(Warning! Offensive slurs!)
As soon as Annette got into the next room, a familiar and powerful smell hit her. From her past experience in at least one art studio, she’d know it anywhere.
For some reason, however, it smelled far more intense than she remembered, very much like a kiln exploded. The smells almost seemed to try and mess with her head.
Trying to wave the stench away, she stepped forward to the next juror.
The scarred side of Harwood’s face was quite prominently visible, given the way his head lolled to one side. The empty eye socket looked as if it were oozing some kind of fluid out of it.
Annette almost didn’t want to touch him, for so many reasons. Even if this wasn’t her Harwood, it was still Harwood in the end.
With extreme reluctance, she touched his hand, which felt rather leathery under her fingertips.
This brought forth the expected reaction. Harwood’s hand lifted up and took hold of her wrist. Though he didn’t roughly grip it, it still caught her off guard.
Now Annette watched as he lifted his head up to look at her. His one remaining eye glowed rather brightly, with its iris the color of nephrite.
Apparently, seeing Annette before him was amusing, given the smile he now had on his face.
“The immortal blue woman of legend has come to help me! Jing cai!” His words almost seemed to echo as she was sent to the first memory.
Annette was now standing in a flower garden at nighttime, during a full moon. Even though she wasn’t feeling the effects, Annette could tell it was hot from hearing the cicadas singing.
However, she could also smell the thick, rich scent of lotus flowers. Looking off to the side showed that they were closed up while floating in a pond, awaiting the morning light.
Next to this garden was an Asian-themed house, presumably where the owners lived. It wasn’t particularly elaborate, but still nice to look at.
She took a few steps to try and peek into one of the windows, when she heard footsteps approaching the house.
Glancing around the corner, she saw a man and a woman. The man was dressed entirely in black, but the woman was wearing a much more formal outfit, with plenty of makeup on her face as well.
“You remember what I told you to do, right?” The woman asked the man. “Make up a cover story, get in the house, shoot, then get out as soon as possible.”
She then turned to the front of the house, smirking. “This’ll show that Afro-loving Chink bitch to take my promotion.”
Annette now knew what was going on. Once she pulled away from the house corner, she phased through the side of the house into the living room, standing next to some bamboo.
Then she heard a knock at the front door, causing chills to run through her spine. She watched as a woman in a satin bathrobe came down a set of stairs from above Annette’s head.
“Who could that be at this hour?” Behind her came a tall black man, presumably her husband. “Neither of us are expecting any company this late, right?”
Her husband shook his head. “And tomorrow’s a school day, so it can’t be any of Huiliang’s friends.”
“Huiliang…” Annette whispered the name, trying to figure out where she’d heard it before. As she went in thought, the couple answered the door. She didn’t even hear the excuse the other man gave them. “Where’d I hear that name-oh no…”
What she did hear after this was the sound of a door slamming, and a pistol being cocked. She looked up in time to see the couple back away from the gunman.
“No-!” She shouted just as the woman was shot in the chest. As she fell to the ground, her husband was then shot in the chest as well.
The next few moments went by in a blur. The gunman ran back outside, leaving the couple to bleed to death at the foot of the stairs. Annette dashed through the nearest wall to see him meet up again with the other woman.
“Well, that was quick,” she said to him as he approached him. “Was he already at the door when you got in?”
Shaking his head, the gunman made a noise before speaking. “No, he came down with his wife, so I didn’t have to find him-”
“Hang on,” the woman said to silence him, glaring daggers at him. Annette could feel her stare just about piercing through his head. “His wife?”
“I wasn’t supposed to kill the parents?”
His somewhat curious question was met with a burst of impotent rage, and a painful-looking slap to the face.
“You were supposed to kill the boy! Now the whole plan’s ruined!” As she ranted at him about what a failure he was, Annette went back into the house.
This time, she saw a little boy standing in his parents blood. With a puzzled and heartbroken look on his face, he kneeled down in front of his mother.
“Mama?” He tried to get her to wake up. “Mama?” When she gave no response, he turned to his father and tried to do the same for him. “Papa, wake up! Wake up and tell Mama to wake up!”
He didn’t look much older than seven. It broke Annette’s heart to see him pleading with his dead parents to awaken, especially at such a young age.
“Oh, Harwood…” She reached out to him as though she wished to hug him. Unfortunately, at this point, the scene was fading from view.