November 26, 1952
Harry stumbled over a crack in the road as a block of freezing late autumn air blasted him in the face. He zipped his heavy leather jacket up to his neck and locked up the bakery, Patisserie Valerie, jiggling the door handle to make sure it was secure before heading down the lonely road of Old Compton Street. Wind whipped his hair around harshly and his fingertips froze, but he had to make it home. Even if a cup of hot, steamy tea from the shop down the road sounded absolutely lovely.
It was his brother's, Jack, sixteenth birthday and the cake held clutched to Harry's chest wasn't going to eat itself. The sun was melting down to the earth, casting rays of oranges, purples, and pinks in the sky, the light reflecting off the metal roofs of cars resulted in a slightly eerie look. Harry ignored it.
He turned his attention back to the cement road in front of him and got ready to say hello to the owner of the local butcher shop, but something made him falter. A closed sign was plastered against the window, the shop shut up and dark. Harry stopped and leaned forward to peer into the window, cupping his hand around his eyes.
"They should still be open," he muttered, leaning back and looking around. Now that he thought about it, he noticed all the surrounding shops were also dark and closed for business.
Where is everybody?
Harry looked up and down the quiet, almost too quiet, street with raised eyebrows. It was only six in the evening. Men and women should be getting off of work by now, or running out to do an errand, or a quick visit to the public library. Yet, everything was silent. He frowned and shook his head, swallowing down his momentary alarm.
Harry kept walking, stepping carefully over massive cracks in the street, and looking for any cars before crossing to the other side. As the sun continued to set, the deeper Harry burrowed his face in his thick scarf, trying to ward off the frigid air, but it was all rather pointless. He heard the roar of an engine before it came into view and quickly jumped out of the way as a dark blue Ford Capri zoomed past him, rounding the corner like a maniac.
"Watch it!" Harry shouted after it and rolled his eyes, hugging the cake closer to his chest. The sky was a deep blue now, and the faintest casting of stars were just starting to appear when Harry heard something. He stopped walking and listened.
Fortunately, the night sky was void of any cloud; clear and pure, making it a bit easier to see in front of him. Or behind him.
He peeked over his shoulder. A small figure was several yards away, nothing but a shadow, was approaching quickly.
"Please don't be a murderer, please don't be a murderer," Harry muttered, feeling his feet quicken their stride. The footsteps behind him were closer now and didn't miss a beat when Harry broke off into a run.
"Oh shit," he whispered, heart rate increasing and blood pumping viciously to his ears.
"Harry! Harry!" A small hand slapped down on his shoulder, yanking him to a stop. Harry dug his heels into the ground and whipped around so fast, hair flew into his mouth. He raised his fist blindly, ready to strike. The person let out a little yelp and cowered back. Oh.
"Cas? What? Why – you tosser! You nearly gave me a fucking heart attack," Harry hissed, clutching his heaving chest, but slumped in relief nevertheless. Cas, a sixteen year old boy with black matted down hair, thin face with dirt covering most of his skin, deep bags hung low under his hazel bloodshot eyes, shot him a small smile and looked down at his hands.
Harry followed his gaze, eyes widening, as his hands were a big bloody, bruised, welted mess.
"Are you okay?" He asked, looking over his shoulder then turning back with an open mouth. "What the hell happened to you?"
"Do you have a napkin or something, by chance?" Cas asked, avoiding Harry's question. He eyed his bloody hands with an expression of exasperation.
"Um, yeah," Harry muttered, searching his pockets with one hand, producing a big wad of paper towels that he planned to use for the cake. He handed them over to Cas gingerly.
"What happened?" He asked again. The coat Cas was wearing was ripped to shreds, but Harry didn't know if it was already like that or not and he didn't want to ask in case he insulted him.
"Can we go somewhere private? There's something I need to tell you," Cas whispered, looking up and down the empty street. Harry raised an eyebrow.
"We are in private. There's no body here," he pointed out. Cas shook his head vigorously.
"No. We need to go somewhere else. Someone could easily listen in," This time, Cas didn't wait for Harry's permission to go elsewhere, instead he took his elbow and ushered them under a dark tunnel, mindful of the cake Harry was holding.
"What is it?" Harry demanded, an uneasy feeling settling in the pit of his stomach. Cas wiped his hands on the towel, shaking his head.
"There's something strange going on, Harry."
"What do you mean? Oh wait, if this is about the people going missing, then –"
"Yeah, I mean the missing people. But that's not all. I went to talk to Ben earlier and boy, you'll never believe what he told me," Cas murmured. Harry sighed.
"I thought you didn't like Ben?" Benjamin Moriartie was a friend of Harry's mother for as long as he could remember. He was also worked at the Bishopsgate police station near the heart of London and was part time owner of a local pub. Harry has never make an effort to get to know Benjamin, and it may be because he is a royal dick with a stick up his ass half the time. He always got sore about the smallest of things.
"I don't. He's still a snob, but he seems to know about all the missing people and murders." Cass said. That got Harry's attention.
"Yeah," He looked around again, leaning in close. "Apparently, there have been loads of murders. I'm talkin' around four or five people. In the past two weeks."
"Yes in town! A body was just found this afternoon." Cass said lowly. Harry shook his head.
"But no one said anything about it on the radio," He said slowly, furrowing his eyebrows. At least he didn't think they mentioned anything about a murder. Harry would have remembered hearing something like that.
"I said the same thing and Benjamin said that it was because they didn't want people to freak out. Cause chaos, ya know?"
"How do you know Benjamin is even telling the truth?" Harry asked, shifting his weight so the cake rested on his hip. The wind was dying down a bit, but the temperature seemed to be dropping. Harry shivered in his jacket.
"Because after we were done with our chat, I decided to visit an old friend of mine. He has connections so he was able to hook me up with a guy that works for the local news centre. We had a little talk." Cas rubbed his knuckles with a grin. Harry scoffed.
"You beat up an innocent man? I find that hard to believe,"
"Alright, fine. I didn't beat up the bloke. I managed to convince him to give me some information, then after that I ran home because it was getting dark, but I ran into his guy and he was solid, like, I crashed into him so hard and he didn't even budge. So I fell, of course, and scraped my hands up pretty badly."
Harry bit back a laugh, managing to put on a serious face.
"And why didn't you go home to clean up?"
"Don't you laugh at me, Harry," Cas scolded, narrowing his tired hazel eyes. A small giggle escaped Harry's sealed lips.
"I'm not laughing, Cas. I swear. I'm serious," Dimples embedded themselves into Harry's cheeks. Cas huffed and looked around again, sore as hell.
"Listen, H. I have to get going but promise me you'll be careful, yeah?" He leaned in close and slipped a piece of paper between Harry's fingers.
"Yeah, uh, okay? You too. See you, Cas." Harry murmured, raising an eyebrow questionably, but Cas already disappeared into the shadows. Stepping under a lamppost, Harry read the slip of paper slowly.
Meet me in the diner beside the bakery at noon tomorrow. We need to talk.
Harry read over the words etched into paper over once again, frowning. Looking up and down the empty streets once again, he slipped the paper into his pocket and walked the rest of the way home, involuntarily throwing looks over his shoulder constantly.