With blood on their hands, the cabal is scattered. Mac disappears, while Nicholas flees towards grim terrors. Jason is left to face the police and an even starker future.
Saturday 30 September
The streets are beginning to stir as elderly couples make their way into town for their Saturday morning shop. A small crowd stands stunned outside Wetherspoons as the Cabal stand bloodied over Richard Campbell’s corpse. Some of the younger onlookers have started filming the scene on their mobile phones.
- Looking around, Jason and Nicholas realise that Mac and Amy have disappeared.
- Miranda is looking on aghast through the pub window. Her tearful face finds its way under Barriemore’s wing.
Jason is oozing blood from the bite to his forearm.
- He approaches some a pair of old women and appeals to them to get some help, perhaps from inside the pub, or to call an ambulance.
- They are terrified, and a small group gather to protect them from what appears to be a bloodied maniac.
- He backs away, to find a kerb edge to sit on and await the police. He calls his commercial lawyer, David Logan, to arrange for a criminal specialist to meet him.
- Jason looks away from the pub to avoid looking Miranda in the eye, as she is comforted and led away from the scene by Barriemore.
* * *
Nicholas takes advantage of the distraction caused by Jason to run away, certain though that some of the people standing around will have recognised him from the library or the theatre productions.
He heads to the restaurant, which is closed, before returning home.
- Taking a moment to consider what he has observed, he wonders whether the returned Campbell is a restless spirit, and whether it has a particular agenda against Amy.
- He decides to contact Amy’s colleague, Meredith Hanson, via the hospital to find out more about why they were after him. He pretends to be Amy’s husband.
- The hospital confirm that Meredith is awake again, but still shaken from what she says she saw that caused the accident. Nicholas decides to leave Lower Barton to head to Cheltenham.
Detective Harry Stapleton arrives at the scene of violence with ambulances.
- Jason is treated for injuries and taken away without protest. He refuses to incriminate his band of brothers.
- At the police station Jason awaits his legal representation. Stapleton lays on thick the risk of incarceration and obstruction by Jason not cooperating and telling them how his colleagues were involved. Jason breaks down in the face of isolation.
* * *
At the hospital, Nicholas attempts to find out about the accident and after-effects.
- Attempts at finding out whether Richard’s body is actually missing and what his condition was are rebuffed by staff at the patient helpdesk. They firmly suggest that Richard needs to speak with the doctors who treated him, but that they aren’t around now until after the weekend.
- Rather than cause a scene in front of a growing queue of people waiting for assistance, Nicholas moves on to find Meredith, posing as Amy Bassano’s husband and a family friend.
- She is awake when Nicholas arrives on the ward. He asks her about why she was looking for him and what had caused the crash (in case it hadn’t been a drunk Richard Campbell).
- Meredith nervously attempts to get the call button, which Nicholas moves out of reach. He suggests that he has been trying to protect Amy and that he can protect her too from whatever she saw at the accident.
- Meredith gets increasingly agitated by his approach and screams for help. Nicholas makes for a sharp exit, but bumps into nursing staff on his way out. He makes his excuses, reprising his identity as Amy Bassano’s husband.
At the police station, Jason’s legal representation, Amal Lit, arrives later that afternoon.
- She confirms that Richard Campbell is dead, which escalates the seriousness of his situation. Culpability is almost assured, so it would be a question of finding out whatever he can tell her that might help reduce his liability.
- He says he doesn’t know where Mac or Nicholas fled to after the incident outside the pub.
- He insists that Richard was already supposed to be dead, which is why they ran to defend Amy.
- Jason reinforces this with what sounds like an outlandish story of supernatural goings-on, describing some of the weird events that have been happening recently.
- The lawyer is unimpressed with how Jason appears not to be taking matters seriously. She is disappointed to have been dragged out on a Saturday afternoon as a favour for a lawyer friend. She makes to leave, advising that she is unable to represent him in the circumstances.
- In a desperate final appeal, Jason laments the dire predicament, expressing his deep remorse at what this has done to his marriage, and his fear at losing his wife and leaving her in a desperate state.
- Amal reluctantly agrees to support him, making it clear that she is only doing this because she has seen what effect the acts of selfish men have on the lives of the wives and children they leave behind when they go to prison.
* * *
As dusk falls, Nicholas makes his way back to Lower Barton.
- The stories of people having visions on the roads that have filtered through various sources (including Mac’s Rescues) encourages him to go via the accident site and the nearby Rollright Stones, a ceremonial stone circle that local legend says is made from the petrified court of a long-gone king.
- As he gets closer to the site, signs indicate the road is closed ahead.
- While motor traffic reduces, there is a growing convoy of pedestrian traffic heading in the same direction. The crowd gets larger the further he goes along, almost appearing as a guard along the roadside
- Nicholas notices they are all wearing some form of red in their outfits. As he approaches the accident site, they start looking at him, at which point he realises they are utterly faceless.
- Terrified, Nicholas hits the accelerator and speeds through the crowd, which converges to surround him in front and behind. As he drives through them, he realises there are no collisions. In his rear view mirror, they dissipate like clouds.
- Nicholas hastens back to Lower Barton without pause.
Jason has been abandoned for several hours in the windowless interrogation room. The increasingly loudly ticking clock is the only indication that night may have fallen. Eventually, the door opens at the police station.
- Although he was expecting Amal Lit, in steps Jason’s old navy Captain – Bobby Butcher. The mutual bond is acknowledged between the two.
- A blast from the past, Butcher introduces himself as a Police Chief Inspector now, and explains that he has been talking with Jason’s lawyer.
- The story about Richard Campbell being already dead is confirmed, so for now, Jason is free to go (but not too far), if he can tell him more about who he was with.
- Rather than face the prospect of further isolation, and desperate to get home to see his wife, Jason acquiesces to his captain’s request.
* * *
Nicholas arrives back at his house.
- A police car is parked outside as he pulls up. It appears they are being instructed to leave, and within a couple of moments they have packed up their stakeout and left.
- Nicholas attempts to find a connection between the manifestations he has seen throughout the day and Elizabethan spiritual reports. There is nothing specifically connected.
- He discovers reference to the red faceless spirits as similar to creatures who lurk around sites that have strong potential for random misfortune, feeding off the negative psychic energy that is discharged when calamity strikes. Their presence on the roads is like a feedback loop for more and graver accidents – exactly the kind of consequence that would keep a roadside recovery operation like Mac’s Rescues in business.
- Turning his attention to the play, and its performance, it occurs that the Lower Barton Library Theatre is no longer likely a safe place. However, the Rollright Stones seems highly imbued with the kind of psychic energy that could make for a powerful performance space.
Nicholas attempts to contact Mac. There is no answer.
At the police station, Jason is cautiously released.
- He collects his belongings, and checks his phone. No missed calls or messages – certainly not from Miranda, but also not from the rest of the cabal. Only more disgruntled reviews on TripAdvisor and other ratings sites.
- He goes to the restaurant. It’s all closed up. A sign in Miranda’s handwriting is posted on the door – ‘Closed until further notice due to unforeseen circumstances.’
- He returns home. It is deserted, dark and cold.
- There is no sign of Miranda. A selection of her clothes and personal effects have also gone.
- Jason heads to the attic. It’s alarmingly quiet.
- A packet of rat poison lies on the attic windowsill. Next to it, Speckled Jim lies dead on the floor of his cage.
Realising what his estranged wife has done and the desperate state of his marriage, Jason collapses to the floor.
* END *