He didn't know.
He didn't care.
Arthur's legs felt like lead and his chest tightened with every step he took. He was breathing heavily, his heads was spinning, his vision blurring, but he continued running, letting his fatigued legs carry him wherever.
He didn't know at that moment what to do. Victoria had seemingly confronted him, and he just took off. He had sensed a murderous intent about her, and between 'fight-or-flight', he chose the former.
He knew he had to get out of Syndevale. He had to get back and tell the higher-ups that it was Victoria Louis was the sadistic, heartless, scheming rumoured murderer of Syndevale.
Arthur dared himself to look over his shoulder. Turning his head in the smallest angle he could, he made sure he wasn't being tailed. Seeing nothing but darkness, his legs slowed down in relief and gave way. He collapsed onto the dirt, out of breath and panting madly like a dog. He felt his shirt sticking onto his sweat-covered back and his legs going numb. Arthur painfully straightened himself, sitting up in the most comfortable position. He fished out his cellphone and dialled Toris's number. To his relief, his partner picked up after a few rings.
"Tell the boss the murderer is Victoria!"
"Mr Kirkland? What—…?"
"There isn't time. I have to leave this place ASAP before I get killed!" Arthur practically screamed into the phone.
"O-oh, understood! I'll inform the seniors!"
The line was cut.
Feeling a small weight being lifted off his shoulders, Arthur closed his eyes and let his vision fade to nothing but pitch black.
Feeling a slight pain in his stomach, along with seeing blurred colours, Arthur groaned.
"Ah, so I see you've come to."
Arthur let out another groaned and mustered all the strength he could to push himself upright. He felt extremely weak and famished. He blinked a few times, and made out the figure in front of him as Johan.
"Here, have this," Johan handed him a mug. Arthur took it gratefully, and sipped its contents. It was chamomile tea.
"You hungry?" Aloysius came into sight, and offered a tin of biscuits. Arthur thanked him and took out a cracker.
"I hope you don't mind eating last night's leftover dessert," Johan gave an apologetic smile.
"Dessert?" Arthur questioned.
Aloysius placed the tin on the coffee table in front of Arthur. "Sorry, early morning we don't make fresh food."
"What time is it now?" Arthur asked as Aloysius turned around and headed back to the kitchen.
"It's 3.10am," Johan replied.
"I've been out for that long?" Arthur exclaimed.
"I don't know, I just saw you outside when I woke up to get a drink," Johan said. "Why not you go take a shower first? The bathroom's just over there, to your right. There's a clean set of clothes and a towel you can use."
"Thanks. Sorry for the trouble," Arthur gave a weak grin as he slowly stood up, surprised at how unfamiliar the floor felt.
"Don't mention it," Johan said.
Arthur slowly walked to the bathroom and went inside, making sure to lock the door behind him. He saw a towel, a T-shirt and jeans stacked neatly next to the sink. Leaning against the wall, Arthur took out his cellphone to check if he had any updates from Toris. He found two missed calls and an unread text message, all from Toris. He opened the text message.
Sorry, we couldn't arrange any transport for you to get back. Taxi services that go through your route close on Sundays.
Arthur groaned. To hell with the bloody taxi services. Frustrated, Arthur whipped off his clothes and stepped into the bathtub, hoping a shower could wash away his negative emotions and thoughts.
The cool water felt pleasing and welcoming to Arthur. He helped himself to the soap and the shampoo, making sure he used only as much as he needed. As he washed off the white foam on his body, he thought about Victoria. It had been news to him that she was the one that was behind all the murders. Did that mean that those tears she shed at yesterday's funeral were just crocodile tears?
When Arthur was done, he stepped out of the shower and dried himself. He changed into the clothes provided. The T-shirt was definitely not his style; it was a faded grey with a strange smiley face which had 'X's for eyes and was grinning. But no matter, it was better than wearing that sweat-drenched shirt and slacks.
Arthur picked up his soiled clothes and stuffed them in a plastic bag he found. When he came out of the bathroom, he placed it by the doorway, reminding himself to get it later. He went to the living room and saw that there were three bowls placed on the table.
"Come on, let's eat," Aloysius called, gesturing. Arthur went up and sat down on the couch. He picked up one bowl, as did Aloysius and Johan. They began eating; Aloysius rather hungrily as he practically wolfed down the whole thing, Johan more delicately by scooping spoonful by spoonful.
Arthur looked at the dessert. It was a few round white balls, each about the size of his thumbnail, floating in a sweet-smelling soup.
Catching his expression, Aloysius explained. "It's tangyuan. It's nice. You're not allergic to peanuts, right?"
Arthur shook his head. He scooped up one of the white balls. He sipped the soup before eating the ball. Once he chewed on it, the tasted the sweetness of the peanut paste.
"It's good," he smiled when he swallowed.
"You see. Nice right?" Aloysius grinned.
It was definitely more delicious than what Arthur normally cooked.
Or that bloody stew.
Arthur tried to conceal his disgust at the thought of the stew, then he suddenly remembered. Should he tell Aloysius and Johan about Victoria? After all, if Victoria was the murderer, everyone in Syndevale was in danger. But it was only an 'if'. Arthur had no proof that Victoria was the murderer, but…
No. He shouldn't be pointing fingers. At least not now.
"You should get some rest once you're done," Johan said as he put down his spoon. "You seem quite tired."
"I'm fine, actually," Arthur said.
"If you want to there's a spare room where you can sleep in," Johan said as he stood up, pointing.
"I go wash," Aloysius murmured as he stood up. Johan passed him his bowl and Aloysius went to the kitchen to clean them. Arthur continued eating, a bit embarrassed that he was the slowest.
"If you need me I'll be in my room," Johan said simply. As he turned to leave, Arthur caught him by the arm.
In the softest voice he could conjure, Arthur asked. "What do you think of Victoria?"
Johan blinked. "Why?"
"I mean… You two should be quite familiar with each other by now, right?" Arthur said, trying to sound natural.
"Of course. She's quite kind and caring. She's really optimistic and bubbly," Johan said.
So it seemed Johan had been unaware about Victoria. Arthur let go of Johan's hand, throwing an apology. Watching Johan go back to his own bedroom, Arthur knew he should go and get a little rest too.
Everything he had been going through was just a nightmare. Clinging onto false hopes, Arthur silently prayed he would wake up.
A/N: I apologise for the extremely long break. I had slight writer's block and I wasn't really motivated to write during the holiday season. I thank my reviewers for leaving reviews, which are my source of motivation and help me improve. :D
On a side note, I'll probably be on a long hiatus for the first half of next year, being busy and all, and Syndrome will probably be my last project in a long time. However, I'm planning my first multi-chapter original fiction which will be posted on FictionPress. It'll most likely to be my next story. In the meantime, happy new year!