That afternoon, after work, I went next door to fix up Mr Bayes’ fence.
Kate and James stood were waiting out the front and smiled at me as I walked up to them, “Hi Kate, hi James, ready to work?” Kate nodded eagerly and James mumbled something then agreed as Kate dug her elbow into his ribs. Mr Bayes opened his front door, it was an ornate oak door that looked almost as old as the rest of the house.
“Well if it isn’t Tom, the repair boy and his gang of merry followers.”
I frowned, “Nice to see you too, Mr Bayes. Would you please show us where the damage is?” Mr Bayes grumbled and led them through the old, dusty house. Its decorations seemed as sad as their owner, grey and falling apart, it gave the house an eerie feel to it, as if it was once alive but now fading away to a husk. Mr Bayes opened up the back door and my jaw dropped, the back fence was totally destroyed, as if a whole herd of boars ran through it.
“No worries Mr Bayes, we’ll have this done in a jiffy.” Or at least in the next three years, I thought to myself.
Mr Bayes’ face twitched into something that may have been a smile, “Thanks Thomas, I must lay out certain conditions though. Under no circumstances is anyone to go wandering around my house, the toilet is straight down the hallway and the kitchen is just inside the back door, you are not permitted in any other rooms, understood?”
The three of us nodded, “Yes Mr Bayes, of course.” And with that he put on his bowler hat and made his way to the Gathering.
Two hours later we were only half finished the fence. We could hear the festivities going on in town square in the distance and I longed to be there, dancing with Kate and eating good food.
James cleared his throat, “Thomas, why are we still here? We should be there, enjoying the party, not slaving away in an old man’s yard. I’m going.” And before Kate or I could protest he was gone.
I looked at the ground, “I shouldn’t have asked him to help, or you, Kate. You should both be enjoying the party.”
Kate grabbed my shoulders, “I don’t want to be at the party, Tom. I’d rather spend time with you, that’s my idea of fun. Don’t be sad ok?” My heart beat like crazy, her face was millimetres from mine. I leaned in and…..
Screaming, there had to be something to interrupt the best moment of my life. I turned my head in the direction of the party. The sky was red, and the smell of smoke thick in the air.
Kate looked at my, terrified, “Tom, what’s going on?”
I shook my head, “I have no idea, but let’s get inside the house until we work out what’s happening.” Kate nodded and we ran inside, I bolted the back door.
Kate stared, “Just a precaution.” I told her. She sat in an old armchair that groaned in protest to her weight, while I peeped out the curtains of the front window. It was that, peeping out the window, that I regret most. The street was littered with bodies, houses smouldering and hooded figured running around with strange lights in their hands. My hands shook as I sat down next to Kate, but she knew better than to ask why.
Suddenly the front door crashed open and a figure in a bowler hat stumbled through. Mr Bayes glared at us, his eyes glowing blue.
“What are you people doing just sitting here?” he said in a hushed voice. I looked at him, I felt strangely empty.
“What’s the point trying to save them?” I said, “We’d just die anyway.” Kate mumbled an agreement, and then looked at Mr Bayes with a puzzled expression.
“How are you, an old man, still alive when so many people have been killed?”
Mr Bayes sighed, “Look there no time to explain; right now we need to leave the city. I know a place where we can take shelter until it’s safe to return.” We slipped out the back door of his house through a hole in the fence… wait a hole in the fence? I had no choice but to keep following Kate and Mr Bayes, leaving my once glorious home city but now a slaughter house, burning to death.