For Disclaimer, please see Chapter 1.

Misplaced People by Devize © 2004 (

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Chapter 12: Miching Mallecho [i]

"It’s suicidal."

"What have I got to lose?"

"Your life."

"Big deal."

"Striker…. Are you always this stubborn?"

"Do you always nag this much?"

Morien bit her bottom lip, an action that Striker was beginning to find mouth-watering, when she could think beyond her frustration. "You might think it’s nagging, but I… I care too much about you to see you in some alley with your head bashed in." She looked away, upset and frustrated, absent-mindedly running her hand over the material ridges of her cap.

Striker watched her, her own anger vanishing in a mist of guilt. She wondered if Morien was even aware of actions. Does she know how beautiful she is? Does she know what a jerk I am? Course she does.

"That cap looks good on you," she said. "I like your headscarves, they’re pretty, but the cap…."

"Is that your way of saying you’re not going?" Morien interrupted.


Morien regarded her for a moment, picturing her with tubes in her veins and the incessant beeping of the EEG. What story would I read to her before she died?

Striker had emerged from the bathroom clean, refreshed and too wired to sleep. Her mind had been chasing the events of the last twenty four hours through a forest of thorny problems and shadowy branches and had finally caught a single, struggling idea. A foolish, harebrained idea that had Morien wanting to shake some sense into her.

"I think you’re mad," Morien said.

"Welcome to the party."

"You can’t go." It had meant to be a plea, but it came out stronger, more desperate.

Striker’s eyes blazed white-hot and she was on her feet in front of Morien. "Don’t you fucking dare tell me what I can or can’t do. You’re not my…." And she stopped and turned away, her eyes closed and her mouth pursed.

Morien was stunned. Striker’s anger had come from nowhere… and gone again — as if she’d caught her own arrow in mid-flight. An arrow that had been aimed directly at Morien’s heart. And instinctively, Morien knew that whatever she said now was going to make the situation worse. But she had to say something.

So she went for the bluff. "If you’re going, then I’m coming with you."

There was a long pause as Striker spun round, looking at her in shock. "The fuck you are."

"You insist on going, then I’m coming with you. I know the area. I’ve been there. I’ve studied it. It’s the one thing that might just make sense in this stupid, insane idea."

"You can’t come."

"Now who’s giving the orders?"

Striker glared at her: half-furious, half-panicked. What could she say? It’ll be dangerous. I can’t bear for you to get hurt again. You still have something to lose. So many things.

I have you to lose, Morien’s eyes said. But the only words she spoke were, "I’m coming." We’re a tough breed, we Welsh.

And that’s how they found themselves on Tumblety Street.

It was deserted.

Striker wasn’t sure what she’d expected: somewhere in the inner recesses of her imagination had been the image of sharp-suited men skulking in doorways with violin cases under their arms.

It was almost disappointing to find there would be no musical recital.

The street was quiet and shadow-touched, all stained brick and rotten woodwork and cracked paving stones. On one side were crowded, small, two-up, two-down terraced houses; front doors kissing the street. Once they would have been seething with happy life, perfect urban cottages. Once a community would have existed here: housewives scrubbing their front steps, gossiping at their front doors, children playing in the street, workers merely needing to cross the road to earn their living. Now, there was barely a house without a broken window. A couple didn’t have roofs. There was a large gap at one end of the row, where one house seemed to have completely collapsed. Where glass still existed, it was caged by bars — almost if the few surviving residents were defacing their own houses to prevent vandalism by another’s hand. The houses huddled together in the shade, as if they were scared children hiding from bullies.

The other side of the road was dominated by two warehouses. Once upon a time they would have been handsome red brick buildings, factories providing work, providing life to the area. They could see, high up on one of the buildings, a plaque carved in red stone. But the figures had been worn by generations, until only a few letters - a guess at a year - were left. The buildings had been cursed by time to become barren monsters, holding only memories and rats.

