Sega stood on the grey street corner, cold and wet, as he waited for the bus to arrive. It was already late, as it was most days, and he didn’t want to be out in this neighbourhood when the sun started to set. Only last week Clockwork, a guy who worked in the same office as Sega, was mugged down a back alley, and he had been forced into hospital with multiple stab wounds. Sega had signed his get well card, even if he didn’t know the guy that well. Still, if it could happen to Clockwork then it could happen to him too, and he barely had enough money to get by on as it is. How would his mother and brother afford to live without him working for their money? No, it was imperative that he survived, and to make sure that he did so he had brought some assurances.
It wasn’t a large gun, but he hoped that it would serve him well if anyone were to approach him. He had got Mysterious to explain how you used one, but Sega still didn’t really understand. You pulled the trigger and held it as still as possible, and hopefully for you it would hit your attacker somewhere vulnerable. If you missed…well, this particular kind of gun did not reload quickly. You may not get another chance to fire if you missed.
“Hey, mate!” a voice called out to him, young and impetuous. Sega looked up, and instantly he knew who had spoken. He was crossing the road right now. A youth dressed in blue hoodie and tracksuit bottoms, his hands buried deeply in his hoodie pockets. This was the image of a young gangster that Sega had created in his mind, and he was coming at him, maybe with a gun or a knife hidden in his pockets. He had to think fast. He pulled the gun out and pointed it, closing his eyes as he squeezed down on the trigger with his fingers. He heard the crack of the shot, and the soft thud of it connecting with human flesh.
He opened his eyes again, just in time to see the young enemy fall to the floor, spluttering with blood running out of his mouth. The bullet had hit him square in the neck, and his fingers were gently touching the point of impact. They came away soaked in his own blood. All Sega could do was watch. He had been attacked and he had fought back, he told himself, but that had not been true. The boy was laid on the floor now, wheezing and spluttering, but weaker now. Soon it had stopped for good, and Sega relaxed with him, dropping the gun to the street floor.
He walked over to the dead boy and turned him on his back. Up close he could make out that underneath the hoodie he was wearing a shirt and tie. He was wearing a school uniform. A small piece of laminated card had fallen out of the boy’s pockets as he died, and Sega scooped it up. Silent Mocker, it read, Honour Roll Student in the Class of 2016. There was a picture of the boy that Sega had killed next to the name, smiling and happy.
He would never smile like that again, nor would he ever laugh with his friends or finish a piece of homework. Sega had made sure of that. He looked down at the body again and only then did he realise what he had done. He had killed a child, a young boy who had been looking forward to life. He had robbed a mother of her son, a girl of her boyfriend, a younger sister of her brother. Sega backed away, tears staining his face, and Sega ran.
He had attended the boy’s memorial service at the local school, and had watched as mocker’s mother stood before the gathered people and spoke of her son. She had talked about him as a young boy, and how he had been her special little boy, about how he had grown up to be a friendly and intelligent student, dedicated to his friends. She cried, and Sega cried with her. This was his cross to bear, and he could never tell anyone the truth behind what he had done.
Someone had found out. Someone knew what he had done so many years ago. He had told nobody about his past, and he had hidden his tracks well. Sega ran down the corridors of the complex, as if by running he would escapee the demons that followed him. He had abandoned the others after the meeting in the hall. He wasn’t safe with them. He couldn’t trust Joe, or Flats, or even GIR. One of them was out to kill him, and he had to escape, before they left him like he had left Silent Mocker so many years before.
He did not know where he was running to, as long as it was away from where he had been before. Who could it be? Who could be the killer and the person who found out about his deepest secret? He had never liked Joe, who was arrogant and believed that he was better and more important than any of his counterparts. What about Matoro? He had been with Coupe right before he had died. He could easily have set up the poison. There were others, though. He was not sure what Bran had done to earn himself a place amongst this group and that may suggest that he was the murderer, or maybe Flats, who had thrown Legion out on the streets for seemingly no valid reason. It could be anyone. They all had motives.
He stopped running, standing deathly still for a few moments. He had heard a voice approaching him from around the corner. What if this was the killer? What if his time had come in that horrendous poem? He had to hide, and he did so, quickly ducking into a small closet on the side of the room. It was a dark room, wet and slippery. From the little light he had he could see that pipes ran around the walls in a complex mass of lines and water supplies. He heard a clunk, and he moved back for the handle of the door, but it wouldn’t budge. Someone had locked him in. What had the next line of the poem been? Something about drowning? Sega collapsed to the floor, back resting against the door, and then he heard the drip drip drip of water leaking from the pipe. The noise started to speed up, and soon it was a gush. The room started to fill with water.
They had found her body not long after Sega and Matoro had ran out of the room, and this evidence did not suggest well against those two being responsible. Having said that, Assy, GIR and Wach had all left also, and it was entirely possible that this trap had been set up before they all arrived at the complex. They weren’t even sure when Nail died, and how soon after Coupe’s death it had been. These facts put together meant that they could glean very little from the death of the renowned escort, although Joe found it interesting that the two people that arrived with Matoro were the first to die.
