Kori boarded the plane.
After withdrawing all of the savings that he and Franc had stored over their years together, enough to keep him going for a year without working, maybe longer if he was careful and stayed in hostels or other cheap accommodation, he had headed straight to the airport and booked the first available flight, he didn’t care where it went. It didn’t matter as long as it was out of England. Cyprus was not far enough but it was a start and he would move on from there as soon as he could find anonymous transport, he did not want to leave a trail either paper or electronic if he could help it, he wasn't all that clued up on how to disappear without a trace, all he knew he learnt from films and books but he did know that a person could be found by following his transactions and he didn't want to be found. It was too dangerous. He regretted leaving in such a rush with no real explanation but he felt that he had no other choice; he couldn’t put Francs life at risk. His only hope was that the note he left was vague and uncaring enough that it made him so angry that he would hate him and not try to find him. Kori couldn’t think about Franc now, he had to focus on disappearing, he loves him so, so much if he starts to think about him and what he is leaving behind then his resolve will dissolve and he will go straight back to his arms but he can’t do that, it’s too dangerous!
Kori settled into his seat, the flight wasn’t going to be long, he was determined to at least try and sleep, he didn’t want to engage in conversation, he didn’t want to take a chance that someone might remember him he just wanted to fade into the background until he heard news that he would be safe or enough time had passed that the nightmare would forget about him. He didn’t want to think about what he had suffered at its hands, just wanted to forget about it, hoped that if he disappeared for long enough then he and the people he loved would be safe.
The flight was relatively short and Kori had managed to avoid talking to anyone, including the flight attendants, feigning sleep hoping that he could fool himself into actually sleeping for a couple of hours but all he managed was an uncomfortable doze, fearful of the nightmares that had plagued him since that night, a night that he did not want to think about the night when he saw…what night? There was no night in which he saw anything that would cause something or someone to terrorise him, he was starting to believe the accusations that the nightmare made when it had visited him in the dead of night. He suffered nightmares in his sleep and when he was sure that he was awake. He had tried to convince himself that it was all in his imagination but after a week of being woken by someone or something tormenting him he was not convinced he could distinguish real from imaginary, awake from asleep. Trying to prove to himself one night that he was hallucinating or going mad he spoke to the voice in the dark, the voice spoke back., the voice said that it would find everyone that he held dear and kill them all, it would make Kori watch as it flayed the skin from each of their still living bodies and once they were all dead it would be his turn.
He had tried to turn his bedside lamp on hoping that the light would chase the shadows and the nightmare away, that he had been asleep and the nightmare was still lingering after waking him but before he could flick the switch a hand had grabbed hold of his wrist, digging it’s claws into his flesh, the shock of fear sent him over the edge and he fell unconscious. Waking the next morning he hoped that it had been a really vivid nightmare, a dream within a dream, until he looked at his wrist and saw the marks that the monster had left behind.
“You want travel on my ship?” The captain of the ‘Mermaids Lament’ asked in broken English when Kori approached him in the hope of securing passage. Another sailor had explained to the captain what Kori was after as the language barrier was making it difficult for the two men to understand each other.
“No! I no want to know, you pay?”
“Yes I can pay you.”
“Good you cook? I need cook mine sick.”
“Yes I can cook, tell me how many on board and I will cook three meals a day until we get to your destination as long as you have the provisions.”
“We transport, we fish, when we have enough we go Morocco.”
“Perfect when do we leave?”
“You be here five in morning, you not here we leave without you!”
“You pay now.”
“I’ll pay half in the morning and half when we get to Morocco.”
“Fine, fine you make sure you here!”
“I’ll be here.”
With his passage secured Kori left the dock to find somewhere to wait there was no point in booking a room, he wouldn’t be using it. He was extremely lucky to find a ship willing to take him without asking questions almost as soon as he landed. Marrakech is a busy place with lots of tourists so he figured he could lay low there for a while without being noticed or drawing attention to himself until he worked out a plan of action and decided where he was going next but for now coffee and something to eat. Wandering along the waterfront Kori found a restaurant that was full of tourists but served local dishes, he sat at a table in a back corner so that he could see the whole restaurant figuring that you could never be too careful, he ordered Cypriot coffee and a slow cooked goat dish, he pulled a book out of his bag which he currently had no interest in reading but thought he would look less odd if he appeared to read whilst dining on his own. He couldn’t relax, not yet, he wasn’t far enough away. Would he ever be far enough from the horrors that he had left behind in England? He didn’t know but he had to try to escape them, he couldn’t fight what he didn’t understand so he ran.
