The Sequence of Kai
“Trish over here!”
“One second, I’ll be right with you!”
“Trish, I need a refill!”
“OK, I’ll get you one after Ryan.”
“Trish, I’ve been waiting for my food for over an hour….”
“OK, well, I’m trying my fucking best, you’ll have it when it’s ready.”
Fuck Paul. The nerve of that prick pensioner.
Trish, you should get a job if you want extra money.
Trish, you should get a job if you want to leave the house more.
Trish, you should get a job because you have no transferable skills.
All these things I could just tell he was dying to say to me. Every time I walked into his shitty little office; he’d look up at me with those ‘get a job you fucking parasite’ eyes.
So I did, I got the jump on him, I got a job before he even told me to get one. Serves him right.
“Trish this is an ale, I asked for a stout.”
“I don’t know what an ale is!”
I don’t like how familiar the people here are with me. I’ve only been working at this pub for a fortnight, and they’ve all been using my first name for the last week and a half.
These are the guys who never leave this place, the barflies, the dregs of society with front row tickets to me and the taps. I thought I was lucky to find a job so quickly but it’s clear now that I got this job because no other girl would take it.
The worst part is that the regulars monopolize the bar itself meaning any of the hot foreigners get served by whoever’s working the booths. That should be me working the booths! That should be me extorting tips from the hot foreigners!
“Trish! Trish! Trish!”
The chorus starts up again. They want their liquid.
I shift into work mode and bang out the orders. Two Guinness’, slide em down to the left. A Carlsberg and a Heineken, right in front of me. An Ale(?) and a vodka coke to the fat dude behind me.
“Woah, woah, woahs!”
Ah shit, that’s Darren’s voice. He’s what constitutes my boss here. Not because he’s qualified, he’s certainly not qualified, but because his father own’s the place.
“What’ve I told you ‘bout slidin’ the drinks?? Now the bar is sticky again!”
“But it looks so cool! It makes me feel like I’m in a movie, like I don’t hate my job.”
“You hate working here?”
“Good, because you have a bar to clean.”
He lifts his foot from the puddle of broken glass and beer he’s walked himself into.
“And a floor, Jesus Christ…..”
By the time I get home I’m exhausted. It’s been like this every day for the last two weeks.
Weekdays go a bit like this, school, work, sleep, repeat. Homework should be in there somewhere, but it isn’t. It’s replaced by an assortment of things I shouldn’t be doing but am.
Before this week at least I had the weekends off to relax but the only other girl working at the bar quit, so now I’ve got top billing.
No Saturday, no Sunday, when else am I supposed to go to my room to pretend to watch Netflix??? I need some me time and I simply refuse to have sex with Aaron, no matter how much he’d want that. I simply refuse to be that desperate.
I groan into the couch I’ve found myself face down on. I just want to sleeeeeeeeeep.
“What’s wrong Trish? Anything I can help with?”
“Fuck off pervert, I don’t need any help.”
“What did I do?!”
What did I do to deserve this? I’m living with a guy my age, but it has to be this weirdo. He’s a freak, even worse than being English.
“Are you sure I can’t help you?”
“OK sure, why don’t you use your powers to make a magical dildo that might actually satisfy me.”
“Uh….w-well…. I suppose that’s technically possible…”
“You weren’t supposed to answer that seriously!”
“But you didn’t sound like you were joking…”
I hate it here. I want to go back home.
At the same moment, we both freeze as we hear the trademark creak of Paul opening the door to his study. It’s a sound that puts us on edge. The only door so infrequently used in this house that it makes a sound at all.
This is the first time in months he’s left that room of his own volition. It means something is wrong, something very very wrong. His face appears around the living room doorway, he looks sick, more than usual.
“You’re both here, good.”
“What’s wrong, is something happening?”
As ever Aaron expresses his concern before I even have a chance to.
“Aaron make me a gun.”
“Why do you need a gun?”
“Make me a gun right now, he’s nearly here.”
Aaron does what he’s told and conjures a revolver from his mind. Given that it was made by Aaron, it’s special in some way, my guess is that it doesn’t need any ammo to fire a bullet.
Paul snatches the gun from Aaron’s hand and gives us a warning.
“The two of you hide upstairs, Trish if you hear a gunshot, transfer yourself and Aaron to one of the safe houses.”
“Paul tell us what’s happen-”
“Go, now! He’s in the driveway.”
He cuts across me as Aaron grabs me by the wrist and drags me up the stairs. As he disappears from my line of sight, I see him placing the gun to his temple as he goes to open the door.
Aaron drags me into his room and blockades the door with his wardrobe. I push my ear right up against the thin walls so that I can hear whatever is about to happen.
