The wounds on his face haven’t healed, and Moses finds he likes the way it looks. When they get him in the interrogation room and start in with all the bullshit about how there weren’t any aliens and he’s making it up to explain all the dead bodies and stolen police vans and burnt-out flats, he lifts his hand to his face and runs his fingers over the marks. The ridges frame his eye, he knows without looking, spindly fingers reaching out of his fade.
“It’s not uncommon for young people to deal with difficult life circumstances by inventing-”
“Fuck off,” Moses says automatically. This one’s the worst. He calls himself a psychologist, says he’s like a doctor, but he’s just the same as the rest of the screws. Filth in a suit.
The screw sits back in his chair, folds his arms and makes a face like he’s disappointed. “Moses, if you would just tell me what really happened...”
Moses tunes him out. He told them what really happened. He told all of them, because it was the truth, and because he knew Sam and Brewis and Tia would back him up – well. Sam and Tia. They haven’t let him talk to Pest since he got here, but he knows the boy and he bets anything Pest is letting his mouth run, too much chat. He’s a good one, though, still.
They give up quickly this time, and Moses finds himself back in his cell. He’s got a TV and clean sheets and nobody comes in at four o’ clock in the morning to bang around in his things, breathing whisky fumes in his face and demanding to know where his fags are.
Moses doesn’t even smoke.
Anyway. It would be all right, the cell. It’s never too hot and never too cold, it’s quiet and there’s a desk where he does his homework, because the government think it’s important for him to get a good education while he’s rotting away the rest of his life.
And he is. Rotting. Because the cell would be all right, except. Except the fucking obvious.
Time passes. The wounds on his face don’t heal. They scar. He asks if the screws have found his uncle, and they look at each other sideways. They say, “Not yet.”
He gets letters, mostly from Tia, but they black out anything that might tell him shit about shit. Her big, loopy curls of handwriting cover both sides of the paper, curly fringe down the side where she’s ripped it out of her spiral notebook.
She says, say strong, Moses. Mum says to tell you we’re and then it’s blacked out again.
He doesn’t write back. He has nothing to tell her that they’ll let him say.
It’s a normal day. He doesn’t know which one: sometimes the telly lets him know but he hasn’t watched it yet today. He eats the same breakfast as usual and spends the same amount of time in the gym as usual and he’s watched by the same guards as usual and he’s taken to the interrogation room after lunch. As usual.
What’s different today, though, is the screws. These aren’t the normal ones, in fact there’s only one person, a short, scruffy-looking white bloke with a rumpled grey suit and a harassed face.
“Sit down,” he says impatiently when Moses hovers in the doorway. The screws give Moses an encouraging shove and he stumbles forward into the chair. The bloke behind the desk says, “Right. I won’t beat around the bush, Marcus.”
“Moses,” Moses says.
“Dan,” says the screw, and it takes Moses a second to work out that’s his name and not another one he’s decided to give Moses. Dan runs his hands through his thinning hair, eyes frantically scanning the paperwork on the table in front of him. “So! You saved South London from an alien invasion, is that right?”
Moses looks at him. Dan looks back. Moses turns in his chair and eyes the closed door behind him, scans the corners of the ceiling for the cameras he knows are there.
“Well,” says Dan impatiently.
“I...yeah,” Moses says reluctantly. “But you lot all think I’m making it up.”
Dan folds his arms. “Are you?”
“No!” Marcus bursts out, frustrated. “I’m not even lying, man, why would I make up a stupid story about aliens, anyway? Other people saw them, you know that, Pest saw them, Biggz saw them, Tia and the girls – and what about Sam? She’s a grown-up, why don’t you believe her?”
“I do,” Dan says.
“Then why don’t you fucking – oh.” Moses sits back in his seat, confused by hearing something good for a change. “Well, then.”
“Well then,” Dan says briskly, making a motion like he wants to roll up his sleeves, except they’re already rolled up. “The thing is, Marcus-”
“-it turns out there wasn’t just one. Female being, that is, and recently we’ve been getting reports of attacks in cities across the UK, Europe, and now America have started getting twitchy and you know how well that usually works out for us.”
Moses does not, but whatever. He stays quiet and lifts his chin when Dan looks at him. He jerks his head, go on.
“You’re the only one who knows how to kill them,” Dan says simply, and sits back in his chair.
“That’s bollocks, man,” Moses says. “It wasn’t just me, it was a group effort, you get me? Tia knows, her and Dimples took one down. And Sam. She stabbed it right through the face.”
“I am aware of the involvement of your...associates,” Dan says gingerly. “But the difference with you, Marcus-”
“-is that nobody’s going to miss you.” Dan finishes.
There’s part of Moses that wants to get angry. There’s a big part of Moses that wants to punch Dan in his stupid fucking face and send that hairline running all the way off the back of his head.
There’s a bigger part of Moses that knows Dan is right.
“It’s not hard,” he says. “Get a knife. Get a gun. Get it dead. They’re just flesh and blood, cuz. You can deal with them the same way you deal with us.”
Dan kind of grimaces. “Yes, well. Your, uh...associates - ” (that word again. Moses doesn’t even know what it means) “- feel that your particular...skill set is integral to defeating the creatures.”
Moses stares at him. He says, “What.”
“They think you’re a hero,” Dan says, rolling his eyes. “They think you’re something more than an idiot child with anger management issues.”
Moses can’t help smiling a little bit. He really can’t hear any of his friends using those words.
Dan leans forward again, knotting his hands on the table. The skin over his knuckles is thin and dry, and there’s an ink stain on his wrist. He says, “Are you?”
“I ain’t going to no fucking care home,” Moses says.
Dan inclines his head. “Understood.”
“And I want Pest out,” Moses goes on. “And-”
“I’ve got this for you,” Dan interrupts him. He holds out a pink envelope with distinctive, curly writing on the front. “I understand that your correspondence has been...monitored during your stay here. The young lady in question insisted I deliver this to you myself.”
Moses tears it open, he doesn’t even care if Dan’s watching. Tia’s frantic writing covers every inch of the page, all this stuff about letter-writing campaigns and getting on the local news and, “She kept a alien in her freezer?”
“In her grandmother’s freezer, yes,” Dan says, with a half-smile. “I believe the carcass was instrumental in securing my department’s interest.”
“Shit,” Moses says, laughing. He reads further down the page, then - ”Will I be allowed to see them? Tia and Biggz and that? You won’t do that flashy thing like in Men in Black?”
“...no,” Dan says, after a minute of obvious brain-wracking to place the reference. “And if I said you weren’t allowed to see your friends, would it stop you?”
“Mate,” Moses says, rocking his chair back on two legs and lacing his hands behind his head. For the first time in a long time, he feels like himself. “Not for a fucking second.”
“That’s right,” Dan says, and smiles back. “Moses.”
On the way out, the screw at the desk leaps to his feet when Moses passes him.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he demands to know.
“To save the world,” Moses says, and walks out with his head held high.