“They killed him, there was a body, they’re going to kill me—”
Wednesday night, 1 April 2009, AM
GM: It’s too late to be awake when Emmett’s phone buzzes.
Emmett: Em’s trying to sleep. He’s trying really hard to sleep. He’s trying super hard to sleep. He should sleep. There’s absolutely no reason to be awake, or alive, or even sentient. He’s facedown in the bed and everything.
But for some reason, it just isn’t taking.
Oh, well. Time for another line off his dresser.
Then his phone buzzes.
Okay, he can do that too.
He lets it ring a few times. He doesn’t want to seem desperate. Finishes his line.
Then he picks up. Like a moment before it would go to voicemail.
Support: “Em, Em, I need you, please, help, there are these things—” none of it makes sense. Celia’s words come out in a rush, tumbling over each other.
Emmett: “Wait, wait what. Where are you.”
He can hear the fan in the next room slicing through the air, shh-shhh-shhing. He thinks he can hear the dust bunnies under his bed fucking. He’s turned the light off, but everything’s still too bright.
“Things?” he asks, lamely.
Support: “Marigny,” she gets out, somewhere amidst the chaos of the rest of what she’s spewing. “They killed someone, they killed him, there was a body, they’re going to kill me, they know who I am—” she struggles to breathe. “Please, Em.”
Emmett: “I’m coming,” he says, instantly. “Find me an intersection, I’ll tell you where to go and I’ll meet you in a car.”
He’s sprinting towards his door, grabbing keys to the car he bought as an impulse a month ago.
I don’t know if I’m fucked up enough for this.
Support: “Dauphine,” she gets out, “and Frenchman. There’s a—there’s a park.”
Emmett: “Get to that park and cross it. You should see Rampart. I’ll meet you there. Five minutes. You’ll make it. Okay?”
His engine turns over.
He knows these streets. He remembers the last time he drove them in the middle of the night, the other time things went completely to shit.
There was a screaming girl then, too.
Tonight won’t be like that.
He drives almost as fast as he thinks.
He drives the empty streets, his phone on speaker in his lap. Beneath the starless sky, the city could belong to ghosts.
He talks to her as he drives. Asks her to describe where she is, asks about landmarks, tries to keep her calm.
It isn’t so long before his car rounds the corner, headlights bright and searching.
But it feels like a lifetime. Maybe hers.
Support: She’s a completely frozen silhouette when the pair of headlights swing past. When she sees Em behind the wheel, she doesn’t so much climb in as she does fall, tripping over her own feet in her haste to get in the car. She tells begs, really him to drive.
Emmett: He drives, and he drives fast.
When they’re inside he walks her to the couch, the same one they sprawled over just hours ago.
Support: She doesn’t say anything until they’re securely locked inside his apartment and he can see, for the first time, her wide, rolling eyes, unkempt hair, swollen lips. Her face is striped with tear tracks that cut through her foundation, black streaks of mascara, and something red. An ill-fitting man’s suit jacket is hanging off of her shoulders, and even though she holds it closed with one hand and a press of her arms, it still gapes open at her stomach. There’s nothing underneath. The pants threaten to slide down her legs with every step, and her bare feet poke out from the bottom. She smells like sex and blood and fear.
She can’t even get the words out.
Emmett: He looks her over once, his pupils too big again. There’s some muted shock and concern in his eyes, but what might strike Celia the most is the resigned familiarity of his expression.
This has happened before.
You’re bad seed, says Ron’s voice.
He starts a kettle boiling for tea. He almost never drinks it himself, but its good to have.
He sits down with her on the couch, listens to her trying to explain.
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m really sorry.”
For hurting you. For making you walk into a real horror movie.
Detective Em, to the rescue.
“I have—there’s a shower.”
“Some panties and a dress and stuff, for—you know.”
She can wear his whoring clothes, he doesn’t say.
He makes sure she sees him lock the door, and draw a heavy deadbolt across it.
