„Victim’s names are Helen and George Pevensie, according to their driver’s licences.“ He kneels down next to the woman who has been thrown out of the car when it hit the slam barrier. She had likely sat on the front passenger’s seat, seatbelt unbuckled. “When will people learn to use their seatbelts, honestly?”
“Did you say Pevensie?” His partner, who would retire soon and needed reading glasses, knelt down next to him. “How is that spelled?”, she asks. He shows her Helen’s licence and she pales. “Oh God.”
“Are you alright?” He puts a hand on her shoulder, the rough fabric of her jacket hard against his palm.
“You don’t know who they are, do you?” She takes off her glasses and looks at him.
The Pevensies rule this town. Some say, they could rule the world if they wished, that they could sweep up cities with a smile and a laugh and a prayer. There is no criminal that hasn’t faced them, hasn’t stared down the barrel of a gun, hasn’t choked on a knife to the throat, lips to their mouth. They’re children wielding weapons and darkness and prayers filled with blood.
They’re dangerous and he has to call them in for questioning.
“Mr Pevensie, I’m just going to ask you a few questions, pure routine.”
The boy smiles, jovially, all white teeth and twinkling eyes, his glove clad hands lie folded on the table. “Of course”, he says, voice silky soft. The scar tissue on his cheek stretches as he smiles.
“How was your relationship with your parents?”
“We were estranged. I didn’t agree with their political stance and they didn’t agree with the tight bond we have.” The boy’s blond hair falls just below his ears, like golden thread caressing his cheekbones.
He laughs, low in his throat. “They always found it curious that we didn’t fight like siblings ought to.”
“And why didn’t you? Fight, I mean?”
“I don’t know. I never felt compelled to. I think it is rather idiotic to turn against each other for sweeties.” He smiles, as if he made a clever joke.
“Well, in general siblings do fight over idiotic things: toys, food, their parent’s love, accomplishments at school, the list is endless. And a five year old, for example, rarely understands the concept of sharing.”
“I thought this was about my parents, detective.”
“Of course. What do you mean by ‘political stance’?”
“They believed in pacifism and listening to every point of view. A rather short sighted affair.”
He furrows his brows. “Short sighted?”
The boy, Peter, the one who allegedly rules the rulers, the one they call king, the one they kill for, smiles again, wide and friendly. “Well, sometimes you cannot respond with peace to violence, detective.”
“I see.” He clears his throat. This smile makes the hair on his neck stand upright and he can’t tell why. “Was it a habit of your mother’s not to use a seatbelt?”
“No. She always wore it and wouldn’t let father drive without it. I take it she wasn’t wearing it?”
“Thank you for your time, Mr Pevensie.” He holds out his hand and Peter takes it, the fabric of the glove feels soft against his palm, and warm. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Already done with that family?” Jane, who is on guard duty, grins at him. “They’re exhausting, assholes, aren’t they?”
“He was pretty cooperative actually. He just creeps me out. How is a guy in his early twenties this calm and collected?”
“He probably wanted information from you. Cause of death there yet?”
“ME’s still working on it, but I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be a variation of ‘didn’t see the road turn and slammed against the window’.” He opens the file they keep on Peter Pevensie. “This little? I thought he’s a huge terrifying crime boss.”
Jane shrugs. “That’s why we don’t have much. Guy’s too cautious to let us find out anything more than where he went to school and that he was rushed to the emergency hospital years ago. Him and his brother had a disagreement that ended in a little stabbing.”
“Why?” She takes a gulp of her coffee. “We know they’re violent bastards, the lot of them.”
“He just told me they didn’t fight. Apparently that was the reason why them and the parents didn’t talk much.”
“I mean, it’s probably the fact that they run around killing people and then going to church, still blood stained.”
“I can’t count them all. Apparently the small one, Lucy, is a devoted Christian and makes them all pray after they kill someone. No one has figured out where they pray, though, and the priests are either helping them or don’t know. It’s infuriating.”
“Miss Pevensie, right?”
She smiles, cherry red lips and black hair twisted into a knot at the back of her head. “I didn’t marry within the last few days, if that is what you are asking.”
“Well, Miss Pevensie, I hear that your relationship with your parents wasn’t the best.”
She cocks her head. “Is that a statement or a question, detective?”
He coughs. “A statement. Do you know why your relationship with your parents was troubled?”
“We didn’t see eye to eye.” She leans forward, the fabric straining against her skin. He blinks. “They didn’t agree with our life choices.”
“Your life choices?”
“Our parents are traditional people. Wait until marriage, go to church every Sunday, don’t even think about issues that didn’t publicly arise until about fifty years ago.” She laughs, a quiet pleasant laugh behind deep red lips.
“And you’re not?” He clears his throat. “Traditional, I mean.”
