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Mordet/The Murder, Day Two (part 2)

 
Hyle Troy's picture
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So it was no small amount of trepidation that Hyle felt as she walked down the slope from her car into Longhands’ north camp.

 

As she passed the first yurt, she could see that her arrival had been communicated. Figures appeared in tent and shack doorways, mostly male, which was not a good sign. On other visits, the women had been equally or more present which afforded a certain amount of vicarious protection. Today was different.

 

Hyle set her face and a purposeful step. This was not going to be easy.

 

By the time Hyle reached Longhands’ yurt she was aware that a tight semicircle of surly growling men had formed behind her, well within her comfort zone. Some even within striking distance. Out of the growling she detected one or two phrases. ‘She aint got no gun or nothin’’ or ‘Lets just do her in now.’

However, when on occasion she did look around, the space between herself and the men did increase a little.

 

Longhands?” Hyle called out toward the tent. The muttering ceased, silence, except the wind luffing the canvas flap covering the entrance.

 

Hyle waited patiently. It seemed like an eternity but in reality probably no more than thirty seconds.

 

Firstly, two of the lieutenants stepped outside, followed by the frame of Longhands himself. He nodded to Hyle, forcing her to speak first.

I have come to talk ab….”

About The Mag Rat?” Longhands interjected, knocking Hyle a little out of her stride.

Yes.”

Pity, that.”

 

Hyle stopped herself from saying ‘What?’ just in time. Longhands’ reaction was nothing like she expected. His face showed no more reaction than if she had told him a cat had just been run over. He nonchalantly turned and tied back the door flap of the tent before bringing his attention back to Hyle.

 

Of course you will pay for the damage. Yes?”

 

Hyle found herself confused at this phlegmatic reply, the speech she had mentally prepared had been derailed and she was struggling to bring her thoughts into focus.

 

Not only was Hyle surprised, the shuffling behind her increased and closed in. Voices were raised.

Why don’t we just cut her into lumps ? One called out. “Nahh. She’s a clone. We should just fuck her senseless and send her back, huh?” Another added.

Hyle felt an intimate muscle contract involuntarily but she forced her face not to show any reaction.

 

Shut the fuck up!” Longhands voice boomed out. His lieutenants took a purposeful stride forwards. The mob’s baying was silenced. Longhands was looking over Hyle’s head at the crowd

 

The Mag Rat was drudge for fuck’s sake! Who cares. Do you care about drudges? I’m sure if Mayor Troy is going to come up with some generous form of damages. A few cows, a few sacks of grain, we can forget it, right?”

 

There followed a cacophony of grumble and the odd shout but Longhands simply turned and ushered Hyle into his home. Hyle followed, relieved to be out of reach of the mob’s hands.

Once inside and with the flap firmly closed, Longhands sat and bade Hyle sit with him on the coarse matting. His dark brown eyes sought Hyle’s attention. He had it.

 

You’ve got some balls, Mayor Troy. I’ll give you that!” His smirking words belied a deeper concern which Hyle detected easily. “When the news came down, half the camp were about to charge straight up the hill. But I stopped them. They’ve calmed down a lot since then.”

 

Thanks.” Hyle nodded once.

 

Longhands went on. “I played down Magrat’s importance, I know she was just a drudge but both you and I know how important she was to our futures.”

 

Absolut. It was a great shock to me too, more than you can imagine. But aside from the tragedy of it all, I was deeply concerned about any reaction from the Devil’s Own. Which is why I came down to talk with you.”

 

Hyle felt more at ease and her mind began again to engage the matter in had. At least Longhands’ tone was conciliatory away from the mob, more akin to the many discussions they both had shared in the past.

 

The constabulary are sparing nothing in their investigations. We will find the killer. I am just so sorry about the wider implications. It is a set-back but I do not wish a return to reciprocal violence, in fact it makes me want to push forward even more with reform. But first we have to find justice for Magrat. Can I rely on you to contain your people until we do?”

 

Longhands straightened his back and drew a deep breath, giving consideration to Hyle’s words.

 

Mayor Troy, we are reading from the same page, nothing as changed as far as I am concerned. Just so long as you can at the same time ensure nothing else of this kind happens from your side also. Without sounding like blackmail, which it is not. You should at least send some token of good faith, in the eyes of my people, ‘damages’ as I said to them, outside. It will make my job easier to convince the more head-strong among them to hold to my word.”

