Still under construction, but finished. This is one of my more complex pieces, mostly written in the span of one night. It's a good cop/bad cop story. It's also an evil twin story. There's more to it than that, but you'll have to read it to find out.
A Complete Set
The boy under the lightbulb sits carefully, the slight, well-crafted body poised like a bird on a branch. He doesn't look around or ask questions. The room leaves little to the imagination. The harshness of the naked bulb, the right angles of the walls, are meant to cleave away ambiguity. The boy looks straight ahead ahead at the man behind the small table and says nothing.
The man wears a faded suit and tie. He is a policeman. His partner is in the other room with the girl, who sits in the same way as her brother. The boy and the girl are like the two bulbs, the two tables, the two one-way mirrors. They are twins.
The first policeman's name is Campbell. He has three children and a dog. He knows his wife is having an affair, the dirty bitch. He has been alone for two months now. Unopened boxes of Kraft Dinner and empty whiskey bottles line his still apartment like gravestones. He is forty-three years old.
His partner calls himself Lewis, but he might be lying. He has no family to speak of, unless you count the dark women that run the streets at night and the men with their bulging pockets. He killed a cat once when he was nine years old. Tortured it with pins and a match. Campbell doesn't know. Campbell thinks his partner's name is Lewis.
The little boy and the little girl sit under the naked bulbs, in their separate square little rooms. Like the Brady Bunch, Campbell thinks. He shuts the door and sits down, readying himself.
The little boy blinks with clockwork eyelids. His perfect hands lie lax on the table, folded neatly, like a white baby dove. He has blonde hair and blue-green eyes. The eyes startle Campbell. They look different in the black and white photos he's seen of the two children. Less alien. The deep color seems to shift, though the boy hasn't moved.
Campbell shakes his head. He is not interested in these details. The photos tell only a third of the story. He is more interested in body language, the motion that precedes a deception, the tremor before a denial. He captures this minute evidence with a camera's perfect eye. He is very good at his job.
The boy stares at him. "Can I have a drink of water?" His voice is keen and even. It's all of twelve years old. "I'm getting real thirsty."
"Just a few questions, son. We'll have plenty of time for drinks afterward. If you're good, if you answer all the questions truthfully, we might even chip in for a soda." Campbell's smile reaches his eyes and stops. "Do you understand why you're here?" he asks gently.
A little shrug. "No. Nobody told me anything. I heard something bad happened to Emily Robertson... Something real bad."
"You got that right. Do you know what happened to her?"
"I told you no. Where's mom? She could tell you."
"I'm sure she could." Campbell is alert as a faint smile trickles onto the boy's lips. The green-blue eyes remain steady, like pools of calm water. Campbell imagines shaking the boy, spilling the water onto the table, where it could be collected as forensic evidence or strained for the truth. But for now their secrets remain hidden, deep below surface.
Campbell wonders how his partner is doing.
Lewis cracks his knuckles loudly before sitting down. The girl doesn't respond. She looks up at him, then to a corner of the room, as if there is something more interesting there. The naked bulb causes unpleasant feedback in Lewis's skull. Pain hums uneasily where the bottle bit, last night, with the girl. Always with the girl. Lewis rubs at his temples and the girl subject turns back. Watching.
She's from the same immaculate mould as her brother. Same golden hair, same pool-green eyes. She wears a white dress with a heart stitched on the sleeve. Cute, Lewis thinks, real fucking cute. The eyes are framed with generous dark lashes that set Lewis's sharp teeth on edge. He smiles hardbites down on the smile as if it were a bullet. It's time to play the game.
"Do you know what your brother was doing last Wednesday?" he asks. "Was he playing ball with his friends? Computer games? Do you remember?"
The little girl flips her hair back with a dimpled hand. Her eyes are straight ahead now, gazing into Lewis's amber stare. "I don't really remember. I was on the phone with a friend, and I-"
"Yeah. we know. We talked to her. She said she couldn't recall your conversation."