The street was completely silent. Not even a breath of wind touched the dust. The houses stood empty, any of the inhabitants either seeking a few hours escape from the darkness, or concealed behind ragged curtains and decayed wood in terrified stillness. What did they see from their darkness? Did they see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil? But Morien knew that wasn’t true, because one of those anonymous dwellers... just once... had made a phone call to the police that meant she was standing there now.

The quiet was both unsettling and reassuring. Striker heard a tiny sigh from her companion. "They spend a fortune building new houses and all it takes is a little imagination and a little care to give this street, these people, a new lease of life."

To Striker it seemed appropriate that the only sound to be heard was Morien. A voice of hope. She looked at Morien, raised an eyebrow, a hand, a silent question.

Morien gave an unsettled smile that didn’t reach her eyes, but moved forward, down the cracked pavement, nervously stealing along the wall of one of the warehouses. Striker followed, not least because she didn’t want to be left behind.

They made no sound, and no sound came back to them, until they reached the corner of one of the large buildings. And then Striker gasped.

It was as if it was being held prisoner: some fragile, mythical rara avis, caught in the stranglehold of an industrial age. Even in its heyday, even when people used it for worship, for meeting, for silent contemplation, had it ever actually belonged?

A small chapel, swallowed by the size of the neighbouring buildings. It looked as if it could have been a house: no steeple or tower like a church, simply a sloping, slate roof, trying to match those across the road. The windows were high up the walls, again barricaded by wooden planks. The stonework had been white, once. But now its whitewash was grey and filthy in its attempt to escape from the future. Its peeling paintwork made it look as if it was now trying to flee from itself. It was surrounded by rusted railings, once contrasted black. A wooden sign still clung to the metal bars: The Salem Chapel, established 1899.

It had been dying slowly ever since.

But somehow, Striker could see why Morien was so drawn to it. It was special, different, a building that was straight out of fantasy. There was a porch to one side, as if the building had turned its face away from the reality of the street. The metal gate hung partly open, but creaked as they brushed past. The main, double doors were closed, handles locked together by a large padlock.

Striker frowned at it, murmuring "How the hell did you get in here before?"

"Almost a year ago, I came with a group of others from the unit. We were simply checking some of the council’s mothballed properties. Keith Tivison had the key. I was so amazed by the place I came back the following week, just to have another look. I did some sketching, but that was it. A few months later, when I tried to get back in, the key had been lost. My proposals for the chapel were all based on what I saw a year ago."

Striker tested the padlock. Solid and strong. She ran short fingernails along the metal plates that held the handles to the doors. Looking around, her eyes settled on the railings that separated the chapel from the street. Then, pacing slowly along the posts, she tested each one.

"What are you doing?" Morien asked, her voice loud in the silence.

Striker glanced up at her. "Archimedes’s key," she said, smiling, and grabbed at one of the railings. With a twist and a grunt, it came away in her hand.


Shaped a little like a crowbar, the metal shaft had a flattened point at one end, and Striker took the point and thrust it, not at the padlock, but into the wood behind one of the metal plates. Barely a centimetre was jammed behind it. Then Striker jumped, pushing down on the bar with the full force of gravity and her weight. The wood cracked, the metal plate swung loose with a rattling crash, still attached to the padlock, leaving a door that simply needed a push to open.

Morien’s eyes were wide. "Striker, that’s breaking and entering!"

"Hell, after arson, assault and attempted murder, what’s a little breaking and entering between friends?"

"Where did you learn...?"

"You wanna go in or not?"

Striker pushed at the door, which opened quietly at her touch. Morien swallowed and they stepped inside.

Both stood for a moment, their eyes adjusting to the gloom. It was as quiet as spiderwebs. Light was somehow finding a way in, between the boards and the dirt at the windows, and like a camera coming into focus, they started to see shadows, then shapes, then objects.

