I ran for miles, back to the High Street, the town, Douitchurch, the village, and my house. But I couldn't stop there. The memories were back. And they were back with a purpose, and they were back with a vengeance.
I didn't think until I was on the hills, looking down into the valley with the farmhouse. Once again I felt calmed by the sight of the peaceful stone house nestled inside the valley, a plume of smoke rising into the sky, soothing the air.
Revenge; the whisper was gone. It had not been telling me of my own revenge. It had been warning me. The steely voice meant revenge. The man in black meant revenge. The flash of the knife meant revenge. And the blue doors meant Hell. Revenge for what? I didn't know.
After a while I became aware of another presence sitting beside me on the grass, but it was not a threatening presence. It was as calming as the smoke, and it was sad.
"Can you tell me, Den?" said a girl's voice, and for a moment I thought it was Vere.
But it couldn't have been. Not that I dared to look. If it was Vere, and I looked, would she not vanish on the spot?
So I told the voice, the presence, everything. And it listened. And it was all sympathy. And understanding. How I had longed for understanding.
"You could say I have been through the same," said the voice. "But I took one path, and you another. And that's our difference. You must go back, Den."
"How?" I croaked.
"It's easy." The voice paused, and I heard breathing. "Over to your right you can see a green hill a few miles away. And on top of that hill you can see a wooden cross to mark the top of the hill." There was another hesitation. "Or to mark a death there."
I turned my head, away from the voice, which was on the left and slightly behind me. I could see a green hill, and very faintly, I could see a cross. And the world shrank to that cross on the green hill, and became everything, the voice narrating gently.
"I like to imagine that was the place where a man was once crucified," said the voice. "His father loved his people, and his kingdom, and the man's son loved them too. So he was killed on that cross, spat on, jeered at, stabbed in the side, wearing a crown of thorns that pricked his head. But he bore it all, because of his love."
I sighed with bliss. A story of love was a revelation. Everything for me was hate. I so wished that moment that love was my master.
"And he suffered and died - who knows how much - and now we only have to ask for our sins to be forgiven. We only have to ask for a clean start, a fresh beginning, and all our wrongs are erased. All the suffering is done, and if only we ask, and have no regrets, and truly mean it, we have nothing more to be afraid of."
I recognised the story well. But it had never been put to me in such a way before. I longed to be included. It was a revelation to hear such a story. If only it could work for me.
I looked at the cross, and the cross looked back at me. In the halflight of the orange sunset, the brightest sunset in Douitchurch for years, I seemed to see a body on the cross, secured with iron nails, a crown of thorns adoring the body's head. I was overcome with mourning, gratitude and longing to be part of that love that made him do this for me.
"How do I ask for forgiveness?" I said.
"Just ask. 'Forgive me, Lord, for all of my sins, and I promise to try to do better.'"
I tried to obey. "Forgive me, Lord, for all of my sins, and..."
I stopped. My tonne weight fell away and I felt my shoulders light and untroubled my the aches and pains of life. I felt light-headed, happy, loved.
I imagined myself finishing the sentence:. "...and I promise to try to do better."