Chapter 7:

That's why I am nothing

The Sequence of Kai

I surely cut a striking figure walking back through the city. A girl with half an outfit, running makeup and a bloody pillow. Bookmark here

Anyone who saw me must’ve thought I was in a bad way. I saw a couple of people take out their phones, probably to call the police. They know well enough at this stage to leave me alone, so it’s not an issue. Bookmark here

I do still take the scenic route to avoid too many eyes on me. The police I can deal with, being on the evening news I can’t, at least not bloodlessly. Alerting the wider world of my presence isn’t something I want happening. I need that world to stay away from here, for as long as I can keep it away.Bookmark here

It doesn’t take me that long to get back to Paul’s, so the sun still hasn’t set by the time I’m in the door. Bookmark here

I can tell the instant I’m inside that Aaron is waiting for me in the front room to the right of the hall. It’s the perfect place to ambush visitors from, situated just between the door and the stairs so that you can intercept whoever it is you’re waiting for, close enough to the door that you can hear it opening even if the opener is being discreet and it’s got the only TV in the house, so it offers a route of denial. Bookmark here

Sure enough, before I even close the front door fully, he’s out in the hallway, blocking my path to the stairs.Bookmark here

“What did you do?”Bookmark here

I brush straight past him, so he grabs my wrist to pull me back. He lets go pretty quickly; he’s got a keen sense for people’s state of mind if nothing else. I start up the stairs.Bookmark here

“Did you kill him?”Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

“You expect me to believe you when you look like that?”Bookmark here

“Why bother asking if you were only going to believe one answer? Idiot.”Bookmark here

I continue up the stairs without looking back at him.Bookmark here

“Ask Paul, he’ll know I didn’t kill him.”Bookmark here

As I make it to the top of the stairs he storms off into Paul’s office. I haven’t seen him this heated in a long time. He starts shouting at Paul the second he enters. Bookmark here

I can hear him being wrong from up here, calling me a murderer, ascribing motives to my actions, demanding I get thrown out. Bookmark here

I’m not a murderer anymore. I don’t have any motives. I’m not going anywhere.Bookmark here

I don’t bother knocking on Trish’s door, so she’s surprised by my entrance. She clutches her covers up over her body to hide it, even though she’s fully clothed.Bookmark here

“Kyah! Kai, what are you doing?”Bookmark here

“Glad to see you’re feeling better. Read this.”Bookmark here

I hold the pillow out in front of me. Trish takes in the message and looks up at me with worried eyes.Bookmark here

“Kai, what’s going on? Aaron wouldn’t tell me anything, he just said you were going to do something dangerous.”Bookmark here

“Am I even capable of doing anything dangerous?”Bookmark here

“That’s not the point!”Bookmark here

She can hear just as well as I can the argument going on downstairs. Aaron wants me gone but for some reason, Paul is defending me. I can’t imagine why. I better get down there and fight my own battles.Bookmark here

“Kai….”Bookmark here

She calls out to me with a voice weaker than her own. Even if she’s awake she’s not recovered physically or mentally. Probably both.Bookmark here

“What did Elm do? He’s got a hand, doesn’t he? What did he do to us?”Bookmark here

“It’s nothing you should worry yourself about, just get some rest.”Bookmark here

“I’m going to keep worrying if you keep disappearing off on your own.”Bookmark here

She attacks these things smarter than Aaron ever could. Emotional prodding is much more effective than direct questions. It makes me feel like I owe her at least a lie.Bookmark here

“I had to do this one by myself.”Bookmark here

“But you always try to do these things by yourself.”Bookmark here

Our conversation is interrupted by a loud crash, the distinct sound of a tonne of books crashing to the ground downstairs.Bookmark here

“Stay in bed.”Bookmark here

I give Trish her orders and rush to Paul’s office. Aaron has him pushed up against the bookcase on the left-hand side of the room.Bookmark here

“Give me a reason! Tell me why you keep protecting her! Say something!”Bookmark here

“Get off him, Aaron.”Bookmark here

Aaron looks over at me. He’s furious. He seems to have no intention of backing down but he suddenly drops his hands. Bookmark here

Trish has appeared behind me, that’s what the creaking floorboards say, what his change of expression tells me. Paul stands up and brushes himself down before heading back to his desk to write. Even now he can’t stop. Bookmark here

This stokes Aaron’s anger once more but knowing Trish is there he doesn’t lay a finger on Paul’s body. Bookmark here