Kori turned to look down the alleyway he was passing he thought that he had heard a noise, a shout? A scream? Cut off before gaining full voice. A dark evening made darker by the heavy rain, filled the alleyway with shadows. Was that movement he saw? Too far back for the weak light of the streetlamp to reach, he stepped into the mouth of the alley, leaning forwards, peering into the gloom, another step and he almost screamed as an empty beer can went skittering off of the toe of his shoe. He looked up, heart in his throat had he disturbed someone or something? He hoped a cat but the eyes staring back at him did not belong to a cat, they were like nothing he had ever seen before! They moved towards him a step, two, he heard a hiss, a growl “I see you. I know you.”
Kori sat up screaming, he pulled his blanket up to his chest it was just a dream! He was safe on the ship, for now. Still unsure of what exactly he had seen but sure it was bad and bought danger with it. He would never forget those eyes.
How long had he been on this ship? A week? Two? He was sure it had been two, the days were all the same, no weekend, no day of rest, people needed to eat no matter what the day, he was fed up of fish, that was for sure and swore to himself that he wouldn’t be eating or preparing any kind of fish or seafood for a long time once he was off of this goddamned ship! He had had no trouble for most of the journey apart from the nightmares and there was an instance at the beginning of this journey where he had a run in with one of the crew. Kori had found the man rummaging through his things looking for his money and valuables no doubt, he found nothing as Kori had bought no valuables with him and carried his money on his person at all times just to be safe. Kori didn’t tell the captain, he didn’t need the trouble and the man kept the rest of the crew from bothering him assuring them that there was nothing to be had in the cooks’ cabin which suited Kori just fine. They watched him with suspicion when he worked and he ignored them as best he could and when he wasn’t cooking he spent his time in his cabin, he was an outsider and didn’t belong and he was fine with that, he didn’t want to belong, didn’t want to make friends, it was safer that way.
Sitting in his cabin after the evening’s meal Kori pulled his wallet out of his pocket, opened it up and pulled out a photograph of happier times. It was a picture of himself and Franc taken one summer when they had gone camping in the New Forest, they hadn’t had much money then but it hadn’t mattered, they were happy and in love. The picture was taken in front of their tent, they were laughing and trying to get as close to each other as possible so that they would both be in the frame, he smiled as he remembered how difficult it was to take a selfie without a smart phone or digital camera, they had taken quite a few pictures like that, hoping to get at least one good one back when they were developed. They had had such a wonderful time on that holiday, the British weather had been on their side and the summer had remained hot and dry. They had lazed in the sun drinking beer and gone swimming in the sea at Bournemouth, eaten ice cream and chips as they wandered hand in hand along the sea front, they hadn’t had a care in the world.
Kori wiped his eyes and returned the picture back to his wallet, he missed Franc desperately but wanted to keep him safe, safe from the nightmare that was chasing him, forcing him to leave the only place that he had ever been happy.
Another week had passed and Kori was tired and hot, the ships galley was small and below deck, it had no windows and no air con either but this was the last meal he would have to prepare for the Crew. They had caught their quota and would soon make port in Morocco at which point they would part company and Kori would disappear amongst the tourists and plan his next move. He knew that he had to sleep, he had read about what sleep deprivation could do to a person but those eyes kept him awake, when he did finally succumb to exhaustion the nightmares would come and scare him into wakefulness drenched in a cold sweat with a scream on his lips. He couldn’t go on like this; he needed to stop the horrors invading his sleep. If the being in his dreams and memory knew him then surely, he must know it also but all he can remember are the eyes in the alley, he can’t imagine them anywhere else and can’t remember any other features of the person, it must be a person if it knows him right? Nightmare creatures don’t exist outside of the mind and movies. Kori is certain that knowing who the person is, is key to ending his nightmares and possibly his flight of fear but where on earth do you start to search for something or someone when you have no idea of who or what they are? But the more pressing question was did he really want to know who it was, to find them? They had shown a skill that he did not understand, an ability to come and go from a locked house without leaving a trace, could they also make him vanish the same way? Without a trace? He didn’t want to find out so for now he would continue with his flight.
Kori Found a place to stay, calling it a studio flat was being generous, as it was little bigger than a bedsit but it did contain a living/sleeping area, a kitchenette and a small shower/toilet room. It was situated in an area not frequented by the tourists of Marrakech but was still close enough to the crowds that he felt he could disappear if necessary. He had paid two months in advance figuring that with the pound being so much stronger than the local currency it wouldn’t hurt and if he had to leave in a hurry, he wouldn’t be losing much out of his funds. Fortunately the man he was renting from thought cash in advance trumped the need for identification, Kori didn’t even have to tell him his name, not that he would of given his real name but still no names at all was better.
