23

An increasing sense of panic was slowly engulfing Dermot. He was inwardly reprimanding himself for not following his earlier instinct to go home and resist the terrifying possibility of change. However, amongst the confusion he felt an underlying urge that, perhaps, he had been following his instinct all along, he had unwittingly found himself stood on Finchley Road station, so maybe this was where he was meant to be.

He shook himself, trying to free himself of the doubts that had been plaguing him all day. He decided to be decisive and go to where he now knew he had to go. He zipped up his coat so it covered his chin, giving him an extra layer of warmth and protection, and set off walking. He merged into the throng of commuters and felt a wonderful sense of anonymity as he walked confidently on. He felt invigorated. He realised he had never felt a sense of purpose like he felt right now. As he marched up the escalator passing a blur of faces, he realised everything was beginning to fall into place. His mind was working overtime, he realised the events of the previous week had all been leading up to this moment. 

He was becoming euphoric, and let out a small yelp which drew shocked glances from people close to him. But the looks he received now didn't hurt him like they had done earlier, he felt liberated. The clarity of thought he was having was something he had never experienced before. His thoughts were all beginning to converge on one point, or more accurately, two digits. 23. He knew there was more significance to them than just a door number, he scoured his mind. 

At this moment, he exited the Station and the morning sun hit him. It made him squint and felt a lot hotter than when he had boarded the train. He turned onto Finchley Road and immediately located the odd numbers and set off down the road. 

He had got as far as No. 15 when he saw them. In an instant, all his earlier optimism drained from him. He turned quickly around and started walking in the opposite direction. Panic was spreading all over him as he passed house number 17, he turned around again, No 19 went by, he turned around again. He was aware of people watching him, kids looking and laughing at the crazy man spinning in the street. He felt defeated, he would accept his fate. He would go where he needed to go. He regained his composure and walked past number 21 and found himself stood looking up at the door which contained the keys to his future. 

The End

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