Ninety-six

‘It doesn’t make any sense,’ Henry said. ‘You just told me Beleth’s implant actually turned me into a demon. Like I became a demon, then shape-shifted back so I looked like Henry – something like that?’ He was staring intently at Mr Fogarty.

Fogarty said, ‘ Exactly like that. At least that’s what you told Blue and she thought you should know.’

Henry took a nervous sip from his mug of tea and found it cold. He licked his lips. ‘The idea was I should… you know… with Blue.’

‘Yes, breed with her,’ said Fogarty harshly. He seemed to be losing patience with Henry’s sensibilities.

‘And that was so the demons could get a demon child – or a half demon child anyway – into the Purple Palace?’

‘That was the plan, yes.’

‘And the demon had my – Henry’s – appearance so Blue wouldn’t suspect she was going to be kidnapped?’

‘You’re just repeating everything I told you,’ Fogarty said impatiently. ‘Is this going anywhere?’

‘But when they put us in the room to…’ he swallowed, ‘… breed, they deactivated the implant and I turned back into the real Henry. That doesn’t make sense.’

‘Yes, it does,’ Fogarty said. ‘Blue’s very sensitive. They were worried she might figure out she was mating with a demon, even if it had your shape.’

Henry said, ‘If I was really me again, how would that produce a demon child?’

Fogarty blinked.

After a moment he said, ‘Well, you – I suppose if you -’ He stopped, staring at Henry. ‘You’re right. That doesn’t make any sense.’

They stared at one another.

Eventually Henry asked, ‘Are you sure you got it right: what Blue told you?’

‘I’m not that senile.’

‘Then are you sure Blue got it right?’

‘How should I know?’ Fogarty snapped. ‘I’m only telling you what she told me and Cynthia. She said that’s what you told her. When you were a demon. Or rather when you weren’t: when the implant was deactivated. She’s not likely to get that wrong.’

‘Unless I was lying to her,’ Henry said.

Mr Fogarty got it right away. ‘You mean the implant wasn’t deactivated?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Henry. ‘But it’s possible. Suppose -’

‘I’m ahead of you,’ Fogarty cut in thoughtfully. ‘Suppose the demons wanted to fool Blue by pretending the implant was deactivated when it wasn’t. Suppose they were trying to sell her on some bill of goods that wasn’t what was really happening at all.’

‘That’s what I think,’ Henry said. ‘Maybe the whole story about the child was just a cover-up for something else.’ He felt simultaneously relieved and just a fragment disappointed.

‘What?’ Fogarty asked. ‘A cover-up for what?’

Henry said, ‘I don’t know.’

‘This could be important, Henry.’

‘I know it could be important, Mr Fogarty! But I can’t remember. You know I can’t remember. I can’t remember anything since you took the transplant out. I can’t even remember how I got to the Realm.’

‘Maybe I could make you.’ Fogarty frowned.

There was something in his tone that made Henry think of rubber hoses and lights in your eyes. ‘How… how would you do that?’ he asked warily.

‘You’re not the first,’ Fogarty said.

‘I’m not the first what?’

Fogarty got up and began to pace around the room. ‘You got your implant in a flying saucer abduction,’ he said. ‘You’re not the first. The demons have been abducting people from Earth since 1961. They lose their memory as well, but we know how to get it back again. Been done hundreds of times.’

Henry wondered who we were. But all he asked was, ‘How… how do we do that, Mr Fogarty?’

Mr Fogarty rounded on him and grinned triumphantly. ‘We hypnotise you!’ he said.

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