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Shadow on the Sun, Prologue: Shadows of London by Nils DurbanSUMMARY: The tale of Sleet James and his aquaintance with the demonic and other-worldly Shadows, begins here....
I can tell you why people go insane,
I can show you how you could do the same,
I can tell you why the end will never come,
I can tell you I'm a shadow on the sun
Sleet staggered through the back door of O'Mara's and aimed himself towards the two chairs that he saw before him. He reached for the nonexistent one which sent him crashing forwards into the real one, leaving it obliterated and him a bloody mess on Helen's clean quarry tile floor.
After what could have been either one or ten minutes he made the effort to force himself into a slumped position against a base unit and there he remained until she arrived.
It was the smashing crockery that started him into an abrupt wakefulness but his aching muscles refused to come to his aid in preparation against any attack. Instead he strained his eyes into some kind of useful focus and there was her anxious face before him, her hands now clutching his shoulders, trying to shake him.
"It's okay..." he managed, "I'm alright, I'm alright Helen."
"Alright!" she exclaimed, "Sleet James, will you look at the state you're in? Why do you put yourself through it? Why?"
He stifled his laughter before it caused his shattered ribs to send another explosion of pain through his body, feeling instead a bubbling of blood on his lips. "Believe it or not, I didn't do this to myself!"
"That's not what I meant, and you know it," she scolded.
Her rising pitch rang through his skull, causing him to clutch at his temple. "Shhhhh......please Helen, I've taken enough of a battering for one night."
"You go looking for trouble, to be sure, and more oft than not find it to, you know you do," she said, reverting to an urgent whisper that served only to accentuate her Celtic origins.
Memory started to flood back into his brain as it returned from an involuntary temporary shutdown and a glimmer came into his eyes as he recalled the earlier events of the evening. "But I almost had him tonight Helen!" he said, "I was this close you know!" he forced his arm to raise his hand before his face, his thumb and finger a fraction apart, "so bloody close. He was lucky alright, really lucky." He brought his hands together into an encircling shape, "I've had these around his scrawny neck you know, had him in my grasp." He banged his head back against the cupboard door in frustration, "Shit, I mightn't have another chance like that, not ever!"
"Quiet now, quiet. Worry about it later. Do you think you can get up?"
"No, but I will, if you help me." He coughed, spitting blood onto her clean white apron.
"Come on then, let's get you cleaned up," she stood and leaned down to try and lever him off the floor. Even in his current condition the smell of her was intoxicating, as it always had been. Another time, another life, and maybe there could have been something between them. "And then you can tell me all about it."
Three hours earlier.......
Sleet waited, crouched in a confined position between the cold church wall and the rusty waste skip in a back street of Highgate.