The chapel was still exactly that: rows of pews ran from back to front, an aisle up the middle, all facing the plain, wooden platform at the opposite end of the room. There was another door to one side of the platform, small — designed to be unobtrusive — which could only lead to a vestry. Like its exterior, the chapel interior had once been painted white, but here the paint was shredding away to reveal grey, damp stone walls. The floor, too was grey stone, ironically worn to almost shining white in places. Once there had been hangings on the walls, but all that was left were the shadows of what had once been. Above the platform, almost as an afterthought, was the outline of a cross.

Something wasn’t right.

Morien moved forward, Striker following her. A finger reached out to touch the wooden back of the last pew, as if she was nervous to touch it. Nothing happened. No alarms, no raised voices. Morien ran a hand along the wood. Then moved forward, starting to examine them, one by one, her advance quickening.

In the silence, her soft, lyrical voice was almost a shock. "I love these pews, they’re so beautiful. Look at the carving on them." She ran her finger round an intricate leaf pattern of an armrest, in a way that made Striker wonder what else she could do with that finger.

"There are hinges on the seats," Striker said, glancing at the detail without much thought. She was far more interested at looking at the expressions crossing Morien’s face. She looked like a child on Christmas morning: so much delight in everything she saw. How could anyone have gone through the trauma that Morien had experienced over the last few months — the last few days — and still find such innocent pleasure in life?

You are so amazing….

"Striker, I’d forgotten the seats open!" Morien moved into the gap between pews to take a closer look. "I wonder what they used to keep in these. Spare hassocks or something I…." The words fell away. Her mouth seemed to go slack.

"Morien…?" Striker moved up aisle, until she could see what Morien was staring at. And she found herself staring just as hard.

A distant, insanely rational part of Striker’s mind stated that Striker ought to be getting used to having her world turned upside down by now. Certainly, the spinning events of the last few days suddenly clicked into perfect, rational, surreal focus.

The rest of her consciousness simply whirled about her, as Morien’s voice, breathless and lucid at the same time, came through the whirlpool: "Tell me… tell me that’s not what I think it is."

Neatly stashed, lying in long rows and tall piles inside the pew seat were plump, plastic packets of white powder.

And, at last, a single thought penetrated Striker’s adrenalin-shocked mind: Morien was right. This is suicidal. She moved to the next pew and opened the seat. The same again. Packet after packet of smooth, white powder. And the next, opening the seat: "Jesus," Striker murmured, "there must be millions of dollars’ worth…."

Morien too was moving further down the aisle on the opposite side, opening seat after seat. Striker could hear, could almost feel, Morien’s quick, short breaths as if they were coming from her own lungs. She could feel her heart pounding against her chest. Carried away with the momentum, Striker lifted another pew seat and….

…it was as if her heart had stopped.

No packets, no drugs. She looked closer, trying to wrap her mind round what her eyes seemed to be seeing. Then she wished she hadn’t.

Hidden in the deep shadows of the seat was a plastic sheet. It was almost opaque with liquid, hard enough to make out in the shadows as it was, but she knew it was enveloping… flesh… and bone….

She wanted to drop the lid. She wanted to reel back, hiding her eyes from the sight in front of her. But she couldn’t move. She could do nothing but stare.

Where there should have been a face was a mass of blood, brain tissue and loose teeth. There was nothing left that indicated that once this had been a human being, a living breathing, loving human being.


Except… glinting in the half-light, almost hidden under a loose flap of crimson flesh was a single, gold…


And Striker wanted to scream. She could hear her own voice inside her head screaming: You stupid bastard. You stupid, fucking bastard. Why didn’t you let them pass? Why didn’t you just let them….

Paully. Lil’ Paully….

And at last she closed her eyes. It didn’t make any difference. She could still see, imprinted on her eyelids, the image of him — what was left of him. And with that image, it was as if every sense was abruptly heightened: the smell of death, the gagging taste of bile in her mouth, sudden sounds in the street outside; creaks, rustles, the sounds of an aged building. She heard the soft echoes of Morien’s footsteps and dropped the lid of the pew, then spun round to face the smaller woman.

"What is it?" Morien spoke softly, her voice taut.

