Aphelion Issue 279, Volume 26
December 2022/January 2023
 
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Tapetum Lucidum

by T.J. Matthews




Prologue

 

“Good evening, ladies, and gentlemen.

Before I say anything else, I wish to thank you all again for volunteering.

This is going to be a very difficult job.

This is going to be far messier than it really needed to be.

Let’s not forget that if we had started this process only a few months ago, it would have been perfectly straightforward.

The public were on our side.

Thanks to the Prop Centre, we had a population both terrified and disgusted.

Convinced that these new creatures were merely symptoms of some mysterious undiscovered disease slowly moving through our people.

Unnatural.

Aberrant.

But then suddenly, some of our more softheaded media-brains decided to put Professor Fergal Martin on screen.

On several screens, in fact.

The charming Fergal Martin.

Reassuring.

Smiling.

Representing all those creatures with his childish humour and his sentimental pleas for tolerance.

For all these sorrowful, weepy outsiders.

Proclaiming that he himself was one of their kin.

And so, the people waivered.

The old government hesitated.

But that was then and this... is a very different moment in time.

The old regime has fallen.

A new dawn is breaking.

We must act now before anybody else starts to give in to their fears and doubts.

All your Group Leaders have been given a list.

There are different names on every list except for the one at the very top.

Professor Fergal Martin has gone on the run.

His capture is a top priority.

People seem to think that I have become obsessed with this individual.

They’re right.

He is a monster.

He is toxic.

I am concerned that he’s already infected a great many of our citizens.

This is why I hate him.

I say this quite openly.

Quite unapologetically.

The word “hate” is both appropriate and justified.

But he is not to be killed.

He is not to become a martyr.

He is to be turned.  

He must be made to see the obscene error of his ways.

In public.

As for the rest of the names on all your lists, I don’t care.

Do what you like.

Ask them about Martin if you feel it may be useful, but remember, ...they are not human.

They are not people.

They have no souls.

So, ladies and gentlemen, good hunting.

Let’s end this nightmare.

Forever.”

 

Part 1

Operation Dawn

 

Tapetum Lucidum. 

She had cats-eyes that glowed in the darkness. Her bright green hair seemed to shimmer beneath a streetlamp, as she nervously looked around that littered, dusty road. Suddenly, she heard her young son behind her, calling out "Mam".

She turned around to see her son standing beside her husband. They both had the same type of eyes and hair as she did.  
            “We have to go now," the father spoke as a whisper turned into a growl.
            The three of them started to run, but as they turned a corner, they were suddenly confronted by a blinding light exploding from the top of a military jeep. Hiding behind the light, a soldier speaking through a megaphone, said "Don't move. Stay absolutely still."

They were asked if they knew where Martin was.

They did not.

Eventually, they were believed.

#

            He was exhausted. His legs felt like lead, but somehow, some way, he knew he had to keep on running. But it was night-time, and this part of the city was a confusing maze of identical little roads.

            Soon he found himself nearly crashing into a tall, brick wall. He was confronted by a poster that said simply in bold black letters "Ignorance is Purity". 

            Suddenly, a cold, hard voice exploded from behind him.

            “There's nowhere to hide, buddy."
            He turned around to see four paramilitary soldiers walking towards him. He stretched out his right arm in front of him as the hand started to glow bright red.
            The soldier who had shouted at him a few seconds before, now raised his rifle and pointed it straight at the fugitive's head.

            “Don't even bloody think about it, pal"

He was asked if he knew where Martin was.

He did not.

Eventually, he was believed.

#

            There was a small explosion at her front-door. The light wood and stained glass shattered into dozens of splinters, as five heavily armed soldiers came crashing into her house. It was all over in an instant. They found her standing beside her static-screen television.

            “Hands up. Hands above your head."

            She raised both her six-fingered hands above her head. There was a childlike terror in her wide, staring eyes. Indeed, she would have screamed. If she had a mouth. And not the smooth freckled skin that covered the lower part of her face.

She was asked if she knew where Martin was.

She did not.

Eventually (through the medium of sign-language and fear-stung eyes), she was believed.

#


            She was very loud, this other woman, as she was half-dragged along by those older soldiers. She was being pulled towards a death-black van. She noticed that there were two frightened-looking young policemen sitting in the front-seat of a squad-car beside it. She let out a screaming, angry snarl, sticking her fanged, leopard-spotted face up against the side-door glass.

She was asked if she knew where Martin was.

She did not.

Eventually, she was believed.

 

Part 2

Where Martin Was

 

     A rather eccentric young man walked calmly into one of the Sentry Public Offices in the centre of town. He had long, shoulder-length, jet-black hair, and extremely pale skin.

He found himself alone staring at a wide Reception area with thick glass covering all the space above a long iron counter.

There were five Sentries on the other side talking quietly amongst themselves.

“Anyone at home?” the figure asked.

The Sentries turned to look at him.

“Who are you?” one of them asked, before another one suddenly grabbed a rifle from a table and pointed it in the direction of the figure.

“Bloody hell,” he shouted.

“Bloody hell-what?” the first Sentry asked.

“Bloody hell-me!” the figure said with an almost giddy expression on his face. “My name is Fergal Martin.”

Suddenly, the five Sentries reached for the nearest firearms.

“Yes,” Martin continued. “That Fergal Martin. No autographs, please.”

Slowly, he walked closer to the glass partition.

“Are you sure you’d want to shoot from where you are?”

He knocked at the glass.

“I don’t know if this stuff’s supposed to be bullet-proof or just basic glass. Either way, things could get messy.”

Suddenly, he placed his right palm on the glass saying, “I have been and always will be... your friend.”

