Chapter 42: No Answers
“All right, I think that’s enough,” said Officer Pell. She had walked around the room and to Corrie’s side without Corrie noticing. Now she put her hand on Corrie’s shoulder. “Let’s get you out of here.”
“But—but we haven’t learned anything,” she protested, even as she stood up to the officer’s guidance and backed away from Paul. He was scaring her now more than ever before. “It doesn’t make any sense, what he said. And how—” She stopped, realizing that she had a possible explanation for how he might think he had the knife without really having it, but if Professor Lal didn’t want them telling the police about magic, she would have to avoid it.
“I know,” said Officer Pell softly, “but you’re not going to get anything else out of him. I’m really impressed you got him to talk so much, but I don’t want to leave you here where it might be dangerous.” She propelled Corrie to the door and then out it. The sound of Paul rattling his handcuffs disappeared as the door closed behind them.
Corrie took a few deep breaths as Officer Pell led her around through the hallway and into the observation room where the other police officer was with Professor Lal and Edie. She realized her hands were shaking and squeezed them together to stop them. Then Edie reached out and took her hands, and she squeezed Edie’s hands gratefully.
“Do you have any idea what that was about?” Professor Lal asked sharply. Of course, she always spoke sharply.
Officer Pell shook her head. “But you might want to work harder on the rules at your school. I know the woods are off-limits to students. But it’s pretty hard to keep kids out of places they’re not supposed to be.”
“Indeed,” said Professor Lal.
“It sounds like he met someone else in the woods, though, to get that knife,” said the male officer. “Don’t you have walls to keep out the shady characters?”
“The forest surrounding the college is large and difficult to protect,” said Professor Lal. “However, I am sure that when I discuss this with the administrators and the campus security, they will see the wisdom in increasing security. Perhaps we will even be hiring more security officers.”
Corrie listened, taking deep breaths and listening to her heartbeat slow down. She wondered if Professor Lal was really going to talk to the administration.
“Now, what do you think he meant?” asked Professor Lal. “Do you think he is unbalanced?”
“Oh, he’s definitely unbalanced,” said Officer Pell. “We’re going to have to bring in a psychologist before we can make any official determinations, of course. But he’ll be tried as an adult, so whether or not he’s mentally competent is up to the courts.”
“Wait,” said Corrie. “What if we don’t want to press charges?”
“What are you talking about?” cried Edie. Professor Lal turned to her and gave her a very stern frown.
Corrie shook her head, though her heartbeat had sped up again. “I don’t know if… I mean, what if it’s not really his fault? What if someone else put him up to it?”
The male police officer shook his head. “Like she said, that’s up to the courts to decide. If you know of who might have done that…”
“Besides,” said Officer Pell, “unless your friend who was actually injured wants to avoid pressing charges and tells us soon, we’ll have to bring this as far as we can. If you have any ideas for where we should start investigating, we’re all ears.”
Corrie swallowed and looked at the floor. “No, I don’t. I guess I just can’t imagine him wanting to attack Dawn on his own.” She thought she did know, of course. But she couldn’t tell. And she was pretty sure the police would have no chance against Mardalan and her twiggy servant—which, she realized, might have been the very reason Professor Lal didn’t want them mentioning magic.
“I understand.” Officer Pell put her hand on Corrie’s shoulder and squeezed it. “You used to date him, right? You don’t want to think that someone you cared about could become so nasty.”
“Right,” Corrie said. She gave Edie the best smile she could. “I should listen to my friends. They told me he’s dangerous, and I couldn’t bring myself to listen.”
“Next time we should all remember to listen to each other,” said Edie with a grin.
“My friends are all wiser than I am when it comes to matters of my heart,” said Officer Pell. “Come on, I’ll give the three of you a ride back to campus. You must all be exhausted.”
“Indeed,” said Professor Lal. “I will be lenient, Corrie, if you are unable to come to class tomorrow morning.”