Part Two





After Rob came out of his shower we sat in the living room, me in the armchair, Alice and Rob side by side on the couch.

  The sun was fully risen above the buildings and the room swam in sunlight.  Temperatures looked as if they were going to rise into the Sahara region again.

  'Okay,' I said, 'What's our plan of campaign?'

'Well, first thing we should do is get the car refilled.'

'Good thinking Rob.  Once we're mobile how do we track down this guy.'

There was a beat of silence while we thought.

'Well he can't have got far from the alleyway.'

'Thing is, that was 7 hours ago.  He could have made up a lot of distance by now.'

'Yeah, but he's not going to get far looking the way you described him.  No bus or train is going to carry him.  And he can't get into any hotel either.  I reckon he's still on the streets, possibly in his hideout where he hangs his hat.'

  'So where do we look first?  Cruise around, ask people on the streets, visit derelict areas?'

'I think we should go back to the scene of the crime.  He may have dropped something, maybe that’s were he stays.  We should check out there first, I think'

'Yeah, sounds cool'

Alice had remained quiet throughout the discussion.  I sensed that she wasn't quite with us in spirit.  Her eyes were open, but I didn't think there was anybody home.  I think it was the afterlife equivalent of a cell phone.  Rob noticed as well.

Hey, Alice, what do you think we should do?'

She stared out at nothing then slowly swivelled her head like a ventriloquists dummy to look Rob in the eyes.  Her mouth opened then shut.  Then:  'yes Robert and Paul.  It is a good idea.'

Her head swivelled back to the front and she continued to gaze, unblinking at the wall.

All right then, we gas up, then check out the alley.  I'll get some stuff.'

He walked out and went through to his bedroom.

I leaned over and whispered harshly.

'Alice.  Alice!'

I prodded her.

Wake up!'

Her eyes fluttered and she came back to animated life.

Whoa, how long was I out for?'

'You were like a zombie for the past 10 minutes.

'Sorry, sorry, did Rob notice?'

'Well I think he suspects you're on drugs, but beyond that nothing major.'

'Good.  I managed to find some important information.'

'Oh aye?'

She reached into her handbag and pulled out a brown folder with Alan King written in clear letters at the top.  Across the middle was printed Confidential in angry red letters.

'Where did that come from?'

It's a bit complicated.  No in fact it's a lot complicated.  Basically, The caretaker sent it down to me a couple of minutes ago.  That was why I was zonked out. I had to maintain a channel long enough for it to reach me.  I left an 'answering machine' message in case anybody asked me anything.  Did it work?'

'Yeah, very believable I said sarcastically.

Good' she said missing the tone of my voice.'  This will help us enormously.  It contains every snippet of information concerning King.'

'Does it tell us where he is right now?'

'No, it stops at yesterday morning, when he was supposed to die.  But it does tell us where he has lived for the past 4 years.'

Should we go there instead?

'No, going to the alley is a good plan.  There may be evidence or clues that will help us track him.  We also have an added bonus in these'

She flipped open the folder to the back and showed various sheets of blank paper.  Before my eyes a report started writing itself in slanted joined up classical writing.  It was about a woman in Glasgow who was mugged.

What is it?'

'These are annotations.  They are reports of incidents that happened to people that shouldn't have.  Every time King interacts with someone, it has a knock on effect.  Because he shouldn't be on the planet anymore, he is affecting people's lives that have already been mapped out.  They stand out as glaring inconsistencies.  We can hopefully track him down.


'But it won't be easy.  There are a lot of people that the caretaker and his staff have to sift through.  Then they have to decide if it is a genuinely unusual event.  And finally if it relates to King.  It will take time and that's one commodity we don't have at the moment.'

It seemed strange to think we were running out of time.  It seemed such a sunny lazy day, I could imagine it lasting forever.

One last thing, don't tell Rob about this.  The less he knows the better.  I'd like to keep this s secret'

How can we tell him that we know where King lives, if we can't show him the folder.  He'll be a tad suspicious to say the least.'

'Don't worry, ill think of something.'

She put it away just as Rob walked back into the room.  He had on a change of gear, and his 'detective stuff.'  Namely a magnifying glass, notebook fingerprint dust powder and glass cases.

'Rob, what the hell is all that stuff?'

Yeah, It's from a junior PI set that I bought my nephew.  I thought they might come in handy.'

'Do you think they're approved by the board of criminal investigations?'

'Hey, you can scoff all you want, but these puppies are going to help me save your ass and get those cards back, so a little bit more faith, eh?'

I kept laughing despite myself.

Sure I said, 'No problem'

'Oh yeah, you'd better give Kate a phone before we leave.  She called as well last night asking why you hadn't turned up.'

My laughter dried up quickly.

I'd completely forgotten about Kate in all the excitement.

Well that wasn't true actually.  I simply didn't want too talk to Kate.  There had been vague rumblings about marriage that had me petrified.  It wasn't that I didn't love her.  I just didn't want to spend the rest of my life with her.  That is, I didn't know what I wanted.

Listen, I'll call her later Rob, I've got to much to worry about right now.'

'Fair enough mate, but if she calls the police because she thinks you've been kidnapped then don't blame me.'

I thought about the cadaver in the cupboard who looked exactly like me.  We wouldn't get far tracking King down if we were al locked in a cell awaiting trial for manslaughter.

Perhaps you should phone her,' said Alice, thinking along the same lines.

'Alright I'll call her I said, getting up and walking through to the phone in the hall.

I paused.

Really and truly, I did not want to speak to this woman right now.  I had a funny feeling that I might be a little to frank and honest, plus I wasn't I the right frame of mind for dealing with domestics.  I was hunting my murderer by default for Christ's sake. Then I had a thought.





'Hi this is Sam Davis.  Can I speak to Archibald please?'

What do you want him for?'

It's relating to work, could you put him on please?'

'That fuckwit Paul got him sacked you know.  It wasn't my Archies fault.'

'I'm sure it wasn't, but could I speak to him please.'

'I suppose…Archie!  Get down here you lazy sack of shit!! There's someone on the phone calling about your job!  Archie! (Alright I'm coming, I'm coming, give me a second)  Hurry up!  I've got the frying pan on. (Okay okay)  hello, this is Archie.'

'Archie, its Paul'


'Keep you voice down!'


'I don't want Gina to hear.'

'How are you.  I'm really sorry about last night, I didn't think she was going to fly of the handle like that.'

'I'm alright, I guess, but listen, you owe me a major favour.'

'Any thing Pau- Sammy.  Sammy?  Why did you call yourself that?'

'Nevermind.  Listen, it's very important that you call the number I'm about to give you.'

'Who is it?'

'Don't sound so suspicious.  It's Kate.'

'Oh.  Why aren't you calling her.'

'I'm a bit busy right now.  Mainly as a result of you and your lovely wife, so no more questions, all right.  Just phone her and tell her I'm okay and I'm going to call her later.  Okay, can you do that?'

'Yeah, I guess. Are you alright though?'

I'm fine.  Listen Archie the number is 01432 809564.  Got it?'

'..9564.  Yes, I've got it.  Listen Sammy, don't forget to phone me if you find out where that party is.  I really need to get out the house.'

'Yeah, sure, just remember to phone Kate, okay.'

'Alright.  Bye Sammy.

It's Mr Davis to you.  See ya.'




'Did you call her?' asked Rob.

Yeah, she's fine.

Alice looked at me suspiciously, but didn't say anything.

'Have we got everything?'

Rob had a bag on the floor.  'While you were on the phone, I took the liberty of gathering some provisions.  A few cans of juice, some sandwiches, fresh fruit and crisps.  That should see us through the day.'

I wasn't entirely sure if I needed to eat.  In fact, I didn't know if I could eat.  I gave him the thumbs up sign and tried to remember to ask Alice later about it.

'Right' I said, lets go.'

We walked to the front door, but I checked in the cupboard before I left.  My body was still there, covered in the blanket I had thrown on top of it.  The pint of water sat next to it, unsurprisingly untouched.  The room was still cold, but I wondered how hot it might get later on this afternoon.  Hopefully it would be okay.

I closed the door and caught up with the others.




  We descended the stairs and made our way to the car.

Alice sat in the back this time, while I rode up front with Rob.  The Lada started after 4 attempts, and then we were on our way.

  I checked my watch and remembered I had thrown it away.  I thought hard about it and a Rolex materialised before my eyes, wrapped round my wrist.

  I glanced at rob, but he hadn't noticed.  It read 9.07.  At this time in the morning, traffic was still relatively light, but the roads were getting busier every minute a s consumers tried to steal a march on other would be buyers.

  We cruised down the road with the windows open, the cassette player playing a compilation of chillout tunes that one of Rob's friends had compiled.

A garage approached us on the side of the road and we pulled in.  Once we were parked, Rob turned in his seat to look at us.

'Listen, I'm a bit skint actually, do either of you have any cash?'

I checked my jean pockets, then remembered they were all created out of thin air.

I turned with rob to look at Alice.

She sighed and dipped into her handbag and after much rummaging, including a point where her arm disappeared up to her elbow which was rather odd looking she produced a £100 note.

'Is this enough?'

Rob looked at her blankly, saw she wasn't joking, but took the note anyway and got out of the car.  Once the door was closed, I gestured Alice closer.

'I thought you knew about earth cultures?'

'I do.'

'Well take it from me, £100 is definitely enough for a few gallons of petrol.  Where did it come from anyway.'

2I created it.'

What, you mean you can produce unlimited money?'

'Yes, although it will disappear after 24 hours.  Like the clothes we left on the shop floor, only the items that are in continuous use, the ones we have on our back, will continue to stay.'

'So that money will disappear'


Rob had finished filing the car and went into the garage to pay.

'Hey, I meant to ask you, while Robs away, can we eat and drink?'

'Yes, but we don't need to.'

'So we won't die of starvation if we don't eat badly made sandwiches?'

No, however I'm not sure about other occasions.'

'What do you mean?'

'If you were to fall from a large building, you may die.  Again. What would happen then, I don't know.  You don't have a fully complete soul, so it wouldn't go straight to the afterlife.'

'But we're in our afterlife bodies.  How can we die?  We're like slightly more solid versions of ghosts.'

Yes, but in a material world.  We can bend some if the rules of physics, and are quite resilient, but not indestructible.  We can die in this world if the right circumstances are presented.'

'So we're not supermen'


  I Turned back around in my seat and stared out the window.  The thought that I could die again was slightly unsettling.

Rob came back from the garage with some newspapers and chocolate.  He got in the car and put the papers on my lap.

   I flipped through the back sport pages and looked briefly through the news stories.  Just before I was going to fold it up I noticed a story about a burglar that tried to rob three houses in a street.  It said that he was caught in the act after alarmed residents heard a splash.  Dogs also chased the perpetrator and managed to maul his jacket.  Police were looking into it.  It claimed that a garden gnome had been stolen along with 2 rare fish.

  Why the hell would anyone steal these objects?  I was being made a scapegoat for these people.  There sure as hell weren't any fish in that bog I fell into.  I'm surprised they didn't say I made off with a state of the art video and hi-fi to claim it on insurance.

  I put the paper down and we drove off to the Alley in Union Street.




  The streets were getting busy when we arrived.  Finding a parking space was impossible and after cruising round aimlessly looking for a non-existent space, we realised we'd have to park in a multi storey carpark.

  'Rob, can you let us off in the street while you park the car?'

'Yeah, but I might take a while.  Have you got your mobile with you?'

I'd lost it last night while running away from Gina.  In fact, I wondered if the police had it.  If they did, that would be quite bad news indeed.  It had my phone number and all my friends and associates on it.  Talk about your damning evidence.

  I wondered if I could conjure up one in my pocket.  I thought hard of a Vodaphone in my right jean pocket.

  I felt a bulge appear and put my hand in.  It was a phone but it wasn't a mobile.  It was like flattened down versions of an old style phone, probably the one Graham Alexander Bell used.  Where it had come from I didn't know.

'What the hell is that?' asked Rob.

'I have no idea'

Alice leaned forward.  It's mine silly.  Don't you remember me giving it to you?  It's a novelty item.  Here's your phone'. She pulled a Nokia out of her handbag and we swapped items.

'Yeah that's right.  I remember now'.  I gave Rob a weak smile.  He still seemed quite interested in the device I had pulled out of my pocket but Alice quickly shoved it in her bag.

  We looked for a suitable place to drop us off.  Eventually, when the lights turned red, Alice and me got out.

'Which carpark are you going to?' I asked as I closed the door.  I leaned in the window.

'Probably the one on Marywell street.  It's only a couple of blocks over.  I'll give you a phone when I get parked.'

'Alright' I looked up and saw the lights changing.  'See you later'

'Bye' said Alice.

Rob waved and we walked quickly onto the pavement before the rush of oncoming cars mowed us down.

  The Lada turned a corner and disappeared.

As we walked to the alley, I looked at the mobile Alice had given me.

'So does thing work?'

'Yes, of course'

'But why did I conjure up that bizarre looking thing when I willed it? 'But I wanted a watch and I got a Rolex.  Why are something's not working and some are?''

'I'm not 100% sure.  Possibly because of your unique circumstances, things you wish for are being corrupted slightly.  The mobile phone that appeared is probably from a parallel universe of this earth.  It's till a phone and it probably works.  Just not on this planet'

'I still don't know if I can get my head round this'

'Don't worry.  If you need anything else just ask me.'

  The street was bust with shoppers, pausing outside windows and looking at expensive objects that they didn't need.  People bustled quickly down pavements and spilled onto the road sometimes.  There was nothing like a hot summer's day to make folk want to crowd and cram themselves into one tiny place.  It reminded me of the first time I seen heaven.  But it wasn't as frantic as this.  People rushed, but nobody was bumped out of the way.  Down here, if you stopped to tie your shoelace you were likely to be swamped and trampled in a second.

After five minutes we made it to the mouth of the alley.  Even with the sunlight streaming down, it still looked dingy and damp.  The buildings cast a protective shadow over the dank corners where no light had shone since they were erected how ever many years ago.

  Thankfully, the alley was empty.  I didn't know when the bins and skips were emptied, but I guessed it wasn't a Saturday.  We walked out of the stream of people into the relative calm of the alley.

  I spotted the skip and upturned shopping trolley.  The contents were still spilled out and lying across the cobbles.  We walked to the exact point where I died.  In the daylight, I could make out a small few drops of drying blood.  From my head I guess.  They looked maroon.

  Alice looked over at the skip.  'Paul, I'll check out the rest of the alley if you want, and you can check the trolley'


  I wandered over.  The trolley was incredibly old looking, with a 70's style colour to it.  Any silver had long disappeared and replaced with an orange coating of rust.  There wasn't even a slot for pound coin.

  Inside the upturned trolley was mostly rubbish.  Old blankets, pieces of metal, crumpling bricks.  A road cone poked out the top.

  I rummaged through, not really sure what I was looking for, but I'd know it when I saw it.  Old food, long gone bad and moulding sat at the bottom, hidden.  My fingers went into something soft and sticky which I didn't want to guess of its identity, so hastily pulled them back.  Wiping my hands on one of the blankets (which seemed to make my fingers dirtier) I looked at the items sprayed out.  All rubbish, items of no use to anyone.  Certainly not to me anyway.  I kicked some of the things around with the toe of my boot, but nothing was uncovered.

  I walked to the skip and tried to look inside but the lip was too high.

Getting a good grip at the top, I used the soles of my shoes for support and clambered up on to the edge for a better look.  Old binbags, rotting food, brown disintegrating cardboard boxes, but nothing of interest.

I dropped down to the ground as Alice came up to me.

'Did you find anything', She asked

'Nah, old rubbish, but no clues or anything.  Alice, I don't actually know what it is we're even looking for.  I mean, we've got the address of his abode in the folder, why don't we scoot of and look for him there?'

Well first of all, he's not there.  The caretaker has been having a look from above at the places listed in the folder.  He isn't at any of the usual haunts.  He must be hiding somewhere in the city, but possibly he might have got on a train or smuggled himself on a boat.  So we'll check out his living quarters later.  The caretaker will let me know straight away if he turns up.  As for what we are looking for, just a clue, something he left behind, something that might indicate where he has gone.'  She looked at the skip.  Did you check in there?'

'Just bin bags and old food really'

'Yes, but did you actually go inside, look through all the bags, turn up every piece of food?'

'What, are you nuts?  It's a rubbish skip.  God know what's growing or living in there.  Besides, chances are there won't be anything.'

'Probably not, but we still better check it out.  Look if you won't do it, I will'

She grabbed the lip of the skip and in one fluid movement lifted her self up and stretched her legs upwards so they were facing the sky.  Her skirt flowed round her legs and didn't show any signs of falling down over her head.  The she continued her arc and landed right in the middle of the skip.  She waded over and looked down at me with a smile.

'See, I'm not squeamish and I'm a girl'

'Very funny.  Give me a second'

I grabbed the edge and willed my self to do a spectacular gymnastic somersault.  Nothing happened.

What are you waiting for, come in and help me.'

'Yeah, I'm just…catching my breath.  You go on and start looking'

She shrugged and waded back into the skip.  I clambered up like last time and furiously tried to gain some advancement up the side.  I reached the top, but in my enthusiasm couldn't stop and fell headfirst into the decaying rubbish.  A smell of old fruit filled my nose and something like cabbage went in my mouth.

  I stood up hastily and spat out the old vegetable.  Alice was grinning at me.

'You don't have to be that eager to help me.'

'Ha ha.  Let's just get this over with'

I wiped my lips and started opening bin bags.




We were halfway through the skip when the phone rang.  Around us, bin bags were scattered on the ground.  Old boxes and vegetables piled upon untidy looking mounds.  Occasionally I thought someone on the street might notice us, but nobody gave us a second glance.  They probably thought we were homeless folk, so by default we became invisible.

I rubbed my hands on my jeans leaving a charming brown smear and pulled the phone out my pocket.  'Hello?'

'Paul, it's me Rob.'

'Where are you?  It's been nearly half an hour.'

'Yeah, traffics a nightmare.  I'm still not parked yet.  The first car park was fully booked so I had to find another one.  It's about 8 streets over on the other side of Union Street.  I'm just waiting in the cue right now.'

'Sounds a bit of a nightmare'

'You're telling me.  What's that rustling in the background.'

Alice was opening yet another plastic bag.  She had a pair of long black glove on now and had thought fully materialised a pair for me. 

'Alice convinced me to look in a skip and it's filled with plastic bags'

'A skip?  Yeah, that's probably a good idea.  That guy might have chucked the cards in there'


'So listen, what's the plan after - whoa, hold on, gotta go, I'm just about to go into the car park.  Wait for me, o-'

His voice was cut of as the Lada entered the concrete multi-storey

I put the phone back in my pocket and continued searching.

 After 10 minutes we were nearly at the bottom.  Strange fungus had taken toot and was creeping across the bottom and walls of the skip.  It looked a nasty green colour.

'Alice, this is pointless.  We're covered in dirt and God knows what else.  And for what?  There is nothing here.  King probably doesn't even come here often.  He wouldn't use it as a place to hide something.'

'Ah, but he was most likely in a rush after his spell worked.  He knew he only had a short amount of time before it was discovered that you had died by mistake.  If he had any possessions on him that might hinder him, he'd ditch them straight away and try to hide them before doing a runner.  C'mon, there's only a few more bags left.  We might as well look through them.'

