By Simon Smith January 2010
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
I lived in Fulham, London , from 1985 to 2006, and think of it as home even though I wasn't brought up there. My grandparents on my mother's side were both from large families that had lived there for quite a few decades from the mid to late 1800's. So it's little wonder that this story takes place there.
Munster Road is an old lane that cuts from north to south through part of Fulham. It's not particularly attractive now, though at one time it had been tree lined and surrounded by farms and orchards. Now it has rows of shops or terraced houses flanking both sides. If it hadn't been for the sun it would have looked dour but now it felt hard and homely, as many London streets do.
Often parts of London are either defined as rich or poor areas, but Fulham has a quality of its own. The rich and poor live shoulder to shoulder, different worlds rubbing up against each other, mainly keeping themselves separate though with occasional interminglings.
It's a bright hot day, the light is intense. A plastic-blue awning overhangs a newsagent's at the top end of Munster Road . The place is empty, empty as a forgotten siesta sleep.
August 1st 2001
Mr Sidar (The shopkeeper)
I have lived here for 43 years, I come from India originally. I have never seen anything like this in my life.
Just before it happened I was serving a man, my daughter asked me to help her, so I asked the customer if he wanted anything else, but he didn't. Just after he walked out I heard screaming. I grabbed my phone and ran outside.
* * *
Terry St John (The bus driver)
I have driven this route a few times but it's not my regular one. Anyway, this old lady, I mean, senior citizen had got on earlier, and then she got on again on Fulham Palace Road, so I remembered her. She was very smiley, very friendly. I stopped to let her off, and had to wait a minute, but it was ok, she was very polite, kept saying “Sorry everyone”. She then started to list her ailments, and I thought “'ere we go”.
There was a man stood behind her, I didn't really get a good look at him, but I could see he was tall and thin, probably in his late 20's and a bit of a scruff, definitely either a druggie or a nutter. You could see he was a bit irritated with having to wait and all that, like he was looking to see if he could get past her.
* * *
David Anderson (Bystander - Psychotherapist)
Given it was so hot and so quiet, I mean the streets felt deserted, it was all incredibly surreal.
For me when term ends I get a break and because most people have gone away I feel pretty much on holiday in my own back yard. It felt more like 1971 than 2001. I put on my green summer hat and took a walk to the newsagent's to get a paper. I was deferring important tasks, I think some people call this displacement activity. I really didn't want to read, or write, or do anything that I should be doing. I just wanted to “chill out”.
I have lived around here for over 30 years now, but I've never chatted to the man in the newsagent's, he doesn't really know what paper I buy, well he always makes me ask for it so I imagine he doesn't know. I mean it's obvious there's a community around here but I'm still pretty much an outsider. I reckon my clothes, my beard, my house all say “outsider”.
I think the man is Indian or Pakistani, but he is definitely part of the community. I took the paper and passed him the money. It was exact for a change. I'd like to be efficient, but actually, surprise, surprise, I'm not. Anyhow he thanked me then said something in Guajarati, or whatever it was, to his daughter and for a second I was a bit confused and probably stood there a bit too long. He asked if I wanted anything else, I said no and went to walk out.
As I turned around there was a screech from of a bus pulling which actually made me jump a bit. The red bus was reflected in the floor tiles, it looked like a mosaic which kind of caught me a bit. I walked out of the shop and the sun was so bright it blinded me so I pulled down the rim of my hat, but even just looking at the ground hurt.
There was an old woman was getting off the bus. I could hear her but couldn't really see what was going on. She was thanking the driver and apologising for taking so long.
I heard the doors close but the bus didn't pull away. I could see the driver was looking in to his wing mirror, like he was checking everything was alright or seeing if anyone was running for the bus. I looked across to the woman and for a moment caught her eye. She looked at me and smiled. She was carrying several bags of shopping and dealing with her walking stick. I felt I should offer to help her, but this is London , and to do something like that would be seen as strange, so I just walked on.
I must have walked about 6 steps, maybe just passing the front of the bus when I heard her say. “Oh my God. Make him stop, make him stop."
I looked around to see a man standing next to her holding a knife. She turned her back to him and he stabbed her once in the back and then in the neck. She started to turn around again, her arms moved up a little, her bags fell to the ground, and then she pulled at her clothes, saying “Look he's stabbed me” as if she was trying to show me and see for herself, only she couldn't pull the clothes up.
The man then turned towards me, and walking, almost loping, in a way that seemed too slow, he approached me. I froze, I obviously thought he might stab me too, his eyes were open but you could tell he was in a world of his own, as if he couldn't actually see me. Then he slowly walked off. It was bizarre.
The woman's voice broke the silence. “Somebody, please help me, I need to get back to my husband, he'll be worried.” From the neck down she was covered in blood .
I ran up to her and at first didn't know what to do, but there was a chair outside the shop, for the shop keeper to sit on when smoking no doubt so I grabbed it and put it behind her.
As if she had just remembered something she started to rapidly speak. “No I better not dear, I better get back, he'll be so worried”
“Please” I say “If you could just sit down a minute, then at least we can see if you're alright” I already knew she wasn't alright, it was painfully obvious. It was at this point the shopkeeper came out.
* * *
Mr Sidar (The shopkeeper)
I knew something was wrong and had grabbed the phone, but I really wasn't prepared for what I saw next. There was a man who had grabbed my chair from outside and was getting an elderly woman to sit on it, she was covered in blood, and I could see she was looking very worried. I didn't realise she'd been stabbed at first, I thought for a minute she'd burst a blood vessel.
I dialled 999, which got answered immediately and they asked what service I wanted. I don't know why they don't have several other numbers as well as 999, that way you could dial 991 for an ambulance or 992 for the police and so on, it really wouldn't take much setting up, it seems such a waste of valuable time. Then, then they start telling someone else your number, I mean how stupid is that, we all know that can be done electronically. By the time you actually get through you need an ambulance to deal with the stress you're feeling, sorry I go on a bit when it comes to such stupidity.
Of course I told them where we were, and that there was a woman bleeding. The other man said to tell them she'd been stabbed. When he said that the woman looked shocked, like she didn't know and made a move to stand up. He asked me to ask them what to do and they said we should try to lay her down, make her more comfortable and if possible apply pressure to the wounds. I shouted for my daughter to bring out her coat. I asked one of the men watching if I could have his jacket, but he nodded no and walked away. How could anyone be like that?
We managed to get her to lie down, we put the coat under her head, and I took off my T-shirt and pressed it to the wound on her neck.
* * *
Terry St John (The bus driver)
I had tried to look in the mirror but the man had his back to me and blocked my view. I heard a muffled noise and saw the man slowly walk away. I saw another man wearing a green hat standing just ahead of the bus looking back at the woman so I knew something was up and then the other man walked right past him. At that point I thought that maybe the woman had hurt herself getting off the bus and thought “that's all I need!” so I waited a second because I didn't want to have to get out the cabin if it wasn't necessary. Now of course I wish I'd got out quicker and chased after the man but that's easy to say now right?
* * *
Paul (The CCTV Operator)
We don't look at every camera every minute of the day, and it was only after we got the emergency call that we looked at what was going on, and even then we were about 5 minutes behind. So when we looked back at the footage it was obvious something had happened but it wasn't very clear. We got some ok shots of the alleged attacker, but they're not that good.
* * *
David Anderson (Bystander - Psychotherapist)
She was conscious but confused, blood was oozing continuously from her neck down her body. I don't think we realised she'd been stabbed as many times as she had. I thought there was only a couple of wounds but it turned out there were 7 all in all.
She kept on saying things like “Please, I must get back to my husband, he'll be wondering where I am.” Which really made me feel for her.
The shopkeeper from the newsagent's was on the phone and walking towards us. He was already calling for an ambulance and when he got through I asked him to ask them what we should do.
She seemed to sigh and quietly said “It's ok, I am alright. It's just a scratch. I must get home.”
There's no way that she could be allowed to walk off so I tried to reassure her
“I think we better wait till the ambulance gets here”
The shopkeeper tried to help by adding “They won't take long, the hospital's only round the corner. They're on their way. They're saying we need to lie her down, make her comfortable and apply pressure to the wounds to slow down the bleeding”
The woman started to weep, and continued to talk about her husband, she was worried he wouldn't be able to cope if she died.
“Can someone call him please?”
“What's his number?”
The woman looked confused, and cried out “I can't remember”
I took off my hat, and pushed it to the wound on her chest, she winced, the blood was warm, making the cloth stick to my fingers. I pushed where it was wettest. The shop keeper pressed his T-shirt against her neck wound.
The woman's breathing got faster, I looked at the shop keeper, the phone pushed to his ear by his shoulder. “I think you need to tell them to hurry this is serious.” he shouts to the operator.
At one point the shopkeeper asked a man to lend us his jacket, but he refused and walked off. It was then that point the bus driver joined us, and started talking to her.
From what had seemed an almost empty world came quite a few people so that quite a crowd of people had gathered around us, a few looked to me as if they walked by in slow motion.
Then someone knelt beside me. “It's ok I'm a doctor”. He put his fingers to her neck then his face near to hers. “This isn't looking good, I take it the ambulance is on its way?”
“Yes I have the operator on the phone”
“Can I speak to them please?”
The shopkeeper passed the phone to the Doctor. He was giving instructions, but I didn't hear him properly. I suddenly felt as if I was in a silent bubble.
“It's ok sir, we'll take over now.” I look round to see a green uniformed paramedic. I slid my hand from the wound but the material followed me for a moment. “Shall I leave that there?” I asked.
The paramedic looked kindly at me and said quietly “It's ok I'll use something else, thank you,”
My hand was covered in blood. I stood up, stepped backwards and became one of the on-lookers. The ambulance men carefully dealt with the woman and then she was taken away.
One of the nurses from the doctor's surgery invited some of us in to the surgery so we could get cleaned up and give our details to the police. It turned out the doctor is my GP, but we've never met and even then he didn't have time to chat. My paper's front page had spots of blood on it, but I take it with me. It's probably meant to be kept as evidence but, well I decided to keep it.
When I got home I made a cup of tea but as I picked up the cup I started to shake. I couldn't stop shaking. I know that it was shock, but there was nothing I could do to alleviate it.
* * *
I want to know how the woman is. I imagine the police will tell me when they come for my statement. I was shaking still, but I was numb, I was struck by how shaken I was and couldn't quite understand which of the many facets of this experience had frightened me so much.
* * *
END OF CHAPTER 1
* * *
Ian Cole CID Police Officer
Most of our work is routine and a lot is about filling out forms, but occasionally we get cases which really motivate us, like this one. This person has attacked a defenceless old woman and it's our job to stop him before he does it again. It feels like a race against time, it feels meaningful. Of course our approach is still methodical and full of paperwork but it's worthwhile so we just get on with it.
I am just about to interview one of the witnesses, in fact apparently he's the only one who clearly saw the stabbing so it's imperative we get him on our side. Without him we might not have a case if this ever gets to court. Ok we're here.