Striker put a finger to her lips. "Nothing," she whispered, guiding Morien away from the pew, down the little aisle towards the entrance. "You were right, we shouldn’t have come here…." Morien’s mouth opened and Striker almost slammed her palm across her mouth, and bent brushing her lips against Morien’s ear. "There is no way they would have left this place unguarded. We’ve got to get out…."

Those creaks, those rustles, they were developing into something more. An aural jigsaw. There were noises now from the street outside: footsteps, voices.

The creak of the gate.

Morien stopped dead.

Striker dragged her back, back down the aisle, past the pews, down to the front. Trapped by the platform under the ghostly cross.

Clear now, a Cockney accent, "They’ve fuckin’ jimmied it...."

"The bosses are going to fuckin’ kill us."

Another quieter, calmer, "Sshh, they’ll still be in there..."

Barely perceptible: "Shut the fuck up then."

Then nothing but fear and heartbeats... as the damaged door swung open....

Striker closed the vestry door behind them. There was no way of locking it, the key long lost. But, in the dark, they could make out boxes, lots of boxes, carefully sealed, but unlabelled. They didn’t stop to imagine what was inside, but pushed and piled as many as they could in front of the door.

Her heart pounding, her breathing so fast she could barely hear the movement outside, Morien sunk down onto one of the boxes. She was feeling dizzy, sick and terrified of losing control. It was creeping up on her. That same feeling of panic that had ambushed her at the Boom Shack. For a second, images spun before her eyes: flashing lights and thumping beats, mingled with fear and screaming and the gagging smell of smoke. She wrapped her arms round her body, almost as if she was trying to stop her chest from expanding with air.

Striker grabbed her, pulling her to her feet. "Get away from the door." She tugged her back into the darkest corner of the vestry, pulling her against her own body, and wrapping her arms around her. In the cool of the darkness, they struggled to control their fear. The silence in the room was only broken by their gasping breath, but beyond that, beyond the door was the ruffle of danger.


Low orders.

"Check the pews." A voice calm, quiet and full of authority.

One by one they could hear each lid being lifted and dropped back in place. The women flinched, each bang like a gunshot.

Again the voice, laced slightly with humour: "Matey boy still there?"

There was a murmur of affirmation, and Morien could feel Striker tense still further behind her and swallow. The tall American was shaking. Morien could feel the vibration all the way down her body as she stood pressed against her.

Cornered like a wounded animal, there was nothing Striker could feel but fear. There was nothing she could see but Paully’s ruined face. Words kept going through her head: a rational voice that wasn’t rational at all. Back of the head. Execution style. It wasn’t even an accident. Would they be up for the same fate? Footsteps getting closer. She clutched Morien to her, trying to believe that the princess and her protector would escape this and live happily ever after.

Some fucking protector.... She’d got them both killed.

Morien became aware of a shivering mantra at her ear. "I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry."

Morien closed her eyes, holding her breath. She could feel Striker’s painful slide into shock, as if it was her own. But she wasn’t going to slide. She grabbed onto reason with her fingertips and held on for Striker’s dear life. Exhaling slowly, holding her body completely still, she could feel Striker’s hand pressing into her waist. She covered it with her own, trying to instil some kind of calm into them both.

Boots against stone, shuffling outside the door. They could hear the door handle scraping against the boxes piled against it. Morien’s eyes flicked open. The vestry was only a small room, the walls as dirty a white as the main chapel outside. There was a tiny window high up above them, which looked partly bricked up. There was no chance of escape through there.

Voices through the wood.

"The door’s locked."

"It can’t be locked. There’s no key to it."

The door rattled, banging against the boxes.

A snarl. "It’s fucking barricaded, you prick. There’s someone in there."

Striker swallowed again, bowing her head to find an ear. Her mouth moved, although barely a word could be heard. Her utterance a single, shaky exhalation. "Three of them… maybe four."