'I suppose' I went back to my task with no great vigour.  I was aware that I had been moaning constantly for the past hour.  Perhaps now that I had got used to the idea and the novelty of having visited the afterlife had worn off, I was starting to feel…what?  Resentment, against Alice since she made the mistake, against having to hunt down king who had messed my life up so royally, perhaps just standing nearly waist deep in a pile of slowly rotting rubbish and shite, while an executioners clock slowly ticked down too Monday morning.

Whatever it was, my cheerful good mood in the morning was evaporating fast.  I wondered if I should try and get some sleep, a power nap or whatever.  Just because I technically didn't have to sleep, it didn't make it a bad idea.  A large white bag of used sanitary towels started to look inviting as a soft pillow to lay my head on and drift of into untroubled dreams.


I looked up, afraid that Alice might be devoured by a king sized rat with an attitude, when I saw her holding something aloft.  It looked like a small black box, but then I realised it was a book.  Very old looking, with creased leather and vaguely Bible like.

'What is it?' I asked, wading over.

'I'm not sure, but remember when I said that we'd know what we were looking for when we found it.'


'Well, we just found it.'




  After we clambered back out of the skip we pulled up a couple of wooden boxes and looked at the book while we sat. Our clothes were covered in filth and other unpleasant things but we were to excited about the book to care.

It was very old, and the cover had been splashed with a liquid, possibly from the Skip.  The pages were tissue thin and some had seemingly dissolved under the water or merged together, but the rest was readable.

  No title was stamped on the cover.

Carefully, Alice opened the cover and we looked through the yellow pages.  It was written in a language that I had never heard of, let alone decipher, but Alice's eyes flicked back and forth, scanning the pages and biting her bottom lip.  We skipped over the book.  Some pages were marked with turned down corners, others with pieces of string and bootlaces.

  I couldn't read the language, but helpfully pictures were included.  They weren't very nice.  Strange looking creatures were illustrated, not doing anything menacing, not attacking villagers from the 17th century, but just sitting crouched or walking.  They emitted a disturbing feeling, an idea that these things should never have existed in the imagination and brought to light.  The idea that whoever had drawn them had surely gone mad during the process or just after it.

We flicked through, the pages, surrounded by the rubbish we had emptied, oblivious to the outside world.  I looked up briefly and saw people still walking by the mouth of the alley.  The sun must have been nearly at the peak of its ascent, but practically no sunlight was reaching us.  We could feel the heat though, stifling and overpowering.

  Alice stopped half way through the book and looked away, blinking her eyes.

'Are you okay?' I asked, putting a hand on her shoulder

'Yes, thanks, it's just the writing, the things that are described in the book…it can warp a mind, even one as cast-iron as myself.'

Do you want to take a break?'

She shook her head. 'We have to find out as much as possible what King was up to.  And we need to find out soon.  I'll be okay, the book can't harm me physically.  Just give me some ideas I'd rather not have and a rather bad headache.' She gave a quick smile and went back to the pages.

  The pictures, if anything, seemed to get worse as we got deeper into the tome.  A feeling at the back of my head, like a hot itching just behind my eyes was making them water.  I got the crazy idea that there was a maggot crawling about my head.  It was crazy, but I couldn't shake it.  I wanted to gouge my eyes out and try to pry it out.

  I stood up suddenly and walked away, slapping my face.  I felt better at once, the spell broken, but the dull pain still throbbed at the back of my brain.  I walked to the skip and started putting rubbish back in.  After seeing some of the pictures, it felt strangely clean to be touching simple rubbish.

I was just about finished cleaning the street, when the mobile rang.

I rubbed my hands on my T-shirt leaving more brown-green stains and pulled out the phone.  'Hello?'

'Hi Paul, its Rob'

'Hi, did you get the car parked?'

'Yeah, eventually.  God knows what going on today.  It seems like everybody's out in force shopping.  Everywhere is jammed pack.  You'd think the world was about to end.'

'Yeah, where are you now?'

'Just walking over, about 4 streets over.  I'd be there sooner, but the streets are a nightmare, probably busier than the roads.'

'Okay, no worries mate, you remember where the alley is?'

'Yeah, I'll be there as soon as I can.  Did you find anything?'

'Alice found a book, might be a clue, I'm not sure'

'Fingers crossed then.'

'Yeah, I'll see you soon.'

'See ya'

I put the phone back in my pocket and put the rest of the rubbish back in the skip.  Then I walked back to the box and had a seat.  Alice was almost at the end and I risked another look.

Th pictures were still quite odd and frightening looking, but what really drew my eye was sections were underlined, with a biro pen or something.  Someone had written annotations at the side as well, with question marks.  The words were still unrecognisable to me though.

Eventually, Alice closed reached the final page, carefully detaching it from the previous one.  Some substance had gummed the last portion of the book together and the pages were very fragile.  She closed the book and sat looking out t crowd's walking by in bright sunshine.

'So…' I said, 'Does this help us?'

She sat a beat, saying nothing.

'Yes and no.  This book…this book should not be on this planet.  Where King acquired it from I don't know.'

Are we sure it's Kings?'

'Yes, definitely.  This was hidden, and the spells and incantations written in here, none could decipher them, no one except King.  Plus, the spell he used on me, the one that caused me to take your soul instead of his, that's in here.  It's harder that I thought to pull off.  He must have been incredibly afraid to die, an intensity fuelled by fear.'

'Why did he hide the book in the skip anyway?  Surely he must have suspected that we would come back here and investigate?'

'Yes, he probably did want to take the book with him.  I'm not sure the spell is entirely finished.  The pages are virtually destroyed in some parts, totally unreadable.  But I got the impression that this was one half of the spell.  If he wants it to be totally successful, he's got to carry out a second part.'

'What would that be?'

'That's the annoying thing.  I don't know.  But it does mean some good news for us.  If he's got to carry this out, finish the spell before Monday morning, then he can't simply hide from us, he's got to stay out here, be active.  That means he'll interact with people, and the caretaker might spot him.'

'That's pretty good news.'

'Yes, it is, but there is a downside.'


'You may be in bigger trouble than we thought.  I'm not sure, like I said, the pages are unreadable, missing in some places, but from what I understand, you might still have a part to play.  I think he intends to not only have your soul go to the afterlife, but also actually swap places instead.  If he was successful, you would go to Hell instead of him.'


'Yes, it's one of many possibilities.  Bu don't worry, he won't get the chance.' She held my hand.  'I promise you that'

I gave her a weak smile but inside I felt cold.  I'd heard some of the cries from the inhabitants of hell.  The thought of seeing then made me feel cold.  The thought of actually being there, that made me feel sick.

'So why leave the book?  Why give us a clue that may help us defeat him?'

'The book may have been taking a toll on him.  This was never designed to be read, let alone used by a mortal human.  He's already insane, but perhaps even he knew that this was sucking him dry.  He'll need all his strength to complete the spell.  It also might be a hindrance.  You saw the dead rats, the strange plants that were growing at the bottom of the skip.  It could have slight reality altering aspects.  Maybe he thought he'd be tracked more easily with it.  Or perhaps he just wanted rid of it.  A lone tiny small piece of sanity telling him that it was too powerful, even for him.  We'll never know, but we'll ask him when we see him.'

'Okay, but what does it say.  Is there anything that can help us, lead us to where he might be hiding?'

She flicked through the pages.  'Not really.  It mentions that there might have to be second sacrifice, someone of power and stature.'

'Well that’s me and Rob out of the running.  What about you, you're an angel after all.'

'I'm not sure it would work.  I think it needs to be a human soul.'

  'So what's next?  We've searched the alley top to bottom.  Move on or have another look around?'

'I think we'll actually have to get washed first of all.  I can change our clothes. But we must be covered in unimaginable things.'

'Hmm, you've got a point.  I'll call Rob'

I was about to reach into my pocket, when Rob turned the corner and walked down to us.  I glanced quickly at the book, but Alice had already placed it in her handbag.

'All right gang' said Rob as he reached us.  He paused a few feet away and started sniffing.  He made a face of disgust.  Jesus, what have you two been doing?  Swimming in a sewer?  No offence, but the pair of you stink!'

'Thanks for your tact Rob.  You'd smell too if you'd spent the last hour wading through rubbish'

'Yeah I suppose so.  Hey, any luck with the book?'

Alice gave me a quick look that said 'why did you tell him about it?'  I gave her a quick look back that said 'why didn't you tell me it was supposed to be a secret'.  Rob raised his eyebrows at the pair of us that said 'why the hell are we talking by way of eyebrow sign language?'

'No, said Alice finally, 'Turned out to be just an old Samaritans bible.'

'Ah, no luck then.  So, what's next?'

'Well, like you say.  We stink.  Alice and me need a shower.  Any chance of getting the car?'

Rob looked at me with his mouth open.  A fly from the rubbish actually did look like it would fly in, but veered of at the last second.

Are you fucking nuts!  I just spent the last hour getting the fucking thing parked and walked across half the city!  That car is staying where it fucking is for at least 3 hours or whenever my ticket runs out of time.'

I held up my hands in a placating gesture.

'Whoa Rob, no worries.  We'll get a taxi back to the flat and pick up the car later.  Okay?'

He looked at me fuming, but suitably calmed down. 'Yeah, but don't forget I'm doing you a favour here.  On a hot Saturday on my day off.  I don't appreciate being thought of a san errand boy.'

'You're right Rob' said Alice, 'We're sorry. Really.  We'll make it up to you.'

Yeah, I'll buy you a crate of beer when this is all over.'

He started to half smile.  Well, all right then.  And you two do need a bath.  I didn't want to say it, but you have a piece of shite on your shoulder.

'Ah, it'll clean'

We walked out of the alley and back into the restless crowd.




The first taxi driver verbally abused us when we tried to get in.  I had cleaned myself up as best as possible.  Alice, while she didn't want to morph a whole new wardrobe in front of Rob, had none the less surreptitiously managed to shed some old clothes to be replaced by clean garments.  She still smelled though.  I was worse.

After that Rob went up to the first taxi and we rushed in the back.  Alice had taken a deodorant from her bag and we had sprayed our self vigorously.  It hadn't really worked.  We now stank of lynx and there was still the underlying smell of garbage.  I could almost see the fumes when we walked.

Once we got in the cab, we rolled the windows down to their maximum and sat next to the doors.  The taxi driver noticed the smell 10 seconds after we got on to the road.  He had cranked the air conditioning up to full and rolled down both windows at the front.

Whenever I saw his eyes in the rear view mirror I gave an apologetic smile and nodded at Rob, trying to absolve my self from being suspected of the foul odour.

  Despite the traffic and slowness of the town cars, the taxi driver managed to find shortcut's from nowhere.  I'm sure he jumped at least three red lights.

We made it to the flat and gave him a £20 tip for his services and hastily got out the car.  He sped off without saying a word.  I suspected that smell might stay there for days.  It also occurred to me that the £20.00 would evaporate once it was shoved in a wallet or safe.

I resolved that I would reimburse him if I got through the weekend.

We walked quickly to the flat and I let Alice go into the shower first while I changed my clothes and used an old towel to wipe the worst of the mess of me.

  Rob came into the room with a pair of jeans and T-shirt.

'I never want these back again.  You and your rich pal can buy me some new gear.'

'She's not rich Rob.'

'Oh aye, well she seems to be giving money to everybody.  And how often have you tipped somebody over £20 for a 10 minute trip.

I pulled of my old stuff and grabbed a bathrobe.  I notice Rob looking at me closely.

'What is it?' I really couldn't deal with a flatmate who suddenly turned homosexual and found me attractive at this moment in time.

You look different'

'How do you mean? I said as casual as possible.

Well you sure as hell didn't have those muscles last week.  And you seem to have got a great tan from somewhere.'

It's been sunny recently'

'Aye, but you've got a Des O'Connor and Bob Monkhouse combined tan.  Tell me the truth?'

I paused.  'The truth about what?'

'About what's going on here.  I'm not stupid you know.  You and Alice are keeping some facts from me.  That guy in there,' he pointed with is thumb, 'your sudden change from 8b stone weakling to Chippendale, Alice with her pot of gold.  You want to know what I think?'


'I think you're seeing her on the side.  I reckon you're doing the dirty on Kate and you're going to sunbeams and gyms to keep yourself looking good.  She must have a huge fortune at her fingertips.  Is that it?  Are you ditching Kate for the rich daddy's girl?'

'Rob, I swear, nothing is going on between me and Alice.'

'Well if that's true, can I take a shot at her.'


'Listen Paul, she's an attractive girl, very nice…assets and she seems to have a never-ending source of money.  If you truly aren't seeing her, and you shouldn't since Kate is your girlfriend, why shouldn't I?'

The fact she's the Angel of death might be a good reason.  But I could hardly say that to Rob.

Well, Rob, I didn't want to say this, because this was told to me in strictest confidence, but I would hate to see you do something stupid…'

'What is it?'

I listened to the bathroom and heard the shower still running. Gesturing him forward, I leaned into his ear.  She's a lesbian'

'Fuck off!'

'It's true.  Why do think she's such good friends with me.  Don't you think it would make Kate jealous if she knew about it.'

'Kate knows she's a lesbian'


'And she's okay with it.  She doesn't strike me as the open-minded type.'

'Hey that's my fiancée you're talking about'

'Sorry man, no offence, but you know what she's like.'

Rob was telling the truth.  It wasn't that Kate was a bad person.  She just lived her life to certain values and if you didn't happen to fit, then you simply weren't on her radar.  If you were gay, she didn't shout at you, she just wouldn't acknowledge you.  You could make a case that it was worse to pretend that a person didn't exist, but this wasn't the time for me to think about it.

Yeah well she's more cosmopolitan now, so anyway, that's why you can't ask Alice out.'

'Thanks man, I'd have looked a bit of a dick if you hadn't told me.'

You look like a dick anyway, so it doesn't matter.  Now get out of here while I get changed'

He cheerfully gave me the finger and walked out the door.

  I wondered what Archie said to Kate.  He better have phoned her, otherwise I would not be a happy chap.  I'd have to invent a new set of books to put him in, since he was already in my bad books.  Maybe the baddest of the bad books.  But that made him sound like a black American rapper.

  I got changed, put on my dressing gown and waited for Alice to come out.

  It occurred to me that I hadn't checked on my body so I went through to the cupboard and checked inside.  The coldness of the room had long since gone, leaving only a musty heat.  A few flies had landed on the blanket and seemed to sense that there was a free feed under there.  I waved my hand at them, but they just flew in figures of eight before landing again in exactly the same spot.

  I truly wasn't happy about the prospect of going back into my old body.  Alice had claimed that everything could be fixed, make it good as new (or at least in as good health as when I left it) but really, it was a 2 day old corpse with some bits missing.

  There was also a smell I hadn't noticed before, and it wasn't very pleasant.  Anyone coming into this room was going to realise this was a dead body and not in fact someone having a very deep sleep.

  I placed the blanket back over the body and closed the door tight.  There was no outside lock on it. So I'd just have to hope that no one entered it.

The shower had stopped and Alice came out wearing a towel round her waist.

  She looked incredibly attractive, with her jet black hair soaking and combed straight back, but at he same time I was still very much a ware that this person was not a human being.  Rob didn't seem to notice, so maybe it was due to my unique status.  Whatever it was, I still didn't have my hormones firing.

  'You can change in my room.  Door on the left'

'Thanks' she said and padded along.

Rob appeared out the living room with such good timing that he must have been lurking there for 10 minutes.

'Hi Alice ' he said and I noticed that he seemed to be sucking in his gut

'Hi' she said and walked past him into my room.

He eyed her up and seeing no response gave me a thumbs up sign, indicating yes, she was indeed a lesbian because she showed no sexual interest what so ever in me.

  I simply nodded and went into the bathroom.




I had just finished my shower when I heard the door going.  I turned the tap and the hot water slowed to a trickle, before finally stopping.

  I heard Rob going to the door, unlocking it and opening it wide.

There was a voice, muffled by the walls and the door being close, but recognisably female.  I had a bad feeling about this.

  Th door closed and I heard two sets of footsteps walking into the living room.  Then somebody hastily walking back towards me and giving a couple of sharp raps on the bathroom door.  Started I stepped back.

'Paul?' said Rob's voice

'Who is it?' I dreaded the answer

'The love of your life.'

'My mother?'

'Nope, Kate.'

That son of a bitch Archie hadn't phoned her at all!  He was seriously in danger of sliding into my book of people I was going to murder one day.  Th only other name on the list was a bully from school called Jim Beggs, but my hatred had waned over the years and I just couldn't get motivated for it.

'Alright, tell her I'll be out in a second'

I heard him pat the door in acceptance and walk away.

I started to dry myself of with my towel when I realised that I had no clothes in with me.  And I didn't want to go through to the bedroom because Alice was there. 

 Hastily, I tried to imagine a pair of trousers and shirt.  I close my eyes for 10 second and opened them.  Nothing had appeared.  It was bloody typical that my power would go on the blink just when I needed it most.

  I wrapped the towel around my waist (painfully aware of how small it was) and opened the door.  Steam rushed out the bathroom and accompanied me along the hall.

I gave the cupboard door where my body was hidden a tug closed, just in case it swung open and entered living room



Kate was sitting on the couch, sipping a glass of water.  Rob was perched on the arm of an armchair.

Hello Paul'

She was dressed in her usual red T-shirt and maroon trousers.  She loved the colour red for as long as I had known her (going on 3 years if I remembered correctly) and almost all her clothes were colour co-ordinated round that theme.  She even wore a red dress to her grandmother's funeral, which was a tad inappropriate.

Her hair was straining to be unleashed from the pony tail she had put it in. it was coiled like springs and no mater how many times she tried to straighten it, it always came out wiry and curly, plus unfortunately resembling a patch of pubic hair.

Huge glasses like those found on Sue Pollard in hi-de-hi completed the picture.  They were tainted red as well.  This was the woman who loved me and I loved her.  And she was also the last person I wanted to see right now.

'Hello Kate'

'How have you been?'

'Not bad, not bad.'  I glanced at Rob, to see if he had told her anything of our activities.  I hadn't specifically asked him not too, since I could be sure whether to lie in parts or tell the truth.

Rob was saying you've lost some keys'

'That's right.  Rob was helping me try to find them' I glared at Rob and he gave me a thin smile, clearly enjoying my discomfort.  I was beginning to regret not being more honest with him.  I was beginning to regret coming out the bathroom, instead of escaping out of the window, clothes or not.

'Don't you mean us?' she said in a dangerously quiet voice.

'Us?  You mean me and you?'

'No you and…Alice' she ended the name with an 's' so she sounded like a snake.

Oh did Rob tell you about her' I looked at Rob, really angry this time and he had the decency to look away.  I couldn't really blame him.  He must have thought Kate knew all about her.  After all, I had told him that she knew.  I think only now was he clicking onto the fact that Kate had never heard of her.

Yes, he said she was 'our' friend.  Our 'lesbian' friend in fact.

I stared at her in silence, water dripping from my arms and face. 

'I found this quite odd, since I had never heard of her before 2 minutes ago.  In fact, she's not even on my Christmas card list, so how about you tell me a little more about her'

'Kate, I-'

'No you shut up and let me talk.  First of all you go missing all night.  You were meant to come and see me on Friday night.  Remember that.  That's what boyfriends and girlfriends do.  Not even a phonecall or anything.