The door creaks open. No gunshot. It’s not Amir.
“Quite the place you’ve found yourself, Paul. A bit quaint but it’s all about that location, huh? As far away from us as possible.”
I could never mistake that voice. That cold, predatory voice. The voice that tells you evil and power do not correlate, the voice of the Kohsan institutes senior field operative, Bastien Götze.
“What do you want Bastien?”
“Well, I was in the area, and I thought I’d drop by. I was thinking we could reminisce while letting you know, we know where you are.”
I can feel the anger burning away at my mind. I’m sure it’s the same for Aaron. We’ve never talked about it directly but we both know that Bastien did something to the other. Something so horrible we dare not speak to it for fear we might remember it.
I don’t want to think about this, I don’t want to remember……
“Are you going to leave me out in the cold?”
“We can talk right here.”
“We can talk inside, where it’s warm.”
I hear the squeaking of the floorboards near the door but nothing else. Paul makes no attempt to stop him, not that he could have stopped him even if he tried.
“Let’s talk in here.”
I hear the sound of Bastien sitting in one of the older chairs at the back of the room, followed by the front door closing.
“Are you really going to keep that gun pointed at your head?”
Paul must’ve joined him in the room.
“As long as you’re here.”
“Whatever makes you feel comfortable but a word of warning, the longer you hold a gun the harder it becomes to resist the trigger.”
I could transfer down there right now. Kill him, slice him up. If only I knew exactly where he was sitting. If I guess wrong and he grabs hold of me that’s it. He probably knows that, he probably wants me to try. Even if he doesn’t say it, I’m sure that’s part of the reason he’s here.
“Trish, don’t do anything rash….”
Aaron knows what I’m thinking. That’s because he’s thinking it too, I’m sure of it. So how can he remain so calm?! He’s right there, sitting just a floor below. A killer, a rapist, not one removed from us. How can you remain calm with someone like that close to you?! I don’t care about your ideals; your sense of morality doesn’t matter in these situations.
He’s right there!
“I want to know something Paul, what was the final straw? What did we do to make you desert us? Which murder was one too many?”
This bastard! He knows what it was, I was the last candidate he found for Paul… No, stop thinking….
“One was one too many, I didn’t sign up for what we became.”
“You haven’t developed a talent for lying since you left you know.”
“Is she here now Paul? Maybe it wasn’t the murder that bothered you, you just recognized real talent when you saw it. Don’t know why you brought that boy with you though, unless you’re into that sort of thing. I won’t judge, you know how hypocritical that would be of me.”
“If you came here for Trish, you’re out of luck, they left months ago.”
“I thought I just mentioned how you still can’t lie yet you’ve tried it again anyway. It’s nearly like you’re trying to provoke me, I certainly couldn’t be blamed for hurting you right now if I felt like it.”
So, he does know we’re here. We should probably run.
“You didn’t just come here to torment me, did you?”
“No fun! No fun at all! If there’s one thing you’ve gotten good at it’s not engaging, one might say you’ve become level-headed if they didn’t know better.”
Now’s my chance, I transfer into my room without warning so that Aaron can’t stop me. He can’t move the wardrobe blocking the door without alerting Bastien so that should stop him from following me out here.
I try to make my way closer to the stairs as quietly as possible. If I can just see where he’s sitting, I can get to him.
“I’m looking for a girl or at least I think it’s a girl. A series of inexplicable murders, inconsistent yet linked. All men, all holding what appears to be the murder weapon but that can’t be right. My instinct tells me that whoever it is exists in our world, any information on that?”
“I don’t keep up with the news, I wasn’t aware anything like that was happening.”
He’s telling the truth this time, I’m sure Bastien can tell too. Only such a recluse could avoid a horror story unfolding right outside their door.
The Bitch of Brighton, that’s what she’s known as. It’s all the girls in my class can ever talk about these days, theorizing who it might be, what their motives are.
I think it’s because, for once, it’s a criminal they don’t have to fear. Exclusively male victims, reportedly all straight, all found dead with a weapon in their hands and their trousers round their ankles.
A couple of the girls had run-ins with one of the victims apparently, they tend to sound a lot less appalled when they talk about her.
“Then tell me about all of the players in this city, it must be one of them surely.”
“It’s only me, Aaron and Trish. You as well, for as long as you infect the streets.”
I edge closer to the stairs, sliding my feet along the floor so that I don’t make any of the floorboards creak.
“Doesn’t that strike you as odd? There’s no way someone could pull off murders this high profile without a helping hand.”
He chuckles to himself, very content with his bad joke.
“I don’t know, and I don’t care.”