Support: She lets him lead her around, over to the couch, clutches the mug of tea between her hands. Draws her knees up to her chest. Her shoulders hunch inward, as though folding under blows.
“They killed him,” she finally gets out. “And they they wanted to there was blood everywhere, so much blood, and they were yelling, and I went out the window, and she pulled me back in, and they tried to she touched me.”
Her body shudders. There’s more that’s unsaid.
“It’s his suit,” she looks down at it, eyes wide, “he’s dead and I took it and he was on the couch and there was so much blood.”
Emmett: “Okay,” he says. “You’re safe now. You’re safe.”
Murder. Rape. Bodies. All of it so, so familiar.
“Where… where did things go wrong?” he asks. “We don’t have to talk about it, if it hurts to. Or you can. I… I’m so sorry I made you leave.”
Maybe she can blame him. That might make her feel better.
Support: She tells him that she’s not safe. They know who she is. They saw her ID. She can’t go home, they went through her purse, that they saw her license, her address, her real name. She can’t go to her mom’s. Her dad’s. The dorm. Loose end, they’d called her.
Her next words are fragmented at best. Bar. Drinks. Magic tricks. Stolen car. Sex. God, the sex. She doesn’t linger on it, but it’s there on her face: how good it was. Falling asleep, then waking up in his bed. The argument, gun, handcuffs. Her flight down the stairs.
“I j-just wanted to be Cici.”
“He bit her. Like… animals. Clawing. Biting.”
Blood. So much blood.
“They fucked the dead guy.”
Emmett: He pours himself a drink as she talks. And one for her, too, when she’s done with the tea.
A part of him, absurdly, irrationally, finds himself growing jealous as she talks about the sex. But the jealousy is nothing next to the guilt. Nothing.
“I know,” he says when she talks about wanting to be somebody else. “I know. God, do I know. I’m so sorry, Cici.”
Em doesn’t have anything to say about the biting. The descriptions. The necrophilia. What is there to say?
But he recognizes that, too.
Poison eyes stare at him from the bottom of his glass.
“There are… things,” he tells her. “In this city. That don’t make sense. That are evil. I mean, I’m a little evil, maybe, but they’re… they’re monsters. It isn’t in your head. I’m sorry, C.”
GM: Poison eyes.
And a woman’s high, fluttering laughter.
Support: She closes her eyes. She downs her drink. Doesn’t ask what it is. It’s gone. She wipes at her face.
She follows his direction to the bathroom. Soon, she comes out with just a towel. The blood is gone. Her face is bare. Em can still smell it, though, the coppery tang. Wet hair drips down her back. She rejoins him on the couch, picks up her refilled drink, knocks it back, and reaches for the bottle.
“Tell me,” she says, “about the monsters.”
Emmett: “Go easy, okay?” Em tells her. He’s sitting where he was before, but he looks like he’s been thinking. He also does not look like he’s been following his own advice. “And… I don’t know a lot. I just know that I’ve met one, or maybe two, before. And that they can… do things.”
He’s quiet for a moment. “The reason I wanted to send you to Cécilia’s mother… she’s not human. She told me so, herself once. And she did things… I think she’s the reason Miranda’s in a wheelchair, because I asked her to look at a diary I had stolen from Cécilia. She’s not human, but she… she looks out for her family. She was willing to help me, when it looked like I was a good boyfriend for her daughter, even though she knew who I was.” He swallows. “And… one night, a little after…”
But he hasn’t ever talked about that night. And he isn’t sure he wants to now.
“I did bad things,” he whispers. “And a monster came, and she helped me undo them. But I had to kill somebody to do it. They’re sick. Turned on by, by pain. Death. Blood. All of it. I don’t know what they are. But I think they’re powerful. The second one, she had connections with cops. Mobsters.”
Support: She listens.
Her eyes close. She breathes in deeply, sharply.
“When I was a kid,” she tells him, “my sister said there was a monster under her bed.”
“He came back the night—the attack.” She presses her palms into her eyes. “There was blood. And screaming. And he he put me in bed, and told me…”
She doesn’t finish.
