He’d walked blindly through the door into Milliways. One step, and he’d paused, and turned to leave again. He’d known this wasn’t a good place to be. The memories – they won’t fade, here. They’re supposed to fade. He wants them to. He’s no use unless they do, and the thought of being stuck with what’s in his head - - no, no he’d turned to leave straight away. But the door wouldn’t open. It was still there, but it wouldn’t budge.
He’d taken the stairs at a run, because the notion of being down there, in this state, with…everything - no, he can’t do that either. So now he’s crashing through the door to his room – room 6620; isn’t it nice when places have such a developed sense of humour? – and everything is neat, and in place, and tidy, and he just…stands.
He doesn’t know where to start. The new DI? Deacon, his name is. Andrew Deacon, and he’s there, in the flat that used to belong to (Alex) Luigi, with his own key, waiting to be sorted out. Poor bastard’s probably having a hellish night. Welcome to the club, pal.
He walks to the dresser, and pours a drink. The room’s different. Not for the first time since he’s stayed here, so whatever. Back to hotel-room format; two double beds, armchair, sofa, modern TV. He thinks about sitting, and can’t. He just needs to…stand. And have this drink. And not think about being locked in here, with all this time to sodding process, or whatever the quacks call it. The last thing he needs is to process.
A lot of things make more sense, now. This bar, for example. The sickness it gives him. Because it’s real, and his home – isn’t. No wonder the Diamond Jubilee made him puke. No wonder he gets seasick. This place isn’t specifically designed by his own rotten subconscious to …he pours another drink, aware of the fury rising up his windpipe, balling in his throat. It’s a struggle to get the Scotch down, half the glass ends up down his chin, but so what? He pours another. Maybe it’s not anger. Maybe it’s panic.
That shot won't stop. That fountain of blood up the wall. The flashes of red, and the slow-motion swing of a shotgun’s barrel…he clutches his head, shakes it from side to side. ‘No...no…’ because thinking about it won’t do any good, and he has to not dwell on it, just let it slide away. Only it’s there whenever he closes his eyes, and his chest is starting to pull as breath comes short. Why does it hurt? He’s supposed to be too dead to feel it. You’re not supposed to be able to panic when half your head’s been blown off.
He paces, and tries to think. Maybe he’s supposed to sleep, and tomorrow he’ll be free and it’ll be OK again. But the thought of lying down is laughable, he can’t even stand still. Pacing, pacing, ever decreasing circles. He tosses the glass down, and drinks from the bottle. Memories he’s been without for thirty years come flooding back – Morrison’s face, his mother on Coronation Day. Stuart…Jesus Christ, Stu…no, he’s not going there. Pacing, pacing; Keats and that laugh, the way he howled in his face. Her fingers on his bones. On his bones, and he wants to throw up. She dug him up. She dug him up, and touched…he slams his eyes shut and groans, but blood splatters the wall and that noise in his head and he breaks for the bathroom.
It’s cooler in here. He grips the edge of the sink, and heaves in each breath. His pulse throbs in his neck, almost an ache, and his heart – why does it even bother? If he weren’t a fucking corpse, he’d worry he was having a heart attack. But not much chance of that. The sweat is cold on his face, and he mumbles get a grip…c’mon, get a grip… until he feels like he might not fall.
He opens his eyes. In the mirror over the sink, he sees it standing behind him. Just watching. Just…there.
The kid says nothing, and now the fury is real, and he can’t stop it and can’t see, can’t think. He rips the mirror off the wall, and hurls it towards the bath. It shatters, no faces hidden in it, and when he whirls around the room is empty. There’s blood on the fingertips of his right hand. He puts them up to his face. They don’t bleed much. The stuff clots, stiffens, goes a little darker. Just as if he were alive. But he knows this place is real, because it hurts like a bitch. Not like at home, where he barely feels a thing.
It’s taken time to watch this semblance of life, blood on his skin, pain through his nerves. He can breathe again, and he’s thirsty. Tiredness seeps through his muscles as the burst of emotion dies away, makes him sag against the sink, but he’ll never sleep. And…the end of a scarf hangs from his jacket pocket. It was the one thing left in the flat that wasn’t his, when he took Deacon over there. Like she’d been removed, cleaned away for the next – but this one bit remained. Probably because he bought it for her. Probably because his subconscious threw him a bone, or wanted to twist the knife.
He pulls it from his pocket. It smells like her. He…
…she’s been here before. They’ve all been here before. He’s talked to them all, here.
He leaves the room empty, air swirling behind him as the door slams. Half a bottle of scotch emptying itself onto the carpet, broken glass in the bath. For a second, a face flits across the shards, then nothing.