“Are you sure you don’t? What happened to the curious mind that wanted to know all there was to know? Isn’t this exactly the sort of mystery you crave?”
“Strange things happen all the time, the inexplicable isn’t always that way because of magic.”
“But this one is, I know you can feel it, a special type of murder is in the air.”
I take a step down the stairs in silence. A couple more and I’ll be able to see him.
“Tell the girl to stop where she is before I kill everyone in this house.”
I freeze right where I am, chills strike out all across my back like thousands of spiders trying to burst out from under my skin. He knew the entire time, he was just waiting to see if I had the nerve to try anything.
“Trish, stay upstairs, do what I told you.”
I don’t move. I can’t let him push me backwards, but if he’s been aware this whole time then one more step means death for all of us. Maybe I could escape if I kept my cool but there’s no chance I could save the others.
“You know I think it’s getting a bit too warm in here; I better leave before anything erupts, I honestly didn’t come here looking for a fight.”
I hear him get up from where he’s sitting, sounds like he was on the chair in the left corner.
“I’ll let myself out, if you think of anything that might help me, let me know. Favours go a long way in this world.”
He stops at the chair Paul is sitting at. His face is obscured from this angle by the top of the door frame. He rests his left hand on Paul’s shoulder and leans down towards the ear not occupied by the end of a barrel.
This is the first time I’ve seen his face in over 2 years, the first time I’ve been forced to think about that face in over 2 years.
“Amir wants you to know that he doesn’t hold grudges, that he hates you only as much as he hates me. If you ever become enough of a man to set aside your notions of morality for the greater good, then you can give us a call.”
He pats Paul on the back and steps out into the hallway. He looks up at me, he wants to hold me in his gaze, those objectifying, petrifying eyes.
“There’s no need to be so shy, you can try and kill me anytime you like.”
He blows me a kiss and turns his back to me, so confident that I won’t strike.
He understands people in such a warped way, he can only relate to them through their anger, exploit them through their rage. He thinks I’m too weak, he thinks I can’t kill him.
I’m not weak, not anymore.
I try to focus my mind on following him, pursuing him through space, giving him no time to react. I ready my knife, hold it behind my back. I can do this. I can kill. I’m no coward, it’s only a man.
How hard can it be to kill a man?
I close my eyes and connect where I am to what is in front of me, what is beyond that. I jump through the connected space, bypassing the door, out to the stone driveway in front.
His back is turned to me. It’s right there, he can’t react to this. To him, I’m still that coward on the stairs. I’m only killing a man. I can stab through his neck, slash at his throat. I can stab, I can slash. I can stab, I can slash. Should I stab? Should I slash? What do I do? Do I stab or do I slash? I’m only killing a man, how do you kill a man, how can you kill a man like him.
No sooner than I stumble aimlessly out of my tunnel, my nose is cracked in two by the back of Bastien’s fist.
Why did I ever think I could kill him? Why did I think to begin with?
I don’t bother opening my eyes as he lifts me off the ground. One hand around my neck, my back pushed up against the wall.
“Embarrassing, you call that trying to kill? You’d think a couple years of regret would resolve the mind in murder but no. You’re still weak, you’re still the nothing you were. If it weren’t for your body, you’d be even less than nothing.”
He pushes his thumb and index finger into my right eye and drags the lids apart. I can feel Aaron’s presence right around the corner, readying himself to strike. What’s less than a coward? What’s less than me?
“You can’t even look at me? Have you developed no dignity? No sense of pride? If you’re capable of pretending to kill me then you can pretend to look at me.”
“One day, I’ll be able to kill you.”
“In other words, there’ll be a day you become interesting.”
Aaron sprints out from behind the front door and goes to punch Bastien. He goes to punch him. A punch.
Only someone weaker than me could think of such a cowardly idea as to challenge a monster like Bastien with nothing but his flesh. When an ant bites a lion, what else should the lion do but laugh?
That laughter comes both before and after the altercation, in an instant the punch is thrown, and Aaron is flat on his back. Before his arm even fully extended, his feet had been taken from under him. Then he tosses my body on top of his, I feel a rib crack as my elbow gets caught between my torso and Aaron’s.
Aaron holds me close to protect me, not realizing he’s hurting me more. I try over and over again to transfer us away from here, but I can’t connect where we are to anywhere else. I can’t concentrate on anything but here.
“I didn’t come here to hurt anyone, I just wanted to talk. How am I going to be anything other than a killer if people keep making me one?”
He walks down the driveway, a satisfied laugh carried back this way by the breeze.
“I’m going to be in town for a few days so let’s leave the violence for a more appropriate season. No one deserves to die on a cold winter’s night after all.”
Before his body can disappear around the wall, my mind gives out.