The interrogator sat at his workplace where other law enforcers were typing their reports on huge desktop computers with flat, black monitors. He also was sitting in his chair typing out his report from yesterday’s interrogation on a “Google Docs” document that was linked to his Google Drive. After he was finished, he planned to send it to Chief Kovalenko’s email and hopefully, it would be a satisfying report. He had his grey suit jacket hung on the office chair because of the scorching August heat. Thankfully, the cool air of the air conditioning was flowing in the computer room.
Even though a lot of people were using Apple Macs these days, the police force were still those kinds of people who were very fond of Windows XP computers. Most of the computers here were no more than thirteen years old and somehow they still worked; however, the trouble was that they were slow. When the computer would turn on, he would have to wait at least five minutes for it to warm up before using it; in doing this, the computer would not be as slow and there would be less internet crashes and errors.
As he typed while looking at the keyboard, he constantly looked up every couple of seconds at the screen to make sure he did not make any spelling or grammatical errors. The coffee should have been cool enough to drink by now, so he stopped typing for a couple moments and took a few gulps of the brown liquid. After a deep breath and another couple of gulps, he put it back down on his desk and returned to typing. Even though coffee no longer gave him any extra energy (due to the fact that his body adapted to the effects of the drink), he still drank it to break this monotonous job of typing.
As he began to take another sip of coffee, someone loudly bursted into the room, shouting words that the interrogator could not understand, which made him jump in surprise. A flying pool of coffee sprang out of his white mug and splashed onto the floor. He quickly, set the coffee down on his desk and dashed to the restroom for some paper towels. When he came back, he kneeled to the floor and hastily scrubbed the spill on the white-tiled floor.
“My apologies everyone!” he panicked “I am really sorry for spilling this coffee. I am such a disgrace!”
“It’s all right,” forgave a woman that wlaked up to him. She was white and had curly red hair that reached to her shoulders. It was Meredith, the ageless psychologist that he spoke to yesterday to schedule an appointment to Suarez. She must have been the one that burst into the room.
“What is it Miss Meredith?” asked the interrogator as he finished cleaning up his spilled coffee and threw his brown, soaking paper towels into the recycle bin.
“Mr. Akiyama! That…Ronaldo Suarez…the patient that he…that you…wanted me to, to, to…” he stammered.
“What about Suarez?” asked the interrogator with worry in his voice as he grabbed her shoulder and shook her. “Tell me!”
“He’s dead!” she shouted in a panicked voice.
Akiyama the interrogator stood there frozen with his hands on his head in devastation. All the other police officers stared at her stunned. He and everyone else rushed out of their workplace and into Suarez’s room.
As they rushed into an already opened door, they found the lifeless body of the hispanic lying on the floor, face flat. There wasn’t any visible sign of blood, weapon, poison or anything that could have killed the man. The interrogator kneeled near the corpse and stared at it with disbelief and suspicion. There arised a rabble amongst them all. Out of the blue, another police officer came and shooed everyone out of the room. When he entered the room, he took out a roll of thin white tape and carefully ripped and placed pieces of the tape around the body. When he was done, he exited the room; took out a roll of yellow tape from his pocket; and taped the door with the yellow tape with black letters that stated:
CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS
The quartet was sitting in a small, barred cell that had a single bench, a twin bed, a sink, and a toilet. Because the cell was meant to fit only one or two people, it was cramped for all four of them.
They did talk sometimes but these conversations mostly involved Lilka or Brunon. Filipina and Jacek would put their heads on their laps and mourn for their missing siblings. Cecylja tried to comfort Filipina and Jacek however she could; she reassured them that both Lilka and Brunon were all right but they didn’t listen to her. She offered them a hug but they both gently rejected it. Neither of them really felt like talking about their feelings.
Inside their minds, they were angry – angry at themselves and at the terrorists. They both wished that they could have volunteered to be with the hostagesthat were taken to a place unknown. Then Lilka and Brunon wouldn’t have to suffer whatever was inflicted upon them. They both wished that. Jacek then thought about how he was the one who got out first; he was the only one of the group of cousins that had a pocket knife. He cut himself out of the cocoon of blue rope despite the fact that it took an hour and it was difficult. He was the one who freed Antoni, Cecylja, and Filipina. He was the one who fought the hispanic assassin. If Cecylja, Filipina, or Lilka would have fought the assassin, they would have been dead by now but Antoni or Brunon would have fought him, they would have survived.