[Knock on the door]
I can tell by just looking at his house that he'll be helpful, most middle class people see us as their friends, they don't see the system as working against them, well not until they have to pay their taxes. [Laughs].
“Hello Mr Anderson, I am Ian Cole, CID, we met earlier in the clinic.”
“Come in, come in”
“So Mr Anderson”
“Please, please call me David. Mr Anderson's a bit formal”
“Thank you David, and feel free to call me Ian”
“Oh thank you”
“You told me earlier that you're a psycho-therapist.”
“Yes that's right”
“It must be interesting hearing people's secrets, I tend to find most people aren't that willing to be so open when they're speaking to me.”
“Don't worry, you're not alone. You'd be surprised lots of people in therapy find it hard to be really honest.” [I laugh] “I remember hearing a radio 4 play where someone said they thought the worst thing you could do to a therapist was not tell them the truth, but then they found out that in fact the worst thing was not paying the bill”
We both laugh.
“Funny” says David, “I didn't imagine the police would be listening to radio 4”
“Well I'm sure as a therapist you're aware of the limitations of projective identification”
David laughs loudly.
“So was that on Radio 4 too?”
“No, I just read a lot. Not all of us live up to the stereo-type image you know.”
“Well I can see. Look would you like a cup of tea?”
“No thanks, I just had one ”
There's a pause
I get the feeling that David feels a pang of guilt as he asks. “So how is the woman?”
“She's seriously ill, it's hard to tell. My experience with old people is that often they surprise you, just when you think they're not going to make it, their survival instinct kicks in. Unless of course one of those charity lot with a clip board has just got them to sign away all your long waited for legacy, then of course they'll probably die” [ Laughs].
David starts to make himself a cup of tea.
“Oh go on then” I say
“The attacker, any news?
“No, but maybe with your help we can find him”
I pull out my statement pack and we get down to business.
* * *
End Of Chapter 2
Robert Singer – David's therapist.
Most therapists need another therapist to off load to. So even though David has been working for over 25 years as a therapist he too has someone to help him deal with the occasional difficulties life has to offer. I have seen David for around 12 years and after his wife, Alex, died a few years ago he's been to see more regularly.
“Hello David come in”
“Hello Robert, how are you?”
“I'm fine thank you”
David lies down on the couch.
There is a silence. We both know the routine.
I can tell immediately that something is amiss today though.
“I've just been through a bit of a trauma”
After I'm told of the events I'm not surprised, and wonder what issues this brings up for him. It's an irony of therapy that by focusing on one's own needs we become more helpful to others, so initially there's often a feeling of guilt when revealing the anxieties that such an incident brings up given we weren't the direct victim. David knows this and in the initial avalanche of ideas, I have to be wary of what isn't said, what is unconscious. It's a complicated dance, because both of us are trying to be honest but the psyche isn't so naturally open. It's like being an archaeologist, but my co-worker is the rock and earth, offering up items, but quietly, unknowingly, directing me away from the main objects that wants to be kept hidden.
“Well I really don't like blood, it's always been as issue. I think we've spoken before about this?”
“Yes, we have. The blood of life the blood of death”
“Mm. Yes. Well this was definitely the blood of death”
“But she survived well at least so far, and even though she faced death she seemed more worried for her husband. That's actually very moving ”
“Yes I was touched by that, it made her very human. But the attack, that's what's really got to me. It broke all the rules, I don't believe in evil, but it felt like I came up against real evil. I think it's touched something prime-evil in me, excuse the pun.”
“What do you mean""real evil"" ?”
“Well maybe if I believe in evil as something that comes in to a person that's independent from human genetics and their environment, then that threatens my whole belief system, I mean the idea of cause and effect.”
“I don't see why they threaten each other?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well even in biblical stories, there is cause and effect. Lucifer's feelings of being betrayed, his envy and consequential fall from grace, isn't that the beginning?”
“Yes but I'm wondering if it's possible for evil to move in to people, take over, control them, and then leave them. You know like in half the modern horror movies that are around nowadays.”
“Well I don't really watch horror movies. You mean like an entity”
“Yes, and I don't really watch them either but half my clients spend most of their sessions going through the latest release's finer points”
“Ah. I suppose, in terms of “entities” one has to be open minded and cynical simultaneously. You've just reminded me of the moment in Lord of the flies when Piggy says something about machines not working if there were such things as ghosts. Perhaps if there are ghosts then een thy'd have reasons just as live people do to act in an "evil" way.”
“You're right, it seems a bit ludicrous, but something affected me in the moments just after the attack, like I became aware of a different part of myself, or a different world.”
“I know most therapists would attempt to batter you down with logic, but I've been trying to get my head around string theory lately, and it's certainly made me wonder about things. Maybe you should read about that, I barely understand it at all so I won't even try to explain it but it's worth a look.”
“OK I shall, and thanks for not battering me with logic..”
“Ah, you're most welcome. So do you think this may also have stirred feelings to do with Alex, with her death?”
“I was just about to say that. I'm sure it's had an effect.”
“Do you think you're feeling of another world is a hope to reconnect with her spiritually?”
“I thought I was doing well, but maybe I still can't accept she's gone, well at least in the external world. I can't help but speak to her at times, and most nights I wake with my arm around the pillow.”
“It's very hard to find someone we can truly love and harder still to lose them. We both speak from experience, maybe that's why I'm so open to your feelings of wanting to find ways to reconnect”
There is a silence, then talk of clients, and the inevitable conversation about the forth coming break for the summer, going through dates, and a re-assurance that if an emergency comes up that I am available, and then he is standing up, and is gone.
End Of Chapter 3
It's been three days since the attack. Today I feel shattered, and go to bed early. I set the clock radio to come on at 7 am, it's still light outside. I lie down. I feel so heavy and fall in to sleep almost immediately.
Part of my training as a therapist was to keep a dream diary.
I am in darkness, but my hand is touching skin. I know it's the side of a woman's body. I run my hand up to her breast, want to run my hand in to the cup of her armpit, I want her scent on me, I run my hand down again. As I approach her hips I move my hand forward, I want to feel the warmth between her legs.
I wake suddenly. It's dark. The time is 1:11. I wish I hadn't woken then, I want to go back to the woman in the dream. Then I realise it wasn't Alex and I'm filled with shame.
My eyes close, the air is warm tonight.
I am standing in the shadows of an old building. It's cold and very dark. There is sadness here. I hear harsh whispered words from a door way down the corridor. I move across so I can see better. The whole scene is grey and unclear. A teenage girl is kneeling on the floor, she's in a white night gown. She is shaking. Standing next to her is a nun.
“I told you, I warned you, I do not tolerate disobedience. Do not say you weren't warned” the nun seems full of venom.
“I didn't ask to come here”
“You should be thankful, but instead you lie and cheat and cause rebellion. Did you think you could win, you stupid girl. Now put your hand on the door frame”
“In that case your sister shall pay for your crime”
“You call yourself a servant of God, but you're a snake, and you'll go to Hell for this”
She puts her hand to the door frame. Looks up at the nun, who slams the door hard upon her fingers. The girl screams and I wake up.
I am breathing fast and sweating, I need to pee but I am too exhausted to get up. I close my eyes. I can still see the girl looking, the defiance in her eyes. I am touched by her bravery.
I have been lying strangely, too much pressure on my side. I feel vomit coming up. I retch for a second, open my eyes and see a woman pass the doorway, she looks startled and looks at me. I move quickly enough to stop my self from vomiting. I know I've just hallucinated but I get up anyway. I go to the doorway where I saw the woman, I am not scared. There's no one there. I go to the loo then come back to bed.
I know I'm feeling nauseas, I think I must be coming down with something.
I'm watching a woman and man caressing. They start to kiss. She touches his face, but where she touches him she leaves a trail of blood. I feel the warm wet feeling on my face. I can't breath. I wake up.
The clock flickers 6:06, then 6:66 and then back to 6:06. I am not scared. I know I am still dreaming. I close my eyes. I can see orange light through my eye lids, I try to open my eyes but I can't. I try to raise my arm to open my eyes but I can't move my arm, it feel like it is weighted down. I realise I have woken but my body is still asleep. At first I worry I might be dying, that I will stay like this until I stop breathing, but I am breathing so I relax and let myself drift back to sleep.
* * *
End Of Chapter 4
When I wake up, I feel restless. I feel alone. I am jumpy. I keep thinking I can hear someone approaching me from behind. I need to get out so I take a walk to the riverside. It's another bright day. People are running, cycling, and roller blading along the path. This is the biggest community of non communion.
There's a walled Garden behind Fulham Palace, most people who go in to the main garden don't notice it. I make my way there, the place feels empty. There might be others nearby but the grass is long, so if they're laying down they can't be seen/
I sit down on a bench near the old dilapidated green houses, there's a herb garden here from the 1800s still. I come here a lot and there's often a black cat that comes up to me. Today it slinks up to me. I make birdy type noises by sucking my lips and put my fingers out for it to sniff, then it jumps up on my lap and lets me stroke her or possibly him. Normally about halfway through I tend to get this horrible feeling that it's got fleas.
“You're privileged” comes a voice from behind me.
I look round and a woman is standing at the end of the bench, leaning on her wheeled basket. She looks friendly enough, but then I was once told that most serial killers tend to look friendly, so maybe I should revise my strategy when it comes to first impressions.
“Mind if I join you?” she says
“Sure, please do” Being English means that that is the only answer possible but anyway I'm feeling so dislocated that I'm actually grateful to talk to someone, anyone maybe.
She swivels her arm towards me which gives me a bit of a start.
“Like an apple?”
“Your name's not Eve is it?”
“Nah, it's Shirley, why?”
She laughs. “It's alright I get it love, I'm not that thick”
She holds out the apple.
I shake my head and say “Erm, my mother always said don't take sweets from strangers, but thanks anyway”
“It's not a sweet, and I was only being polite. You sure?”
I'm hot, my mouth is dry, I really doubt it's poisoned or drugged so I nod yes and she passes it to me, I take it, check it for worm holes and take a bite. Nothing untoward happens.
“You should be I don't go round giving me apples away normally, well not to humans anyway.”
“So what's a good looking bloke like you doing here? I'm not chatting you up by the way”
“Good I'm tired of women treating me like a sex object”
“Ooh it must be terrible for you. Don't know how you cope.”
“Divorced are you?”
“Oh I'm sorry… I'm very sorry”
“No it's ok. You don't have to be sorry. I don't have a problem talking it.”
“Recent is it?”
“About two years ago”
“I lost my husband over 10 years ago, but I still talk to him. Even after I've been out picking up sex objects” She laughs. “Although he tends to give me a bit of the silent treatment if I do”
I'm not sure what to make of her.
She pauses for a second “You know, I know he's with me. I'm sure of it”
“I wish I could be so sure.”
