1.11. Falling Action
The town is shocked. There’s never been anything like this. Aurora Skies is renowned for it’s lack of violence. Most police officers don’t even carry guns. There have been a total of something like two murders in the past ten years. And in one night, that record is met.
The House of Ragnarock and Roll is closed off, the door covered with police tape. The Aurora Skies Police Department, unused to such violent crimes, has to call in forensic experts from other sectors. Even with the extra help, it’s difficult to piece together everything from that night. It doesn’t help that the two key witnesses were drugged.
Two days after the murders, Quentin sits with a police officer in the local hospital’s cafe
“I understand this is frustrating, Mr. Parker, but I just need you to go through what you saw one last time.”
Quentin lets out an exasperated sigh as he petulantly leans back in his chair, “My fiancee is being discharged today and I need to be there for her.”
“I know. I just want to verify all of the details. Tell me again what you found when you entered the bar.”
“I found Clover and Crimson, lying on the ground near the bar.”
“Clover Byrd is the female suspect, and Crimson Byrd is the male suspect?”
Quentin winces. He doesn’t like how they’re being labelled suspects. It doesn’t seem like either one would be capable of this.
“And how did you find the suspects?”
“Clover was on her back, kind of splayed out,” Quentin says, “and Crimson was on his stomach.”
“Did you touch the crime scene at all?”
“Yes, I checked Clover for a pulse but then I heard Luna yell for help.”
“Luna Bee is your fiancee? The, um, the ginger?” The officer is reading over his notes as Quentin recounts the events. If Quentin was a betting man, he’d say that the officer had written down “the blue girl” and not “the ginger.”
“Yes. I ran up stairs and found her and Elysia--her sister. She was unconscious, and Luna was in hysterics, so I untied her and tried to calm her down before I called the police.”
“Did you see the other victim at all?”
The officer is referring to Rex Hamm, who had been found dead on the scene. “No, I didn’t see him.”
“And where had you been prior to the bar?” This was a new question.
“I was out with a couple of friends. We were celebrating my wedding. Luna and I were supposed to get married a couple of days ago.”
“What are your friend’s names? I know these questions are intrusive, but I need to verify your whereabouts.”
“Um, Stein Svard and Stefan Svard.” The officer scribbles down their names. He doubts Quentin had anything to do with this, but he has to cover all of his bases.
“If you were out with your own friends, why did you go to the bar?”
“I had texted Luna few times and she hadn’t answer, and when I called it went straight to voicemail so I knew her phone was off. That’s not like her, so I got worried.” Quentin wonders if he could have stopped all this if he’d shown up the bar just a little earlier.
“How well do you know the suspects?” Another new question.
“Pretty well. Um, I guess thought I knew them well.”
“And how do you know them?”
“Clover and I are both musicians, so we run in the same circles. Crimson is friends with my fiancee. He, uh, he helps her with her writing.”
“Do they have any grudges against you or your fiancee and her sister? Or any other reason they might want to hurt them?”
“No, none that I know of.”
“Anything at all that might be relevant to our investigation?”
Quentin hesitates, “no, sir.” He could tell the officer “well, my fiancee is an alien, as is Crimson and Clover, and there have been alien-related hijinks before so maybe you should look into that,” but he decides against it.
The officer looks at Quentin for a moment, searching his face. Finally, he stands up and shakes Quentin’s hand. “Thank you for your help, Mr. Parker. I’m very sorry you and your loved ones went through this.”
“Thank you, sir. Uh, can I ask you a question?”
The officer raises an eyebrow, “I can only answer if it won’t impede our investigation.”
“Did both of them do it? Or was it just Crimson?”
“Look, I shouldn’t be telling you this,” the officer sighs, “but according to both your fiancee and her sister, Miss Byrd was acting alone. Mr. Byrd had nothing to do with it. He was a victim, too.”
“Thank you.” Quentin feels guilty that he’s so surprised. He grabs his mug of coffee and heads upstairs to the waiting room. Luna might already be waiting for him.
Luna, meanwhile, is annoyed.
She was supposed to have been discharged already. Before she left, though, a nurse chased her down and led her to an examination room. “It’l just be a minute, honey,” the nurse explained, “your bloodwork came back and the doctor wants to talk to you about it.”