Then out of the blue some guy I have never heard off calls me and says that you were safe and that you'd phone me later.  He then tells me not to go round to your flat' hey, good old Archie did phone after all.  I mentally crossed him of my people to kill book.  Mind you, maybe it would have been better if he hadn't. 'And all the time he's whispering, incredibly quiet.  He was like a polite crank caller.  And there's screaming going on in the background and suddenly he hangs up on me.  I thought you'd been kidnapped.'

Rob leaned forward.  'Kate-'

'No, Robert, you hush.  I want to say this.  I may be angry, I am angry now, but this has to be said.  So I wait in my flat, thinking you're going to phone any second, stalking round, eating anything I can get my hands on.  You know how well my diet was going?  I was doing it all for you' I had never said she was overweight, but she was.  Not by much, and I didn't really care, but when every time you turn on television and sticklike insects are drinking coffee in New York, it makes you lose your perspective. 'So finally I have had enough, I rush round, just to see if you are okay.  And what do I find?' Her eyes were quite watery now and if I didn't all ready feel like a shit heel, I did now.  'You're having a shower, singing in the bathroom, and Rob tells me that you him and this girl Alice have been spending the morning looking for your cards.


'I'm worrying and fretting thinking you might be dead' (cue ironic smile here, but I didn't think it was the time) 'and here you are, showering after a night with Alice.  Was she good?'

'Alright, Kate, listen.'

'No, I

'Kate listen' I shouted, and she fell quiet.  I lowered the tone of my voice 'Kate, listen to me.  I swear on my life, on my mother and fathers lives, on Rob's life that I, 100%, did not sleep with another woman last night.  I swear to God'

She looked at me teary-eyed

2I would never cheat on you Kate' I took one of her hands and kissed it.  I actually felt quite like a louse, since I kissed Lisa in the Waiting room, not 10 hours ago.  But that was different those were exceptional circumstances.  What a kiss though.

She took her hands away and wiped her eyes.  'I believe you.  But you can't keep anything from me.  No more secrets or lies.  I want to know what happened last night.'

I nodded my head.  If I told more lies, I would surely only be dogging this hole deeper.  Kate could have been a cross-examiner in another life.  She loved contradicting people and saying quotes back to them.  But could I really tell her the truth. 

  Then I heard the door open behind me.




  Alice walked in and I just hoped she was wearing something downmarket, ugly, and brown looking, not attractive.  I turned round and looked.  I was right. She didn't look attractive.  She looked stunning.

  Her hair was restyled, in the world famous 'Rachel' do.  She also wore the most ridiculous figure hugging dress I had ever seen.  When she breathed, you could see individual bones and veins.  She wore nothing on her feet, possibly to show off her painted nails.

 She walked over and held her hand out.

'Hi' she said huskily, I'm Alice '

Kate shook her hand, but her eyes kept roving up and down her body.  Rob was the same.  He must also have been wondering where the hell she got that dress from.  It sure as hell didn't come from my wardrobe.

  I gave her a quick smile, but really I wanted to punch her out.  Why the hell did she have to change into something like that?  Why the hell didn't she stay in the bedroom?  And why oh why did she still have a wet towel in her hand.

Kate spotted and I could almost she her thought process in action: Paul and Alice take showers.  That means they must have had sex.

Alice walked over to the kitchen and disappeared.  Even I was turned on and I realised that I was getting and erection with nothing more than a towel on.  I started thinking of fat 70's comedians, Bernard manning, Jim Bowen, cannon and ball anything that wasn't sexy or Alice.

'So that's Alice is it,' she said in a restrained voice.  I tried to take her hand but she had them clasped over each other.

  I sighed and heard drawers opening and doors closing as Alice looked for something to eat.

'Yes.  I was going to say she was in the house.'

'In your bedroom to be precise'

'Yes, but we had to shower.'


'We were in a skip all morning.  We were filthy.  Weren't we Rob.'

He pulled his eyes away from the kitchen and looked at us.  'Yes. They were fucking stinking.  Excuse my language'

'Well, I had better go.'  She stood up so quickly I was nearly knocked over.

'Wait Kate, stay'

'No, I have things to do. You're clearly very busy'

'No listen, it's not what you think'

She started walking out of the living room and through to the hallway.

'Kate wait!'

'What is it Paul!  You don't have to explain your business to me.'

Okay listen.'  I was on a knife-edge.  I could let her go, thinking I'd slept with a beautiful woman or I could tell her everything.  'I'm going to show you something.  And you may think I'm crazy or trying to play a joke.  But I'm not.  Then I'm going to sit down with you and we'll explain everything.'

I took her hand and led her to the cupboard.

I turned to face her. 'Brace yourself.'  I opened the door.

The first thing that hit you was the smell.  Kate visibly backed away. 

'It smells like someone's died in there'

'You're not far wrong.  Now do you believe I have a story to tell you.'

She looked at me, seeing if I was being deceitful or playing a prank.

'Paul, all I see is a room that smells awful'

I turned my head round and looked in.  It was empty.  The blanket, the pint of water, the body.  All gone

'What the fuck!'

'Paul, I feel sorry for you, I really do' She slapped me across the face. 'If this is your idea of playing some sort of malicious joke on me, then forget it.'

She started walking quickly for the door

I was still looking in the room. I walked in, my face incredulous.  I looked in the corner, under the mattress in jars. 

I heard the front door slam shut and spinned around.

'Kate!' I shouted but it was too late.  She was gone.  And so was my body.




I walked quickly through to the living room.  Rob and Alice were sitting on the couch.

'Have either of you two moved my…cousin?'

They shook their heads

'Well he's disappeared.'

Alice stood up hastily, her dress repositioning itself over her body.  'What do you mean disappeared?'

'Exactly that.  He's fucking gone!'

'Calm down man' said Rob, 'he probably just woke up got hungry and went out for some munchies.'

Alice walked quickly through to the cupboard. She went in and looked around. Rob and me followed.

'He's gone' she said

'I know!'

'This is impossible'

'I know!'

She looked at Rob. 'Rob, did you move him?  Put him in another room or in a bath?'

'No, no way.  He stinks for one.  I didn't even like touching him.'

'What about Kate? Did she take him?'

'Doubtful' I said, 'considering that she didn't know the body, er, my cuz was in there'

Look' said Rob 'there's the pint glass' he pointed to the glass, lying at the side of the hall and next to the door.

Alice quickly walked towards it and opened the front door.  No sign of it.

'Well, this is slightly puzzling.'

'Slightly?' I said. 'This is a bit more than slightly.  No way could he have simply got up'

'Look, he's bound to turn up' Said Rob.  'Lets give him some time before we call in the cops.'

I turned to him.  'You don't understand.  He should never have been able to walk out of here under his own steam'

He shrugged his shoulders. 'Well he's gone now.'

Suddenly the smoke alarm went off. 

'Ah shit,' said Rob. 'Must be my toast burning' he rushed back into the house and through to the kitchen.'

Alice was looking pointedly into the house before turning back to me.

I looked at her.

'Was that you?  Setting of that alarm?'

She gave a half smile.  'Maybe'

'Listen, what the fuck is going on here?  Where's the corpse?'

'I don't know.  He should have just lain there until we found King.  This might sound insane, but I really do think that he has got up and walked away'

'What, a goddamn zombie!'

'Well, I wouldn't use that word, but yes, he is undead'

I ran my hand through my hair.

'All right, so my body had come back to life and wandered off.  Do we know when he left?'

'Well, he was there before we went to the alley.   That was the last time I saw him'

'I checked in on him before I went for my shower, and he was definitely there'

Th smoke alarm had stooped beeping and Rob was walking back.  Alice clicked her fingers and it started up again.

'Aw man,' I heard Rob saying as he rushed back to try and turn it off again.

'How are you doing that?'

'It doesn't matter.  Anyway, so the body was there when Kate came in'


'So it must have wandered out about 10 minutes ago'


'So it can't be too far away.'

'I'll get dressed and come and help look for it.'

She was about to turn away when I caught her arm.

'Hey, I meant to say, what was all that about with Kate?'

'All what was?'

'Don't be obtuse.  You swan in, wearing 'that' dress.  Why?'

She looked awkward for a second.  'I'm…sorry.  I don't know why I did it.  I just don't like her and I guess I'm petty enough to try and make her jealous'

'Listen, she really is a nice person.  Or at least she has nice qualities'

'I know and I'm sorry.  Do think I've wrecked tings between you and her?'

'Nah, I don't think so.  She'll come to her senses later on.  But no mare of these outrageous costume changes'

'Okay, it'll never happen again.  Friends?'

She held out her hand and I shook it.

'Friends.  It was a nice dress by the way'

She grinned.  'Yes, I like it too.'

Th smoke alarm stopped and Rob came back into the hall.  'Right, lets see that thing go off with no batteries, no beeper, no plastic casing and the fact it's smashed into dozens of tiny pieces.'

  'You realise we'll need to pay for that?'

'Ah fuck it, the thing was only good for telling you when your toast was burnt.  We'll know when we're on fire because we'll be on fire'

'That's a very sensible attitude to have Robert.  I hear they do great things with skin grafts these days'

' I can afford it.  Anyway what's the plan?'

Alice took hi outside to look for my body while I got dressed.  I still wasn't able to manifest any clothes so I settled for my old gear.

I left the flat and met them at the front of the apartments.

'Anything?' I asked.

They shook their heads.

'Where the hell is he?'

Rob looked round at the carpark.  'We looked under every car, behind every bush, but no joy.  Wherever he's gone, it's far away from here.'

Listen' said Alice, 'We can't waste anymore time on him.  He'll turn up in due course I'm sure.  But we need to focus on the job at hand and find King.'

  'Yeah, you're right' said Rob.  'Let me lock up the flat and we'll head off.'

Alice and me waited down the bottom and sat on the e stairs.

'What about your handbag?'

She smiled and bent over the side of the wall.  She did something with her hands and voila, she had the bag in her hands.

I looked at her impressed.  'Now that's magic'

She fished in her bag and pulled out the dossier on king.  'Well I don't think there's much point going back to the alley.'

'Nah, we've searched it top to bottom.'  Plus I didn't want to get covered in dirt again.  I could still smell the alley of me.

'So next stop, Kings home.'  She pulled out a sheet of paper and handed it to me.

  It had an address at the top and Alan King written underneath it.  It said train carriage 3, train depot, Glasgow, 3rd turn of Jamaica Street.

'This is where he lives?'

'Where he used to anyway.'

Below it was various address, some bizarre: Alley of 67 Argyle street, skip 2, behind Woolworth's; Under M3 motorway bridge next to dead cat, bin bag no.4; Wheelie bin 8, Shandon Street, Glasgow.

'Sounds like he's lived in some high class places.'

'He's always constantly been moving.'

'By the way, what do we tell Rob.  Where did we get this information?  Should we tell him the truth?'

She shook her head.  'No, not yet.  If ever.  The less he knows, the better.'

'Well what then?'

'Then Internet?'

Rob appeared from the close door before I could reply.  'Alright, the flat is secure, I've been fed and the smell from your cousin is starting to depart now that he's departed.  So where to now.'

'Well me managed to find out where he lives'

He raised his eyebrows and I showed him the sheet.  He looked through it, flipping it over and checking out all the information.

'Where the hell did you get this?'

I smiled at him weakly and glanced at Alice who gave me her encouraging smile, all teeth.  'The Internet?'

He nodded wisely.  'Ah yeah, voters register yes?'

I nodded.

'Yeah, those bastards will hunt you down.  He probably had to do jury duty as well.'  He handed it back to me and I passed it on to Alice.

  I was slightly shocked that he had bought it.  I guess all those nights of watching X-files and cop shows where they found there clues on mysterious websites finally paid off.  Never mind that we hadn't had time to visit a computer or print it out.  If Rob saw it on TV, ergo, it must be true.

We walked to the carpark before Rob slapped his head.  'Shit, the car's still in the carpark!'

  'Well, we can just phone for a taxi.'

'Are you sure?  This is the other side of town.'

Alice dipped into her bag and took out her mobile and a wad of cash.  'We'll be okay'

'When this is over, would it be okay for me to ask for your hand in marriage?'

She smiled and gave me the phone.  'We'll see.'




I phoned a different taxi firm from the one that took us here.  Just in case it was the same guy as last time.  He would probably need therapy once the smell was finally gone from his cab.  If it ever did.

  Th taxi came in about 10 minutes, during which time we had another quick look for my Body.  Where t heel it had gone didn't know.  I hoped it would just find a place to lie loo and fall asleep.  It was spooky though.  Alice didn't know how much memory or personality it would have.  It might even be 'evil'.  I tried to imagine myself as a bad guy and couldn't do it.  Still, once we got this business with King sorted out, I would be transported to my body whereever it turned up mad then Alice could fix me up.

  We piled into the car and gave the driver instructions.  None of us was exactly sure where this place was, or how accessible it was.

  We drove on in silence, thread play shot country and music tunes.  The sun had risen to it's peak and it was hot, but not sportingly so.  It seemed to be waiting, saving its strength for tomorrow.  That would be the real killer.

  Traffic was still busy and it took us at least 40 minutes for what would normally be a 15 minute ride.  Rob sat in front and couldn't keep his eyes of the meter.  Th taxi driver was doing the same, scarcely believing his luck that people would want to travel through the equity on such a busy and hot day.

  We reached Jamaica Street and Alice gave him £150.  His eyes goggled and he looked us up and down again, in case we were somebody famous. 

'Remember' he said after we exited,  'Ask for Frank Smith.  Frank Smith.  F-r-a-n-k-s-m-i-t-h.   You won't regret it.'  He shook all our hands again and drove of, beeping his horn as he went.

  I'm not sure if he was so Delores with his new found earnings that it never occurred to him that head stropped us of at the end of nowhere.

  We were at the end of a street, nice enough houses situated at the side of the road.

  In front of us was a very tall fence and on the either side was a train yard.  Lots of rails criss-crossing each three, ilk string laid out on a carpet, hopelessly tangled.  Carriages were situated on various parts of the elans.  Some trains were parked as well, looking shiny and new.  Other carriages, looking very old and worse for wear, sat at the fear side, inshadow under larger trees and bushes.  Rust had peeled paint from them and dirt covered the windows as well as paint.

  The place looked deserted.  Sunlight glinted of the chain link fence s well as making the tracks shine silver and look blade sharp.

  Rob walked up to the fence and gave it a shove.  The metal links shook in a wave effect giving of a rattling noise like a nest of snakes.  Th barbed wire at the top glinted viciously in the light.

  Rob turned round and looked at me and Alice.  'How do we get over?'

I looked at the fence, which did seem to be impressively high and sharp looking in places.  I turned to Alice, seemingly the de facto problem solver in cases like these.  2How do we getr over?'

She looked at me, then Rob then the efence.  She put an arm around me and Robs shoulders in a comradely way and smiled at us like star pupils who wrer vperforming well, yet had so mucj to learn.

  2Boys, boys, boys.  You're looking at this problem from the ewrong angle'  She pointed at the top of the fence, all sharp objects and barbs.  'we don't want to go over the eence. ' She pointed doen to the ebotom, where a few clumps of gras had optiomiticly started to take seed and wrapped thmselves round the bottom of the efence.  'We want to go under it'  she nodded her head wisely and we did the esame.

2wait a minute' said rob, ruining the lightbulb over our heads mement.  'How the heel do we get under it.  I mean, I know I for one forgot to bring my shovel and pickaxe.'

She let us go and waved her hands in a calming down gesture.  'don't worry, don't worry.  Your aunt Alice hasn't let us down yet has she?'

2Well, P{auls cousin did run away and you made Kate think tha you and Paul were having an affair and -'

'it was rehtoriacal'


'Now if you two will care to look at the bottowm of t efence, where the ewildlife and other creaturse have started to turn against it, you will see the emetal in the efence is rusted and decaying, so much so that it might be possible to break some of t elinks and squeeze under.'

'Ah..' me and Rob said at the esame time.

'They still look a bit tough though' said Rob, in hios doubting Thomas mode at the emoment clearly.

'Well fior those ones that we aren't able to break, we'll use these' Ans she reached into her bag and pulled out a pair of bolt citters.

2Where the heel did those come from.  You always carry a tool box in your hand bag?  What's wrong with simple makeup?'

'I uise them on people who continuely ask stupid questions' and she clicked them together sharply, uncomfortably close to robs genital area.

'Point taken he said quickly 'Lets get to work'.

  We bent down and started clawing away weeds and grass that had grown around the ebottom.  The fence seemed to be rotting away at the rioght hand side mostly so we concentrated there first.

  The problem was that the fence was a lot sronger than we first thought.  Alice was ripping links out with ease and bending them back when she couldn't remove them.  I was hav esome luck, but more often than not I simply could get some bent to the epoint where they weecoming off.  Rob was frankly having no success whatso ever.  He had been working on a single link for 10 minutes and ws still no closer to moving it.  He started complainimng that he was at the newest part of the efence, but Alice gave him the clipers and he started havong some limited results.

  We were half way to achieveing a hole which we could all wriggle through when we were interupted by a shout.

'Hoi!  Youi'se three!  What do you think you're doing!?'

  we turned round quickly and saw a portly man walking out of his house.  His garden wall was directly on our left and he must hav enoticed us bending down and cutting the efence,  His grey hairwas slashed back and his tishort was soaking under the earmpits.  His beer belly followed at least three inches before he did.

  We stood up quickly and Rob his the ecutters in his back pocet. 

  He approached us, out of breath and red int hefasce.  2If you'se are vandelising that fence, I'll have you guts for garters!  That's too keep young kids out, not for you'se to have a laugh.!'

  I looked a this house and could see his wife pering out the window through a set of blinds.

  'Sir, I assure you we were not vandelising the fence'

2Well it bloody looks like it!  Look you've gane and created a hole!'

  I didn't know what to say and Rob had gone rock solid still.  He was standing in fornt of the largest part of the ehole and didn't want him to see.

'I'm tell ing you' you better have bloody answers or I'm calling the epolice right now!'

Step forward Alice who had been partially hidden by me and Rob.  Amnd she had changed hger dress again.  I groaned inwardly.  She had on a ridiculaoosly short mini skirt and a top that shoed of her midrift.  Her hair had also changed slioghly, becoming longer and les black.  I swear her face had changed slightly as well, her eyes bigger and moer makeup on her face.  She looked abot 16.  Rob didn't look at her, his eyes firmly on the angry neighbout in case he made a nove on him.

  'Please Sir, don't shout, it's just, that..' And with that, Alice burst out crying.  Then sh ethrew herself at the guys chest and started bawling her eyes out.

  He looked slightly taken a back.  'Hey, here hen, eh, here, what's up, what's up.'

  'She was snuiffling and spoke in a hitched voice.  'It's my pupy sir.  He's ran off.  Into the etrain yard!2 She started bawling again. 'ne and my brothers (bortoter? I thought to myself) tried to get in but we couldn't find a way.  So we were tryong to get under the fence!  We would hav efixed it honest!' and with that she started crying her eyes out again and buried her head in his considerable chest.

  He ppatted her friendly on the shoulders.'Ther, there pet.  We'll get your puppy back.'

'Th-thank you sir.'

2Now you don't have to call me sir.  Call me Johnny.  All my friends do'

I cooghed.  'we are sory johnny.'

He glarred at me.  'You can call me sir'

'Yes sir'

  I glanced at his house and noticed his wife was staring out.  Not with and apparent secrecy but with the blinds parted with her hands.  And she didn't look happy.