Flats had been with him when they found the body, and Wach and GIR had arrived shortly afterwards. GIR had let out a little yelp when he first saw her body, and Wach had paled and backed out of the room. Nail had looked peaceful enough in death, but the bed she laid upon was one of blood. The sheets and mattress had been soaked, and it took Joe, Flats and Wach to remove her body as carefully as they could manage. They had laid her in the corner for the meantime, intending to carry her though to the Corpse Room later.
The room itself had revealed as few clues as the body had. It was nothing out of the ordinary, and Flats had said that he had visited it with Nail when they were checking the windows. So why had she come back here? What had she to gain from returning. Maybe it was ecause this was the only bed in the entire place, or maybe she had seen something here that she came back to collect. Had she known about Coupe? Or had she died thinking that her lover was safe and sound.
“Killed in a bed.” Flats pointed out “Our murderer maintains his streak of ironically killing his victims based on their events in their lives. Nail’s name was piercing. It was so obvious, we could have prevented this one from ever happening. We should have prevented it!” He was getting worked up himself now, and Joe didn’t want to be stuck in a small space with an angered Flats. That could get dangerous very quickly.
“There was no way we could have avoided it.” Wach looked grim, but redness had at least returned to his face. His mouth was masked by a thick beard, yet it was obvious that he was frowning simply from his eyes and the way they gleamed with wetness. “We should take her to the others, and cordon off this room in the process. We don’t want anyone to have any accidents with that bed.”
Bran had drawn the short straw, being left alone outside the room with Coupe and Grav’s cooling corpses left inside. He had to guard them, to make sure that they were safe, and that the killer didn’t try to molest their bodies or steal any clues. Flats wanted to inspect them more closely later. Bran admired Flats and Joe for staying as calm as they had. He himself wanted to scream and shout out, defying the gods and their cruel plays at fate and destiny. He had been punished for what he had done ten times over.
He hadn’t meaned to kill her, it had just happened. She had got in the way, and when she turned her back on him…well the opportunity had just been too good to resist. Kung had been his best friend until he had met her. Flubby had corrupted him, pulled him away from Bran, and in the process she had left Bran heart broken and alone. So he had done it, put the cord around her throat and pulled it taut until she ran out of breath. Before that she had never stopped talking, and it had felt good to be in a room with her silenced.
Kung had suspected him though, and he didn’t want her to take away his best friend, even after she lay dead in a wooden box. He had told him that Joe had done it, playing off the animosity that the two shared, and knowing that Kung already thought Joe a murderer for what he had done to Glisc. Joe had known, and had agreed, so as to protect Brandon. Was this his way of revenge? Had he finally decided to get back at him for his past crimes and pinning the blame on him afterwards. Grav had been the only other one to have known, and he was dead, his corpse in the room behind him. This left Bran thinking, and suddenly his eyes widened.
Wach had said that he would carry her body by himself, and Joe had gone off to try and find Sega or Assy and inform them of the news. GIR had left also, but he wasn’t sure where that one had gone. Maybe to find Mat. Frankly Flats didn’t know, and Flats didn’t care. He inspected the bed carefully, and decided that the nails had been sticking through the whole time, maybe covered by a duvet, although there wasn’t one in the room when he had first arrived. Maybe if he could find it then it would give him a clue as to why Nail came back here in the first place.
He had tried to make a list of people that could have wanted Nail dead, but it was hard. He wanted to show it to Joe later, to get his thoughts on the situation. Of course Joe could well be the murderer, so he had to take what he said with a pinch of salt. Matoro had motive for Nail’s death, as Icey had chosen her over him at some point in the past. Flats wasn’t sure what it was that inspired people to murder for what they saw as love, but apparently it happened, and as such he had to factor it in to his crime solving process.
Did Assy have any reason to want Nail dead? Not that Flats could think of, and he also couldn’t think of a motive for Bran or Sega wanting her gone either. So Matoro, Joe and Wach were the only ones with vendettas against her, but none of them had a real motive to off Coupe and Grav, so maybe the motive approach wasn’t the right one to take under these circumstances. He wasn’t sure how else he could look at the case, but he was sure that this room held nothing else worth his time, and so Flats left it, sealing off the door as he did so.
What if Grav had faked his death? It would have been easy enough with Joe’s assistance. He had been the one who had checked to see whether or not he was dead. They could easily be working together, after all they were the only ones who knew his secret, the only ones who could have known to bring him here with the others. It had been Joe that had carried Grav over here, and Grav could easily have snuck in to set up the room, making the little touch of the hanging keyboard as a morbid joke. He pushed open the door to check.
The body was laying there, still and cold, with Grav’s face lacking colour and his eyes still open, staring up at the ceiling. Coupe was laid next to him, the blood that had run from his nose as he died cleaned from the floor, but still staining into his clothes. He had been wrong, Grav was unmoved. He was definitely dead. Then he heard it. There was a footstep behind him.
Brandon didn’t have the time to move, nor did he have the time to turn to face his killer. The chord was around his throat before he knew it, digging into his skin and leaving a deep mark. The air to his lungs was cut off, and Brandon tried desperately to pull and push the killer away, to get rid of this. He cried as he lost strength, lost his will to fight against the inevitable. He stopped gasping for air, and his body relaxed as he did, accepting the death that was coming for him. As he died he thought of Kung, and how he had never known the truth.
Eight Hated Wikians, stuck at a murderers beckon
Bran would drown inside out, and then there was seven