They would have gotten out of the train alive as well wouldn’t they? Jacek felt a void in his heart and stomach. If only he would have just traded Brunon’s place with him and given him the pocket knife. Why didn’t he do that? He wished he would have done that.
Filipina was feeling just as guilty about not doing anything to save her sister. She was angry at herself for being a terrible sister but she was more furious at the terrorists. Why did Lil’ Wayne Hood just deliberately tear the six of them apart from each other like this? Does he always do that? If he does, how does he sleep at night knowing that he did such things?
Lilka could have just been stuck in the train together with Filipina and her cousins or even better – she shouldn’t have gone with them on this trip at all! She could have just stayed with their youngest cousins Gosia and Dominika. She always hung out with them and they were her best friends; Filipina and her cousins always left her out of almost all the activities they did. Lilka was about the same age as Antoni but was only a couple months younger yet she was always left out. Lilka would be upset about it but she would always hide it.
She begged to come and she was finally let in on the train trip. If she ever hung out with any of the cousins, it was with either Antoni because he was around her age or with Cecylja because she was kind enough to talk to her and spend some time with her. Cecylja even persuaded Lilka to come. Lilka shouldn’t have come.
For the third time, tears streamed down from Filipina’s eyes and reached down to her chin.
“Why? Why? Why? Why did we even go on this train trip?” she wailed “If only we had known this would happen, then those dastards wouldn’t have gotten Lilka or Brunon Those terrorists, why did they even have to blow up and storm the train? Who do they think they are?!”
“Hey!” shouted an approaching police officer “keep it quiet in there; besides, I got news for you guys so you need to listen.”
The four of them all sat up straight and looked at the approaching police officer. Filipina wiped her wet face and reddening eyes with the back of her hand. Her glistening eyes turned to the police officer.
The officer was wearing a cadet blue skirt and a matching unbuttoned police jacket with a white blouse underneath. She was not short but not tall either; her hair was so white that it was almost the same color as dental floss. Her skin was as white as well but it didn’t look unhealthy. Her face bore a thick, pink scar that stretched diagonally across her face; also her eyes were so grey that it was lamost as if all the color had been sucked out of them. The policewoman looked like she was in her mid-twenties.
She stepped to the chubby police officer that was sitting at his desk scrolling through his phone. She asked him for the keys; he took them out of his pocket and gave them to her. The policewoman slid one of the keys through the lock and twisted it until there was a click. When she opened the door, she watched them as she took a chair and carried it inside the cell. She She shut the door, put the keys in her pocket and sat down on the chair with her legs crossed.
“Good morning,” greeted the policewoman with a trace of a Polish accent “I am Officer Ratownik. You must all be…Cecylja Pajdak, Filipina Pajdak, Antoni Pajdak, and Jacek Lew, am I correct?”
They were all surprised how correctly and clearly she pronounced all of their names. They all looked at her with amazement as if they never met another Polish person in their life. The four of them all mumured different formal and casual forms of “yes”.
“You are all cousins?” she asked.
“Sorry to interrupt you Mrs. Ratownik,” interrupted Cecylja, “but are you Polish by any chance?”
“Yes,” she nodded “I was born there and I came here when I was young. You are all Polish too?”
“Yes!” they all answered in unison.
“I would like to speak Polish with all of you but my boss says we all have to speak in English,” she said sadly “you’re all being recorded and monitored anyway.”
“It’s fine,” responded Filipina “me and my cousins are all Polish but we speak English to each other except to our parents and elders.”
“All right,” Officer Ratownik said “You are all cousins right?”
“Yeah,” answered Cecylja “Jacek has a different last name because of our fathers. My father and Filipina’s father are brothers by blood while Jacek’s father is both of our fathers’ brother through my father’s sister’s marriage. Antoni is just my brother.”