She cocks her head. She paints poison on her lips and drinks the secrets spilling from dying lips, hair impeccable, smiling. “No”, she says. “I don’t agree with traditional.”
“You do go to church.”
“I go to church when I please, detective, not because the calendar tells me to.”
He nods. “Did your parents take safety seriously?”
“In what way?” She leans forwards.
“Well, we found sedatives in both their systems, quite substantial amounts. Where they in the habit of driving drunk?”
Susan furrows her brows. “No”, she says. “Mother wouldn’t let father drive if he even had just half a glass of wine.”
“Can you think of a reason why they would do it on that particular day?”
She leans back and smiles. “I’m sorry”, she says. “But I cannot help you with that.”
He thinks about the scar on Peter’s cheek and the poison on her lips.
“Goddamn it she’s pretty.”
Jane grins. “Told you. She’s one of the most beautiful people you’ll ever see.”
“And secretive. I thought Peter didn’t say much but questioning her is like pulling teeth. She says a lot and when she’s done and out you figure out she said so little you could’ve asked the next door neighbour.”
“What did she say?”
“Parents don’t agree with their values and that they drove responsibly.”
“That’s it?” Jane puts down the crossword puzzle she was brooding over and folds the newspaper.
“Well, she said a lot more, but she didn’t tell me anything else. Please tell me her file is larger.”
“Sorry, not really. All we know are stories without proof.”
“Didn’t you say she’s immune to the poison she uses to kill people?”
“Allegedly. But we can’t place her at any of the crime scenes and without proof it’s pretty hard to pin her down. It’s a wonder she even agreed to talk to you.”
“I’m pretty sure they’re all using me for information. Susan and Peter seemed eager to figure out details without giving me any.” He sighs and runs his hand through his hair. “Oh, cause of death is here. They were already dead when the car hit the slam barrier. Overdose.”
“Belladonna.” He sighs.
“That doesn’t exactly help narrowing down suspects. That stuff grows in the woods in the outer districts.”
“Exactly. And they had saved up a lot of money, seems like good old fashioned greed to me.”
Jane furrows her brows. “Susan uses it sometimes”, she says. “That’s how she kills.”
“Mr Scrubb, thank you for agreeing to speak to me.”
The pale boy nods. His hair is cut in short, sharp edges around his ears. “Of course. I want to help.”
“How was your relationship with your aunt and uncle?”
The boy bites his lower lip. “I didn’t know them much. My parents thought they’d give me stupid ideas.”
“My parents are atheists and very rational people. They figured Aunt Helen would try to convert me.” He shuffles his feet.
“She dragged me to church with Lucy and the others, but I always thought it was nonsense. Never picked up a bible until a few years ago.” He twists his hands.
“Why did you pick it up?”
“I had an eye opening experience.”
Eustace Clarence Scrubb pissed them off, called them stupid and foolish and childish and he stared down Edmund’s gun. Edmund doesn’t shoot from up close, he’s like a shadow, killing you before you realise he’s even there. He’s part of their web now, people say.
He’s so nervous, so small, so different from his cousins who ooze confidence and experience like people at least twice their age. Eustace looks and acts like the boy he is. It’s almost comforting.
“And did it do the trick? Did it convert you?”
“Do you think your mother might have blamed your aunt for that?”
“I don’t know. I think so.” He runs a hand through his short hair and smiles, a shivering small smile.
“Do you think she may have been angry enough to-”
“Are you saying my aunt and uncle were murdered?” His voice is loud and shrill and there is almost something like relief in the air as the boy acts on his feelings.
“That is my current theory. I’m sorry.”
“We found large amounts of belladonna in their systems. They were likely already dead when the car crash happened.”
“Excuse me”, the boy whispers as he storms out.
“I call bullshit on the Scrubb boy working with them.” He slams his notes on his table.
Jane looks up from her newspaper. She’s still working on her crossword puzzle, several rows completely black because she crossed them out so often. “Why? Apparently he’s the one figuring out the torturing techniques.”
“He was pretty upset and ran out crying when I told him his aunt and uncle were likely murdered. He was emotional the entire time, I don’t believe that he has the detachment for what people say he does. I couldn’t even ask him if someone wanted them dead.” He sighs and thinks about what his partner told him. The Pevensies are dangerous, children with blood on their hands and in between their teeth, with prayers spilling from their lips and death on their fingertips. Anyone who angers them, who wrongs them, winds up dead.
Jane shrugs. “Maybe he’s manipulating you. I mean, he did get it out of you that they were murdered. If he tells the Pevensies, they may figure it out a lot faster than we will.”
He nods and takes his coat from the hook.
Jane raises an eyebrow. “Where are you going?”
