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Control

Chapter Text

The hardest thing she ever did, it seemed, was to leave Ruby. It felt like she was abandoning her. Again.

But she had done it before, and they had made it through. They had found each other again—yes, in a prison, but they had still found each other. And Rita was proud; so very, very proud of the woman that Ruby was becoming.

Now, while Rita was gone to… wherever it was she was going… Will Jackson would protect Ruby, keep her safe. So would Boomer and Allie. It was harder inside without Kaz or Liz, but Ruby was loved. She had friends. She would be okay.

Rita glanced down at the photograph clutched in her hands. She could just make out Ruby’s smile as her vehicle passed beneath flickering streetlamps. She traced it with her fingertip.

Her Kangaruby.

She would be okay, Rita repeated. Ruby would be okay.

She would be protected.

The SUV drove on, ever farther away from Wentworth, away from Ruby.

***

They were in the seediest part of the city, now—a wasteland of concrete and abandoned buildings. Abandoned people. She watched a man, bottle in one hand, urinating in the middle of a parking lot. Over there, standing alone under the anemic glare of a streetlamp, was a young woman. A prostitute. She looked about Ruby’s age.

They drove beneath a large concrete bridge, the darkness enveloping her SUV. She could hear a train passing overhead. When lights appeared again, she saw a small group of homeless people. Her eyes flicked over them, over their fire burning in a metal barrel, over their hands held above it, and then away.

Her car drove onward, ever closer to her unknown destination.

***

“Something’s up,” Pete said, watching the two white vehicles driving toward them.

The other two looked up from the fire, seeking out the SUVs. Ted grunted, but their other companion remained silent.

“Not likely coming from Walford,” Pete continued conversationally. “That’s clear across the city from here. No, that’s an unmarked police escort, all right, and I’d bet it’s coming from Wentworth.”

Ted shrugged, grunting again. It had nothing to do with him.

Their other companion backed away from the fire, pulling down her hood, her eyes fixed on the vehicles.

***
As the SUVs drove closer toward them, Pete provided a running narration.

“Yeah, definitely a prisoner transport. Or something. Who drives two identical white SUVs in this part of the city? And so new. What I could get for just one of them… Just think, Ted, mate,” he clapped Ted on the back, receiving only another grunt in response, “we could go to a pub and order anything we wanted! Top shelf!” He grinned at his own daydream. “And Control,” he nodded, turning briefly to his other companion, “I don’t even know what you want, but we could get it.”

She had backed farther away from the fire, her gaze still fiercely fixed on the SUVs. She didn’t respond.

“Wow, you’re really into cars, aren’t you?” Pete added, watching her. He turned back as the vehicles drove past. “Anyway, the first thing I’d buy would be—"

Two screeches ripped the air as first one SUV, then the other, skidded to a sudden stop. Pete took a couple of startled steps forward, but the other two melted further away from the light, away from the vehicles.

Multiple things happened simultaneously. A woman emerged from the first SUV, running toward them. Shots rang out from inside the vehicle. The second SUV sped away. The woman was still running toward them. A man jumped out of the vehicle and aimed his gun at the woman. They all heard a shot, but it didn’t appear to hit the woman. As they watched, the man fell to the ground. Still the woman ran. She was close enough now that they could make out her features.

They heard one more shot, and the woman fell.

The man was flat on the ground now, the gun lying next to his outstretched hand.

Neither the man nor the woman moved.

***

“What just happened?” Pete whispered.

“Fuck,” Ted replied, his gravelly voice finally speaking. “Gotta get out of here.” He turned, hurrying toward his blankets, away from the bodies.

“Wait!” Pete called. “Where are you going? We have to see if they’re all right!”

Ted paid no attention as he gathered his bags.

“Ted?” Pete called again. “Wait!” He ran forward, warily eyeing the man on the pavement, the gun still beside his hand. He dropped beside the woman. “I need help over here,” he yelled. “Ted? Control?”

Ted was already scurrying away.

“Control?” Pete repeated. “I don’t know what to do.”

Control stood absolutely still in the shadows.

“Please!” Pete begged. “Do something! Help me!”

She remained motionless. Suddenly, briskly, she moved toward the gun, scooping it up. She gave the dead man next to it a cursory glance, roughly shoving him with her foot, then quickly joined Pete kneeling next to the fallen woman.

The woman moaned into the pavement.