"What does 'recall' mean?"
"It's a fancy way of saying 'remember'. She doesn't remember talking to you on the phone that night, angel."
"Oh. Well," the girl says, tilting her head. She stays that way for almost half a minute, with her shoulders tipped delicately back and her face to the ceiling. Her braids fall across her shoulders like beams of light. Lewis's fingers itch. "Maybe she's just forgetful," he suggests. "Was your brother in the house?"
The girl flashes a grin. It looks alien for a moment and Lewis opens his mouth in shock. Then it's gone and the little girl is sitting across from him with a puzzled look on her face. He tries to speak. Nothing comes out. His equilibrium returns a second later, but he is wary now. He pushes the mask down and continues the interrogation. The show must go on.
The boy's eyes widen. "With a butcher knife?"
"No. With a screwdriver." Campbell doesn't like talking about it to this boy. He feels dirty and ashamed. Little boys of twelve shouldn't be hearing things like this, especially not this one. The blue-green eyes are already getting darker. Campbell curses himself for revealing the murder weapon. He feels he should care more, but the monotonous room dampens his self-rage.
The crystal voice of the boy brings him back.
"How many times?"
Campbell hesitates. He senses something is wrong. Little boys don't ask questions like that, not when it's someone they know. The question is not even one of surprise. It floats across the table smoothly, as if on gimbals. He turns back to the subject.
"Why would you want to know something like that? Is the number important to you?" Campbell is suddenly on his guard. Something in the little room has shifted. Perhaps it's the lighting. The bulbs have been known to short out once in a while.
"I'm just curious. Emily was our best friend. I want to help you find out who did it, so I'm asking for clues," the boy says calmly. Campbell cannot force himself to turn away this time. Campbell is thinking of his wife, and how she moved her arm when she combed her hair in the mirror. When he found out about the affair, he threw the mirror out the window. It shattered. He still doesn't know who it was.
"Six times," Campbell says, or thinks he does. He feels sick. He wants this to be over. The boy nods once, as if he understands.
"He was in the house, I think. His bike still had the tarp over it when I came downstairs. The TV was on. It was on the Sports channel, I remember that, because they were talking about some stupid basketball thing."
"You don't like basketball?"
"No, it's stupid and I hate it. Sports are lame."
"But your brother is into sports."
The girl tilts her head. Lewis almost tilts too, a sattelitesatellite dish turning in vain to catch the same signal. The pause this time is short. "Yes. He loves sports." The grin does not appear.
Lewis leaves the girl in the room and goes next door. He knocks. A second later Campbell appears. A brief conference with the children, still separated, takes but a minute. The two men walk down the hall to where a water cooler and some vending machines stand against the wall. The sterility of the two square rooms follows them like smoke.
"How far you get?" Lewis slams a quarter into the machine. He watches the Coke begin its slow gyration to the receptacle at the bottom. His eyes are flat and watchful.
"Nothing. The kid is locked up tight. But then it's only the introductory stages; I don't think we've tested their full strength yet. It's hard to tell how long he'll hold out, but I suspect it might be longer than some of the adults we've had crawling through here."
"Yeah, like that pussy Jagger. Went around calling himself the 'Machine', shit, he was a grown man in diapers."
"With a shotgun, though."
The two men are silent. They think of the blue-green eyes, the blonde hair. Every strand identical. The little girl in one room, the little boy in the other. Lewis picks up the Coke. Sniffs it. "You think they had anything to do with it?" Meaning the Robertson girl. The slaughter in the bedroom. No prints or forensic evidence.
"Yes." The reply is immediate.
"Makes you so sure?" Lewis doesn't mention the girl's grin. Or what she said before that. He's not sure why it's so important to keep that a secret.
Campbell looks troubled. He's holding a styrofoam cup which he has yet to fill. He bends to the task, and thinks abruptly of dandelions. He straightens. Lewis gives his partner an odd look.