 

Hyle nodded, “I understand, and yes, I will agree. So long as you promise safe passage for Doctor Troy, and the other two medics who live among you. If that is so, then we have an agreement.”

 

I agree.” Longhands stood up and helped Hyle to her feet, combining that with a handshake. “My lieutenants will escort you to your car.”

 

Hyle summoned all the mayoral dignity she could muster as she followed the lieutenants out of Longhands yurt. Walking between them, holding herself straight and strong, Hyle hid the relief she felt until she closed the car door and was out if sight, then she sighed, slumping down behind the wheel. She breathed freely for the first time in more than an hour

 

For helvede. Det var meget bedre end forventet...”

 

She started the engine and turned the car towards Hope, with any luck, Tuki would be back from Haven by now.

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Joe Spivey's picture

On arrival back in Hope, Doctor Troy went straight to the constabulary headquarters. There was a solitary constable on duty, sitting at what used to be Hanna Barret’s desk. He looked up as she came in and Tukiko watched the man’s face fall into that ‘not quite sure how to react’ expression which is so common when meeting to someone recently bereaved.

“Is Shadow, the Chief Constable or whatever it is you call him, in?” She lifted the large manila envelope. “I’ve brought the autopsy findings.”

The constable’s eyes widened a little on seeing the envelope being held out to him.

“Er, no miss. I mean Doctor. He’s…” It suddenly dawned on the constable that he didn’t actually know where his boss had gone. “… out.”

As the man made no effort to take the envelope from her, Tukiko put it down on the desk.

“Well, let him have this as soon as he comes in, would you? If he has any questions, I’ll either be at the clinic or at home.” She paused and thought about the options for a moment. “Probably the clinic.” Now that she had a nanny, Tuki knew that Itchy would be in good hands. More importantly, if she went home then she would just mope and get depressed and that wouldn’t be good for the toddler, or anyone else around her.

She headed for the door and, as she was closing it behind her, saw the constable reaching for the envelope.

“Oh, sorry about the stains by the way. Just wash your hands afterwards.”

The constable dropped the report like it was on fire. Tuki closed the door with a smile on her face. It was an old trick to keep nosy eyes from looking where they shouldn’t, but it put a brief smile on her face. At the moment, she thought, climbing into the car, she’d take any moment of light-heartedness she could get.

Next stop was the town hall, where she learned that Hyle had gone to see Longhands. For a moment cold fingers wrapped around Tuki’s heart and her throat tightened. Then she remembered that this was Hyle. This is what her momma did, it would be fine. But, just to make sure she asked what time the mayor was expected back. If she was a minute late then things would change.

In the meantime, Tukiko first went home to check on Itchiro. She spent a good hour with her son not doing a jigsaw but using the pieces as cargo in the wooden train Tai had made for him. Again, such simple pleasures kept the black thoughts at bay. Then it was next door to the clinic.

The early morning rush was over and the waiting room would probably be empty. She nodded to the three, yes, all three of them were there to keep an eye on her today it seems, Lightbearer’s outside and then went into the clinic without any further attempt at pleasantries.

What Tuki found in the waiting room stopped her in her tracks. Flowers covered almost every available surface. What wasn’t bedecked in brightly coloured flora was festooned in a huge display of cards. For a moment the professional wall almost broke but Tuki purposefully marched through the beautiful scent of flowers and into the more familiar aroma of strong disinfectant in the treatment room.

Maisie was not there. Nor was she in the little ward, or the bathroom. In her walk through the clinic, it quickly became apparent that the whole interior had been scrubbed to within an inch of its life. When Tuki did finally find Maisie, her head nurse was down on her knees furiously scrubbing the back-door step.

“Leave me alone. Not in the mood.”

Tuki left silently. Sometimes, not very often but just sometimes, the death of a patient got to Maisie. Usually small children, ones she had become attached to, or who had died despite everything they could do for them. Maisie was best left alone until she had literally ‘cleaned’ it out of her system.

