When Few woke up he was quite alone. It was early morning. It was early evening. He rolled off the bed slowly. He felt like death, he looked like death. Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps. He was in a some kind of hall, it was strewn with broken furniture, mainly pig iron beds, a few old school desks that sort of thing. He went to the window, one of the windows. He was a couple of floors up, looking out at a courtyard. It too was full of broken things. Old Anglias, Morris Minors, ploughs, ceramic baths, anchors. There were trees, all dead. Nothing moved.
Only Few. His clothes stank. He was wretched and hungry and most of all thirsty, he could drink the ocean dry. He would. Well, he has survived, if only just, or had he? He wandered down the halls as the sky fell, where were the rooks? There should be rooks. He had an idea of where he was but…he found the bathrooms, long rows of sinks, each with a single tap, each with a single mirror, every one of them broken now. He’d been here before. Try to forget. Funny how love is. He turned every faucet in turn, all dry, dust and spiders. Many of the windows were boarded up on this side of the building, he peered out through the slats at the coast.
He picked his way gingerly down the ramshackle stairway, falling a couple of times, down to the main entrance hall, past an open door that has “SNOOKER & BILLIARDS” written on it, letters fading, legible none the less. He had been here before.
A man walked along the cliff path, a shadow of a man, another broken thing, a stain on the landscape. He stares up at the abandoned school. This is his cup of sorrow, he drinks from it daily yet it never empties. Lord why have you forsaken me. The thorns inside never wither or decay. He’s come home for the final time, he cannot drink any more. For a moment he thinks he sees someone watching him from a window, a gaunt redeemer, bandaged and bristling with intent. Then, it’s gone. Whatever awaits he is not prepared but he understands well enough about sorrow, about pain, about dishing it out. He hurts.
The ferret is on me now, smothering me , clawing at me, licking me, dragging me forward, it’s bigger than me, it’s growing, its fur is sticky , hot and suffocating, my mouth is full of him , the darkness is absolute, I cannot breathe, I cannot scream. I’m gone, I’m gone, sinking below the surface, dropping fast, past the creatures who never see the light, falling, blanking. Blank. Then it’s bright, the sun is beaming in across tables covered in white sheets. There’s a man, sitting motionless on the window ledge, legs crossed. He’s waiting for someone. I see all this from above but I can’t feel anything. I cannot move or, more correctly, there is nothing to move. The creature is beside me, but not only him there are dozens of them, all in row, all in their glass boxes.
He’s whispering “We’re back. We’re back. So long, I’ve waited so long. Paudi. Paudi. I’ve been waiting here. ‘til you were ready. Like you said. I told you we’d get him back Paudi. I told you. Paudi. Paudi.”
The door opens and the other man walks in, he’s stooped, he’s visibly trembling, whether through old age or fear I cannot tell but I can smell the fear off him, he reeks of it. The glass cases start to rattle.
The other man stands up, takes a couple of steps and then stops. He hesitates.
“Father Harris, you haven’t changed.”
“No Paudi, I haven’t changed, God knows I’ve tried but I haven’t. I haven’t changed. I cannot. But you have. Is this to be it then? Just the two of us? Can you at least make it quick? Please? I’m so tired. I’m ready to go.”
“I don’t think it’ up to me Harry, you see it’s not just the two of us.” He nods up to the glass cases.