Chapter Six – Revelations
Pandora Smith was just your average office-worker. She answered phones, did endless amounts of filing and wrote memos. That was her job and she did it with an almost brutal efficiency.
This same efficiency, she carried with her to all other areas of her life. Pandora had something of an inability to go without organising her life within an inch of self-destruction. Her apartment was always tidied to precision, without a thing out of line. Even her appearance spoke of a harsh and ruthless order, with her blonde hair pinned tightly up on her head and her makeup always perfectly applied. Her suits were always well-pressed and she made sure to never wear tights that had laddered.
Pandora liked order.
She didn't like surprises.
That was why Pandora was scowling heavily as she read the text, already planning on what to pack.
They've taken one.
It was vague to anyone else reading it, but to Pandora, there was only really one thing that the text could mean. And that meaning was enough to turn even the best of days into a terrible disaster.
Pandora threw her phone onto her perfectly made bed as she entered her room. Surrounded on all sides by beige walls with little decoration apart from various holiday photos, Pandora threw open her wardrobe. Not even glancing at their design, she grabbed articles of clothing down from the hangers, tore them off the shelves and threw them at the empty overnight bag that sat at the foot of her bed.
One hand reaching for underwear, the other reaching for her mobile, Pandora hurriedly checked the calendar pinned above her chest of draws, making a note of which appointments she would have to cancel. Her eyes fell down to the top of the dresser, where her makeup case lay. For a second, Pandora seemed to consider, then she shook her head, drew away from the chest of draws and hit speed-dial on her mobile.
The phone began to ring.
"Walter?" she said into the receiver, pressing the phone against her shoulder with her ear so she could free up another hand.
There was a pause and the sound of some sheets being moved around before Walter yawned down the phone.
"What is it?"came his reply.
"I got a text from Red," Pandora said, taking a pair of socks out of her draw and chucking them at her bag.
"What did it say?" Walter asked, more alert now.
Pandora left the bedroom, walking through to the bathroom and grabbing her wash-kit. As she threw it into her bag, she sighed.
"Three words: they've taken one."
Pandora pressed the phone closer to her ear, listening for a reply. She could hear the sounds of the springs of Walter's bed creaking as he rolled out of it.
"Where?" he asked eventually.
Pandora zipped her bag shut brutally, slinging it over her shoulder and backing out of her bedroom.
"Where else?" she asked. "Port Rise. Make sure Simon knows. He's going to want a piece of this."
Walter replied in affirmative and Pandora hung up the phone. She tucked it in her pocket before finding a pair of baseball boots and tying them to her feet. Packing complete, Pandora kicked open the door from her apartment, not even waiting to hear it latch behind her as she made her way out onto the landing.
Pandora knelt down on the tiled floor, checking her laces. She stared critically across the empty landing, her eyes calculating every last dimension. Then, she backed up the hallway, nodding to herself.
She closed her eyes.
When she opened them, they were black.
Pandora ran full pelt at the stairs, pushing off with her foot into a jump. Then, her image shimmered, before disappearing completely.
Iris stared, her eyes tracing over the figure's features. Ginger, unruly hair, a face adorned with countless freckles, and brown eyes: it was the creepy watching kid. He looked mysterious, majestic even, as he stood in the moonlight, his face barely visible in the glow.
Iris narrowed her eyes.
"So, you were a Thread Cutter," she said neutrally. "I did always think there was something off about you." She paused, remembering his name. "Kieran Evans."
Kieran looked at Iris. She stared back.
They remained like that, at an impasse, until, without warning, Iris lunged at him, her dagger drawn from its sheath. Kieran found himself held at knife-point, a beautiful dagger held to his throat.
"What the hell do you want?" Iris demanded, hissing in his ear.
"I just," Kieran said, struggling against her grip. "I just want to talk."
Iris tightened her grip on her dagger. Her eyes narrowed dangerously.
"Talk," she commanded.
"As comfortable as this position is—"
Iris pressed the dagger slightly harder against his neck.
"Talk," she repeated.
"You tried to kill my best friend," Kieran said, as if it stated something else.
"Yes," Iris said. "Is that all?"
"No," Kieran said hurriedly. "Look, I'm not your enemy! I'm on your side!"
"Funny," Iris commented. "I don't believe you."
There was silence for a while, before Kieran spoke up.
"I know about Them," he said.
Iris froze, momentarily losing her footing. Then, she snorted.
"Of course you do," she stated calmly. "I'd be surprised if you didn't. You are, after all, a Thread Cutter."
"No," Kieran said softly, recognising that he had his in. "I know about what they did to you." Iris's blood ran cold at that sentence. Kieran continued, "How old were you when They marked you?"
Iris froze, for real this time. Her muscles tensed and she gripped harder on her dagger.
"What did you just say?" she hissed.
"I asked you how old you were," Kieran stated. "You know, when they marked you as Theirs?"
Iris closed her eyes slowly, if only for a second. She cast her mind back and thought it over, before she opened her mouth and spoke.
"I was thirteen," she informed him dully.
Iris stared down at her collar-bone. There, burned into the skin in black ink, was an angular swirl. It was a brand. It marked her as Theirs. She would have hated it if she could.
"Thirteen?" Kieran repeated. "Thirteen, as in one, three – thirteen?"
Iris said nothing.
The next string of words that came out of Kieran's mouth were unrepeatable.
