I still feel sick but I manage to eat a little toast. Radio Two is on in the background, I hadn’t even noticed that I had automatically turned it on until ‘This Womans Work’ by Kate Bush comes on. I sing along as I finish the last of my tea. I once played the video to John on Youtube. John the great big strong. weekend Rugby payer and taciturn man, cried. Later as we lay on the sofa afterwards he he hugged me close and and asked me to marry him. That was six years ago. John was walking out of the corner shop when he saw two men attacking a young lad. He ran over to help and was stabbed through the chest. He died in the ambulance before it even made it to the hospital. I still have lunch once a week with his Mother. I think that she feels through me, some link to John.
I pick up my file folder and put my old mobile onto the bookcase, the screen is cracked from where I dropped it. My new mobile is in my bag and it starts to ring as I am locking the front door. “Doctor Jacobs?” I don’t recognise the voice or the number. “I’m sorry to call you so early. My name is Carl Peterson. I work at the Field Clinic. We have one of you patients here. His Parents asked me to call you, his name is Paul Walls.” “What’s happened? ” I am taking out my car keys, Fields Clinic is only about thee or four miles away. “I’m afraid he , well he tried to commit suicide last night. He’s fine but his Parents are quite insistent that you come and speak to him.”
I manage to find a parking space quite close to the clinic. Paul’s Parents are waiting in the reception area. His Mother can’t speak, she is weeping uncontrollably. I try to smile but it feels false. “Kevin, Mary, What happened?” Kevin is in shock but manages to relay what he knows. They came home and found Paul in a pool of vomit. He had taken an overdose, thankfully he been so sick that he had expelled most of it. “Would you like… Would it be okay if I spoke to him?” Kevin nods and holds his wife.
“Doctor Jacobs? I’m Carl Peterson. I called you earlier. Thank you for coming.” He is very young, he looks almost like a boy. His shirt has coffee stains on it and he looks like he needs a good meal and about ten hours sleep. He motions to me down the hallway and walks alongside me, clearly very uneasy. “Paul’s Parents came home at seven pm and found him in a terrible state. I understand he has been in therapy with you for most of last year?” I nod. “He is suffering from extreme depression, insomnia, bouts of sleepwalking, violent outbursts. I thought he had been making some progress. I really didn’t expect this.”
The Field Clinic is a private care facility. Paul’s Parents are very wealthy and have, since Pauls’ problems began, bought him the best help they could find. Carl ask if I require anything, I thank him and ask if I might speak to Paul alone. Peterson smiles and says if I need him his office is the last room on the left.
As I walk into the room I am struck, as always how small Paul is. He is only sixteen years old but seems younger. So small and frail. I sit down by his bed and call his name. His eyes flicker open. “You.” His voice is cold. “Why didn’t you call me?”
“What so you could screw Aiden two days after my funeral?”
I can’t speak. I don’t even know what to think. “What did you say?”
“Don’t you recognise me Lolly? It’s me”
Only John has ever called me that. I stand and my bag falls to the floor. “Oh Eloise, you really are clumsy, haven’t your Father and I told you, a proper Lady should be graceful.” I have never told Paul my first name. I only ever use my middle name Helen.
“Who… Who are you?” My instinct is to run and get in my car and drive. Anywhere.
Paul looks around him, confused. “my Name is Mary. Where is my son? He was supposed to be here.”
“Who are you!” I didn’t mean to shout.
Paul sits up in bed. A very wicked and awful smile on his face. “There are so many of us in here. Let’s go old school and say Legion.” He laughs.
I grab my bag and almost make it to the door. “Lolly? Is that you love?” I turn. Tears are pouring down Pauls’ cheeks. “Lolly I didn’t know where I was. I thought I had lost you.”
“John?” It is impossible and against everything I believe but the way he speaks, the way he moves. It is too like John. There is no way that Paul could know anything about him. I have never mentioned him. “Hey Lolly. It was really dark. I think I must have got lost.”
“You’re not him.”
Paul smiles that knowing smile again. “No. But we have him. We have so many, down here in the dark. Even poor sad little Paul, with his whining and crying and we will twist them and make them scream forever. We will take everything and turn them into blood and torture them forever. There is nothing we cannot do, your God, your Holy Father? Even he turns away his eyes. We have spent centuries breaking you all and we will spend centuries more playing with your entrails. Your John? I will have him raped and mutilated by the worst things you can imagine. Paul? He will burn. You and everyone you know or care about, everyone you have ever spoken to, every stranger you have walked past, everyone on the face of the Earth, they will all come to us.”
My mouth is so dry my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth. I open my mouth to speak but no words come out.
Paul drops back to the bed and a few seconds later Peterson walks in. “Everything okay? He must be tired.” I just stare at him. I can’t even begin to describe what just happened. Peterson takes my bag out of my hands and pushes me down into the chair. “Yes Samerial must be very tired. It takes great energy to crawl out of the Pit. There has been a great change in the last few years. We have a greater foothold and not even your God can stop us. More of us are rising.” He puts his hands on my face and a rising filth of darkness rushes up to fill me.