Articles, Fiction

Albertus Rockwell – The Man in the Shadows (3)

We accosted in Dover at 10:30pm but the crossing felt like an eternity. Another car picks me up at the port. I am sure that I look very suspicious with my brisk gait and my looking around but I do not really care. All I care about is going home and comprehend my situation. The 7 hours car ride is already getting on my nerves. I wish I was home at last. The driver seems friendly but I cannot help myself from being harsh with him. As he becomes silent, I feel the car slowing down. He will make me pay extra hours for my character. So be it. At least we are on the way.

The driver stopped eleven times during the journey. I had to pay 5 cent extra and was only home by noon. Now that I look at it, this situation was quite absurd: why would a man stay 4 extra hours with my silent and harsh person when he wanted to confabulate so much? It is a bit weird but I cannot blame this poor man. He spends his days and nights on the road with rich men who fail to keep him entertained.

I settle on a plan of action : I am to contact my dear friend Sir Alastair Cornerpart to invite him to my apartment in London as soon as possible and inform him on the matter regarding me. A week later, I receive his response letter. He is unfortunately holding a dinner at his cottage on the 17th and will thus be there all week. I am – obviously – welcome to attend the said dinner. Even though it sounds risky, I am delighted to reply that I will indeed be at the dinner.

I spend the rest of my day planning my voyage. It should take two days to get there. I think I am to rent a car and lead it all the way to Stow-On-The-Wold on my own. Thus I can spare money and take some time to think.

By good fortune, my horses are very obedient; I have no trouble on the road, and it is reassuring.

When I arrive, my friend and his wife are waiting for me. It has been a long time since I saw them last, and my eyes almost fill with tears. Alastair tells me that I look terrible, and that my voyage must have been horrendous. I immediately decide to talk to him about this particular issue that is disturbing me.

Alastair is my oldest friend, and even though my story is complicated – if not impossible – to believe, I know that he will help me somehow. We walk to his office, leaving Margaret, his wife, alone in the lobby. As soon as we enter the room, I spill everything out : the fight, the knife, the “death”, the voice, the newspaper… Everything! He looks startled at first, then he bursts into laughter.

He thinks that my “joke” is very elaborated but by the – frightened – look on my face, he quickly resumes serious. We stay silent for a while until his wife calls us to welcome our good fellow : Sir John Timberton. Timberton is a physicist whose work is ridiculous… he tries to prove that there’s an afterlife!

Anyway, Alastair and his wife welcome 4 other guests and we all begin to dine. We talk about a lot of things during the main course. As dessert arrive, I notice that my friend looks very sweaty. I discreetly ask him if everything is alright… his loud answer leaves me horrified :

“FOUR : DO NOT LET ANYONE KNOW”

And he collapses onto his plate.

(to be continued)

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