Chapter Eighteen

Naomi

Liverpool, Wednesday, October 31

I sit trembling on the stairs outside my apartment. The image of the dead man is indelibly engraved on my mind. I felt sick when I saw the hole in his head and the blood and brains surrounding him. I know, without doubt, that the stairs and the door in the terrifying premonition I had a week ago were my stairs and my door and the subsequent portents of disaster and feelings of terror that lay behind them are connected to the horror I have just witnessed.

   I am so glad that Alex is here. She has taken over. She rings Salisbury, and within minutes Rodney Street is closed off, and Police are everywhere.

   I think she must have seen similar scenes before for her to act so calmly and swiftly. It is incredible to think that this is the same woman who nearly died a few days ago. Alex is indeed an enigma. By appearance, she looks so vulnerable and remote but beneath that veneer is a startling toughness.

   On our way home last night, she revealed more about herself; the fact that she had been in the military police; her tempestuous relationship to a bully and tyrant and how it persuaded her to strike out on her own.

   I responded by revealing more about myself; my failed marriage that was more due to boredom and disgust than abuse; my lifelong torment due to my ability in the psychic world and my love of art. We both agreed that the opposite sex could remain at arm’s length for the foreseeable future.

   She joins me on the stairs and hands me a mug of tea. I sip it gratefully.

   ‘You OK?’

   ‘Yeah, I’ll survive.’

   ‘Salisbury is going to talk to us soon.’ 

   I just nod, the vision of the dead man still stark in my mind. ‘I suppose you have seen all this sort of thing before?’

   ‘Once or twice.’

   ‘This is the first time I have seen a dead body. You probably think that strange with me communicating with the dead. But it’s somehow different once they have passed over – almost as though they are living again.’

   She looks at me strangely and nods. Then I tell her about my dream or vision of a week ago and premonitions of death I have had since and how they are undoubtedly a warning about today and probably even future events.

   ‘Don’t you see,’ I say to her. ‘The stairs I ‘saw’ are these stairs, and the door was this door.’

   She puts her arm around me and says, smiling: ‘It’s a pity your visions can’t be more specific. It would have saved us both a lot of trouble.’

   I look at her and grimace. ‘I wish,’ I simply answer.

   She is right of course, but precognition just doesn’t work like that with me. With most people, most of the precognitive experiences happen within a forty-eight-hour period before the future event, and often it is within twenty-four hours, but it can be weeks or even months ahead of the actual event taking place. I at one time compared notes with other psychics and the consensus was that an unhappy event – like death, illness, accidents, and natural disasters – is four times more likely to be the subject of precognition.

   A few minutes later Inspector Salisbury squats down on the stairs beside us and asks if we OK. We nod. He turns to me and asks: ‘Are you quite certain this is one of the men that was in the pub?’

   ‘No doubt about it.’

   ‘And the apartment door was open when you arrived?

   ‘Was it wide open?

   ‘No, it was just slightly open. I wonder how they got in.’

   ‘It looks like the Yale was picked. You didn’t lock the mortise, did you?’

  ‘I’m afraid not inspector.’

   ‘And neither of you have touched anything?’

   ‘I rang you as soon as I saw what had happened,’ Alex says. ‘And then we came out here until you arrived.’ He nods.

   ‘Well, I’m afraid we can’t let you back in for a few days. SOCO and our forensics people have got a lot to keep them occupied. The pathologist is in there now. We will arrange a hotel for you if you have nowhere else to stay.’

   He glances from Alex to me and then says: ‘And don’t worry we will clean the apartment up when we have finished. You won’t know anything has happened.’

   I felt like saying that I will probably be having nightmares for months, but instead, I just nod and thank him.

   He stands up and says softly: ‘I know this is horrible, but actually it gives us our first decent lead in all this. We are going to check his identity and nationality and we have a search ongoing for his companion, although we think it likely that this is the work of somebody else. I will keep in touch.’

   A thought occurs to me: ‘I think I’ll ring my brother to see if he will put us up for a while. He lives in Snowdonia. Quite honestly, I think we need to get away from this place for a week or two. Will that be alright?

   Salisbury looks from one to the other. ‘I can’t see a problem with that providing you give us the address, and we already have phone numbers.’

   ‘Can we go in and pack our things.’

   ‘Yes, I’ll get an officer to escort you back in.’

   I thank him. He goes into my apartment. There is no sign of Sergeant Bannon. After he leaves Alex looks at me: ‘Are you sure you want me along. Won’t your brother mind putting up a total stranger?’

   I shake my head: ‘Neal won’t mind. I’ll call him later. We will stay the night here in a hotel and drive to Snowdonia tomorrow. I’ll hire a car.’

   ‘No, you won’t. I’ll hire a car. It’s the least I can do.’

   Later, when we are settled into a small hotel not far from my apartment, and Alex has gone to hire a car, I ring Neal.

   His phone rings for a while and then a breathless voice answers: ‘Neal, it’s me, Naomi.’

   ‘Sis. How are you? How’re the spirits? He chuckles.

   ‘The same as ever.’ I smile at his cheerful voice.

   Neal is my younger brother by five years. I was always the older sister who he worshipped and followed around like a pet lamb, but as we grew older our paths diverted, and whereas my path led me to art, his led him to the outdoor life and, specifically, mountaineering and ironwork which is partly why he lives in Snowdonia. He is a mountain rescue volunteer and has a thriving trade in ornamental ironwork.

   He has always poked fun at my psychic ability in public, but in private he is more circumspect having witnessed many odd things over the years.

   ‘What have you been up to?’

   ‘You are not going to believe me. To start with we found a dead body in my apartment this morning.’

   ‘One of your spirits then?’

   ‘No Neal. I’m serious. A real body. He had been shot in the head. Then a few days ago somebody tried to murder my friend and about two weeks before that a man I gave a reading to was murdered.’

   There is a long silence: ‘Bloody hell. Are you taking the piss Sis?’

   ‘I wish I was. My problem is that the police have kicked us out of the apartment because their forensics people are going to be here for days. They have put us in a hotel, but I need to get away from Liverpool for a week or so. Can we come and stay with you?’

   ‘Who is we?’ asks Neal.

   ‘Oh, it’s my friend Alex. She is from Canada. It’s a long story. I’ll tell you all about it.’

   ‘Yes of course you can stay. You will have to share a room though.’

   ‘No problem. Thanks, Neal. We’ll see you tomorrow.’

   Shortly afterwards, Alex returns swinging car keys from her index fingers: ‘It’s not a limo. But it’s comfortable and it will get us there.’

   I told her about my chat with Neal. ‘We leave tomorrow.’

   At Rodney Street it is the third time in half an hour a jogger slowly lopes past Naomi’s apartment, taking a close interest in all the police activity.

   Nobody notices.

Published by pod1942

I am a cereer journalist having worked for the London Dail Mail, Reuters and latterly the Liverpool Daily Post on Merseyside as well as the journalists’ leader in the region. I have experience as a crime reporter, feature writer, business editor and latterly, a senior sub-editor. My qualifications include a BA (Hons) English, from the University of Liverpool; a BA (Hons) Fine Art and an MA in Creative Practice both from Liverpool Hope University. I now divide my time between art and writing. I will shortly be publishing my first full-length novel, The Poseidon Files and as a taster I have written a short story which features the same central female character in which she talks about her world and her life. It is, however, essentially a ghost story.

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