The arching shadows of the evening descended into the malevolent darkness of night-time. The birds were silent. No one walked the streets. Hillwood isn't a city of starlight or moonshine; it's a broken labyrinth of twisted buildings under storm clouds and thick air, doused with the promise of rain. It was as if all life had vanished from the area after that incident: a mass shooting so devastating it twisted and corrupted the once festive streets and left a cold, lifeless land in its wake.
Jack Agatha had investigated many crimes before, but there was something different about this one. He couldn't quite put a finger on it. It was almost as if someone had drowned the air with the very essence of despair.
Jack stepped into a mall enveloped in shadow; multiple piles of cluttered bodies lay lifeless like ghoulish mannequins, festering in the thick crimson puddles of clotted blood. Broken glass was scattered in all directions, ingrained amongst the widespread mess of bullet shells and splintered wood. It was as silent as a stone, yet, faint whispers invaded Jack's mind. You are going to die, Jack. The harsh light of the mall's dimly flickering fluorescent panel cast dead, twisted husks of darkness behind its collisions, stretching crookedly across the cold, colorless ground. The grim reaper is brushing your shoulders. The pressure of the dense, black emptiness warped and repelled nature; and yet, a lone figure loomed, shrouded by its shadows. It was like the manifestation of death himself. Your fate is sealed. Jack was rooted in place by the man's piercing stare, his eyes wide, angry, as if filled with hell's wrath. The man's ire seemed to mend with the shadows, yet, something else about this figure was odd, nostalgic; his presence was like a splinter in Jack's mind. It was partly from the way the man's expression changed when he saw Jack's face and partly from the sound of this man's voice, but it was also these words.
"I'll make wish you had invited Death's arrow." Pain shot through Jack's head, tearing him from the roots of terror. He stumbled backward. He had heard these words before. His arm reached out, smashing into the cold, dark shelves behind him. He did not want to remember. The man tore into that dark coil of memory hiding in the deep recesses of Jack's mind. His gaze was so sharp and cold that Jack felt as if it had welded a rift into his soul. Years of counseling could not suppress the reawakened coil of memory. It came as a wave of panic, insanity, and despair.
The man must've been 20 at the time, around the same age as Jack. Yes, it was that night, a night of broken glass. Jack's feet hit the steps of a Sydney apartment in a desperate sprint. Glass exploded in all directions. His skin burned with heat from the scorching flames, and the thick mop of smoke brought tears to his eyes. He couldn't focus, couldn't think, but it wasn't the fierce fire and fury that traumatized Jack. It was the bodies that cluttered the floor....