The twins are still sitting when they return. They sit like mannequins, elegantly posed. Lewis brings the boy his water, and Campbell brings the girl the Coke. Switch off. A mediocre sacrifice. The boy looks at the tiny cup doubtfully, and the girl pops the tab with hesitation. There is a long pause before either of them drink. The two policemen make a note of this, and the dance begins anew.
"I want the other guy. He was nicer," the boy sulks. Lewis cracks his knuckles, a preliminary signature. The drab room expands and contracts around his head. The dim light screeches in his skull. He shuts the boy down with his glare, leans forward on the table. Makes himself menacing.
"Listen, kid, there's a little girl out there in a body bag because of someone. A psycho. We don't know who. We're not trying to bug you, we're just looking for some answers. Your sister said you might have some clues as to who did it."
"Did she?" A slim eyebrow raises. "What else did she say?"
It's a ploy to stall time. Lewis knows this, and smiles. "You weren't in the house that night, were you? Going out with some friends, maybe? Where were you going?"
"I wasn't with my friends."
"But you weren't in the house?"
The boy is silent. Lewis presses on with a grim determination. It doesn't matter how young they are. What matters is how quickly it takes for them to say it. One they say it, they will be broken, and Lewis will be free to roam the streets one more. He asks again.
The boy starts slowly. "I... Wasn't in the house. I was in the garage, with my model airplanes. I have an F7F Tigercat and a Focke-Wulf. You can go see for yourself if you don't believe me."
"I believe you," Lewis says. He does, too. They found the toys on a workbench with the boy's fingerprints all over them. They also found a screwdriver collection on the wall. A complete set. Just high enough for small fingers to reach with the help of a stool.
They never did find the murder weapon.
The boy is picking absently at a dry spot on his neck. He looks bored. The styrofoam cup sits emptily on the table between them two. The rim is faintly perforated faintly with an indent of the boy's teeth. Lewis stares at it.
The boy speaks, finally. "If you're not going to ask me any more questions, can I go? I didn't do anything to her. I was in the garage when it happened."
Lewis opens his hooded eyes triumphantly. The boy is just a boy, after all. "When would you say you were in the garage?" he asks softly. "That night you were working on your planes."
"I. Didn't say." A pause. Some spittle on the styrofoam glistens as Lewis waits. "I don't really remember. I was up till nine thirty, maybe ten. Then I went to bed." The small shoulders go up and down. The head tilts in disdain. "My mom is pretty strict about when we go to bed, so I decided it'd be for the better. She worries about our health, you see-"
"We asked your mother. She said she didn't hear you going upstairs," Lewis lies. "Does she usually make sure you're in bed before curfew? Does she come upstairs, tuck you in, give you a goodnight kiss?"
Lewis's sneers turn to red on the boy's cheeks, much to the policeman's delight. The small fingers, still until this point, twist abruptly like snakes in a garden. The boy says, quietly, "Mom worries about us too much. She thinks someday we'll pull a trick on her, us being twins and all. That's why she cut our hair different, and bought us clothes from different stores."
Is there a hint of resentment in the flat voice? Lewis leans forward, cautious of a slight ripple in the blue-green eyes. The boy continues, unwavering. "Mom doesn't trust us. Neither did dad. He told her not to, I know. It was the last thing he said to her."
"Your dad's gone now, isn't he."
"He went to Alberta." The eyes slide upwards to meet Lewis's. The blue-green color is still there, but the ripples have spread. Waves are beginning to form in the distance. Lewis hears the unmistakable cry of a seagull, and for the first time is afraid.
"Did you hear that?"
Campbell startles himself with his own voice. He twists in his seat, head cocked. The little girl watches impassively. "Hear what?"
"That sound. Like a bird. Coming from..." Campbell feels something coming break apart in his stomach and he sways, clutching at the frictionless table. The Coke trembles. Somewhere, sometime not long ago, his wife fucked a stranger in the darkness. He can smell their rutting as if they'd been in this room not half an hour ago. The exposed lightbulb would have watched them with its Cyclopean eye, greedily dim.