The police officer was quiet for a moment and Cecylja knew it was because she was trying to analyze her explanation of their family tree.
“I see…” the officer said “You all say that the four of you are innocent?”
“Yes.” one of them answered.
“Well I believed you all from the start even though the other officers are skeptical.” she said “ I don’t believe the hispanic man was innocent at all. I have to tell you all that even though you all have been accused of killing this man, the forensics scientists analyzed the body and the crime scene but they have found no physical evidence against you. They have found no evidence of stabbing or poisoning nor have they found anyone breaking and entering into his room.But the thing is, they haven’t found a suicide note.”
“Does that mean we are free to go?” asked Antoni.
“Well, even though there is no evidence against you, the police department still suspects you,” Officer Ratownik explained “they think that you, for a lack of better word, emotionally brainwashed this man and gave him Stockholm Syndrome. [i] “
“No we didn’t!” shouted Antoni as his sister and cousins gasped in shock “we didn’ frwaking brainwash this guy. He was the one that attacked us!”
“Well,” continued the woman “I think you are all innocent but I have something to tell you. This is not my choice, I am here to give you a message from the chief of the police, Chief Kovalenko that the four of you have to work with us – “
“What?” they all gasped.
“Wait let me finish!” she interrupted “You all have to work with us because we are still not sure who really is responsible for the train explosion and if there were any other people involved like maybe as the hispanic man said that there were other terrorists. You have to work with us to prove your innocence.
“If you don’t, your names will be sent to the news and you could be announced as suspects for the train explosion which could really ruin your chances of getting into a college or finding a job. The train explosion is already all over the news but this police department hasn’t revealed the details. The forensics team has already started a investigation of the train explosion; a couple of our police officers have recently gone missing and the forensics team thinks the train explosion and the hispanic’s confession might have something to do with their missing presence.”
“My sister and his brother were kidnapped by those dastardly men along with the other kidnapped people!” exclaimed Filipina.
“Well,” said Officer Ratownik “It hurts me to hear that and I am really sorry for you and Jacrek for your missing siblings. Honestly, I am. I am hoping that we can find them with those missing train passengers. I am realy sorry that you are being forced to work with us, it wasn’t my will.”
“Isn’t that illegal?” asked Cecylja skeptically.
“It probably is,” replied Officer Ratownik as she softened her voice and leaned closer to the four of them “Chief Kovalenko is not the greatest or surprisingly, the most honest leader of this police force. I shouldn’t have said that, it was awful of me but sometimes this division of police can do really dirty work.”
“At least if we work with them,” said Jacek to Filipina “We might be able to track down Lilka and Brunon.”
“You have a point there.” she responded with a pinch of relief.
“Don’t worry,” Officer Ratownik said “Maybe we’ll find your siblings.”
Maybe Filipina thought to herself as the word deeply penetrated her skull.
“You all have been inside here for a bit too long. Would you like to get some fresh air and go outside?” the police officer asked.
Outside. That word hit the cousins through their minds like a rock. It was true; they have been in the police department for two weeks. Almost their entire vacation that should have been spent with a ton of fun was instead spent at the police station. The policewoman seemed to be a psychic because what she had said surprised them.
“We already called your families. We even sent police officers to your families to confirm it.” she explained “In case you’re wondering how we know, you answered our questions of family and address through your interrogations.”
“What did our families say?” asked Cecylja.
“They want to talk to you.” Ratownik replied.
Cecylja swallowed a lump in her throat and a cold tingle ran down her spine. That was the last thing she had ever wanted to do in a situation like this. She hoped that her parents wouldn’t blame her for being in this type of situation. She wondered if Filipina’s or Jacek’s parents would blame them for the disappearance of their siblings. Would their parents understand that it wasn’t either of their faults? Would she, their cousins, and the police ever find Lilka and Brunon?
“Would you all like to go outside?” Ratownik repeated her question.
The four of them looked at each other and all talked to each other in Polish. If they wanted to come to a decision, they wanted to talk in private. Eventually, they all nodded their heads and dropped the foreign jabber. Jacek then turned to Officer Ratownik with his back straight and his voice full of confidence.