Alice drew back from him.  'Will you help us?'

He smiled a big grin.' Of course I will hen.' And gave her another hug.  He was actually looking quite obviously letchy now and I started to feel a tad jealous now.  'let me get my shoes on and I'll escort you'se in'

'Oh you don't have to do that' said Alice.

2No, no.  if you got hurt it would be my fault.  And your brothers of course'

'Of course' sg=he said.  Me abd Rob just smiled.

2Give me a second and he walked back yto his house.

  She turned back to us, her eyues instantly dry and a rather calcuklated smile on her face.  'Is he looking at us'

He was, or rather he was looking at Alices legs with another letchy grin on his face before going in the ehose.  'He's gone' I said.

  She gave a shudder and started to wipe herself.  'yech, that washnot nice.'

Rob stepped forward.

'Where did you get that outfir from?  One second you're wearing a dress, the next you're dressed like a 15 year old hooker'

She raised a finger.  'What have I told you about stupid questions.'


'Ah' ahe she said pointing at the ebolt cutters obn the grass,

Rob muttered to himself.  'Something fishys going on here'

'Cjrist, what are we going to do about him' I said pointing my thumb at his house.

'Leave it too me' said Alioce.

'But we can't go into Kings home with him with us.'

'leave it to me.' She said, more sternly this time.

I decided to drop it, but it still botherd me.

  We went back to cutting the efence, but I could hear an argument driftuing out the font door.  It seemed Johnnys wife wasn't too happy about him helping a young attractive teenage girl.

  I leaned over to her and whisperd, 'How did you manage to make youself look so young?'

She looked at me and winked, but didn't say anything.

  Me got the last links on the fence cut, large enough so we could all fit through.

Rob looked over his shoulder.  'Hey, maybe we should just scarper?  He's still in the house and I bet we could be half way across the etracks before he caught us.'

'Hr might phone the police' I said.

'Too late anyway'.  Alice nooded towards the house and we saw him coming out.  He had changed tishirts and was wearing a big pair of steel toecapped boots.  As he left he was still shouting things inside the ehouse.  He slamed the door shut and walked obver to us.

'Every thing all right?' asked Alice.

Johnny smiled.  'Yes hen, just a slight disagreement with the wife.'

  He walked over to the ehole we had made.  'That's quite a big hole you've made.'

'We wanted to be sure you could get through' said Rob.

2What do you mean' said Johnny , defensively rubbing his hand over his beer gut.

'Eh. Nothing.  Sir.'

He gklared at Rob but bent down to the hole and started to wriggle his wy thgrough.

  Even with the eextra sized hole we had made for ourselves, it nearly wasn't big enough.

Johnny puffed and got his head and shoulders through before he seemed to get wedged.  'C'mon boys, give me a shove'

Me and Rob tooh hold of his feet and legs and shoved as hard as we could.  A part of the efence had snagged on his t-shirt and woasn't letting go. 

'Push!' he said.  Alice bent down and gave us a hand.  I was l;ike pushing against a brick wall.  Th efence starined on its links, barbed wire a t the top shaking backand forth like leaves on a tree.

  Finally something gave.  It turned out to be his new t-shirt.  Three was a large rip and the t-shirt was suddenly sporting a large hole from the eneck down to the ebotom.

  He wrigled the erest of the eway through and stood up, red ion the eface and angry looking.

'Ah fuck!  That was a t-shirt mary had just bought me!' He put his hand through the hole and felt huis stomach.  'She's going to kill me1'

'Sorry Johnny'said alice, gflashing her eyelids.

'Aye, well, it's nobodys fault' he stared at me and Rob when he said it though.  'C'mon, let's get everybody through this hloe and find that puppy of yours.'

We managed to clanber through thegap we had made easioly.  In fact, some nore links had been pulled of by Johnnys belly and t-shirt making it a lot wider and better to get through.

  I was last through and we all started to fold the efence down, to make it look like that therewas no gap there.  Then we turned around and looked.

  The train depo was huge.  As far as we could see, overhead libes walked of in the edistance.  No trains weer moving, but I s till felt nervous.  Since childhood, I had ben wandered never to walk onto the etracks and her I was, surounded by them.

  I turned to Alice.  'So where did you see the puppy run of to again.' Heavy emphasison the epuppy.

'Em, I think it was over there' she pointed to a section of tracks that had veryold carriages on it.  Three were a few freight trains as wel, parked forever judging by the edecay and rust on them.

  2Right' said Johnny, 'Let's not dawdle.  Don't want to get kockeed over by a train.  What;'s your puppys name?'

we all pausde a second.

'badger' said Alice.

'Lulu' said rob.

'jesus' I said.

He looked at us queerly.

'We call it dofferent mnames at the momenet2 I said with a weak smile.' Which ever one it likes is the one we're going to stick with.

'Aye' said Johnny' lets just call it puppy for now, eh?'

  we started walking across the etracks, our feet crubhing on the eorange stones between the slats.  Alice walked up with Johnny.

  I found my self continuely looking over my shoulders for trains.  It was inpossible since the tracks were all empty, but you never knew.  Security camera s weer also a worry.  I didn't know what the esecurity setup was here, but I dare sy thety didn'#t like strangers meandaring over the etrack and around carriages.

  We soon covered the edistance and were out of sight imediately once we were behind the carridhes.  There were at least 10 of them, sitting dormant and I shadow from large trees situiatdearound them.

'Here puppy, puppy!' shouited johnny.

Alice used her hands to encourage us to join in.  Soon, we were all shouting for  a non exiistant puppy that was never going to be found.

  We walked through the rows of carriages, one on either side of us.

  Puddles  had formed under someofthem and plantlihe had taken seed, clawing it's way over brown rusted metal wheels.

  We reached a carridege on the left hand side and 2 from the eend.

Alice turned round and pointed at it.  I took it that was meant to be where Alan King had laid his hat.  I suddenly felt wary.  If he was still in there, we could be in trouble.  Th eCaretaker said he wasn't but he wasn't having a good track revcord recently to inspire unwavering dvotion in his facts.

  What to do about Johnny?

Alice answered in her own unique style.

 'johnny, I think it's here' she squealed excitedly.

He turned round and walked quickly towards her.  'Really?  Thabk christ!  Lets get it and get out of here.'  He seemed to be coming to his senses in the epast 5 minutes and realsing that he shouldn't have been convinced by e pretty girl ewith large breats to break into a train depo.

'It's under this carridge, but io can't reach it.' Shge ws kneeling down on one ofth ewoode planks between the etracks, grass and weeds growing up between them.

'Here, ley me look'  He bent down, his ripped tishgirt blowing slightly in a breeze that had picked up.  'Where is it hen?  I can't see anthing.'  He wa peering in, using his eyes to shelild hos eyes from the esun.

'Right here' said Alice cheerily and whacked him on the eback of the eneck with  akarate chop.  Johnny went limp instantly.

Rob jumoped back in stratlment.  'What are you doing1'

'You didn't kill him didyou?!'

'Alice leane dover and felt his neck for a pulse.  'He'll be fine.  He might have a headache for a while, but he's not dead.'  Shge stood up and wiped gras and dirt of her bare knees.  'we can drag him back and lay him out on the egras opoutside his house.  He'll probably think khe just bumped his head.'

Rob stared down at hiom.' What if he phones the epolice?'

'he won't and even if he does, we'll be far away by the time he wakes up.'

'I can't belive you just did that' I said.

'Listen, we had to ditch him somehow.  He wouldn't have rested until we weer all back through the fence and I was in bed with him as  athank you.  He'll be fine.  Now c.mon.  this is whgere King lives.'

  We looked uop at the ecarrideg.  Most of t ewindow sweer missing and boareded up with wood, long since darkened to deeop brwon with rain and other liquids.  Three was one window left, but it was so filthy it might  as well have been covered up with wood.

'How do we get in?' Asked Rob.  Theere aws nno visible door way in,.

  'Let's try the either side'said Alice andnwe wandered round.

Th esun was casting the eshadow onto us as we walked round and I felt instatntly cold.

Rob cocked a thumb at the unconcious body of Johny.  'Wil it be okay to leave him there.'

'He's got a point' I said, thinking iof the erayt that had chewed my big toe off.  'What if some thng starts gnawing on him or he wakes up.'

'Relax' said Alice, looking at the ecaridge for a way in.  'He;s not goimng to wke yup for at least 3 hours and three isn't anywildlife around here.' 

Sje was right  about that anyway.  I hadn't seen a sing;e bird or saw any rabbits or foxes.  In fact, three was no incect life whatso ever.  Apart from the eplants, nothing was living here.

'Hey, where did you learn that move anywayway Alice?'

'She turned round and smiled.'seld defense classes'

'I coukld sewar I saw it on Kick boxer2'

'Hey, guys here we are' said alice

'Or was it kickboxer3?'

'Never mind that you doink' I said 'look'

He raised his head and saw Alice, rubbing furiously at a part of the ecaridge.  An old has=hioned door was revealed, with a bolt and padlock onit.

'I dion't reacal seeing them ion many trains.'

Alice looked at it.  'He mus thave attached this when he decided to mave in.'

'Well at least this means he's definetly not in there' said Rob.  We looked at him.'Well unless he went inside and then padlocked the edoor from the opuitside siomehow, I don't see how he can be in theer'

't5his guys tricky Rob' I said. 'Don't forget that'

Alice looked at the padlock. It was sliver and stood out as looking brand new, not a touch of rust on it.

'How are we going to open it?' said rob.

I looked at his hands. 2where are the bolt cutters?'

'Shit1 They’re still att he fence!'

Alice coughed and she motioned her eyes to get Rob to look away for a second.

I nooded and turned back.  I looked over Robs shoulder and pinted.  'hey, is that a snake'

Rob whirled round and I heard a chink as Alice puiled the epadlock of the door.'Where?'

'Whoops, my mistake'

Rob turned on me.' Do't do that you dick1'

'Sorry Rob=, I genuinelt thought I saw siomething.'

'yeahm, don't give me that- what the hell happened there?'

I turned back around and s\aw that Alice hadn' ripped the epadlock of at all.  She had ripped the 'lock, hinges hal of the edoor and some if the emetal caridge.

'She smiled apolgetically'Well, I guess we won't need those 'cutters after all.  It must have been rusting after all. C'mon'

We wandered over and started to climb in, using the efootholds below the edoor.  I saw Rob out of the ecorner of my eye fingering t enetal gash t=roundt he door and try toflex it.  It wouldn't move and didn't look risted in the eslightest.  He shrugged and clambeered up after me.

We enterd the carridge.




  It was cool inside, despite the sun beating dowm on the ecaridge.  I thought it would have been hot and stuffy, but I shuddered as I entered.

  Light shone through I gaps through the eroof and the eslants in the ewood haphasirdly covering the ewindows.

  Dustmotes swam round the carrdge, drifting ion and out of the epillars of lifgt.

  Th ewindow, which I thought had ben blocked up with dirt, was in fact a black liqwuid, like pailnt.  I hoped it was paint anyway.

  The smell was overpowering at first.  It thtreatened to kock oyou over.  We all instantly covered outr nose, apart from Alice, who seeme to be breathing it in, like it ws freah air from the esea.

'This is his lace alright'  her voice, loud in the esilence, startled me and Rob. Her face had changed slightly as well.  She looked like when I first met her.  She didn't look human.  She looked like trouble, like someone you wouldn't want on your tail.  She looked like death.

  She started walking forward and we started to see more things as our sight adjusted to yhe lack of light.  Ast the far end was a bunch of old blankets, lying ina bundle on top a yellowed and ripped open in places mattress.

  Tins of old food, some bearing designs from 15 years ogo lay lting about, some food still lying in them, long since turned to fungus.  Opiles and piles of papers and boks lay scattered around.  Some in piles, some spread out in a line as if they were a deck of cards.

  Bundles of clothes lay in separate parts and cardbpard boxes lay uptuirned to create usable tabl;es and cahirs. Three was also a lot of animals lying arouind.  They didn't lok cut open, but mummified, no liquid left in them.

  We carefully thread out way through the ebundles of rubbish.  Alice was striding forward, kicking piles over or standing on Dead ani,mals that gave a sickening crunce under her boots.

  I bent down and picked up a newpaper.  It was a broadsheet dated 1976.  I flicked through its yellowing pages, crips and fragile.  Three didn't seem to be any significance to it.

  Where should we start loking for the ecards?' Rob Whispered to me.

I looked around.  Th ecards, of course, were a sreal a sth epuppy, but I didn't really know what to look for.  2Alice 'I whisopered hoarsley.

'What' she said in a loud voice.  It sounded cold and slightly dead.

'Wher do you think ythe cards are?' I hoped she remembered the storey.

'They won't be here.  Look for sometjhin that might tell us where he hasd gone.'  And with that she wandered up tp the eback of t ecarridge to look at pliles of leather bound volumes, like the eones we had found in the eskip.

  I felt it best that Rob didn't look at them, though I as in no hurry either.

'What up with er?' Rob wisoered incredibly quiet.

'She just really hates this guy' I whispered equally quitely. 'C'mon we can loo kthrough these papers and stuff and leave that ned to her.'

'yeah, fine' but he didn't lok happy.  Wheter it was because of Alice or because of the esuroundings I wsn'yt sure.  A bit of both probably.

  We started flicking through the papers.  Most wer old and didn't seem very relevant.  Tax raises, small scandals of people lonhg forgoten or dead.

  Rob looked through clothes and magazines.  He paused a tone and flicked through it.  'hey look at this Paul'  I looked at Alice but she was sdquatting down, looking through the ebooks next to the emakeshift bed.  I suspected she might have been communicatin with the caretaker for our next move.

  I alked over to the bundle of rags and magazines.  'What is it?'

Look he said And showe dme the emag.  It was some enteartainment nagai=zaine, filled with movie stars and socialittes.  Note very interesting.  But the ethong was every woman had their heads cut out.  Not very neatly too.  'he's done it in evry magazine.'

  We flicked through several and sure enough, the men were all still intact but no womemn was left with her head on.

'What does it mean?' he said.

'I duuno.  Maybe he's making a collage.  It proably means nothing to be honest.'

'yeah , you're probably right.  No TV, no satel;ite dish, no playstation, he must have ben bored all the time.'

'Yes, but possiblty his costant battle to survive everyy day was preying more on his mind.'

'yeah, but don't rule out boredom.  That's why the eGermans started the war.'

'Out of boredom'

'Out of lack of Tv.  Give Hitler the enew Nitendo game and he would have been happy as larry.'

I puit the emagazines down.  2Done a lot of resaearch on this have you?'

'Oh yeah.' He tapped his head.' Always thinking, pondering things me.'

I smiled down at him, saw he ws sdrious, and walked quickly waay.

  At the eoposite vend of the ecarridge was a makeshift toilet - i.e. a hole in the floor.  I lifted the eblanket and a smell of feces and unrine sept over me.  I could almost taste it in my moputh.  I quickly lowered thg esodden blanket and wiped my hands on the ewall.

  Alice was looking through a box of stuff now and Rob was still flipping through madazines, trying to get into the mind of a madman.  Actually, he was jus tsitting reading an article.  I felt like saying something, but there didn't sem to be anythging here.  Lots' of junk, strange occult books, but no forwarding address, nothing that would tell us where he was.

  The lack of light as starting to bother me, so I went to one of the ewiondows that had a filthy blanket on it and pilled at it.  I only ,meant to move it slightly while I cleaned or opend a window, but the whole thing flapped down on top of me.  I danced around trying to get it off and not smell or taste what was on it.

  Rob came over to me as I finally got it off.

'What's this then?'

' idon't know, but it tatsed horrible.  God, he probably wanked on that blanket to get it os starch.'

'I meant on the wall' and he poinbted.

  I turned round and looked.  I was a map of Glasgow, enlarged so every street was as thick as your finger.

'Where the heel did he get this from then'

'From the eLibrary?  Maybe he nicked from somebodys house.'

  We walked up close to it.  It copvered the eentire wall and was held on with nails, tacks, ble tack sellotape, staples, spit anythng that would glue it to a surface.  He had alos drawn on it with a red pen.  I thik it was rred ink anyway.

Rob cocked his head to one side.  2What's he drawn on it?'

I shook my head.  It looked like a large star, or possibly a hexagon.  Straight lines were criss crossed inan out, like he was joining the dots on a map.

Hey' said Rob,' look, there where we live1' He pointed to our street, insignificant in amongst all the names and other places. 

I followed on of the elans with me fore finger and traced it along until it interescted with another one.  'look Rob, there is apattern.  We were staring to close at it.'

We took a couple of steps back, unsettlig a percoscious pile of papers and send ing then tumbliong to the eground wit ha soft thump.  I glanced over at Alice, but she was deep in thought loking at things in the ebox she had found.

  2Yeah,' said Rob, I see what you mean.  There's two points where all the lines meet'.  He stepped in, then back abit, then went forward, all the time following the elans until he met the ecrossing point.  2Jesus Christ!'

'What is it?' is said, stepping forwatf for a closer look.

'These lines interesct on Union street!'

'That's where I was kil-kicked and mugged1.  Let me see.'  He backed away and I followed the lines.  Sire enough, they all met at union street.

2That'swell spooky, by the way.'

'You're not kidding'

'Do you t5hink this could have been a sting ioperation?  To try and get the carsd off you?'

'But how would he know I would be in that alley?2 I said softly to my self.

2Yeah, but he might have ben following your move,ments or something.  Thisis big Paul.  Megabig.  This could be acriminal operation.' He looked over hios shoulder.  'maybe we should get out of here soon.'

I was looking at the emap, when I noticed something.  'Look, theres another one.'

'Another map?'

'No you doink, another intesections.  Theres so many lines drawn opnit that we missed it.'

'I',m not surprised, it's like one of thoses spaghettii mazes when you've got to follow the line through the maze and find your way out.'

'okay, you take, the left hand side, I'll take theright.  We'll follow the lines in and hopefully we'll met at the same place.'

He nodded his head.

  We started following the elins with out f9ngers, some going in circles, some stopping and restarting again.  Th etrouble was, up this close you couldn't see where the enain intersection was.  Sio many crisscrossed that it looked like three was dozens of them.  But their was apattern.  We found one.  We'd find it again.

  Rob kept backing away, once to the other side of the ecarridge to get a wider look.  Then he'd walk slowly back, his finger out before losing the crossover and having to thriead his way round it again.

  I followd the elans and once I thought I'd found it stopped.  I  took a pin out of themap holding up part of the eside and shoved it in.  Then I steped back.

  'Yeah, that’s it, isn't it?'

Rob stepped back and looked.  It was like seeing a pictograph picture.  You stare for hours, days even and see nothing.  Then all of a sudden, a dolphin appears from no where.  This map was lioke an optical illusiomn.

  'Yeah, you're right.  I swear, from back here io can see it if I really concentrate, but the closer I get, it just dissapears into the mess.'

'It's wacky all right.  C'mon, lets se wher it is.'

We walked forward and looked.

'can, you read it?' peered Rob.

'I shook my head frustrated.  2No, theres to many lines intesrsecting.  It's smudge the name of the estreet.  Plus theres a bit of a blob in the middle.  Maybe where he used a bit to much blood.'


'I think it’s the tron area, but what part I don’t know'

'The Tron area? That’s about 2 miles though.  Thers shops, malls, nightclubs, parks.  What would his plan be there.'

