Patchy periods and amnesia were common for Rayan. 10 years of hard drug use had seen to that. He hadn't touched the stuff in a good 5 years now, but it affected you for life. Of course you don't think about the long term consequences at the time - you're after a short term fix, and for that drugs were pretty damn fine.

But he knew that last night was different. He'd had episodes of dissociation in the past however this wasn't like that. Usually he'd had fragmented memories, blurry images and odd sounds that popped up afterwards. Between 6pm and 9pm of last night he could recall absolutely nothing. It was just black.

He was hungrier when he "woke up" than when he "blacked out" (it didn't feel like he was waking up when he came to, but he couldn't think of a better word) so he knew time must've passed. It wasn't a "time slip" as Amara had suggested.

"Time slip..." he muttered to himself, smiling a little. They weren't even real, or probably not anyway. Amara knew that, but she mentioned it anyway. Which meant she didn't have a clue what was going on either. That was worrying.

He'd spent the day lounging around the house in his oversized dressing gown and slippers. Amara had buggered off without a word before he'd even got up, which he'd half expected. After the blackout she had been really shaken up. He had been bad himself, but at least he knew what amnesia was like. Amara had never touched drugs in her life, not even alcohol. She'd never passed out and she had an almost perfect memory. Not being able to remember 3 hours was a big thing for her. He'd have to tread carefully when she came-

-The front door opened and Amara came back in. Rayan sunk into the living room sofa a little, turning down the TV but not saying a word. He expected her to disappear straight to her study, but instead she appeared in the doorway. Her hair was dishevelled despite there being no rain and little wind outside. Her face was pale and her eyes were wet, as if she'd been crying. In her hands she had a couple of shopping bags.

"I... got us dinner," she said. Her voice was quiet. He'd never heard her speaking in such hushed tones before. It chilled him.

He wasn't sure how to respond.Oh - what are we having? Are you okay? Did you have a nice walk? Get up to much? How are you feeling this morning? Any progress with what happened last night? ...

Everything sounded stupid, so he just nodded and tried to look like he was open to talk if she wanted to.

"I think I'll go to bed," she said in a monotone, "I didn't sleep last night."

Before Rayan could reply, she'd gone, leaving the bags on the floor. The one closest to him fell over and the contents spilled out. Food - a bag of rice, a tomato, two yoghurts and a packet of starbursts fell onto the floor. What kind of meal had Amara been planning?! Rayan was growing increasingly worried that Amara was losing her mind. People often said that the shadow man could drive you insane.

Rayan picked up both bags and put them on the kitchen worktop before going to his own office. Usually it would be Amara pouring over data in an event like this, but she was clearly in no state to do so, so it would be left to him. He spread out the neatly printed charts and graphs created by Amara on his large desk in an attempt to find some sort of correlation.

There was nothing. He knew it straight away, but he still checked all his calculations three times out of desperation. He threw some of the papers onto the floor in frustration, slamming his hands down on the desk.

"Temper tantrum," said a quiet voice behind him, making him jump.

At first he had some crazy thought that it was the shadow man that had spoke. But of course, it wasn't. This voice was female.

He swivelled round on his chair and met Amara's gaze. She was still shaky, but her attitude was definitely creeping back and she stood with her hands on her hips in a confident, condescending pose. It was one of her favourites.

"This is..." he stopped, not sure whether to continue the conversation or completely change the subject. He waited for cues from Amara.

She sighed, "I think we'll have to wait until something else happens."

Rayan nodded, knowing that would be the case all along, "I tell you what though, this guy is a first class dick."

Amara smiled at that, "I'm sure you two would get along quite well."

"Mmm," muttered Rayan, "Think I'll cook some dinner. Fancy helping me out?"

"What have you got planned?" asked Amara, interested. I never cooked dinner.

Rayan couldn't help himself, "I don't know... rice, tomatoes... bit of yoghurt for sauce and some starbursts to top it all off?"

The End

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