Chapter 43:

Questions from the back of the train

The Sequence of Kai

I waste the rest of the day trying to find someone who will talk to me. Not so surprising that no one on a secret train is particularly chatty, especially when it comes across like an interrogation.Bookmark here

Know anything about a serial killer?Bookmark here

Nobody ever knows anything, it’s for their own good.Bookmark here

Bastien is sleuthing around the second carriage while I scope out the third. The door to the next has a message crudely painted on in white.Bookmark here

NO GUARANTEESBookmark here

That warning seems to have gone mostly unheeded. Despite the fact I’ve knocked on every room in this carriage, only one of them is occupied, by that twat from social control and his prisoner.Bookmark here

Not a surprise either that people willing to risk their life to buy a ticket are willing to risk their lives using it to its greatest extent. I’m sure a lot of people like the fact that there’s no kind of oversight beyond the third carriage. Can’t blame them, the watchful eye of Kohsan has left very few places for things to be done in private.Bookmark here

It got dark some time ago, so I think it’s time I call it a day, see if Bastien turned up any leads. I traipse back to the second carriage and open the door to the compartment Maxim had arranged for us.Bookmark here

“No one wants to talk.”Bookmark here

“No one ever wants to talk.”Bookmark here

As I close the door behind me, I’m caught off guard. That voice isn’t Bastien’s, it’s someone else’s. It’s unassuming and certain, I can’t put a finger on it.Bookmark here

In the room, sitting on one of the beds is a person. A man I think. Neither too tall nor too short, too wide or thin. I can’t land on any defining features he has, every time I focus in on one thing it all becomes a blur. If I don’t focus though, he begins to resemble something.Bookmark here

“You took your damn time, Kai.”Bookmark here

“Who are you?”Bookmark here

“I’m who you’ve been looking for. I’m the guy.”Bookmark here

I give him a second to tell me he’s joking but when that second passes in silence, I can’t help myself.Bookmark here

“Hahahahahaha!”Bookmark here

“What’s so funny, Kai?”Bookmark here

“You’re not the guy. We both know, you’re not the guy. And the idea that there’s someone out there stupid enough to pretend they’re what I’m looking for? That’s downright hilarious.”Bookmark here

The man sighs and stands up off the bed, taking the sheet with him. Underneath he reveals the corpse of the Social Control officer from earlier. How he got it from the other carriage to here, without me noticing, is a mystery.Bookmark here

“How much did he cost?”Bookmark here

“Just a bit of my time. I know your type, thought we could skip past the whole burden of proof bit if I brought a gift.”Bookmark here

“What do you think this proves?”Bookmark here

“It proves that I’m extraordinary, someone worth taking seriously.”Bookmark here

“A surprising number of men think a dead body or two broadens their shoulders.”Bookmark here

The man covers the body up again and sits back down on the bed as if it wasn’t there.Bookmark here

“Why don’t you believe me?”Bookmark here

“It’s never this easy, you don’t find what you’re looking for without… well, looking for it.”Bookmark here

“That’s true, but you do have to look if you want to find.”Bookmark here

“I’ve been looking all day.”Bookmark here

“No, you haven’t, Kai. You were told where I was, and it wasn’t before the fourth carriage, was it?”Bookmark here

I’ve been trying to get a read on this guy but no matter what I do, I can’t. He could be a normal guy or someone distinctly dangerous, something is obscuring my connection to the sequences. I suppose that in itself suggests he’s no normal man.Bookmark here

“Maybe not trying was my way of drawing you to me.”Bookmark here

“Sure, if you want to fail at doing one thing your whole life, not trying is a great way.”Bookmark here

“One of us has found the other now either way.”Bookmark here

“Exactly, so we should talk.”Bookmark here

“We should.”Bookmark here

I take a seat on the bed across from him, careful not to blink reflexively. Things like him love to move about if you stop looking at them.Bookmark here

“Only if you really want to though.”Bookmark here

He’s taunting me. He’s always been taunting me!Bookmark here

“I just said we should.”Bookmark here

“But you didn’t mean it.”Bookmark here

Without even realizing it, I’ve got him by the neck. The distance I covered between us didn’t register in my mind. I speak without realizing it too.Bookmark here

“If you don’t stop fucking with me, I’m going to kill you.”Bookmark here

His neck is so fragile, I could finish things right now if I wanted to. How could a man like this be the cause of anything?Bookmark here

