25 August 2008

Unholy Crusade, part nine

Chapter Four


Jeremy Pellier sat nursing a whisky. Reggie wanted him back in town but he was too drunk to drive. He would get some rest and head back first thing in the morning. A hangover would be the least of his problems and he knew it all too well, but that problem was hours away.

He downed the whisky and poured himself another. What harm would one more do?

He heard the study door open, and turned to see a tall, thin man with thick blonde hair entering. The man closed the door and walked over to where Jeremy was sitting. He took the other of the two leather armchairs by the fireplace.

'Who the fuck are you?' Jeremy asked.

'We have a mutual acquaintance,' the man said. His voice carried the subtlest hint of a German accent.

'You obviously didn't hear me. I'll ask again: who the fuck are you?'

'You can call me Hans,' said the man. 'I am told Monsieur Dupont was disappointed by tonight's meeting. I would like to know why.'

'Tough shit. Now get out of my house.'

Hans leaned back in his chair and looked at Jeremy like he was assessing him.

'Mr Pellier,' he said. 'You disappoint me, clinging to these outdated notions. Your house indeed! How can any of us claim ownership of something that may very well stand for longer than we ever could?'

'What the hell are you talking about? Get out, you babbling prick.'

'Possessions, Mr Pellier, are an illusion. We cannot own anything, not one atom. We merely take charge of them for a time; then pass them on when we ourselves pass on.'

'Look, fuck off will you. I'm a busy man.'

Hans leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees and looking James straight in the eye. James found himself transfixed, unable to tear himself away from the other man's piercing gaze.

'Tell me what happened tonight,' said Hans.

The blonde man's stare burned into James' mind. His eyes prickled, his skin crawled, but he could not turn away.

'Where do you want me to start?' he asked. The words seemed to flow out of his mouth without his mind controlling them.

'Who told the girl we were coming?'

'I don't know.'

'Very well. Who knew about the meeting?'

'Only those who were there,' said James. The words seemed distant, as if heard through cotton wool. He felt as though he was floating a little way behind his body. 'And Reggie.'

'Who is Reggie?'

'Reggie Dixon. He runs the Blexham Green Boys. But he wouldn't rat us out. He had a lot of money resting on this deal.'

'Then why was he not there?'

Hans sat back in his chair and seemed to visibly relax.

The clouds lifted from Jeremy's mind and suddenly he felt more aware of himself. The chair solidified around him, his hands gripping the arms. He felt dizzy and a little sick, like he had just stepped off a fairground ride and was still spinning on the inside.

'What the fuck?' he said. 'What did you fucking do to me?'

'Nothing whatsoever,' said Hans, watching him closely.

'Look, just get the fuck out will you?' Jeremy blustered. 'I'm a busy man.'

Hans nodded. 'Very well.'

He stood and made his way to the door. Jeremy watched him go, flustered and with beads of sweat forming on his brow.

At the doorway, Hans turned and smiled. 'Good night, Mr Pellier. No doubt we will meet again.'

He left, closing the door behind him.

'Not if I see you first,' Jeremy muttered.

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