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The Man who Slept for Years by Nils Durban
He spun about to find her slight silhouette framed by the bright light of day from without the mausoleum. So, Liz had followed him after all. He had wondered if she would. He asked himself then if this was the outcome he had sought. To be confronted by her and to have to choose. Either to offer her the plausible excuse that he had concocted so long ago in anticipation of this very eventuality. Or to come clean, to unburden himself of the secret he had kept from her these past three years. He somewhat reluctantly admitted to himself that he had consciously allowed this to happen. He had given her no reason for his departure. He was not 'going to fetch a paper', or 'popping down the local'. He had not even done so furtively, he realised. He had walked out quite brazenly. And she had followed, because she wanted to understand him, to be with him. And wasn't that the crux of the matter? Wasn't that the real problem?
"Davis, what are you doing in here?" she asked, as she stepped carefully down towards him, feeling her way along the stone walls of the entrance.
"Being selfish," he whispered, just loud enough for her to hear.
"What are you talking about?" she said as she reached the bottom of the steps and approached him across the dusty flags. She looked around the tomb's interior, her eyes adjusting to the dark, "I thought you said this place was empty?"
The stone casket lay against the far wall, a ray of light from the entrance cast across its ominous bulk.
"It is," he replied, "there's nothing here."
"Then why are you down here? It's bloody creepy." she shivered, involuntarily.
Davis took a deep breath. Could he do this? He'd done it before, the confession. But usually he had just left them without a word. Gone to fetch the paper. Not because he didn't care. And not because he didn't love them. He loved Liz, or he had loved her at some point. The bitter truth was that he happened to love himself more. And to be able to escape from the mundane, to be able to close his eyes and open them again a fleeting moment and yet an age later, was impossible to deny. The difference here was that she was the first one he had brought back to Broadlands for an exceptionally long time. Could he allow that to stall him? He decided that he could not.
"This is where I sleep," he said quietly.
She laughed out loud, clutched at his sleeve in mock paroxysm. "Oooh, Count Dracula are you?"
"No Liz, I'm no vampire. And yet, there are similarities. I do sleep here, occasionally, and for very long periods. But don't worry, I'm not going to drink your blood."
"You can't frighten me, Davis," she said with bravado, "I know you better than that."
"No," he said with certainty, "you don't know me at all. Admit it. You know nothing about my past. You don't know anyone who can tell you a single thing about me before we met. There's no history. Not recent anyway." He walked past her, "come outside, this gloom depresses me."
They sat apart on the wooden bench beneath a gnarled old oak and still in sight of the stone structure.