“Killing me would suggest that you aren’t that interested in talking you know?”Bookmark here

For a few seconds, my mind and my hands do battle. In the end, it’s my mind that wins out. Barely. As I drop him back to bed, I feel things go a bit hazy.Bookmark here

“Fine, I don’t care! If you wanna talk, then talk away.”Bookmark here

“Conversation is a two-way street, Kai.”Bookmark here

“I don’t care.”Bookmark here

“Why do you have to be so difficult? It is you who came looking for me.”Bookmark here

“Start talking. I’m serious.”Bookmark here

“You can’t just get your way by sounding scary and staring daggers darling, you have to work for things sometimes.”Bookmark here

“Why don’t you tell me what you want then? You always want something.”Bookmark here

“I think we could start with some proper introductions. That seems as good a place as any to break the ice.”Bookmark here

“You already know my name.”Bookmark here

“But you don’t know mine.”Bookmark here

“Then what is it?”Bookmark here

“I don’t have one. Why don’t you name me?”Bookmark here

“I’m not going to name you. You’re not my fucking pet, you’re barely my child.”Bookmark here

“It’s difficult to have a dialogue without names.”Bookmark here

“We’ll make do.”Bookmark here

“But-”Bookmark here

“I’m not naming you, piss off.”Bookmark here

“Fine. Always the long way round with you, always.”Bookmark here

“How do you want to do this?”Bookmark here

“Let’s trade questions.”Bookmark here

“Sure, I’ll go first; what the fuck are you?”Bookmark here

“I’m not allowed to tell you that. My turn; why are you avoiding me?”Bookmark here

“I don’t feel like telling you that. My turn; which one of your bones would you like me to break first?”Bookmark here

“Second question and you’re already resorting to threats of violence.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, that’s who I am.”Bookmark here

“That’s who you became.”Bookmark here

“That’s who I am.”Bookmark here

“If you say so. My turn; why-”Bookmark here

“No, it’s not. You asked the last question.”Bookmark here

“Did I now?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, and now you’ve asked the last two. Are you going to give me any straight answers?”Bookmark here

“That depends.”Bookmark here

“So no.”Bookmark here

“No, I said that depends. I can’t say anything that you don’t want to hear.”Bookmark here

“Why not?”Bookmark here

“Because you’ll kill me.”Bookmark here

“Because you deserve to be killed. My tu-”Bookmark here

“No, it’s not. It’s mine. I want to ask you a real question this time.”Bookmark here

“Finally. We can go about getting somewhere with this circus.”Bookmark here

“You’re the one making it a merry-go-round.”Bookmark here

“Question, please! I don’t have all day.”Bookmark here

“Yet you act like you have the rest of your life and then some.”Bookmark here

“You don’t think I’ll kill you if you keep pushing me? I’ve killed better men for less.”Bookmark here

“You won’t, no. And that was another question, I get two turns now.”Bookmark here

“Then fucking ask them.”Bookmark here

“Ok; why did you come here looking for me? And don’t tell me that it was because you were told to. I’m not stupid, I know you work on other people’s whims. Tell me why Kai came looking for me.”Bookmark here

“If you’re not stupid it should be obvious; I’m here to stop you from killing more innocent people.”Bookmark here

“You kill people all the time Kai. What makes me so different.”Bookmark here

“I’m not you.”Bookmark here

“That’s it? You’d kill me just because we’re different people? I saw a lot of living souls on my way here, why not kill any of them? They’re not you either.”Bookmark here

“I don’t need to justify myself to you. I don’t like what you’re doing, I don’t like who you are and I’m going to kill you for it.”Bookmark here

“Why don’t you like what I’m doing.”Bookmark here

“Because it’s wrong.”Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

“I don’t have to justify myself to you.”Bookmark here

“Why is it wrong?”Bookmark here

“You’ve been asking all the questions.”Bookmark here

“Why is it so different?”Bookmark here

“It was my turn a long time ago.”Bookmark here

“Why-”Bookmark here

“Why won’t you leave me alone!”Bookmark here

My body lunged for him with the intent to kill. The knife is pulled from my jacket, aiming for his eyes but he was never there in the first place. The blade gets lodged in the bed frame after it strikes air, and that very same air whispers a message right past my ears.Bookmark here

“Come and find me. You know where to look.”Bookmark here

The Sequence of Kai cover

The Sequence of Kai

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