Thanks for the encouragement. Here's the second chapter.


Andrei Pankratov stood outside the door to the girl's hospital room, in the corridor, which was thankfully heated to a tolerable, pleasant temperature.

As Olga approached, he straightened his posture up, and got ready to follow her into the room.

The earlier victim they'd linked the attack on the girl in the hospital room to was named Petra. It wasn't a link that meant they'd established that the two girls had known each other; they wouldn't be going out after to ask Petra about the girl in the hospital room, it was simply a link between the similarities of their injuries.

If they had wanted to ask, Olga wasn't even sure that Petra would have a reply for them.

As far as they'd been able to tell, Petra had been a normal teenaged girl. She'd never asked for trouble from anyone. She'd liked television and ice-skating, she'd been okay at school, and she'd had friends.

Now, she'd stopped going ice-skating; if she went to school, she didn't want to go, but only did so because it was what was asked of her; she'd stopped communicating with her friends and barely communicated with anyone at all.

Pausing outside the hospital room, Olga rubbed her hands together to shake off some of the stiffness that the cold and gripping the steering wheel of her car had brought, and listened to Andrei informing her that the girl still hadn't been connected to a name, address or even a certain age. All they had, so far, were approximations. They were still working, they weren't giving up just yet.

Olga nodded and pushed the door open, turning into the hospital room. Hospital lighting had always bothered her, but, on this particular day, she tried not to let it get to her. With the clouds outside, and the weak light in the sky, it seemed all the more a contrast from the natural light that the day usually brought with the rising of the sun.

She directed her gaze to the girl in the bed, and not the window, figuring that was the way to solve her problem with the lighting. She was not here to have a fun time, she was here to solve a crime, and to try to find some way to help the girl in the hospital bed live with the injustice that had occurred. Hopefully, she thought, too, they would also be doing more than just seeking justice for the unnamed girl – they would be stopping the person who'd done this to her from doing the same thing to another girl or boy (though, it was more likely to be that the person was inclined toward committing crimes against girls, if previous offences were to be taken into account).

The girl was awake, Olga and Andrei could both clearly see that her eyes were now open, in fact, open and staring, but she was not talking. Pale, and dark-haired, the girl had large, staring blue eyes. Even when Olga suggested that her partner leave the room, the girl had nothing to say, not even a single word to utter; her blue eyes were distant and staring. There was nothing in particular that they'd fixed onto, it was as though she just couldn't stop staring.

Olga wondered if perhaps she was even in the room with them, or if she was still in that cold room, if, in her mind, she was still hiding, huddled, in that freezing cold room.

She tried to imagine the girl's eyes not as they were now, but smiling, but it didn't happen. The girl was how she was now, and Olga's powers of imagination seemed to have taken a downturn with the weather.

Olga left the girl to her recovery, feeling as though she should have been able to win the girl's trust somehow, and wondering, perhaps irrationally, if it was something to do with the light: if everybody was feeling a bit down today because of the light. She conceded, a moment later, though, that this was hardly a fair presumption to make; she had not experienced what the girl had, she had no idea of the state of torment the girl may be stuck in, it was hardly in good taste for her to compare the two of them in such a manner. The girl had many more immediate reasons that might make her feel as though she wasn't up to speaking, arguably, than she had. She was being unfair.

With these thoughts in mind, she stopped at a coffee machine for a coffee. She needed something to warm her up, and something to drink; the coffee would serve both purposes.

When it was done, she passed Andrei the first coffee, and dug around for some coinage for her own hot drink, and waited for the second coffee to be finished so that she could take a sip, watching, as she did, a nurse walk over to them, hoping, she supposed, also to be able to use the machine.

It was much to her surprise, then, when the nurse introduced herself as Ekaterina and explained that she knew the girl in the hospital room. The girl at the centre of their investigations, the girl in the room, was her younger sister, Ioannina's, friend. Her name was Irina. Ioannina and Irina often ice-skating together at a rink in the city.