“She’s alive!” Pete exclaimed. “I knew it! We need to do something! We need to get her to a hospital or something!”

Control shoved him out of the way. Leaning over the woman, she traced the backs of her legs, her torso, her shoulders, looking for the gunshot wound. She found blood in her long, curly hair. Gently, surprisingly gently, Control parted the hair.

The woman moaned again.

“No way!” Pete exclaimed. “No fucking way!”

The parted hair revealed a head wound, bleeding profusely, but obviously not from a bullet going through her skull.

“He skimmed her,” Pete breathed in awe. “The bullet must have skimmed right over the top of her head.”

Control started to pull her own scarf off her head, then stopped. Her hands moved towards the woman’s torso instead. Pete watched, confused. Quickly, efficiently, Control pulled a small knife from her boot and sliced a ring of fabric from the woman’s tshirt. She cut off a piece, applying it directly to the wound and holding Pete’s hand heavily on top. She pushed down.

“Pressure,” said Pete. “Right.”

Control took the rest of the fabric and wrapped it around the woman’s head, over the wound. She pulled Pete’s hand away while she tied the fabric, then replaced his hand back on top.

The woman’s groans grew louder.

Pete leaned over, whispering in her ear. “It’s all right. You weren’t shot. The bullet just skimmed the top of your head.”

The woman squirmed slightly. She seemed to be regaining consciousness.

“Control has bandaged you up,” Pete continued. “You’re going to be okay.” He gently rolled her to her side, cradling her head in his lap.

The woman groaned again as her eyelids slowly fluttered open. Her eyes were unfixed, then seemed to settle on Pete’s face.

“See?” he asked. “You’re going to be okay!” He smiled down at her.

Neither the woman nor Pete saw Control pick up the large rock.

Neither were prepared when she slammed it against the woman’s forehead.

Rita Connors slumped against Pete, unconscious again.

Chapter Text

“Fuck! What did you do that for?” Pete shouted, awkwardly trying to reposition Rita. “You were saving her!”

Control ignored him. She was staring at the SUV.

Pete was still holding the original bandage against the top of Rita’s head. “You were saving her,” he repeated, mostly to himself. He pushed away the rock from where Control had dropped it. “We could have had at least one unbroken person,” he muttered.

Control turned back to him, regarding him dispassionately. Pete looked away. “I just don’t understand,” he stated quietly, gently brushing the curls out of Rita’s face.

Control gave no further indication that she either heard or understood him. Instead, she slowly lumbered toward the SUV, scanning the road on either side as she approached. Now that the adrenaline was starting to wear off, her footfalls were heavier, less careful. Still, she remained alert, gun in hand, ears carefully taking in all the echoes of the deserted streets surrounding them.

The gunman lay where he had fallen beside the vehicle, his blood seeping from him in a slow burgundy river. Control avoided him, choosing instead to circle the still-running vehicle, watching. Listening. The engine idled quietly, but otherwise there were no sounds from inside.

After circling twice, Control suddenly threw open the driver’s door, her gun pointed in front of her. It was obvious that the gun wasn’t needed; the driver’s dead body half fell out of the SUV, held in place only by his seatbelt. The entire back of his head was splattered against the side window.

“What do you see?” Pete called to her.

Control didn’t react to the blood, to the missing skull, to the tang of iron in the air. She simply surveyed what she saw, then placed her gun carefully in the waistband of her trousers and walked to the passenger side of the SUV. Stepping around the gunman on the pavement, avoiding the blood, she climbed into the vehicle.

And stilled. Sitting in the cushioned chair, leaning her head back, her bones felt comfortable for the first time in…

She heard a very distant siren.

Control quickly released the driver’s seatbelt, pushing his body as it fell out of the vehicle. It made a dull thud as it hit the ground.

“Is that another body?” Pete yelped, still applying pressure to Rita’s wound. “So that guy on the ground must have shot the guy in the SUV? Or wait—did the guy in the SUV shoot the guy on the ground? Why were they even shooting each other?”

Control stepped from the vehicle back onto the pavement. Crouching over the body on the concrete, she quickly frisked the man, pocketing his wallet. She rounded the SUV and did the same with the driver, now crumpled on the ground. She paused for a moment, contemplating his feet.

Pete held Rita, watching as Control made her way back to them. She carried a pair of boots in her left hand.

“All dead?” Pete asked quietly. Control dropped the boots beside him.

