The pain was indescribable. First had been shock and horror then disbelief and now all that was left was pain.
When she had found the body, seen the blood and the wreckage her mind became crystal. The colours were vivid, the textures detailed and intense. She registered the crimson dripping from the back of the sofa onto pale boards, pooling and slipping slowly to the skirting where it ran in a narrow river, as the life force left him. She had seen Steve’s pale, pale face and the dreadful, ghastly black burn marks around the bullet hole all sharp and focused. Then there had been the scream, like nothing she had ever heard before, a high keening screech, whirling away until she realised that it came from her own throat, from the deepest darkest part of her soul. Once she had understood that it came from her she had stopped it, turned it off in an instant and fallen towards him, his body.
Now though, how much later? Impossible to tell, she was divorced from it. There was noise and movement all around her. Police, paramedics even the landlord had muscled in on the scene.
“No he hadn’t heard anything, not even the gunshot. No, he hadn’t seen anything. No, he didn’t know anything.”
Well why the hell was he there then?
Bloody landlord never there when the toilet blocked or the rats scuttered around the bins but there now, his eyes popping and his chest swelling with vicarious consequence.
They had known there was a risk. They had been told not to come here, to this lawless place but they were young and indestructible and nothing could happen to them.
A soft voice at her shoulder brought her back from the void, “We’re taking him now. Afterwards, is there anywhere you can go, somewhere you can stay? You can’t stay here, we have a lot to do, work you know.”
“What? Go. No. I don’t know anyone, there’s nowhere. We were only here for a month, I…” The power of further speech left her as the gurney with the sheet covered body was wheeled past the chair and on towards the door. “No, no wait!” The paramedics stopped, looking back over their shoulders at the blonde in the chair. “Please, I have to. I need to see him.” They threw the sheet back from his face. He was sleeping, it was all a mistake, he was pale yes, but surely, surely he was just sleeping. Stretching out a hand she touched his cooling, stiffening cheek. No not sleeping.
“Do you have any idea who might have done this?” What a ludicrous question, ridiculous. She turned the full force of her anguished gaze on the policemen. Shaking her head almost imperceptibly she reached out to grab her bag and the camera case. “Wait, we have questions, you need to help us.” The raised voice was white noise as she slammed from the flat and clattered down the stairs. There was no way anyone was going to help her, she knew that. They had been fully aware when they came here that they were on their own, that was what had made the whole thing so attractive, tempting. They believed themselves to be vigilantes, well they were weren’t they? They were crusaders. No not they, there was no they. Now it was just her. Only her against the whole rotten corrupt state, because she had gone out for bread hadn’t she? Just bread, they wanted hot bread to eat with their chicken and so she had gone.
That was when they came and shot him, and she was left alone, left to fight on without him but it had been so close, so very close and so she knew that she had been spared for a reason. Not for bread and chicken but for the fight and so she would fight on alone, for Steve and for the victims and in recognition of the hand of fate.