She looks at me, with a slightly disappointed look on her face. “Have you ever read about M-Theory?” She asks
"It's one of the latest theories being touted by physisistsss, can't say that word"
"Yeah, that's it ta"
“I've heard of String Theory”
“That's old hat. M theory tries to unify the 5 main String Theories. Of course I don't understand a word of it really but it was worth it to see the look on your face”
“Ha! I was a bit shocked especially as I don't understand a word of it either, so why mention it?”
“Well maybe science is beginning to explain that psychic phenomena isn't as impossible as it sounds.”
“I still think it's motivated by wishful thinking”
“Maybe, but I can tell you're interested all the same, I mean about psychic phenomena, not, you know, "interested" .”
She laughs, and I think for a moment about how many great artists and thinkers have often ended up in love with a bawdy wench, and could see a little in Shirley of that charm. I'd like to emphasise the word little in that last sentence if you don't mind.
“How many kids have you got Shirley?”
“Really” I say in a slightly unsurprised tone.
“Can't help it”
“Mmm thanks for that thought. So where's this cat from?”
“I think she lives in the park. I call her Sibelius.”
“That's a man's name”
“Maybe she's a he. Did you check?”
“I hope you take more care with the women you meet”
“I don't meet any.”
“You need to get out more. Can't spend your life grieving you know.”
“Thanks. I know, but these things take their time.”
“Maybe you should see a therapist”
“I am a therapist.”
“Yes I thought you might be. You've got the beard.”
“That obvious is it?”
“Erm, yes. Anyway I'd better get going before you analysize me. Don't want my secrets out!”
“Well it's been good chatting to you."
“And you love, see ya”
We shake hands and she goes. The cat follows her. I sit alone for a while then wonder home. I want to read about M-Theory.
* * *
I have spent a lot of the afternoon on the Internet reading about M and String Theory. It's way too hard for me to understand, let alone try to explain but the upshot of it is this. Strings of energy pervade our universe, and different types of energy make up the universe. We work in 4 dimensions, left, and right, up and down, forward and back, and the fourth dimension is time. String theory presents another 7 dimensions. Ultimately as far as I'm concerned it offers a possible understanding that what we perceive as psychic phenomena may be explained one day in terms of different dimensions of energies rubbing up against each other.I even came across a theory of “retro-causality” which suggests that some particles may move backwards through time.
So what did I conclude from my misspent afternoon? I concluded that Science is a belief system, and in its own way it contradicts my idea of reality just as much as religion does, only Science is suposed to continually question and re-evaluate itself, where as religions tend to kill people who question the belief system. That might not be totally fair of me but it's what I tend to have seen throughout history and even on the News generally.
As for psychic stuff, I accept I am driven by wishful thinking, but now I feel I have come across a different part of me and science suggests that it might not be madness after all. I wouldn't want to talk openly about this, but it's certainly intriguing me.
* * *
End Of Chapter 5
Where does magic end and science begin? If something can't be repeated in a controlled environment it's not proven scientifically. It doesn't mean it isn't true, it's just not proven.
When I went to sleep last night I dreamt the woman in the park, Shirley, told me to try a chant, which she then demonstrated to me, and said “if you do it whilst reaching in to a mirror your hand will pass through the glass”. I can't believe that when I woke up I tried it and of course nothing happened. I felt foolish, but then I realised how taken I am with this “new world”. I'm hungry for proof, or even to disprove it.
More seriously, last night I dreamed I was sitting on the bench in the Palace Gardens and I was talking to the woman who'd slammed the girl's fingers in the door. I asked her why she did that.
“I thought I was doing the right thing, but as time went on I regretted it.”
“Did you ever tell her?”
“Because she killed herself”
“How did she die?”
“She hung herself from a tree”
“Why did she kill herself? I mean what had happened? Was she pregnant, in love, rejected?”
“No, none of those things”
“She killed her sister, then herself”
“Did she leave a note?”
“No. It was obvious wasn't it. It was vengeance.”
“Vengeance against whom?”
And you don't think you had a part to play in it?”
“I did what I had to do. I was too hard on the girl that's true, but it didn't warrant murder and suicide. Don't try to make me responsible for another's actions I have enough to deal with dealing with my own. At the end of the day, we blame God for everything. They say that God forgives all, but maybe we all have to forgive God to make a difference.”
The cat jumps on my lap. I wake up to find I have fallen asleep with the PC on my lap. There is no cat here. I decide to download a map of this area and sure enough I find my house was built on an orchard.
Today is the anniversary of Alex's death.
* * *
I am still conscious. I'm not sure if I'm alive still. I feel like I'm in a bag, wrapped in a membrane. I can't see properly, flashes of bright orange. I can't move, I can't feel my body. I am not aware of myself physically. I know I'm dying. I've been dying for a long time. I'm almost relieved death is upon me. My house is in order. I am thankful for that. I am waiting.
I have come to accept death. I am worried for David, I know he will miss me, and I am so, so sad that this will hurt him. We have spoken, of course we have spoken, we are therapists. We have been honest with each other. I have genuinely told him that I want him to move on, and have told him that deep down I want him to never find anyone else. I know that's not fair, but if we are honest we both want both things. We are driven by dreams of pure love.
When that bright light comes overwhelming me in love, will that be a dream? For now though I feel contained. “Container contained”.
* * *
Death is all around me. I have become aware of something, a feeling in myself. I want to find out more. I go to the library, I could have just gone on-line, but I like the atmosphere here. It's silent but full of life. I find a purple paperback on the history of Para-Psychology. Normally I'd think that anyone looking at this stuff was probably going a bit mad, and I wonder if I am too, but I feel it can't hurt to start reading up on the subject. I manage to get through half of the book before the library closes.
What had caught my attention in particular in the book was how people had found that inducing a trance like state seemed to simulate a more sensitive awareness. The Mesmerists had applied of a form of healing in the 1800s, which on the outside looked a bit like today's “psychic-healers”, especially in the way they passed their hands over the subject without touching them. In time some “patients” seemed to start talking about things that they apparently shouldn't have known about and these people became known as “sensitives”. A popular interest grew regarding these people and from this stemmed “spiritualism”. In mainstream medicine an interest in Mesmerism developed in to the study of hypnosis. As you can imagine I was captivated by all of this.
So when I walked across the road from the library and noticed a shopfront that until now had completely evaded my attention, I was startled to find that “psychic-healing” was on offer. The organisation was way out there as far as I was concerned. In the shop window were photographs of UFOs, and the leader of the organisation was photographed in a white Doctor's coat along with a statement I found very hard to read let alone take on board. However given what I was just reading about was on offer I walked in to enquire further.
An attractive woman in her 50s dressed in a white “Medical” uniform greeted me. I asked if it was possible to have a healing session. She looked through her book, said there was an available slot in half an hours time so I went to a café and came back as requested.
The same woman took me to a desk where she asked why I'd come. I told her that I had lost my wife and was looking for some solace, it was a half truth. She told me that in a few minutes I would be taken downstairs, sat down on a chair, and a woman would then approach me. I wasn't to speak to her. She would then pass her hands over me but not touch me. At the end of the process she would let me know and I should then come back upstairs, where if I felt I needed a warm drink I would be given a cup of tea.
A bell rang and I was directed downstairs, at the bottom of the stairs was a dimly lit room, a chair, a thin bespectacled woman in her 50's, a photograph of the group's leader and a few framed documents on the wall. I went to the chair and sat down. The woman said if I wanted to close my eyes that that might help but it was up to me. I kept my eyes open.
She then started to pass her hands down each side of my body without touching me, and then did the same down my face, down my back and down my legs. I could feel the warmth of her body, her breath, and her hands but didn't feel any strong heat as you so often hear about. Occasionally she'd make a movement like she was throwing away something she had grabbed from my body. I tried to keep my focus on her, on what was gong on, but I suddenly found myself “imagining” that I was shooting out of my body so high that London looked like a satellite image, and then moving very fast to the North of Britain. It was if I was being shown a house. I looked at it intensely for a moment, then I was being “transported” to Robert's House. I felt as if I was standing in his hallway so I called out to him, but there was no reply. I then found I was seeing images, a bit like images in a Comic, of a plane crashing in bay. When I “woke up” I had tear drops streaming down my face.
“Ok, that's it. You may go back upstairs now”
“Thank you” I said.
“You're welcome” She smiled “goodbye.”
As soon as I got upstairs, fearing I might be slipped something in the tea I thanked them then made my way home. As I walked I switched my mobile phone back on, I don't think it's ok to use a phone in the library even if so many people do nowadays. A message bleep sounded so I called my voice mail.
“David, it's Robert. You didn't pop in earlier and shout through the letter box to me did you? I came down but no one was at the front door. Anyway if you could let me know I'd be grateful. Thank you.”
I phoned him immediately but I went straight through to his voicemail. “Hi Robert, I wasn't at your place. Well not physically. You're not going to believe this” and so I relayed the basics of what had happened.
As I approached my front door, he called me back, saying that he knew it was a bit unusual but maybe I should pop in a bit later. He'd be finished with a client at 5, and I could see him after.
I arrived at about 4.50, I rang the bell, the electronic door opened and I went in to the little waiting room. The room was pretty much a lobby. It had two chairs, a lamp and several bookcases. I tool a book from the shelf, opened it and the page it opened on had a sheet of paper in it. It was a later from Anita, Roberts late wife. I read several lines which thanked Robert for all the care he had given her. I didn't want to pry – even if a part of me did – so I took the sheet out and read a page from the book.
The door rattled open, a woman walked out, looked at me for a second, her face was wet from crying and then she left the house. Robert invited me in.
* * *
I lay down on the couch. “Robert, before we start, I need to give you this.” I passed him the letter. “I found it in the book about the Thames ”
“Oh yes I know the one, what is it?”
“I only read the first few lines but I could see it's from Anita.”
“I shall read it later. I don't think it's appropriate to read it now”
“Are you sure? You must want to read it now surely?”
“I do but I think it'd be best if I wait”
“OK, I understand”
So I told him about the “healing session” and his response wasn't what I expected.
“Look” he said “We both know that giving out personal information about oneself to a client is not good practice, but I think in this instance we may have to bend the rules.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well firstly I was certain I heard you call my name earlier on, as certain as I can be and yet you were 3 miles away at the time. Not only that but the time you say it happened even if it's just approximate, it pretty much fits with when I heard you shout up at me.
Then the bay and the plane crash. Anita had always wanted to visit the Islands of St Kilda, the Scottish group of Islands , and after we knew she was ill I managed to arrange for her to visit the place. It's famous because in the 30's the population was evacuated after living there for hundreds if not thousands of years pretty much cut off from the mainland. Have you heard of it?”
I nod yes but it's a vague memory.
“Anyway, there's a propeller memorial there, so obviously that seemed a bit of a strange coincidence. I don't know what to make of the place in the north of Britain . Do you know where it was?”
“I'm not sure, maybe North Yorkshire . It's really the place that I was being shown, I could draw you a diagram”
“Would you mind?”
He passes me a note pad and pen. I draw out the house, the road next to it, the tree line, some trees in the garden, the path and a small cartoon like image of the neighbour. I then pass it to him.
