The Iron in Blood (Chapter 2, page 1 of 6)

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Chapter 2


Those crutches were trying to kill me. I abandoned them after a couple of days and managed to get about in a kind of hip grinding straight legged stagger. My brothers thought it was hilarious to watch me trying to negotiate the stairs to my bedroom, and laughed a little too loudly for my taste. Fortunately Joe was away at a friend's for most of the weekend, but I had to contend with Mark giggling and my mother trying not to smile.

Then I thought about trying to negotiate all the stairs and passages at school, and I shuddered. The school I attended had more than its fair share of bullies, and my own personal nemesis was an oversized thug called Shanice. She infested my life with her greasy hair and her sneers and her motley collection of equally dysfunctional friends, and was one of the main reasons I was looking forward to the next academic year. Shanice would be leaving then to go and work in some factory or shop or live off the welfare system. I didn't really care what she did, as long as I didn't have to look into those piggy eyes ever again. Unfortunately that beautiful day was a good few months away, and until then I was stuck with her.

I have to say, I was really not looking forward to Monday morning.


I spent the weekend doing a bit of investigating of my own. Fergus had given me a broad description of the car that had hit Rebecca, which he'd probably hacked from the police database; and then a list of matching cars in the region, starting with the ones reported stolen, and then those with a male teenager in the family, and then the rest. It took me four hours to find the hit and run driver. Turns out he had had an argument with his partner and had driven off in a blind rage after smacking her around a bit.

I'd actually narrowed the list of potential suspects down to fourteen likely candidates, and twenty six more possibles. I visited each in turn, pretending to be looking for someone called Jack McShane, an entirely fictional character of my own making. I had asked for the same person at twelve different residences when I stumbled upon my target. I knew it was him as soon as he opened the door, and I felt the tangle of his thoughts sliding over the rage and frustration and meanness that was his mind. That was another of my talents, you could say - an ability to sense the general gist of someone's thoughts without actually reading them in detail. It was a useful ability in situations such as these, where finding the correct quarry was not a straightforward "follow the clues" exercise.

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