On the way back to the Landrover I briefed the man in black and called Detective Jayne and told her where to meet us. Chris missed it because he was trying to persuade the Runt to let him play with her ears. By the time he caught up with us the guns were stowed, we were already strapped in and the other Landrovers were leaving, presumably for Hereford via Department short cuts. I pretended not to notice the hand shaped reddened area on his cheek.
Twenty minutes later we were standing outside the Dingo’s house and so was Detective Jayne. The man in black began to strip off his body armour.
“You might want to keep that on.” I said. He raised an eyebrow at me but didn’t argue. He pulled a jacket on over the body armour. He looked now looked a bit overweight but he didn’t look like a man in a kevlar vest.
“What’s the plan?” Said Detective Jayne.
“We’re going in to question the killer. You get us in there with the minimum of fuss,” I said to Detective Jayne, “You secure the cat,” I said to the man in black, “And I’ll talk to the lodger.”
“What about us?” Said Chris.
“You observe and record. If I’ve made an almighty cock up it’s your job to tell me.”
The man in black removed a FN Five-seveN pistol from the secure case in the back of the Landrover, slipped it into a quick release holster clipped to his web gear and zipped up his jacked over it.
“You might want to put some gloves on.” I said. He gave me a look that said something like ‘What kind of fucking amateur do you take me for?’
Detective Jayne lead the way to the front door. When the lodger answered the bell Detective Jayne flashed her warrant card and said, “We just need to come in for a little chat and a look round.” And we breezed in.
While the others headed for the living room I blocked the lodger in the hall.
“Are you alright?” I said.
“I’m fine.” She said.
I gripped the stick o’ doom and focused all my will into my voice. “You look really tired.” I said.
I felt the narrative tendrils snap out from the stick and reach for her. “I feel really tired.” She said.
“You’ve been under a lot of stress recently. I’m sure it’s been really upsetting.” I said.
“It has.” She said.
“You need a rest. Don’t worry about us. We can look round on our own. Maybe you should get an early night? I’m sure you’ll feel much better in the morning.” I said. It might have sounded like a suggestion but it was a command.
“Maybe you’re right.” She said and she looked longingly at the stairs.
“I’m sure if you go to bed now you’ll feel fantastic in the morning.” I had laid the conditions of the geas. Hopefully she wouldn’t try to resist.
“Yeah…” She said. She turned her back on me and trudge up the stairs.
Now to question the killer.
In the living room everyone was staring at the man in black. He was standing by the window with the cat hanging off his arm. The cat was hissing like a broken boiler and thrashing in his grasp. He had it by the scruff of the neck but it had twisted round and sunk all four claws into his sleeve and he had a nasty scratch on his cheek. The man in black was looking rather more tense than the gentlemen from Hereford usually do.
“Have the claws gone right through the sleeve?” I said.
“Right, Cat, your cover is blown. I know what you are. Let go of the nice man before he has to shoot you.” I said.
“You don’t have to be rude.” Said the cat and let go. The man in black dropped it and the cat landed elegantly and then padded over to the armchair. It leapt into the seat and made itself comfortable on the cushion.
“I know you killed her I just want to know why?” I said.
“You don’t beat about the bush.” Said the cat.
“Just answer the question.” I said.
“What on earth makes you think I killed her?” Said the Cat.
“The four small bruises on her chest. Each one the size of a cat’s paw. The witness that put you at the scene of the crime. You were the only one she cared about and you were the one with the most to gain from her death.” I said.
“It wasn’t about the money.” Said the cat.
“Then what was it?” I said.
“She was a monster and I just couldn’t see it till then. I followed her to work that day. I was bored and I wanted to see what she did and she spent the whole day finding new ways to separate children from their parents and smiling while she did it. I tried to pretend that she was doing it out of necessity but she spent half the day being told to stop. Her boss told her to stop, the lawyers told her to stop, my cousin Runt told her to stop, the Mother told her to stop and the very next thing she did was to phone someone about taking another child.
“I couldn’t stand it. The moment she ended the call I confronted her. She told me I didn’t understand and that it was necessary and I should go home and stop worrying. But she was grinning while she said it. I snapped and I leapt at her. She staggered back against the window and we went through it together.” Said the cat.
“No that doesn’t work.” Said Chris. “There’s no way a cat could hit her hard enough to do that.”
“Not a cat. A Cait Sith. It’s a shape changer. Or it would be if the geas hadn’t been broken.” I said.
“That’s right. I’m heavier than I look and much stronger.” Said the Cat.
“Oh yes.” Said the man in black.
“So what do we do now?” Said Detective Jayne. “There’s no way I’m charging a cat with murder.”
“Good question.” I said.