Morien clutched Striker’s hands at her waist. Her mind trying to settle on anything that might help. She leant her head back against Striker’s shoulder, feeling her friend’s heartbeat strong against her back, merging with her own. From her new viewpoint her eyes settled on the shadowed ceiling… darker in the far corner. A dark square.

The door banged against the boxes again. The boxes quaked, shifting millimetres. Angry voices outside. Morien turned her head, her lips close to the column of Striker’s neck. In other circumstances… maybe in another life now… but maybe…. "Striker," she whispered. "Could you reach that hatch?"

Striker’s hands moved, abruptly, abandoning their warm home at Morien’s waist, and landing suddenly on her arms. A brief pat, a fleeting pressure on her cap — almost automatically, a faint kiss, a nuzzle that said Well done — and Striker flew across the floorspace. She scrambled up onto another box and reached up.

The door was edging open, the boxes wobbling, shifting, millimetre by millimetre. Swearing, encouragement, more swearing drifted through.

Striker’s fingers touched the wooden cover of the hatch in the ceiling. On tip-toe, stretching as high as possible, she seemed to grow further inches in her determination. The hatch moved, dislodging dust which showered down onto the tall woman. Momentarily, she coughed, blinking, but spluttered, "Come on," not caring any more whether the men heard her or not.

Morien scampered across the floor to Striker’s outstretched hand, and suddenly she was up in the air, Striker’s hands back round her waist, lifting her. She grabbed onto the hatchway, pulling herself up through the hole, her arms straining at her own weight. With one last push she found herself face down on wooden floorboards, thick with dust. She turned, reaching a hand down to Striker, and together they pulled the American up — Striker wincing and breathless at the scrape of wood against her already bruised body — then pushed the hatch cover back into place.

There was a crash from below as the door finally gave and boxes sprayed across the vestry.

"There’s no one here."

"Could these boxes have fallen against the door?"

"Yeah, and I suppose the boxes jimmied the lock out front as well, you wanker."

They were in an attic. Once a storeroom, the small space was almost empty, with only a few broken chairs and a large wooden crate clues to its erstwhile use. They were right under the roof and the ceiling sloped to such a degree that Striker could barely stand upright. It was filthy, and smelt of damp, and it finally hit Striker what had bothered her below. From the outside, the chapel had looked neglected and dirty. But in the main room there had been no dust. Nothing could be contaminated. Everything kept neat, ordered and wrapped in plastic.

She grabbed the crate, full of paper and what looked like old hymn sheets, and with the strength of the desperate, pushed it across the floor to cover the hatchway. It would be almost impossible for the men to find a way up here, but now there was no way back for them.

She looked at Morien, who was dusting herself down as if there was nothing wrong. There were voices from the men below, and banging. She could tell they were trying to get the hatchway open, but this crate was too heavy to budge, compared to the smaller boxes.

"What now?" Morien’s voice came to her through the shadow.

Striker ducked down as she came towards her, her hands feeling along the dark, oblique wall. "Here," she said, suddenly. "Help me." More wooden boards, all but camouflaged against the grimy brickwork.

There was a disagreement going on below, but they could barely make out the words above their own concentration. The damp wood was ripping, the rusty nails that attached it to the plaster were bending. Quickly, they were able to work the few boards free, to find hidden behind it, a skylight.

"Hardly Victorian," Morien commented quietly.

"You complaining?" Striker retorted, trying to find a way to open the window. The glass was still intact, wedged into place by a layer of weather and grime. The catch was jammed and immovable.

"Fuck it!" Striker exploded. She hit the frame in frustration. It didn’t move.

There was another series of thumps from beneath the crate, another burst of expletives below in muffled echo.

Striker grabbed one of the broken chairs. "Get back," she said. Morien pressed herself against the wall as Striker swung the chair back and flung it against the glass.

The glass remained unbroken. The chair shattered into pieces, leaving a single leg in Striker’s grasp. There was silence. "I don’t fucking believe it," Striker muttered. She went for a second chair and was about to hurl that at the window when something came whizzing through the floor, so close she could feel the air graze her face.