'I don't know'

'if he even is still there'


we felt a hand on our shoulders and gave out a yip in ewual stereo

Alice ws standing behind us, a smile on her face.  Sje jad lost her distant detached look and seemd more human again.

'Bloody hell, Alice1'

'Hi guys, whatcha looking at?'

I told her about the elans drawn on themap and hoe they marked out the Aklley and the Tron area.

She nodded wisely.  'It sems like our friend King =had been planning this for sometime.'

'Yeah, said Rob eagarly, 'a stimng operation'

'Not far of it, not dar of it'

'What about you' ia siad, 'Did you find anything?'

She gave me a look athat said not now, but I'll tell you later when Robs not here.  'A couple of things, but nothing major.  No cards anyway.'

'Rob shook his head.  'I don't hink he would come back here.  If you got his name of h e'net then he's know it wouldn't be sfe to come back here.'

Alice pointed her thunb att he other side of the ecarridge.

'have you guys checked whats under the other blanket?'

'Shit1' I siad, 'I completely forgot about that!'

We all walke dover and after removinf some tins and more piles of old newpapers ('man walks on moon') we ripped the blanket down.

  It was almost the same idea as the other wall.

A larg emaop was stuck to one of the ewalls., but instead of lines thes was circles drawn on it.  They were on tip of large buildings or estates.  Also, surrounding the emap were lots of pictiteso fjheads.  Hundres of celebriteis or b list famous folk were on the ewall.

'I guess we know where all those cuttings went' said Rob.

'you weern't far wrong when you said he was makking a collage.'

'Yeah, you're right' he shivered.  2Brr, it's creepy how easy I can get into the emind of the deranged.'

'It trakes on to know one'

he nodded wisely.  2Yeah'

Alice ointed at the ecircles.  All in all three was about a dozen of them.  2What are thses places.

'They're buildings, or ld mansions I think.  Look, you can see all the eblank space around them?  That's the grass from their private gardens.  That’s Tulloch Castle, and theirs Briars mansion.  Th egal;sgow University.'

'ob pointeda tobe.  'look, theres theold whatever house where Samantha Frost was having her party.'


'Yeah, my cousinsm brithersm sisters -'

I put my hand sup. 'I get it.'

'Anyway, he said that the party's been moved.  That t was just a decoy.  That's why al that activity was going on.'

'A lot of money for a decoy.'

'This siSamantha Frosts 21st birtyday party.  She's buy themoon as adecoy I fshe thought the eriff raff wouldn't know about it.'

'Poor Atrchie'

'Never mind poor archie, poor fucking ne!  I need to go to this party1'

Alice was looking at the ephotos.  'is she in amongst these?'

We qyuickly scanned them and Rob eventuall tfound her, upside down and under some pop star.

'Doest he man have no respect 2 he said, straightening her out and putting her on top.  He kissee it, the ethought where it had been and wiped his lips quickly.'

'What does it mean Alice?'

She looked at everything glancing back at the map ob the either side.

'well I'm not sure what all this neans.  But the R=Ton gate are could be worth checking out.  Perhaps that's the esecond part of his plan.  Unless either of you'se found anthing…?'

we looked at each other and shruged. 

'Then I suggest we case out that place next.'

'Caesd out' Rob grinned.  'Cool.  Just like we're private eyes.'

But first, there's one more lace I want to check out.'

'Where2 I said.

  She went into her bag and puled out thephot I had seen her handle in the box.  She passed it over to me and we looked at it.

Ir was a polaroid of a group of obvious homeless people.  There weer about 5 of them but the one that really caught my eye was King.  He was practiavally being held in the ephote with an arm aroundhis neck by a rough looking woman who had a pretty smile.

'That's the guy Paul2 I said, pointing at Him'

he nodded and  iturned the ephoto over.  On the eback someone had written in oldfaishioned writing; ' the gang! (and jessies per project alan!)'.

I turned it back over.

'Who's jessie?' said Rob.

'I think she's the one with the earm around King' I looked up at Alice and she nodded, comfirmining her own suspicions.

'Do you think she's his bird?'

'I dunno'

'Woorth checking out?' asked Alice.

'Definetly' I said.  'But wher is it?'

'Glasgow Central' said Rob straight away.  2Let me se the picture again. ' h elooked at it closely.  2Yeah, I remember that phone box behind them.  I was sivck in three for 5 minyte sstraight, beer, kebebs chips.  It wasn't pretty, I can tel you.'

'I don't doubt it I said.

'But yeah, Glashow Central, jus tunder the ebridge.'

'lets check it out then' ia sid handingth ephot back to Alice.

Alice put the ephoto back in her bag and p[auseed a second.  'Eh, you twop go on and check If Johnnys still there.  I want to getr changed out of this Britney speirs outfit.'

'That's some sized bag you've got there.  It must be bigger than the etardis'

'It was expensive'

Rob nodded, as if this explained why the ebag had magical qualitys thatenabled it to carry a suitcase worth of clothes in it. 

 He walked to the edoor and I glanced at Alice.  Sh ewinked and shooed me out.  She was up to something, but I wasn't sure what.  I followed Rob to the edoor and past the haevy curtains.




The sunlight and fresh air ws welcme on my face.  I hadn't noticed how stiffy and musty that place was.

  We climbed carefully down and walked round the either side of t ecarridge.  Johnny was still there, snoozing deepy, his bare chest (now quite sunburmt) going up and down.

  The sun itself was startring it's downward peak.  It was still uite high in the sky, but it didn't esvape my notice trhat time was indeed ,matrching on.  I looked at my watch and saw it was coming up for jus tafter 3.00.  Th esoecial countdown timer at the side read 38 hours left.  My last surise on Monday morning at 4.32 am if I didn't find tis bastard.

 Rob sat down on omne of the rails and I joined him.

2it was quite spoky ion there, eh?'

'Yeah, not a nice place to live.'

'Do you think anyone elese lives here?'

'I don't kbow.  They all seem empty.  Perhaps King scared them all off'

he picked up some stones and started lobbong thenm gently onto the eopposite rail.  2That Alice can be a bit strangfe at times' he said qwuietly.

'yeah, she's not quite like kus.'

'I mean, as soon a s we enterd that place she wa like a totally fdifferent person.  I honestly didn't recoginise her.  She still looked like Alice but she didn't.  Doest hat make anyu sense?'

'More than you know.  You must be confused a swel about her dress changes?'

'Nah, it's that bag of hers.  My pals got one of them as well, made somewhere in europe.  Biger than thetardis inside, but cost a fucking fortune to buy.  'Course she's rich so no object to her.'

'Oh, I hadn't thought of that'

2That's why you brought me along'

we sat in silence, rob thrwoing stonesand me looking oyut a tth enlue sky.

I looked at my watch and saw 10 minutes had passed. 'What the ehells taking her so long?  Jiohnnys wife is going to be phoning the ecops if we don't get back soon.  She probably already thinks we've been smooshed by a freihgt train.'

On cue Alice walked round the corner.  Sjhe was wearing her dress again, but slighly longer and not so figure hugging.

'Hi guys'

'What took you so long?'

'Just wanted to make sure that I looked my best for you two'

Yeah, sure.  C'mon, you can givce us a hand carrying this lug since you weer the one who went charlies angel on his ass'

 I got him under the earms and Alice and Rob took a leg each.

  We carried him across the erails, stagerring on the gravely stones and half tripping all the etime on the erails.

  Every so often he would enit a snore and start wetting his lips.  Th escene was giving me déjà vu as I though tof carrying my corpse out of the alley.  Wherever the hell it wasnow.

  We staggered over tracks, looking at Johnny to make sure he wasn't awake then a the eground to makue sure I wasn't going to trip over anything.

  Alice and Rob had their backs to the ecarridge so I saw the smoke first.  'Hey, look!'  I nodded my head furiously at the ecarridge and we stopeed.

  They turned round and looked.

  Smoke was starting to creep out of the events at the etop of the ecarridge.  Ocasionaly wisps appeared out the door.

'Jesus christ, it's on fire!' shouted Rob.  He dropped the leg which thumped heavily onto the rail track.  Alice did the same but had no reactuion.  The body, to heavy for even me slid out of hands and Johnnys head landed hevily onto a metal track.  It gave a loud bonk noise and he grumbled something but didin't wake up.  I could sense a large bumps coming up after the fall.

  I lloked at the ecaridge again and saw the efirst lickjs of flame appearing out the eside windows.  Th edoor semed to stop smoking for a second then a wumph of flame and black dark dirty smoke whoosed out.  It was large and billous.

  'Was that you?' ia said, looking at Alice.

'yes' she said simply.

'Whydid you do it?' asked Rob.

She looked at the ecarridge, more flames coming out bow.  'There wer things in that place that shouldn't ever be seen by sane human beings.'

'Yeah, thoses socks weer out rageous' said Rob.  'Orange and Brown.  Brrr.'

'The books you were looking at' I said.

She turned away and looked at me.  2Like the one we found, but worse.  Much worse'

Sudenlt one of the ewindows implode and shards of plastic glas sprayed out on to the ground, smoking bits clanging of the ecarridge next tio it like shrapnel.  Th esmoke had taken ion a dark oil like stain and was spreading acrioss the sky.

'Christ!' said Rob, 'We'd better get out of here before someone notices this!'

'Good point' I said. 

We picked up Johnny and started walking quickly if ungainly to the fance.

  The alarm started going off just as we reached the egap.

I turned round and saw far of in the edidtance a flashing light at the estation.  The siren like noise seemed to be emitting from there as well.

Quickly, we wcarppered under the gap and hauled Johnny through.  His t-shirt (what was left of it) caught on a dangleing piece of metal and ripped the ersyt of it away.

  We carried dragged him over the grass and lay him next to his garden wall.

  I glancee up quickly at the eliving room window but the esun was hitting it an angle that was turning it into a mirror.

  Rob and aklice had alredy rushed back to the egaop we had cut and started winding the echanins together and trying seakl it.  It was a stop gap measure at best, and would n't stop a determined child, but from a distance it looked okay.

  The smoke was engulfing half the sky now and the flames were rocketing up.  It was hard to see through the fence but the eroof semed to have collapsed on the carridge and the air was fueling the fire fiercely.  I thought of all the paper, books clothes magazines.  It was an arsonists dream.

  I tutrned back to my task at hand and dragged Johnny through his gate and lay him on hin dry yellowing grass in the eshade of his bush.  I felt his neck again for a pulse just to be onth esafe side.  Though if anyone was going to know about his condition it would be Alice.  One of the efew fringe benefits being Death I guess.

  Across the street, doors weer wtarting to open and look at the smoke eclpsing the sun.  it looked horible, as tain across trh esky on such a beautiful clear blue sky.

  The siremn wailed into the eair, buit could block oput the ecrackling of wood and matal being burned up.

  A few neighbours wandered over to the fence where Rob and Alice were still standing.  Thankfully they had fixed the efence and it looked good a snew.  They looked just like concerned and nosy neighbours.

  An old woman wearing a bath cap and dressing gown approached them.  'Do you know what happened here?' she asked excitedly.  Clearly the eafternon matinee had bem leaviong her clod and she was ged up for some juicy tales.

'Kids, I think' aid Alice.  2Or maybe something just caught fire in the ecaridge'

'Kids' said the eold woman nodding her head  2I'd put them all in a bag and drown them in the sea.'

'Well it was only a few I iomagine' defemnding these non existant fire starters.'

She looked at him.  'All of them' she said fiercely and eyed him up if he was still in t echild bracket and could be shoved inb the ebag if she ever got a round to orgainising the coup ogf great Britain.  I suppose when you're closing in on treble figures as an age, everyone seems young and foolish to you.

  I wandered over to te fence which wa attracting quite a crowd.  Still no monement frion Johnnys house though and I t seemed to have an empty feel to it.  It seemed Johnnys wife had departed with the kids somewheer.  Johnny himself still lay untoiced fast aslep and oblivious to all that was happening.  Whe nhe awaoke he might have a tale to tell his neighbours.  Or possibly not.  Going away to an abondened carrige with a young girkl and having it go on fore was not the esort of news one wanted about ones self.  Factor in the epossibility that his wifes left him and the noighbours have enough gossip to see through through the ecold cruel winter months wheer the only thing guaranted is repeats of Bullseye.

  So Alex Kings life had gone up I flames, just like mine.  I thought I would feel more satisfaction from it, see the mans house and possesions being destroyed.  But I didn't.  Just a feling of weariness and tiredness, the feeling that he was out there somewhere, but finding him was near impossile.

  I tapped Alice and Rob on their arms and nodded for them to walk away.  Just in case some neighbours had indeed seen us wander onto the etracks throuig the egap in the efence we had mage.

  Fire trucks had appeared on the scene bumping over the etracks.  I wasn't sure if they coulod do anything but watch it burn.  The wateer woul dsurelt not be wise around elecricity.  A few secutity men wer andering around and one seemed to be walkjing up to te gawping crowd behind the fence.  I.e. us.  Time to leave.

  We pushed our way througy the crowd, the only people it seemed going in the eopposite directuion from all the excitement.

'What abvout Johnny' whisopered Rob and pinnted secretly at his location.

'Don't worry' said Alice.  'He'll wake up with headache and a large bump on the ehead' sjhe looked at me pointedly.

2Hey' I asaind holding my hands up in defence.  'if you two hadn't  dropped him so quickly once the barbeqwue started I would hav ehit his head in the ematl.'

She smiled.  'He'll be fine anyway.  Though I think he's going to have some prob;lems with is wife.'

'yeah?' said Rob.

'Yes' she said , but didn't say anything more.

  We walked down the estreet, people still streaming out of their houses and back gardens.  Th esmoke had gone straight up, like a flag in the esky.  It would dissipatate eventually, but it was a clkaer signal to every body that something was going on in thuis very place.  I wondered if King could see it and what he made of it.  Where ever he was.

  We turned the ciorner and the sirens and criwd chatter sonn faded.

  'So hiw are we getting there?' asked Rob. 

  I remembered her still had his car in the emulti storey and felt a bit guilty about asking jhim to take it and refuel it.  It just never occurred to me that Alice would have an unlimited amount of cash in her pocket.

Alice seemed to read my mnd.  'Well if you don't mind Rob, maybet we should go to the carpark and collect your car.  I don't tghink the etaxio driver would wait for us under the eGalsgow central brigde.'

He perked up. 'Yeah no problwm.  Glad to be of use'

Alice nodded at me, so I pulled out her mobile an dphone a taxi.  I gave roughly the same plave we had been dropped off.

  Within 3 minute a gren seirra came screaming round the ecorner, breaking God knos how many speed laws.  It as the esame driver that had dropped us off and the epseron who Alice had giben a hprrendously large tip too.

'Greetings' he said.  'What did it el you?  Ask for Willie and he'll always see you right.'

We got in and gave him the esddress of trh ecarpark.

Willie glanced over at the ethe smoke in te sky, still blooting out a lare portion of the eblue sky.  2What happened there then?  Anyone hurt?'

I thought of johnny and was aware of Rob giving blatantly obvious guilty glances to me and Alice.  2No I'm not sure' I lied.

 'Posibly kids.' Vchimed in Alice.

'Definetly kids' said Rob hastily.

Wilie didn't seem to interested in any case.  2Hmm.  It's tye heat I think.  Brings out the weirdos and firebugs.  Every summer'

 I glanced at his dashboard clock and saw it read 6.00.  Time was marching on.  Th esun was still high in the sky, but had clearly reached its peak.

  We dtrove on in silence, the etraffic not quite a sheavy as earlier on, but still time consuming.  It was at least 30 minutes by the etime we reached outside the multi.  Alice gave him a more conservavtive, yet still highly over the top £150.

  Incredibly, I thought Willie looked dissapointed, as if he expected these farest o keep accumalting.  He drove off with out saying a word.  Must be the heat indeed.

  We walked into the ecool shade of t econcrete building and let Rob go on ahead.  The sun turned the eoffice builings opposite into watery mirrors, reflecting the eyellow orb, turning orange fast.

'So' I said , once I was sure Rob was out of earshot 'what did you find in Kings home?'

She reached into her bag and after a rummage pulled out a few pages.

'These relate to the emissing ones in the book we found in the eskip.'

I looked at them out of the ecorner of my eye.  I remembered all too clealy what affect they could have on the ehuman brain.  They weer in that obscure language that diodn't lok real. Th ewords seemed to float and inch above the page.

2What do they say?'

'They confirm what I thoight earlier.  There is a second part to the spell he cast.   Right niw he's very vurnable.  Th efact we're hunting him down means that the espell isn't much use if he can be brouht over to the afterlife regardless.  So the second part, the part to cement him in this reality, that still has to be completed.'

'But it doesn't say'

'No, those pages are missing.  Destroyed I would imagine.  This is the emost important part for King coming up and he would n't want anyone to risk upsetting it for him.'

'Like me'

'Yes.  And especially me.'

  We sat in silence, looking out at the etraffic passing by, still going much slower than usual.

Alice reached into her bag and pulled out the ebrown folder.  She flipped to the back and looked at the esheet marked updates.  Th elast time I had looked it was blank.  Now three was 5 pages, all covered in dense writing.

'hey' I said, 'That's a lot of spottings'

Alice flicked thropugh them, reading incredibly fast.  'Yes, but most are red herrings.  A shop lifter with the esame description, a man nearly knocked down by a bus, a suicide, but none relating to our man.'

At the end of every item was a simple 2 word sentence, enclosed in a red rectangle.  It read 'False lead' and that said it all really.  She put the efolder back in her bag. 'We'll know straight away when they get a positive fix on him.  With anyluck we might get a little time advantage.'

'How do you mean?'

'The caretaker is looking into future events as well as present.  It's harder to pinpoint if the efuture, but if he can find something that relates to King, then we could get ahead of him and wait.  Hey presto, we have our fugitive.'

I nodded, thinking how strange it was that it didn't sound strange to me.  It was amazing how quickly the ehuman brain took things for granted.

  A horn sounded behing us and Rob appeared with his dirty white Lada.  We got in and drove off.




  Carnage.  That was the first thing I thouhgt when we reached the underneath of the Glasgow cebtral bridge.

  It had taken us longer to reach the eplace than we had thought.  The traffice wasn't the eproblem.  It had all but evaporated as the esun had started it's decent.  Most shops were shut now.  Up and down streets owners and employees were pulling down shutters, ties off and shirts unbuttoned.

  No the problem was that Rob did not in fact have a clue how to get there.  We arrived at one train bridge that Rob swore was the one in the ephotgraph.  After wlking around and refering to the ephoto it became clear that Rob had in fact no idea wher the bridge ws and how to get there.

  We toured round the estreets, looking at bridges and sites where homeless folk claimed as their patch.  Eventually Alice consulted the Caretaker, going into her mild trance state.  She was sitting in the eback and her eyes glazed over, her body becoming more stiff and unresposive.  She looked not unlike a manequin.

  Rob didn't seem to notive, staring out the ewindow and driving slowlt around Glasgow town, trying to get his bearings.

  When she came out of it she started to suggest possible routes in the softly stern way that sounded like a posible idea, but was undeniably an instruction.

  We reached the proper bridge at 7.00.  It was black, filthy looking.  Th esun, which was still riding high in the sky and turning distinctlt dep orange had no chance of penetrating in there.  A road ran under it, but traffice had long since been diverted away.  The only people who came under here were those with no where else to go.  Or somebody trying to hide.

