LOST AND FOUND

Excerpt from Lost And Found

There should be lights in the alley, but he’s taken care of them. Something else you taught him − not to let anyone see.

It’s fitting you should die here in the dark, amid the rats and the filth and the garbage. You are what they are − the detritus of life.

And he is what you made him.

He hopes you’re proud.

But right now he just hopes you’re ready. That he’s ready. He’s dreamed of this so often down the years between then and now that he feels suddenly unprepared, naked in the dark.

Shivering, he’s a seven-year-old boy again, with all the majesty fresh ripped out of him, howling as he’s punished for truth, punished for faith.

Punished for believing, when you told him you would take very special care of him indeed.

He’s punished himself and those around him ever since. Lived a life stripped to base essentials, where refined means cut with stuff that’s only going to kill you slow.

Lost.

And now he’s found you again, and he thinks, if he does this right, he may find himself again, too.

He hears the footsteps, familiar even loaded by the drag and stagger of the years. He folds his hand tighter around the knife, takes in the sodden air, feels the pulse-beat in his fingertips.

Feels alive.

It’s a privilege only one of you can share.

Attuned, he sees your figure sway into the open mouth of the alley, hesitating at the unexpected gloom. A stumble, a smothered curse, but he knows you won’t play it safe. You never have. Going around will take time, and you’re loath to be away from your latest pet project, whoever that might be.

He wonders if he will be in time to save them − not from what’s been but from what’s to come − even as he steps out of the recess, a wraith in the shadows, the knife unsheathed now and eager for the bite.