The Thin C/T-rust (Barrowman Remix #1)
I tap my fingers against the wall next the interrogation room with an even rythm. Tap.Tap.When the police-station of Fallowfell was built, back in the 70’s I think, someone had the bright idea of painting it yellow. Tap.Tap.Tap. Now I am sure that at the time, the idea was sound. Yellow is a calm color, as the Swedish rhyme goes. But that was an odd forty years ago. Now that age age has had its say, the yellow reminds me more of urine than buttercups.
“Rune!” Hermann bustles in. His head is shiny with sweat and his suit is disarrayed. Why- his tie is of a different color than his jacket. That by itself is telling. “I came as soon as I heard. Are you alright?” I look at him. No, I am not alright.Do l look alright? I am barerly holding it together. My face must show something of what I am thinking, because he embraces me in a hug. He rhymes an old Swedish rhyme, one about three little stags that asked the troll for permission to cross the river, one he used to rhyme to me when I was little, and everything was well. But things are not well.
We sit there for a while, and things start to feel better. “Okey, Hermann. You can let me go now.” He releases his arms. “If you don’t want to we can go. I am sure that the police can ask their questions later.” “Unfortunelately, we need to ask Rune questions while the events of the day are still fresh in his mind.” We both turn towards the now open interrogation room, where Detectives Anders and Claire, accompanied by Nevena stand looking at us. How long have they been standing there?
“Ms Stanislaw, if there is anything else, call us.” She inclines her head.
On her way out, Nevena’s marigold eyes catches mine. She extends her arms, as if holding a phone and makes a typing motion. I nod.
Claire smiles a big pearly smile at me. “Long time no see, eh Rune.” I shake my head. The last time we saw each other was around a year ago. Claire and Anders were the cops who interviewed Sandra Översten, the Detectives who found out the truth behind the Accident. It says something about my life that I am on a first-name basis with the local cops.
Followed by Hermann I enter the interrogation room. It’s the standard piss-yellow, with a metal table and three chairs. Anders realizes the problem at around the same I do. “Wait. I’ll get an extra chair.” His voice is close to Greyscale’s in pitch; it rumbles and vibrates through the room.
A second later, and we all sit at the table; me and Hermann next to each other, Claire and Anders in front of us. Looking at them, I can’t help but laugh a little at the irony of the world. Whoever paired them must have a sense of humor.Claire is short, with caramel-skin and big brown-anime eyes, the kind of person who is stuck with perpetual girl-next-door looks. Anders has to be almost twice as tall as Claire, thrice as big, pale and ruddy with wolf-blue eyes.
Claire takes out a recorder. With a press of a button it begins to whirl and record. “Now, I know that you’ve had a rough day, to say the very least, but if you could the recount the events which led you here, and leave nothing out…” She signals me to speak.
I take a deep breath- and I start to talk in a oddly detached voice. I describe the events of the day as if they happened to someone else, and not me. Maybe I will start to scream. Maybe I will wake up and this is all a dream. Yeah right.
My day started like usual. I got up. I showered. Picked up some clothes, had breakfast, grabbed my bike and then I went to school.
At what time did you leave your house?
I close my eyes. I am sitting on my bike. I am staring at my telephone, worried about time, worried about being late. 8.26.
You know this, exactly?
I smile a little. I was late, and I had to do some calculations. It’s three kilometers from my house to Ochre. That’s fifteen minutes of normal bicycling. At full speed, and downhill I could probably do it in seven. Anyhow I arrived at Ochre at 8.35.
There is a rustle of papers. You were late?
Well, yea. But it didn’t really matter, because my first lesson, that is history, was canceled.
Indra, my history teacher called in sick. He had apparently accquired a case of the runs. I shrug. He phoned in instructions. So me and a couple of others decided to start working on our homework for the next week, essays about an optional Greek philosopher/leader/personality.
Who were with you?
Hermann breaks in. I am sorry. It sounds almost as if you suspect Rune of something. This is standard procedure Mr Schwartz. Please answer the question, Rune.
