Finally, he was able to touch her. She was all skin and bones in his arms, a fragile piece of sculpture rendered mute by the thick red liquid filling her slightly pursed lips. Her eyes were of the deepest brown found only in rain-soaked forests; they were open, but they were like a camera that was out of focus. She was porcelain all over, bird-light in his embrace. His knees sank to the floor of the train. People moved away, scurrying to the corners of the cabin in fear. They knew what he was, and what he could do.
A trail of scarlet spilled from the corner of her lips, cutting through the flawless white of her cheek. He absently wiped it away with a finger, then placed his finger to his lips, his tongue swiping at the droplets of blood. Nerve endings whirred into motion. She tasted of steel and salt, a storm-blasted ocean.
The train door whooshed open, and he found himself staring into the faceless black helmets of the Night Watch. They spread out around him, their guns clicking into place like hungry mandibles. He could see his reflection on the curved enamel of their visors, a distorted version of him and the girl in his arms. He carefully drew the hem of her dress to her knees; he was aware of such proprieties, and didn’t want anyone else to see what he had perceived a mystery.
And then he heard the disembodied voice of their sergeant, speaking as if he was inside his head. Sergeant Horse’s rasping growl, a voice he had known since childhood.
Get out of my head.
“Congratulations,” said the sergeant passively. “You’ve captured the lead informant of the Kalapati.”
Get out of my head!
“We’ll be bringing her to the morgue, regretfully. Still, everything’s in place and there’s nothing we can do about it now. Your parents will be commended…such a fine piece of instrument they’ve crafted for the Government.”
“As you wish.”
A searing white light spilled into his head, invading the dark of his thoughts. He cried out, once, a strangled, frightened cry of a small animal. Then he sagged forward, his head hanging at an awkward angle across the dead body of the girl, his arms limp at his sides. His eyes were open, unseeing, as a clear liquid lubricant – not unlike tears – spilled quietly from the corners.