“Yes,” he answered “we’ll go outside.”
“All right then,” said the young policewoman as she stood up and picked up her chair. “I will get permission from Kovalenko.”
She unlocked the barred door and left; but she did not let the four suspects out of the cell. She promised to come back to them whether they got permission or not.
For fifteen minutes, the cell was filled with silence and a sense of emptiness. Though they waited for her quietly, inside their minds they were complaining. Cecylja’s family and relatives were impatient but Cecylja was used to their complaints and yelling. She had developed that trait from them. Almost every Pole[ii] Cecylja knew was impatient. She wondered if all Poles had the lacked the virtue of patience?
When Officer Ratownik returned, she unlocked the doorand gestured them to come out.
“We can go,” she answered “but Chief Kovalenko made it very clear that I would have to supervise you. Not to accuse you all but hear my words: don’t do anything stupid. Chief Kovalenko is not an easy man to persuade.”
The four of them all sighed a breath of relief and satisfaction. The cousins stepped out of cell and left the jail[iii]. When they left the jail and went into the hallway, there was a man in a white lab coat waiting for them. At first, Cecylja thought that they had all been tricked into an examination but there was a different reason why the man in the lab coat was there; he took Cecylja’s arm and injected something into it which he explained was a tracking device.
“Kovalenko – I mean Chief Kovalenko told me that if you all are going to get some time out of the police department, you all have to have a tracking device in your bodies.” the man explained with a leery gaze as he injected the device into Filipina’s arm. “Can’t have any suspects running away; also, if you all do run away, we will find you.”
After the suspects had receievd their shots and been bandaged, they went with Officer Ratownik so that she could fill out paperwork prmosing to supervise the cousins. Officer Ratownik then handed some papers over to the cousins; they signed the papers, promising that they would’nt run away or hurt themselves, cilivians or their supervisor. Once they finished the paperwork, they promised that after they would return they would call their parents. Finally, they had all left the police department and stepped outside.
The sun was shining brightly but there were many clouds in the sky; luckily, it didn’t look like it was going to rain soon. The sun burned the cousins’ eyes so they shielded their faces and complained. As they walked throughout the city, they looked at all the towering skyscrapers and colorful buildings while holding their hands above their eyes.
On every block, there were lush green trees and cars zoomed by them on every street, every block, and every intersection. People were walking by themselves and in groups; some chatted as they sat in rounded tables and sipped their drinks outside of cafés; many were riding their bikes on sidewalks and across the streets where crossing guards guided them; some couples were holding their hands or pushing baby carriages or strollers.
At least it was a bit cleaner here than back in the train station.
“Where should we go first?” asked Antoni.
“Let’s go get something to eat first.” said Jacek.
“Yeah, “ agreed Filipina as her tummy rumbled “I’m hungry.”
As they walked through the streets of Philly, they all looked for a restaurant; when they went on a certain block there was a Chinese food restaurant and a pizza restaurant. They all had pizza before but rarely did they ever eat Chinese food so they went into the Chinese food restaurant.
The four cousins all ordered Lo Mein noodles with white rice; sesame chicken with broccoli; and egg rolls. It was not the healthiest meal ever but they rarely ever ate fast food, especially Jacek and Filipina. The police officer didn’t order anything because she preferred to eat dinner at home and also because she wanted to stay in shape for her job.
“Let’s pray first,” said Jacek. They all agreed. They all held hands together in prayer and Jacek led the prayer. Because Cecylja and Antoni were Catholics, they were used to praying the Holy Trinity first and then saying their prayer with their hands folded; however, they went along with it because they still considered it praying to God.
“Thank you Lord for this wonderful food that you have given us today and for the people that have cooked it for us. Thank you that we survived the train accident and that we have been able to go out today…”
“Amen.” they all said in unison.
Then their hunger took over and they scarfed down their food. Because Filipina was a vegan, she didn’t eat her chicken. Antoni loved to eat chicken so when he asked if Filipina was going to eat her chicken, she just dumped it on his plate.
“Are you all Christian?” asked Officer Ratownik.