He's quiet for about 30 seconds “This looks incredibly like the house Anita lived in when I first met her, even down to the strange looking neighbour. You know this is all very strange. What do you make of it?”
“I really have no idea. I've been reading a bit about M-theory and String Theory and you're right it is hard to understand, but what if what's happening isn't just coincidence, maybe it isn't just you and I joining up the dots. What if there is some scientific reality to “psychic” phenomenon?”
“You know David, normally I'd be very dismissive of something like this, but because this seems to relate to me I can't just ignore this. I mean even the fact that you've just found this letter all seems to fit in. I'm sorry but I am going to read it now if you don't mind.”
He reads it, and I can hear that he's upset. I wait for a minute while he calms down.
“Maybe” he says “There is something in all of this. I think we have to keep a healthy cynicism but be open minded.”
I felt exhausted, detached, excited and a bit high. I went home and didn't know what to make of the day. I lay down and left the land of the living for a while.
* * *
END OF CHAPTER 6
There's a moment when I wake up, when I know I feel ok. What I mean is I don't feel much. Then I feel a sense of dread. It's a fear, or sadness, a kind of heaviness to my body and a tightness in my gut and throat. It's the mark of death, the mark of loss, the mark of grief.
I get out of bed and make it immediately. Get showered, shaved and dressed. I am on holiday but today one of my clients had asked for an emergency session. I have time for a quick breakfast, Honey Nut Cornflakes – don't know why they advertise these, they sell themselves – It's 8.50, I put on the TV, watch News 24 and wait for the bell to ring. It's 8.58 and it rings.
Lucie is 32, her sister committed suicide a few years ago and now she feels she will do the same. She has been compulsively thinking about it, she is obsessed with killing herself. She lies down on the couch, and cries. I pass her a box of tissues, she tries to say “thank you” but can not speak clearly “I'm sorry, I'll be able to speak in a minute” She laughs through her tears.
“It's ok, take your time. Why did you laugh then?”
“Just the irony of you saying to take my time, but every minute is costing me 50p. Are you sure you don't have an agenda?”
“Do you think I have an agenda?”
“Well you don't do this out of love do you?”
“Why do you think I do it?”
“For the same reason everyone does things. For money I guess”
“So you don't think I care at all?”
“Why would you?”
“Have you ever worked with people?”
“And did you not care for any of the people you worked with?”
“The ones I liked maybe, the others could go fuck themselves”
“So do you think that I'll only care about clients that are likable?”
“Stands to reason, doesn't it?”
“Well you seem to think so. But there is another way of thinking.”
“Oh and what's that Jesus?”
[Laughs] “Well I suppose that once you see your own vulnerability, and strengths, then maybe you start to see others' and you feel linked to them.”
“Yeah, yeah, you know I really don't need a lecture”
“What do you want then? Why did you ask for an emergency session”
“Because I wanted to say “”goodbye”” because I want you to know that you've failed”
“Are you going to kill yourself to punish me?”
“Who said anything about killing myself?”
“Sorry, it sounded like”
“To you maybe”
“Why are you so angry, has something happened?”
It goes quiet.
She looks down.
“You said that my jealous fantasies were symbolic yeah? That I was sensing that he didn't really care for me, yeah? That I was seeing infidelity in sexual terms, but the infidelity was me transposing his lack of love for me in to a desire for somebody else. That right Doctor?”
“I said it was a possibility but it was just a suggestion, nothing definite. So has he been unfaithful?”
“So why are you so upset?”
“Because you're wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong! And if you're wrong about that then you're probably just feeding me bullshit, taking me for a ride, I'm upset because you're the same as all the others. You don't care, you all pretend you know, but really you know nothing”
“I've never said I was the fountain of knowledge. I'm here to help you understand. I offer hypothesis not knowledge.”
“Listen I'm here to say goodbye”
There is a large thud on the front door.
“I'm sorry but I don't know what that is, do you mind, I must check it out?”
I walk to the front door, look through the spy hole, there is no one. I carefully open the door. Still no one is in sight. I step out on to the pavement, scan up and down the street.
I tut and walk back in.
Lucie is sitting quietly.
“Sorry about that”
“It doesn't matter”
“You do realise that bringing therapy to an end so abruptly can be extremely detrimental”
“Yeah I thought you might say that” [She laughs]
“I have a suggestion.”
“What, you're gonna let me come for free?”
“Yes, well at least until you feel you want to pay”
“Forget it. You just want to manipulate me. Get me back on board. I want to leave, and that is my final answer”
“Well in that case, I won't stop you, but I do want you to know I'm here if you need me”
“Don't flatter yourself”
“Do you not find it interesting that your feelings are so strong, that you feel so let down? Do you not wonder how much of this is transferred feelings from your experiences of others on to me? Isn't this why we're here, to understand that you bring powerful feelings to relationships?”
“I'm sure you're right, but I could have told you that on our first meeting”
“Yes but now you're feeling it and that's the difference. Therapy isn't just about words and thoughts it's about feelings”
“I don't know, I don't know what to make of this. I really don't trust you. What kind of relationship can you have if there's no trust?”
“Well that depends on whether your lack of trust has been earned by the person you don't trust. Do you really think that just because I might be wrong”
“Are wrong! You can't even accept being wrong”
“Well we may have to agree to disagree on this point. But being wrong is a normal activity for most people. I've never said I was right.”
“Then if you don't think you're right why do you do this. Isn't that the blind leading the blind?”
“Maybe, but maybe two blind people working together is better than one”
“I just remembered a dream”
“I was in my house, and I went down in to the basement and discovered another part of my house. I mean they were big rooms. They needed working on, but I wanted to let my friends use the rooms. I was really excited, but I knew that one of the rooms had been used in the past for executions and on the wall was written
Our fate is but the truth misled””
Cool lines I thought”
“What do you think they mean?”
“Like you said “The blind leading the blind”””
“That seems to have a ring of truth to it” I said
“Should I take your vote of confidence as a bad sign?”
“Do you have any other associations you can think of?”
“Not really. I suppose it sounds like what a condemned man might be thinking”
“What's going through my mind is that the rooms you've discovered in your basement are extra, deeper parts of yourself, and the problem is, is that as you find more of yourself you discover that you have executed many an innocent part of yourself in the past.”
“ “”I'll think about it”” isn't that what you normally say?”
“I think the dream is hopeful, don't you?”
“I'm not sure. Why do you say that?”
“Well because you're beginning to integrate a part of yourself that until today you've kept hidden from yourself.”
“I'm afraid we're going to have to stop soon. How do you feel about coming back if it's for free for a while?”
“If you don't mind, I'll think about it”
“OK well keep me posted”
“I shall. Thank you and I'm sorry”
“It's ok, it's just my job”
“Well as long as you don't greet me in a superhero suit next time”
“I don't think you need to worry about that?”
“OK I'd better go now”
She gets up, and we walk to the front door.
“What do you think that bang was” she asks
“I have no idea, but the door doesn't appear to be damaged. Maybe it was a sonic boom from a low level aircraft.”
I smile. She smiles as she leaves.
I close the door and feel exhausted. I sit on the couch and fall asleep.
* * *
I dream of big red aeroplanes, like massive busses, hovering in the sky over London . Some turn upside down and crash. I wake with a start. It's almost Midday. I look down to see a moth on my stomach, I am startled and bat it away. There is a mark on my shirt from the moth, but it seems ok as it flies off.
* * *
People imagine therapists to be certain types of people, but in my experience they are a pretty varied bunch. I say that because I certainly don't think of myself as typical. My background wasn't particularly middle class. I travelled extensively before studying and my interest in psychotherapy came my touches with Eastern religions. Many aspects of Buddhism seem to run parallel with therapeutic ideology and so it was that I was drawn in to helping others through therapy. I always felt there was a purpose to my life. But the bang on my door was almost like a Buddhist gong that sounded to mark a change, an end, a warning.
END OF CHAPTER 7
I decided that either as a way of helping me centre myself or to try to develop my psychic “abilities” that I would spend time meditating each day. At first it was pretty much run of the mill. Time would pass very quickly, what felt like half an hour was actually 2 hours but after a week or so I started to feel I was having out of body experiences. Nothing particularly made me feel that it was anything more than my imagination.
I was just over half way through the summer break, and I could feel myself beginning to come to life again.
August 18 2001
It is raining, summer rain, warm and heavy. I am stuck in doors and I don't want to study or write. I sit on the floor crossed legged and start to breathe slowly. I count 1 as I breathe in and 2 as I breathe out. I focus my eyes on the ceiling corner.
I am in a dark space, I see Alex is in a clear plastic body bag. I look for the zip, but there isn't one. I try to tear it open but I can't. I try to look through the plastic. I think I see her move so I pick her up and put her over my shoulder. I fall backwards as I hit the ground it gives way and we fall into a newly dug grave. I start to cry “I'm sorry”. Alex's hand pushes up to the plastic in front of her face.
“Can you hear me?” I scream. She pushes one finger up to the membrane.
“Oh my God! You're not dead. You're not dead!” I am overwhelmed.
I wake. I am laying on my back. I am immediately filled with dread as I realise I've been dreaming. I open my eyes only to find my eye sockets have filled with tear drops and I am looking through a pool of tears at the light fitting in the ceiling.
I sit up and I am filled with her loss. I try to meditate again but I can't stop thinking about the dream. It felt so real. Everyday for a week I tried to meditate but the expectation of re-dreaming the connection between Alex and I stopped me.
* * *
I have left the windows open tonight, it's been hot all day, and now a cool breeze touches my body as I sleep.
The phone rings. I try to look at the clock but my eyes are so stuck together that I can just about see the number 2, or a row of 2s.
“Yes, sorry, who is this? Do you realise what time it is?”
The next line faded to white noise.
“Thank you, thank you for saving me”
And then the sound of the dialling tone.
I became alert, typed in the number to hear who'd called, but it said the number was unavailable. I thought that it was probably someone playing a joke or maybe yet another client who was unhappy with my service. I put the phone down, realised I was cold, closed the window and went downstairs to make a hot drink.
I put the kettle on, sat at the table, put my head in my hands and thought about the call. I didn't recognise the voice, I couldn't make head nor tail of it. I looked up and at the window I could see a finger drawing on the glass. My heart began to pound, I stood up and stepped backwards, knocking over the chair, the sound of it crashing to the floor startled me further. The finger was still pressed up against the glass. I walked slowly to the door to the garden. The finger seemed to drop away from the glass in to the darkness. I looked through the window before opening the door. I couldn't see anything. I grabbed my torch, opened the door and scoured my yard. I could see nothing untoward. I looked at the glass, the top of a flower wavered below the picture, perhaps it was that which I saw, but if that was so then it had still managed to draw what looked like a heart.
I was lost, I didn't know what to think, feel, say or do. I went back in and stood there, trying to break the feeling of shock.
As I looked through the fading heart shaped image I saw movement. I looked at my reflection in the glass panel of the door and for a moment it wasn't my own face looking back at me. I went cold with fear and stepped back looked towards the knife rack then back at the window, this time it was my face only.
