Lun Wei lies on his deathbed.His wife and daughter wash his fevered brow with cooling water. He had hoped, wished that he would speak again with his sifu, Lao Tze. He had awoken one morning with a new idea for cataloging the Dao de Jing. Even now it was fading like morning mist. The door to his outer bed chamber slides open and Bao, the family servant approaches.
“Sifu Wei. There is a woman her, she wishes to speak to you.”
Wei nods to his wife and a tall Occidental with long grey hair enters the room. From their reactions, his family and servant cannot see what he sees. There is something of the ‘Other’ about this woman. Her eyes are too grey, almost like moonlight on water..
She bows and kneels beside him, so her words can be heard by him and he alone.
After Hadrianople there was a period of peace between The Empire and the Goths. Kand was the nephew of of Radagaisus. He and his cadre had taken a day of hunting. They mostly favoured small and quick quarries to enhance their hunting skills. Kands horse bolted at the Northern edge of the Forest and he was thrown instantly shattering his spine. As he tried to call to his men a ghostly figure appeared between the trees, a woman. Pale with long grey hair, though she was also young and quite beautiful. As she knelt beside him she whispered a soothing word into his ear and all was darkness.
Cnut, the Great Viking and King of the Saxons Isles was dying.He had lost all political hold over his homeland and feared that Britain could not be held by those that remained He doubted Svein had the will or fortitude to hold the Island. It was very late and alone in his cell he woke to a faint whispering in his ear, just for a moment he saw a grey woman and then he was no more.
Foot soldier Jean Baptiste, while on expedition to Canada falls by the base of a tree.It feels as though his stomach is on fire, as he vomits and shits himself at the same time a small cold hand takes his and he looks up into shining twin moons, there is a whisper of words and he starts to vomit pure blood. He does not feel the end coming.
I’m juggling a paper cup of coffee and my swipe card to get through the security door when Hassan looks up and buzzes me through. Temps are the lowest rung on any company ladder so the rule is, be as nice as you can and work harder than everyone else. I hand Hassan the coffee. “Americano, hazelnut with 3 sugars.” He smiles and pushes the sign in sheet across the desk and offers me the pen from his top pocket. “Cheers Bab. Last day today innit?”
As I sit at my desk, second to arrive. Debs the Office Manager pauses at my side. “Conference room 10 minutes.” She walks off. I think that she thinks, that short sentences make her seem efficient as opposed to rude and unlikeable. “Sure Debs.” I call to her retreating back. After I log in (we are paid by when the system is active) I pick up my handbag but leave my coat. There is nothing in the pockets, so I won’t need it again.
I take the stairs to the fourth floor, I don’t need to stay in shape but there is a security camera in all the lifts, so I have never used them in the last 5 months I have been here. I knock on the conference room door as I open it. Debs is sat at the head of the table looking as unpleasant and remote as always.
“Good Morning Sarah. Thank you for joining me.”
“No thank you Debs. I really have enjoyed my time here. It’s been very … enlightening.”
She makes an odd smile, mainly because she is not used to being spoken to directly by, what she refers to as, subordinates. I honestly heard her say that once.
“Well as the agency must have told you, today is your last day with us and I am obliged to conduct an exit interview. Management seem to think that your experience here may help the company in some way.” She twists her mouth into what I think she imagines a smile to be. “Now if we could get on, I’m actually very busy so lets be as brief as possible shall we?” She waves her hand at a chair, so I sit.
“Now… Sarah. You have been with us for 5 weeks and during that time, do you feel you have received the correct training and support to enable you to perform your duties as explained in your initial briefing?”
I pause for a moment as I can hear two distinct heart beats passing the hall just outside the door and I cannot be interrupted.
“You were twenty three”
She stares at me utterly baffles. As they always are. “What did you say?”
“You were twenty three when you deliberately gave your Mother an overdose of digitalis. You had often mentioned how confused she was, how she would sometimes take her medications at the wrong time or too much. Planting the idea in everyones minds which meant when you killed her, you the grieving daughter, would never be even thought of as a suspect.”
She was white with anger “What.. How dare… I am calling security!”
“You inherited her house here in the UK and her two holiday cottages in Southern France, her estate and all of her shares. You never showed a moment of remorse., of guilt, of genuine anguish or emotion. I have to say you were very clever. Brewing a tea made from dried foxglove. I have watched mankind perform all kinds of unspeakable acts. Horrors that would shame the Light Bringer. You are so very small and petty. A nothing. Were it not for orders I would let you rot but today is a very special day, which means you are mine.!
Debs almost leaps out of her chair. I had never really thought of it before, as she is so careful in her appearance, dyed hair and lots of make up but she is much older than I ever thought. Old enough to suffer a fatal stroke while under duress. She falls without even trying to stop herself.
Deborah Hadfield hated her Mother. Had always resented that she had to care for her from such a young age after her first stroke. The second didn’t kill her just made her more like a demanding child. Graham left her, he just couldn’t cope with the restrictions on them as a couple, the early nights and been woken by her alarm bell. The smell of piss and the endless hospital appointments. Now she was lying on the floor of Conference Room 3. She knew she was having a stroke. Unlike her bitch of a Mother she knew she wasn’t going to survive this. The colours were turning off and she couldn’t make any words. That Temp was in front of her, she had been saying all those terrible secret things. Now she was standing but she looked different. Her blonde hair was now grey as ash and their was a strange light coming out of her eyes. Now she is kneeling and whispering the list of every sins she has committed, every transgression, every base though and action and as the world turns black, a part of her, her soul? Seems to slip away and into those oddly lit eyes. Inside there are thousands upon thousands, millions of faces. All weeping, in a thousand languages, begging to be forgiven. The last thing Deborah hears is the temps voice.
“I am Wraith. I am Judgement.”