Coffee Break Read – A Face on the Screen

She went to find her mother to tell her she was going back to Thuringen the next day. Instead, she froze in the doorway at the image on the vidcast screen they had been sharing before she had left the room. The face filled the air. It was some documentary her mother had been viewing to do with criminal justice. She moved into the room paused the image and stood staring, feeling her mouth dry a little and aware that her mother was looking at her with real concern.
“Charis? Are you alright? You look as though you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Uh — maybe I have. Who is that?”
Her mother looked at the screen and then back to Charis.
“That’s Avilon Revid. The man who was an academic genius then murdered his wife and child and went off to become a terrorist. Sad story: brilliant mind goes mad and falls into an orgy of destruction — until they caught him. So happy ending.”
Charis felt sick. She had to be wrong.
“He’s still alive?”
“I would doubt so. It was a big case at the time. If I recall the trial was held behind closed doors for security reasons and he was sentenced to serve in the Special Legion. The judge ruled that the death penalty would be too lenient. Which led to a lot of debate at the time and set a precedent for subsequent sentencing — before the general view had been that the death penalty was the more extreme, but once the —” she broke off with a small smile, no doubt realising she was letting her legal enthusiasm run away with her.
“When was this?”
“It must have been, hmm…” Her mother clicked her tongue on the roof of her mouth as she thought. “Must be seven or eight years ago now. Why? Charis, you’re looking as though you recognise him.”
The Specials. A cold frost had started somewhere in her chest and spread out along her limbs. Charis shivered.
“No. Well, yes — it’s just he bears a creepy resemblance to someone I met on Thuringen. But no. It’s not him. It couldn’t be. Just — those eyes.” She shivered again.
Her mother nodded understanding. Then, probably because she was so understanding she turned off the vidcast and took Charis out for the evening. But the image wasn’t so easily dismissed from Charis’ mind and when she got back into the ‘City a couple of days later it was still haunting her. She had just landed when her mother was linking her, very concerned.
“Darling, the man you told me about, the one who looked like that terrorist?”
“What about him?”
“He’s not someone you know well, or have many dealings with is he?”
Charis could hear the tightness in her mother’s voice, see her anxiety.
“No. Not at all. I’ve not seen him for ages. Why?”
“I checked with some friends of mine in the Legal department of CRD. Avilon Revid was released a year ago having served five years exemplary. It was low key and kept unpublicised because of his notoriety. He will have been given a new identity — but they wouldn’t tell me where he was released. That is privileged information.”
The frost was forming again.
“Oh I’m sure this wasn’t the same man,” she said quickly, to reassure both of them. “And even if it was I don’t think I’d be seeing him again anyway.”
“I’m sure it’s not too. I mean, the chances are ridiculously small — but please, take care anyway.”

E.M. Swift-Hook

From Edge of Doom, a Fortune’s Fools book and the second volume of the Haruspex trilogy. 

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