I decided to protect rather than confront. I put my face to the glass to see if I could see anything and slowly drew the extra bolt across the door. In the lower part of my peripheral vision I could see something touch my chest. I looked down to see five wasps upon my chest. I slowly picked up the knife again and as I went to scrape them from myself they fell to the floor, motionless.
I was well aware that something was wrong. This was either a bad dream, I was gong off my head, or something strange was occurring. I tried to keep calm but of course there's always an element of fear. I had tried to face my fears throughout my life and decided to check every room, to look out the front and the back of the house, to check the phone line, to finish making my drink. I did all of the above then went back to bed. I thought I would restlessly toss and turn for the rest of the night but I didn't. I lay down and that was the last thing I remember.
I open my eyes to find I'm lying on my therapy couch. I hear the woman from the park, Shirley, ask me for my opinion on whether there's such a thing as magic.
“What do you mean by magic?” I ask “Why don't you tell me what you'd define it as”
“Mmmmm not sure really. Something that defies the laws of physics, that can be controlled by another human or an entity of some kind?” She answers. Then she asks me “Do you believe in magic?”
“No” I say adamantly
“But what if the laws of physics did allow things to happen that we currently believed the laws of physics didn't allow, is that possible”
“Well that seems reasonable.”
“So maybe magic could be something that can happen, that appears to break the rules of physics as we currently define them now.”
“Yes, you have a point.”
“You do realise that many physicists have a set of “proven” rules and a set of hypothetical ones too and the universe they believe in is as much made up of the hypothetical ones as the proven ones?”
“And your point is?”
“My point is that this isn't a dream, it's not your imagination, it's not magic, it's not a symptom of madness. It's real”
“Who to? You? And when I prove it to you, can we repeat it at will, can we be tested, repeatedly? If not, does that make it unproven.”
“I'm afraid so”
“Then along with the fabric of time, the nature of the universe, your need for evidence will have to wait. I'm here because you are in danger”
“In danger of what, losing my sanity?”
“I'm afraid that that has already gone.”
“No something more important”
“Well what then?”
I wake. I am standing naked in the kitchen. It is light, I am extremely cold. My finger is touching the ghost of the heart on the glass.
I am wondering if I am mad, or am I becoming more aware. I vow to try to find the woman in the park to see if she can shed any light on the matter. I take it she can't, I will approach with caution, because this may after all be just a dream.
I run a warm bath. I am shivering and get in to the water as soon as it can cover my feet. I need to warm up. I lie down in the water and feel it gently raising up my sides. Once it covers my body I allow hotter water in to slowly raise my temperature. Eventually I am warm again. I turn off the taps and wait. I am waiting for the moment when I will decide to get out. It's a moment I am always fascinated by, what influences me to get out of the bath? Is it the temperature of the water? The wrinkliness of my fingers, boredom, curiosity, guilt? Such a simple thing yet so many variables? This time though it's the feeling that someone is standing behind me that makes me get out. I get the feeling, I try to look but my neck is stiff. It feels like a woman is there. I panic and tumble out of the bath. By the time I look there is no one there and the feeling has gone. I know there was someone there though, I don't feel mad, or delusional, hold on, well I accept I maybe mad and deluded but I want to be able to understand how to see more, to get to know what's going on. I am driven by a need for the truth. It is the shared passion of artists, philosophers, scientists, lovers and the dying.
I am crouched over a pool of water. I look up to where I felt the figure was standing and say “If you can show yourself then I am ready to see you”
There is silence.
I pick up my towel and dry myself, I am agitated. I feel the presence still. I don't feel threatened, more nervous than anything. I am waiting for something to happen. Slight creeks make me jump a little but I look and see nothing. I decide that I will have to be more proactive.
* * *
After I have dressed I go back to the kitchen to make a coffee. I fancy an egg on toast too. I look in the fridge and there's no bread. I will have the coffee then go to the shops. I decide to take a photograph of the drawing on the glass but when I look at it it's now a tree, well more like a trunk that was added to a heart shaped tree top. I check the photo has come out ok, drink my coffee and wonder what the hell my life is coming to. I would call Robert but I'm worried I'd be carted away and not be able to continue my research. I don't feel like I'm a danger to myself or others at this point but I'll keep this quiet for now. Maybe it's just the fact that we let others know our crazy thoughts that defines who is mad and who isn't, well at least in the eyes of society. If you're devious enough to hide it, you maybe mad but you're not quite on the lowest run. In fact you're probably seen to a degree of being a genius. Shit I'm laughing to myself. Maybe I am mad.
* * *
My day follows its set path. Shops, shopping, café – negates original reason for shopping -, go home, put shopping away, grab a book, go to the park, it's hot, so I go to sleep in the long grass. Don't see Shirley. Come home. So much for the great leap forward. I will try to meditate later though.
* * *
I am trying to read but every so often I jolt to sleep for a second. I eventually give up, lie on the couch and let myself fall.
I am in my house. The lights won't work. There is someone on the street who wants to find me. They don't know I'm in the house. I can see their shadow on the glass. I know if they get in there won't be any escape. I am near the door way to the front room. If I get to the cellar I think I'll be safer. I slide my body out of the front room towards the kitchen, towards the stairs to the cellar. I hear the letterbox open. I become still. Stillness is the best camouflage – a soldier once told me that -. I do not breathe. I don't think the viewer has seen me. The letter box closes slowly. I continue to stay still but slowly turn my head so I can see the front door. A face is pressed up against the glass panel. I do not move. The face moves away and I scurry like a beetle to the stairs. The cellar is dark. I stand up and slowly retreat in to the cool, blackness.
There is a dim orange light at the top of the stairs coming in from the street. I squat with my back against the cold brick wall. I control my breathing, long deep quiet breaths.
There is a sound from further in the darkness. I become very still.
The sound of the letter box opening breaks the silence. I wait, still holding my breath. Then it closes again.
My eyes are beginning to acclimatise to the darkness and as they do I become aware of a dark figure standing to my left. I feel a wave of coldness run through my body. I try not to move. My legs and arms feel like lead weights. If I have to fight now I don't know if I could move at all. I do not want to look.
“You look like a scared rabbit” the figure has the voice of a woman. She snorts a quiet laugh. “It's ok, it's safe to look”
My eyes slowly move up her dress to her face. It is the girl whose fingers had been shut in the door. I look down to her hand, but she is wearing gloves and I can't see, it's too dark.
“Well you asked me to show myself to you and here I am. What do you think?”
“I don't know what I think. It's hard to think when you're petrified.” I whisper –making a point about keeping quiet.
“What are you scared of?”
“An entity outside that wants to get me and, I'm not sure what you are, standing next to me in darkness”
“Well I'm not going to hurt you, so relax”
“That doesn't help much”
“Well you wanted proof”
“This is a dream, it's not proof”
“That's true. Anyway you wanted to meet me, and here I am.”
“Why? Why have you come to me?”
“Why have YOU come to me, don't you mean?”
She squats down next to me.
“I'm in search of the truth”
“You don't sound very convincing”
“I have watched you for many years talking to your clients. I could probably pass the exams myself, but I've seen that it's about a relationship. And I want to try it.”
“So you want therapy?”
“I don't believe it”
“I'd imagine that's the easiest part to believe”
“But, how would we meet?”
She puts her hand out, I hold it, I can feel the half length fingers. She edges slowly around the wall, we come to an opening. There are more stairs going down. At the bottom of them is a door which is open. Light from the room spreads out.
“This is my room. We can meet here.”
The room is small. A stone floor, old plastered walls that have yellowed over time and are accentuated by the candle light. There are two chairs near the fire place, the fire flickers.
“Will this do?”
“I suppose so”
“It's the best that you could do”
“What do you mean, it's your room”
“It's your dream”
Therapy is like any relationship, it relies on chemistry initially to make it work, and I could tell that that this would be an interesting journey.
“You do realise that by knowing me so well you've negated most of the process of transference?”
“Yes I'd already thought about that. We'll just have to make do”
I realise I was a bit loud so I whisper “What is the thing outside my house. What is it after?”
“It's after me”
“I haven't wanted to go to the “beyond”, and so far I've escaped my destiny. I have unfinished business to attend to first. Then I'll face my fate”
“Oh, what unfinished business?”
“I'm sorry time's up” she laughs
“Hold on what's your name?”
I wake. I am on the couch. I am covered in sweat. My neck is stiff. I sit up.
I go to the kitchen. There is a picture of a house drawn on the window. I wonder if I've been sleep walking or taken on a split personality disorder. Could this be real? This after all is the only thing in my real life that links to the things going on in my head.
Just to check for further clues I take a torch, switch on the lights for the cellar and tap around the walls for any hidden passages. I don't find anything.
END OF CHAPTER 8
I have spent the day looking at videos on YouTube about String Theory, M-Theory, Time Dilation, and different ideas about particles moving backwards through time. If I was ever worried about going mad I should have just taken a look at all this stuff. If these Physicists didn't have letters after their names I'd be offering them my services. As a lay person I have to trust they know what they're talking about, but it sounds like they're on another planet. It makes sense that the universe is beyond my comprehension, that bit I do understand. It's not that I don't want to understand, it's more a case of realising that someone like Stephen Hawkins or Einstein have had to build up so many conceptual models in their minds to get where they are that it all seems insurmountable. But here I am, dealing with something I wouldn't normally think of as “normal”.
* * *
I have been thinking, feeling differently lately, like there is some hope. I'm not even feeling high about it, just a relaxed, “I'm ok” sense of myself. I know it'll go and I'll be stressed again, at some point soon no doubt, but I can't remember feeling like this for a long time. Of course it might be the retail therapy session I've just had. Thigh length boots, I can't believe I bought those in public, a beautiful orange and rust shawl, and a not so little something for myself.
Marcus is moving in, we are so relaxed together, he's laid back, thoughtful, bla bla.
Blimey, I can even get a parking place outside my house today, unbelievable.
My phone rings, it's Marcus. “Hello, where are you”
“I'm on my way, I'll be there in 20 minutes” he says
“Great I'll open some wine. Everything ok?”
“Yes, just wanted to see if you'd be there”
“Aww that's so sweet”
“I'm not sweet… I don't do sweet”
“Ha! Okay sweetie, see you soon”
[He growls] “Bye-bye”
I pop the boot, get out the car. Get my bags out, shut the boot.
A man is standing across the road, facing me. He's staring at me smiling. I smile and nod at him politely, then make my way as quick as I can to my front door. I feel panicky. I look over to where he was standing and he's gone. I still don't feel right. My hands are shaking as I put the key in the door. The door opens. I walk in, push the door shut with my back. And breath out in relief. I laugh a panicky laugh . But then I hear the sound and reverberation of a massive bang on the door.
It's ok I'll call him I've dealt with him before.
Dials the number:
“Hello Mr Anderson, it's Ian Cole CID”
“Sorry to call you, are you busy?”
“No, no it's fine how can I help?”
“I'm afraid I have some bad news”
“Has she died?”
