The Hour Approaches...


  Around the time the Amazing Ranajay got himself stuck on the end of a giant drill, Dorus began the excruciatingly slow climb up the stairs of the house.  He'd been in this house before, when the Wraith had been out at work. He'd explored the house in painstaking detail, noting every creaky stair or squeaky door. He'd given the door handles an oil earlier today, but the staircase was another matter. He planned to set aside another hour to climb the stairs, and then another hour to reach the Wraith's bedside. This was the most difficult part of the entire operation and needed due care.

  For the moment, however, he had the stairs to climb.

  The church bells rang again. It was nine o'clock. Still plenty of time to do his work. It was hard work. It took several hours to execute, and whilst very dull, it required his full focus and attention. 

  Still, it would be worth it, Dorus thought to himself as he placed a foot on the first step. Once he had a Wraith's body for the consortium, they would certainly let him rejoin them. 

  His foot went to the second step. It didn't creak.

  He decided to place his foot next on the fourth step. He hung in midair for ten seconds and then stepped up. It didn't creak.

  Killing a Wraith was not easy. Getting close enough to kill one was tricky enough, and it required years of practice. Dorus had forgotten his patience the last time, and it had nearly cost him his life. He hadn't made that mistake again. He'd been under strict training ever since. 

  But even if a Silencer managed to get close enough to a Wraith to kill it, he still had to know how to kill it. This was even trickier. Wraiths are far stronger than human beings. They have superior senses  and a near indestructible body. Finally, they have no soul. It is difficult to kill anything without a soul.

  But, as it did not have a soul, it could not come back to life. That was the nice thing about killing a Wraith - once you did it, that was that. No human ever truly dies, but an empty soulless demon has nowhere to go.

  Dorus reached the top of the staircase before the clock struck ten. Holding onto the bannister with one gloved hand, he stood for a moment to get his bearings. He was standing on the landing. The bedroom he wanted was near the bathroom. Even in this darkness he could see which door was the bathroom door. It was the same as the other doors, except for a cutesy sign with painted blue bubbles dancing round the edges. Next to that was an airing cupboard, and next to that…

  The bedroom with the sleeping Wraith.

  Dorus began to move again, his movements precise and controlled, and very, very, very slow.

  The bedroom door opened before he could reach it. The Wraith stared at him with blank eyes.

  Dorus became a statue. Not that it made any difference, the thing had already seen him. It couldn't possibly have heard him, given the expression of surprise on it's face. So what was it doing out of bed?

  Probably going to the toilet, he reasoned. These things happen. Still, it didn't early make him feel any better. He was about to die. Again. He'd probably never rejoin the Consortium now. He'd taken on a Wraith and been defeated because of some stupid thing. Again. Good work, Dorus.

  The Wraith continued to stare. It had a female face and was wearing a nightie. Dorus nodded. It probably knew who he was and what he was doing in its house.

  'Go on,' he sighed. 'Kill me.'

  The Wraith's smile was so small that Dorus didn't even notice it. It took one small step forward. The house was filled with complete and utter silence. And then Dorus felt an ice cold finger touch his forehead.

  The pain was unbearable. The silence was suddenly painful. He felt it as a solid mass, constricting him, cutting off his air. He sank to his knees and clutched the folds of his robe between his fingers. He rocked back and forth, feeling the ebbing and pulsing in the air around him. There was water in his ears. He could taste colours. He couldn't breathe.

  The Wraith stepped over him, choosing to ignore the man weeping and choking on its floor. It thought about whether it was supposed to be hungry, and decided to make itself some toast, just to be on the safe side.

  It was a long time before Dorus stood up. He was weak from trying to make sense of the room, and what his senses were trying to do to him. Dorus re-examined his surroundings. He didn't think he'd died and been reincarnated again. He definitely wasn't a baby.

  He was going to leave the house himself. He wouldn't let that thing touch him again.


  Everyone is entitled to their beliefs.

  Some believe in some sort of afterlife when you die. If you do good things, you'll go to a happy place with pleasant lighting and as much strawberry milkshake as you can drink. If you do bad things, you will go to a terrible place with mismatching furniture, a lingering smell of old dogs, and all the food containing chillies of some description. This is the rough idea, but can have subtle variations.

  Some believe, as Dorus did, that the soul is reincarnated into a new body after you die.

  Many people in this day and age believe in ghosts. Especially the young, who enjoy exchanging spooky stories at camping sites or sleepovers. Later they will watch 'Saw' with their mates while trying not to choke on their tortilla chips.

  Paul didn't believe in ghosts. He was a man of science. Well, this wasn't exactly the case - he taught chemistry at a local secondary school. Like most male science teachers, he was bald; he wore deeply uninspiring clothes and shiny black shoes. He had three fillings on his teeth. His house was ramshackle and messy, and he lived alone.

  When he wasn't trying to control an unruly class of students and telling Dean from year nine not to throw paper at Amy's head again, he was at home, on his laptop, playing 'Cloisters and Creatures'. This was an online roleplaying game in which he, Paul Newman, got to battle monsters and fight evil mutant ninja zombie Emperors. He got to live in a world where people didn't call him Sir or hide his pens. He was a hero.

  Unfortunately, Paul wasn't very observant. A Wraith got him in the end, and all knowledge of Paul's beliefs about life after death was snuffed out with him.

  He died slumped up against his computer. The Wraith left him there. There was no blood, and no noise. Nobody knew he had died.

  The page Paul had last visited burned into the screen for many hours. 'Dr@gonsl@yer145', the player Paul had been chatting to, went offline after twenty minutes. The house was silent.

  When Sir didn't turn up for school the next day, someone from the school phoned his home number. There was no answer. 

  Sir didn't show up the next day either. A worried colleague sent the police round to his house. They borrowed a next door neighbour's spare key, and entered the house. 

  'Jesus Christ,' one remarked, gazing round at the mess. 'He could be buried under this lot for all we know.'

  They looked around the piles of rubbish and dirty washing, but of course found nothing. One of them strolled over to the abandoned desk area and turned the computer off at the wall. As he did so, the memory stick, which had been plugged into the computer the entire time, fell out of its own accord.

  'That was odd,' he remarked, and sauntered off to check the bedroom.


The End

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