They emerged into Lime street station in Liverpool. It was a while since Malcolm had been there. Melissa had been many times, but not since she had started university, two years ago. Many people were simply waiting around, waiting for their trains. Some stared up at the arrivals and departures board. A lot of people simply passed through. Outside of a café, four sets of steel tables and chairs had been set up. One of them was occupied by a white moustached, overweight man who looked to be in his late forties. He only had a black coffee before him. He was just staring at nothing, daydreaming his own private thoughts, in his own private world.
“Shall we grab a coffee before we make our way down there?” asked Malcolm, looking at the tables.
“Why not?” said Melissa, and they were soon sat opposite each other, tea and coffee both curling steam between them.
“So what’s all this for then?” he asked, gesturing to the camcorder bag. “What’s it aiming towards?”. Melissa took a sip of tea and said:
“It’ll be aiming towards you when you find Ian”. Malcolm smiled slightly. She continued:
“I’m studying for a foundation degree in digital media production. I’m hoping to become a multimedia designer. It’s a niche market to get into, and there’s plenty of competition If I can’t get into that, then I’ll try and settle for something related in some way”. There was a few seconds silence. Then she asked:
“So what about you, what d’you hope to do after Uni?”. He sipped his coffee.
“I’d like to be a systems analyst, although at the present rate it doesn’t look as if I’ll get very far. I suppose I should be studying now, not travelling up here to find ‘Ian’, who exists in the mind of some psychic who I gave twenty quid to”.
“What if he’s right? this Curio. What if Ian is here? and he tells you everything to put your mind at ease. Curio must have something, some gift. I mean, he’s found five missing persons in a row. That must have some significance in proving that he has some connection with the paranormal. If Ian is here, then that will definitely prove it. Curio will have some connections with the other side. It won’t be speculation any more. No more, are ghosts real? It’ll prove life after death as well, won’t it? Do you think he communicated with your father?”.
“I’d like to think so, but the cynic in me has doubts. Let’s go and find Ian, then I’ll give Curio more credibility if he’s right”.
They left the station, the large structure of St George’s hall imposing over to their right. They were faced with a choice of directions.
“What way is it?” asked Melissa. “I haven’t been here for ages”.
“Erm…I think we go straight ahead” said Malcolm.
After around ten minutes, they arrived at the wide paved area between the Liver buildings and the railing looking out across the River Mersey to the Wirral. Melissa took out the camcorder and set about getting it ready. They headed closer to the water and stopped at the metal barrier.
“If we find him,” said Malcolm, “Are you just going to start filming? or are you going to ask for his permission? He might be camera shy”.
“Well I need the marks, so I’ve decided to just take the risk. If he tells me to stop filming, then I will. Actually, I suppose I should do an introduction to say what it is we’re actually doing. Can you film me?”. Malcolm nodded, and she handed him the camera. Soon she was in shot, the river behind, the film rolling.
“I’m here with Malcolm…” she went to say his second name, but then realised that she didn’t know it. “..and with regards to the reading he had from Curio Enchantment, he has kindly agreed to let me follow up the information he was given by the psychic. We are here at the Pier head, looking for ‘Ian’. I’m hoping we find him”. She nodded for Malcolm to finish, and he stopped the film and handed it back to Melissa.
“Right then,” he said. “Where do we begin?”. He scanned around. The passers-by and tourists did not fit into the vagabond description. For around five minutes they wondered around, but could see no candidates. There was an archway near the fence, and they decided to search through there. It was a wide walkway that led to the Albert dock. When they walked through, Malcolm stopped, as around halfway along, leaning against the rail, looking down at the irregular surface of the Mersey, was a candidate. From around thirty metres away, he could see that he had wiry, unwashed hair, and a dark brown coat that was stained and rough, as though he’d found it in a skip, and had never taken it off in many years. Malcolm looked at Melissa and nodded in his direction. She saw him, then prepared the camcorder.
“Get a bit closer,” she said, “and I’ll film you as you approach him”.
“Are you sure you’re going to take the risk? He’ll probably take one look at that and grab it, and run off to buy some meths”. He looked back at him. He was now staring at the Wirral. Malcolm slowly breathed in a nervous breath, then slowly walked across to him. Melissa approached around four metres behind, and a few people passed between them, casting curious glances at the lens.
“Excuse me,” said Malcolm, tapping the man’s shoulder. He quickly turned and looked directly at him, as though his peace and solitude had been rudely interrupted. His face was reddened and wrinkled. He looked to be in his late fifties, and had a curly white beard at around half an inch, stained tobacco yellow.
“What?” he said, frowning. Malcolm felt even more nervous.
“Are you…er..Ian? A friend of Peter Selden’s, my father”. The man’s face changed to one of surprise.
“Malcolm,” he said. “Malcolm. Yes, I knew your Father. It’s such an honour to meet you”. He proffered a wrinkled, tobacco stained hand to him. Malcolm shook it reluctantly.
“Oh…Ok.” he said “I was hoping you could tell me why he would kill my Mother. There must have been a reason behind it”. He noticed a tear trickle down Ian’s face.
“It’s such an honour,” he said. “To meet the son of a partisan. Peter was such a good man, and now he’s let me back in by sending me his son to give me back my dignity”. Melissa edged closer, keeping both of them in shot. Ian didn’t look at her.
“What the hell was my Father into? Was he member of a cult or something?”
