Silent - Part 19: The Man At The Fire
Saturday, May 2019, Lucy:
The torch lamp casts a sickly glow in the darkened room. She tenses. Recoils, picks up again on a hidden threat. Who is this man? Someone very disturbed. Physically strong. Able to lift Gavin from a van, bring him in and carry him down an unlit corridor while holding a torch.
'What's the matter, Lucy?' the Angel of Mercy says.
She doesn't answer. Pretends to be half-asleep.
'I asked you a question, Lucy. Aren't you well?'
'Tired,' she mumbles. 'Haven't eaten.’
'You've only been here a day. You can't be that hungry.'
The Angel of Mercy hovers by an unseen door, a shadow in the dark. A day has gone. Friday, Saturday. She tries to picture the passing of time, but time has slowed down here. Or stopped altogether.
'I suppose you'll have to eat sooner or later,' The Angel of Mercy says. 'But that will only be possible if you give me the PIN for your phone.'
‘I want to read all your messages and emails.'
‘My emails and texts aren't very interesting.’
I'll be the one who will decide that. Your job is to supply me with the PIN.’
‘Why?' she says, although she's already guessed. If she's right, the situation's much worse than she thought.
'You know why, Lucy. If you don't do as I'll say, I'll drive away and leave you here. You won't survive for any more than a few days without water. Remember that.'
In her position on the floor, she starts to tremble and fights the urge to lose control and scream. The Angel of Mercy's totally deranged. If he leaves her here, she wont survive just as he warned. She must do whatever he's asked. For now anyway. She can't possibly die here, all alone, tormented by memories of the fire and Mum and Dad.
'The PIN,' the Angel of Mercy says. 'I'll give you a minute to decide.'
Her past. Not a random stranger or internet troll. 'Did you kill my parents,' she blurts out.
'Why do you ask, Lucy? Why that particular question? You could have asked me who I am. Instead, you ask me that.’
She starts to tremble, wanting to lash out and punish the Angel of Mercy. He's just confirmed it with his answer. He's a killer. And her parents. Her poor mum and dad, terrified as the flames scorched them and the smoke filled their lungs, snuffing out their lives.
In the silence, she makes a vow. One day, youll pay for what you did to my mum and dad.
'To answer your question, no, I didn't kill your parents.'
'Do you know who did?'
'I dont. And I don't have time for this. What's your decision?
'Did you know my father?'
'That's enough. Will you give me the PIN?'
She considers lying, saying she's forgotten the PIN or creating a false one, but realises that the Angel of Mercy will retaliate by leaving her and Gavin here, and neither of them will make it.
'That's random. Are you telling me the truth?'
'Mmm.' He comes closer to her with the torch lamp and she recoils once more, wondering how much more she can take of this. 'Be careful, Lucy,' he whispers. 'Don't double cross me or you'll come off worse.' He pushes his sleeve up his arm, revealing a zigzag of scars all the way down his arm. 'I did all of those,' he continues in his whisper. 'Pain doesn't frighten me. Just remember that. Make sure you don't upset me.' And at that he leaves, his footsteps fading in the distance, a barely audible rhythm that dies away.
In the dark, images flash through her mind. Faces from the past.
A face peering at her, watching behind a balaclava mask. A man with a petrol can. Two men, one in a balaclava. Dad. Unfinished business. Dad had an affair, cheated on Mum.
Familiar. She knows one of those men.
Knew one of them.
He came to the annexe flat for dinner once.
A friend of Mum and Dads'. A visitor to Lyme House.
The Angel of Mercy over a decade ago.
A muffled ball of orange, covered in fog, in smoke. Coughing, coughing, coughing. Can't breathe. The fumes, the smell, the heat from the fire. The bed of flames, a crackling river.
The Angel of Mercy. The Angel of Mercy. The Angel of Mercy.
Gritting her teeth, she shuts her eyes again.
But the pictures remain.
A dancing array of colours and fire.