Makatu

by Kilmo

Honesty Flips looked at the interview room’s solitary clock; she’d been here hours and the metal stitched through her mouth hadn’t healed yet.  Lying still made her uncomfortable although she’d become so good at it the words were like a song. There were still some the Makatu didn’t like, as the coppers had found to their frustration.

‘How long are they going to keep me in here do you think?’

Her tongue felt swollen and sullen with all the work she’d made it do, but there was no reply. Not this time; she supposed it was because there was no one present that needed to be misled. At least she could see straight again, although the pain had worsened with every passing moment as the bruises ripened. She tried walking the confines of the room to see how bad the damage was, but the kicking they’d given her made even that uncomfortable.

‘Ugly bastards.’

The men who’d had had faces like wire; sepia from lack of light, and the going over they’d given her had been professional like they’d done it a thousand times before. It hadn’t exactly done wonders for the secret in her mouth. She’d still been bleeding when they caught her. Honesty Flips wondered how many more coppers the station held, and shuddered. There’d been screams and shouts at first, enough to make her skin crawl until her voice had grown hoarse and choked. Her brothers had sounded like they were getting even worse treatment.

That was a nasty thought, obviously the law was prepared to ignore the rules again; with the usual results.

‘Please Alot, just keep your gob shut like we told you.’

She raised her eyes to heaven, and muttered a quick prayer.

Rinse would say nothing, but Alot, was only eight and this was her brothers first brush with the law. The boys in blue hadn’t been shy either. The thwap of titanium hitting flesh wasn’t something she’d forget.

‘Didn’t have much time for politeness once we were out of sight of cameras did you? Not like when you got us to come with you.’

She felt the thing in her mouth tremble with pleasure. It had hurt a lot less than the hiding she’d received, the slick feel of something foreign sliding through her had been a bit like that time she’d slept with Anchor from down the block. Honesty shivered, enjoying the cold taste of the metal in her mouth. With a bit of luck, it would keep her safe from telling the cops what they’d found in the building. That was better left hovering behind her eyes where it was safe.

‘It’ll be alright we’ll walk out of here. They’ve got nothing on us.’

Honesty jumped as the door opened, her tongue springing from the old woman’s gift like a guilty finger.

‘Webb, that’s your real name isn’t it?’

The first of the two coppers smiled, and Honesty had to force herself not to turn away. It was like looking at radiation grin, all that was missing was the crackle of a gieger counter.

‘My Mothers.’

‘Why didn’t you tell us the truth earlier?’

‘I was scared.’

‘If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to worry about do you?.’

‘I’ve never been in trouble like this before.’

The Makatu liked that one, it felt like a bull frog croaking in her mouth.

‘You’re not in trouble. We just want to help.’

The spike through her tongue trembled, ice spreading through her tongue like a balm. She’d have to do better.

‘I don’t like getting into trouble.’

That at least was true, what made her blood flow quicker than a spring tide was getting out of it. She thought back, the Maori’s face had been so kind when she’d stabbed the fetish through, and Honesty had to admit she’d asked her to do it. She’d known she’d need some sort of help if things went wrong. She could still hear the soft hum of the migrant’s voice as she’d sung while she worked.

‘Nobody, deserves to be punished for something they haven’t done.’

There’s a furrow on the man’s brow as though he’d read the words somewhere and not understood what they’d meant.

She can see by their faces they’re not listening anymore. There’s another voice whispering in their ears, and the Makatu is alive in her mouth like its stolen their lies to use as her own.

‘Punished…? No, that’s not what we’re going to do.’

‘Not anymore.’

The vacant look hasn’t gone from them yet, and she has to fight to keep her grin to herself. The Makatu’s bouncing and quivering with the fun of it. She’s just a little girl, and so stupid too to have got herself into so much trouble. She makes sure she shows it. If the spike had a breaking point, she didn’t want to find it.

‘You’ve just made a mistake.’ It’s the copper with the radioactive grin again, ‘a silly mistake, kids are always doing that.’

His colleague is shaking his head, ‘You shouldn’t get your friends in trouble because of us. We wouldn’t want that.’

‘Don’t tell us what you found if you don’t want to. We don’t care its only our job.’

The more talkative of of the two looks like he wants to punch himself in the face, like the words he’s saying make him sick. Anger and disbelief cross his face in equal measure as his jaw cracks and Honesty steps back.

‘We’re all friends here aren’t we? You’re not going to hurt me again?’