Kori dropped his holdall onto the bed and headed back out to join the throngs of people wandering around the streets and markets of Marrakech, he needed to buy some groceries, wanting to stock up so that he didn’t have to venture out again unless it was absolutely necessary. Strolling down the street he came across a local supermarket; he went in and bought enough meat, vegetables, fruit and snacks for a few days. Heading back to the flat he tried not to look suspicious or make it obvious that he was looking over his shoulder, expecting to see the eyes staring at him from every shadow or to hear the voice whisper in his ear ‘I know you’ he almost jumped out of his skin when a hand touched his shoulder. He turned expecting to die and released the scream he was holding in as a long unsteady breath when he realised that it was just a market trader wanting him to look over his goods, Kori declined and hurried away. Gaining entry to his flat, he locked the door behind him and breathed a sigh of relief. With his heart pounding in his throat he put the food away and sunk down onto an arm chair, the only furniture apart from a single bed and small table with one wooden chair pushed up against it, ‘Kori’ he thought to himself ‘you have got to stop freaking yourself out like this! You have left no trail behind you since landing in Cyprus, whoever it is could not have possibly found you so soon!’ Knowing this did not make it any easier for him to believe but he had to try and relax, maybe if he could stop the nightmares then he could start to relax a little, to think rationally about his situation.
Kori had settled in to the busy and vibrant life of Marrakesh. Keeping himself busy with cash in hand jobs, he hadn't noticed the weeks slip by. He worked each day until he could no longer stand, hoping that eventually he would fall into a dreamless sleep. Despite his efforts each night he woke drenched in a cold sweat and choking his heart back down into his chest, at least he had stopped screaming but he couldn't shake the fear that memory instilled in him. Eyes that appeared to glow and the sort of voice you only hear in movies and nightmares but it was real. He had heard it and the owner, whoever or whatever it was claimed to know him. Kori couldn't imagine knowing anyone that disturbing but you don't really know what people are like behind closed doors, you wouldn't have many successful serial killers if it was obvious what they got up to.
Kori returned to his flat after another long day working for a local builder who needed extra hands and didn't care where they came from as long as they could do the job. He didn’t need the money but couldn't sit around all day, his traitorous mind kept dragging his thoughts back to the reason that he had left his home behind him. He found that wandering the streets did not help either as he was constantly looking over his shoulder, so he worked to keep his mind busy and his body strong. He hadn't earned a lot but he had covered his expenses whilst he had been living in Morocco so he wasn't really out of pocket and could move on but he liked it here and how far could he really get? It stood to reason that eventually he would be getting closer to England rather than further away, as you always will when traveling around a circle or sphere. Here was a good a place as any, if something happened to make him think he had been found he could move on, unless the indication was his death but then it wouldn't matter. He decided that he would stay here until the work dried up or he was found, he was sure that found really meant dead but he wasn't ready to fully admit that to himself yet. He figured that to continue running around the globe would be fruitless and would only keep the inevitable from happening for so long, eventually his hunter would catch up to him and he would die he just hoped that his running hadn't caused the death of Franc, that he couldn't bare. He clung to the hope that his hunter would leave Franc and their friends alone as he had said that he would make Kori watch as he killed them all in front of him. In which case he would have to be caught before that could happen. A moving target was harder to hit than a static one. Kori would have to keep running.
With a heavy heart and a mind in turmoil wanting to stay put but now knowing that if he did he would be caught and unable to save Franc, Kori sighed and picked himself up and dragged himself into his little kitchen to prepare a dinner of pork chops and salad, whilst cooking, he also prepared tomorrows lunch. After eating his simple meal he got into the shower to wash away the dust from the day wishing he could wash his troubles away with the grime as he watched it swirl away down the drain with the bubbles from his shower gel. Switching off the water Kori wandered into his bedroom and flopped down on to his bed without drying himself first, the heat would take care of that and he hoped that the evaporating water would help him to stay cool long enough to fall asleep and he also hoped that the nightmares would give him a reprieve if only for one night. The heat didn't subside no matter what time of day or night it was and with no air-con the flat was stifling so he switched on the small fan by his bedside which rather than cooled him just moved the hot air around but even that small breeze was better than nothing. Laying on top of the sheets, staring at the ceiling he tried to empty his mind he didn't want to think, thinking would just keep him from the blessed relief of sleep and may even encourage the nightmares but it was no good his mind was like a dog with a bone, no matter how hard he tried he couldn't stop thinking about all that had transpired over the last few months. Picking up a book he tried to read but couldn't concentrate, the words swirled around the page in front of his eyes, he snapped the book shut and dropped it back on to his nightstand. Closing his eyes he waited for the morning to come.