And so Luna has been waiting for thirty minutes, silently fuming. She had asked Quentin to bring her clothes, and of course he brought her ratty workout clothes. She hasn’t had a shower in over two days, and she can feel the grime all over her. Her nose is throbbing, and she just wants to go home and sleep.
She can’t even think about everything from the past few days. She’s too exhausted, too worried, too angry.
There’s a knock at the door, startling her.
“Thank goodness,” the doctor sighs in relief when she enters the room, “I went to the wrong room twice before I found you! I don’t know why the nurse put you in this room. Anyway, I’m Dr. Jonsdottir. I was assigned to you when we got your blood test results.”
“Why did they give me a new doctor? I’m supposed to be discharged today,” Luna begins to panic. While her mother was pretty upfront about their alien heritage, she warned Luna about the danger humans posed. What if they found out she was an alien? What if this woman was a government researcher? What if she was taken to some horrible lab and had to live out the rest of her life as a test subject?
“I don’t know what could have possibly come back on that test, but it’s probably wrong. This is just a skin condition.”
“Luna, I did my residency in Moonlight Falls. I understand that there are sims out there who are not ‘normal,’” Dr. Jonsdottir makes air quotes, “I don’t care if you’re a human or a witch or a genie or whatever. I am here to make sure that you are healthy and well taken care of. I took an oath to treat everyone, regardless of their condition.”
“Well that’s nice but I’m not a witch or a genie or whatever.”
“Of course you’re not.”
“So then why am I here?”
“Well, we were a little surprised when we got your blood test results back”
Luna braces herself for something awful.
“And I have good news,” Dr. Jonsdottir smiles.
Quentin hates this waiting area. He hates the ugly green walls and he hates the nurses who won’t answer his questions and he hates the lighting. It’s giving him a headache.
He’s exhausted. He’s hardly slept the past two days. The hospital has strictly enforced visitor hours from six AM to nine PM. Since they wouldn’t let him stay overnight with Luna, he’s been trekking back and forth between home and the hospital.
He could fall asleep right here, in this cheap chair with itchy, scratchy fabric. His eyelids start to droop, and he leans back a little.
“Quentin,” Luna calls to him as she walks down the hall towards the waiting area.
“What? What is it?” Quentin jumps up.
She bounds over to him and kisses him. “We’re going to have a baby,” she says through tears. For once, they’re happy tears.
In a cold room in another wing of the hospital, Elysia is also waiting. The doctors had pressured her to stay for another night of observation since she had lost consciousness a total of three times, but she adamantly refused to stay confined to a hospital bed for another minute. Thus, she had been discharged this morning with a stern warning to “please come in immediately if you have dizziness, vertigo, vomiting, or hallucinations.” She hadn’t left the hospital, though. She couldn’t bring herself to go home to worry and fret in solitude. So here she is, waiting for him to wake up.
Elysia watches Crimson’s chest rise and fall as he sleeps. She’s afraid he’s going to stop breathing. There are monitors in case that happens of course, but it makes her feel better to observe him herself. So she watches, obsessively counting the time between breaths.
He’s been asleep for the past two days. How can he sleep so deeply with all this beeping? Elysia had spent two nights in the hospital and had gotten the worst sleep of her life thanks to the monitors. 0/10, would not recommend.
He softly stirs, then suddenly shoots up and looks directly at Elysia.
“What are you doing here,” Crimson doesn’t seem at all happy to see her, though she shouldn’t be surprised by that.
“I thought you might want to see someone familiar when you woke up,” Elysia says. And I wanted to thank you, but she can’t manage to say that last part.
Crimson groggily looks around the room. “What time is it?”
“Um,” Elysia looks at a clock on the wall, “seven a.m. Though it’s Sunday, not Friday.”
“Is Luna okay?” Crimson groans as he tries to sit up. Even with all the pain medication, he can still feel a sharp pressure in his abdomen.
“She’s fine. Just a little banged up. She looks better than me, actually,” Elysia smiles weakly as she gestures at her swollen face.