“Well,” Cecylja answered for them “Antoni and I are Catholics while Filipina and Jacek are Protestant.”
“You two are not Christian.” said Jacek confusedly as he looked at Cecylja and Antoni “And Filipina and I are not Protestant; we’re Christian!”
“Jacek,” said Cecylja “Catholics are Christians but a different type of Christian than you guys are. There are three kinds of Christians: Catholics – which is what Antoni and I are; Eastern Orthodox Christians which have similar practices and beliefs to Catholics but some of their theology is different; finally, there are Protestants which are the Christians that believe in God and Jesus but do not pray to Mary or the saints and have only two sacraments which are the Eucharist and Baptism. That is the type of Christians that you two are.”
“Really?” asked Jacek confusedly.
“Yes.” answered Ratownik. They all stared at her surprised that she was the first to ask yet had an answer to a similar question. “You guys can read about The Great Schism and The Reformation in your history textbooks and any history website on the Internet.”
“Not to be rude, I’m just curious but which Protestant denomination are you guys?” asked Antoni.
“I don’t know; we’re just Christian. We’re just Protestant.” answered Filipina.
They only ate half of their meals but they already felt so stuffed. They didn’t feel like eating anymore but the food was irresistable. While everyone else was continuing their meals, Antoni just put down his eating utensils and pushed the food away.
“I’m so full!” he grumbled “That’s it; I’m rage quitting[iv].”
The three of the cousins burst into laughter, especially Cecylja who was laughing uncontrollably. The police officer, conversely, did not understand what was so funny so she just made an awkward smile.
“Rage quitting?” chortled Jacek as he continued eating. “You play so much “Call of Duty” and so many other video games that you don’t know a better word for it.”
“I can imagine.” giggled Cecylja.
Antoni walked with his plate to the garbage can, threw the unfinished meal away, and came back to the table, waiting for his relatives to finish eating. As they at, they cousins all shared their personal stories and laughed for half an hour. The police officer, on the other hand, was not so open to her personal life and didn’t really talk much; when one of the four cousins asked about the scar on her face, she responded by hesitating and saying “It was a horrible experience that I will never forget; I don’t really want to talk about it.”
When they all finished eating, they threw out the remains, tossed their filthy paper plates in the garbage, paid their bill, and exited the restaurant. It was after four o’ clock when they left but they still had plenty of time before they had to return to the police department, so they went on their way to the nearest park.
As they were walking the noisy streets of Philadelphia, Filipina looked around and saw someone familiar. She saw a tall teenager with tan skin and light brown hair with a shorter teenage girl with lighter skin and blond…or light brown hair. They had both had long noses while the girl had chubby cheeks. They looked extremely familiar. Could it be?
“Guys!” exclaimed Filipina “I think I see them!”
“See who?” asked Cecylja confused.
“I see Lilka and Brunon!” she answered.
“Where?!” exclaimed Jacek and Antoni. Filipina pointed to the direction that they were going and told Officer Ratownik about it; the four of them went to where their supposed siblings were going. Ratownik was skeptical but she went with the cousins and followed the people who might have been Lilka and Brunon.
The people who looked like Lilka and Brunon turned to another block and vanished from sight. The cousins and the police officer waited for lights to turn red and when thye did, the cars stopped and a crossing guard guided them across the street. When the five of them cross the street, they all pushed past people while saying “ ’Scuse me!”, “pardon me!” and “Sorry!”. After they got through the sea of random strangers they turned a block and scanned the entire block. They saw a pair of people that looked like Lilka and Brunon but there were four nother pairs of people that looked almost exactly like them or similar to them.
“Wait, I think I see them – oh no, wait that’s someone else.”
“I think that’s them.”
“No they’re right there!”
“No, over there!”
They all looked around but many of the look-a-likes were leaving, some drove away, many split up, and some of them were lost from sight.
“Let’s split up,” said Jacek.
“Hold it!” ordered Officer Ratownik “I am under orders to supervise you and I mean all of you; I can’t take my eye off one of you. What if you get lost? Chief Kovalenko will think that I let one of you run away. We can’t split up; we are all going to search for your missing siblings together.”