The girl is watching the ceiling again. Campbell struggles to regain himself. He reaches a hand towards the girl, then thinks better of it. He races to think of a question to save himself with. Above, the lightbulb flickers imperceptibly. "Your neighbour. Emily. Did you play with her, often?"
"I played with her," the girl says. She sounds like she's responding to a different question. Campbell's agile mind picks this up. You're very good, he tells himself. You can beat them. He asks her, "What did you play?"
"With dolls and stuff. Barbies, mostly. We stopped playing together after the third grade. It got to be so stupid."
Campbell thinks of his eldest daughter and how her absence walks his apartment with silent feet. "Why was it stupid?"
"She didn't like the way I played. I had more Barbies than she did. She thought she was better than I was because mine all looked the same. I liked them that way. All pretty and perfect... Not like real people." She wrinkles her nose.
"Do you think real people are stupid too?"
"Real people suck."
An image bursts halogen bright in Campbell's head. His wife, on her knees, mouth forming a crimson O as she leans in towards the stranger sitting on the bed- the smell of used smoke across her tongue- twin smiles in the dark before her lips close on-
The lightbulb pops. A momentary spark flits away and Campbell hears himself cry out in the rushing darkness. He bangs his thigh coming out of his seat and curses. The little girl says nothing, does nothing. She does not even yelp.
Lewis opens his door. An agonized Campbell stumbles nearly into his arms, knocking both men into the wall. Campbell is clutching his leg and gasping things under his breath. Lewis catches "bastard", "motherfucker" and "whore" among the jumble. He ducks back into the room with a warning for the boy to stay put, then grasps his partner firmly by the arm and marches back down the corridor.
"What happened? What the fuck's the matter with you?" Lewis hisses. His head has swollen with the hangover. In the middle of the pain, like a vein of clear quartz in the belly of a dying animal, a seagull utters its plaintive cris the acute smell of sea salty. Lewis shakes his head, shakes his partner. "Talk to me!"
Campbell pushes Lewis away with force that stuns them both. Their minor struggle echoes mutely across the sound-dampened walls. They approach each other slowly, n. Not knowing how close to the edge the other is. The dingy walls and fluorescent calm serve to numb their senses. They turn away. Straightening ties.
Lewis goes first. "The brother slipped," he says flatly. His large hands grip the cloth around his neck and pull restlessly. "Mother is the weak point. He doesn't seem too fond of her attempts to split the two up, know what I mean?. Classic identical siblings, neither wants anyone to come near them. Where'd you get?"
Campbell doesn't say anything for a while. His words, when they finally come, are reluctant. "The sister had some kind of fall-out with Emily sometime during second grade. Over some Barbie dolls. Emily had more of 'em, seems to have had some kind of superiority complex. Pissed her off, apparently."
"So what happened?"
The way Campbell twists his head is familiar. So is the long pause. Lewis decides to say nothing.
Campbell speaks slowly, as if trying to convince himself. "The lightbulb blew up in room five. I gotta get it replaced before I go back in there."
"Oh. Okay. I'll hold down the fort. Coupla kids, shouldn't be much of a problem..." Lewis tries to laugh. Something in Campbell's face makes the joke stick in his throat. That's strange. Campbell has never killed before, but Lewis sees something familiar in those once mild eyes. Then they turn away from him, and they are just two men standing awkwardly next to a vending machine.
Campbell leaves, and Lewis goes back to the interrogation rooms. The little girl is standing half in, half out of the doorway. "There's glass all over the floor," she whispers, pointing behind herself. He looks over the girl's head. There's a chair lying on its side, and the Coke has tipped over. A dark puddle gapes under the charred fragments of the light fixture. The liquid has spread to the edge of the table. Droplets hit the hard floor with a steady rhythm.
drip drip drip drip
Lewis pushes fists into his pounding scalp. The narrow corridor fish-eyes around him, ballooning in titumne with the drippinfalling Coke. He glances down, almost helplessly. The little girl is looking past him, down the hall to where the other room lies open. Her eyes are wide.
