A bright light shone through the window by the front of Silas' bed; daytime's angry cries forcing his sleep to retreat. He gasped as he awakened, sharp pains in his chest causing him difficulty breathing for a moment. Sharp pains in a line. From elbow to shoulder. Then a dull ache, as if his ribs were broken; the taste of blood in his mouth; chapped lips.
He willed himself to his feet as fast as possible - trying to force his way past the pain he was experiencing. That dream he'd had: was this all because of that? Was it really a dream? Were the people in his dreams - those barbaric people - really doing something to him?
Silas forced the thought out of his mind. No. He collected his thoughts, telling himself to be rational about all of this. Possibly he just wasn't well. Maybe he should see a doctor about it? He shuddered at the thought of the various needles, saws and other horrific memories he'd gained from a childhood as a sickly young lad.
No. The doctor was the last port of call in this case. Maybe there was a cure-all he could buy from the chemist's?
"Thank you, please come again," the man behind the counter bowed
'Not unless I have no other choice,' muttered Silas under his breath.
What a waste of time that had been. No cure-alls in shop at all. Well, they had been going out of fashion for a few years, with all that new fangled "medicine" replacing them. Fat lot of good that was: Silas strongly believed, like his father, that they were no use for curing anything.
Instead, he'd just purchased a bottle of tonic water; maybe Hettie would join him on the lawn for a g&t later.
Silas paused for a moment. Or then, maybe she wouldn't. She had strange ideas about bad luck caused by the bride and groom seeing each other before the wedding. Surely it was fine over a week before the wedding though? After all, she'd come to see him and Oliver play tennis the day before, so would she be annoyed if he visited?
Hopefully not. He adjusted his hat and walked down a side alley; a shortcut he remembered from a previous time.
A shadow slipped behind him, drawing a knife from its person and then holding it up to his back.
"Don't move an inch guvnor," its voice rasped, "Put your hands up real slow like,"
Silas grimaced and slowly raised his arms. Or at least, he was going to. It was over in a flash, blood spurting from the man in the shadows' neck, the knife skittering on the ground, and then finally a dull thud as the (now) corpse hit the cobbles.
Silas looked at his bloody hand, lodged in the man's neck. He felt ill as he retracted it. Glancing at blood covering his jacket, he shuddered. It seemed strangely... like it was calling to him... asking him to lick it. He doubled over and retched in disgust both at himself and the wretched deed he had committed. He had to get out of there, and fast, before the bobbies on the beat poked their heads around the corner...
Hettie stared at him, her mouth open in horror. He didn't want her to see him looking like this. Hell, he didn't want to look like this in the first place, blood splattered across his clothes, but he needed help from someone who wouldn't think he was a criminal. Surely Hettie wouldn't?
"Are you hurt?" Her features suddenly alert and attentive, "What happened?"
He tried to think. What had happened? Would she believe him even if he could tell her? Suddenly he felt weak, and his legs buckled below his feet. He vaguely remembered hearing a cry before everything went dark...
A comfy bed. Fluffy down filled pillows. These and a worried but smiling face were around as Silas painfully sat up. His chest hurt and his hands moved to it, only to find bandages. Was he... was he hurt?
Hettie looked relieved as she realised he wasn't in any imminent danger.
"What happened? Who hurt you like this?" She asked calmly, "And... what happened to them?"
Inside, part of Silas smiled. What a perfect situation. Outside, his features remained blank.
"There was a man... in the gutters... he had a knife and attacked," He looked at the bandages on his chest, "I suppose he must have cut me... I lashed out in retaliation and he must have been cut by his knife... I ran... didn't know where to go..."
His bride to be looked on the verge of tears. She kissed his forehead tenderly.
"It will all be right in the end, Silas, do not worry," Her face revealed some hypocrisy in her words, but soon changed again, "Why don't you stay here for the night? Get some rest."
He nodded slowly at her and then tried to lay himself down on the bed again...