Ehrm…. I quickly envision a small table in the library, where we sat. Me, Elena, Shirin, Kai and Stella.
Claire writes something down on in a notebook. How long did you work on your individual essays?
The lesson was from 8.30 to 9.20, but we stopped a little earlier, because our Language lessons starts at 9.25, and we got like no break at all and most of us want some time to grab a cup of coffee or hit the john.
What happened next?
Our next lesson was languages- and I have French. So the others went to their classes while me and Stella went to room B-237. Our teacher, Nelly– that’s Nelly Flamel was already in the classroom, and she had prepared a task. We were supposed to read a children’s book, in French, and try to translate. I did that.
Claire looks through her papers. There is something else. A couple of witnesses say that that your French lesson took more time than neccessary?
I sigh. Yeah. Bastien and Oscar decided to duke it out at the end of the lesson. Half of the class stood cheering on them, and the other half tried restraining them. It seems that Bastien was doing the Nasty with Oscar’s girlfriend, and instead of, I don’t know, talking to her, he decided to punch Bastien.
Claire adds an additional note. Taking that as my cue, I continue.
My next lesson was Swedish, with Ricardo Corazon, the last lesson before lunch.
Ricardo Corazon? Isn’t he married to Nelly Flamel?
Yep- and don’t ask me why they have different surnames, nobody knows why. We went through predicatives and other grammatical thingies that I can’t even name. Sara-
Sara Eksjö, erhmm….. she wasn’t there.
Claire frowns and Anders taps a humongous finger at the table. Nobody else noticed that.
Probably because she reappeared during Lunch. Anyhow, our Swedish lesson ended at 11:30 and then it was Lunch. As I say the word ‘lunch’ my stomach makes an uneasy sound. Oh well. It’s not as if I have anything left in my stomach to vomit up.
So Lunch. It was oatmeal and cinnamon. Yeah, I know, not exactly what most people think of when they think of the word ‘food’, but it’s filling and cinnamon… I stop. I am babbling. Trying to avoid talking about the reason why I am here. This is what I do when I don’t want to talk about things. I stretch subjects out, until nobody wants to listen, only it won’t work this time.
Claire puts one hand over mine. Hermann squeezes my shoulder reassuringly.
So I had three large bowls of oatmeal, and then Sara showed up, smelling of cigarettes. Nature called. I left the cafeteria-
When did you leave the cafeteria? We’re establishing a timeline here, and this is very important, Rune. You’re our key witness.
Well lunch on Fridays is really short- 40 minutes I think. Walking from C-231, our Swedish classroom takes about five minutes. There was a line to the food, so add another five minutes. So we were at the table after 11:40. I eat really slowly, and Elena said that if I didn’t hurry we would be late for English. I think that was after 12.
And here it comes.
So anyhow, I went to the wc. As I put my hand on the knob of the door, I hear this .. noise.
I concentrate, searching for a particular memory. You know Brygir right? The lake above the slopes?
The sound I heard reminded me of this time in Second Grade, when the teachers dragged us up there, in the middle of winter. We were supposed to learn how to skate, but most kids just went crazy. So this kid, I think his name was Lars something, he breaks the ice, and plunges down. I pause. The sound I heard when I put my hand around the knob was like the sound of Lars’ chubby body breaking the ice.
I opened the door–
— I stop. I need to get the sequences right.
I opened the door, and lying on the ground was Jacob Tregaro. It takes me a couple of seconds to see what I am really seeing because….
… because he isn’t whole. He’s in pieces. His…. his chest is open and you can see his intestines, like bloody rope, spread across the floor. And then I see him.
The assailant or the unsub, or whatever you want to call him was built like a dude– so yea, guy. Shorter than me. Broad shoulders. Wore a hoodie, and large baggy sweatpants, coupled with glasses. He sees me at the same time I see him, and he moves, he’s fast; he explodes into motion and grabs me by the throat. He looks… he looks at my eye-patch and he says something.
