She’d called the police. She’d stuck around for the questions. She’d handed over her taser (she had five more). She’d gone home. She’d sat, staring blankly at the monitors, quietly cursing herself for not doing anything sooner.
At around six, this turned into full-blown rage. She broke a keyboard, the keys scattering across the floor, her day’s tidying upset at one stroke.
She barely noticed.
After the incident on Tuesday (and having tuned in via the CCTV system in the pavilion), Julia didn’t bother to watch the training on Wednesday. The whole Crane/Sherry drama had been about the only thing of interest, especially given the possibly Circle links there. With them out of the picture, it was only Hugo playing up the Gubbins over the Wright and being mediocre at the world’s dullest sport.
Training took place at the recreation ground. You went from the Manor past the Centipede, where there had been the first of two rounds of celebratory drinks last night; past the duckpond; up the road for a few hundred metres; turned down another dirt track, that on Monday morning had suggested it might consider drying out at some point in the next epoch; passed a children’s playground, with climbing apparatus that was shiny and new, and a duck-on-a-spring that looked like it had survived the Second World War; and walked out onto the cricket pitches.
There was a proper pavilion and everything. Hugo Gubbins, showing up ten minutes before the designated starting time of half ten, wondered why they didn’t just hold the match here. He guessed that there was an exceptionally good historical and/or cultural reason for this that an outsider wouldn’t be thanked for asking.
Julia trudged up the stairs and slumped, exhausted, onto a chair in Hugo’s bedroom. Hugo himself was sitting up in bed, his uninjured non-dominant left hand holding a mug of tea. He’d spilled some over the bedclothes.
‘Police again?’ he asked.
‘I hate talking to people,’ she said.
‘I know. Thank you.’
‘No problem. I mean, I’m pretty sure the police now think we’re fucking, but I’d rather they didn’t start peeking into your background.’
It was definitely a church of some sort. To what, Hugo couldn’t be certain. One thing he was willing to hazard: the deity didn’t like the light much.
The building, if you could call a church in a nuclear bunker a ‘building’, was suffocatingly black. Black carpet on the floor of the main aisle, black tapestries on the walls, black cushions on the benches, black pillars at the end of each pew. The latter didn’t quite look like the pillars opposite the Tree of Life, but the link was unavoidable. Combined with the knowledge that you were underground and a ceiling only three Hugos high, and the effect was of going on an underworld journey that Orpheus would have quailed at.
The only light was supplied by wall-mounted candles. These would have tickled Hugo Gubbins’ predilection for the gothic, guttering and waxy, flames flickering in some foul breeze… except they were electric lights.
From somewhere in the cave came a dissonant hum.
Hugo Wright stood, in the rain, in the cemetery.
He had been Hugo Gubbins on the way here. He was, now, Hugo Wright. He had to be. Hugo Gubbins would never have returned here on his own.
He remembered, two days ago, coming here. He remembered hearing the words, and feeling the knife. He remembered walking away, then running, all the while thinking, ‘You utter amateur. I could have had that knife out of your hand…’
Hugo Gubbins had won out that day, as he’d had to. Today, Hugo Wright was in charge.
‘Julia,’ said Hugo softly.
Julia didn’t respond. Hugo carried on anyway.
‘You knew Nigel for a long time. Was he, in fact, a genius?’