I knew it was a dream the moment I couldn't move my body, yet a pair of curious jade-green eyes stared back at me as if I was placed behind a window on display, the faint scent of freshly-cooked bacon starting to cling to me the longer I stayed immobile in this unfamiliar room with this dark-haired boy with his ever-curious eyes...
The seemingly never-ending silence was suddenly broken with the appearance of a woman who entered the room, her hands on her waist as she continued to scold the boy who now looked guiltily up at her, “What did your father say about keeping that painting covered until Mr. Entale comes over to have a good look at it?”
“But I really can't wait to find out what the detective will say after he sees this old painting!” I saw him pout as he muttered, “But I don't think there's anything special about it..”
The woman then ruffled his hair affectionately in response before she started coming towards me—I had a nagging feeling on what I was when she slowly covered me with a cloth, with the last muffled words I heard from her being, “Maybe you'll find out more when you get older, 'Leon...”
I had a feeling this otherworldly journey of mine was far from over when I was welcomed by the sight of a man as he sat in silence in a dimly lit office. I thought he was alone at first until he spoke, “Unlike The Goldfinch, there is no redeeming immortality through the admiration of her beauty. Only Death awaits you at the end... are you even prepared, 'Leon?”
I was surprised to only notice just now the silhouette of the young man he was talking to—this 'Leon had his back towards me but there was something in his stance that looked familiar... like I've seen him around somewhere...
“I have nothing to lose at this point, unlike you...” 'Leon's response was followed by the low rumble of thunder beyond the four corners of this dim room, I could only observe in silence as the seated man reached for something on his table—a small portrait perhaps?
“I only wish for her safety before...” He seemed to hesitate slightly on his next words just as a flash of lightning illuminated his features—a face I've only seen in Cole's childhood pictures—his eyes stared straight back at me as if he saw my soul momentarily trapped within the layers of this painting. “..Death draws near.”
The ominous way he said those last three words caused me to plummet into a scene too fast, that the moment I was welcomed with the sight of my bedroom and the supposedly calming scent of my lotus incenses, I could only remember three key things: a villa seen beyond the cloth that barely covered the painting, an argument that soon followed, and the sound of a gunshot that rang true into the night.
The scene of the crime was still clear in my mind's eye, I knew where to start if I wanted to. Though the question I was about to ask myself was, if I was brave enough to follow this through until the end.
Author's note: Where it all began... My InkWell Story Map. It all began in The Ink Well Fast and Furious Festival and continues on The Ink Well Weekly Fiction Prompt. Four more chapters to go to reach the final conclusion of this journey. Stay tuned.