“What am I supposed to do? What are we supposed to do?” Her voice is small. She’s just a kid again.
“Clothes,” she repeats absently, nodding. Shirt, yes, she’d like a shirt, pants.
Emmett: He looks at her, all washed clean but somehow still dirty from everything. The towel wrapped around her. Her eyes, too dangerous to look into in case they see too much of him.
“I have clothes,” he says again. “I can get them for you.”
Support: She lowers her hands, looking to him with wide eyes.
She swallows hard. The lump in her throat barely moves. Her mouth is dry.
“Y-you… you killed…?”
Emmett: “Yeah,” he says as he comes back from his room with folded bundles in his arms. “I did. My cousin. Because he did something I couldn’t live with. It was… it was a bad night.”
He sounds resigned to her horror, resigned to her disgust, as he sets the offerings down.
There’s a dress, which she recognizes from the picture she showed him at their first meeting, all that time ago when things were so much simpler. The one his client liked to fuck him in. It’s been well cared for, and doesn’t look like it’s been worn for a few weeks. There’s a set of panties and a bra, too, though he realizes lamely as he sets them down he has no idea if they’ll fit her. If she doesn’t want those, he also brings his own clothes. An old, clean-smelling Brother Martin’s sweatshirt. Boxers. Sweatpants. Maybe unstylish, but comfortable. Safe-feeling.
He waits a moment after putting it all down, then realizes he probably should have sent her to his room with the clothes there already.
“I’ll, um, go in my room. Just knock, when you’re ready.”
Support: A little while later, she knocks twice on his door, then lets herself in.
“He had handcuffs. In his room. The… the thing. I took his gun.”
“My boyfriend—” she flinches. “—his family has a thing with the Mafia. He’s being stalked. A girl. D’you think…?”
Emmett: “I don’t know,” he says simply. “Just… don’t know.”
“I know you’re scared to go home right now. You can stay here as long as you need to. Or with your boyfriend, if you can. I would… I would really, really consider calling Cécilia. Telling her what happened to you. Trust her. If you were close to her, and she’s the person I knew her to be… she’ll want to help you. You can just tell her about the abuse, if you like, or the monsters. I don’t know how much she knows about what her mother is. I just… there’s a lot I don’t know. I wish I could help you more.”
He sits on his bed, a single tear drying halfway down his face. “Everything I touch turns to shit. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Support: “That was my next question,” she admits, “about Cécilia.”
She watches him for a moment, her jaw tight. She hesitates, but in the end she reaches out. She tugs him toward her.
“This,” she says to him, “is not your fault.”
Emmett: “I scared you away,” he whispers, as he collapses under the accumulated weight of his intoxication and stress, lets himself be tugged limply into her embrace. “I made you go. I’m sorry.”
He ends up hugging her, almost clinging to her. “I didn’t want to hurt you. But I hurt everyone.”
Support: “You also came to get me,” she points out quietly. She runs her fingers through his hair, pressing his face against her chest. There’s nothing sexual about it. “You came to get me when I called. They would have found me. I’d be dead. You saved me.”
Emmett: His breathing steadies slowly over a minute or two of her consoling him, and he blinks away the tears he doesn’t have a right to in the first place.
“Okay,” he says. “Okay, yeah, I, I’m too fucked up for for this. Let’s… let’s wait for the day. Safer then. And then you can go home, and figure things out. I don’t have much I can do for you. But I’m here. And anything I have, is yours.”
Support: Celia kisses his cheek. It’s platonic. She admits, quietly, that she doesn’t want to sleep alone, and asks if he’d mind if she slept in here with him, promising that she isn’t going to try anything, that she just… thinks they could both use the company.
Emmett: He agrees, He doesn’t want to be alone either.
There’s no sex to it, their huddled warmth under the blankets, their arms and legs and PJs mingling. Just two frightened children hoping the monsters won’t find them tonight.
But for all that, it isn’t bad.