‘Shit, Talli. We need to tell the police.’ Jayce’s skin looked bleached as he came out of Evie’s bedroom. He had come over immediately after receiving a distressed phone call from Talli. He had been more used to her stolidity.
‘I’m not going to the police about it. They don’t believe me when I tell them this weird shit.’ She held a hot cup of coffee in the over-long sleeves of her hoody. She was also unusually pale. She shook slightly as she sipped from her drink.
‘You need to Nat. That’s an eyeball in there. A fucking eyeball.’
‘You don’t need to tell me what it is Jayce, I know what it is,’ Talli sighed. ‘I just don’t know what they’re going to do about an eyeball.
‘What if it’s hers Tal?’ Jayce gestured to the bedroom. He winced as he spoke the words.
‘It ain’t hers Jay. Don’t even go there.’ Talli thought, ‘what colour is? What colour is it Jayce?’ Talli stood outside the door. Reluctantly Jayce stepped back in the room.
‘It’s hazel.’ Jayce confirmed, ‘it’s hazel, Talli.’ Talli whimpered slightly.
‘It’s his,’ she assured herself. ‘It’s that guy’s; the one pretending to be a policeman. Corke.’
‘Why would he take his own eyeball out? C’mon Talli, that doesn’t sound right to me. We should call the police.’
‘What should we do with it,’ Talli wondered, ‘the eyeball, I mean?’
‘What do you want to do? What can we do? We ain’t got no authority over this. We don’t even know what we’re looking for.’ Jayce sighed, ‘I hate to say it again Nat, but you should really tell the police.’
‘I’ve told you Jayce, I ain’t going to the old bill.’ She took the last cigarette from its packet and lit up. ‘No. They already think I’m bloody mental. Tell them that I found an eye in my sister’s bedroom and they’ll start to think I’m a suspect or some shit.’
‘If they find that you’re hiding things Tal, then they definitely will.’
‘Well, what do you suggest?’
‘We tell the police.’
The police arrived twenty minutes later. They sealed the house with blue and white police tape and they parked their van in the centre of the road. Talli called her mum and told her that the Police were around, so she wouldn’t panic if she returned. She didn’t mention the eye.
Jayce stayed with Talli whilst they questioned her. One officer asked about the inspectors that had visited and what they had looked like. Another officer sat drawing an interpretation. As they begun to question her further, the officers had started to look sceptical.
‘They had a dog?’ one asked.
‘Well, yes; sort of.’ Talli sighed.
‘What sort of dog was it?’
‘I have absolutely no idea.’
‘Sorry, Miss Reamer, You seem a little distracted?’ A third officer approached. Talli remembered having seen her a few days ago, in the early hours of the morning on New Year’s Day.
‘Well observed.’ Talli muttered. Jayce elbowed her in the ribs.
‘I mean, you have no idea what sort of dog it was? Doesn’t that seem like the kind of detail you would notice, Miss?’
‘I don’t know what you’re insinuating, but I thought you were here to talk about my sister, not my knowledge on canine breeds.’
‘We’re just trying to get a full scope of what is unravelling here, Miss.’
‘I told you all I know. Two freaks calling themselves police bring their minging little pet around, look about a bit, make some wisecrack about keeping an eye on me and leave an actual fucking eye on my sister’s bed side table. I’m sorry I didn’t take notes whilst two strangers violated my house.
‘I warn you, Miss Reamer, this is no laughing matter.’ The first officer intercepted.’
‘It isn’t? Great, thanks. I will try and curb my necessity to burst into a fit of laughter the next time I think of my missing sister who might be missing an eyeball. And hey, if I can’t manage, at least I know I can rely on you to remind me.’ Talli stood up but the officers blocked her in, ‘unless you’re planning on arresting me, you can’t detain me any longer. I’ve had enough of your ridiculous questions.’ Jayce tugged at the back of her hoody, trying to make her sit, but she tugged away from him.
‘You seem quite anxious, Natalie,’ the third officer pointed out.
‘I’ve just been attacked in my own home by two strangers impersonating policeman four days after my sister has gone mysteriously missing of the face of the earth. There is an eyeball laying on my sister’s bedside table and the met, the fucking pride of London, are being a little less than remedial in their quest to rectify the situation. If anything, I’d say I’m just a trifle more than fucking anxious.’ Talli snapped and barged through the officers. She slammed the door as she left the house.
Jayce coyly smiled at the police and raised his eyebrows at them. ‘I’ll make sure she’s alright,’ he nodded at the policeman as they let him past.
They sat in Hyde Park at sunset. The January sky was clear and cold. A haunting veil of stars started to wash over them. Night’s dark fingers were peeling back the skin of day; as the lights of the sky diminished, the city began to blink into life. Little electric eyes peered out from the skeletal skyline. Tides of light receded as the sun sunk into the horizon. For a moment, Talli thought she saw a shadow cross the sky, physically tugging the moon into place.
Maybe she was going crazy, she thought.
Talli pulled her jacket up in close around her, zipping up to the neck. Jayce passed her a cigarette.
‘Thanks, I need to buy some more,’ she balanced it precariously between her lips as she spoke. ‘What they hell do they want?’
‘Who?’ Jayce shifted on the hard wooden bench.
‘Whoever it was that took Evie. Who would want to kidnap her? It’s bad enough having to live with her. Who would take her voluntarily?’ she laughed nervously.
‘You don’t know that she was taken.’ Jayce suggested.
‘She hardly ran off of her own accord, did she Jayce? That isn’t her.
‘Who would take her then? What reasons are there?’
‘There aren’t. That’s what I don’t understand.’ Talli took a drag of her cigarette and sighed.
