Across town a tall, dark haired man pressed the palm of his hand to the door of Peter Sharpe’s house and waited for the click of the opening lock. He entered the kitchen and looked down at the top of Brian Thomas’s head as it lolled on his chest. Brian was tied and gagged to a kitchen chair. He stirred at the sound of movement and his head snapped up. His eyes went wide with fear and his nostrils flared as the man came towards him.
Brian flinched as the tall, blue eyed man pulled a small, sharp knife from inside his black trench coat and came towards him. His muffled protests were ignored. He slipped the knife under the ropes at Brian’s wrists and sliced through them with no effort at all.
Brian rubbed at his swollen, bleeding wrists, then spat out the now loosened gag from his mouth.
“Who are you?” he said, his voice as dry as gravel.
A glass of water was thrust into his hand.
“Drink,” he was instructed. “Then go help Kate.”
“Kate, what’s wrong with Kate?”
“Physically, nothing, but she could use a friend right now and you owe her one.”
“I do? Why?”
Brian pulled back as the man reached towards him. He paused, hand outstretched, eyebrows raised. Brian relented and allowed the man to place two fingers against the centre of his forehead. He grunted as the image formed in his head. A village, a crowd of people gathered in an open space. It was a static picture at first, like a photograph, and then there was sound and movement and he wasn’t looking at the picture anymore, he was in it, in the body of a young boy. He was pushing his way through the crowd and then running across the grass to the girl, standing in a barrel of tar, tied to a pole. He picked up a chain and passed it round her waist, pulling it tight around the pole so she could not move or struggle.
As he walked away, smirking, he spat at her face. The girl looked at him, tears in her eyes, she was terrified.
Brian, looking out through the boy’s eyes, paused. His gaze bored into her and he gasped in shock as the eyes that looked back at him changed into Kate’s. He understood now, at last, and the man released him from the memory.
“Who are you?” he said for the second time.
The man was already walking away, he looked back over his shoulder and smiled.
“See you around, Brian.”
He didn’t remember telling the man his name, but he guessed it didn’t matter. He got to his feet, pins and needles flooding his muscles as the feeling came back to his legs. Then he left Peter’s house and went straight to Kate’s.
* * *
There was no answer as he knocked on the door, but it opened to the pressure of his hand and he went inside.
“Kate, are you here?”
Brian ran down the hall and skidded to a halt on the tiled kitchen floor. As he turned, he saw the wreckage from the living room doorway. It looked like someone had bombed the place. He edged forward, expecting the worst.
Kate was laid on what was left of the settee. At first he thought she was dead, but as he bent down he heard her soft breathing. She wore earphones and he could hear the music, distant and tinny, emanating from them.
She must have sensed him standing over her and her eyes opened, making him jump.
“Brian, what are you doing here? Where have you been?” she said, pulling the earphones out, jumping up and throwing her arms around him.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” he said. “What the hell happened here?”
“You wouldn’t believe me either,” she said.
* * *
Brian didn’t know what had happened to Kate. He suspected it had something to do with Peter Sharpe and if he didn’t want to talk about it then he doubted she did. He sent her to bed, protesting all the way, and took her coffee to warm her up, then set about clearing up the mess and putting the French Doors to rights. He had contacts in the building business that could sort this out in a flash.
It took three full days to repair the damage. Kate had stayed in her room out of the way, he had taken her food and hot drinks and tried to cheer her up, but she’d barely touched anything and spent the whole time listening to that iPod. He was worried about her. Tomorrow he would come back with a can of paint to put the finishing touches on the repairs and have one more go at getting her to leave that room. Before he left for the night, he went to see her.
“Come in,” she said, her voice muffled by the quilt she had pulled over her head.
“I’ve cleared everything up the best I could and my mate’s rebuilt your wall and replaced your windows. I just wanted to say…”
He cleared his throat, feeling stupid. She was never going to understand what he was trying to say, but he felt he had to anyway.
“I wanted to say I’m sorry, for telling your father you were talking to spirits. I didn’t know he was going to burn you.”
Kate sat up and stared at Brian. He squirmed under her gaze.
“I know you don’t understand, but there it is.”
He turned to leave, but she reached out and grabbed his hand, pulling him back toward the bed. He sat down heavily and she stared into his eyes. He didn’t know what she saw there, but her furrowed brow smoothed over and she hugged him.
“It’s all right Brian, everything is forgiven.”
He nodded, then went to leave.
By the time he reached the Jeep his reason for being there, the memory of his past life and the whole incident with Peter had been forgotten.
Outside in the garden, a tall man with shoulder length black hair and iridescent blue eyes watched him leave. He sighed, content at last that everything was as it should be and looked up at the darkening sky. The stars were coming out.
“Thought I’d tie up a loose end for you, little bro,” he said, smiling.
And then he stopped smiling. There should have been some kind of response. Some acknowledgement from above. There was none. The angel sent a query Heavenwards and received a shocking reply.