“Is that stupid book really so important? Is protecting Kai really worth whatever it is you want from her?”Bookmark here

Paul ignores him completely and just keeps writing. Trish rushes in from behind me and grabs Aaron by the arm. Bookmark here

“Aaron stop! You need to calm down, talk this out when everyone is calm.”Bookmark here

She tugs on his arm, but he won’t move. He keeps his gaze focused on Paul.Bookmark here

“I’ve tried being calm, I’ve tried talking this out, but I keep getting ignored. Why do we let Kai near us? Isn’t she the sort of person we’re meant to be stopping?! Why am I being told I’m crazy for not wanting to eat next to a killer?! We didn’t run away with you to be complicit to even more violence!”Bookmark here

“Aaron stop!”Bookmark here

The tears won’t stop streaming down Trish’s face. I stand at the back of the room in silence. It’s not my place to speak. I may be the subject of debate, but the conversion isn’t about me. Not really.Bookmark here

“Answer me, Paul. Am I not worth an answer? Are we not worth an answer to you anymore? Are we less important than that damn book?”Bookmark here

“Of course not…”Bookmark here

Paul finally speaks but doesn’t break the flow of his writing. He’s trying very hard to remain composed.Bookmark here

“Oh, so now we’re deserving of an answer? You’ll speak to us when we speak about the book, is that it?”Bookmark here

Paul snaps the quill between his fingers in frustration. He looks up at Aaron, his eyes alive for the first time in years.Bookmark here

“You want answers, boy? You can have answers; you don’t need me to tell you the answers, you’re more capable of finding them than I am! You just don’t want to find the answers you know are there. You should know why I can’t stop writing, you should know why we need Kai and you should know nothing could ever be more important to me than the two of you! That’s why I can’t stop writing……”Bookmark here

His eyes grow slightly duller as his anger fades and picks up the half of a quill he still has and starts writing again. The look on Aaron’s face paints no coherent picture. I can’t tell if he’s more angry, disappointed or confused right now. He turns to Trish.Bookmark here

“How can you be comfortable with this? I know you; you wouldn’t be OK with murder.”Bookmark here

“I didn’t murder anyone, asshole.”Bookmark here

I jump in to rescue Trish from having to answer him.Bookmark here

“Of course, you did, you still reek of fresh blood.”Bookmark here

“She didn’t kill him.”Bookmark here

Paul is the one to interject this time.Bookmark here

“But she was willing to, she was-”Bookmark here

“Aaron!”Bookmark here

Trish, who has managed to get her emotions under control, yanks Aaron off to the side and starts yelling at him. He yells back. It’s one of those screaming matches where the words don’t matter, they could be speaking different languages and it would still be just as heated. Bookmark here

It’s a lucky break for me though, I can talk to Paul and then get out of here.Bookmark here

“Where is he right now?”Bookmark here

“At St. Ambrose’s, he’s been there for the last 10 minutes.”Bookmark here

That bastard! He’s probably trying to save his gospels before I can get to them. I turn heel and head for the door but Aaron grabs me forcefully by the shoulder. This time he doesn’t let go.Bookmark here

“Where the hell do you think you’re going?”Bookmark here

“I’m going to tidy up some loose ends.”Bookmark here

“You mean you’re going to kill this guy, don’t you? Tell the truth for once.”Bookmark here

“I gave him a chance to live, he didn’t take it.”Bookmark here

“People shouldn’t have to choose to live.”Bookmark here

“Well, they do.”Bookmark here

I turn to leave but he still won’t let go. Trish looks on nervously from her seat on the ground, at some point her legs must’ve lost their strength, she’s still exhausted after what happened last night.Bookmark here

“If you leave now, Trish and I will be gone by the time you get back.”Bookmark here

I lean in close to his face so only he can hear me. His warm breath hits my cheek, my cold breath hits his.Bookmark here

“I don’t give a fuck if you leave but she better be here when I return.”Bookmark here

I try to turn and leave once more but he still won’t let go.Bookmark here

“We’re not done here.”Bookmark here

“We are.”Bookmark here

“I’m not letting go until you agree to stay put.”Bookmark here

I’m getting fed up, so I grab his wrist just soft enough to not break it. This time I pull him in towards me.Bookmark here

“Don’t make me hurt you while she’s watching.”Bookmark here

I let go of his wrist and this time he has the good sense not to grab me again. I turn my back on him and leave the room. No argument erupts as I exit, the house merely falls to silence again, as if I’m taking the noise with me.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.