This is the twenty-fourth part of a fiction serial, in 820 words.
Although I hadn’t expected to, I did go to sleep. I was sitting upright on the sofa when I woke up with a start. The room was dark, and I checked my phone to discover it was past one in the morning. I hadn’t thought to start wearing the watch I got as a leaving present. It was still in its box. I put the lights on, then went into the bathroom to splash some water on my face. In the kichen, I made some strong coffee, and ate a couple of muffins so the sugar would liven me up.
By the time I heard the quiet knock on the door at exactly two in the morning, I was wide awake again.
Mister Townsend wasn’t as large as I had expected, but he looked as tough as a Commando. Hair cropped so short he seemed almost bald, and unblinking eyes that were boring into my skull. Black leather jacket and black T-shirt, with black combat trousers to complete the image. “I will come in first and check the place, okay? Sylvia will only come up when I text her it’s safe in there”. I stood aside and allowed him to walk in. Then he did a thorough search of my small flat as I followed him around, even lifting the bed and looking under it. Satisfied, he sent the text.
Sylvia looked nothing like I imagined a psychic investigator to look like. She could have been any dyed-blonde working-class housewife in one of many districts of London, though her accent marked her as someone who knew how to speak properly.
“Good evening, Darren. No, good morning. Now please don’t tell me any more than you have already, and you may want to have paper and pen handy, to take notes. I do not allow any recording devices I’m afraid”. They both declined my offer of refreshments, then Sylvia sat on the sofa as her husband left the flat and stood outside on the landing. At a nod from his wife, he closed the door.
She had no equipment. None of those flashing lights or speaker boxes I had seen ghost hunters using in the TV shows.
I had gone to get a notebook and biro from the bedroom, and she was smiling as I came back in. I realised I hadn’t handed over the money, and went to get the envelope from the kitchen drawer. Unlike Selina Macmillan, Sylvia opened the envelope and counted the notes carefully. Then she stuffed them into her shoulder bag, before turning back to me, still smiling.
“Well it would seem we do not have to wait until three-seventeen, Darren. Your dad and Terry are already here. They are standing in front of the television”.
Of course, I turned and looked at my telly, but couldn’t see them. What followed was the strangest experience of my life. Sylvia was looking at them, no doubt about that. Her eyes and head were moving, and she was nodding and smiling. And then she started to talk to them too. “I see. Yes, I will tell him. You know about the detective. Okay, that’s good. Yes, I will tell him all that you are telling me, word for word”.
The need to sit down overwhelmed me, and I flopped onto the sofa next to her.
When there was a pause, I asked her why I couldn’t hear them, and also told her to ask them why they had waited for thirty years.
“Darren, they are not talking in the way that we do. They are communicating with me in my head. I can hear their thoughts, as it were. It’s more complicated than that, but that gives you an idea. I am only replying to them for your benefit. So, to make it clear that you are not wasting your money. Your dad and Terry were driven off the road by someone who swerved in front of their car. It was a man named Holloway. They recognised him, from the car park at the trial ground. It was your first birthday, and the location was the A317 road, near Chertsey. They were returning from a football trial for Chelsea, and Terry had been selected”.
To say I was impressed was an understatement.
“Your dad was killed instantly, but Terry had only banged his head hard, and was semi-conscious. The man saw that, and dragged him from the car. Because Terry had no injuries that would end his football career, the man panicked and strangled him. Now they want you to take revenge, so that they can pass over in peace. Your dad says to look at the daily newspapers, as they will tell you what to do”.
My mouth was dry, but I remembered to ask again why they had waited all this time. She grinned.
“Terry says it’s because the Holloways now have something to lose”.