When I say remains, I really mean remains.
As in, there wasn’t much left of him.
I honestly am sorry if you’re eating your breakfast or something, but here’s the thing: he was eaten. Raw flesh, chewed and swallowed. They found a skeleton and a handful of organs (I suppose even cannibals are fussy?) in a stream not far from the car park. He was actually found about a week ago, but it’s taken them this long to identify him… for obvious reasons.
I’ve been doing as much reading as I can about vikings since meeting Åke. Though we tend to have an image of them as total brutal barbarians, most modern historians believe that they weren’t all that bad. Not all that bad by the standards of the day, that is, they weren’t slow on the old murder and violent rampage front, but a lot of the stories of them randomly massacring entire villages were at least exaggerated. And while there is some evidence to suggest that stuff like human sacrifice took place, it mostly seems to have been more fringe weirdos taking things too far than standard fare for everyone.
What I’m saying is that though it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility that Åke or the nutter had chowed down on Rab, it wasn’t necessarily the obvious conclusion.
Or maybe that’s just what I really want to believe
Could I have feelings for somebody who would eat the raw flesh of another person? I mean, is it moral relativism to think that it’s a bit different for a viking to eat somebody than it is for your common-or-garden 21st century headcase? Or is it just understanding different… cultures.
I suppose if you really think about it, is cannibalism so much different from eating any meat? If you haven’t killed the person, that is. Murdering somebody for your dinner is, you know, not nice. But I munch burgers without giving any thought to the cows they once were: are we just being pointlessly squeamish at the thought of someone eating… Rab?
Yeah, nice try Linley. I hope Åke didn’t eat Rab. Another sentence I never thought I’d type.
The police were questioning me because they previously connected my attack to these mental murders of the cows and the body builder, and then they discovered I went to school with Rab. Looking at it from their point of view, I’d probably question me too. At least they don’t seem to have connected Granny at all.
It was Mila and Henrik, the same two officers who questioned me when I reappeared all those months ago. They seem well, I’m sure you’ll be glad to know. If not huge fans of mine, which, as I’ve said, is fair enough.
Henrik is kind of scrawny, a wee guy with a shaved head who looks as though he should be out carjacking himself rather than policing. He has sharp blue eyes and though he’s skinny, I suspect he’s the type who is stronger than he looks.
Mila, on the other hand, looks like she was on her way to a Paris fashion show or something and got lost on the way. Her dark blonde hair is long and thick and she normally wears it in a low bun at the nape of her neck. Her makeup is the kind that you need to do YouTube tutorials for, it’s all seventeen layers of foundation and drawing in bone structure and eyebrows.
It’s funny, because she’s really pretty. You wouldn’t think she’d need quite so much slap.
‘I didn’t eat Rab,’ I said when they brought up the fact we went to school together. ‘We’ve never been friends, but there’s plenty of MacDonalds I’d go to before I saw him as a meal.’
‘Why weren’t you friends with Rab?’ asked wee Henrik. He’d cut himself shaving, I noticed, and looked a bit green when Mila showed me the photographs of what was left of Rab. ‘You’d known him most of your life.’
‘Because he was a criminal,’ I shot back. ‘That can’t possibly be news to you. He’s one of the McAllisters. They’re the scum of the earth.’
‘When was the last time you saw him?’ asked Mila, and I wondered again where her accent was from. There was enough Glasgow in it to confirm she had lived in Scotland several years, but there was this wee twinge of something that I couldn’t place. Something Eastern European maybe?
I sighed, sat back in my chair in the pokey wee interview room that was covered in graffiti. On the table in front of me, someone had scratched out a drawing of boobs which was quite impressive, if unoriginal. For a moment I couldn’t for the life of me think of the last time I’d seen Rab.
Before the time we killed him, obviously.
‘Last Christmas,’ I said, suddenly remembering. ‘In the Burns Inn. Christmas Eve, it was. I took my Gran to Midnight Mass then we went into the Inn to say a wee happy Christmas to a few of her pals. Rab was there and we said hello when we were at the bar at the same time.’
‘No more than hello?’
I shook my head, though now I thought about it, I was fairly sure he’d tried to pinch my bum and I’d belted him. No need to complicate matters by mentioning that.
‘Like I said, we don’t have a lot in common. I’m no’ really one for carrying a hammer about my person to threaten folk with, for a start.’
‘It’s just a wee bit o’ a coincidence that he was killed by the same man who attacked you,’ said Henrik.
I looked up sharply. ‘He was? Are you certain?’
‘The cannibal is a bit of a dribbler,’ said Mila with a faint smile. ‘Let’s just say he is fairly generous with his DNA.’
The nutter viking. Not Åke. Yeah I’m relieved to hear that. Not for any particular reason.
I wondered about the sequence of events. Was he already tucking in to Rab before he came at us, or did he come across him after Nate drove him in a ditch? Given I’d survived a hammer to the head and my neck being snapped I hadn’t imagined the wee shunt with a Fiat Uno had killed him, but it didn’t shed any light on where Åke’s disappearance fitted into the picture.
Mila held out the photo of Rab’s skeleton to me again, and that’s when I noticed something that made my blood run cold. She had a tattoo on the inside of her wrist. It was almost covered by her blouse sleeve and I only just caught a glimpse of it as she reached her arm out. I’ve seen that tattoo before.
Åke has the same one.