Ranajay arrived shortly after. He wasn’t able to catch Dorus, who had already fled in a fit of confusion, but he knew perfectly well what Dorus had tried to do.
A few kind and caring neighbours had already crept up to the house with the broken window to check that everybody inside was alright, and one not so kind and caring neighbour had waved a slipper menacingly and shouted at them to keep the noise down.
Ranajay rang the bell, and Auntie Jo answered, her black hair all over her face.
‘Yes?’ she said, opening the door a fraction. The chain was on.
‘My name is Ranajay Banker. I need to speak to Kerry, may I please come in?’
Jo shook her head apologetically. ‘It’s not a good time, I’m afraid...’
‘I know what’s happened. I need to talk to her about it. Will you just tell her I’m at the door?’
Jo sighed and nodded. ‘Kerry?’
‘Somebody called Ranajay at the door.’
Kerry appeared a few seconds later.
‘Hello,’ she said, sounding surprised. ‘What is it? I mean, what, er–’
‘It’s about what just happened. I think I know who broke in.’
Ranajay finished explaining who Dorus was fairly quickly, but of course the explanation opened up another torrent of questions. So he calmly explained what a Wraith was, and what the Consortium of Silencers did. Finally he explained his own abilities and their link to this other side of the world.
‘You can do magic?’ Auntie Jo asked slightly sarcastically. She sat beside Kerry on the sofa, which had been moved away from the door, and she now held a cup of coffee in her hands.
Kerry sat, looking at her knees, wishing she was wearing more than shorts and a t-shirt.
‘I can, yes. I practice a form called Coin Magic. It’s the most common form of magic there is and lots of people can do it. I’ll explain it now. If a person who is magic – or at least has sufficient control over their own mind to do magic, I should say – wants to, say, store some of their power away for later, they consciously place it away in an inanimate object. Now, it’s called Coin Magic because within our circle, you can buy coins, or have them made. They’re very good for storing magic because they add interest over time, but it can work with any object you choose. You can also place your physical form, in its entirety, into an inanimate object if you’re in danger. So you could, theoretically, become a guitar. Or a chair, or a pot plant or whatever objects you’ve chosen. I knew a man who once could not get out of bed in the morning, because he had placed his physical form into it in his sleep. A fairly common excuse for sleeping in, in our world.
‘Now, I think, but I’m not sure, that this is something that the two of you are capable of. I knew it a few days ago when I met you, Kerry, because magic people can often recognise each other. And it is, I expect, how you got away from Dorus. Am I right?’
There was a long silence. Auntie Jo shuffled uncomfortably for a few moments, and then spoke.
‘Before he got us,’ she mumbled, ‘I felt us both rushing backwards, and then I remember being stuck somewhere high up, looking down at... what’s his name?... Dorus. And then we came back down when he was gone.’
Kerry nodded. ‘I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it or if I was dreaming... I mean the whole situation was a bit nightmarish.’
Ranajay nodded. ‘I’m sorry that Dorus targeted you. I should have realised sooner. Did you call the police?’
Ranajay nodded. ‘I think for your own safety you should start learning Coin Magic. Meanwhile I will do my best to keep Dorus away from you.’
‘Why are you helping us?’ Kerry asked.
Ranajay looked at her. ‘I can’t leave you to be wrongly executed by a mad Silencer.’
‘So these Wraith things,’ Jo asked, playing with a long snaky tendril of hair. ‘How do we recognise them?’
‘You can’t.’ Ranajay looked away from them, gazing in mild bewilderment at the sky blue paint that coated the living room walls, and the cacti lined up on the mantelpiece. ‘But in theory they shouldn’t pose a problem to you.’
‘Technically they pose a problem to everyone, but there are people like Dorus out there who are trying to wipe them out.’
There was another moment of silence.
‘Ranajay, is there anything else you can do?’ Kerry asked. Her head was down, and her dull brown hair fell over her shoulders. She looked rather overwhelmed by the whole thing.
‘Any other powers, you mean?’
Ranajay shrugged. ‘I... don’t want to discuss that now.’
‘Oh, why not?’
‘There IS something else, but I don’t want to talk about it until I know what it is. Anyway, you two should go back to bed.’
Auntie Jo sat upright. ‘But what if–’
‘Silencers never strike twice in one night,’ Ranajay interrupted. ‘It’s a rule of theirs – and usually, because each kill takes so long, it’s one they’re forced to adhere to. But tomorrow I want to take you somewhere out of harm’s way.’
‘What?’ Jo said, startled. ‘Where?’
‘A place I know. Now I have to go.’ Ranajay stood up, and the two followed. Jo probably thought she was showing Ranajay to the door, but because she was behind him, it looked rather more like he was leading the way.
Kerry waved goodbye to him at the door. ‘Thanks for explaining that to us,’ she said gratefully.
‘See you soon,’ he responded, already walking down the street.
Jo shut the door. ‘Jesus Christ,’ she said without enthusiasm, walking back into the living room. ‘Kerry, I want you sleeping down here with me, OK?’
‘OK,’ Kerry said, and went upstairs to get her duvet.
When she returned, Jo had tucked herself up on the armchair with her own duvet and was holding the umbrella from behind the sofa.
‘Jo, it’s OK, Ranajay says we’ll be fine.’
Auntie Jo sniffed. ‘And what do I know about Mr Ranajay?’
Kerry went over and hugged her aunt, who gratefully hugged her back, then with a quick pat on the back, sent her off to crawl under the duvet for the second time that evening.
Kerry found herself in a similar predicament to before – she was quite unable to sleep.