“The old lady”
“Oh no, she's recovering well, surprisingly.”
“That's a relief. So what's happened?”
“I'm afraid Lucie Blake has been found dead”
“Was it suicide?”
“No she was found stabbed in her house”
“Was it someone she knew?”
“We don't know. I'm sorry but I can't go in to details right now, but I see she was one of your clients so I was wondering if you could help us”
“Am I a suspect?”
“Well until we can get more information then the answer's both yes and no. You didn't immediately spring to mind but it always helps to clear people off the list. Basically I'm not interested in seeing you like that David, I just think you might be able to help so please, don't worry.”
“Ok, well I'm here for the rest of the day and if I go out tomorrow it'll just be local so give me a call when you want to visit”
“Thank you. I shall try to come tomorrow around 1 ish.”
“Ok, see you then, bye”
Nah, he didn't do it.
* * *
In the space of two months I have witnessed a stabbing and now one of my clients has been stabbed to death. Is it just random, or did the killer, if it is the same killer, did the killer target them? For me the thing connecting the crimes is me, but I'm pretty sure I have nothing to do with it.
* * *
I am filled to the brim with relativity. I'm in bed, the laptop's on my lap, I have about 10 internet windows open, and as I watch videos, (and end up looking at videos that catch my eye that have nothing to do with what I'm supposed to be looking at) I start to catch myself jolting to sleep again. It's dark now, the room is lit by the laptop screen. I'm too sleepy to even move it off me I just let myself go.
I feel my face is against the neck of a woman, I breathe in her warmth. She turns her head towards me. My nose pushes against her cheek. She takes my hand and pulls my arm around her. My hand is touching her stomach. I feel her back push against my stomach. I slide my face down to her shoulder blade. She lifts her arms over my head. My face moves in to her arm pit, and across to the side of her breast. She breathes in deeply. My hand moves down the side of her body, over her hips, down to her thigh. She turns on to her back and raises her knee, my hand strokes over the top of it and down the inside of her thigh. She guides my head up towards hers. I brush her nipple between my lips. My other hand reaches behind her head. It feels wet, I know it is blood, I recognise the warmth and stickiness. I look and it is Lucie who s looking back at me. She is crying, she screams.
“My God! What are you doing, how the hell did you get here. What the fuck is going on!”
I pull back
“What the fuck is happening?”
I want to tell her she's dead.
She pulls her legs up to her chest, puts her hands around her head.
“Oh my God, I don't understand. I thought I could trust you. What the fuck do you think you're doing? Well say something!”
“I'm just dreaming.”
“Well it doesn't feel much like a dream to me”
“Maybe if you close your eyes you'll find it's a dream too”
She pulls her hands away from the back of her head. Her fingers are covered in blood.
“What have you done! What have you done! For Christ's sake I'm bleeding”
“I haven't done anything”
“Well who the fuck has then?”
“I don't know”
“What's going on?”
“Lucie, what I'm going to tell you, well it's beyond belief.”
“Don't worry this is all pretty unbelievable.” She starts to sob.
“I think you've been killed and you're spirit is visiting me”
“Oh please tell me this is a dream”
“Well it is a dream”
“It feels fucking real to me”
“Ok let's say it is real, then why are you here?”
“I have no idea”
“Did you see the. Did you see anyone today, anyone out of the ordinary?”
“Yes, I saw a man dressed in white”
And as she said this the image of a man in white came to me, as if I could see it.
“I can see him too”
“Well he didn't kill me. I got in to my house. I pushed the door shut”
“Were you up against the door?”
“Yes. Oh no, please no, tell me this isn't happening” She touches the back of her head and feels the wound.
She looks at me and realises it's true, her mouth pouts in desperation.
And then she says “I'm awfully sorry, but we have to stop now”
I open my eyes.
I am shaking. I slide from under the laptop, get out of bed, go downstairs, find Ian Cole's number. I ring him, it goes straight through to voice mail.
“Hello, Mr Cole, it's David, David Anderson. I need to speak with you. I need to know if Lucie was stabbed in the head.”
I am so wound up. If it turns out that she was stabbed in the head then that might be considered as evidence, well at least by me. The wait to speak to Mr Cole will be interminable.
* * *
I am woken by a knock on the door. I walk down the stairs. There is a blue flashing light. As I walk towards the door I hear Sarah call out to me “Don't, it's not the police, it's a trick”
“How do you know?”
“Have a look for yourself”
I step backwards slowly. I can see the shape of the shadow on the door isn't that of a police officer. I see the shape bend down towards the letter box. I step to the side of the door. A face, pushes up against the glass, the eye, distorted by the glass peers in. The head moves away from the glass and goes towards the front room windows
I slowly walk backwards watching for the shape in case it moves to the letter box. It doesn't. When I get to the top of the basement stairs Sarah is waiting there. She bounces down the stairs ahead of me, looking back and smiling. I am touched by her beauty. I take her hand as she guides me through the darkness. I feel the cold on my feet, and realise that I am only dressed in a dressing gown. When we get to the room I am careful to look respectable.
There's silence. I am trained not to influence the beginning of therapy. Of course if it's the first time for someone they often look very uncomfortable, but if I say anything then I shall influence what happens. Needless to say, if I don't, it has an influence as well.
Sarah looks at me and smiles.
“I really do think this bit is stupid”
“Because you could at least explain the procedure”
“Do I really need to with you?”
“No not really, but just for future reference.”
“So what do you want to talk about?”
“It's funny, now that I'm here my mind's gone blank”
“Have you ever thought about what it would be like before?”
“Plenty of times.”
“Aren't you supposed to just let me flow”
There's a pause again.
“I think I better explain something first”
“OK what is it?”
“Well I don't experience time like you do”
“How do you experience it then”
“A bit like tuning a radio, I move forward and backwards, pretty much in the same way that you remember things”
“So have you experienced the future?”
“What's going to happen?”
“If I tell you it would make things worse”
“What happens to you”
“I let go, persuaded by you.”
“Oh, so why are bothering to go through this?”
“Because I still need persuading”
“So have you had to wait 300 years for this to happen?”
“Yes and no”
“If you had lived 300 years, it wouldn't take you 300 years to take a memory from that time span, it'd be moments wouldn't it”
“So what's happening now is experienced like a memory to you”
“Some people say that as they die they relive their life in a few seconds. That's what it's like too.”
“This is absolutely fascinating”
“So can you effect the future?”
“Not really, that's for the living to do. I died 300 years ago.”
“But aren't you here now?”
“Not really, I'm just connecting to you through thoughts. It's as if I'd written something and now you're reading it. In that way maybe I can have an effect”
“So what's next week's lottery numbers then?”
“There's no point, it's a law of physics, no lottery numbers”
“So why are we here?”
“I don't have that kind of awareness”
“No I mean, why do you want to talk to me?”
“Because I have done something awful and I'm worried I will go to Hell”
“But I can't say if you'll go to Heaven or Hell, I can't say if such things exist in the first place”
“In my time, there was no doubt about it. You did something wrong and you'd go to Hell, even if you renounced the Devil you'd still likely go to Hell. It's funny that you don't think it's at all likely.”
“What I think is Heaven and Hell are states of mind that you take on depending on your actions. When you die you'll either just switch off, or if there is a God, he'll understand and forgive you.”
“So you don't believe there'll be a consequence to your actions?”
“there'll be consequences, as in you may be punished by your peers, that you may be overwhelmed with guilt, that you may cut off from parts of yourself, that you might feel terribly depressed, but I don't really believe in Hell.”
“If you said that in my day you'd be sent forthwith to Hell.” She nods admonishingly.
“Well in our world we have let go of religious beliefs, and now we're flowing down a river, looking for something we think has some validity to it. As we flow we see millions of others still holding on to foliage and branches, all convinced that they have found a way to be free of the river. But many of us are searching for something which we can be sure of”
“We felt pretty sure in my world”
“I'm sure that most people feel pretty sure in their beliefs, but that doesn't mean they're right. It's only by continuously testing ones beliefs that you can be sure you're not sure. People who feel sure very rarely test their philosophy and accept a deluded point of view”
“We would call that heresy”
“I know. Many people died because they wanted to search for the truth”
“I think that's what happened to me”
“What do you mean?”
“I was punished for speaking out”
“How do you know?” – she looks taken aback
“I think I witnessed your fingers being crushed in the door”
“You saw that! How?”
“In a dream.”
“When I tried to have Sister Rebecca punished for her actions I had nobody to stand up for me, she made it look like I had done it myself. You don't know what it is to have nobody bare witness to an act of evil perpetrated on oneself. Now I know that someone else saw what happened, that helps, I can't tell you how much that helps. Thank you.” She cries, I can see it's in relief. I have no tissues to pass her.
“You know I did wrong and I will be punished”
“What did you do?”
“I took the life of my sister”
“Yes I had heard”
“Who told you?”
“The woman who slammed the door on you”
“Did she say why?”
“I was protecting her. If she had lived she'd have been tortured, used as a slave, her life would have been awful”
“How can you be sure of that?”
“I just could”
“You know, that doesn't ring true to me. You sound like someone choosing to abort a disabled baby because deep down they want to shirk the burden that they believe will result in having the child. Most of the time they don't want to look to see what life for that child might really be like. You see we choose our beliefs to suit what allows us an easier life”
There's a pause.
“So why do you think I killed her then if it wasn't for her own good. Because that's what I remember doing, I wept as I killed her, and I couldn't wait to kill myself too, so I could be with her as soon as”
“What you're saying maybe partly true, but it's not the whole story is it?”
“I'm sorry but I can not see any other reason for killing my beautiful, fragile sister and taking my own life”
“What about vengeance?”
“What about it? Isn't it written that the Lord said “Vengeance is mine”, I may have been angry but I wasn't being vengeful”
“Did you do what you thought was right?”
“What if I were to say to you that you don't really know what is right or wrong”
“I'd say you were mad, of course I know what's right and wrong”
“Do you know what the consequence of your actions will be all the way down the line? I mean before you could zoom forward and backwards in time.”
“No of course not, even now I can't really know such things”
“Then should you not doubt your ability to know what was right?”
“I can see why you're speaking such words, but I did what I thought was best”
“Did you not believe that God would do what was best?”
“He had abandoned us. His own followers were torturing us. What was I to do, just let it go on?”
I'm stuck here, because I don't know what to say. I pause for thought.
“I suppose this is the dilemma. Do we act to save ourselves or those we love and venture in to immoral practices, such as killing, or do we stick to our convictions and suffer? I can see that both ways are difficult. I do not have the answer though.”
“I can see that my sin may have been killing my sister and myself, but really it was because I stopped believing that God would choose well for me, in fact I think I stopped believing in God and that it was left for me to punish those who trespassed against me. My sin was to believe I could do God's work better than God.”
“Do you think you were punishing God for abandoning you?”
“I was just wondering if it's our expectations, the consequential disappointment and the resentment that are the roots of our evil actions”
“What do you mean?”
