The man with the steely blue eyes was standing. He had iron-grey hair, and wore a tall black hat. He was clothed in great black folds, and he told Dad and I to sit down in two black leather chairs behind us in a hard bullying voice. There was no third chair.
The beats of my heart were irregular, though my body was not yet shaking, and I shook my head numbly.
"Sit, please," snarled the voice, and I dropped into the chair like a tonne weight. I dared not disobey. My brevity failed me. But I regretted it as the man began to pace in front of us.
"So," said the voice slowly, after a long silence, "Den O'Derron."
One of my eyes started having a fit of pulsing. It watered, but I continued to stare straight ahead, uncomfortable then if ever I had been uncomfortable.
"You witnessed the death of your sister Vere at the age of ten?" said the voice of steel.
My teeth ground the enamel off each other, but not obviously enough to be heard. I must not be seen to be moved in any way.
"You were alone in the house for a time? You did not inform your parents of her murder until they arrived home two days later to find her dead on the living room floor," said the steely voice.
I detected no suspicion in the voice, but I knew it was there. No; it wasn't. But the voice was trying to make me respond. Trying to make me imagine suspicion, where there was none. I controlled my tongue with an effort.
"You are fifteen years old now?" The voice waited for no reply. "You saw the murder. You saw the murderer. Did you see his face? His clothes? The way he entered your house? The way he exited? What were you doing at the time? And your sister?" The voice pronounced this world with a delicious relish. "What was she doing that she did not notice the murderer until it was too late? Or was he all stealth?"
My brow lowered. My face seemed to be carved in stone. I could not move my lips. Even if I had wanted to. I was not going to tell this man anything. I was not going to let him see that I was uncomfortable, angry. Unlike my father. I did not turn my head, but I could heard his tears rumbling as they rolled down his cheeks. I kept my eyes straight ahead of me, but I did not see anything except the murder of my sister.
I tried not to. The voice was trying to make me see it, and speak of it, to get it all out. But I would not. Not ever. I would never tell this man in black, standing, pacing. I could feel his eyes a laser on my brain, an x-ray exposing everything. But that was the impression he was trying to create, to make me talk. I would not speak. I would scream and scream and scream before I spoke. I would die before I spoke.
"What was your sister like? Was she pretty?"
Of course she was pretty. The man knew she was beautiful. And I reeled at his sarcasm. No; he was not sarcastic. He was creating the impression of sarcasm, to make me deny it, to make me talk. But there was no sarcasm in his voice. It was mild and passive, and as cold as metal. A blade through my thoughts. A blue misery.
"Come, Den," said my father's voice. "Speak of it. It will help us."
'Us'? All I felt was anger for my father for putting me into this position. Bringing me here for all the pain, ro relive the pain and the sorrow, without telling me beforehand, without a single warning. He wanted me to pour it out from my heart, before him - my uncaring, selfish Dad - and him - this steely voice probing into my thoughts; a stranger; a stranger who may have appeared to my father to want to help; to be paid to find out and so uncover the mystery; but I knew he was curious, hard, cold, and entirely unmoved by anything I could say. He cared nothing for my family, my father, my mystery, me.
Revenge, whispered a voice.
I froze. I could feel the blood freezing, crackling, in my veins. My whole body went cold and clammy. My skin drained of colour.
Revenge, whispered the voice.
I turned my head, my neck swinging uselessly. The piercing blue eyes were upon me, tugged out of their sockets by my emotion, which must've been visible despite my resolves. The eyes were coming towards me, the voice was begging me to speak, to talk, to tell. I would not. I would never. My father was crying openly beside me.
Revenge, whispered the voice.
My jaw dropped open and my tongue fell out, my head jerked up and my tonsils quivered.
I was screaming hard enough to puke my heart out.
The eyes lunged, and the man followed them, and the black folds of the cloak billowed out to reveal a silver glinting knife in a belt below the black cloak. Why was it black, not blue?
That was my last thought, before I had wrenched open the door, breaking the latch, surprised at my own strength, and run for my life.