I don’t know why, but I keep finding myself returning to this story. For some reason Warlock is just great fun to write…
A myriad of colours, sounds and people flew past Owen. It was like standing in the middle of a merry-go-round as it was spun by unseen hands, a circus in full swing around him. But he could not get off the ride and join in the excitement. It was too far away, just out of reach.
He could feel the hard stone steps he was sitting on, his back resting against the front wall of the hospital. It was one of three walls left standing. He could feel a light drizzle pattering against the top of his head and cold water running down his nose.
People were screaming, shouting, crying. Nobody was hurt, but every patient, nurse and doctor he saw was covered in dust. With a jolt of surprise like an electric current hitting him, he realised that he had made that dust.
“Terrorist attack.” He heard a hysterical voice say.
“Is there a fire?”
“I’ll sue you for everything you’ve got!”
Firemen in navy blue overalls and bright yellow helmets were charging down the driveway, in through the hospital doors and back out again. Police officers in white shirts and black stab-proof vests stood looking sometimes officious, at other times threatening or concerned.
As far as Owen could tell, none of them seemed to really be doing anything. There was no fire to be fought and no culprits to arrest. But then Owen realised that there was a culprit. He had caused the wall to collapse and that was certainly a crime. Was it vandalism to destroy a building, he wondered.
Something round and silver dropped into his vision. It was the pocket watch, dangling from its chain. Attached to the other end of the chain was Maggy’s plump hand and attached to her was the face of Silvia Oakwood, peering over the kindly case-worker’s shoulder.
“I think you dropped this, dear.”
He reached out and took it from her. Feeling the cold, wet metal against his skin brought Owen back to reality. It was evidence of his crime, he thought, he should throw it away again.
“Come on.” Silvia Oakwood’s sharp, clipping voice said. “Let’s get you out of this chaos.”
He followed them to Maggy’s car, a little red relic of the 1980s with only two doors. As he squeezed into the back seat, he tried to push the memory of Silvia Oakwood’s attempt at a comforting look from his mind. It had been halfway between a cat’s snarl and the look an adder might give to a mouse.
“I’m sorry.” Owen mumbled once they were driving out of the main gate.
Maggy twisted around in her seat to look at him with her soft brown eyes.
“Don’t be sorry, dear. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Swearing is wrong.” Silvia Oakwood hissed.
“He thinks he caused that explosion, Silvia.”
Maggy turned her eyes back towards the road, to Owen’s relief. But her gentle face was replaced by the hard features of her companion.
“You shouldn’t swear.” She snapped. “But no, you didn’t make that happen. That was somebody else, someone dangerous. Now we have to get you as far away from here as possible.”
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