Walking past the ward window, Tuki saw Hyle’s car drive around the town hall towards home. She chewed on her bottom lip while the car, in all its pink glory, drove out of sight. Again, the bricks in the wall shuddered and slid but still held. Tuki knew this was not good for her. The chewing stopped. She left the clinic and decided to walk. Turning into the familiar road a few minutes later, she selfishly hoped Shadow would not be there.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Joe Spivey's picture

Tuki closed the front door behind her, leaning her butt on it and closing her eyes. The old familiar smells of the home she grew up in brought her a wonderful and much need sense of inner calm. She could almost feel the endorphins flood through her brain and central nervous system giving her a warm high of wellbeing. All she needed now was…

“Tuki? Is that you?"

… and there it was.

“Hi Mom.”

“I’m in the kitchen, come through. I have coffee and wienerbrød.”

“Dejlig!”

Hyle was sitting at the table, coffee pot and a plate of pastries already waiting. Tuki sat down and helped herself. Hyle watched with a smile on her face. Just like old times, she thought, we don’t do this enough anymore. Even the sunlight pouring in through the window onto the table and the two chatting townsfolk on the other side of her fence added to the sense of the rose-tinted bliss of days now gone.

Tuki, wiped stickiness from her lips with the back of her hand, making Hyle smile again at another reminder of the past. Then reality forced its way into the happy scene when the two women spoke together.

“How was your day?”

In those days gone by this would have been an innocent question, but now, today, the question demanded something more than just, ‘oh, fine, you?’

Not wanting to bring up what she knew she had to just yet, Tuki was quick with a follow up question.

“How did it go with Longhands?”

Hyle recognised it for what it was and played along because she wasn’t too keen to discuss the more intimate subject of Magrat’s autopsy either.

“Well, much better than I expected.” She stirred her coffee. “They really do treat their…” She was about to say drudges, but to do so would be to go along with the deceit. Hyle caught herself in time. “… slaves badly don’t they? Longhands didn’t seem to concerned about her death but, at his suggestion, I'm going to send some livestock and grain as a form of recompense. Longhands has to show face to the tribe, but in private he was much more amicable.”

Tuki looked down at the chipped table-top but there was no comfort from the troubling truths her mother spoke in its familiar pattern.

“I’ll take care of that Momma.”

There was something in Tuki’s manner that was unexpected and, what? Hyle let it drop, for now. There was already too much strain on the whole town to create more with her daughter.

“Yes. Okay, thank you.” Then it was time, the moment had arrived to bring up Magrat directly. “So, how did it go?”

Tuki sat up straight. She organised her thoughts, reset the bricks as best she could.

“I left the actual report with the constabulary. But the cause of death was pretty straight forward, a single stab wound to the heart.” In the centre of her wall a single brick disintegrated into dust. “The, er, the other wounds. Erm, were inflicted after the vi… after she was dead.” Another brick cracked and fell away. Tuki sniffed loudly and cleared her throat. Across the table Hyle’s heart almost broke as she watched long tears slide down her daughter’s flushed cheeks.  “More stab wounds.” A brick exploded and the centre of the wall sagged. “Kicks” the wall began to crumble. “A… and… punches.” The whole thing came down in a cloud of dust and bitter tears.

Hyle was up in a second and hugging her daughter to her with all her strength. Her own eyes were watering with an anguish only a mother can feel knowing her child is suffering. But there was also a deep, unfathomable despair that Hyle felt but could not explain. Instead, she stroked Tuki’s hair and, just as she had when Tuki had been ridiculed for her poor weapon skills, she used her voice to try and sooth away the pain.

And Tuki responded, the sobs turned to sniffles and her breathing slowed. Hyle felt the despair slip away. No wait, not slip away. Something else. Now Hyle felt a burning anger begin to fill her chest. How could this happen to her town? To her people! Murder in Hope was not acceptable. And, even though the constabulary would try their best, it was her job as mayor to make sure the culprit was caught and punished. Just as Tuki’s hug tightened, Hyle’s anger rose again. If it took dragging every last citizen into her office to force the information she needed from then then that is what would happen. And Then. Then! When they had the killer! The whole town would watch them pay the price. Yes! Oh yes! I’ll hang the bastard! I’ll… I’ll.

Movement outside caught Hyle’s eye. The two people, so happy just a minute before were screaming at each other. A constable had rushed over and was trying to separate them, but now he was drawing his nightstick.

