew all too well, 


“Lume? Why are you still awake?”


---


Lume turned to Ms. Edith with unflinching confidence and asked, “Do you know who Emily Steele was?” 

“Well, yes, of course! She was your mother, right?” Ms. Edith chuckled nervously. “May I ask why you are in my office?” Ms. Edith asked, a little annoyed and trying to change the subject.

“Why did she try to come here on August 25, 2013?” Lume interrogated, ignoring her question. 

Your mother came here for a job interview. Does that satisfy your question?” Ms. Edith answered, a little angrier.

“Do you really think I’ll believe that?” Lume chuckled with a smirk.

“Lume-” Ms. Edith sighed. “We’ll talk about this in the morning, now go to sleep.” She replied with two fingers on her nose bridge.

“Goodbye, Ms. Edith,” Lume whispered, tilting her head back with a hand next to her mouth. “But beware, when I find out, I will take you down.” Lume skipped out of the room like a ghost.


“Finally, that girl is gone.” Ms. Edith whispered under her breath. A ring suddenly came from her phone, could it be him? Ms. Edith thought to her. She took out her phone and answered the call. “Yes sir,” Ms. Edith answered to the murmurs that came from her phone. “She’ll never realise it wasn’t an accident and that it was caused by her-” CLANG “What was that?” Ms Edith asked, ending the call and walking towards the door. 


---


Lume never heard the rest, only because she bumped a pot next to the door while eavesdropping. She ran down the stairs, jumped onto the rail, and booked it to the front door. Had her ears deceived her? Kicking down the front door, The rain beat down on her dry skin but she still ran. Only after a few seconds in the rain, she was so drenched she couldn’t tell what were tears or raindrops. How could this be? The rain stained her hair so hard it was practically blue. Her legs controlled her, Lume didn’t know she was going. Trapped in her thoughts and legs on autopilot, she tried to remember wherever or whatever she was doing. Until it hit her like a train, she was seeing her mother!


When her legs ultimately gave up, she was parked right in front of the cemetery. She sprinted towards a certain grave, as she had taken this path several times. When she finally reached her mother, she broke apart, wallowing in her tears and wanting to get drowned by the rain. “Mom, I’m so so so sorry you could’ve avoided this, I could’ve avoided this, everybody could’ve avoi-


---


“Lume? Lume!” Viktor shouted nervously. Lume blinked back to reality, not realising what was happening. “You blacked out for fifteen minutes.”

“Uh- yeah, I'm fine.” I thought I was gone for a few seconds. Lume thought to herself. 

“Well, our session is almost over. Plus, you said you were busy,” Viktor replied, still bothered by her passing out. 

“Yeah, bye,” Lume responds, without emotion. As Lume stepped through the door frame, 

Viktor asked a final question, “You did stop looking into your mom’s death, right?”

“Yep.” Lume lied through her teeth.


---


The drive home left me with a bitter taste in my throat. Why would I tell someone? I haven’t opened up since the police interrogated me eleven years ago. My hands gripped the steering wheel tighter as tears fell from my eyes and off my chin onto my lap, but why would I care now? No one else cared except for Mother.


As I entered my apartment building, I saw a poster that read, 

Elevator 

Out of Service

Please use the stairs until January 3.

As if this day couldn’t get any worse. I chuckle to myself. Walking up the stairs was like shoving Sisyphus’s boulder, try as I might, my burdens were impossible to push, but I hid my suffering.

 

As I stomped up into my tiny apartment, I saw Red, peacefully sleeping on my couch. Aw, how cute. I squeal in my head, for a second taking my mind off of what happened before. After I hunch-walked over to my bedroom, I elbowed my bed in frustration and tiredness with a quiet “oof” sound. I turned my back to face my off-white ceiling, feeling bored, but only for a few seconds before remembering what I had to do. 


On the wall, next to a photo of my mom and I, hung a giant cork board with photos of the alive and deceased, red string interlacing all different colours of pins like a web, and in the centre, a single word, father. The man who made my life a living hell, I know he’s somehow connected to everything. I will make him pay for every hurtful thing he’s done to my mother. I will find him, even if it’s the


last


thing



do.




Case 003 - Elanor Felix Ladron


2:12 AM, the unidentified accomplice brings the subject to the ground, holding her at knifepoint.


"Wait, how does this relate to anything, Lume?" The young man questioned. Lume was getting really tired of him blabbering and wanted to stab him, watch the life leave his eyes and all of that, but a knife this close to her throat stopped all physical engagement for Lume.


"Jeez, I'm getting there just wait," Lume remarked snarkily at him.


"Well I can't wait any longer, so you better get to the point, or..." He pushed the sharp blade towards Lume, and with a small shriek coming from Lume, a small drop of blood trickled down her neck,  which got the point across VERY clearly. 


"I understand," Lume responded coldly, reverting to her neutral state, like a robot. "I'll skip to the juicy part,'


"There's something even juicier than seeing me?" He asked, sounding genuinely hurt. 


"You didn't think you were the first person I saw again from the orphanage?"


---


"Welcome back Lume, have you made any progress trying to recall your childhood?" Viktor asked, with the tiniest bit of pleading in his tone. They'd been over-analysing Lume leaving the orphanage for the past 4 sessions, always coming out empty-handed. Lume silently shook her head while looking out into the quiet streets, taking a small sip of a glass of water. Viktor knew she was lying, but at the same time, he knew that it was a lot for her, dredging up a past so horrible she subconsciously buried her memories.


Lume seriously didn't remember anything but felt like playing a few pranks on Viktor today. She knew he would be thinking about all her small movements so she pretended to look guilty and nervous, like she was hiding something when she wasn't. She hadn't had this much fun since-


BAM


Glass shattered.


---


Picking her up and into my car was easy, rushing her into the hospital was easy, dodging several people on the road was okay, but filling out paperwork for Lume, now that was the hard part. Full name, Lume Steele, date of birth, April 14, place of birth, no idea, parents, Emily Steele and... 


Who?


Eh whatever, probably didn't matter. It also felt strange that she wasn't registered into any sort of system for when she was born, but Lume was very… weird? Mysterious? Scary? Her suddenly fainting randomly and that tiny suspicion that she was always hiding something could be some leading factors to her being a bit of a weirdo.


"Lume, how did you turn out this way?"


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