“Well we have expectations, and when we don't get what we expect we feel hurt and angry and then we do things because of that anger”
“That doesn't justify me killing my sister though.”
“Then why do you think I did it?”
“What about this. Do you think you felt so angry with what had happened that a part of you wanted to sell your soul to Satan to punish God.”
“Maybe. So do you think I will go to Hell?”
“Sarah, I don't believe in God, or Satan, or Heaven or Hell. So I can't answer that.”
“I think you have helped me, but I'm not ready to go yet, do you mind if we meet again?”
I feel a pang of loss as she says this. I know that I will miss her once she's gone.
“No, I'm more than happy to see you again. I shall be sad when you go”
“Thank you, you're very kind David.”
“I'm being honest. Can I say it this time?”
“I think it's time to finish for today”
“Yes it feels that way. Thank you, goodbye”
* * *
There's a knock on the door. I pick up the Intercom expecting it to be Mr Cole, but it's the gas meter reader. I let him in and take him in to the cellar.
“It's a bit creepy down here, in it?” he says
“Do you think so?”
“Yes, just get a feeling”
“Maybe you should be reading peoples palms not meters”
“I'd probably get paid more!”
“Probably.” I laugh “Is it gonna be a big bill then?”
“I thought your psychic abilities might have had an insight”
“Hold on” he puts his hand to his head and hums “mmmmm. Let me see”
A voice from nowhere says “Your next bill will be £150”
I jump out of my skin
The meter reader laughs. “I love this new machine”
“You frightened the life out of me”
“Well you asked sir.”
As we walk up the stairs and back to the front door I can see he's still smiling.
“Thank you sir”
“Thank you, very funny”
I politely close the door on him.
I get a feeling that someone is standing behind me. I spin around but there's no one there. I realise my back is against the door and quickly push myself off of it. There's a bang on the door. I spin around. I don't want to look through the eye piece so I pick up the intercom.
“Hello Mr Anderson. It's Mr Cole, do you mind if I come in, I know it's early.
“Hold on I'm just coming”
* * *
I open the door, Mr Cole has his back to me and swings around gently.
“Sorry, I was just watching a couple of kids. Do you mind? They're eyeing up a car”
“Oi! Yes you! I'm watching you!”
“Wouldn't it be better to let them do it and then catch them?” I ask
“Maybe, but I've got more important things to do “”Prevention is better than cure”” wouldn't you say?”
“Certainly. But that's not prevention. They'll just go somewhere else and do it”
He laughs “Well it's a kind of prevention”
“Shall we go in, or maybe we could go and give them a thick ear?” I say – pretty much liking the idea.
“Ah can't do that. That might be against their human rights?”
“Ah the good old days”
We go in. I close the door.
“That'd be good thanks.”
“So you got my call?”
“Yes. You sounded quite desperate to speak.”
“I thought we'd kept the details quiet, how did you manage to find out where she'd been attacked”
“So it's true?”
“Aye it is.”
“I'm not sure you'll believe this, but I dreamt it”
“What did you dream?”
“I dreamt I was talking to Lucie”
“Were you having a session?”
“What did she say?”
“She didn't realise she was dead”
“So did she say if she saw the killer?”
“She says she saw a man dressed in white, looking at her from across the road. In the dream I saw him too”
“Can you describe him?”
“He was wearing a white T-shirt, and white jeans, he had black hair”
“Did she say anything else?”
“She was mainly concerned that she was dying, she didn't seem to know what had happened.”
I pass him his coffee.
* * *
Up to the point where she said she was dying, I wasn't taking this very seriously. But when Mr Anderson said
“She said the last thing she remembered was leaning up against the door”
My blood ran cold.
“Did she say what happened next?”
“No, but she had a wound in the back of her head. So I imagined someone had put something, maybe a knife through the door. Does that fit?”
“We're not supposed to give out details, but put it this way I will need to verify your movements yesterday.”
“I was in most of the day, and went out for milk at about 4”
“What shop did you go to?”
“OK, I'll get that checked out. Can you think of anything else?”
“Well it's just that if my dream is accurate, and you seem to be indicating that it was, then that makes it an interesting coincidence”
“It does, but you do realise that every day we get tens of phone calls from people who've had premonitions, and occasionally they're right. But how do you know which ones to believe? There might be something in it but it's not of much practical use. If it was, we'd be using it, trust me we need all the help we can get.”
“Yes I understand. So should I bother letting you know if I get anymore information?”
“You've got my email address on my card, it might be better to email me, at least that way it's in writing”
The coffee was hot but drinkable. I needed to get on so I swigged it back.
“Thanks. I'd better be off.”
“No problem. I'll keep you posted if I have anymore dreams”
“You've got my email”
And then I was out of there. I couldn't help but feel he was a bit off his rocker, but still his dream had been extremely accurate so I wasn't going to dismiss him out of hand, either as a source of information or a suspect.
* * *
END OF CHAPTER 9
I have been thinking about Evil. You'd have thought that it's pretty much a universal concept, but in fact it varies, it varies massively:
A lot of modern films see it as an entity in itself that wonders our world, (its “battleground”) in a continual struggle with God, taking over individuals who have been “possessed” or are willing to sell their souls. Of course in real life most of us explain people who act in an “evil” way as being mentally ill.
Some religions don't see people as being evil at all, just that they can act in an evil way. Judaism doesn't even see Satan as God's adversary. Instead he is seen as working for God in order to test man kind. Then there are some religions that believe that not believing in their god or following their rules are acts of evil in themselves.
Carl Jung , the psycho-analyst, depicted evil as the "dark side of God". He believed that people tend to think evil is something external to them, because they project their shadow onto others and he interpreted the story of Jesus as an account of God facing his own shadow .
Socrates argued that what we call evil is merely ignorance and The Buddha spoke of wholesome actions (kusala-kamma)—that result in happiness, and unwholesome actions (akusala-kamma)—that result in unhappiness
There are some cultures that don't believe in Evil at all. For them when someone harms another person, they are believed to be out of harmony with themselves and their community, they are seen as sick or ill and measures are taken to restore them to a sense of harmonious relations with themselves and others, as opposed to punishing them.
All these thoughts are bouncing around my head when David hears Sarah ask
“If someone is going to try to hurt you or someone you love, shouldn't you try to stop them whatever you think the cause is?”
I am in the front room. Just a moment ago the TV was on, now it's blank, the house has gone very quiet. I'm thinking about what she's just said. I am aware of somebody outside looking through the window, I'm sure they can see me through the gap in the curtains. It's dark inside so I edge my way towards the curtains and slowly shut them. There is a loud bang on the door, then another, and another. The pounding repeats over and over again.
Sarah calls me. “Quickly come down”
I make my way speedily down the first set of stairs, and then hand in half hand I am guided by Sarah down to her room.
I can no longer hear the banging.
“Are we safe now?” I ask
“Yes, don't worry it won't hurt you, it's after me”
I know she's very worried so I ask “Are you frightened?”
“What is it that scares you the most?”
“Going to Hell”
“Do you really believe in Hell? What am I saying, of course you do, well is there anything you can do that might save you?”
“I accept what I have done was wrong, I mean I knew at the time it was wrong, but now I know in my heart that I destroyed any hope for my sister and used our deaths as a vengeance. You know I've watched my actions over and over again and screamed at my self not to do it, but I can not change what I have done. I accept that I must pay for my sins, but I am scared. You can not imagine how scared I am. I wish I could be more repentant but all I really feel is fear .”
“Someone said that being scared is like a man who thinks he'd waiting to be punished but who is actually just about to receive a gift.”
“I don't understand”
“Well we're scared of feeling fear but the thing we actually fear is often as much a gift as it is a loss”
“I'm sorry David I don't think it's true at all!”
“Well sometimes it can be”
“I know this won't help but I was thinking about this earlier. There are some physicists who believe that when things travel very fast then time slows down for them, so I was thinking that maybe because you are now just a soul, a spirit, a thought, that might be why your experience of time is different, because you're moving at close to the speed of light.”
“You've lost me. You really aren't being a good therapist tonight, you do realise that don't you!”
“It's OK David, I know you're trying to help.”
What do you say to someone who is just about to face death? What do they want to hear, or feel in their last hours? I had watched Alice prepare everything fastidiously, but that was months before the slow fade out that was her death. Even at the end her heart beat seemed to go on for an hour after the monitors said her brain had stopped showing any vital, any signs of life.
I want to tell her that I will miss her, and normally I wouldn't say, but this really isn't therapy, it's something more akin to friendship. So I look at her and say
“I will miss you when you are gone. Will I ever see you again?”
She shakes her head and says “I don't think so”
“I'm glad we met Sarah.”
“Would you mind holding me, I mean this isn't really therapy is it?”
We both stand up and embrace. She holds me very tightly and puts her head on my shoulder. I feel an awful sense of dread.
Sarah looks up at me, puts her hand to my face and guides me down to kiss her mouth. She looks in to my eyes.
I pull back and whisper “I can't, I'm sorry”
“It's ok, I understand, sorry it was just, well, look I'm sorry. I'm sure you understand. David, do you actually feel anything for me?”
“I have a caring feeling, and a feeling of sadness”
“But I killed an innocent girl David and I am evil?”
“We are never just one thing Sarah”
“Do you think God knows that David?”
She steps backwards. We are still holding each other's hand. She guides me out of her room and in to the darkness. I look back at the room, I expect the candles to go out but it just disappears as I get to the top of the stairs. Sarah's hand grips mine tighter. She is shaking. We get to the the hallway and there is definitely a shadow on the glass. The being is motionless.
“I'm so scared” Sarah says
“I know.” I am scared too.
We walk to the front door.
“Shall I open it?” I reach for the lock.
“No it'd be better if I do it”
“Ok. I am frightened too, what if the entity attacks us? What do I do, make the sign of the cross?”
“Honestly it won't attack you”
Sarah turns to me and smiles, a crying smile. She reaches over, kisses me and says “Goodbye”
Goodbye means God be with you. And those are my last words to her. “God be with you”. As the door opened I half expected a mirrored version of Sarah to be standing there, but instead there was no one, just the street as it always is, car lined and saturated in orange light. She seemed to look pleasantly surprised at someone that I couldn't see. She stepped out of the house, looked over her shoulder at me and smiled.
As she turned to walk down the road she looked once more, a frightened look, like she was trying to warn me about something, and then she was gone. I walked outside to take a look but she was nowhere to be seen. As I approached the front door it closed in the wind. I wasn't too perturbed as I keep a key under the mat, wrapped in two leaves. I bent down to get the key when I noticed a shadow pass over me. I stopped moving, didn't breathe, didn't move at all. The shadow seemed to move away, even then I didn't breathe. I slowly turned my head to see if it anything was there. I couldn't see any one, so scrambled for the keys and in a slow motion fluster let my self in.
* * *
The TV suddenly came on. It was showing a program that looked like Crimewatch. A pregnant woman was walking down an alleyway near to here, when a knife man approached her from behind. The time and date, 1:42 am 11/09/01, was showing in the corner of the screen. I was trying to deal with the after effects of Sarah's goodbye, but I couldn't ignore this. It felt as if it was a message from Sarah, an act of repentance.