“Officer Ratownik,” whined Antoni “We’re not going to get lost. It will be quicker to finding them.”
“No, I am under orders.” she refused.
“All right then,” succumbed Jacek “Let’s go now before we lose them.”
So the cousins and the police officer went together throughout the whole block and searched through restaurants, barber shops, thrift shops, and many other stores. They fpunded a couple blonde teenagers and brunet teenage boys but they were not Lilka or Brunon. People were confused when they sa the police officer with cousins, afraid that they were all going to get arrested. When they burst into shops, they were stared at but when they left the shop a relief fell upon them. Left and right they looked but they did not find Lilka or Brunon. Ater the search, their legs were hurting and their eyes were weary from so much searching.
“I know we haven’t found them but I clearly saw them at first and I know it was them!” said Filipina.
“Maybe you just imagined it; they looked like Lilka and Brunon but they probably weren’t them.” suggested Jacek in a worn-out tone.
“But I really did see them; I could clearly see them and they were not that far away.” objected Filipina “Those two people looked exactly like Lilka and Brunon. How could I be mistaken?”
“Maybe it was them,” agreed Cecylja “you never know.”
“Oh my go – “ moaned Antoni “You’re such a dumbass Cecylja, it wasn’t them – “
“Hey!” exclaimed Ratownik “You can’t just call your sister a name like that! Be respectful.” Antoni just rolled his eyes and did not say another word. Ratwonik held out her wrist and checked her watch. “All right, we have get be going back now; we have been out for three hours now.”
“Three hours?!” they all exclaimed in unison.
“Yup,” she answered “Now let’s get going.” They all left the block and started to look for their way back to the police department. They all piushed past the crowds and crossed the streets quickly. They had to get back to the police station on time.
“Officer Ratownik?” asked Jacek.
“Yes?” asked the policewoman.
“When you said we are going to work with the police soon, I was wondering, when are we going to start?”
“Well, before any of you has to start the mission, you all are going to have to go to training – “
“Let me finish, you are all going to go to training for a couple weeks and then when we have a mission for you, we will inform you. I may or may not be with you in the missions, I am not sure but I will definitely not be with you in the training.”
“Isn’t this…kind of illegal?”asked Jacek skeptically.
“Like I said before,” sighed the police officer “We will keep you under custody for a period of time and make you do unauthorized tasks for us but this is not of my doing. Chief Kovalenko wants you all to carry out these tasks but if I were him I would let you all go because you are not suspicious to me anymore. You all shouldn’t even be doing tasks like this since you all are not police officers.”
“Can’t you tell him something?” asked Filipina.
“If I did, I would lose my job and it takes months or even a year to get accepted into the job; finding a job is not as easy as you think it is; finally, this department is the nearest job that I can attend to. I can’t simply just quit. I live with my adopted father, Dr. Schwartz, but I don’t want him to support me all my life – I want to have a family of my own and keep my job.”
The cousins all looked at her with surprise and pity. When they crossed the final street, they returned to the police department and they all signed in. When they did that, Ratownik escorted them into the jail. She gave them all four quarters and let one of them use the telephone to call their parents. Cecylja went first. She picked up the black telephone off it’s hanger and dialed the numbers to home.
Beep-bee-beep-boo-boo-boo-beep-boo-beep-boo! The line of the phone connected to the other line and there was a familiar voice of a middle-aged woman.
“Mama, to jest Cecylja…”[vi]
[i] Stockholm Syndrome is a mental illness when an aggressor holds someone hostage and forms an emotional bond with them causing the person (who is being held hostage) to be sympathetic towards their aggressor and protect them from anyone who would try to punish or hurt them. (page number: )
[ii] Pole is a Polish person, not to be confused with the object pole.
[iii] There is a difference between jail and prison. Jail is a celled room in a police department but a prison is a house full of cells.
[iv] Rage quitting is a term (used by people who play a lot of video games) which means to quit a video game session because of frustration or anger from losing to the opponent. (Honestly, someone I know actually used that term in a conversation when he or she decided they were not going go eat their meal anymore.)