Lewis walks over there, peers in to make sure the little mannequin is sitting neatly still with his hands folded, and shuts the door. He grins without joyjoylessly. "Wanting to see your brother, huh? Well, we're not done with you two yet. You haven't answered all of our questions, have you? We've been nice, haven't we? Don't you think it's time we got a little politeness in return?"
The little girl says nothing. She stares at the closed door as if nothing has changed. Lewis keeps talking, finding that he can't stop. AfterwardsLater, he can't remember if he had said it out loud, or if it had all been in his head. "See, I think it's time to cut the bullshit. We all know you know how it happened. Your mother goddamn nearly turned you in herself, said she didn't know where the hell you were the night Emily Robertson got stabbed multiple times in the face and chest cavity not twenty feet from your house. With a screwdriver. So you can quit it with the Miss Innocence act, because as far as me and Campbell are concerned, you and your brother are guilty as sin. Twelve year-old fucking twins, goddamn, the rags are gonna be all over this one. You try and run, they'll cut you down with a byline and a sentence. Long as I can make it. I promise you."
It is almost half an hour later when Campbell returns. His hands and hair are dusty and he's wearing a different jacket. He stares for a long moment at Lewis and the little girl as they sit against the wall, in isolation together. The Coke has been wiped away, the chair placed upright, the glass disposed of without incident. The silence is broken by a steady pounding from down the hallway.
"Lemme out! I gotta pee!"
Lewis gets up and lopes over, unlocks the door. The brother jumps out, red-faced. He and Lewis disappear around the corner. The event is muted. Almost formal. Campbell turns to the little girl with eyes that glitter.
He thrusts a hand into a pocket, draws out a new 100-watt bulb. There is still a bulge in his other pocket. If the girl notices, she says nothing. The light that re-enters the room after the bulb is replaced seems no less dingy than the previous one. The room is restored.
Lewis and the boy come back. The dolls are placed back in their original positions, sitting in the chairs, facing one another under the two bulbs in the two rooms. Two pairs of blue-green eyes wait. One last song.
"You didn't like Emily, because she thought she was better than you. She was a snob, in other words. Did your brother feel the same way?"
"She liked him, always did. She was always trying to phone him and stuff like that. It was so sad. We both thought she needed to be taught a lesson. "
"What kind of a lesson?"
"Something that would make her leave us alone. We didn't want to hurt her. We just wanted her to leave, like dad."
Like dad. The words throb horribly in Lewis's mind. The hangover is arching its back over him, making him falter. His hands press against his temples, nape, eyes, trying to squeeze out the pain. As he feels the little girl's gaze touch him, the searing light behind his eyelids seems to crackle. He moantries to stop the moans.
"Is there something wrong?" The question is cool, unhurried. Her pale fingers undo a clasp from her braid. Lewis watches in rising horror. She holds the tiny plastic gewgaw between thumb and forefinger and, with mechanical speedprecision, begins tapping it against the side of the table.
The nerves in Lewis's brain seem to flare with each tap, each spark more agonizing than the last. His hands move to his throat again, to the noose of cloth. His throat works for a question. "You wanted her to move? You didn't want her to take your brother away. So you made her leave for good." Reid method. Remember the Reid method. The blue-green eyes hover disembodied above the wavering table. "Did you do it because she was coming between you and your brother? Or because she was a snob? You can tell me, you won't get your brother in trouble if it was just your idea all along..."
"It was both our idea." Tap. Tap. Tap.
"You just wanted people to leave you two alone. Why couldn't they understand that, right? They spoil everything, is that it?" Lewis wants to die. His tongue rots and balloons in his mouth. The room flushes with grey, than sharpens. Again and again. He tries to stop, doesn't quite make it. The noise he makes is like a cat pleading for mercy. Like a seagull over blue-green waters.
