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Aftermath: Moses

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When “Special Constable Peter Grant” says he’s there to listen Moses scoffs. The Feds never listen. That’s one of the things that make them Feds. Just because this one has a black face won’t make him no different. And Moses can’t believe that shizzle about no magic, neither. “Ain’t got nothin’ to say.”

“You ain’t going to believe us nohow,” Pest puts in, because Pest never has learned how to shut the fuck up. “Why pretend?”

“Because ‘there are more things in heaven and earth’, and I’ve seen several of them.” The cop pulls out his phone and does something to it before tucking it back into his pocket. “Here, look.” He holds out a hand and mutters something and a ball of light suddenly appears. It isn’t big, and it isn’t bright, but it’s real enough to cast shadows.

Moses feels his eyes go wide. “How?”

“It’s a trick,” Sam says, although she doesn’t sound very certain. “You’ve got something up your sleeve.”

“Just my arm,” Constable Grant says, and sends the ball of light floating out, past Sam and into the cage, where it hovers between Moses and Pest.

Pest’s eyes look like they’re going to fall out of his head. “Cool,” he breathes. “It really is magic.”

“It’s a hologram. Or... some kind of.... It can’t be magic.” Sam shakes her head, frowning. “It’s just a light show.”

Right, Moses thinks. Just like it couldn’t be aliens. He wants to shake his own head, but the habit of watching and waiting is too strong. This is a new kind of danger. He has to be ready for it.

Constable Grant grins at her, which should make him look harmless and doesn’t -- not with the light coming from his weird floaty ball. “Well, if I do anything fancier I’ll burn out every computer chip in the vicinity. But your friend is right. It is magic.”

Moses waits for Sam to say that they aren’t friends, but she doesn’t. “It’s not very useful magic,” she says instead, crossing her arms in front of her chest. She shifts position, putting herself a little more between the Fed and Moses like it will actually help.

“I dunno.” Pest is still staring at the light, his pupils large. “I would have liked being able to do that a few times when them things was chasing after us.”

“Grant!” a deep voice shouts from outside the van. “Stop mucking about. Are they the ones you want or not?”

“Very much so, sir,” Grant says, and he does something to snuff out the light before stepping back and turning to speak to someone Moses can’t see between the wall of the van and the green image floating inside his eyeballs. “Permission to interview them at the Folly? Inspector Nightingale needs to stay in position in case there are more reports tonight, and I think he needs to hear what they’ve got to say.”

“You can’t make a proper recording of the interview at the Folly,” the deep voice isn’t impressed, but Moses has to admit that Grant doesn’t roll over to show his belly at the words.

“I’ve got a video camera we can use. And we need answers. They’ve got no idea what they’re up against in Oxford, and people are starting to panic. And it’s not like they’re going to have any interview rooms open at the station any time soon. Busiest night of the year.” He closes the side door of the van, muffling the rest of the conversation, but Moses can hear how unhappy with the answer the deep voice is without knowing what the words are.

“That’s what they said before,” Sam mutters, crossing her arms like she’s cold, and Moses winces. ‘Before’ has to have been when she was snitching on them, but truth to tell, he isn’t sure he can blame her for that now. She hadn’t known them anymore than they’d known her. And nurses don’t get paid much.

“When they turn you loose,” he says softly, because if they were going to arrest her she’d already be wearing handcuffs. “In the morning, when there’s light, try going down Parkside street. You might find some of your things.”

Her lips curl in, and her shoulders go up, like she’s going to say swear at him again, but then she shakes her head and relaxes. “Even if they let me go in the morning I don’t expect there will be anything to find. And besides, I’ll need to go on shift. Which reminds me. Pest, how’s your leg?”

Pest shrugs. “Still hurts.”

Moses looks down. There’s a dark line where some of the bandages on Pest’s leg overlap. “Is that blood?”

Pest props his foot on Moses’s knee to bring the bandage up into the light. “I’m too high. I can’t tell.”

Sam cranes her neck to see. “If it is, it’s old,” she decides. “But someone really ought to take a look at it again.” She scoots forward, to the doorway, and waves at the cop. There’s no sign of the wet lady now. “Oy! Any chance of a stop at A&E? We’ve got an injury that needs tending.”

Moses puts his head back and closes his eyes, suddenly exhausted. He doesn’t like to think about how close they came to losing Pest too. Would he have had the nerve to go after the alien in Sam’s flat if he hadn’t already seen one being discouraged by being hit in the head with a baseball bat? But that had been early on. Later the things had been harder to discourage.

The cop says something about forensics, but Moses isn’t really following the conversation. He’s too busy swallowing back the urge to give in and cry like a little kid. He doesn’t know where it came from; he hasn’t cried since he was ten. But all of a sudden he’s so cold he’s shaking, and the entire weight of the night seems to be resting on his chest. He hears the motor start and feels the vibration of it against his back and under his seat, but the van doesn’t go anywhere. Instead the door beside him opens, and an EMT is suddenly there, wrapping a bright orange blanket around his shoulders and taking a pulse at his throat.

“I’m all right,” he manages to say, even though he knows he isn’t. It’s just what you always say when they try to make you tell them who hit you. “I’m fine.”

“You’re not, but you’ll survive,” the EMT says, cheerfully enough, and tucks the blanket a little higher before turning to unwrap the bandages from Pest’s leg. Moses watches dully, feeling as if the blanket has wrapped his head in cotton wool. Anyway, he’s seen the damage before, and it doesn’t look so bad, considering what happened to Dennis. The EMT seems taken aback, though. “What kind of dog did that?” he asks Pest.

“Weren’t no dog,” Pest protests. “It was a space alien. Tried to take my leg off.”

“I bandaged it as best I could,” Sam says, and somehow she’s opened the cage and is leaning in so that she can hold an ordinary torch over Pest’s leg. “But I didn’t have the proper supplies in my flat, and he’s been running on it ever since.” She rests her free hand on Moses’s shoulder for a moment, and the look she throws him is a worried one, but he can’t summon up a smile to reassure her. She did a good job, really, since Pest was able to run, but Moses is too tired to tell her so.

The cop called Peter Grant appears over the EMT’s shoulder with another cop wearing Tyvek coveralls. “Do we need to take him to hospital?” he asks.

“Not urgently,” the EMT decides. “The wounds have been cleaned, and the butterfly bandages are holding anywhere I’d suggest stitches. I expect a doctor would want to put him on antibiotics to prevent infection. But he’s not missing any muscle, and the bleeding’s pretty much stopped. He’d probably end up waiting for hours before he was seen on a night like this.”

“We need photographs,” the cop in the coveralls says. “And swabs. And for that matter we should be confiscating their clothing for the bloodstains.”

Peter Grant rolls his eyes. “What part of ‘this isn’t over yet’ are you not understanding?” he asks, and Moses closes his eyes and takes some deep breaths, trying to find himself again in the fog. If it isn’t over, it isn’t. He hasn’t got time to waste on feeling sorry for himself.