The Sequence of Kai
I came to work today even though Aaron and Paul tried to stop me. Well, really just Aaron. Paul didn’t say anything, which is to be taken as implicit agreement with Aaron’s position.
I couldn’t stay in that house right now, not when he had just been there. Too much thinking was getting done, not enough anything else.
I turn to hand a customer his change, but I aggravate the injury I sustained yesterday and drop it on the floor.
“I’m sorry, I’ll get you some change that isn’t from the floor, haha.”
It hurts even to laugh. It’s manageable though, cracked, not broken. I get the customer some new change and bend down to pick up that which I’d dropped. Even doing it slowly I feel some pain shooting through.
“Hey Darren, do you have anything for relieving pain?”
“That you can take on the job? No.”
Useless, I should’ve taken something before I got here. I stand back up and set the floor change to the side.
It still beats being at home, the pressure there is suffocating.
“Excuse me, miss.”
My back freezes up again, just like yesterday. The breath that catches in my chest causes me pain that is quickly erased by the adrenaline crashing over me.
“Do you have any craft beers on offer? I’m from out of town you see, I like to sample what’s on offer wherever I go.”
I turn back to face him, his knowing smile catching my eye before anything else. Then it’s the eyes, the ones that today are commanding something different. We both know that in a place as lively as this, I’m trapped. Hostages keep walking in the door and he would kill them without a second thought if I tried to run.
“Good, I’m looking for something with personality, something worth my time. Think you could provide that?”
“I’ll see what we have.”
I duck under the counter and grab one of the beers I don’t recognize at random. I slam it down in front of him.
“You can’t buy these things.”
“Sure I can.”
He beckons Darren over to him while taking his wallet out.
“Are you this young lady’s boss?”
Big smile on Darren, he loves telling people he’s someone else’s boss.
“She’ll be taking an extended break for the moment; I assume you can find some cover.”
He picks all of the cards out of his wallet and then throws it at Darren. It lands with a thud on the bar. Darren's eyes light up when he feels just how full it is.
“Yes, I’m sure we can sir, I’m sure we can!”
He pulls me close and whispers in my ear.
“You better do whatever it takes to please this guy or you’re out of a job.”
“Make sure to keep one of the booths clear, I’ll need it later”
“Of course, sir.”
Darren dashes off to call someone to cover me. He doesn’t realize that it’s not my job that’s at stake here but his life and the lives of everyone here.
Bastien peels off the label of the beer without looking at it and then flicks the balled up label at me.
“Trish, right? Won’t you have a drink too? It tastes better with company.”
“I can’t drink on the job.”
“Then drink something else, water, a soda, just something… Otherwise, this conversation will be much less pleasant.”
His eyebrows tilt downwards. That, he seemingly can’t control. I pour myself a glass of water and drag the stool behind the bar underneath me.
“Much better, now we can both relax, eh?”
He takes a small sip of his beer, letting it sit in his mouth for a moment before swallowing.
“Not bad at all, I was expecting much less from you.”
“Did you just come here to torture me?”
“I came here to drink, you working here is nothing more than a pleasant surprise.”
“You expect me to believe that?”
“You can believe what you want, you’re not of special interest to us. If you were you’d be dead. Or worse.”
I can’t argue with that, if I believe what I heard yesterday, Kohsan has known where we are for a while and has simply chosen not to act.
Bastien takes another swig of his beer and then ‘smiles’ at me.
“There’s nothing I really need to know about you, so why don’t you ask me some questions?”
“Why would I do that?”
“Because you never know when one of us might die.”
I look around to check if anyone is listening to us, a lot of the regulars like to eavesdrop on my conversations with the other customers. This time no one dares, they’re all faced away from me and Bastien, even if they’re not conscious of it, on some level they must understand how dangerous this man is.
“Then why did you kill my mother?”
“Because she was there to be killed.”
“That’s not a reason to kill someone.”
“You didn’t ask for a reason, you asked for why. There is no satisfying reason behind your mother’s death, if that’s what you’re after, she’s dead because I felt she was better off dead. What a mundane question though, can’t you come up with something better?”
Don’t think about it, don’t let him get to you. He just wants an excuse, any excuse, to do something to you.
“You said you were looking for a girl yesterday, who is she?”
“Ah yes, her. I wish I had something to tell you but so far, I’m drawing a blank. No wonder the police don’t want to have a word on it, there’s never any evidence left behind.”
“Maybe the deaths are unrelated, people kill themselves all the time.”
“Not like this though.”
His grip on the neck of the bottle tightens causing it to crack slightly.
“Can’t you feel it? This city is dripping with things to be found, bursting from the seams with connections to the sequences -”
He slams back the rest of his beer in one go.
“- it simply has to have at least one person worth killing, don’t you think?”
“No? How could you disagree?”
He hands his beer bottle to me.
“I could do with another beer.”
“I’m on my break right now, get it from someone else.”
“Heh, I like that attitude, maybe you have developed a bit.”
He leans over the bar and grabs a beer from underneath.
“Or a lot.”
He comes back up, holding three beers.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I mean you have a nice ass.”
I slap him hard across the face and the bar goes silent.
“Don’t worry fellas, I’m into it, so is she, all’s well and good.”
I feel my face burning up, that sells the situation to the crowd.
Of course, I’m embarrassed but not in the way that they think, the very idea I’d be involved with this guy is the source of my embarrassment, no, my shame.
“So, you haven’t heard anything about this girl have you?”
“Why should I tell you?”
“Quicker I find her, the quicker I leave.”
“Then, unfortunately, I haven’t heard anything.”
He downs one of his three beers and then opens a second on the bar.
“What did Paul tell you?”
“What do you mean?”
“What did Paul tell you about us? What we do? You know enough about me to hate me but what about Maxi, what about Amir, what about himself? Did he ever explain to you why people like me are necessary, what it is that we’re striving for?”
“People like you aren’t necessary, that’s all I need to know.”
“I’m not sure Paul would agree.”
Just as I’m about to reply, one of the people entering the pub catches my attention. It’s her, the girl from a couple of weeks back. I’ve never seen her here before, what’s she doing? She shouldn’t be here, it’s dangerous right now. I try to catch her eye to warn her but when she notices I’m here she quickly turns her head away and pretends she hasn’t seen me. She just goes and sits in an unoccupied booth.
Bastien clicks his fingers in front of my face to grab my attention.
“Something wrong, something more deserving of your attention right now than me?”
“No, it’s nothing.”
“Alright then, what were you going to say.”
That’s right, the thing he was saying about Paul. I know it’s probably bait; I know he’ll probably lie. But Paul never would tell me about his involvement with Kohsan, his face only ever told me that I shouldn’t ask.
“What did Paul-”
My question is interrupted by the ringtone on Bastien’s phone. It’s disgustingly upbeat, for a man like him.
“Hold on a second.”
He slips the phone out of his pocket and checks the message he just received.
“Ah, it seems my date has arrived. I know you must be disappointed, but you were only ever going to be sufficient until the main course arrived.”
Oh no. Please tell me this isn’t happening.
“Now I’m going to go have some real fun. Don’t disturb me unless you think the ceiling needs a fresh coat of paint. Keep the craft beers coming though.”
I dig my nails into the bar to stop myself from yelling out and in the fear my body might give out otherwise.
Bastien picks up his drink and the unopened bottle and goes to sit across from the girl who just walked in.