“You do look awful,” Crimson cringes. The left side of her face is swollen, and without makeup she looks tired and a little washed out. He doesn’t look much better, though he doesn’t realize it.
“Yeah, I have your sister to thank for this,” Elysia immediately regrets her words. She wasn’t planning on bringing up Clover.
Crimson is quiet for a moment, “Clover--”
“How are you feeling? Can I get you anything?” Elysia stands up, “I can get you a snack from the vending machine.”
“Clover, is she--”
“You’re lucky. The knife didn’t hit anything vital. You had almost bled out before Quentin found you and called an ambulance.”
“Damnit, Elysia, tell me,” his voice wavers, “what happened to Clover?”
He has a feeling what happened to her, though.
“She was killed,” Elysia says flatly. The passive voice doesn’t trick Crimson, though.
“By me,” he supplies the subject.
He hadn’t expected his sister to stab him. He hadn’t known how unhinged she was, so why would he expect that?
The knife didn’t make a noise when it went it. But when Crimson pulled it out, it made a disgusting slurp, and a gush of blood sputtered out. He shivers when he remembers that noise. It had taken every ounce of strength to bear the pain and pull it out, but that noise was a thousand times worse than the burning hot wound.
And then there was the look on his sister’s face when she realizes he’s fighting back. That makes him shiver, too.
“What are you doing,” Clover’s voice was panicked. She struggled as he began to twist her arms, pushing the knife back towards her. “Crimson, stop!” she shrieked.
He could feel every muscle in her body push back against him. Whether by nature or adrenaline, he’s stronger. As he gripped her, he could feel the friction from his hands burning her forearms.
“Please stop,” she sobbed. He couldn’t.
She let out a low moan when the knife entered her stomach. It was slow, much slower than she had stabbed him. With each millimeter further it went in her, moan heightened and intensified, turning into an anguished scream.
Clover stumbled backward, pulling Crimson with her. They both had forgotten about the railing--she tumbled over it, dragging Crimson along. The fall was so short they barely had time to process it.
The twins lay next to each other on the hardwood floor. It seemed they would leave the world together, just like they entered it.
“Crimson,” Clover’s voice was just a whisper. Her eyes unfocused, her vision turning a bright white. “Crimson,” she repeated.
Elysia woke up the moment Clover’s life left her: Clover’s body shuddered, every last nerve twitching as they burned. Elysia’s eyes rolled in the back of her head as wave after wave of pain washed over her, her back arched as she convulsed on the floor, bile rising in her throat. It felt like it took hours. And then at once, both women went limp.
“It was quick,” Elysia lies.
“No it wasn’t. Don’t lie to me,” Crimson slumps on the bed. Elysia sits down at the foot of the bed and awkwardly puts a hand on his leg, trying in vain to comfort him.
“I’m just trying to make you feel better.”
“Great job,” Crimson sneers, “I feel fucking fantastic.”
“Just be thankful, okay? You could have died and you didn’t.”
“Clover is--she was mentally ill. The whole time, she was sick and I never even noticed. I could have helped her.”
“That’s not your responsibility. You’re not in any way to blame for what she did. How could you even have known? I didn’t even know. Everyone trusted her.” Actually, no one took her seriously, but that was basically the same thing.
“I murdered my sister! How am I not responsible for that? What excuse are you going to give me now?”
“You should leave,” Crimson sits up and glares at Elysia.
She hesitates for a moment, considering his command. Instead, she stays. “Let me help,” she says as she gently grabs the back of Crimson’s head and pulls his forehead against hers.
His body feels warm, like he just stepped out in the sun. Above, a flock of birds fly by. Palm trees sway gently in the breeze. He’s filled with a sense of relief, and gratitude.
Crimson breathes in deeply. Elysia can feel the agony leaving his body. The beeping of the monitors gets dimmer and dimmer until all they can hear is waves crashing against the beach.
“Sometimes it helps when I think about my favorite places,” Elysia says. She’d always wondered if she could do this--share her thoughts with others. And this seemed like the perfect time to try. What a pleasant discovery. “Thank you,” Elysia whispers, “you saved me, and you saved Luna.”
Crimson doesn’t feel his usual rush when he hears Luna’s name.