* * *
I'm torn, should I ignore this dream, intervene or call the police? I realise that Ian Cole will probably think I've finally cracked, although I'm pretty sure my dream about Lucie showed him there was something in it, possibly anyway, well that's if he doesn't think I did it..
As to me intervening, I think I would at least want to be there at the time, just to see if I was right. Maybe I could do something, who knows.
* * *
I can't sleep. No surprise really. I've been going round in circles. I have no idea what I should do tomorrow. I'm staring at a mark on the ceiling, and then without warning I'm staring through the membrane that covers Alex. I can almost see her eyes through it, but what catches my attention are her fingers tapping fast against her cocoon. She's typing a message that I'll never read. Fast repetitive movements, twitching, spasmodic, prodding, fingertips white against the film.
* * *
When Mr Anderson called me with a message that he'd dreamt about something happening I couldn't help but think he'd probably gone a bit mad, then again he had been accurate about Lucie Blake's injuries so I feel I have to pay some attention to him. I decided to check the area he mentioned was covered by CCTV and get the operators to keep me informed if anything looked a bit dodgy. Tomorrow's the “Big Day” so we'll see what'll happen.
END OF CHAPTER 10
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“Hi it's Ian, how we doing?”
“Got a clear view of Bedford Passage. What are we looking for?”
“I'm not sure, but our informant thinks an attack may take place, possibly against a woman”
“Have you got any officers in situ?”
“No, but PC no. [BLANK] is nearby. The source is very flimsy. Just let me know if you think anything's up.”
“Hi, Paul? It's Ian, anything?
* * *
I hardly slept, but when I finally did get to sleep I was out for the count. I woke at 10:30, put on my clothes and made my way to the alley way. There's a pub where the alley way joins the main road, it was already open so I just hung around. At 11.40 I came outside to have a look. There was nothing to see, so I pretended to make a phone call and kept a look out. I had 999 already to dial. I looked at my watch, it was 11:41 and 27 seconds. A pregnant woman, came out of a doorway. My heart started to beat hard and fast, I could feel a sensation of coldness run down my body. I felt faint, but I thought – or maybe I actually didn't think – I just walked towards her, I looked over my shoulder, no one else was nearby. I suppose I thought I might be able to help somehow. As she approached I hesitated, stopped and turned around. An old man came out of the pub, leant hard on his stick and paused for breath. He nodded at me as if to say “I can't believe how weak I am”.
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“Ian, we've just sent a unit in. You'd better get down there sir.”
“You're not going to believe this. It's exactly as you said, a woman's been attacked.”
* * *
I started to walk back towards the pub. I was a step or so ahead of the woman. As I got to where the old man was standing he moved his stick to take a step. I was pretty much level with him and creating a buffer between them both.
The old man seemed to lunge towards me with such a force that both of us fell to the ground. The woman screamed. I tried to push him off but he was a dead weight. As I managed to free myself from him, the woman stopped screaming. I heard the thud of her body hit the floor. I looked across to see a man in white bend down at her head, and pull a knife out of the underside of her jaw. He spun the knife around and placed the tip of the knife on her temple. I managed to stand up. He pushed the blade through her head and moved the blade from side to side.
Perhaps the moment was so unreal that it made me unreal, I couldn't move.
The man in white pulled the knife out, rolled her over and knelt down beside her. He held the knife with both hands above his head, and looked skywards.
It is this moment that will forever haunt me, it is filled with the blood of death and the blood of life. I could not see the woman's face, just her bloodied hair strewn across it, and the lake of blood that poured from her. But in me was the blood of the living, it surged an anger through me, that someone so mad could destroy someone so innocent. It wasn't protective, it was fury. I grabbed the old man's stick and with all my strength swung it onto the man in white's head. The thwack seemed to boil my palms in an instant and as his head seemed to push down the stick cracked. I lost my balance and fell towards him. My hands opened up and by luck embraced his head. The handle of the knife in his hands caught me on my forehead as we fell to the ground. Silent, slow motion, deafening and momentary.
I tumbled and tried to get to my feet before he did, but as I stood up he didn't move. Draped across her still, I knew he was a threat, so before venturing to move him and put myself at risk I kicked his head enough to dislodge him from the unholy cross he'd formed upon her.
“Get the knife” the old man shouted
I grabbed the knife and passed it to the old man.
I was suddenly out of breath and started to shake, I didn't know what to do.
“This isn't real” I said to myself. “I'll call for an ambulance”
“What's the point, she's dead” said the old man
“What about the baby?”
“That'll be dead too”
“Which service do you require?”
“Ambulance and police, hurry please”
“Hold on caller”
“Please quickly, this is a real emergency”
The person at the other end sighed.
She said my number to someone and then
“Hello caller, how can I help”
“I'm with a woman who's pregnant and just been killed, how long can the baby survive, she looks close to full term”
“Can I have your location please.”
“Bedford Passage, opposite the Aintree Street and Dawes Road junction”
“Thank you sir, an ambulance is now on its way?”
“Do you think I should try get the baby out?”
“Hold on sir I shall pass you on to an advisor”
There is a 10 second pause.
I turn around to see the old man has taken the knife and thrust it in to the base of the man in white's spine.
“What the Hell are you doing” I shout
The old man looks at me as if I am stupid
He pulls the knife out again.
I can't believe what I'm watching.
“Hello, are you there?”
“One minute caller”
“We don't have a fuckin' minute”
“Putting you through”
“Hello can I help?”
“Hello, I think I need you to guide me to perform a caesarean on a dead woman.”
“How long has she been dead?”
“About 2 or 3 minutes”
“I'm sorry sir but our protocol demands that the mother is 100% dead and has no chance of recovery before we try to save the child”
“She's dead, for fuck's sake, someone's just put a knife through her brain.”
“Can you check to see if she has a pulse, or there's any sign of breathing, please sir it's very important.”
“How long can the baby survive once she's died?”
“It's probably a matter of minutes”
"There's no pulse" I say as I make a gesture to feel for one.
“Don't you think we should at least try to save it” I implore
“I'm sorry sir I can't advise you to do that”
The old man puts his hand on to the wall and hoists himself up.
“What is your name sir?” asks the voice on the other end of the line
I whisper “David”
“I'll do it” says the old man, who has managed to make his way over to the woman “I was a butcher for 45 years”
I move to one side.
He sits down next to the woman and pushes the knife making a cut down one side of the bump. I felt sick as blood and fluid poured out.
“David what's going on” says the voice on the other end of the line.
“Someone's trying to cut the baby out”
“Oh sweet Jesus, this is not good, you must stop them, she may still be alive and feeling the cut”
“I can tell you she isn't alive”
I walk towards the butcher.
“Drop the knife sir” says a voice from behind me. I look and it's a policeman edging his way towards us. He'd holding a baton.
“Drop the knife NOW!”
“I can't. I'm trying to save her baby” shouts the old man matter of factly.
“He's not the killer, this one is.” I say nodding at the man on the ground.
I see the policeman's shadow come over us and hear the woosh of the baton which strikes the old man on the side of the head. The old man keels over.
“For God's sake, he was trying to save her baby” I shout.
The policeman raises his baton to hit me. “Shut up!” he shouts
For a moment I feel like giving up. Why should I care if the baby lives or dies. If fate wants it to die who am I to get in the way, but then I am overwhelmed by the police officer's stupidity.
“Her child will die if we don't do something”
He is trapped in a moment of confusion,
I implore to him “I know you think you're doing what's best but can't you see we need to save the baby. I'm going to continue with the caesarean, if you want to stop me you'll have to use force.”
He thwacks his baton against the side of my face, the phone takes most of the force and shatters to the floor. I am shocked and fall backwards.
“We'll wait till the ambulance gets here”
The officer tells me to move back, which I do. He picks up the knife and speaks into his radio. I'm suddenly overwhelmed by the madness that's around me, and tears fall down my cheek.
Within a minute the flashing lights of the ambulance precede their deafening sound, and then the swirl of luminous yellow and green.
I stand up to watch what's happening.
They check the woman for signs of life, radio to their supervisors to get permission to operate and start the dissemination of her body.
I watch as they make the cut, and push the big flap of red and yellow flesh and fat out of the way. There is a heat that comes from the woman's body that reaches me from 6 foot away, it shocks me. In fact everything, every moment of “now” shocks me.
The paramedic says quite calmly, “This doesn't look good, the umbilical cord is wrapped around it's neck.
From the mush of flesh and blood the man carefully takes out the child and passes it to his partner who starts to try to resuscitate it. It is tiny, motionless, covered in blood and is blue.
“My God, there's another” says the first paramedic.
He pulls apart the gaping hole and gentles untangles the next one.
“I don't think this one has fared any better.” He passes the next one to his partner.
“Can't you see I'm busy with this one?”
“I'll just check there's no more, do what you can”
The paramedic puts his hand in to the dark opening and feels around.
He touches something and places his other hand in. He pulls a tiny baby out feet fist. As he picks up the child I notice its eyes are open, looking straight at me. It closes it's eyes and starts to cry.
Suddenly I hear applause. A crowd has gathered around us.
I hear another ambulance approaching, and then another, and within seconds the paramedics take over and once again I become a victim.
The man in the priest's outfit lies on his side, looking at me, quietly speaking. I walk towards him, but as if he was blind he seems unaware of my presence. “You're all fools. You are saving the Anti-Christ.”
I have often read of people killing others because they are told they were evil or the anti-christ
“How do you know this?” I ask, wanting to point out the tenuous logic behind such a claim.
He looks back at me and shakes his head in disdain. “You can not begin to understand such matters”
I look at him and shake my head. I know there's nothing I can say to dissuade him.
I hear another voice behind me “David, David, I am so sorry”
It's Ian Cole.
I don't know what to say, I mean I can understand why he didn't follow up my call more seriously but then if he had then maybe she'd still be alive, so I don't feel much like consoling him.
“It's a fucking mess” he says.
“Yeah, it really is, it's unbelievable”
* * *
10 Years Later
A few moments of high drama have far reaching effects, and so firstly the police interviews, and then the coroner's investigation, and then the court cases and a year down the line it was still a part of my everyday life.
At the same time as all this had happened the Twin Towers were being brought down and no doubt either people felt they were being attacked by another Anti-Christ or the attackers themselves believed that they were bringing down The Great Satan. So both on a personal and global scale, those minutes around 11.45 are still affecting what's going on now.
The triplets, whom I later found out were identical, shared the same amniotic sac, two had died from strangulation due to being wrapped up in their own umbilical chords and the other had, by some miracle survived.
I couldn't help but be disturbed by the killers allegation of the child being an Anti-Christ, and although all my logic said to leave it alone I have kept my eye on the child, I have nothing untoward to report so far but I shall keep an interest in his development.
As for my own experiences with the paranormal I haven't experienced anything since that day.
20 Years Later
I have some bad news.
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