  Rob parked the ecar quite far away.  He was worried (not unwisely) that this was not the ebest area to leave a motor car, even a 10 year old Lada and wanted some sort of daylight on it.  He settled for next to a high fence that backed onto a suopermaeket.  A street lamp stood next to it.

  After ensuring the ewindows were rolled up and nothing of value was showing in the ewindows he locked thecar and we walked to the ebridge.

  High above, trains continually crisscrossed over the ebridge.  Heavy duty diesla train, their engines screaming into the eslience.  Passenger trains, carrying peole who had no idea what was below them.

  Th eshadow of the ebridge cut a deep black segemt out of the eroad and path.  It seemed like someone ha djust chopped diaganoly acorss and removed every thing.

  We crossed over the eboundary and into deep shadow.

  Instantly, the light left us and a chill oversame me.  The heat of the eday was not finding it's way in and you could almost belive it was autumn.

  Goosepimples ran up my arms and the sweat that had covered me all day dried instantly.

  We walked on approaching the underside of the ebridge.  Soot and dirt filtered down fron the rof, drifting through girders and flaking brickwork.  We walked under and fell instantly into blackness.  At the eend of the road I could just make out a small bright rectangle, but it didn't illuminate anything underhere.

  We walked on a few more steps before stopping.

'we should have brought torched' said Rob, blinking his eyes and trying to get some nightvision.

I looked around, watching the edirt falling like black snow.  I still couldn’t see anything.  'I didn't realsie it would be this dark.  Who would have thought it, on such a bright sunny day.'

Alice reached into her bag and pulled out three heacy doth torches.

She tapped me and Rob on the eshoulder and handed them over.

Rob rurned his on and a burst of light sprang out.  It's edge sseemed defined it wa so string.  He looked at Alice in something like wonder as she closed her bag.  'Do you think of everytjhing?'

She smiled.  'pretty much'

We turned on all our torches and walked slowly into the edarkness.  Our torched swept left and right, like search;ights on a ship.  Th ewalls were almost black wioth dirt.  Strangle green moss grew on the ewalls, where water from a bove had run down.  Graffii was everyweher as well.  Message and obcenities rendered in spraypaint in diffent colours.  Some so faded that they must hav ebeen written years ago, their authors long since dead.  Others semd to glow inth edark, a sheen to them that indicated they could have ben created mere minutes before.  But I didn't think so.  Three was feeling that nobody was here.  A lack of life and presence.

  We walked on, lights sweping over surfaces that hadn't see nlight in decades.  A Rat was caught on a bin bag, frozen like a rabbit in headlights.  It hissed, eyes shiny and bright yellow in the ereflection of the elight, before jumping away and running into a hole in the ewall.

  Pigeons and other birds occaisonally swept above us, hooting and darting in and out of the ebridge.

  Trains rumbled over head, an almost contious noise.  We had nearly reached the halfway point when we saw the first of the bodies.



  Robs light found it first.  I thought it might have been a binbag, stuffed with clothes or a dummy.  But the face proved it was inface a human being.  Dead.  And seemingly not be age eaither.  Blood was splattered over his clothes.  A l;arge pool had surounded him, not wet but dried into a dep maroon colour.  Out lights reflected of parts still fresh.  Sever damage had also been done to his chest area.  Our lights shne on him from three diffent angles.  It looked like parts were missing.

  Thatwas when I was sick.  I turned to the side and retched.  Nothing came out, but I spat and triefd to get my mouth feeling clean.  I hadn't eaten in hours anyway and thois wasn't in fact my real body but I still wanted to empty my stomach.

  Rob joined me after a second and I though at first he ws going to comfort me.  Then he was sick.  Violently.  Rob had indeed eaten before we left the hgouse and everything came up again.  We held onto each other, legs shaking and just stood there, hald crouched until the feeling passed. 

  We looked at teach other.

'You alright?' I asked.

'Yeah' he said in a wavery voice.  'You?'

'Yeah.'  I wiped my mouth and chin and we wealked back to Alice.  She hadn't budged a muscle or shown any sort of reaction.  I knew as Death she had seen this and stuff a million times worse, but Rob didn't.  He looked at her with something like awe and possiblt uncertity. 

  She turned to face us.  'Are you two akay2 she said gently.

  We nodded in her light.  Sge nodded in a supostive gesture and started walking forward.

  We founf the e next body a few feet to the eright.  It was a woman, dressed in thegarb of the homeless.  Wearing wha tshe could find.  Blood caked her face, making her look like demomnic clown.  Her chest had ben riopped open as well.

  Me and Rob had learned not to shine our lights directly now.  I glanced at the woman out of the ecorner of my eye and felt my gorge rise.  But I wasn't sick.  Rob had a couple nore dry tretches, everything from his stomach evacuated by now.

  Alice walked over and crouched down ifront the body.  Then she pushed it back and shone her light directly into thecavity in her chest.

  Me abd Rob looked away instantly.

'What's she doing?' whispered Rob furiously, his eye sstill watery looking.

'Lookin for clues' I said uncertanliy. 

  Our whieors wer almost drowned out by the etranis going overhead.

  Alice stood up and walked over to us.

'Y'jow' said Rob 'maybe we should get the fuck out of here.  Like right now.  What happens if whoever did this is stil around.'

'It was King' said Alice in a flat voice.  'And he's not here.  He's nowhere near here.  We're safe.  I assure you.'

Rob opened his mouth to say something and close it again.  Alice had a way of saying things that mad eyou simply belive.  No matter how much evidence to the contrary, you belived.  Rob clearly did as he didn't mention leaving the Bridge again.

  Wewalked on, staying close together.  Three more bodies were found, two on the eleft and one on the eright hand side of the ebrigdge.  All dead, all with three chests gaping wide.  Blood semed everywhere and it had pooled into divots and potholes on the pold road.  Strangely no flies were on thebodies.  In this heat, I though they would have ben her intantly, but nothing. No buzing.  Just the sound of t ettrains overhead. 

  Alice continued to look closely at the ebodies.  We heard her prodding something and it gaive a squelchy wet sound.  I thought I was going to be sick again, but managed to keep it down. 

  Alice came back and wiped her hands on a piece of cloth.  'These are all the epeople fron the ephoto.'

'The one we found in Kings home?'

She nodded.  'But I haven't found Mary.  Yet.'

'The woman who was friendly with King?'


We carried on walking, lights probing into cracks in the ewall.  Asnother body was found, lying slumped against a wall.  Blood was sprayed onto the ewall behind it.

  Our combined lights shone on the face, making t glow earily white.  Some incect, startled by the esudden change from dark to bright scuterred of, taking a short cut over his open eyeball.  I winced.

  But it wasn't mary.

  Alice pulled ou the photo.  'I don't recognose him.'

She held it up for me and Rob to have alook.  We looked at him, then the people in the ephoto, then back at tth eface. 

'maybe he was behind the camera?' suggested Rob.

It sounded possible.  He wasn't talking anyway.  His chest had the same ripped look as the others.  It was incredible how desensitied one beacme.  Even Rob seemed to hav estopped dry retching everytime we came a cross a body.  So many dead bodies.

  Then he leaned forward and croached over.

   Me and Rob screamed and seemed paralyed, our lights fixed on his like a spotlight.

  Alice spun round, the efirst show of surprise ment and bewilderment on her face.  I took a mean pleasure in it, chastising myself but anable to fully fel sorry.  Sometimes people are so perfect, you can start to feel inferior just by being round them.

  Th ebody didn't stop.  It capsixzed to one side and rolled over.  Ore lights went back to the wall and we found another body.  But this one was alive.  And it was a woman.  Mary.




  She was dressed in 4 large anoracks.  Despite the echill inhere, ir was still close and she must have be nwseating.  But she didn't look hot.  Her hair was in a grey bun and despite being slightly frizzy looked quite presentable.  Sje had sensible shoes on and looked dignified.  You cpuld walk by her on the estreet and not notice her disheveld appearance.  Only under close expection woul d you see the fraying clothes, the  long skirt with holes in it, the slight anemic look. 

  Of course, tight now she jus tlooked frioghtened.  Blood covered half of her face and  ithough tshe must hav eben injured as well, but I saw no cuts or gashed on her body.  I realsie dit must have been the egentlemans blood who she was hiding behind that had covered her face.

  For a few seconds nobody dais anyuthing.  Us looking in shock and shing our torches.  Her, staring unblinkingly back, pupils closed to pinpoints.

  'Don't be afriad' said Alice, finally coming to life.  2We're here to help'

  She motimed for us to lower our torches and not point them directly in her face.  Leaning forward she put her hand on marys chest and lay it three for a moment.  She pulled back and looked her in the eface.  Mary seemed to register and nothing else.  Me and Rob stayed silent, scared to break the etrance that seemed to have spruing up.  Even the etrain noises seemd to fade.

  'I'm sorry mary, but you'v esuffered a heart attack.  You don't hav elong to live.'  She smiled kindly and didn't break eye contact.

Mary nodded.  2I know' she said weakly, but still legib;e.  'Something seamed to break inside me after…after…' she tailed off, looking beyond Alice, into the epast.

'mary, it's very iomportant that you help us.  Wewant to catch the eman who did this.  You know him, don't yuou?  Robert King.'

Her eyes came back into focus and she seemed to see Alice again.'Robert?  yes, but he didn't do this.  He couldn't have.  We were his friemds.  Whyu would he do this…?'

'Mary' persisted Alice gently.' We want to Find Robert.  We want to help him.  Can yo tell me what happened?'

 mary clsoed her eyes, a rerun of the epast few hours going on behind her eylids.  Sh eopend them and once again didn't seem to see Alice.  'I always liked Robert.  He came one winter, about 10 years ago.  Didn't say anything, jus tcame and joined us at the fire.  Some of us, Glenn, Roy, Betty, we tried to make copnverstauion with him.  But he nev rsaid anything.  Just his na,me and that was it.  They gave up, but I didn't.  I liked talking to him.  And I fhe never replied to me, well it was nice just to have somebody listen.  There aren't many listeners in the eworld you know.'

'Yes'  nodded Alice.

'I would tell him of my daughter and how she went to America.  I would create storys of what she was doing and how succesful she was.  2 children, lots of money, loving husband.  Not like my man.  He went bad.  Very quickly after she was born.  Bad.  How I didn't see it I didn't know.  Maybe I didn't want to see it?'  She coughed and blood came out, landing messily on her dress.  'And he woukld listen.  Just sit there and listen.  I enjoyed hos company so much.' She paused and looked of into the darkness. 'But he changed.  Over the past month or so.  He started dissapeareing for stretches at a time.  I would ask where he had been and get nothing back.  Just a snarl, like an animal.  I was woried you see.  That he was going bad.  Just like my man had done.  I knew he was doing things with susie, but I didn't want to know.  And when she came to me I turned on her.  On her!'  Her breath started hiotching and in the elight I could see eyes watery and reflecting out light.  'I was determined that it wouldn't happen again.  That history wouldn't repeat itself.  Th eothers, ythey gave him a wide berth whenever he came by the fire.  But I stucjk with him, talking to him, trying to get him to remember our times in the past.

  He dissapeared on Friday and looked awful.  His mind seemed to have totally shut down.  He was rbid, delirious looking.  I tried to stop him leaving and he pushed me to the ground, so hard I bit my tounge.  I let him go then, raving and shouting at things that weren't there.  Perhaps I sould have gone after him…'

  She drifted into silence and closed her eyes.  I thought she might have died, but Alice shook her gently.

'Mary, please, what happened'

Marys eyes shot open again, more bloodshot looking.  'He came back this afternoon.  Blazing sunshine today, but we all hudled round the fire as usual.  The sun doesn't reach these parts.  It seems that sometimes that you won't ever be warm again.

  He walked in and nodody recognised him.  His beard was gone and most of his hair.  He had on a grey suit, fancy looking very expensive.  His eyes were focused, but cold looking.  I was still inshock at seeing him, maybe If I hadn't been I might have noticed something strange.  Glen, he thought that Robert had won the elottery!  That our nightmare had come to an end.

  Roy it was that burst out laughing and rushed over to him.  The others all followed but I held back, not really sure why.  He smiled and his teeth were pearl white.  They seemed to glow in the dark.

'Where did you get this?', 'where have you beemn?', 'are you rich?'.  Questions everybody asking him, all the time running their fingers over his suit.  They must hav ebeen leaving dirt marks but he did seem to care.  Just kept smiling all the time.  Shaking everybodys hand.  He was like some sort of angel, sent to deliver us. 

  Then, finally, when every one had calmed down and waited for him to speak, to say something.

'Well?' Glen asked him.  And he looked at us, with that same cold look, like we were cattle and he said one word. 


She gulped and reached up to her throat, as if a scarf was too tight.

'He pulled out his knife then.  This big long sharp thing.  Even in the edark it refklected light.  It looked new and maybe he bought it ot owned it first.  I don't know.  Glen was the efirst to die.  His whole head came off in a single sweep.  Even then, nobody ran.  It was like we couldn't fathom it.  Couldn't belive it.  Us, of all people who knew that life can easily be kind and fair at the same time, but nobody ran.  We just watched Glens body fall to the ground, blood spilling every where.  Then he killed Anne.  That got people moving.  But slowly.  All too slowly.

  He didn't even run.  Just walked briskly, killing and stabbing.  Glynis, harold, then I wasnext.  I turned round and looked at his face.  But he didn't stap me.  He held the eknife up, but instead of killing me he grabbed my arm and threw me against the wall.  I think I broke my hip when I landed.  Such force!  It was inhuman how strong he was.  Roy was the elast of us and I thought he might make it, might get out of the etunnel.  Why I thought the daylight would save him I don't know.  He made it out, shouting and screaming.  Alan just walked out after him, dragged him back and killed him.  And that was it.

  My friends, my family, everything I knew to be my life, gone, in less than 2 minutes.  But he wasn't finished.'

Another racking cough came from her chest, more bloody phlem.  I though that she didn't have long left.

'He went round each of the ebodys and gutted them open.  Then he removed their hearts.  He had a small leather bag which he unbuttoned before placing it carefully in.  That's what really puzzled me.  The care he took.  Like they were still beating, still alive.  He went round all of them, the same procedure.  Cut the heart out, open the ebag, place it in then close it again.

  After he did all of them, I thought I would be his final victim.  Perhaps something even worse.  He threw the kinfe on the eground, still shining but coverded in blood now.  And he walked by me.  I thought he might have forgoten about me or maybe even just wanted me to live and see his work.

  But he stopped and turned round.  Then he walked towards me.  He kneeled down and leant in close.  I could smell his aftershave, alomstmasking the coppery smell of blood, but not quite.  He leaned in closer, until his lips were brushing against my ear.  And he whispered.  'Your daughter is dead' then leant back and smiled.  He picked up a body and started laughing before throwing ot on top of me.  I didn't even try to move it.  I just cried and cried.  There was something in his voice, I knew he was telling the etruth, and I felt more gutted than any knife could have done.  He didn't even look back.  Just walked out, with his bag of hearts and leaving a trail of blood.  The sunlight swallowed him up and he was gone…'

  We stood in silence, looking at Mary, her chalk with face.  I feared we had reduced her life span by making her tell her tale.  Rob looked white himself.  I took in the scene, reliving it and recreatingi t in my mind.  You could see how it had unfolded.  Alice simply held alices hand and looked into her face.  She seemed peaceful uintil you glanced at her eyes.  They were livid.  Furious even.  I wondered if shee blamed herself, because she let King live.  This would have never have happened. 

  Mary's breathing was becoming more laboured, morew wheezing.

  Alice squeezed her hand.  'Mary, listen to me.'

  Mary eyes were half closed and she seemed to be moaning to herself. 

'Mary.  Listen.'  She slapped her lightly on thecheek and marys eyes focused.  'Mary, your daughter is alive.  She has a husband called Frank and a son called Tony.  They don't earn lots of money, but they are happy and in love'

Mary shook her head.  'No, thet're not.  You didn't see his face, his smile.'

'Mary, look into my eyes and tell me if I'm lying.'

Mary looked and Alice didn't open her eyes any wider, but they seemed deeper.  Lazer beams don't have that intensioty.

Marys eyes widened.  'It's true.  It realy is.  She'd alive.  But Alan..'

'Alan King is a liar.  It really is that simple.  He is a liar and a thief.  And  iwill make him pay for this.  For everything that he has done'

Mary nodded and started to drift off.  'Tony…' she shaid with a ghost of a smile before her head leaned slowly onto her shoulder.

  Alice held onto her hand until she was sure she was gone.

  That's when I saw the shadow.

  It was like an optical illuision, water running over shaped glass.  I looked as it seemed to drift thriough the ewall.  Every so often it would seem to appear, then crackle and fade, like a bad televison reception.  It looked like a person in a long cloak.  If I looked to closely at it I tseemed to dissapear.

  Alice glanced up and saw it as well,but took no real heed of it.  Rob was looking in an entirely different direcion, no awareness of it at all.  The shadow moved closer and merged into the wall.  It crouched next to mary and Alice nodded at it then looked back at Mary.

  The figures arms became more defined and I caught the ghost of a face.  It seemd to be a man, pale whiote and see through.  His eyes were vibrant blue though and seemed to hover slighly in front of his face.  He reached into his cloak, all the time shimmering and wavering, and pulled out a tiny needle.  That seemed solid as tye bricjwork surrounding us. 

  Mary took a couple more deep breaths, before unleashing a coughing fit.  Her face turned ahen white and she croaked something, but I twas impossible to make out. 

  Th eshadow moved forward and pricked Mary slightly.  Then he put the needle back int his cloak and walked away, dissapearing after a couple of steps completely.

  Mary let out one last breath, more of a sigh than anything and slumped slighly against the wall.  Her couloyur drained completely and her eyes took on a glasy sheen.  She was gone, at peace at last.

Alice gave her hand a final squeeze and laid it on her chest.

  She stood up and faced me and Rob.  Her eyes were dry, but only the blind could not have seen the intent and conflicting emotions in there.  Sadness mixed with a furious anger.

'Lets go' she said.  We walked away from the etunel, the rumblings of trains overhead and into sunlight.




  After we had walked out we all stood in silence, slighly unsude and wary.  I didn't know what to say, especially to Rob.  He thought we weer still pursuing a mugger who had taken nonexistatnt comp[uter cards.  Instead he had found himself on the etrail of a serial killer who wasn't slow at cutting people up.  He stared at the sun, now lower than it had been since we had started out on this day.

  The heat was still opresive though and the possibly of hot night seemed likely.

'I'll get the ecar' said Rob quitely.  His face had a numb look on it, like after you visit a dentist and he injects you with anesthteic.  I couldn't blame him.  IO gave his shoulder a squeeze and he walked of.

  All around us, there seemed to be no movement.  No shouts or laughter, no people walking around at all.  I could easily belive we had been in that tunnel for years.  The only noise penetrating through the calm was the erattle of trains and air horns fron the estation behind us.




After Rob came back with the car we drove off, aimlessly, watching people walking into bars and restraunts, dressed up for evening wear, ebtertainment and laughter guaranteed.  Not in this car though.

  I was genuinely at the end of my tether.  King had dissapeared into the night after playing Jack the Ripper and we had no idea where he was.  Rob was traumatised and Alice was doing her spooky 'Phone home' thing where she stared into space.