For a moment, they sat in silence, watching as the last slithers of sun bled behind a building. Talli breathed out a snake of smoke that rose and dissipated amidst the stars.
‘Kaydee sends her condolences, by the way.’ Jayce breathed out his own smoke, ‘she feels bad that she was the last person to talk to her.’
‘Hardly her fault is it. I’m sure her conversation wasn’t that bad,’ Talli irked. Shaking her head, ‘those men had something to do with it. I just know it.’
‘Cock, Mortar and the little monster?’ Jayce laughed quietly.
‘Their names were Corke and Mortis, Jayce, and that dog. Thatthingwasn’t little. If I ever find out that they’ve harmed Evie, I swear I will crucify them.
‘I didn’t tell you before, because I thought you’d think I was seeing things again, but I think it’s important. They had one of those stone discs. Y’know, like the one I saw the other night. It was similar to what I saw Evie holding just before she disappeared.’
‘Yeah? Like red stone, or something, you said?’
‘Yeah, this one wasn’t red though. It was black or a dark grey or something. But I’m sure I saw it glow.’
‘Then it wasn’t a stone.’
‘It looked like it,’ Talli stubbed out one cigarette and beckoned Jayce for another. He passed her a second and she lit up. ‘Point is, that’s twice I’ve seen one now. It can’t be coincidence. It has to mean something, Jayce.’
Talli’s phone buzzed.
‘What could two stone rings possibly mean? Why didn’t you tell the police about this?’
‘Did you see how the police were looking at me…’ Talli fumbled for her phone in her jacket’s inside pocket. Her voice trailed off as she read the text. It took her a couple of seconds to take in what she was reading. The message was from Evie, lovingly nicknamed “shitface” on her phone. ‘What the fuck is this?’
“Through the parting darkess with a Halo behind my head, I tread the stairways softly; the spectrum ocean’s cosy bed. We found your children dying, when they could have lived instead as a slave to my great master; the ruler of all Undreamt.”
‘I have one too…’ Jayce glanced at his phone. He joined her as she rose to her feet. ‘But I’m sure your sister doesn’t have my number anymore.’
Talli’s phone suddenly blared with loud music – a phone call. When she answered it, the voice she heard at the other end of the phone was frantic.
‘No. No, I don’t have Evelyn’s phone. Mum. Listen. Listen to me. I have the same text. Jayce does too. I know. Mum. I don’t know what it means. I’ll be home soon, okay Mum? Jesus, chill out will you? I’m fine. I’m with Jayce. I’m fine. I’m fine. Okay? No. I’m fine. I’ll grab some take away or something. No it’s fine.’ Talli hung up, ‘she is such a pain in the arse.’
Jayce was talking about the new motorbike he was going to buy on their way back through the city to the suburbs. Talli was half-listening to him whilst she read over and over the text; she didn’t have a clue what it meant. She pocketed the phone in frustration.
‘I’ll be fine from here Jayce.’ Talli waved him away, ‘I’m going to the Chinkey’s anyway.’
‘It’s okay, I’ll walk you.’
‘Honest, Jayce, it’s fine. I want to be alone for a bit.’
‘You have to be shitting me. After all that has happened, do you really think I’m going to leave you alone?’
‘I’ll be fine Jay. Honest. Don’t make a fuss out of me; I can’t stand that gay soppy crap just because I’m a girl.’
‘It ain’t ‘cause you’re a girl. It’s ‘cause you’re my friend.’ Jayce smiled down at her, ‘you’ve lost someone close to you, I’m not letting that happen to me.’
‘Are you saying I let it happen? Are you saying it’s my fault?’ Talli gaped at him.
‘That’s not what I said Nat. I just meant…’
‘…That because I wasn’t a caring sister, I lost her?’ Talli looked in disbelief. She shook her head, ‘why don’t you just fuck off Jayce.
‘Oh c’mon Tal. It isn’t like that, you know that.’ He raised his voice as she begun to walk away from him. He walked after her, ‘Come on Talli. You’re being ridiculous. I didn’t mean to offend you at all.’
‘Is that it? Try harder? How long have we been friends Talli? You can’t just shut me out. I know you; I know you’re just upset. Are you just going to keep pushing until there is no one left in your life at all? Evie? Me?’ Jayce paused.
‘Go on Jayce. Say it,’ Talli turned around and walked angrily back to him. ‘Say it you arsehole. Say it. My Dad. Did I push him out too?’ She hit him hard in the chest. ‘Fuck off.’
‘What? No…’ Jayce stopped as Talli turned and walked again. ‘You’re fighting yourself here Talli.’
‘No, I’m not Jayce. No, I’m not. I’m fighting every bastard that is out there trying to make me out to be a lesser person than I am. I won’t have anyone doubt me, Jayce, including you. You’re supposed to be my friend, but if you think it’s my fault that Evie’s gone, well bollocks to that. I didn’t kidnap her. I didn’t drive her out. She walked out of that door of her own accord.’
‘You’re just feeling guilty Talli, and I don’t blame you…’
‘I don’t feel fucking guilty Jayce,’ she shouted. ‘I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m not weak like my sister; I don’t need you or anyone to protect me. I can handle myself. I don’t need university to be clever, I don’t need to spend all of my parent’s money to be successful at life. I don’t need you. Maybe it’s time you dealt with the fact that maybe it’s you that needs me.’
‘I know I do, Nat.’
‘Well, let’s hope I don’t get kidnapped eh? Wouldn’t that suck?’ Talli turned and left, walking down the dimly lit terraced streets. Jayce didn’t follow.