My brows knit in my retelling. I don’t know what, because his accent sounds really weird and thick.
If you had to make a guess?
I shrug. It sounded along the lines of ‘little dragon’. The detectives are too busy deciphering my words, so they don’t see it, but I do; Hermann startles, the faintest of reactions, but informative on its own. I wonder what that is about… and why do I think of his little sojourn down the lowlands? Because it felt false?
What happened next?
I began to blacken out. Spots appeared in front of my eyes. So I did the only thing I could think of. And now I lie to the Detectives. I bit him. I used both of my hands, I tugged his grip to the left, I angled my mouth, and between his thumb and forefinger I found a spot. I bit him like you’d bite a T-bone steak, raw and bloody. I loosed a gump of flesh at his face and he took a surprised step back. Then it’s my turn to be surprised. The torn flesh on the killer’s hand flows like water and then it’s gone. The killer turns his head, listening to something I can’t hear. I see the beginning of a motion and I raise a hand right in time to protect myself from an backhand like iron.
Next thing I know, and a couple of seniors are calling the cops and carrying me to the infirmary, where I relinquish about two litres of oatmeal and cinnamon on Nurse Merith.Obviously I can’t tell the cops that I bit him and that the wound regenerated like something out of a movie….
So, he grabbed you by the throat, said something strange, then you kicked him in the balls, so to speak, he heard people coming nearby and ran?
Claire pushes a button on the recorder. Now… off the the record… is there anything you want to add? I shake my head. No wait, I have a few question. What happened after they brought me to infirmary? And…. what will happen now?
Claire purses her lips. We arrived at the scene, we were told that there was a dead boy in a wc. She stops, and looks at Anders. He nods. Rune, I feel that I should state that you’re the only one that actually saw the killer. As such, we will be posting a car or two outside your house. I don’t want you to be worried, this merely a precaution.
So not only did he somehow regenerate a wound in seconds, he escaped a school with hundreds of students, right in front of the cops. And they think he might be lurking around- enough to put up a protection detail? Oh boy.
Alright, we’re done here. I’d suggest that you eat something, and get some sleep Rune. We’re halfway out the door when Claire opens her mouth again.
And should you remember something else, even if it’s the most insignificant details and you think it’s nothing then you can still call me. She quickly rattles off a number, which I add to my phone.
Hermann drives us home at an sedate pace. I look at my phone, and there are several things to check. I have gotten notices on Facebook from pretty much the whole class, except Sara. I still haven’t forgotten that she laughed at me when I mentioned that I liked fantasy books. Double-bitch.
I adress some of them.
Kai; Are you alright? You looked kinda pale when they brought you out of the wc. I respond; yeah, I am fine- see ya tomorrow. Or no, see ya on Monday.
Stella; Hope you feel better. If you need anything, just call. Yeah, thanks.
Shirin; instead of writing anything, Shirin just sent me a link to a site about herbal tea, which is supposed to calm one’s nerves. I guess thanks?
Pontus; You still alive? We still on for Tuesday? Why did I agree to hang out with Kai and Pontus? Why? Yes, we’re still on.
Elena; Call me as soon as you get out. I call her. “Runey– what happened, tell me everything.” So I do, except I omit the killer’s wound. “Well, it couldn’t have happened to a better person.” “Elena!” “What? I am just saying what everyone in school is thinking right now. Tregaro was a closet-rapist.” “But he didn’t deserve that.” “Yeah? Say that to Georgia, Ami’s sister who can’t stand to be touched after she woke up one night after one of his little parties. She was covered in used condoms and someone had written ‘nice jugs’ on her tits. Another one; Clover Clarinette? No, of course you don’t know who that is. You don’t know her because she lives in Stockholm, with her little son who looks like a little nasty clone of Jacob.” With each word the volume of her voice increases, until even Hermann can hear her. I am about to say something when she ends the call. Ouch. That could’ve gone better. Perhaps I should let her steam for a while.