  The time had come to tell Rob the truth.  It wasn't fair on him.  Especially if his life was going to be in danger.  He deserved to know the truth.

'Rob, pull over'

He nodded and drove on for a good 200 yards before finding a place to park.  He turned round to look at me.  'Let's get a drink' I said.

  He smiled sadly, but It was a smile none the eless.

Alice came out of her trance.  'Why are we stopping?  Is Rob felling alright?'

I opened my door.  'I'll tell you in the pub'




  The pub was called Hogshead.  It had a victorian theme going on, with cobbles on the floor and old style candles to light the place.  It wasn't to busy, though with the shocking low prices on alchohol, I suspected that a swarm of students would soon be descending.

I bought a round of drinks (using Alices 'magic money') and three whisky shots.

  We sat at a table in the corner, looking at our drinks.

I picked up my shot of whiskey and urged the others to do the same.

'To mary.'

'To Mary' said Rob and Alice.

We slugged our whiskey back and put slammed them back on the bar.

'Okay, Rob, there are a few things I want to tell you'

Alice gave me a warning look and I stared right back at her.  The time had come to tell Rob.'And you might not belive me.  Might even be offended by what I'm going to tell you.  But I assure you it's the truth.  And if you want to leave, then fine.  No hard feelings at all.'  He stared at his pint, not saying anything.  'Rob?  Did you hear me?'

'Yes' he looked up,' and I don't want to know'

I looked at Alice quickly then back at Rob.  'You don't wabt to know?'

'Nope.  I've suspected something weird has been going on since we brought your cousin in.  But, truthfully, I don't want to know.'

I was slightly surprised.  I know if I had been in Robs position, I would have been curious as hell.  And there was maybe a slightly selfish streak in me as well.  I wanted to tell my tale to somebody.  Have them be shocked and stunned.  It's not every day that you're handed the keys to the universe.

'Your life could be in danger' said Alice

He took a drink of his pint.  'You can never be truly safe on this world anyway.'

We sat in silence.

Rob spoke up.'  Listen, all I want to know is if we find this guy, what's going to happen to him.'

Alice looked at him levely.  'He will die.'

Rob nodded.  'Then I still want to help.  I want to find him.' He looked at me.  'What you were saying about the computer cards.  Was that bullshit?'


'I thought so.'

'But I really do need to find this guy.  My life does depend on it.  And that is no exagarration.'

He looked at me, in my eyes.  'Okay, I belive you.  I belived you about that before.  I knew you had to find this guy.  It was just the computer cards thing.  You never could lie'

I shrugged.

'What the hell is a computer card anyway?' he said, a hale grin on his face.

I took it to mean that we were friemds again and a sense of tension was washed away.

'Hell, I don't know, I thought it sound technically advanced.'

'I think I heard it on Startrek once.'

We drank from our pints smiling.  It was amazing the amount of pressure I felt on me drop away.  The problem was still there.  Find Alan King.  But having friends with you.  I dunno, it just seemed to make things more feasible, more possible. 

The pub was strating to fill up now.  Still enough tables and chairs for people to sit on, but there was a good crowd in now.  The background chatter had risen and there was a sense of enjoyment, optimism.  It was good.

  Alice had zoned out again.  She had been doing it more and more frequently.  I wasn't sure if she had lots more information to hear or was simply bored with me and Rob.

  'What's that about when she does the zen ninja thing?'

I decided to be honest.  'She's in conversation with Gods second in command'

He mulled over this.  'Cool.'

We talked about trivial things while we waited for Alice to come back to earth.  Football, drink women, football, more football and possibly some football.

I sensed Alice change her body language and she was back with us.

'Hi guys'

She seemed to have heard me tell Rob about her, because she was no longer pretending to be meditating.

'So you were really talking to Heaven'

She looked at me and I drank from my pint, but she knew that Rob was not going to be lied to anymore.

'Basically, yes'

'And what did Heaven have to say' I asked

'Good news.  For a change'

She reached into her handbag and pulled out the brown dossier.  She flicked straight to the back and pulled out a asheet paper.  Turning it around slightly so me Rob could see, she went down the elist with her finger.

Writing was apearing magicaly on the epaper like wotds appearing a on a computer screen.  I had seen it before, but I tstill looked strange, off putting slightly.

  Rob looked on with a gormless expression on hios face (not that it would be difficult I thought unkindly to my self).

  She scrolled down the document untuil near the end.  2Ahha'

'Ahaha what?'

'She folowed the paragrapgh which was writing furiously as if trying to keep ahead of her finger.  2Listen'

She looked around  and behind the etables first.  There wasn't much actrivity in front of us, but to the right of us was a crowd of 20 something guys, out for a big night and reather loud.

  She clicked her fingers and suddenly all noise ceased. 

'What did you do?' asked Rob lookeing around us and fingering his ear.  His voice seemeed to echo in the esilence.

'Just giving us a litle privacy. Now listen.  A man named Bill Dixon was assaulted..No wait, will be assaulted later on tonight at 10 past 2 in the morning.  He's a bouncer at a club called Pear City.'

'Yeah' nodded Rob, 'it's up on Sauchicihall street.  It's fucking near impossible to get in.  Bloody snobs'

Alice nodded.  2Yes, well Dixon is a bouncer at that club.  And the man who will assault him sounds a lot like our boy.  Tux, short hair and a strange limp.  He also smelled of smoke and apparently tried to rip the emans heart out with his hands.'

'This is great!'

They looked at me.

'Well, obviously not for Poor Bill here.  But if this is Kingm then we have a good chance of spotting him and catching him.  ' I slammed my fist into my palm, to indicate my point physically.  Also, I had seen it on cop programmes when they solve the case.'So we go to this club'

'If we can get in' said Rob Gloomily

'And we stake out the dance floor we're bound to get him'

Assuming this is king' warned Alice.  'It sounds like him, it probably is him, but we can't be sure 100%'

So what do you think we should do?'

She paused.  'We keep looking for him.  Rob, when does the club open?'

'About 11.00.  But they probably won't ley anybody in until 12.30.  I'm telling you, it's a wonder they make any money at all from that place.'

She shook her head.  'Don't worry about getting in.  Right now I think our best bet is to cruise the streets.  The sun must be gone by now, so he might be feeling cocky.'

All of a sudden her bag started to shake.

Rob looked at it with something like alarm.  'What the hell is that?'

'Calm down, it's just my beeper'

'It looks like it's going to take off!'

She reached in and took out a black beeper.

'Hey, what happened to the pamphlet?' I asked.

She looked slightly embarressed.  'Yeah, well I wasn't really thinking straight earlier.  I'm still an old fashioned type of girl.  To my mind, that was the best way to convey information to me.  But the longer I've spent in this world, the more I'm learning.  So, instead of a sheet of paper, I have a beeper.  With modifications of course'

'Of course'

She was looking at it and a green glow eminated fronm the screen, displaying faint scrolls of writing on her face.

'Alice, when where you born' I asked, genuinely curiious

She gave a half smile and waved her hand, but she looked slightly embarrsessed.  I had the feeling I had commited an afterlife faux pas.

'Listen, I've got some more info.  Seems a poice report was recorded of a tuxedo being stolen from a house and a woman being terrorised.  She's still alive, but shaken up.'

'So that's where he must have stolen his clothes' said Rob.

'Yes.  I'm thinking maybe we should pay her a visit'

I finished of my beer and looked at her sceptically.  'It will be quite hard.  There will probably be lots of coppers.  We'd never get into see her.  In fact, we'd be lucky not to get arrested ourselves.

She leaned over and picnched my cheek giving it a shake. 'Don't worry so much Paul.  Don't you have trust in me?'

'Not much' I muttered into my pint.

'What was that?' she asked sharply

'Nothing, nothing' I lied over my pint.




We drove through the streets of Glasgow as pubs and clubs turned on their neon signs, winking on and off like a lavacious hooker.  The sun had fully gone now but the sky was still that deep blue colour, like looking at the ocean from miles above, giving a strange feeling of vertigo.

  Alice looked atat her beeper, her face illuminated green again, but also orange by the dashbopard of the car.  She gave instructions to Paul and after a 15 minute drive we arrived in Milngavie.

  The houses were extremely large on this street.  Every house appeared to have three floors or more.  Huge bay windows spilt warm light on to perfectly manicured lawns.  Ocassionaly a ripple on the garden would reveal large ponds or pools.  The rumour was Samantha Frost lived somewhere in Milingavie, though other people said she had various homes throughout the country if not the world, but no one actually said where her income came for these numerous bodes.

  We drove down the street slowly, necks craning back to try and see the tops of mini mansions until we turned the corner on the street.

  Blue lights flashed down the bottom of the street, flashing off window panes and the faces of gawkers looking out their homes at this unwelcome presence of real life.  People come here to get away from robbery and murder.  It would be remembered that 23 sycamore Lane had brought police and press to the area.  It would be remembered they had ruined the perfectly constructed dream of a bubble of a perfect subabrban life.  If the family had any children then they would become forbidden from asscoiating with other familys.  The house would be in coventry for now until the family moved.  Alan King spreading more mayhem.

  Rob slowed his car until we crawling along.

  We could see at least 3 police cars and a van parked untidly on or besides the garden.  The lights seemed to be on in every room in the house.  Lots of people milled about the house, walking in and out, looking officious and busy.

  'What are we going to do' asked rob in a strained voice.  The car was creeping along now, it's engine whispering, as if we were snaking up on the scene,trying not to be noticed.

Alice looked straight ahead.  'Don't worry about a thing.  Just follow my lead and please don't have a surprised look on your face when strange stuff starts to happen.  You've hung around me long enough to know that strange shit happens from time to time.'  She turned to look at me.  'And that goes for you too.'

I held my hands up.  'Hey, I'm a regular De Niro'

She turned round and told Rob to pull over a couple of feet from the police car.

He turned of the engine and we got out.

And things changed.

It wasn't painful and it wasn't quite sudden.  A strange tingle feeling crept over me, like a bad case of the shivers or pins and needles.

Whatever it was, it passed after a couple of seconds.  Then I realsied me and Rob hadn't changed in the slightest.

Neither had Alice.

I thought she was going to make us detectives or FBI types.  But nothing.  Perhaps we were invisible?

We walked past the police car, it's window rolled down and radio squawks coming from the CB.

A man walked up to us and stopped us.

'Thank christ you're here' He said, sweat dripping of his brow.  It was still hot for this time of night, but I felt that the stress if the situation was getting to him.

'Sorry we're late said Alice.  She pointed her thumb at Rob.  'He got lost'

The man looked over at Rob and gave him a sympathetic nod.  'Don't worry kid.  This place isd like a labyrinth.'  He turned back to Alice.  'Mrs Patterson is waiting in the kitchen.  She's quite upset'

'Don't worry, I've done this a few times now.'

Of course, sir, I didn't mean, that is -'

She put a hand on his shoulder.  'You've done a sterling job.  Let us handle it now.'

He looked relived to pass the buck and I felt sorry for him that he hadn't passed anything at all.  Once we left, he was going to have a lot of questions to answer.

  I also thought that he wasn't quite seeing us.  For one thingm he kept on looking above my head as if I was half a foot taller.  The same was for Rob, but he looked at his chest.  Some thing was going on.

Alice caught me and Robs attention and beckoned us to follow her.  Rob in particular hadn't said a thing for the past 10 minutes.  He was sweating even more the policeman and his shirt was soaked.  He seemed to be more nervous now than under the tunnel as if he expected our little ruse to collapse at any moment.  Perhaps he was right to be so nervous because I had no idea what was happening.  Alice had never displayed powers like these before.

  We walked on, nodding at officers who nodded back and entered the house.

  The house had obviously been involved in a fight.  And lost.  Furniture was overturned or outright broken.  Pictures hung crooked on the walls, which itself was covered in a substance that hadn't dried enough yet to not be immediately noticeable as blood. 

  We found the woman inside the l;iving rom, surrounded by chaos.  The carpet had large black marks indicating burn marks and a crude shape which might have been a pentagon was drawn with paint.  She sat on a couch and grasped a cup of tea like it was her life line with both hands.

  A female officer was crouched down, talking softly to her.  Alice walked over to her and murmured something I couldn't hear.  The woman nodded, patted the other lady on the knee and walked out leaving us alone.

  The only sound was the occasional siren and the whit-whit of the blue and red lights flashing through the windows, giving the room a nightclub feel.

  Alice sat down directly in front of the woman and raised her chin slowly so she was looking directly into her eyes.  The woman protested at first but gradually raised her face and looked at Alice with watery red eyes.

'Hello' said Alice in a velvet voice.  'We are here to help.  We mean you no harm.  But we would like you to  tell us what happened.  So we can catch the man who did this.'

Her voice was hypnotic, like a snakecharmer.

The woman nodded and began her tale.  It was suprisingly short.

A man, Alan King, had broken into her house.  He was carrying a bag of meat and was very polite to her.  He asked her if he might borrow on of her husbands suits.  She said yes.  He took the tuxedoo.  During the entire exchange he insisited he accompany him and held a knife at all times.  Then he apologised and said he was going to have to ruin her carpet.  She said she didn't mind, though she did, but you don't argue with knife carrying man.

  Hw drew a pentagon with paint and took out 7 hearts which he placed in stragitic points in the symbol.  Then he chanted for about 10 minutes, sitting crosslegged in the middle, the knife still in his hand.  Then she said she wasn't sure what happened.

 The air went blurry and suddenly the hearts were on fire.  She screamed for the first time there, but he didn't take any notice.  The pentagon seemed to glow, then it vaished, along with the hearts leaving only black burnmarks.

  The man sat in the middle and looked quite puzzled.  Then he got angry.  He sytarted throwing things around, kicking things over threatening to kill her if she didn't tell him why it hadn't worked.  She hid behind the sofa while King raged and screamed.  She thinks he might have forgotten about her beacause the next thing she heard was the smsh of a window then silence.

  When she looked out again her house was empty, the only signs he had been her was the ruined furniture, a smoky smell and her fragile disposition.  Then she phone the police.

  She said all of the above in a singsong hypnotic voice and  when Alice stood up and stepped back she still had that valium stare.

'What now?' I asked.

'She can't tell us anymore' said Alice.  'Lets go to the car and I'll tell you'

We left.




No one botrhered us as we left.  The whammy or whatever Alice had done was still working.  We got in the car and Rob drove off, clearly relived.

'Why were you so nervous?' I asked.

'Because I've got a large quantity of dope in my right hand pocket and if something went wrong I wasn't going to be to chuffed if I got additional time to my jail sentence'

A;ice rubbed his shoulders.  'Relax, why don't you trust me?'

Rob wiped his eyes and forehead.  'I'll tell you what I trust.  When I turn on the television and pictures appear.  When I flick a switc and the light comes on.  When I fall down and cut my self, I feel pain.  When I drink lots of Vodka, I throw up.  These are things I can trust, these are things I like.  With you…it's the great unknown.'

'Some people would say that's my best quality.'

'I'm all for the unpredictable, but this Twilight zone shit is getting out of hand'

She looked at him and her expression was unreadable.

Rob glanced at her.  'Actualy I'm not a huge fan of throwing up, but I've made my point'

I stepped into the converstaion.  'So what went on exactly in that womans house.'

'Did no one get her name?' said Rob.

'Does it matter?' asked Alice.

Rob shrugged.

She turned to face me.  'It's pretty much what she said.  He came into her house to steal some clothes.  Then he performed the ceromony that will give him power and help pave the way to opening a gate to hell.'


'But it didn't work.  He forgot that he needs a final ingrediant.'

'Which is?'

'I'm not sure yet.  I don't think he's even sure yet.  He's probably working on instinct.  But we can't afford to take the chance that he'll find out.'

'Where to next then?' asked Rob.

'Now we go clubbing'




Planet Mars had a huge neon sign above it's doors.  It showed dancers on top of mars boogieing away and winking.  It was the biggest sign in the whole of the street and it's pink and yellow lights illuminated everything down the entire street.  It was tacky, tasteless and worst of all cheesy.  And it drew clubbers like moths to the flame.

  The cue to get in was already round the corner and it was only 11.00.

  Rob had parked his car in some office block carpark ('for executives only' read the sign on the wall) and we walked round.  We scanned the cue quickly for anysign of King but he wasn't to be seen.

'Do yiou think he'll be in here?' I said.

'All the probabilities say he will be.  There's no 100% guarantee but it's the best lead we've got.'

Rob was sweating this time, though not because he was carrying soft drugs around with him (he'd left the bag under a bush where a scavenging dog would find it and gulp them down.  It would wander the streets in a daze before creashing out under a bridge and waking up with a strange headache.), but because this was Planet Mars and it was almost impossible to get into.

  It was incredioble to think anyone was actually inside so many people were being turned away, and the one's that got rejected simply went to the back of the cue and hoped thay bouncers really did have shortterm memory.

'This is mission impossible' grumbled Rob to him self. 

Alice had created a whole new wardrobe for me and Rob.  We were both wearing top of the line shirts and trousers that hopefully made us look very wealthy and upperclass.  Alice was wearing a very short dress that all but guaranteed her entry in.

We went to the back of the cue and prepared to wait.

'Can't you simply do your thing on them, hypnotise them to let us in?' I said

'Alice turned round to look at the couple looking at us and smiled before elbowing me viciously in the ribs.

'A bit louder please.'


'And no' she whispered, 'I can't do that thaing.  On acouple of people, maybe three, but not three huindred'

'Christ, is that how many people are in this cue?'

'311 to be exact'

'And we're at the very back' Rob moaned.


'Oh God, we're never going to get in.'

I continued to scan for King.  He might actuallt already be inside or maybe he would come later.  If he came at all.  I began to feel as miserable as Rob.

  The que moved suprisingly quickly considering it size.  There was never a momnet when you could actually just stand still.  You were always shuffling forward, some times slowly, sometimes almost walking speed.  It was quite worrying actually because the Bouncers must have been knocking folk back with a single glance, either ending their night or sending them to the back of the que for another shot.  Bouncer logic resembles no known form in this universe.

  We were twp thitds of the way there when Rob cracked.

'I can't' he said, 'I can't get in.'

'You will' soothed Alice rubbing his arm.

'I can't. you don't understand.  Even if I had 2 blondes on each of my arms and enough money to rebuild  a scale model of the Tiotanioc, I will not get in.  They'll see through me.  I'm not a Planet Mars patron.  I never have been'

'Look at me' I said.  'When the hell have I ever been a regular member of their club?'

'Yeah, I know, but you've got your cool 'I'm dead' attitude going gor you and some spooky afterlife powers shit.  I've good nothing apart from some contacts in the supermarket shelf business.  I can't get in.  I'll get us all knocked back.  I'd better leave you'se to it.'

Alice grabbed his arm.  'Rob we need you in their.  Theirs going to be over 10.000 folk in poorly lit nightclub.  We need another set of eyes in there'

'I want to help.  But I won't get in'

She shook her head.  'I didin't want to do this.' She looked straight into his eyes.

'Do what?' he asked.

'Nothing' She said and rubed his arm with a smile.

'How you feeling man?' I asked.

'Cool.  You?'


'Cool' he said and started snapping his fingers and singing a song to himself while he eyed up women.

I reaised my eyebrows at Alice in that silent code we had invented which said 'What the hell have you done to him?'

