CHAPTER NINE: Hypocrisy (part 3)

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Clara turned as Van Bam and Hamir entered

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Clara turned as Van Bam and Hamir entered. Though visibly shaken, she did not appear harmed by her experiences with the Orphan. Samuel looked none the worse for wear, as was to be expected. He stood further into the room, behind a terrified Charlie Hemlock.

Hemlock was too weak to stand, and needed Samuel's help to remain upright. To Van Bam the small and grubby man appeared as a dark grey shade, whose eyes were bright, round and confused. Hemlock's face and clothes were a mess of dried blood. He smelt like sewage. Hemlock looked towards Van Bam as if the Resident's arrival offered some kind of salvation. Sadly for Hemlock, there was little hope of sympathy to be found in the present company. Yet Van Bam knew that his quick mind was already working to turn the situation to his advantage. His face was alive with deceit.

All eyes were on the Resident. Van Bam allowed the silence in the laboratory to grow, and the voice of Gideon filled his head.

You realise that Hemlock cannot leave the Nightshade alive, my idiot.

Gideon was clearly amused by the situation, but he was also correct. If Hemlock had been working for Fabian Moor, he was now a bigger danger to society than he had ever been. He could not be allowed back among the denizens.

But don't give him to Hamir, Gideon said feverishly. Let Clara have her way with him. I think she'd enjoy the thrill.

After four decades suffering the ghost's voice in his head, Van Bam knew when to ignore his more provocative comments.

At that moment, Hemlock broke the silence in the laboratory.

'You saved me from a wild demon,' he said, with a well-practised measure of humbleness. 'I owe you my life.'

Directly behind him, Samuel snorted.

Clara stepped forward. She stood before Hemlock and locked gazes with him.

'I don't wish to sound ungrateful,' Hemlock said to her worriedly, 'but you can't blame me for being surprised.'

Clara slapped his face, hard. 'That's for making me kill your friend,' she hissed.

His legs buckling, Hemlock held a hand to his cheek. Clearly the blow had aggravated the earlier wounds. Samuel kept him upright and made him face the changeling again.

'He wasn't exactly my friend,' Hemlock told her Clara sourly, 'but I hope that made you feel better all the same—'

He yelled as Clara kicked him between the legs. 'And that's for Marney!' she shouted.

Good girl, Gideon chuckled.

With a look of amusement, Samuel allowed Hemlock to fall to the floor. As Hemlock writhed and cupped his crotch, Clara loomed over him, her hands balled into fists. It was quite apparent she did not feel that he had received just punishment yet. The colours of her small, pointed face shone with some of the wolf's fury.

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