Drove down to Maryland the other day. If you're unaware of why, or you just don't follow what's going on in the world, well, that's your prerogative, but basically what happened was Ms. McLachlan decided she was going to try and take on her proxy problem head-on.
Obviously it didn't work out, otherwise I wouldn't be down here.
She's alive, but she's in bad shape. Broken toe, dislocated shoulder, defensive wounds on her wrist, and a hell of a lot of blood on the outside that should be on the inside. That, and an operator symbol on the back of her neck that her proxy carved into her skin. That's one part of Wren's story accounted for, though I wouldn't call that good news.
Maybe you saw the fight we had before she left. Maybe you didn't. Maybe you don't care. Regardless, here I am, and I'll stick around for a little while until she gets better. Not permanent, but long enough.
Maryland, Jesus, it's almost as bad as Indiana, but at least it's not overrun with cultists...as far as I know. Everyone seemed decent enough, less conspicuous than the people at Damien's workplace were. I went up to the receptionist's desk and asked for Celeste's room.
“Are you family?” she asked me.
“Close enough,” I replied. Hey, I baby the girl enough, don't I?
“Third floor, room 42. I'll take you.”
I turned around and was face to face with a brown-haired, brown-eyed, and very pissed off girl behind me, speaking to her but looking right at me. She looked a very artsy type, stick-thin, very frail-looking, not too formidable at a glance, yet still looked very, very capable of pulling a gun on someone who disagreed with her. This, I hastily deduced, must be Violet.
The attendant opened her mouth to protest but we had already left her behind. I hurried my pace, half to get there as quickly as I could, half to try and avoid this girl that was giving me a death glare. For as sickly as she looked, though, she knew how to keep up.
“So, are you him?” she asked me.
“Are you going to hit me if I say yes?” Should I be afraid of a little girl? No. Was I at least weary? Given the last post, yeah, just a little bit.
“Then I'll wait to answer that until after I've seen her.”
She didn't agree with that one bit, but she put up with it. Her friend was my only concern at that point.
I don't know what I was expecting when I went through that door. Maybe I was expecting an empty room with no one but her, maybe I was expecting that maniac standing over her with a blade, ready to finish the job. Or maybe I should have expected her parents to be in there with her. In any case, I didn't, so that's what surprised me when I stepped through the door and saw her father and her step-mother in the room, with her laying in the bed, partially awake and looking as though she had been hit by a semi.
She looked at me as I came in and looked around the room, and I don't know if she knew who I was immediately, or if she had no clue until I opened my mouth and she heard how bad my voice sounded. Or maybe her being half-conscious kept her from guessing. At least she had the sense to keep quiet while I encountered her parents for the first time.
“Who are you?” her father asked me.
“Detective Riley, I'm recently transferred.” Go with what you know, and they already knew my name because of Keaton. “I'm here to ask Ms. McLachlan a few questions about the other night.”
“The police were already here,” her step-mother retorted, and as she said it she eyed me suspiciously. I'm pretty sure she didn't buy my story one bit, but I kept it cool.
“I'm just doing a follow-up, ma'am,” I answered. “Procedure, you understand.”
I wasn't sure if they'd buy that. Celeste was, for the most part, a pretty smart girl, and I'm assuming she got her brains from one of her parents, and it was most likely the one she spent all her time with. Then again, he did marry the She-Devil, so maybe not. I just braced myself.
“I see...” her father looked at her daughter, who thankfully still had the sense to be quiet and not give me away. “Do you want us to leave?”
“It would be best if you did. You can come back once I'm finished, however.”
“And why is she here?” Angel nodded coldly towards Violet, who looked like she was shrinking under her gaze but nonetheless didn't move from her spot.
“I invited her to help fill in certain gaps of the story,” I explained, which I think surprised Violet as much as it surprised the other woman. “And also to get her account of where she's been for the last few months.”
I told them to give us half an hour, forty-five minutes top. At this point, I think her father finally accepted my story, because he said his good-bye to his daughter and walked out, nodding to me as he left. Angel, however, seemed a bit more resistant to leaving, as she stopped as soon as she was up to me.
“You should do something about that cold,” she said.
“Already am, ma'am,” I assured her. She gave me another cold stare before she walked out, Violet closing the door behind her.
I went over and sat at the chair and looked right at Celeste. For months now I had been commenting on this girl's adventures and occasionally we would exchange some heated words, but now here she was right in front of me, albeit a lot of bruises. It felt weird seeing her in person after all that, like an internet friend that you finally meet after a long time of correspondence. You're not exactly sure what to say, what the first words should be, so finally you just talk about what you know, what's familiar.
For me, it was, “What did I tell you monkies about jumping on the bed?”
For her, it was, “Go to Hell, Strahm.”
Simple enough. Enough to make me smile a real smile for once. Which I appreciated.