“I was with him. I was with him but I never was infected. I was too scared”.
“Infected? Infected with what?”
“Don’t you see? Peter has sent you to help me finish what I never started. My fear stopped me, but not now. It cannot stop me now. Peter has forgiven me by giving you to me. We were meant to be infected together, and your Father was. He took the life of the willing victim”.
“What?...hold on, are you saying my mother was involved? She wanted to be killed?”.
“Absolutely. To die for the virus is an honour. Now that your father has absolved me, and let me back in, I hope to rectify my mistakes by taking the first step to redemption.”
“Virus? Redemption? What the fuck?” More tears flowed down the man’s face.
“Thank-you, Malcolm, for restoring my nobility and infecting me with your father’s inheritance. To send me you I cannot hope to repay my thanks and support. It is with honour and a sympathetic spirit that truly must be considered for there is the devotion of kindred essence within us that can be….”. He then stopped. No more tears flowed, and his face became stern and he stared with absolute abhorrence at Malcolm. He reached into his inside pocket.
“What do you…?” Malcolm asked.
“Malcolm look out!” shouted Melissa. Ian swiftly brought out a gleaming carving knife and swiped at Malcolm. Malcolm stepped quickly back. He turned and made to run, but looked at Melissa who was backing away quickly, staring in panic at Ian. Ian did not seem to notice her. He broke into a run, his eyes fixed on Malcolm. Malcolm turned and ran. The man was fast. He advanced rapidly, but Malcolm kept the edge as they ran across the paved area of the pier head. Malcolm gained around ten metres, looking around sporadically to see that Ian was still in pursuit, knife glinting. Without thinking straight, Malcolm dashed into a road. A bus screeched to a halt, the driver angrily banging the horn. He ran onto the pavement. On the other side of the bus, a transit van appeared and slammed into Ian. It was a loud crack that made Malcolm stop and turn around. Ian was lying on his back about eight metres before the vehicle. The windshield was cracked. The driver walked across to Malcolm, his face one of despair.
“I’m sorry mate,” he said. “I’m sorry, he just came outta nowhere”. Melissa had caught up, but she had decided not to carry on filming. She joined Malcolm, and was about to speak, when they saw Ian move. They all looked at him, and saw him slowly getting to his feet. The left side of his face had a deep laceration, and was bleeding. There was also a burn mark where his face had scraped along the tar-mac. His expression was the same. He was still clutching the knife, and looked up at Malcolm, then began to run at him again. He did not look at anybody else. Malcolm turned and ran again. Ian dashed between Melissa and the driver.
“Stop him, he’s got a knife,” she said to the driver. He looked in the direction of the pursuit, then hurriedly got back in his van. His passenger looked at him as if to say: ‘What’s going on? What are we doing?’ Performing a swift U-turn, he sped onwards, and found Ian around five metres behind Malcolm, dashing along the pavement. Ian did not look at the van, even though it was rapidly bearing down on him. It slammed into his side and he was sent careering into the side of a parked Hyundai Elantra. The van screeched to a halt and both occupants quickly left the vehicle and hurried across to Ian who was getting to his feet again, knife still in hand. Malcolm had stopped on the other side of the road and was looking back, ready to make another dash, even though he was breathing heavily. Ian was pushed to the floor, but got back up, was pushed to floor, but went to get back up. Ray Denton grabbed him with both hands and shoved him to the ground. Ian started to struggle in the direction of Malcolm. He did not utter a word, or indeed, a sound. Ray found his strength surprising for such a lithe man. He thrashed around, and Ray’s forearms were slashed a few times, but not on purpose.
“Ah!...Ste, open the van, open the van, let’s lock this fucker inside”. He slammed Ian twice against the pavement.
“What the fuck d’you think you’re doing? Calm the fuck down”. Ian continued to thrash, and more wounds were opened. He was looking in the general direction of Malcolm, even though a car door was in the way. He continued to try and crawl towards him, but Ray kept him pressed down. He looked back at Steven Rowley
“You opened that van yet? Fuckin’ hurry up. This bastard’s fucking mental”. Steve came hurrying over, and together they grabbed Ian who continued to thrash. Both of them received lacerations by the wildly swinging blade, and Ian continued to be silent. They dragged him to the back of the van, and hurled him inside. There were bags of cement and a bag of tools inside. Ray and Steve both slammed the doors, but then they heard a loud crash on the driver’s side. They walked around, and it came again. Melissa had joined Malcolm on the other side of the road. She was filming the van, watching as it rocked each time Ian threw himself in Malcolm’s direction. A few onlookers had stopped to watch. The van never had time to stabilise before Ian launched himself again. Some of the metal actually dented, but still, Ian was relentless. Soon though, the bangs became less and less, until the van stabilised. Ray and Steve just looked at each other, not knowing what to do. It was around two minutes before Ray slowly made his way to the back, and then cautiously opened one of the doors. Ian was dead. His head had collapsed over a bag of cement, his skull caved in as though it had been crushed in a vice. Each time he had hurled himself at the side of the van, his head had cracked against it simultaneously. At lot of his bones were also shattered, and he looked deflated, a puppet whose strings had been cut, cast aside, of use no longer.
Malcolm looked wide-eyed at Melissa.
“What the fuck was that about?” he asked, as if she would know. “That Curio was in touch with my Dad. I’ve got speak to him again”. As more curious onlookers gathered, they both hurried away.