I attempt to bring my hand to my face. But, I can’t. They’re bound behind my back. I look to my feet, also tied to the legs of the chair I’m seated in with a bit of rope. I’m facing the wall opposite the bathroom. “What the hell?” I mumble.
I struggle against the rope binding my arms together. “You’re back,” I can hear Lucy saying. She places her hands to the back of my chair and unties the tight knots in the rope. I pull the restraint from my waist and bend down to free my legs. “What’s going on?”
“Do you not remember?” she asks. I furrow my brow at her as I turn to join her on the sofa. She’s sitting beside Lenny, who’s holding a blood soaked piece of tissue to his nose. “What happened to you?” I ask, concern lacing through my voice.
“You punched me, well, the Reaper did. You were possessed by him.” he tells me. “You also tried to kill Cole and nearly broke Lucy’s wrist.”
“What?” I ask. “Did I actually?”
Lucy nods. I take her hand in mine. “I’m so sorry,” I say, as she winces. I look to her hand, which she pulls away. “Does it hurt a lot?”
“Thomas, it’s okay,” she says.
I look to Lenny, who removes the tissue. There’s still blood dripping down his face. I must’ve swung at him with an excessive amount of force. “Lenny, I’m so sorry,” I say. “What did I do to Cole? How did I nearly kill him?”
“You-- the Reaper, pinned him to the wall and tried strangling him.”
“What?” I say. “Where is he? Is he alright?”
Lucy nods. “He’s okay. We stopped you before it got too far. He’s in the bathroom.”
I nod and dash towards the bathroom door. “Cole? Can I come in?”
The lock in the door makes a clinking noise as he turns the key from the inside. I push the door open and step inside. My eyes widen as I look to Cole sitting on the bathroom floor. He’s eyes are reddened by tears. I sink down to the floor and sit opposite him. “Cole, I’m so sorry,” I gulp. “Are you alright?”
He bows his head. “Yeah,” he rasps. “I just--”
“What?” I ask.
He levels his face to mine. “When the Reaper possessed you, he told me I was first and that he was going to kill me. He didn’t succeed this time, so he’s going to do it the next time he--”
“No, he’s not,” I state. “I won’t let him. I promise.”
I swallow down tears. “But, Thomas,” he croaks. “The only way you can stop him possessing you is by--”
He pauses as the penny drops. “I know,” I swallow. “But, if it’ll get my friends and family out of the danger that I’m putting them in, then--”
“No,” he gasps. “Thomas, you can’t do that. We all want to help, and none of us are holding what happened against you. It’s not your fault.”
I bow my head. “But it is,” I sob. “I mean, if I had just listened to my dad, to my best mate, and Lucy, then maybe I wouldn’t have met with the Reaper in the woods the day he sent me that note. And if I hadn’t have met him and he hadn’t taken me captive, then all these visions and possessions wouldn’t be happening right now and I wouldn’t be threatening and hurting everybody I care--. Alex died last year, then Mr Blanchard, and then Matt. I can’t let anyone else die at my hands. I have to go back to Eventide and get my dad to step down and then put an end to mess.”
“Thomas,” Cole says. “Listen to me. You’re not seriously suggesting ending your life?”
I bow my head. “I’ve never been able to end his. And if I end mine, then who knows, maybe it’ll weaken him. I mean, if the part of his soul that’s living in me no longer has a host to cling to, then--”
“Thomas,” he says. “This is not some fantasy movie, okay? This is a real life and death situation. You do this, and you break your family to pieces. You leave Lucy, who loves you, behind. Your mates back home lose another friend, and so do Lenny and I.”
“Please, Cole,” I swallow. “Please don’t make me feel bad about this.”
“Thomas, please promise me you won’t do this. After you passed out, Lucy was in tears. She won’t admit it, but she could hardly bear having you tied to that chair. She loves you. And she’ll be absolutely devastated if you do this.”
I creak the door open ajar. I watch her as she climbs onto the lower of one of the bunks and pulls a book from her bag and starts reading it. I crack a faint smile at her as she purses her lips in concentration. He’s using my weakness against me and it’s having effect. I love her so much and I never want to hurt her. I don’t want her to hate me if I decide to leave her behind, but if I stay, I’m putting her in more danger. I don’t know what to do. I blink away a tear and turn back to face Cole.
“Please, Thomas. Promise me you won’t do this.”
I look him in the eye, take in a deep breath, collect my thoughts and release a pained sigh. “I promise.”
Cole nods. “You want to watch some TV?” he asks.
“Sure,” I say. “Why not?”
I pull the covers from my body and fold it back over Lucy to keep her warm. I take a seat on the edge of the bed and peer across the dark room to check on Cole and Lenny. Lenny’s eyes are closed, so I think he’s asleep, and Cole’s snoring from the top bunk. I grab my trainers and slip my feet into them. I pull a hoodie over my t-shirt and turn back to face Lucy. She’s sleeping peacefully. I smile weakly at her and swallow down my tears. I bring my face towards hers and plant a gentle kiss to her cheek. “I’m sorry, Luc,” I whisper. “I know you wanted to help, but I’ve realized that this really is something I have to sort out myself. I love you. Goodbye.”
I slowly rise from the edge of the bed, so as not to creak the frame. I grab hold of my rucksack and take a set of keys from the counter top. As quietly as I can, I unlock it and pull it closed. Once I lock it from the outside, I bend down and slot the keys underneath the door frame and they land on the carpet with a slight jingle. I look around the hallway of this building for the first time and walk down it, until I reach a flight of stairs. Tears still welling in my eyes, I make my way down them. The stairs end at a doorway, which I push open. I’m now standing in the open air of the night. I close the door and step out onto the street.
I approach a bus stop, which is conveniently in my sight. I take a seat under its shelter and wait for the next bus to arrive. Luckily, one pulls into sight. As it slowly rolls up the street, I fling my bag over my shoulder and make my way to the curb. I reach into my pocket and fumble about for the sufficient change for the bus ride. “Where to?” the driver asks, as I board the bus.
“Can I get a one way ticket to Eventide please,?” I hand him the change and he passes me my ticket. I traipse down the aisle, taking a seat near the back of the near empty bus. As the driver pulls out from the curb, I glance at the doorway I just walked through. In sync with a water droplet rolling down the window, a tear slowly falls down the side of my face.