Previous episodes are here.
Olivia and Amaro walked through the garden in the early hours of the morning. The crisp precision of the landscaping gave off an air of order which Olivia stared at, mesmerised by the intricacies of a simple palm tree.
Amaro had to clear his throat to regain her attention. She blinked both sets of eyelids and he chuckled.
‘You will need to work on your control, Ms Nixon.’
She gave a short nod, too overwhelmed with the sensation to speak before he gestured around him.
‘You see intricacy and beauty with the finest detail. It will pass, and so it must.’
There were ridges of muscle each time she swallowed and speech was more regurgitation over elegance.
‘You give good speeches but I have a task, don’t I?’
He looked Olivia up and down.
‘You do. I insist you control yourself before you carry it out.’
She grimaced, her thoughts ran amuck as she fought a deep and hard rush of aggression, ready to lash out at him. Olivia dug her fingers into the meat of her palms. She cried out as needles slid and pulled her fingers free, saw the lipless incisions she had left.
‘Good idea.’ she said.
Amaro lowered his eyes and pointed to her hands.
‘We are all prisoners of our anatomies, and now you’re having to learn to accommodate new capabilities.’
She looked at her palm as the cuts closed, enjoying the deep itching of repair before she met his stare.
‘How long before I learn?’ she said.
Amaro’s face shuddered like a calf in a slaughterhouse as patches of translucent green flesh danced across his skin and his cheeks swelled with his new teeth before he returned to his handsome, distinguished features.
‘I took about twenty years and even then I still risked death in challenging myself.’
He raised his left hand.
‘I will challenge you with something. Find the man who helped the woman get away. Ask him to meet with me and nothing more.’
‘Wouldn’t a phone call suffice?’
You found the papers. I want to speak with him but I would send no one unprepared.’
He reached into his pocket and retrieved a packet of cigarettes, tapped one out as he looked at her with interest.
‘I do not believe those were dogs, Olivia. You will confirm it for me.’
She took in a deep breath, flinched at the fluttering spasm of muscles and bones in motion before she felt herself aching but restored to her human musculature.
Amaro blinked and lit up. Olivia watched the chemical reaction of the lighter flame applied to the end of the cigarette and the individual flares of the burning strands of tobacco before she softened her gaze and blinked in astonishment.
Amaro exhaled and looked at her, smiling as he clapped his hands.
‘See, you’re the closest thing I have to a child. You will do wonderful things for us, Olivia.’
He offered her the packet and she took one as he lit it for her.
She inhaled and raised her head against the shivering rush of the cigarette smoke. When she exhaled, she watched his aura, purple and black seething around him and wondered what she looked like to him. This was a step forwards into a state of power and strength which eluded her in life and all she had to do was find one man.
‘Then the hunger whispered in her bones and she wondered, for a moment, what it would feel like to feed on someone, and how excited she was by it. She had solved murders through understanding the uses people found for one another. Olivia Nixon had found another use for some of them.
‘If I tell you, you will think I’ve lost my mind, which is the best fucking reason to get me out of there.’
Jasper exhaled it in one breath. He was drenched with sweat, his cool left when he got in the back of the cab and spoke with someone who could help him.
Perez glanced at him in the mirror.
‘What, he fucks kids or something?’
Jasper laughed and it was pitched high enough to make Perez turn and look at him. He had ascetic drawn features but his eyes were warm and soulful enough to inspire confession.
‘He’s not someone we should go anywhere near. It’s not worth it, trust me.’
Perez narrowed his eyes and tested Jasper’s expression with the concern someone who has been made fun of for other people’s amusement.
‘We’ve got a whole crew on this. If he’s doing dirt, we can use it. Blackmail.’
Jasper shook his head and closed his eyes in disbelief.
‘Have you ever seen something you wish you hadn’t.’
Perez chewed the inside of his cheek as he stared down, lost in recollection.
‘When I was getting high, I ended up living with a couple in Arizona. They got into it, and she was screaming at him and holding the baby. I was fucking high, sat on their couch. We’d been smoking for days, you know.
I’m thinking, bitch put the fucking kid down, you’re scaring him. They’re into something fucking childish and I’m thinking she will say something or he will hit her, or both and instead this guy plucked the baby out of her arms and swung it against the wall. You never get the sound out. Nor the screams, man.’
Perez glanced up.
‘Is it that kinda bad?’ he said.
Jasper swallowed and glared at him.
‘Yeah it is but my situation is we bail out now. There are things no one deals with. This, mate, is ours. He’ll find me anyway but I can’t work for a fucking monster, and I mean the word. I fucking do.’
Perez nodded. Jasper had done good work for them. He knew the companies who were hiring, Perez saw him as a judas goat, tethered by his reputation to lure out the big money. Jasper had worked his way into Fidelity Assurance and Mutual Interests when they were linked to mercenaries operating in the Middle East. This one had been a long time in planning. It was nothing strong arm, just a back door left open, a little taken to wet their beaks and then move on, live the good life for a while before the money ran out.
Jasper looked terrified.
Perez turned back and started the cab.
‘Can you come with me now?’
Jasper fought the urge to sob. He nodded and Perez swore under his breath as he looked in the mirror at the back of Perez’ head. Jasper reached over, took it between his hands and kissed it.
‘Yes, and we need to get everyone together and run.’ he said.
Perez took the cab out into traffic.
Jasper sat back by degrees. The relief was a narcotic, but he did not sit back until they were out into traffic.
‘So, did he have a tail?’ Perez said.
Jasper craved a cigarette, but he laughed and shook his head. The laughter hurt his throat before he stopped and put the cigarette back into the packet. His mouth twisted and he wept as he spat out the story in thick gobbets, like regurgitating lumps of gristle as he talked about meeting his employer in person.
Adam walked to the shore and continued into the water. Two seals watched him pass before wobbling away until they hit the water, guided by the voice telling them to run from the thing which walked into the water.
He had shed skin as he walked, revealing more of the luminous white skin. His hands had healed over, fingers tapering to graceful points as he closed his eyes and entered the water. The pressure was uncomfortable, but he replayed a memory of holding flowers by a lake, the hope of love and it was enough to see him through the long, slow walk across the ocean floor.
He emerged on the far shore, one eye popped from the socket from the pressure at one point but he popped it back in with a lazy jab of his index finger. He stood there, dripping and naked, looking at the boy sat in front of him.
Jerry was thirteen years old, smoking a joint he had rolled from his brother’s stash, on the beach. He was shivering and the weed had pinched and tickled his imagination in ways which weren’t helped by the trembling edge of the high. Looking up, he saw the man, tall and white, staring at him with a contempt which made Jerry pull his knees up to his chest and look away.
Jerry sat there, the blanket wrapped around him, looking at the joint smouldering in his fingers before the fingers made knots in his hair and a hand clamped over his mouth before he could scream. Adam squeezed as the boy’s skull caved in as a rush of splintered bone and brain matter spilled out onto the sand. He strode back to the water and tossed him into the water before he leaned forwards and splashed the gruel from his chest and hands.
He walked inland.