***

Staring at his new boots, Pete wondered what Control had planned for the lady. She had seemed so gentle when she looked up at him. He wanted to help her, but he knew better than to go against Control’s plans.

He watched, now, as Control left them, moving heavily past the fire toward their sleeping area. As always, Pete’s area was a mess of tarps and blankets and cardboard. Control’s area was as pristine as she could make it, considering where they were. While Pete and Ted had always just tossed their stuff under their lean-to when they got up, returning to grab snatches of sleep whenever they could—morning, afternoon, whenever it seemed safe, or when they couldn’t handle the boredom anymore—Control was always careful to pack up and store her belongings in plastic bags inside her lean-to. Every morning she shook out her blankets before folding them neatly and encasing them in the plastic. Whenever the air was warm and she managed to smuggle extra water from the decrepit gas station bathroom four blocks away, she would wash the blankets and hang them to dry. Sometimes she would force them to do the same. Control liked things clean, even out here in the shitty ass-end of nowhere.

As Pete watched, Control started dismantling her makeshift lean-to, startling him by carefully folding its components and placing them in one of her ever-present plastic bags.

“No!” whispered Pete, watching her. “Wait!” he cried, louder. “What are you doing?” He tried to extricate himself from under Rita’s body. “Are you leaving? You can’t leave!” He gently laid Rita’s head on the pavement before jumping up. “You can’t leave me! Please don’t leave me!”

Control stilled.

“Please, Control,” Pete begged. As he watched, panicked and near sobbing, she jerked her head toward his own makeshift living area.

“What? My stuff? Are you taking my stuff with you?” Control turned back to her tasks. “Oh. Oh! You want me to pack my things, too? I’m going with you?” he asked hopefully, not caring that he sounded pathetic. He had been alone before. He couldn’t be alone again. He couldn’t.

Pete looked down at Rita, still sprawled on the pavement. “What about her?”

Control ignored him. She did not watch to see how he left Rita, or indeed whether or not he was even following her implied order. Instead, she methodically placed items into a bag. Two shirts. Three socks. She carefully folded a pair of underwear. In an old bucket she kept a plastic cup, a men’s hairbrush, and a warn toothbrush. She reverently added the last sliver from a bar of soap. Over there sat the bucket she used to relieve herself on the days when the lesions on her legs ached too much to haul herself to that godforsaken gas station.

She did not look over to see if Pete was finished packing. Instead, she gathered all of her bags and buckets and started back towards the road.

“I’m coming!” he called. “Just let me shove this stuff together. Don’t go without me!”

Control stopped beside Rita. Carefully placing her belongings on the ground, she kneeled beside the unconscious woman. Once again she removed her knife from her boot, and again she cut a ring of fabric from Rita’s t-shirt. This time, she placed the fabric over Rita’s eyes, rolling her slightly to tie a tight knot behind her head. She used another piece of fabric to tie Rita’s wrists tightly together. Control hesitated over the remaining fabric of the t-shirt, now indecently short on Rita’s torso. She pulled the sides of Rita’s outer shirt together, carefully doing up each of the buttons.

Pete quietly joined her, carrying all his worldly possessions in two bags. “What now?” he asked, staring down at Rita as she lay blindfolded on the concrete.

Control pointed at Rita.

Then she pointed to the SUV.

Apparently, it was time to leave home... and the lady was coming with them.

Chapter Text

“I never realized how difficult it was to move an unconscious person into an SUV!” Pete exclaimed after they had finally managed to get Rita positioned (half laying down) in the back seat. He chuckled. “That would be a good TV line,” he noted, pulling a seatbelt around her. “I should have been a writer.”

Control, of course, didn’t reply.

Pete opened the front passenger door. “Control,” he said, staring down at the body still on the pavement, at his feet, “do you think we should be burying them or something? At least moving them to…” he stopped, realizing that, really, there was nowhere suitable to move them. They couldn’t even try to bury them—not without transporting them for blocks. Everything here was concrete.

“It’s funny, isn’t it,” he said, stepping over the body and climbing into the passenger seat, “how quickly you just accept things as they are. Like, Ted was with us for… I don’t know. Three months? And suddenly he’s gone. And these two fellows were alive less than an hour ago, and now they’re dead. And we have an SUV, when we haven’t even had so much as a pillow for forever. And this seat. My God,” he said, luxuriating in the cushioning of his SUV seat. “It’s been so long. I forgot how good a seat like this can feel! You’ve got to try this, Control!”