The copper’s smile was even worse than before like he’d tear his tongue out if he could.

‘Of course we’re friends.’

‘Yes, we are,’ even the Makatu kicked a little at that, ‘I think I need to see a Doctor now. You’ll let me do that?’

‘Of course.’

She breathed slow, and deep, letting the interrogation room’s stale air fill her. It would be alright, the Makatu had her back.

‘But, please…. will you tell us what you were doing there? I’m so sorry to have to ask.’

His partner shrugged, ‘Orders; you understand don’t you? It’s our job.’

Honesty nodded, she knew when to be generous. She watched the larger of the pair’s eyes narrow as the Makatu hummed behind her teeth. She better give them something.

‘We were looking for my Mum’s cat.’

‘In the middle of the night?’

‘He’s been gone for days, probably starving by now. You could look for him?’

‘We’re pushed for time. You know it’s dangerous in there don’t you?’

He was probably right, but falling masonry and treacherous stairs had been the last thing on their minds once they’d found the hole.

‘Yes, officer.’

Linda wondered whether to try a tear or two, and decided against it. She’d put her trust in the old dear and her gift. Anyway, she had her pride, and the lies are flowing so fast she’s not sure she could stop them if she tried.

‘We’re really sorry. I was supposed to keep an eye on him. I’m going to be in so much trouble.’

She kept what the old Maori had told her to herself. From start to finish they’d had the air of knowing more about the warehouse’s and what was in its cellar than they let on. You didn’t get busted for trespass by plainclothes CID.

‘Why’re you so interested anyway? The place is empty.’

For a moment Honesty thought she’d got them as something burrowed beneath their faces.

‘Just don’t play there.’

‘Never.’

‘It’s dangerous. We’ll find your missing person for you. These things are better left to professionals.’

‘We know where she is. That warehouse should be demolished if you ask me.’

Radioactive copper looked like he wanted to punch himself in the face. The Maori had been right then; there were secrets to be found amongst the ruins.

‘Look, don’t play there again, and don’t mess with anything in there either. Its dangerous.’

‘We won’t, I swear. Can’t you let us go now? We need to see the doctor, and we weren’t doing anything wrong were we? The pair looked at each other then back at her. ‘We won’t go back. You can trust us.’

The smell in the room was starting to make her feel sick, she had to get out.

‘We’re going to let you go. Of course we’re going to let you go.’

The copper with the grin reach over and squeezes her shoulder, soft and urgent like he wants something more than just to look into her eyes.

‘You can come back any time. We’ll wait.’

It’s over surprisingly fast. It turns out their captors have more pressing matters than their three new friends. There’s no charges brought or official record. Instead Honesty and her brothers carry their bruises back onto the street with their lesson duly learned. The warehouse was hiding something a lot more than a hole in the wall.

‘Alright Honesty, what did they say?

That was Rinse, he’d raised one hand to stop the sun burning his eyes now his cap was gone.

‘The usual crap; they’ll have forgotten us by tomorrow. But, we’re on to something that’s for sure.’

Honesty lets the light wash over her as the sun comes out from behind the clouds, and she takes stock of her brothers: two black eyes and one nose smeared across its owner’s face.

‘We got off lightly,’ she says to Rinse.

‘Yeah, maybe.’

His eyes dart sideways and for a moment she wants to ask him what’s up, what’s the problem, but the Alot’s too quick. He gets there first.

‘They didn’t tell us their names either.’

‘Bastards.’

Lyra strokes Alot’s battered cheek. He’s too young for this, but there’s no one else; no one else she trusts anyway. There hadn’t been much time to be picky, not with Mum so ill.

‘They bought it, though.’

‘Well, at least we know the Maori’s telling the truth.’

‘About what’s in there? Maybe, all we found was that hole; there’s no way they’d have let us go otherwise.’

Her jaw feels heavy now, the words that had filled it a distant memory. Only the expressions on the coppers faces stick in her mind. They knew what the hole hid even if they wouldn’t say. She’d go back, with or without her brothers. But she’s tired now, metal drags in her mouth, sour like lead now the life is gone.

‘At least the Makatu worked. We can use that if Mum gets worse.’

Rinse’s looking at her with his head on its side, ‘You don’t say. That Maori’s clever. What did you think about the rest?’

‘I think we better find what she told us about before they block the place up.’

They set off across the roads shabby tarmac. There was still plenty of time. She’d do it on her own if she had to. She never notices the expression on Rinse’s face as he watches her back.

END

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