Thirteen. Thirteen was young. Thirteen was too young. Thirteen was far too young. At thirteen, you should be laughing with your friends, barely thinking about which GCSEs you wanted to take. You shouldn't be making deals with Them at age thirteen.
"Iris," Kieran said, his tone softer now. "Please put down the dagger. I want to help you."
"You can't help me, Kieran Evans," Iris replied softly. "No one can."
Pandora's entire body seemed to crumple upon impact with the ground, her bag thumping to the ground beside her. With a heavy sigh, Pandora heaved herself up. Thirteen years. Thirteen years of playing around with her powers and still, she had yet to master landing correctly.
As she dusted herself off, Pandora's well-trained eyes traced the landmarks of her location. She was standing at a Y-junction, with a bus-stop behind her, a church to her left and a row of village stores proceeding away from her right. A dusty sign by the bus stop told her that she was standing on Portchurch Street.
Pandora smiled and fished her phone out of her pocket.
"Walter? Yeah, I'm here…"
"No one's without help, Iris," Kieran whispered.
He brought a hand up and rested it on the dagger at his throat. That action alone made Iris tense, but Kieran ignored it.
"No one," he repeated, "and especially not you. Iris, I want to help you. Just put the dagger down."
One by one, Kieran began to pluck Iris's fingers off the dagger. Iris didn't resist. One… Two…
"Put the dagger down!"
Iris's entire hand tensed back up, her fingers securing themselves back around the dagger. She pulled Kieran closer to her, drawing the dagger up closer to his neck.
Standing at the entrance to the warehouse, gun drawn, poised to take a shot, was a woman. She had long blonde hair that was pulled up into a severe bun and was dressed in a skirt suit, with a pair of baseball boots on her feet. Her arms were tensed and she levelled the handgun in her hand at Iris with a confidence that suggested she was overtly familiar with it.
"Put the dagger down and drop Kieran, or so help me, I'll shoot!"
"Put the gun down," Iris replied, her voice void of emotion, "or I'll slit Kieran's throat."
The woman pulled the trigger. A shot went off, the bullet whistling past Iris's ear.
"I wasn't joking," the woman stated. "Put the dagger down and release Kieran. Next time, I'll hit."
Iris looked down the barrel of the gun fearlessly. Slowly, reluctantly, she withdrew the dagger from Kieran's neck. The ginger boy let out an involuntary breath and stumbled as Iris pushed him away.
The blonde woman smirked.
"Put the dagger down," she commanded.
Iris's movements were almost lethargic as she stretched out her arm and released her dagger from her palm. The blade clattered to the ground, Iris's eyes tracing it, seemingly unconcerned. She closed her eyes.
The blonde woman withdrew a cable tie from her waistband and threw it onto the ground in front of Iris.
"Tie your hands together with that," the woman told Iris.
Iris was unresponsive.
Kieran looked up from rubbing his neck at Iris. His eyes widened.
"Pan!" he called, pushing himself to his feet, but he knew it was too late.
Iris opened her eyes.
Without warning, the blonde woman's gun exploded in her hand. She screeched in pain, shakily drawing her hand closer to her, staring in horror at the pieces of metal imbedded in her palm. Blood began to seep out of the wounds, splattering to the ground beneath her.
Iris had barely moved. She threw an uncaring glance at the blonde woman, before turning to Kieran.
Adrenaline coursed through Kieran's veins. In a situation like this, there was no talking his way out of everything. It was do-or-die.
Kieran's hands flew to his ankle, reaching up his trouser leg and withdrawing a gun. Before he could shoot, the gun dissolved into dust in Kieran's hands, slipping through his fingers. Panic written across his face, Kieran watched Iris as she walked forward, her dagger miraculously retrieved and sitting in her palm.
Every last litre of Kieran's blood ran cold.
Iris drew closer. Her eyes were a soulless black.
He couldn't breathe.
He couldn't see.
He was going to die.
The shot rang throughout the warehouse.
And Iris crumpled to the ground in front of Kieran.
Taking in deep, ragged lungfuls of air, Kieran looked up past Iris at the two men standing behind her.
One of the men had dyed navy-blue hair that reached shoulder length when it wasn't tied up in a loose pony-tail like it was here. His arm was outstretched, levelling a handgun at where Iris had just been standing. The other man had natural dishwater blond hair that was cropped short and also had a gun drawn, although his was just held loosely in his hand. They both looked somewhat dishevelled, like they had just rolled out of bed and thrown on some clothes.
The navy-haired one lowered his gun. He grinned at Kieran.
"Sorry I'm late, Red."
© Copyright 2013 Mari Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
Hello all my fearless readers!
I wrote this in between revising, which is why it seems a bit rough. I was sat there thinking "Kellogg-Briand, 1928, Washington Conference, 1921" while writing this, so you know. This comes without a warranty.
Be honest: how many of you saw it being Kieran coming?
I hope you enjoy this chapter - I enjoyed writing it. The whole Iris gets shot thing, I'll say this now, I didn't see coming. But, alas, in the end, it was the only way that I could plausibly tie this chapter together. Next chapter should be a long one, because I've increased the amount of characters.
What you can look forward to:
- A bit of background on Pandora and Kieran.
- Who is Walter? Who is Simon?
- Why did they shoot Iris?
And lastly, (hopefully) the question you all want answered: What, exactly, is a Thread Cutter?
Over and out,
PS: Please review. I try to return the favour, but things are pretty hectic at the moment. I will always, however, reply if I can. I like discussing things with my readers. :P