JW stood precariously on the edge of the precipice, it was night but he could see the ground far below. Dark shapes moving in rhythm to a silent drum, in horror he remembered an Agostino Veneziano engraving he’d seen at the National gallery in Scotland called Lo Stregozzo, any false move meant certain death. “Jump” whispered the voice in his head, “one more step, it’s so easy, just a little step, give yourself up JW, I promise you it won’t hurt”, down below he knew lay insanity, suicide by madness, “how appealing” said the voice answering the thought in his mind. Vertigo threatened to pull him from the edge, gathering himself JW searched frantically through the compartments he’d built in his mind when he was younger, seeing the other there again where he’d been left all those decades ago JW gripped him by the hand, the other smiled and the two became one. The owner of the voice had made a mistake, JW was on home ground he had an ally now, this was an old adversary, one that he’d defeated in the past. He felt the presence leave, it’s anger leaving a metallic taste in his mouth. With sadness and great loss the other released JW’s hand, JW left the room that they’d built all those years before, it’s view of the forest where he’d grown up, the stream that he used to play in as a child, heartbroken JW walked through the lonely corridors of his mind, never looking back. A tear fell from the eye of the other who turned and shut the door.
JW woke with a start, the sweat making the bedsheets stick to his shaking body. It took him a while to put his thoughts back in order. What was that he thought, he could hear noises downstairs, panicking he remembered that he’d forgotten to set the alarm.
The smell of bacon wafted up the stairs, breathing a sigh of relief JW broke into a grin, it was Todd.
Todd was one of Wendy’s bodyguards, born in Memphis he was an ex marine who had somehow ended up working for the British government, it was a long story apparently according to Todd, one that he’d never quite managed to tell. Todd and JW hit it off as soon as they’d met, somehow they seemed kindred spirits, both had had a hard upbringing and whereas JW had turned to the church, Todd had turned to the marines, both seemed to understand that their different journeys still ended up at the same destination. JW got dressed and wandered down to the kitchen.
“Hi JW, Tea and a bacon butty?” said Todd putting on an English accent, laughing at his own use of British slang Todd continued to butter the bread, JW smiled to himself, tea meant sweet tea, something he could never quite appreciate in the same way as Todd. “Thanks Todd, it’s nice to see you again, what brings you here?”, Todd’s face grew serious “Wendy was worried, there are things happening that we are only just beginning to understand, and you hadn’t set the alarm, she wants you to go with me back to London where we can keep you safe”, alarmed at the last part of Todd’s sentence, JW was about to ask why when there was a loud crack, the glass in the kitchen window turning opaque where the bullet had hit, the polycarbonate layers doing their job at stopping it before it hit it’s target. Todd pushed JW down and ran to the kitchen door, “Lock this after I’ve left, I shouldn’t be too long”. JW locked the door and sat on the kitchen floor away from any of the windows, he was a vicar not a trained killer like Todd, JW knew his limits and they’d been reached.
JW felt the draught like an icy hand down his spine, the pantry window warning him that it had been left open and was now being used as an entry point to where JW sat. He heard the soft rustle of clothes as the intruder inched their way across the pantry floor, the door started to open. JW realizing that Todd was still outside knew that he had to deal with this himself, frantically looking around for a weapon he spied the handle of his cricket bat protruding from the top of the umbrella stand, grabbing hold of it just as the door was flung open JW swung it towards the assailant in a near perfect cross bat shot that would have seen the ball arching over the boundary, pole-axed the assailant dropped to the ground. Shaking JW threw the remains of his bat to the floor just as Todd burst into the kitchen.
“Ever thought of taking up baseball JW?” Todd said with a grin, breaking the hold that the events had on him. “Thanks Todd” laughed JW, Todd’s humour always had a way of diffusing any situation.
Todd rifled through the pockets of the assailant that JW had floored, “nothing” said Todd, he didn’t tell JW that there was no pulse, he guessed rightly that this would be a bridge too far for him to reconcile. “We must hurry JW, there maybe more and we need to get to a position that is defensible, the Jag is outside and Wendy is waiting for us”. Jumping in the car Todd gunned the throttle sending gravel arching against the garage doors, as they sped down the drive neither saw the dark shape detach itself from where it was hiding, “we will meet again JW, very soon”.
The dark shape slowly dispersed allowing the healing light of the moon to disperse any lingering shadows that were left……