He leaned back, watching her work. She was busy lining the driver’s seat with plastic bags, covering the blood and viscera.

“I guess we’ll have to clean all of that blood before we try to sell the SUV,” Pete pondered aloud. “I wish we could keep it, though. It reminds me of the old days.” He sighed heavily. “It would sure be nice for sleeping. No holes in the roof!”

Control was now in the driver’s seat. Her hands traced the edges of steering wheel, caressing the leather.

“So where are we going?” Pete asked, still watching her. She seemed to have gone into one of her trances. He glanced back to Rita. “Maybe we could get her some help?” he asked hopefully.

Control started, her eyes immediately darting to the rear-view mirror, fixing on Rita. She was still unconscious for the moment. Control flicked her eyes back to the front, focusing. Putting the SUV in gear, she pulled forward smoothly.

Pete fumbled with the buttons, turning up the heat. As Control drove the SUV into the night, he leaned his head against the window, watching. “I forgot how nice this could feel,” he stated quietly.

They continued forward in silence.

***

Pete snorted himself awake. He had no idea how long they had been driving—it could have been five minutes or five hours. He quickly surveyed the landscape around them. The long concrete blocks were gone. Instead, they seemed to be in some kind of suburban area. He looked over at Control, who was focused on the road. Twisting in his chair, he turned to check on the unconscious woman in the back seat.

She was still blindfolded, still half-laying on the back seat, but she seemed different, somehow.

“Are you awake?” he whispered back to her.

Control once again flicked her eyes to the rear-view mirror, but said nothing.

Rita sat immobile. She heard the whispered question, but debated answering. Would it be better or worse for her captors to know that she was conscious? And who were these people? She remembered running, gunshots, staring up at a man, but then… Her head ached. Whoever they were, they had to be connected to the Attorney General, and to the whole coverup. She’d be lucky to live through the night.

But then… why was she still alive? Why hadn’t they killed her on the spot? Why were they whispering, asking her if she was awake?

Nothing made sense. She focused, instead, on listening to the sounds around her—the tires on the pavement, any outside noises. Anything that could help her to determine their location. She could hear other cars passing occasionally. There were no sirens. Every so often she thought she heard a voice—someone walking? Maybe they were in a residential area?

Control switched on the radio.

The sounds of David Bowie drowned out anything else around them. They could be heroes, just for one day. Rita slumped back, defeated.

***

The music stopped. Rita strained to hear what was going on. They seemed to be slowing down.

“Where are we?” Pete asked, staring curiously around the quiet suburban area. It seemed nice—not huge houses or anything, but nice, like people cared about where they lived. It felt like his grandmother’s neighbourhood, when he had been a little boy.

Control cut the headlights and turned the SUV into the driveway of a slightly overgrown lot. She put the car into park, glared at Pete not to say anything, threw a long look back at Rita, and quietly exited the SUV.

As Pete watched, Control pulled open the door of an old garage.

Rita tried again to understand her situation. Should she yell? Try to attract attention? Was there anyone who would help her? Or was it better to continue being silent, to gain all the information she could before her captors realized she was conscious?

Control climbed back into the SUV and quietly drove them into the garage.

“Is this where we’re staying?” Pete asked. “Is this your place? Do you own this garage? Or maybe it’s a friend’s? Whose garage is this?”

Rita blinked against her blindfold. So they were in a garage?

Control still said nothing, but gestured at Pete to stay in the car.

“But I—” Pete started.

Control slapped him. She again gestured for him to wait.

“Okay, okay,” Pete replied sulkily, gently rubbing his cheek. “I’ll stay here. Just don’t leave me alone for too long.”

Control took the keys and closed the door behind her. In the moonlight from the single window, Pete could just make her out as she exited the garage, leaving them in the darkness.

***

“Who are you?”

“Oh!” Pete exclaimed. “You’re awake! Are you okay? How’s your head? Do you feel better?”

Rita frowned. He certainly didn’t sound like a typical hitman. “Who are you?” she repeated.

“Sorry! Sorry. I never focus on the right thing. My teachers used to tell me that! I just talk and talk, and—see? I’m doing it again! I’m Pete. But really: how are you feeling?

Rita was more confused than ever. Was this an act? “What do you want from me, Pete?”

“Want from you… no. No! It’s nothing like that!” Pete scrunched his face in alarm. “I promise, we’re not here to hurt you! We just took you along after those guys tried to shoot you.”