Campbell slouches in his seat. His eyes are rimmed red. He stares up at the new lightbulb, then at the boy. The afterimage of the bulb, burned into his retina, sears the boy's face. Worms of light crawl across his vision and flick away. His hand moves, unconsciously, towards his pocket.
Suddenly the boy smiles. "Your friend doesn't like noise, does he?"
"Well. He's. Just a little fragile in that respect..." Campbell thinks a few months ago, he would never have let the subject push him around. He would have been hard, like he should be. He would have said, "Maybe he does. maybe he doesn't. Let's talk about your dislikes, son. Do you like it when people tell you what to do? Do you like going to bed early? How about Emily Robertson, did you like her?"
A few months ago, he would have never let the method of the murder slip. Not to mention the weapon. It was the brother in the bedroom with the screwdriver. Campbell closes his eyes, feeling the uncomfortable chair press into his spine. His eyelids flutter.
The boy is still talking. "He's not fragile about other things, though. Like threatening little girls. He doesn't care about that, does he?"
"He cares about a lot of things. He's a policeman. He knows what he's doing."
"Know what you're doing."
"I should. I. Let's talk about something else." Campbell shudders. He wishes there was a bottle on the table. Something dark and cool. Something he could drown himself in. "Emily. Your dad. How're they doing?"
The boy laughs. "Emily's dead, or so you've been saying. With a screwdriver, right? My dad's in Alberta, doing what he does best."
Campbell teeters. Nearly falls. He leans dangerously over the armless chair, head hanging down. He stares into the abyss. Then he is balanced, and the abyss looks away. "You shouldn't talk like thatabout your father like that." Campbell nearly grins in a moment of weakness. "Have some respect for the deceased."
The boy's face twists subtly. The fair cheeks, the full lips, barely move. But there is a shift. Like the new lightbulb in the other room, where his twin sister taps away unerringly, nothing has changed. But something has.
Lewis looks up. His pupils are dark points like the narrow end of a telescope. They expand and contract with each hollow tap of the hair clasp against the table. He closes his eyes, mumbles something. He's not sure what. The little girl responds in that cool way, slender little wrist arching up and down as Lewis's thoughts writhe.
He opens his eyes for a moment and is met with blinding yellow.
The table is covered in a sea of dandelions, swaying in an unseen breeze. A slender hand reaches into his field of vision. Plucks a graying plant. The hand brings the dandelion to a face. A pale face, fringed with wispy red hair. The eyes crinkle in a smile, and her pursed lips scatter seed across the blue-green sky.
David, the mouth moves. Silent in a blue-green world. David, come over here.
The scene doesn't change. The woman keeps talking, though there is nobody but Lewis to hear her.
Look at this. Three seeds left. The hand goes up again to show him the proof. Three graying dandelion seeds remain intact on the stem. Bright laughter. That's how many we'll have together, David. They'll call me Mrs. Campbell when I go to work. Won't that be funny? This last said without mirth. Almost a morbid curiosity. Lewis gets half out of his chair to try and stop the images, to smother the laughing woman in his palms. Her sweet scent.
Lewis hesitates. He is half out of a metal chair in a square room under a naked bulb. Across from the small table sits a little girl with one braid undone, in whose blue-green eyes drift the fading vision of a dandelion field. A puff of breath, and it's gone. That wasn't a little girl's voice he'd heard. Lewis wonders if he is hallucinating, if the headache has finally split his mind apart like an atom.
The girl's grin is hideously innocent. Her delicate hands raise the plastic clasp, hovering, with a torturer's medieval delight. "You were asking me about my brother?" she asks. The clasp comes down.
Lewis hears the sound of a seagull. He screams with it.
David, the mouth moves. The lips are chapped now, and the red hair is aging into the frail grey of a dandelion seed. It's a female voice. Weary. Defeated. What about David?
