SILHOUETTES - Thirty-fifth, and final, instalment - Chapter sixty-three, sixty-four, sixty-five and sixty-six. For more information on this novel, click Here.
The two women had comforted each other a little about the demise of Ben. Dave stood by the kitchen window wondering how different women were from men. He should really be getting himself the hell out of here, but he couldn't for the life of him think how that was going to happen, at least not before Debbie got back and was given the news, and the same emotional comforting. Perhaps if he had known Ben a bit better, he would have felt more empathy, but from the little he did know, Ben was a lazy inconsiderate bastard, with a drink problem. No reason to be hacked to death though, or course, no reason at all.
The police constable was stating she would have to be going. She'd have to call her partner back to collect her. She stood up from the table and reached to her radio to turn up the volume, and was just about to speak into the mike, when the kitchen door was flung open and Debbie was shoved in the room with enough force that she hit the police woman and knocked her to the floor, fell on top of her, and all the while Debbie was crying, she was in terror.
'Knife! knife,' she cried, 'knife!'
Simon Parker stood in the doorway to the kitchen with a cleaver in his hand, staring, grinning. He had finally found his alien.
Dave, keeping his eyes firmly on Parker, reached down and pulled Debbie up off the kitchen floor. He pushed her behind him and did the same for the stunned police constable.
He remembered well now the conversation in the pub that night. He was pissed, but Simon Parker was nuts. He now knew how right his first summation of Parker was.
'Come here, Jo,' he said quietly, and beckoned for Jo to move to the back of the kitchen with the rest of them.
'Stay where you fucking are,' Parker cried. There was a manic lilt in the voice. Insanity. You wouldn't need to be a doctor to diagnose it.
'Everyone, stay exactly where you fucking are,' he ordered.
Dave held off on his first thought of attack. There was hardly room to manoeuvre in the kitchen, with so many people in close proximity and the large table in the middle.
'He's here,' Parker said quietly. 'The alien's here.'
Dave realised he wasn't talking to anyone in particular, at least no one in the room.
'Put the knife down and we can talk about this,' the police constable said, trying to sound calm, but her voice came out a whiny plea.
She had a hand over her handset and Dave suspected she had held down the transmit button when she spoke, clever girl.
'He's an alien,' he said to the girls, pointing at Dave with the blade. 'Did you know he's an alien?'
Dave saw an opportunity.
'Why not let them go?' he asked. 'They can slip out the back,' he nodded at the door of the kitchen to the back yard.
"Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die."
The quiet precision of each syllable of the poetry quote sounded more threatening than anything said up to that minute. It did nothing to alleviate the atmosphere of menace in the room. It added to it.
'Byron?' asked Dave, though he didn't have a clue, he was playing for a bit of time.
'Tennyson,' said Parker. 'And Tennyson says you have to die.'
The way it was stated, with emphatic finality, Dave realised this situation wasn't going to end without conflict. It wasn't going to end well for anyone in the room. He glanced around for anything close at hand he could use as a weapon. Unless an aluminium soup pot was lethal, he didn't see much else. There was a nest of kitchen knives, on top of the fridge, but they were closer to Parker than himself.
'No need to panic,' said Parker, 'no need at all,' and he had his head turned towards the laptops on the kitchen table, or rather he was speaking to someone above them, someone who wasn't there.
'We can talk about this,' urged the police constable, trying for calm and failing miserably. Dave wished she would just be quiet and let him think.
There was a sound of sirens in the distance and coming closer, getting louder.
Dave's chip tingled, he touched his temple and did a quick scan, a police report had traced Parker here and the cavalry were on their way. While in shadowtype he had Parker silhouetted. Parker was talking to someone. A one way conversation, he flip typed Tennyson and a list of poetry came up on the screen before him, he scanned down line by line, looking for something to help the situation, then he remembered the laptops.
'And Suzi Two is here,' he whispered to space, then turned and directed his gaze on Jo.
'Suzi Two is there.'
Jo was trying to slide up the table bit by bit, quietly edging her chair, inch by inch, to distance herself. The blade in his hand swung occasionally, not aimed at anything in particular, but a lack of control of the arm holding it wouldn't cut her any less than if it was a deliberate swipe.
'I am the kraken, and it ends here,' he said. A decision had been made between Parker and his imaginary friend. He started quoting verse again. There was a growing finality in the speech.
"Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die."
Then he looked at the screen of the laptop, the screensaver had cut off, and on the screen in flashing fiery large type was.
She only said, 'The night is dreary,
He cometh not,' she said;
She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!'
Parker stopped and stared. No one was near the computer and it was quoting Tennyson. He turned to Tennyson, but he was no longer there. He was in the computer, and he was mocking him about his mother.
As Dave came out of shadowtype, already ruing the lines of verse he sent to the computer, the cleaver swung down at the laptop, smashing the screen lid, fragments flew in all directions.
Dave launched himself at the madman, and he was almost on him, but Parker's arm had the cleaver in the air again. He would be on top of Parker, but Parker would be able to strike at him. It was too late to retreat back. A hand came from nowhere and hauled the knife arm back. Dave forced himself on, into the body of Parker, forcing him back, into the man who had stealthily entered the kitchen behind him.
Hartless frantically held at the knife arm, with his own two arms, he had to use every reserve of strength he had, just to keep Parker from swinging the blade. Dave had winded him, and was now punching at his stomach, rapidly punching and punching. It seemed to have little effect. The three men struggled together, falling against the kitchen wall, then hitting the door jamb, then almost on top of the table. Dave always punching, Hartless clamped onto the knife arm. Then, finally, as if a light had gone out, Parker seemed to fold, the blade fell from his grasp. Hartless held on to the arm regardless.
The young police constable had come forward by this time, her baton out, and she had struck Parker across the head, hard. He flopped to the floor, blood spewing from a head wound. Dave spat out some splatter of blood. Hartless forced Parker's two arms behind his back now, and was struggling to get cuffs on him.
When Hartless, Dave, and the police constable hauled Parker out the front door of the house, half a dozen police cars were already lined up.
Oswalk ran up with two other plod close behind her.
'You fucking nutcase,' she cried at Hartless.
'No,' he replied, 'he's the nutcase. Needs an ambulance.'
Oswalk grabbed him and hugged him.
'I thought you were dead,' she cried. 'You, Cowboy!'
'Commendation for constable Tranter,' said Hartless, 'and grateful thanks to Dave Stuart for saving the day,' he nodded at Dave.
Jo and Debbie hugged each other. Jo had just broken the news about Ben.
'I can't believe it,' said Debbie, 'he was just getting his life back on track.'
'I know,' Jo hugged her and patted her back.
As soon as he could, Dave slipped away. Questions would be asked, police reports had to be filed, but he would not go down that road tonight. He stopped at an off-sales and bought a bottle of Glenmorangie whisky on the way home. His bed-sit had been trashed, by Parker or the police, or both. The door still shut though, despite the lock hanging loose by a screw. He pulled a seat over to gaze out the window at the sky. The stars were out tonight. He turned the ringer off on the phone and poured himself a large glass of the malt whisky, and sat looking up at the sparkling night.
Tomorrow he would decide if he would inform Jo about Debbie. Tomorrow he would decide if he would hang around. Maybe Jo would come with him if he upped sticks. Then again, perhaps the Agency wouldn't let him. A familiar shadow crossed the wall, faint and quick, almost unperceivable. Someone was behind him.
'Hello Amber,' he said. 'Been expecting you.'
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