So she had been shot. Where? Her head hurt like hell, but she wouldn’t be alive if she’d been shot in the head. She couldn’t help groaning.

“You do still hurt! I knew it. I think Control will try to fix you up, once she comes back.”

So this Pete wasn’t one of the men who tried to shoot her, and Control was the driver of the SUV. But where had they brought her? And why? And where were the men who had shot her? She couldn’t get anything to make sense.

“What’s your name?” Pete asked.

At least this Pete seemed friendly enough—unless it was an act. There was always that danger. She was tied and blindfolded, after all. Why would these people rescue and then kidnap her? Still… maybe it was worth playing along.

“My name?” she repeated. “Uh… Vera. My name’s Vera.” Rookie mistake, Rita. Give out the name of your friend, the Governor of Wentworth Prison. Still, this Pete probably wouldn’t know that. Or would he?

“Vera,” Pete replied conversationally. “That’s a nice name. A bit old fashioned. It’s not one you hear that often anymore, you know?”

“Pete,” Rita licked her dry lips. Her head really was throbbing. “Pete, can you remove this blindfold? My head already hurts, and I feel like it’s making it worse.”

“Oh! Um…” Pete delayed. “I’m not sure if I’m allowed. Control might not like it.”

Rita took that in. It fit with what had sounded like a slap. This Control person was definitely the boss. Rita desperately wanted to know who Pete and Control were, and what they planned to do with her, but it was best to take things slow. The first step was to establish trust. She’d try to build some sort of rapport with Pete before Control came back. “Did you say ‘Control?’” she asked Pete. “Is that someone’s name?”

“Yeah,” Pete replied, chuckling. “I mean, it’s not her real name, of course. I don’t actually know what her real name is, but I doubt it’s Control. That would just be weird!”

“Yeah,” Rita echoed. “Weird!” This entire situation was weird. The name must just be a codename. Maybe they were coworkers? “So how do you two know each other, Pete?”

“Oh, Control saved me. She saved Ted, too. We’re all so much safer when we’re together,” he continued chattily. “I’m not good when I’m on my own. And now that Ted’s left, I just have her—well, her, and you, Vera! Are you going to hang around with us?”

Rita wasn’t sure whether to feel disgust or pity for the hopeful note in Pete’s voice. If this was an act, it was masterful. The man sounded hopelessly lonely, like all he wanted was a friend. She felt even more unsure about Control. Pete said that she had saved him—somehow—but that slap had sounded downright abusive. What kind of friendship was that?

Rita smiled. “I don’t know, Pete. I don’t really understand what’s going on. I can’t even see with this blindfold, and my wrists are still tied together. It doesn’t really make me feel very welcome, you know?”

“I know,” Pete replied, distraught. “Maybe it would be okay if I just removed your blindfold? Maybe Control wouldn’t really be upset—” Pete broke off as they both heard a sound.

“Pete?” Rita whispered. “What’s going on?”

“It’s Control,” Pete replied, staring as Control stepped through the doorway. “She’s back.”

Chapter Text

It was a house. Rita was sure of it. As soon as she was half pushed, half pulled from the SUV, across the grass, and into the house by Pete and Control—whoever Control was—she could feel the warmth of the structure. It smelled good, her nose catching the remnants of cooking still fresh in the air. She was pushed down into a wooden chair, bumping her arm against something hard. A table? This had to be the kitchen.

Was this where Pete and Control lived?

“Who lives here, Control?” Pete asked. “It smells so good! Is that soup in that pot? And fresh bread! Oh my God—I haven’t had fresh bread in years! Do you think we could have some? Would they mind? I lov—”

A thump and a metallic clank cut Pete off.

“Yes!” exclaimed Pete happily.

Rita could hear sawing. Ah. A cutting board and knife. Over there—not far.

A knife.

“Want some, Control?” Pete asked, continuing to saw. Rita couldn’t hear an answer, but she heard him stop sawing the bread for a moment. Where exactly was the knife, in relation to her? She heard him pouring the soup into a bowl.

“How about you, Vera?” Pete asked.

Rita heard something crash.

“Whoa, there, Control! You lost your bowl!” Pete exclaimed. “Watch yourself. I’ll get the pieces. You have a seat. That was a long drive.”

Rita was tempted to lunge for the knife, but her hands were still bound, and her blindfold was as tight as ever. Too much was confusing. Was it just the three of them? Or was there anyone else in the room?

