Arthur kept his breathing short, aware of the cold blade against his throat. He just didn’t feel like moving too much would be a good idea. But he still had to take in air; each breath came fast and shallow.
“So…” He had to force back a shiver at the tone of her voice. It was cold. Maybe this girl had done something… God it would be shit to die like that, in a place like this.
There was a pause, she wasn’t saying anything and he dared not.
“Is she worse? Better? She better have fucking woken up or…” The blade dug a millimetre deeper into his neck. This time she had emotion in her voice, it was raw, breaking. She sounded her age, an adolescent, a child really – angry and hurt, for just a second at least.
She was talking about her friend. He should have checked on her, “I don’t know.” It was all he could giver her.
“Fuck.” The knife relaxed a little, giving him enough room to swallow for a moment. Then the pressure was applied again. “What the fuck do you want with me? Why are you here?”
“I was hoping I’d be able to find out something that could tell me that.” It may have been dangerous, not to answer her questions – but he couldn’t. He didn’t have any answers to give, he’d come to try find them.
“Me? Tell you?” She let out a single, short laugh. “I came here to try get one of you fuckers at it. Why would I tell you anything? Take a look at this situation and ask yourself who’s in control? Now tell me what the fuck you want with me!”
“Listen, they don’t tell me shit! I’ve been bloody suspended over you getting away. I just wanted to find out who the hell you were!”
The pressure was off his throat, but within a second there was a kick to his back, hard. It took the breath out of him but it was better than if she’d kept the knife there. He scrambled forwards to get away from her, twisting onto his back to face her.
He got his first good look at her since the hospital.
The black eye must have been from the fall from the bridge, how the fuck had she survived that? Her scratched and battered hands were bandaged free, and clutching a familiar shape of black metal.
Arthur had never actually looked down the barrel of a loaded gun before.
“Ok, this knife crap isn’t working. Bullets hurt a lot more than knives. Don’t fucking ask me how I know. You might be glad to hear I’ve had some success getting information out of people using them.” She casually held it out towards him. The size of it in comparison to her small hands, her short frame. A mere child, holding a gun to his head. A child who’d no doubt used one before. She stepped forwards. “It wasn’t perfect. I had to blow his leg apart. Do you know how far down a leg a bullet goes before it stops? I couldn’t even tell. Too much mess.”
Arthur scrambled backwards into the corner of the room but she just walked slowly towards him. She was insane.
“Do you want to make me go that far? You could just fucking tell me what you want with me!”
“I don’t want anything with you! I was just trying to find out why the hell my boss told me to arrest you, what the hell interested special branch. Why the hell they would shoot you.” He tried to get as far away from the gun, closer now, the muzzle inches away from his head. “I got a call from my boss. It was… it was after they ran your DNA through the system, then they got involved…”
“My DNA? What the fuck? Who are these people?” She lowered the gun a fraction, frowning.
Arthur took that as a good sign, he can tell her something at last.
“They are… special. They don’t belong to any government department. They exist in-between, take care of the stuff no one ever hears about. They’re the people who give the conspiracy theorists wet dreams.”
Her frown deepened. “Those thugs in badly fitting suits?” She asked, turning the gun away from him and pacing.
“Yeah. You must have done something, can’t you think of anything that might have caught their interest?”
“The only thing… Are they with the Kolmek? Taking bribes?” She swung the gun back around, her voice harsh again.
“The Kolmek? No why, what would they want with you?” What the hell was this girl into?
“That’s a simple one. I killed their… Well, I didn’t actually. I indirectly caused the death of their leader.” She paused and thought for a second, tapping the muzzle of the gun casually on her teeth like you would a pen. “Actually, fuck no, they killed him. I pissed them off, that’s all really. I can’t imagine why that would cause this.”
Is she some kind of assassin or something? It would explain the guns, the knives, that she could by all accounts fight off four or five adult muggers and escape four police with her hands cuffed…
“What do you want with my mom?” she said. “She isn’t here and I have little reason to think she had the initiative to leave herself.”
“What do they want with her? I expect as a way to get to you. Family is often the easiest way.” This was Special Branch, they did what the hell they pleased, and underhanded tactics weren’t to be turned down.
She laughed. “I wish them luck with it.”
He didn’t know what to take from that, maybe it wasn’t the best relationship. She was pacing again.
“I’m not sure what to do with you,” she said. “How do I trust what you’re saying to me?”
“I…” Arthur shuffled into a more comfortable position. Now there wasn’t a gun in his face he noticed his leg was getting pins and needles. Amazing how imminent death put’s things in perspective, how your body can conveniently ignore discomfort when it recognises the higher priority of not moving an inch. “You can’t, not really.”
“So what am I supposed to do. Shoot you?” She gave another bitter laugh. Reaching the wall she stopped, placing her hand on the stained surface. “My life was a mess enough already, now it’s all gone to shit. And this isn’t even the worst of it.”
She turned to lean her back against the plaster, and slid down. She sat facing him across the room, gun on her lap.
A moment’s respite from the questioning.
“How is your arm?” He said.
“Better. I relocated it, somehow. My hands though,” she flexed them a little, “they still hurt. At least I can use them now, they just ache all the time. Bones aren’t nice when they heal. My back’s not too bad.”
Oh yeah, she’d gotten stabbed. He’d forgotten about that. She must have caught his expression, because she added: “It wasn’t deep.”
Silence. What do you say to that?
“You could let me go?” he said, changing the subject. “You have no reason to… hurt me.”
“Do I need a reason? And yes, yes I fucking do.” She gathered herself and climbed to her feet. “You shot me. That hurt, I don’t like it when people shoot me. Plus, to use the same argument, only this time it’s actually sensible: I have little reason to let you go. They think I’m dead, you know otherwise.”
“I wasn’t the one shooting at you. I knocked the guy. That was why I got suspended, though apparently they were pissed because he wasn’t supposed to kill you. I don’t think. Why I still got suspended I don’t know. They aren’t very good with logic…”
“Again, I have no way of telling what you are saying is true.” She approached him.
“No. But you don’t have anything to gain by killing me. They’re already operating on the assumption you’re alive. If you let me live, you have everything to gain.” His eyes were bright as he stared into hers.
“And what exactly do you define as ‘everything’?”
“I have resources, experience. I can find out what the fuck they want you for. If I can’t, well that doesn’t harm you. If I can…” His heart thumped in his ears, was she going to listen to him? Use logic, reason. Or would she end this with a brutal lust for revenge.
“Fuck it.” She held out her hand. He took it and she hauled him to his feet. “But if you fuck with me I’ll… hell, I’m not going to bother with stupid threats. I’ll just make sure you hurt.”