“It was you,” said Lexi Lilly. It was all coming back to her. She remembered his face. She remembered the knife.
“Lexi,” said Cap.
“It was you,” she repeated. “You killed me.”
“Lexi, listen to me,” said Cap. “You’re not dead. You need to stop talking to him directly…”
“Whatever it is you’re trying to do, it won’t work,” yelled the manager. “You can’t use my testimony, I didn’t have a lawyer…”
“YOU KILLED ME,” Lexi Lilly screamed as she became something else, something dark and full of hate, “AND I AM GOING TO DESTROY YOU.”
“NO!” shouted Cap, but with a brief flicker of lights, Lexi Lilly was gone.
“Where did she go?” asked Rowan, his eyes wide.
“Let’s hope nowhere important,” said Cap. “She might calm down after a while. Elowen, can you send your familiar to scout?”
Elowen nodded, and ran outside.
“This is not funny,” said the manager. “I demand an explanation, NOW.”
“No time,” said Cap. “Believe it or not, you’re in danger. Rowan, stay here and if Lexi Lilly comes back, try talking her down. I’m going to get Alyssa and the serum.”
“The serum?” repeated Rowan, incredulously. “You said you weren’t ready yet.”
“Unfortunately we might not have time to wait.”
Cap burst into the Afterdark as Zeke and Alyssa were talking.
“Cap?” said Alyssa. “Did something happen?”
“We’ve got a problem. The manager was the stabber. Lexi Lilly went berserk, then she disappeared.”
“I’ll fill you in on the way. Let me just get the serum.”
“Wait,” said Zeke, “what’s going on?”
“Can’t explain, don’t have time,” said Cap. “You can stay or go, do whatever you want.” He disappeared up the stairs.
“What’s going on?” repeated Zeke, this time to Alyssa.
“Remember what I said about your coma self getting stronger? That’s what’s happened. This hasn’t happened since-”
“Come on, let’s go,” said Cap, practically flying down the stairs.
Alyssa turned and left with him, leaving Zeke alone in the empty bar. Well, not completely empty. A cat rubbed up against his leg, the same one from the day before. It looked at him in a strangely knowing way, then began to scratch itself. He heard the muffled sound of a car driving off.
The manager was the stabber? Had Lexi Lilly gone to take revenge on him? Why disappear then?
Something on the bar caught his eye. The photo from before had fallen out of the letter. On the back were the words: ‘29 May 2084 – My girls, my world’.
A creeping sense of horror settled over him. It occurred to him that perhaps the manager himself was not the target.
But the experts had already driven off, and there was no way to contact them. Either way, it was a long shot.
Zeke’s grip tightened on the photo. There was nothing he could do. He barely knew about this world. But even if there was the slightest chance of the kid being in danger… And even Lexi Lilly herself….
Beside him, the cat mrrowed.
Zeke gritted his teeth, and ran out of the bar. In his head played his earlier conversation with Alyssa.
Extremely rarely, a sleepwalker goes berserk; a fun name for a dangerous state. They get very, very strong, fuelled by extreme emotion, and in this state, they’re capable of influencing the outside world, and more often than not, causing a lot of harm. Of course, their corporeal self gets very, very weak.
So what happens when your corporeal self gets too weak?
Duh, dummy. You die.
Rowan looked away for a whole two seconds and when he looked back, he was staring down the barrel of a gun. “Woah,” he said, “let’s not do anything too hasty now.”
From the other side of the gun, the manager smiled, but it looked more like a grimace. “Now you see,” he said, “if I’d really meant to kill her, I would have taken the gun. Unfortunately, I can’t say I mean the same for you.”
“We can talk about this,” said Rowan.
“No need,” said the manager. “When my house arrest is over, they’ll find your bodies far away from here. They’ll never suspect me. My tracker will show that I never left my house…”
“How do you plan to do that?” questioned Rowan, reasonably.
“There’s nothing money won’t buy.” The manager’s finger tightened on the trigger. “It’s me or you. You understand, right? I have a daughter to think about…”
“Why must it be a competition?” said Rowan, earnestly, and he would have said more, but the manager pulled the trigger.