From the sound of sawing, Pete was apparently back at the bread. She heard him place what was assumedly a bowl of soup and slice of bread on the table in front of her.

There was no way for Rita to eat it without leaning her face directly into the table. “Can you untie me?” she asked.

There was a long pause, and then she felt fingers at her wrists, untying the t-shirt rope. “Thank you,” she said simply. Her hands found the bowl, a spoon, the bread. It was still a little warm, and smelled heavenly. Still… Was the soup poisoned, somehow? Did the bread have bits of glass baked into it? Should she trust these people?

“It’s okay,” Pete told her quietly, obviously watching. “It’s good bread. It’s okay.”

Rita picked up the spoon and ate.

“Where am I?” she asked between mouthfuls. “Why have you brought me here? What are you going to do to me?”

She hadn’t heard anyone approach, yet suddenly she felt fingers undo and redo the bandage around her head. The touch was assured, not hesitant.

This had to be Control.

Rita reached up quickly, grasping the hand, which froze. “Who are you?” she demanded.

The hand was suddenly jerked away from her grip.

“Control?” Rita asked.

There was no answer.

Rita returned to eating her bread and thinking. She didn’t appear to be in immediate danger, but she still couldn’t understand why they were holding her—particularly not in what smelled like a lovely house—and feeding her soup and bread, and checking her head wound. What was their motive? What did Control want?

“She’s gone,” Pete stated after a moment.

“Where?” Rita asked.

“I don’t know,” he informed her before the sudden sound of a shower answered for him.

“Ohhhhh,” Pete murmured. “A shower. Hot water! It’s been so long…”

Right. That was it, Rita thought. She was starting to form a specific impression… “Pete?” she asked slowly. “Pete, are you and Control housing insecure?”

“Housing insecure?” he repeated, mulling over the term as he ate his soup. “Do you mean homeless?”

Rita nodded.

“Well, yeah, I suppose we are. I mean, we had a good spot by that overpass, and we’d been there for a while. It was nice to finally have a place where we could stay, instead of trying to find new places to sleep all the time.”

Rita nodded again. She needed to keep him talking while she figured out how to get to the knife. “Okay, so if you’re homeless… where are we now?”

Pete sawed another slice of bread. “I don’t know,” he replied slowly, “but my guess is that it’s where Control used to go when she would leave us.”

“She would leave you,” Rita repeated, thinking quickly. Pete seemed to have sat back down with his soup. The knife was to her left. “Would she stay away for long? Did she ever say where she was going?”

“Control’s not really one for talking,” Pete explained. “If I hadn’t heard her in those first days… but she hasn’t really talked much since then. When she went away, it was usually for several days at a time. Then she’d show up again, like she’d never been away.” He paused. “If she always had this place, I’m not sure why she kept coming back to us.”

Rita mentally calculated distances, ready to jump for the knife. She would pull down her blindfold and lunge for it. Pete seemed genuinely sweet, but he was still holding her captive. She would stab him if he made her.

“Hey!” Pete exclaimed suddenly, “maybe this is where the other Vera lives! With that Jackson guy, and Stew—Stewie? Stewart?

Rita froze. Those names, together?

“Other Vera?” she asked quickly.

Pete nodded, although Rita couldn’t see. “Yeah—I knew I had heard that name not too, too long ago. When Control first joined us, she kept repeating these names. It was all she said for like five days, along with ‘control.’ That’s why we gave her that name. She just kept rocking herself and repeating ‘control, control, control,’ and then this list of names. There was Vera, and Jackson, and Stewart… and then… um… Sam, maybe? No, that’s not it. I think it was a man’s name…”

Rita hesitated. Her head felt suddenly dizzy. This wasn’t possible. This couldn’t be…

“Smith!” Pete exclaimed. “That was it! Smith. And then a really weird name. It sounded Polish or something.”

“Novak?” Rita asked quietly.

“Yes!” Pete cried, astonished. “How did you know?”

Rita ripped the blindfold from her eyes. She dove toward the cutting board and grabbed the knife before lunging at Pete. She held the bread knife to his throat. “What does Control look like?” she demanded urgently.

“T-tall!” Pete spluttered, his eyes wide with fear. “Tall! With—”

“With long, dark hair,” Rita finished, looking from Pete to the woman who now stood silently in the doorway, watching them.

“Just like Joan Ferguson.”