When the dead man got Rachel I was sitting in the back of a wrecked Mercedes wondering if the rain was going to stop. I didn’t want it to stop. I was just wondering.
It was late, almost midnight.
My brother, Cole, had brought the Mercedes into the yard a few hours earlier and asked me to look it over while he went off to see someone about something. I’d spent an hour or so checking it out, seeing if it was worth stripping down, and then the rain had started – and that’s when I’d got in the back.
I could have gone somewhere else, I suppose. I could have taken shelter in one of the old storage sheds, or I could have gone back to the house, but the sheds were dark and full of rats, and the rain was really pouring down, and the house was all the way across the other side of the yard…
And and and.
I liked the rain.
I didn’t want it to stop.
I liked the sound of it hammering down hard on the roof of the car. It made me feel safe and dry. I liked being alone in the yard at night. It made me feel happy. I liked the way the lights over the gates shone crystal-white in the dark, making everything look special. I liked seeing the raindrops as threaded jewels, the heaps of scrap metal as mountains and hills, the tottering piles of broken-up cars as watchtowers.
I was happy with that.
Then a gust of wind caught the sign over the gates, and as it creaked on its rusty chains and I looked out through the shattered back windscreen and read the familiar faded words – FORD & SONS – AUTO PARTS: : CRASHED CARS, VANS & SUVS, MOT FAILURES, INSURANCE WRITE-OFFS, BOUGHT FOR CASH – that’s when I first felt Rachel in my heart.
I don’t know how to describe these feelings I get. Cole once asked me what it was like to know everything there is to know, and not know anything about it. I told him that I didn’t know. And that was the truth.
I don’t know.
These feelings I get – the feelings that I’m with other people – I have no idea what they are, or where they come from, or why I get them. I don’t even know if they’re real or not. But I’ve long since stopped worrying about it. I get them, and that’s all there is to it.
I don’t get them all the time, and I don’t get them from everybody. In fact, I very rarely get them from anyone outside my family. Mostly I get them from Cole. Sometimes I get them from Mum, and very occasionally from Dad, but the feelings are strongest when they come from my brother.
With my sister, though, it had been different. Until that night, I’d never felt anything from Rachel. Nothing at all. Not even a flutter. I don’t know why. Perhaps it was because we’d always talked a lot anyway, so we’d never needed anything else. Or maybe it was just because she was my sister. I don’t know. I’d just never gotten any feelings from her before, and that’s why it was so strange to suddenly feel her that night – so strange and weird…
One moment she was with me – sitting in the back of the Mercedes, looking around the yard – and then the moment suddenly cracked and I was with her, walking a storm-ravaged lane in the middle of a desolate moor. We were cold and wet and tired and scared, and the world was black and empty, and I didn’t know why.
I didn’t know anything.
“What are you doing here, Rach?” I asked her. “I thought you were coming home tonight?”
She didn’t answer. She couldn’t hear me. She was hundreds of miles away. She couldn’t feel me. All she could feel was the cold and the rain and the wind and the darkness…
And then suddenly she was feeling something else. A race of blood in her heart. A paralyzing fear in her bones. A presence. There was something there… something that shouldn’t be there.
I felt it at the same time as her, and we were both too late.
The Dead Man came out of the dark and took her down, and everything went black forever.
I don’t know what happened after that. I stopped feeling. I passed out.
Some time later I awoke to the pain of a jagged knife ripping open my heart, and I knew without a doubt that Rachel was dead. Her last breath had just left her. I could see it stealing away on the wind. I watched it floating over a ring of stones and through the branches of a stunted thorn tree, and then the storm came down with a purple-black light that rolled the sky to the ground, and that was the last thing I saw.