The next day, there was another knock at Mrs Newman’s door. Her husband was out at work on this occasion, so she tucked the house phone into her pocket, ready to call for help if necessary. She’d been doing this for two years when answering the door in an otherwise empty house. She sent Rebecca into the kitchen and found another strange man standing on the doormat.
‘Hello,’ she said sceptically when the man didn’t introduce himself or offer a hand to shake. ‘How can I help you?’
‘I am a friend of Paul’s,’ this man said, peering at this woman of about fifty who wore a dressing gown at five in the afternoon. ‘I understood someone else was here yesterday for... something of his.’
‘I wondered if you’d let me in and be good enough to tell me why he wanted it.’
‘Well, I don’t want to let you in,’ Mrs Newman said. ‘Not until you tell me who you are.’
‘My name is Jay, Arnold Jay. I’m a friend of Paul’s.’
‘So you keep saying.’ Mrs Newman folded her arms and tapped her fingernails, which were no longer grubby (although Arnold Jay wasn’t to know this).
‘Listen, will you please tell me who he was and why he wanted it?’
‘Why do you want to know?’
The man ground his teeth in exasperation for a few seconds. ‘Because it’s important.’
‘Paul never told me he had so many friends,’ Mrs Newman remarked. ‘But then again, I don’t think you are a friend of Paul. I think you’re a stranger off the street who seems to want something that a REAL friend of Paul came round the other day to ask for. Very politely, I might add.’
‘I knew Paul,’ said the man standing on Mrs Newman’s doorstep. ‘I didn’t know him for very long, but what I do know is that he had some important information to impart to you shortly before he “went missing”. And my guess is that information must still be on that memory stick, if somebody else wants it.’
Mrs Newman frowned. ‘How do you know what it was?’
‘Listen, you stupid woman, you don’t know how these things work.’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘There is sensitive information on that memory stick. There are a lot of things on that memory stick. I need you to tell me the name of the friend of Paul’s who came over and took that memory stick. Do you understand, you fat cow?’
Mrs Newman was about to shut the door in his face when the man suddenly lunged forward, his left hand outstretched, about to smack into her face. She screamed and tripped backwards. Her not-grubby fingernails clawed at the phone, which had flown out of her pocket and skidded across the carpet.
Arnold Jay stepped forward and crouched beside Mrs Newman, reaching a hand into the pocket of his coat for a concealed handgun.
‘Now listen,’ he said slowly, ‘Do what I say and tell me how to get the thing I want, or you will die.’
Mrs Newman lay on the carpet, petrified and unable to speak. Arnold Jay shrugged and put one finger on the trigger.
A crowbar met his face and knocked it flying back out the door. He landed on his side and swore in pain. Arnold Jay turned his head to face his attacker. It was a thirteen-year-old girl called Rebecca, quiet as a Silencer. She was wielding not a crowbar, but rather a long metal pole with a hook on its end, used for pulling open the attic door – not that this made difference to the damage it had done to Arnold Jay’s face.
He tried to struggle to his feet, but Rebecca had already slammed and locked the front door. Now she was probably making sure her mother was alright and calling the police.
Arnold Jay nodded to himself, wiped his bloody lip, and went back to his car. He would have to find Paul Newman’s memory storage device some other way.
While the man known as Arnold Jay was attempting to gain entry into that house, the Silencer known as Dorus was sizing up another. He knew he was going to step in that night once it got dark and kill the occupants – both, just to make sure – but first he needed a key. This Wraith was a strange one because it locked its doors.
However, he surmised that even if he couldn’t get a key, he could climb in one of the bedroom windows just as easily. It wouldn’t be that difficult. Dorus could climb very well.
The church was further away from this house on Gibson Lane, but he could still hear the distant toll of the bell. It was now five o’clock.
‘Afternoon,’ said a voice behind him.
He turned and saw an Asian man in a leather jacket. Not a Wraith. Safe to talk to.
‘Interesting robe you have there,’ Ranajay commented, gazing at the red hood that Dorus wore, keeping his face in shadow. But that straw-coloured hair was still visible, so Ranajay had recognised him. ‘You must be a Silencer.’
Dorus froze and stared at the stranger in astonishment. ‘How do you know about us?’
‘I’m a part of it,’ Ranajay shrugged. ‘The whole fighting evil, doing magic and weird stuff that ordinary people don’t know about.’
‘But you still shouldn’t know. The Consortium should have killed you.’
‘They already did.’
Dorus glanced shiftily round the empty street. ‘What do you want?’
‘I want to know why you’re stalking the charming girl I was talking to the other day.’
Dorus looked even more astonished. ‘You can’t see what she is? What IT is?’
Ranajay shook his head. ‘Kerry’s not a Wraith.’
‘Can’t you tell?’ Dorus remembered the girl. She had a face that looked permanently humble; a head that constantly looked down, as if it didn’t think itself fit to stay above shoulder height with the other heads.
It was a very clever disguise, in Dorus’s opinion, but it wasn’t going to put him off.
Ranajay tucked his hands into his pockets. ‘I want you to leave Kerry alone. You may be right. Maybe there IS something special about her. But she’s a human being, and I don’t want to hear that you’ve been following her around again.’
Dorus snarled. ‘You’re not my boss.’ He walked past Ranajay and away from Kerry’s house.
He’d be back later.