“Edmund Pevensie refuses to come to the station and since I don’t have enough to call him for an interrogation, I’m going to meet him in the park.” Edmund is the one he’s most curious about, the boy without face, the executor, the one who’s loyal to Peter to the grave. He was stabbed, people say. He was stabbed and he survived it, carries the scar next to the tattoo they all share, the tattoo of a lion, teeth bared, crouching down as if it would jump from their skin.
Jane cocks her head. “Good luck”, she says. “Don’t die.”
“Yes?” He turns around. The boy in front of him is small, lithe, his hands bare unlike his brother’s posture straight and aware. “Edmund Pevensie?”
The boy nods. The scarf he’s wearing obscures half his face and his hand lies steady at his right hip, scarred skin stretching over his knuckles. “May I?” He gestures to the park bench. The words are muffled.
“Ah, yes of course.” He nods and scoots over. Edmund sits down next to him, back straight. “So, Mr Pevensie, can you tell me if your parents had any enemies? People who would benefit from their deaths?”
The boy hums. “Aunt Alberta had a standing feud with mother, but I doubt she would have killed her over a theist disagreement.”
“According to their financial records they had saved quite a sum over the past year. Do you have any idea why?”
“They were saving up to contribute to Eustace’ tuiton. He wants to go to a very expensive private university and Aunt Alberta begrudgingly asked for help.”
“So there was money for your cousin and none for you?”
Edmund laughs, a cold, sharp sound. “Oh, no, don’t mistake this for jealousy, our parents would have done the same for us if we asked.”
“But you didn’t?”
“No. We didn’t. Is that all?”
“Yes. Thank you for your time.”
“Look at this.” Jane slams a bulk of papers on his table. He picks up the first one and raises an eyebrow.
“What am I looking at?”
“Everyone who was caught with large amounts of belladonna in possession and had a reason to want to take revenge on the Pevensies. It’s mostly people who already have a police record but there’s someone standing out.” She pulls a file from the pile. “This is Jadis Charn. She’s a noble from a country I’ve never heard of and she has this garden filled with poisonous plants. She says it’s for health reasons. That already seems fishy, but the Pevensies pressed charges against her years ago because she allegedly kidnapped Edmund. According to the stories going around, she was the first person the Pevensies targeted. They didn’t exactly kill her, but she’s in a wheelchair now.”
He looks at the picture accompanying the file. A woman so pale she almost disappears into the wall stares at him. “That seems like a pretty good motive”, he says. “She knows she can’t get to them, so she does the next best thing, she kills the parents and tries to frame the children.”
“Miss Pevensie -”
“You can call me Lucy.” She smiles, bright white teeth and shining eyes.
“Alright, Lucy. ” He smiles back. “Do you know someone named Jadis Charn?”
Lucy drops her hands on the table. The prosthetic replacing her right hand makes a loud banging sound. “Oh, I’m sorry, sometimes I don’t know where my limbs are.” She laughs. “Still growing, you know?” She leans back. “The name rings a bell, but I couldn’t tell you why.”
“Well, your family pressed charges against her for kidnapping your brother, Edmund.” He crosses his arms.
“Oh, that. I don’t remember it very well, I was so small when it happened.” She pulls the chair closer, muscles rising and falling and he has to think of the soaring knife burying itself in the throats of people unwise enough to cross her. “Now that you mention it, I do remember her being very pale, but I don’t know more.”
He hums. “Well, we found belladonna in your parent’s system. And your brother Edmund told us that your parents were saving up for your cousin Eustace. But from what I gather, there was no money for you?”
“Because we didn’t want it.” She shrugs. “They worked so hard, we didn’t want them to work even harder because they thought we depended on them.” She smiles again and he thinks about how they call her lioness, the muscle, the little girl with a lion’s roar beneath her teeth. “Why did you ask me about Jadis?”
“I just want to cover as much as possible, and to find out who may have wanted your parents dead, we have to dig in their past. And that includes this incident. Routine.”
Lucy cocks her head. “Of course”, she says.
“Miss Charn?” He knocks on the old wooden door. “Miss Charn, please open the door, I would like to ask you a few questions.”
The silence that meets him, feels heavy and strange and he knocks again. “Miss Charn, this is the police, open the door!”
When she doesn’t answer, he experimentally pushes down the door handle. The door swings open. “Oh my God”, his partner whispers next to him. The apartment is covered in mud and dirt, ripped out plants adorning the floor. “Miss Charn?”, he calls out and cautiously steps into the living room.
All of the furniture has been pushed to the walls, flowers surround the table in the middle of the room. A woman has been tied to it, pale blond hair dangling to the floor, eyes staring at the ceiling in horror. The wheelchair lies broken in the corner and a dagger protrudes from her chest, lipstick marks adorning her face.
“They found her”, he says.
The Pevensies rule this town. And God have mercy on those who dare cross them and the lion sleeping in their bones.