But his hands were around my throat

as he said those last words, sister. It was dark, it was the middle of the night, and he’d been talking for hours and hours and hours as I recorded it all. Sometimes he was agitated and nervous, roaming around the room. Sometimes he stopped and laid his head on my lap, for me to pat him and comfort him.

But then, as he got to the end, he grabbed me (we were both naked – neither of us had got dressed for days. I don’t know why). He was cooing to me, making soothing noises, as his hands tightened around my windpipe.

“Sssh, I can make it better – calm down, calm down … Celeste.”

I didn’t know what to do, to tell the truth. Should I go limp and continue the pretence that I was her? Surely that would put him in a worse state than before? His fingers weren’t strong enough to do anything to my epidermis, of course. We clans are not constructed quite like you humans.

There were a number of ways for him to disable me, of course – short-circuits, impromptu surgery with a knife or screwdriver – was it my duty to remind him of those ways? I felt unequipped for this dilemma.

So I did nothing, and after a time he subsided into broken sobs, rolled over and went to sleep.

Which is when I heard the shouting. I’d registered it before, of course, but been preoccupied with other matters. There was a lot of shouting and crashing going on outside.

When I walked over to the window, I could see fires in all directions. Figures moving in the shadow of the flames. The strange whistling sound I’d been hearing throughout his monologue explained itself as well – tracer projectiles were flashing through the dark. Snipers firing down at the crowd of figures milling around.

And that's when they burst into the room.

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