Impostor by L.J. Ross Read Online (FREE)
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“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
She was muttering again.
The boy heard it from beneath the covers of his bed; an endless, droning sound, like flies swarming a body. The whispering white noise of madness.
Poor, poor baby, she was saying. My poor, poor baby.
Over and over she repeated the words, as her feet paced the hallway outside his room. The floorboards creaked as she moved back and forth, until her footsteps came to an abrupt halt.
He hunkered further down, wrapping his arms around his legs, as if the pattern of Jedi knights on his Star Wars duvet cover could protect him.
The door swung open and his mother was silhouetted in its frame, fully dressed despite it being the middle of the night. She strode across the room and shook his coiled body with an unsteady hand.
“Wake up! We need to go to the hospital.”
The boy tried not to sigh. She didn’t like it when he sighed, when he looked at her the ‘wrong’ way, or when he argued. Even if he did, she wouldn’t listen.
She wouldn’t even hear.
“I’m awake,” he mumbled, although his body was crying out for sleep.
He was always sleepy.
“Come on, get dressed,” she continued, and he tried not to look directly at her as she scurried about the room, pulling out clothes at random for him to wear. He didn’t want to see her eyes, or what was hidden behind them. They’d be dark again, like they were before, and they’d look straight through him.
There came a soft moan from the bedroom next door, and his mother hurried out, leaving him to pull on jeans and a faded Power Rangers t-shirt. The clock on the bedside table told him it was three-seventeen a.m., in cheerful neon-green light. If he had the energy to spare, he might have wondered whether the children he’d seen playing in the garden next door ever got sick, like he did, or whether they got to go to school.
He remembered going to school, once.
He remembered liking it.
But his mother said he was too ill to go to school now, and he’d learn so much more at home, where she could take care of him and Christopher.
It wasn’t her fault that, despite all her care, neither boy seemed to get any better.
Once, when she thought he was asleep, she’d come in to sit on the edge of his bed. She’d stroked a hand over his hair and told him that she loved him. For a moment, he thought Mummy had come back; but then, she’d moved her mouth close to his ear and told him it was all because Daddy had left them to be with something called a Filthy Whore, and everything would have been alright if he’d never gone away. He hadn’t known what she meant. At first, he’d wondered if some kind of galactic monster had lured his father away. Maybe, at this very moment, he was trapped in a cast of bronze, just like Han Solo.