Devil You Know

Kodi and Nyx. Nyx and Kodi.

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8. e i g h t

 

         The ride in the police car was quiet. The two officers made innocuous conversation in the front about whether parrots could learn different languages. I leant my head back against the seat, the vibrations of the wheels against the concrete lulling me into a stupor.

         “I’ll get you out of this.”

         I half-opened my eyes. Next to me, Nyx was silhouetted in flashes of streetlights, his yellow eyes glinting with every spark. I studied him closely for the first time since I’d seen him emerging from my reflection cloaked in darkness and recognition. His face shape was exactly the same as mine, but with subtle differences I only now noticed that made him seem almost like a mirror image—aside from the deep blue skin, his face was more pointed, slightly starved, and his mouth was more crooked, curled upwards on one side in a permanent smirk.

         “Out of the police car? Or out of trouble?” I snapped my mouth shut with an audible click directly after speaking and glanced towards the front of the car. The police hadn’t reacted—one was tucking her hair in more securely in the mirror, the other focusing on the road. I looked back to Nyx. The side of his mouth rose up higher.

         “Out of your pitiful spiral of self-pity, of course.” He leant in closer to me, earnest. “We don’t need to be separate any more. You let me in at the party, embraced me when your mind shut off. We’re one and the same, now.” His hand strayed to the side of my face, caressing my skin. His touch was cool and calloused. “You don’t need to be sad. Not now I’m here.” He removed his hand with another grin, wider this time. The world behind him slowed down as the car rumbled to a stop, and the side of my face felt suddenly empty.

         “I’m gonna open the door, so don’t try nothing kid.” The one who’d been driving stepped out of the car and his shape moved around the outside to my door. My eyes instinctively followed him, and when I looked back to where Nyx had been, there was only the blackness of the night-filled window.

         They walked me through a back door of the station. I kept my head down, not wanting to be recognised, but around every corner was a flash of blue, and the cool night wind that drifted through the corridors caressed me with leathery fingers.

         I’d expected to be taken to an interrogation room like one I’d seen on television, but they sat me down on a sofa that was only separated from the rest of the station by a thin wall and a door with a small, slightly grimy window. I perched on the edge of it as they sat opposite me, both fixing me with identical stares.

         “There’s no need to panic…” The one who had been driving checked the folder in front of him. “…Kodi. We’re just going to ask you a few questions about recent events. How you’re feeling and all that.”

         I stared back at them silently. Through the window in the door other people bustled with movement around computers, or passed files from hand to hand. Their lives seemed like a puppet show, something garish but warm that I had no part of.

         “Okay.”

         He put his elbows on his knees, leaning forwards. He fiddled unconsciously with his wedding ring, twisting it round his finger.

         He’s probably cheating on his wife.

         The voice echoed inside my brain. I suppressed a smile and glanced to the side where a coffee machine sat like a worshipped idol on a table. My reflection smiled at me before disappearing out the top of the machine itself in a cloud of blue-tinted steam.

         The police officer was trying to catch my gaze again. His voice, when he spoke, was slightly slower than it had been before. I wondered what he thought I was. Slow? Crazy? Dangerous? “We know that you’re the one who tipped us off about your teacher, Kodi, but you’re not going to get in trouble for that. You’re a minor, and we’re trying to keep you as uninvolved in that as possible.”

         The mention of Mr Williamson made me twitch for a second. I remembered the comforting words, the encouragement, and the slightest tinge of regret—or anger—coloured my thoughts for a second, but were driven away by cool touch flaring up again on the side of my face. “By dragging me into a police station and questioning me?”

         “That’s not what you’re here for.” The other one leant forwards too. She had her hair tied back harshly, but a small halo of escaped strands still surrounded her forehead. Glinting under the stark collar of her uniform was a delicate silver chain, probably a locket. She, too, wore a ring, but it was silver and topped with a blue gem that caught the light in the room and sent it spinning out in new directions. I directed my gaze at this as she spoke. “You’re here because of what you did to your friend. He didn’t want us to bring you in, by the way. He sounded worried. You should count yourself lucky that you have friends that’ll put up with you trying to stab them.”

         I stayed silent. The older one pulled out a pen and a small pad of paper that rustled as he turned it.

         We could take these two, Kodi. Round the heads, out the window, into the night. Easy.

         Not yet. Not both.

         You’re weak. The words made me flinch. The female one cast me an odd look. Her next words took on a delicate edge.  

         “We know…we know that the…incident…with Mr—with your teacher must have affected you somewhat, and if you need help, there are loads of places you could go to.” She pushed a line of leaflets towards me. They were in pastel colours, and the fronts were covered with pictures of moody people that would have fit in more on the cover of a teenage vampire novel.

         “Okay.”

         “Kodi, we’re not therapists, so if something like this happens again then we will have to put an arrest on your record.” Her eyes were frustrated. She thought I was stupid, or rebellious, or both. I felt Nyx smiling, and my shadow hand on the floor brushed its fingers against my ankle slightly. I kept my face straight.

         “Okay.”

         She twitched. Her passive expression faltered for a second, and the older one nudged her as if to remind her that they were only dealing with a damaged teenager. I felt Nyx’s glee like a fizzing against the inside of my skin. When she spoke again, her voice was strained.

         “I’m going to go and call your dad now, but I’ll leave what happened up to you to explain.” She stood, gathering her things. The older one stayed put, but leaned back on the sofa as if to make himself more comfortable. My eyes followed every shift of his skin, every ripple of fading muscle.

         “So what are you going to tell him?”

         She paused at the door, hand resting on the handle. When she spoke, she kept her back to me. “To come and pick up his son.”

         I pictured my father for a moment. He’d be in his study, studiously dabbing away at the ink on his work, hoping to recover and copy whatever he could. He’d have forgotten that I was not there, would have withdrawn into his own mind and his own stilling thoughts. He’d be jerked out of them, though, by a harsh ringing—he’d stand, wipe his hands on a tissue that he always kept handy, and walk slowly through to the kitchen. There, he’d pick up the phone and hold it to his ear, eyes not registering the empty rooms and silent hallways around him. He’d hear the words—your son—and instantly his heart would start pounding—perhaps it wasn’t Oskar that ran out onto the road that day, perhaps they’d found something, anything, that would lessen the loss—but then his mouth would close that slight distance again as he remembered who they were talking about. He might glance towards my room, but he wouldn’t go in. He’d just drive to the station with the same blank monotony that he did everything else.

         “Okay.”

         She left hastily, perhaps only gone for five minutes. Later, I sometimes wondered what went through her head when she came back and discovered her partner unconscious on the floor, made gold in the streetlights that shone through the open window and made the rippling curtains look like slices of starlight.

 

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