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72

N ightingale put the earphones back in and pressed play. Robyns voice echoed in his ears.

Theres so much blood, she said. Theres blood everywhere. I dont want to look.

Breathe deeply, Robyn. Nice and deeply. Everything is okay and youre safe. Youre just remembering what happened. No one can hurt you. Do you understand?

Yes, said Robyn.

Can you breathe deeply for a while, and feel your heart slow down?

There was silence for several seconds.

Are you okay now? asked Barbara.

Im okay, replied Robyn.

Tell me what you can see, said Barbara. Imagine you are watching it on a television screen. Can you do that? Youre not really there; youre watching it on television. Do you understand?

I understand, said Robyn.

So tell me what you can see.

The blood is dripping onto the floor. I can see the boys eyes and theyre wide open but he must be dead because theres so much blood. Everyone is moving closer and theyre talking but I cant understand what theyre saying. One of them is touching the blood and holding up his hand.

Is it a man or a woman?

I cant see because they all have hoods over their faces. No, its a man. His hands are big. Now hes touching someone else on the head, putting blood on them.

What do you mean, Robyn? Hes marking their forehead with blood? Is that what hes doing?

Yes, said Robyn. Now hes doing it to someone else. To all of them. Now theyve all got blood on their foreheads.

Where are you, Robyn?

In the middle of the church, facing the altar. Theres someone on either side of me, holding me. Now the man is putting his hand in the boys blood again.

Nightingale heard his sister breathing loudly, fast and hard.

Relax, Robyn, no one can hear you, said Barbara. Stay calm. Deep breaths.

Robyns breathing steadied.

Now, Robyn, tell me whats happening.

The man is putting blood on my face. Hes saying something but the words dont make any sense and his voice is deep, like Im hearing it through water. Hes putting his face really close to mine but I still cant understand what hes saying.

Youre doing very well, Robyn. Keep calm. Nothing can happen to you. Youre safe. Now tell me whats happening.

Theyre moving me towards the altar. My legs feel so heavy and I cant feel my arms. I just want to sleep.

Why are they taking you to the altar?

I dont know. Some of the people are leaving. Therere just the ones holding me and the man with the blood. Hes got a knife now.

Is it the knife he used to kill the child?

Yes. I think so.

Is there blood on the knife?

Yes. Yes there is.

All right, Robyn, well done. Were almost finished. Tell me whats happening now.

Theyre putting something in my hand.

What? What is it, Robyn?

The knife. Oh my God, its the knife. Oh my God. The words were tumbling over each other.

Robyn, its okay. Go back to looking at the television screen. Youre not there but you can see everything. Youre quite safe.

Im scared.

Theres no need to be scared, Robyn. Everythings fine. Im here with you. Take deep breaths. Were going to stop soon. Just a few more minutes. Now, whats happening? Is the knife still in your hand?

Yes.

So tell me whats happening, Robyn. Tell me what you can see.

Im on the altar. Next to the boy. His blood is all over me. Its still warm. Theres so much of it. And Im so tired. I just want to sleep.

What about the man, is he still there?

Hes talking to me. Hes staring at me and talking to me and I just want to sleep.

All right, Robyn. Were going to stop soon. Just one more thing. This man, can you see his face?

Yes, whispered Robyn.

Describe him to me, said Barbara.

Hes as old as my father. Almost sixty, I think. He has long grey hair and his nose is red, as if he drinks too much. And hair in his ears. I told him he should use clippers.

Told him? What do you mean, you told him?

I said he should clip the hairs in his ears.

When did you tell him?

When he came to see me.

Nightingale frowned, not understanding what he was hearing. She had been held in the van with a hood over her head, so she hadnt been able to say anything to anyone. When had she had a conversation with the man?

Robyn, do you know this man? asked Barbara. Do you know his name?

Yes, said Robyn.

Who is he? asked Barbara.

Marcus, said Robyn. Marcus Fairchild.


| Midnight | c