She raised her's back which said, 'He's calm and cool and it's only temporery so stop moaning' or it might have said, 'Turn around because we're nearly at the door'.

I turned and found myself face to face with the biggest bouncer I had ever seen.

His tuxedoo seemed to be painted on it was so tight.  You felt that if he even moved a muscle to raise his finger the hole suit would give up and tear at the seems.

'Where have you been tonight sir' he asked in a Rumble of thunder type voice.

'Just at my friends house'

'Have you been drinking?'

'No sir'

He stared at me for a good ten seconds before saying, 'Not tonight sir'

I stared at jhim blankly, before Alice popped up next to me and said.  'He's with me Alister.'

He looked at her blankly and I could tell he was either super intelligent and the whammy wasn't working or he was too dumb for it.  I didn't like to speculate.

They stared at each othe for so long that another bouncer waded over.

'Anything wong?' he asked, his chubby hands turning into fists with knuckles that stull had scabs on them that hadn't quite healed.

They contuinuedto stare at each other for a few more seconds.

'No' he said.  'Nothing wrong'.  He opened the door 'enjoy your night'

'Thank you said Alice

I just starred straight ahead and walked in.

Then I remembered about Rob.

'Shit, What about Rob'

'What about Rob?' said Rob right behind me.

'How'd you get in' I said startled.

'Not a problem.  You just have to know how to read the bouncers.  Here, I'll pay us in you go on ahead and get me adrink.  A bottle of beer if you please.'

We took our tickets handed them over to security who gave us a quick search ( I winced when they looked in Alices hand bag but there was nothing in it.  More magic) and we walked up the stairs.

The ligts started to dim as you got higher and the musice got a lot louder.

We open the last door and we were in.




  The dance floor was huge and though it was early, it was already filled with people gyrating and dancing to songs.  The bass was so heavy I could feel my teeth judder, but it was infectious.  There was a feel of animal insticts, just get up and dance.  But we had other matters.

  I looked around and saw there was three levels all with bars and tables and hideholes.  I also realsied how hard this was going to be.

  'How the hell are we going to find him?' I shouted

'Qwe'll find him.  First of all, we get a drink though' and she walked to the bar.

  Rob joined us just as she was getting sreved.

'This place is great!' shouted Rob.

'Yeah!' I screamed

Alice came back with the beers and while she handed them over she touched my and Robs ears.

'What was the for!' I yelled then realsied that there was almost silence when I talked.

'Just a little gift to make things easer' she said in a quiet voice that I understood perfectly.

It was like somebody turned down a volume control everl time we talked.

'Cool!' shouted Rob and it sounded deafeneing.

'Sto shouting!' I shouted an dRob winced as did I.  Alice just smiled.

We waled over to a high table and stood, just looking around, feet tapping unconciously to tunes.

'Whats the plan' Rob said carefully in a comically restrained voice.

Alice sucked Bacardi breezer up her straw and pointed to the dance floor. 

'I want you to check out the fllor all night'

'Cool' said Rob. 

He was about to leave when she pulled him back.  'Remember what he looks like and she looked in his eyes.

He stared blankly for a second before nodding.  'Got it'

He said and with thatfinished his beer, smiled at us and went out on the dance floor.

'What the hell did you do to him?  He never dances by himself.  He never dances at all in fact'

'I just gave him some confidence.  The high he's on the now will wear off, but the feeling will be remebered and might help him out.

I took a sip of my beer.  'What abot us.'

'You stay on this floor.  I'll take the top two levels.  Well meet back here in, say, an hour'

'What about Rob.'

'I'd rather he stayed out on the dance floor.  It's the biggest ground to cover and right now I can see what he sees so I'm not going to mis anything.'

'Fair eniough' I put my beer down and was about to walk away when she pulled me back.

She kissed me on the lips for a few seconds then pulled back.

'What was that for.'

'For luck' she said with a smile.

I returned her smile and walked away, looking for trouble.




  The first person I saw was not Alan King.  Neithetr was the next.  Or the coplue after them.  And so on.

It wasn't that I expected to find him straightaway.  But I didn't even know if he was in here or not.  That was the really frustrating thing.  But I wandered round looking, always looking.  I saw Rob fron time to tiome, sweat dripping of him dancing aaway but never with the same person of same spot.  Always moving round.  I caught a glimpe of Alice leaning over a bannister ob the top floor looking down .  She didn't see me, but she reminded me of a watchtower, scanning on the ground with a light for escaped prisoners .

  I checked my watch and saw it was time to meet up and swap stories.  That was when I saw death.  Not Alice.  But the person who had replaced her, the person who had taken Mary.

  He moved quickly from person to person, pausing then moving on.  His progress was jerky, like frames cut from a film.  He paused over one guy for  a long time before toucjing him then moved on before dissaperaing.

  The gut syayed silent for a second before reanimating and continuiing his conversation.  But he didn't die.  Noyt yet anyway. 

He was quite fat and had the look of more than a few unhelathy dinners on a regular schedule.  But It still din't gfeel right.  He had been marked for death and didn't even know it.  I wondered how long he had left.  I wondered if Alice did that.

  I walked back to the table slightly spooked and found Alice sitting waiting for me with  two drinks.

'Thouight you might be thirsty' she said.

'yeah, thanks' I said quietly

'Where have you been' she tapped her watch mockingly.  '1.00 , remember?'  '

I take it you didn't see anyting?' I asked.

'Nope.  You?'

No…but I did see something'.  I told her about death and how it ws touching certain people.

She nodded.

'What's it doing though'

'Exactly what you though.  Marking them, reminders if you like that this person doesn't have long to live.'

'how long are we talking about?'

'A couple of days.  Maybe longer'

'What should we do?  Should we tell them, let them know.  Maybe try and get them to stop what they're going to do'

'And what would you say.  You're going to die in two days, want a beernut?  See how far you get with that strategy'

2it's not funny.  These people are going to be dead by Tuesday'

'Yes, but it's not our place to stop them.  They've made the decisions that lead them to this.  Poor eating, not enough exercise, simple dumb bad luck.  It's the way of the world.  Everybody dies.  These people are dying earlier than most, but ultimatly every one is one the same train.  They are just a few stations along the line.'

'I don't know, it doesn't feel right'

She laid her hand on mine.  'It's not supposed to feel right.  If it did you wouldn't be human' sye gave me a symatheric smile and I nodded.

'Alright, I'm not going to do anything stupid.' Not this time anyway.  'So, we keep looking.'

'Yes, though I'm wondering if he's going to show.  I checked in with tehcaretaker and theres no new news.  This is still our best shot'

'What about Rob?'

She grinned slyly.  'He's kissed two girls and got three numbers, but no sign of King.'

I smiled. 'Well at least somebodys having a good time.'

 'lets start searching' she said.




  It was 2.50 and the club shut at 3.00  they closed their doors at 1.30 so if he wasn't in by that time, then he simply wasn't here.  I saw death a few more times and never failed to get unnerved by him.  Once he seemed to notice I was seeing him and came right up to me, dark hood and cowl snaking through the crowd.  He looked at me for a few seconds with something like curiosity before moving on.

  But I didn't see King. 

I walked onto the dance floor and got Robs attention.  His shirt was absolutely soakedand his hair was plastered to his face,  He also had various phone numbers scrawled on his arms and bare chest.  I hoped he had a good memory though as most were smudged or simply vanished with sweat.

  We walked over to the usual table and he collapsed in the chair. 

Alice appeared with water.

'You must have read my mind' said Rob, gulping down half of it before pouring the rest over his head.

'Almost' alice said quietly.

'so you's never seen him.'

We shook our heads.

'Jeez, I'm sorry pal.  There's still tomorrow though yeah?'

I nodded, but inside I felt gutted.  I wanted this finish, now.  Patience was never one of strong suits.  Plus the amount of people was in direct contrast to the Foundations, where I might end up if we didn't get this solved.

  Rob buttened up his soddem shirt.

'Come on'  I said, 'lets go'

We walked acoss the dance floor, which was rapidly emptying.  Only coules and those who had snagged a partner were left.

  We weaved in and out as they danced or kissed lost in their own world.  One couple drifted into the side of me. 

'Sorry pal' I said

He looked at me and I saw it was the fat guy.  I smiled sadly at him and gave him a pat on the shoulder.  2Well done' I said.  'Enjoy your life'

He looked at me puzzledly and I walked away, Alices eyes glaring into my back.

  I rushed across the dance floor and bumped ibto another couple.

'Sorry pal' I said and ewalked on, just wanting to get away from this place. It depressed me.  Then I stopped.

  I turned around and looked straight into the eye sof the man who had killed me.  Alan King.

  We stayed frozen like that for a second.

 Then he grabbed the blond girl he was with and threw her at me.  We tumbled to the floor.

'ItS him!' I shouted at the top of my voice.  'It's fucking him!'

He darted across the dance floor to the door.

  Al;ice was first to see him and ran after him followed by Rob and then me after I had untangled myself from the girl.

'What's going on she said!'

2Sorry, no time to explain' and I ran after them as if my ife depended on it.




He didn't run blindly as I thought he might bun straight for the fire exit.  No crowds to navigate there.

  A security guard was in front of the door and noticed the connotion.

'Hey, hold it right there'

King ran toward him, grabbed his face and stuck his thumb in one of his eyes.  The guards dropped to the floor, screaming in pain.  Bouncers ran over jus tas king opend the fire door.

  It activated a red light and siren.  We followed through followed by at least 2 bouncers.

  The door led on to a stair well and Kind raced down it.  We followed , our shoes clattering loudly on the cold concrete.  Stark lighting made us look washed out and gave the chase a biazarre feel.

  I felt a hand grab my shirt, but it slipped under my sweat.  I risked a quick glance round and saw that the 2 bouncers had nearly coaught up with me.  They moved incredib;y fast for people so big.  It looked like they wanted revenge on someone, anyone for the secutiry guard.

  I raced on faster not sure now if I was the chasee or the chased.

  King reached ground level and  raced towards another door.  This one had a large padlock on it though, which to mind was highly illegal but meabt King was trapped.

No such luck.  Without even dropping his pace he changed his angle and hit the door with his shoulder.  It should have held.  It was a thick iron door, held fastend with big hinges and a large bolt and lock.

  It help for a fraction of a second before the entire door exploed oit into the night wiot ha fury of wood splinters and tangled pieces of metal.

  The door sailed over the road in a an arc and landed straight into a clothes shop window, decapiataing a dummy and shattering  glass everywhere.

  People walking by screamed as the shops alarm started blaring in conjuction this the clubs.  The street was awash with neon light frowm the sign and red and blue alarms.

  Not that we were standing around watching all this.  King didn't even slow when he hit the door.  He turned right and started running even faster.

  Alice shot out the door first, her foot wear changed from high heels into a pair of white trainers.  Rob was next, whis wet hair shirt streaming out behind him.

  I was out last and took a small second to survey the damage before rocketing after them.  Incredibly the bouncers kept after me.  They must have been carrying 3 times my body ewight each yet they kept pace with me.  I guess they really wanted to give me a kicking.

  We ran, this strange group part crowds of people staring at us, drunk or on drugs, enjoying the chase.  I was worried that someone might try to do the 'right' thing and make a citizens arest and tackle me so I changed to the road.  The cars had pretty much stopped with the destruction sprayed across the road and one truck had had to mahe an emergency stop causing his trailers to skid across the road and onto the pavement. 

 I darted rioght and ran across the road alost to the other side to get past the truck.

  When ireached the other side I was alone, because King, Alice and Rob were no wre to be seen.  The bouncers were still with me.

  I ran on, chased , and rewound the last 10 seconds in my head.

  They must have turned left and gone up Cotton street.  Shit!  And now I was going in the entirely opposire direction, hunted down by two large burly men.

  I ran straight down the road, turned left at the junction, ran on the path bevausue the traffice was busier on thios road., turned left again and kept running.

  My afterlife body was a hell of a lot fitter and superpowerd to a degree, but I COPULDN'T KEEP THIS PACE FOR EVER.  I glanced round and saw one bouncer had fallen back, but the younger one was still keeping uo with me.  He wasn't shouting anyting, just focussed on. Me.

  We ran, out reflections keeping pace in office windows until I reached the junction.  I turnd left and found myself onceagain saring at the truck and trailer gone askew.  Running round a block of offices to get me back where I had started had cost me at least 5 minutes.  All because of one wrong decision.  God knew where Alice and the rest were.

  As I ran closer, the alarms got louder and I crossed onto the pave ment ready to try and catch up as best I could, though I din't have a clue wheter they went left or right or straight on at the next junction.

  A screech of tiers alerted me to the car racing towards me then I was in the headlights.  I froze for a second befiore jumping out of the way.  The car, a new mercedesbenz roared down the hill and seemed tgo werve towards me before flashing by.  I caught a glimpse of the driver and saw a face.  King.  Shit!  I had no chance of keeping up with him.

  The car shot part the stricken trailer with inches to spare before squealing doen the road on the wrong side if the street.

  The Bouncer was catching up on me but seemed a bit wary now after nearly being hit by the car.  I couldn't run anymore anyway.  Fuck it.  Let him beat me up.

  Then another car skidded round the corner and I recognised Robs car.

  He raced down the hill spotted me and pulled clumsly over,m the door opening .

  'Get In!' he shouted and I dived in, the car barely slowling.  The door slammed shut and we raced past the bouncer, who had a puzzled look on his face, followed quickly be rage.  He screamed at us as we squezzeed by the trailer at 50mph.  Rob didn't make it with inches to spare and an ugly sound of metal being ripped screeched out followed by a shower of sparks. 

  We cleared the truck and he power slided on the main road before floorin it after the marcedes.

  A large gash had apeeared on his side of the car that started above the wheel and continued along the doors.  Air whistled in.

'Ohhh' said Rob, 2I hope the insurance covers that.'




I managed to get my self turned around so my face wasn't hovering inches above Robs crotch.  When I  was in a seating position Rob took a corner at 70 mph, running a set of red lioghts and receiving honks from irate drivers.

  'Bloody hell' I said after g foprces had pinned me to the window.  I reached for my seatbelt, fdopund it and locked it.

  'Look! There he is' pointed Rob.

  Just turning the next corner was the tail lights of a mercedes Benz. 

'Where the hell did he get the car from?' I asked.

'Probably that poor womans husband.  What happened to you anyway?'

I told them about my wrong turning.

'We chased him up cotton street and just as we turned the corner we saw him getting in the car.'

'I tried to stop him1' shouted Rob who looked like he had had a years worth of testosterone in the space of an hour.

'Yes Rob manfully threw me out of the way and tried to jump on the bonnet'

I looked at Rob with something like fear.

'Yeah, Alice stopped me.  She's stronger than she looks you know.'

'I can imagine'

We turned the corner and there was the Benz stuck in traffic.

'We finally had a bit of luck as our car was just inches from his.  Spooky coincisnce, eh?'


'And here we are, hopefully about to catch him and put an end to this mess'

The Benz turned down a cobbled walkway and started saloming between lamposts.  Rob followed, keeping the same speed and flow like he was a Formula One driver.

'Christ, you're a better driver than I thought'

'Tell me about it.  I feel like Nigel bloody Mansell1'

I suspected Alice might have improved his reflexes and heightened his awareness somewhat, but as long as he didn't crash the car, I didn't care.

  I flashed a look at the fuel gauge and saw we were almost full.  Something else we didn't have to worry about.

The benz smashed a menu bouard into tiny woodchips that rained down on uis as we followed in his wake.

  He slided sideways onto a road and powered of.  Rob executed the same move and the car slid in a perfect arc, before hitting the throttle again.

  It was undeniably exhalirating, but incredibly dangerous.

  Our cars sped off, chasing each other matching move for move.  It went on for half an hour before Alice noticed something.

'He's going somewhere'

' I know, that's why we're following him' siad Rob, blinking sweat from his eyes.

'No, he's not driving randomly.  He's got a target in mind.'

It was true that we had left the citty.  We had ben on the motorway for the past on minutes and at this time of night it was almost empty.  I still expected to see the telltale sign of flashing blue lights though.

  We were heading away from Glasgow into Dunbartonshire, but that would only bring him back into towns.  He'd be more likely to make a mistake or for us to ram him of the road.  It didn't make sense.

'Can we go any faster?'

'Only if you get out and push.  This is a very old fiesta that hasn't seen 90 miles per hour for a long time.  And I've been doing that speed for the last 6 miles.  It's going as fast as it can go.'

2I knowm I know, but we have to catch him. Finish it now.'

Alice leaned foreward.  She wasn't weariong a seatbelt.  One of the advantages of being death I guess.  You didn't have to fear being killed in an insane joyride.  'Whats the matter'

'I don't know, I just feel he's going to play his ace soon.  We have to stop him'

  She patted me on the shoulder, buit all we could do is keep up with him and hope he broke down.

  We drove on over the rudge we saw the Erskine bridge appear, it's long spires and wires reaching skyard.  A red light winked on and off at the top to warn planes.

  I didn't expect King to stop for the toll booth and he didn't dissapoint.  Lining up his car he smeashed the barrier whiched flipped into the air like a twig.  Half of it landed on the booth werer a startled worker looked on I astonishemnet, newspaper still in his hands.

'What do we do' asked Rob

'Follow the leader' Said alice and we drove through the broken barrier and onto the bridge.  I just caught the tollbooth guard on trhe phone and I knew this ride would be ending soon.

  The pylons whipped past us quickly and we were soon at the halfway point over the bridge.  The Clyde streched out below us, like a huge gray snake lazily making its way across the country.

  That was when King made his move.

  His brakelights came on and his tyres screeched their disproval as his car tried to skid to a halt.  The back end spun round in a cloud of smoke before finally stopping.

  Robs reactions were still excellent as he braked hard as well, the carr juddering to  a halt.

We saw King hgetting out through the smoke.

'Quick' I cried and we rushed ou tof the car, through our own brake smoke.  2 huge long black lines where the rubber was laid down streatched out behind the Benz.  The smell of burst rubber was overpowering.

  Alice reached into her pocket and took out the needle, the special one, the one that vwould send King straight to hell.

  But would we catch him?  Then I notice heb wasn't running away from us.  He was running for the side of the bridge.

'Oh no' I ran harder but I could see what he was going to do.

He clinbed up on the rail, using a pole for support and turned round with a big smile on his face.

  Alice rushed towards him but she was too late.

  He looked at me.  And smiled wider.

'Enjoy your stay in Hell won't you' he said.

 Then he tumbled backwards.

  Alice almost grabbed his foot, almost touched his trouser leg, but we were too late.  He fell, tumbling as he did so like a rag doll thrown from a window.

  Down, down he went, head over foot before he was swalloed in darkness. Their was silence.  Then a splash and I could just make out a white foam circle.

'Nooo!' screamed alice and when I turned round she was on the rail and had jumped off.


She dived likean olynpic swimmer, arms pointed straight, like a bullet, offering the lest wind resistance possibe.

  She dissapeared to under the shadow of the bridge and again I saw the tell tale splash.

I put a hand on the rail, not quite sure whether I should follow them or not.

'Ron put a hand on my arm.  'No man' he siad softlym his previous manic face gone.  'They're different to you.  They can probably survive it.  Can you?'

'I'm dead too.  I'm just like King.'

'Are you 100% sure?  Do you really want to see if you can die again.'

I looked back at the empty space below us, the utter darkness, absolute of all light. 

I stepped back and looked at Rob. 'Lets go home'