Hyle was horrified. She forced her own anger away. This was not right. Tuki’s grip was becoming painful. Hyle had to use force to push herself out of her daughter’s terrifying grasp. She stared at Tuki.

Tuki’s hands were tight fists and her eyes were closed, her brows knifing inwards like daggers to the soul.

“Tuki!”

Her daughter was shaking with anger. For a second Hyle didn’t know what to do. But then she remembered. Hyle could always pull Tuki out of a sulk, and boy could Tukiko sulk. Hyle took a deep breath and then began to tickle. Tuki’s eyes opened and Hyle saw the absolute fury that had been hidden behind her eyelids. She tickled some more, going for her daughter’s ribs, always the most sensitive spot.

“What ya gonna do?” She teased.

Tukiko twitched away, defending her ribs with her elbows.

A single laugh, that’s all it took and the fury that consumed her daughter and almost herself was gone. Tukiko collapsed into her mother’s arms. Hyle held her. Outside the three people were staring at each other as if waking from a dream.

Hyle rocked Tukiko back and forward.

“Hush now. It’s alright. Momma’s here. I’m always here. It’s ok.”

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Hyle Troy's picture

Hyle sat, gently teasing out strands of Tuki’s hair. repositioning them, as she slept. Tuki lay peacefully crossway on the sofa with her head and shoulders resting on Hyle’s lap. Hyle watched her daughter sleeping, watched her gentle breathing, watched her pupils dancing beneath the drawn blinds of eyelids.

What was she dreaming? Hyle wondered for a moment, hoping that the images on Tuki’s sleeping mind were good, and peaceful, and far away from the horrors of the last 24 or so hours. Judging by the calm sleeping form in her lap, Hyle hoped this was so.

 

Hyle glanced up, the form of two Lightbearer, two of those from outside The Clinic, walked past the window, heads turned toward the house.

 

Hyle paid them no nevermind and brought her attention back to her sleeping daughter. The storm of Tuki’s emotional outburst was long passed. Hyle considered her own reaction, how the outburst had brought uncharacteristic thoughts into her head, thoughts of vengeance, of violence.

 

But then, Hyle thought. She and Tuki had always had a close bond, Tuki brought out her maternal instinct easily, she always had done. But what had happened earlier had been exeptional. But in that respect, the circumstances were exceptional, Tuki was emotionally, personally involved, her dreams and ambition for Magrat ripped away in an instant.

And without a doubt, Tuki had felt guilty, personally responsible.

 

Det var ikke din skyld.” Hyle murmured the sleeping form.

 

Another movement outside caught Hyle’s eye. There they were again, The two Lightbearers.

 

And Tuki had pulled all this emotion inside and locked down the lid. The pressure had built up. Hyle knew she would, she knew it would. Thankfully the dam had burst, although the radius and strength of the empathetic charge had surprised Hyle, she remembered the scuffle outside as Tuki broke down.

 

But it was gone. The love of Mother and Daughter, their bond was stronger than hate. Now Tuki was resting, Hyle smiled, this was her place, her job.

 

Hyle knew she had other things to do, more visits and meetings. But they would have to wait. Her place, her main responsibility was lying in her lap.

 

And there they were again. Hyle sighed, gently lifting the sleeping Tuki and placing her down on the sofa.

 

 

Where are your ladders?”

 

The first Lightbearer looked confused, the second watched The Cursed Tech Mother of Seeker Troy marching from her door towards them.

 

Excuse me?”

 

Your ladders, where are they? You keep peering at my windows I figured they must need cleaning or something?” Hyle asked with unlimited scorn in her expression.

 

We..”

 

You were nosing around my daughter. So, I can respectfully tell you she is fine and I am looking after her…. Now toddle off back to Lightbulb Bob and tell him that Seeker Troy is safe and well, and under the care of her MOTHER!.” Hyle pointed in the general direction of Haven. “Now fuck off!

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

Joe Spivey's picture

When Shadow got back to the constabulary building he picked up the autopsey report and took it through to his office. A couple of minutes later a head appeared around the corner.

"Just had a note from the clinic," said the constable. "They want to know if we've finished with the victim's stethoscope and can they have it back for the funeral?"

Shadow looked up, puzzled.

"What stethoscope?"

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.



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