It came from nowhere, the end, dark, sudden and immediate. One moment he was racing from the scream of the police siren, the phone in his hand a beacon of horror, the woman in the ether holding open the line, the bearer of the worst news it was possible for him to imagine. In an instant it changed, reality shifted and he was immersed in the blackness of grief.
It was over, it was all over. He knew, of course he knew, that Gran was gone. Matron hadn’t said it yet but he didn’t need to hear it. He didn’t want to hear it.
The police were going to catch him, the car was nothing special and he was an average driver nothing more than that. Panic had brought him this far, but now he was back from there, back in the muck with the mortals. They were gaining on him and soon they would have him. He could hare away again and try to reach the motorway. Then what, a breakneck race to end in a horrific crash, blood and pain and fear and still he would be caught.
He could pull over now, he could tell them that he was racing to the side of his dying grandmother, and they may be sympathetic. He could even imagine a scenario where they would give him a blaring, flashing escort to the nursing home. In truth though he knew they would be polite, they would be apologetic and they would have him out of the car and they would ask to look at it, to search it for drugs and drink and bald tyres and dodgy brakes. What they would find though that was the point wasn’t it. The boot still held the bloodied plastic sheet, the bottle that had held the bleach and water, the cling wrap and the other evidence of his work this night. Once the police had him it was over, he knew that for sure, there wasn’t an iota of doubt.
He had the knife in the car, he could possibly take them both, he was strong and he had nothing to lose but the fire had gone out. Without Gran what was he. She had been his mainstay and his reason to be, she had cared for him, taught him how to live. Before the curse of dementia she had been the central pillar of his life and now she was gone and he was lost. There was no-one now who knew him when he was small, nobody who could remember his favourite stories, the name of his teddy and the things that made him cry out in the night. She was gone and she had taken the essence of him with her. Now he was no more than an empty bag of body parts cloaked in an unattractive covering.
An immense calm enfolded him, his mind closed down to everything other than the fact that he no longer had his Gran. “Peter, Peter, are you there? Can you hear me, Peter?” He switched off the ‘phone. The matron had no words that were worth his listening, empty platitudes and pointless pity. The world had nothing that he needed from it anymore, it was finished.
He slowed the car and pulled over, as he did the police vehicle pulled in behind him. He could see the man in the passenger seat lean to open the door, he was reaching his hat from the dashboard, equipping himself with the evidence of his officialdom. The driver had lifted the microphone, was no doubt calling in the license number, asking for details of insurance and ownership. It would do them no good; the paper trail was long and winding. The car was registered to a company, he was supposedly an employee, it had insurance nothing suspicious but nothing to tell them anything about who he was.
The door opened and the officer stepped out. Peter reached to the glove compartment and snapped open the cover. The knife was clean, it shone a little in the dim light, the handle was towards him. He stretched forward and grasped it. He could feel nothing. This body that he inhabited was like a Halloween pumpkin, empty and excavated, scooped clean. No feelings, no history, no future. The policeman was approaching carefully from behind, had drawn his night stick and shone a torch before him, a wavering cone of enquiry. Peter grinned to himself. In spite of everything he felt a cob of amusement at this man’s fear, his super caution. He did well to be cautious. If he only knew, if he had the remotest idea what his quarry had done he would be running for back up, bringing in the SWAT teams, helicopters, searchlights. He knew none of it, he saw a small, thin man, a speeding driver, possibly drunk, maybe drugged. Oh fool, if he had any idea what he was taking on, the pure power, the driven purpose, the conviction that had carried him this far he wouldn’t dare, he just wouldn’t dare