She froze.

Complete silence.

And then another bullet penetrated the floor.

All she could see was Morien’s eyes, a shocked green, staring back at her.

The floor creaked beneath her feet. How long would it take their weight?

She could see Morien’s lips moving: "Don’t move!"

Striker nodded.

Another shot.

Striker risked a step back, balancing on the balls of her feet, using the chair to steady her. The floor creaked faintly.

Another shot erupted through the floor, an inch from where Striker had been standing, and exploded like a firework through the skylight, cracking the glass.

For a long moment, Striker held Morien’s gaze, until her mouth broke into a wry grin. "Cool," she said, an eyebrow lifting, but her voice was shaky. Using her entire body, the space available to her, and every ounce of the terror and adrenaline that was coursing through her body, she swung the chair back and, with an explosion of sound, glass and wood, smashed the window.

The skylight was low enough for both women to scramble out of it with ease, manoeuvring themselves onto the slipping slates of the roof. They could hear other gunshots, but none came near them.

A slate came loose beneath Striker’s arm. They watched it slide down the roof and crash to the ground below.

"Oh shit."

Again Morien found herself trying to catch her breath, her eyes closed. Think, gwyrionyn, think! She groped for her bearings. They were staring up at the miserable red brick of the second warehouse. Tumblety Street would be to their right... so... the alley....

The alley where she’d been attacked was below them. Which meant….

She swallowed her fear and made a decision. Slowly, spreading her weight out as much as she could, she inched down the roof.

"Morien, what the fuck are you doing?" she heard from behind her.

As she reached the guttering at the bottom, she eased her upper body up so she could look down. It wasn’t too high a drop, but not low enough to ensure a safe landing. But what did catch her eye made her smile. God bless twentieth century Health and Safety officers.

"Come on," she called back to Striker, and launched herself off the edge of the roof.

Striker almost screamed.

She was on an unsafe roof, shit knew how high above the ground, the body of one of her friends decomposing in a pew seat below her, there were gangsters after her, she was beginning to feel light-headed from panic and exhaustion, and her would-be girlfriend had apparently just jumped to her death.

Surreal didn’t come close.

Another shot came from below, this time zipping through the broken skylight. As if she hadn’t enough incentive already, it spurred her to a gentle, wobbling slide down the roof, until her boots were in the guttering. She too eased herself up... to find Morien looking up at her, worriedly, from just a few feet below, having landed on the warehouse’s old metal fire escape.

Jesus Christ, I love you, Morien, but don’t ever do that to me again.

Striker jumped. Slates came tumbling down after her, crashing to earth, and her boots landed with a clang on the metal staircase.

Both women dashed down the steps, tasting freedom, and pelted down the alleyway. They didn’t stop to look, but ran down Tumblety Street, away from the chapel. A shout went up behind them, loud enough to wake the dead. "THEY’RE HERE!"

Then running footsteps.

With longer legs, Striker found herself in front, reaching back to try and help Morien along. They could hear the pursuit behind them, and Striker glanced back to see two... three... then a fourth man spill out of the chapel entrance to join the chase. Ghouls. Skinheads and suits, but no sign of the brothers. The women hit the corner at full speed and careered down another road, perceiving now the sound of traffic from up ahead.

"There...," Morien gasped, and in front of them was a bus stop, a large red double decker seeming to wait for them. With a cough of exhaust it started to move as they approached.


As if the driver could hear them.

Striker gripped Morien’s arm, and with a single, enormous leap, she reached the pole at the back of the bus and the momentum threw them both inside onto the floor.

They looked up to see the bemused stares of passengers; and then back to see their pursuers skid to a frustrated stop on the pavement.

For one moment Striker wondered if she had the energy to get up from the floor, but Morien staggered to her feet and pulled her friend up with her. Striker crashed onto the nearest seat, her heart pounding and her breath hurting her. Ignoring the whispers of their fellow passengers, she pulled Morien down next to her, and unwilling to let go of the reassuring presence, she kept Morien’s hand cocooned in her own.