Campbell twists, hearings the roar of the surf beyond thin walls. The wallpaper hangs is crooked. The smeared window covers itself behind wilting curtains, masking the neon glow flickeringthat waits just outside, blinking persistently: THE WHARFBIRD MOTEL. The A of wharfbird and the O of motel are missing. Though the sea remains hidden, he knows it will be a deep blue-green, from horizon to sand to horizon.
Above the cracked ceiling, the building's namesakes wheel noisily.
A voice answers the first. It's a male voice this time. Low. Persuasive. Don't worry about Campbell. He's too busy with work to pay attention to us. Or even just you, from what you've told me...
He's dedicated. A rustle of clothing. Breasts, once the color of moon-bleached conch, fall out of her bra like sacks of meal. Rough hands come up to caress them.
He's obsessed. Count the nights he spends away. It adds up, don't it? He'd rather spend time in the company of killers and child molesters than his own wife.
The sinews of Campbell's neck show themselves in abrupt relief. He clenches his fists on a tabletop that is no longer there. Outside, two seagulls watch with dead blue-green eyes. Each feather identical.
So what does that say about you?
It's just a job. The hands grope and claw, and the woman begins sliding to her knees. A naked bulb shudders overhead. We're just partners. Office buddies, really. God knows I'd rather be here every week than spend overtime with that workaholic son of a... Oh yeah, that's it, that's the fucking ticket.
And after that all is just noise and piercing through it the sound of the gulls, crying, pleading, coaxing Campbell out of his seat. He grapples blindly with the table before lurching away, through the door. A small blonde head turns mildly as Campbell makes his exit.
Down the hall, he hears a seagull cry out. A seagull with cold amber eyes, with calloused hands and huge dark wings that cover the moon. His hand goes down smoothly and comes up in a perfect arc. For one moment he expects there to be a dandelion in his hand. Grey, fragile. But then it grows larger and hardens stiff against his palm, a black phallic thing, one-eyed and unnatural.
The door opens and Lewis tumbles out, clutching his head. His words bleat crazily over the sound of the surf.
"We have to get the fuck out," he gasps. "Campbell, we gotta get away from these kids. There's something fucking abnormal about them. They get into your head, and they-. They know things the other knows, they can- talk... They killed the father dad, those two, they did it because he got too close, but before he kicked it he told the mother somehow and the Robertson girl got it too, we'll both get it the same way if we don't fucking leave rig-"
Lewis stops at the sight of the gun. "Davi-" he says as it goes off.
Feathers explode over Campbell's vision. They start out white, but as more of them fall, they get redder until the whole floor of the hall looks coated in themlooks like a red carpet. There's more blood than Campbell thought such a small bird could hold. Dimly, he hears a dull thud as something heavy hits the floor. Then fluorescent silence.
He turns at a noise and sees the girl and the boy coming out of their respective rooms. The girl's braids are back in place. They look freshly scrubbed and happy to stretch their young limbs. He tries to remember how many hours it had been. Five? Ten? The boy smiles at him as they come closer.
"Are we free to go?"
Campbell slowly turns his head. Lewis's body lies stretched out on the smeared linoleum. It's fallen against the wall at an awkward angle and the head hangs over to one side. Dark liquid trickles from the hole over Lewis's left eye and drips onto the floor.
drip drip drip drip
"He doesn't have a headache anymore," the little girl points out.
Campbell drops the gun. It falls with an anti-climactic thunk.
"I think you two had better get home," he whispers. His throat burns and it hurts to talk. "It's almost ten. Your mother has a curfew. She's very strict about it."
The boy's eyes gleam along with his sister's. "How did you know?"
"A little bird told me."
Afterwards, Campbell slid down the wall next to his former partner and watched the twins leave the building. They walked hand in hand away from him, never looking back with those strange blue-green eyes. As they crossed over into a fluorescent-brightly lit patch of hall, their small figures darkened until they looked like cut-outs of black paper. Exactly the same. Every last detail.
A complete set.