Arran's Law

Chanelle's boyfriend Arran is accused of murder, and she goes on a one woman mission to clear his name.

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12. Stirring Up Trouble

Conor and me practically jog towards the Lockhart house - or what's left of it anyway. I take this oppurtunity to take a good long look at my new ally, see if I can suss him out.

 

He doesn't acknowledge my gaze. He stares straight ahead, occasionally flicking his hair out of his face. I frown a little. He looks like Arran - only a little bit, but the resemblance is definitely there. Their eyes and lips are the same shape, and the slant of their cheekbones are pretty similar as well. Again, I wonder what their relationship was.

"Are you going to tell me how you know Arran?" I ask bluntly. I'm not in the mood to play games today. Conor mulls this over for a few seconds.

"That's a story for another time." He says, still not looking at me. My eyes roll like marbles. My God. I won't pry, but 'another time' better come soon.

 

I don't have a chance to quiz him on why he won't tell me, because we have just arrived at the Lockhart house.

 

It's pretty badly burnt up. It didn't look so bad yesterday morning, but I wasn't paying much attention to the house. Now, the entire top right corner is completely gone, and so is most of the left. What is left is mostly charred and blackened - no good for forensics. The smell of burning still lingers in the air. It's a foul odour that stings the back of my throat and makes me cough like crazy. But that is just masking the other smell, the most horrible one that I've ever smelt. Conor's face screws up in digust, and I know that he can smell it too. It's the smell of cooking. Human flesh plus fire equals barbeque. I gag, and only stop myself from upchucking by force of will alone. He isn't so lucky. His face goes chalk white, and for a second I think that he's about to collapse. He whirls around, and sprints behind a tree. I try and fail to ignore the very obvious sounds of him losing his lunch. When he steps back out from behind the tree, he refuses to meet my eyes.

"You ok, man?" I ask, resting my hand on his shoulder. He nods, but doesn't speak. "You sure? We can leave if you want." He looks at me like I'm crazy.

"No, we don't have much time." Conor says, and speeds up his pace. I break into a run to keep up with him.

 

We skid to a halt in front of the house. The smell has just grown stronger, and I'm having trouble not vomiting. It's the worst smell in the world - the perfume of death. The house is roped off with that yellow tape that says 'CRIME SCENE - DO NOT CROSS'. This doesn't bother Conor though - he ducks underneath it without a second thought. He holds the tape at shoulder height, so I can duck under. This small, chivalrous gesture makes me think of Arran again.

Before we take another step, Conor lays his hand on my shoulder to get my attention.

"Listen, Chanelle - it's very unlikely that the police are going to let us look at the evidence. You'll have to -"

"Play the part of a weak, pathetic girlfriend?" I put in.

"Yeah." Conor says, a little sheepishly. I smile.

"I can do that."

 

Conor walks straight up to the nearest officer.

"Hey! You're not supposed to be here!" She says indignantly.

"We're here to examine the evidence you have against Arran Mackenzie." Conor says. His voice is soft, but it carries an unmistakeable undertone of command. The officer is clearly too thick to pick up on it though.

"I'm afraid that won't be possible without written permission." She says. Conor gives me a quick look.

"Please?" I put in, injecting just the right amount of patheticness into my tone. My eyes fill with tears, and I screw up my face like I'm about to start crying. The officer's face softens instantly.

"I'm going to go review the CCTV. You can come if you like." She spins around, and walks off. I wipe the tears from my eyes, smiling. Conor grins at me, and puts his arm around me. I lean into his embrace, which is weird for me. No other guy besides Arran has touched me this way for so long. But I think I can trust Conor - I'll need to.

"Well done, honey." He says, and I smile up at him. We hurry after the police officer.

 

She leads us to the CCTV control room, which is a two minute walk away. There is a fucking massive guy guarding the door, and he lets the officer in. When he sees Conor and me, he moves to keep us out. The officer whirls around.

"It's fine - they're with me." The gorilla moves, and lets us in. Whew. Conor and I exchange a look. All that brawn can't be natural.

 

The officer sits down in a chair in front of a screen. She brings up some footage. It's blurry, and unfocused, but you can tell what it is.

The camera is focused on the Lockahart house. The house looks normal - no sign of the fire that ravaged it. There is a brief pause, and then a figure in a dark hoodie enters.

The officer pauses the footage. She zooms in, and the figure gradually becomes fuzzier. But I'd know that person anywhere.

"That's Arran." I say softly.

"You sure?" Conor enquires. I nod once, my throat aching too much from the pressure of unshed tears to speak. The officer gives me a sympathetic look as she zooms out and plays the footage. Arran steps inside the house. There is nothing for the next couple of minutes. Arran emerges, and walks back the way he came. There is no sign of a fire. Conor and I exchange a look. If the fire didn't start when Arran left, then when did it start?

 

Another figure enters from the same way that Arran did. But this figure is different. This figure is noticeably taller, and in a bright orange hoodie. This figure enters the house as well, but is inside for much longer than Arran. Then the front door comes flying open, and the figure sprints out, a cloud of smoke hot on its heels. It pauses for a second, and then runs away. The officer stops it there.

"After that, the smoke completely covered the house - we didn't get anything else." She says. Conor looks at me.

"If the first guy was Arran..." He says, motioning for the officer to rewind the footage. She pauses it when the orange clad figure enters. "... then who is this?"

"That's not Arran." I state.

"How can you tell?" The officer asks.

"That person - whoever it is - is too tall. And Arran has never owned an orange hoodie." I say, a tiny spark of hope appearing.

"You positive?" Conor asks, and I hear the barely-restrained hope in his voice.

"Yes!"

"Could this be used as evidence?" Conor adresses the officer.

"Yes, I think it could." She says, smiling at me.

 

Conor and I high five, grinning like crazy at each other. Conor pulls me into an embrace, and I don't resist. Maybe, just maybe, there is some hope.

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