Slowly their breathing evened, and Striker looked at Morien. Her voice was quiet as she spoke, untrustworthy now of anyone but the woman next to her. Even of herself. "I’m sorry. You were right all along. We’re going to go to the police. We’re going to tell them everything."

Her voice was uncharacteristically earnest and it made Morien look up into her face… to find that it was, yet again, hidden by a curtain of loose, now dusty, hair. "I was stupid," Striker voice came, ashamed, "I put your life in danger and I’m sorry. I couldn’t…." Her throat contracted. I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to you. The thought of Paully… the thought of that happening to Morien… made her stomach and throat clench. That’s why they had to go to the police. She could trust Nigel and Bruce and their ‘family’ about as much as she could trust herself. They’d spent the last few days looking over their shoulders. She now knew enough to realise that if they didn’t go to the police, they’d spend the rest of their lives doing the same thing — whatever Nigel said. She wanted protection for Morien, and she wanted justice for Lil’ Paully.

She wanted vengeance for Paully.

Her eyes still burned with the sight of him. How the fuck was she going to tell Danny about this. How the fuck was she going to tell Thomas…. Poor Thomas….

"Hey," a voice interrupted her thoughts. A warm, beautiful voice. "There’s nothing to apologise for, cariad," it said — and she was hearing it with her heart, not her head. "I reckon we’re in this together, don’t you think?" And a hand squeezed hers.

Striker looked up and saw twinkling, soft eyes looking back at her. She couldn’t bring herself to tell Morien what she had seen. At least, not right now, when she was still having a problem keeping down the contents of her stomach. When she was feeling dizzy from shock and adrenaline rush, and her entire body ached from last night’s beating.

Instead, she lost herself in the gaze.

"You know something," Morien said, staring back, taking in the dust and the grime that covered the American, and losing herself in the blues and greys that shadowed Striker’s own eyes, "you look awful."

The corner of Striker’s mouth rose. "Thanks, you look great," she said. Her head dipped for a moment, and Morien could feel a thumb slowly circling her palm. It was excruciating. She was feeling inexplicably exhilarated, after such a narrow escape, and with Striker’s smoky voice and half-closed eyes so close…. It was all she could do not to pull Striker’s head down and slip her tongue between those slightly parted lips. "Morien," the lips said and something wet and wanting started to pool between Morien’s thighs. "Morien, I know we need to go to the police, but I really need…." Oh, yes, need…. "…I really need to get my head together, maybe lie down. Just for a little."

Morien blinked.

"Maybe if we went back to my apartment. I could just get my head together before we go. Is that okay?"

Morien blinked again, focusing on the dark circles under Striker’s eyes. She could feel her hands shaking under her fingers. Morien nodded, smiling, only half-wanting to lose the inappropriate and terrifying fantasy of making love to Striker, even if it was just with her gaze. Striker smiled back.

"Ladies, tickets…," a man’s voice interrupted.

Striker glanced up at the waiting conductor, and then looked back at Morien. "Do we have any idea where this bus is going?"

* * * * *

Once they discovered that the bus was going in completely the wrong direction, and confident they’d put enough distance between themselves and Tumblety Street, they got off and headed for the familiarity of the Underground.

Then back to Striker’s apartment.

There was a strange but familiar light, as if the sky was flashing, as they entered the Bronte Estate. Striker gave a weary sigh, feeling words boil out of her, despite the bone-deep weariness of both her mind and body. "Neighbourhood kids causing trouble again, little shits," she said. "Happens all the time… the police are called… everyone gets disrupted… they round ‘em up, take them away… and then it all starts over." She looked at Morien. "But, if the cops are going to be around for a while it’ll save us the bother of…." They rounded the corner and Striker stopped in her tracks. "Oh my God," she said. "Danny…."


Continued in Chapter 13...

Return to the Academy

[i] "Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief" – Hamlet, Act III, Scene 2.