With fall on us, the sun has already started to set early and its again that backdrop that I open the door to my house. I have just put my coat on the hanger when Hermann puts a hand on my shoulder. “I’ll make cocoa and marshallows. That sounds fine?” “Yes box. I’ll be downstairs. Shout when you want me to come up.”
Walking downstairs, I think of Jacob Tregaro. Okay- Elena had a point. While Ragnar the Asshole is the kind of guy that would push a nerd into the lockers for standing in his way, Tregaro was cruel. He’d push a nerd into the lockers, and then keep on pushing. And then are stories, stories about parties, and the girls who inhabitated the same orbit as Tregaro always seemed to end up hurt…
My phone buzzes. Huh. An unknown number. “Hello?” “Hey.” “Who is this?” “Nevena, that’s who.” Ah. Rude Girl. Whom Elena gave my number to. Riiiight. “What’s up, Nevena?” Oh Runey, aren’t you smooth as butter. Shut up. And why am I talking to myself?!
“Oh nothing much. Trying to pick a pilosopher for that homework Indra gave us. I am stuck between Socrates or Platon.” “I picked Epicurus- his school of philosophy was one of the first to generally admit women and even slaves. It was built on the thought of what pleasure is and he wasn’t afraid of death- which I think is kinda cool. He reputedly created something called the Epicurean Paradox– a notion that -” I stop. “I am ranting, aren’t I.”
“Without a doubt. But that’s alright. I can listen to you all the day.” At that confession I drop the phone and narrowly catch it before it hits the floor. I put it back against my ear.” ….and what a day it has been. They say that you found him.” “‘They’ are right. He was lying on the floor, like a deboned chicken.” I try to inject some humor in what I say, gallow-humor I guess they call it, but my voice breaks on the last word.
“Hey, are you alright?” “It’s just… I know that he wasn’t a nice guy. Hell– he was as far from a nice guy as you can be. But he didn’t deserve to have his chest split open. Nobody deserves that.” Out of all the things to do, Nevena starts to sing. She sings a melody in an odd language, a language with sharp ends, full of lamentation and regret which flows like a mellow river. “What was that?” “A lullaby, from the Old Country. Do you feel any better?”
I blink. Oddly enough I do feel a little more tranquil. “Yeah thanks.” Without nothing to say I remain silent.
“So,” I respond.
“What are you doing on Wednesday? Our day ends early, you know.”
“Is this you asking me out for a date?,” I spit out without thinking. Crap- I’ve done it again.
“And what if I am?”
“Then I’d say you’ve got yourself a date.” What the hell just slipped out of my mouth?!
“Alright. See ya on Monday then. Have a nice weekend.” Click.
“Did she just ask you out on a date?” I jump high and scream. Hermann is sitting in my chair, at the desk in my room, with a brick in front of him, filled with sandwhiches and a cup of steamy hot chocolate. “How did you-” I shake my head. This has been one long day. It’s no wonder I am so easily surprised.
“So did she?”, Hermann persists. “I think so.” “Gut. I don’t think you’ve ever had a girlfriend. I was even beginning to think you liked boys.” “Hermann!” He smiles.”There is nothing wrong with liking boys. I am just worried that you’re going to die alone one day, unloved and alone.” “Your confidence in my manly prowess is staggering.” “Yes. Yes. Don’t stay up too long.” He points at the cup. “And drink the chocolate while it is still hot. Good night Rune.” “Good night Hermann.”
I sink down in my chair and just… breath. I am about to take a sip of the chocolate when I feel something on my lip. A thin crust, of sorts. I put my fingers against it, and remove the thin layer. The crust is blue, bordering on black. I apply some pressure on it, and it crumbles into dust. From when I bit the killer? Hmm. Did I swallow some of his blood? And if so, why was it blue?
I get up and I brush my teeth three times, just to make sure.
And what exactly did I see? After some contemplation which leads me nowhere I discard those thoughts. Maybe the answer will come to me tomorrow.
I close my eyes, drink some hot cocoa, and I think of a rude girl with citrine-colored eyes who sang me a lullaby.