The Sentry who had recognised him shouted “Stay where you are!”

He disappeared off to the side of the reception before reappearing through a metal door that was on Martin’s side.

“Long time, no see,” Martin said.

“Why are you here,” the Sentry asked.

“Oh, to give myself up, of course. To help you with your enquiries. I’ve been hearing rather unpleasant stories. You’ve been violently asking certain brothers and sisters of mine where I am. This is where I am. So, let’s talk.”

 

Part 3

Where Fennell Was

 

            It was an eye.

About the size of a football.

It was a head. 

            The head was the eye.

The eye was the head. 

He thought he was safe.

He was wrong. 

            He turned around a corner and there was Fennell. 

He had a pistol.

He was pointing it straight at the eye.

At the head. 

#

            David Fennell had been waiting for this moment for a long time. He had even prepared a short little speech. Magnificent in its sarcasm.

            “Well, well, well. I..."  

            His mobile rang. 

            “For fuck’s sake," he shouted.

            There were two soldiers behind the "Eye". Fennell looked at them and said, "Take him away."

            Fennell looked down at his phone. 

            “This better be bleedin' worth it."

            The two soldiers took the "Eye" away. The "Eye" looked back at Fennell as he put the mobile up to his ear. He spoke with a hard, but quiet anger.

            “What is it?"

            “It's good to hear you, too." 

            The voice belonged to O'Brien. Fennell imagined him sitting at his desk. In his voice, he could hear a lopsided smile.

            “We want you back here at the office A.S.A.P."

            “With all due respect, sir, is this some kind of bloody joke?"

            “Relax, son. It's good news. It looks as if your prayers have finally been answered."

            There were a few soldiers congregating a couple of metres away from Fennell, so he turned around and lowered his voice.

            “I'm back in the Group?"

            “You're back in the Group. You really do have friends in high places, don't you?" 

            “I still think the timing could've been better." 

            “Well, there's a reason for that. They finally found Martin."

            Fennell almost smiled.

            “Is he talking?"

            “Talking? He won't shut up. But he’s not telling us what we want to hear.”

“Has he revealed any party tricks?”

“Not yet. All the tests show that he is, but nobody knows what he does."

#


            O'Brien was in his mid-sixties, but retirement as far as he was concerned was simply not an option. 

            He was, after all, a member of that blessed generation who had been preparing for this moment all their lives. He was entering his rather spartan office with Fennell walking closely beside him. 

            “He sounds like quite a character," O'Brien was saying.

            “He's a mystery," Fennell replied, "I hate mysteries."

            “Well, this will give you a perfect opportunity to solve one. Congratulations, by the way, on your new promotion."

            O'Brien sat down on the most extravagant piece of furniture in the room. A large, almost throne-like chair. 

            Behind him, there was a framed poster that said "Knowledge is not a Right. It's a Privilege". 

            “Well, I get the impression," Fennell said, "that you were more responsible for that, than I was." 

            “Nonsense. You deserved it." 

            He indicated for Fennell to sit down on a smaller wooden chair. 

            “And don't you be listening," he continued, "to all those people saying that we organised it just to keep you quiet. We trust you, Fennell. This actually makes you one of the chosen few. In fact, all in all, we in the Government have been extremely impressed by your career, so far."

            He smiled as he leaned back. 

            “Of course, we knew you wanted to return to the Group, and we may have pulled one or two strings, but don't get too comfortable in your new position. I believe you have a higher destiny. And I suspect, you believe it, too. But enough about the future. Let's talk about "now". Let's talk about Martin. Do you know where he is?"

#

            “He's in Cell Alpha 1," Major Johnson was saying. "Only the best, of course, for such an honoured guest." 

            He was sitting in the rather makeshift office he had been using since he had been assigned as Governor of this rather exclusive little prison.

            “He's under constant observation by two old friends of yours. Mitchell and that young Harris fella."

            On the other side of the desk, Fennell smiled.

            “Yeah, I know them."

            “Well, I think that’s just about everything. All that remains for me to do..."

            Major Johnson picked up a three-page document and handed it over to Fennell.

            “Is to formally hand over this agreed text for the confession-stroke-apology-stroke-recantation-stroke-plea-bargain that we'd like Martin to sign at your earliest convenience."

 

Part 4

The Interview

                              
            The automatic door slowly opened with a low hum followed by a tiny squeak. Fennell walked calmly into the Observation Room. It was rather small with Mitchell, a tired-looking man in his mid-thirties, along with Harris, a slightly younger man, sitting at a desk looking at a two-way mirror. They both turned to look at the visitor.

            “Is that him in there?" Fennell asked, indicating the mirror.

            “Oh, yeah. That's our boy, all right," Mitchell said.

            Fennell walked behind them to have a good look at the mirror. Looking through the glass, he could see the interrogation room. He saw Martin. He was sitting on a chair on the other side of a table. There was an empty chair waiting on the nearer side. He appeared to be just sitting there staring into space, with a calm, relaxed smile on his face.

            “What's he bloody smiling at?" Fennell asked quietly. 

            “I stopped trying to understand these bastards a long time ago," Mitchell said, "Speaking of which, how's "Operation Dawn" progressing?" 

            “I've been told that it'll only be a matter of days before we can officially announce we've caught them all. So, our friend here can smile all he bloody wants. His day is done."

            There was a pause, as Fennell, Mitchell and Harris found themselves staring at Martin who almost seemed to be staring back at them. 

            For the first time, Harris spoke and almost nervously asked "Are we completely sure he can't see us through this glass?" 

            With a bored sigh, Mitchell replied "Life's too short to answer questions like that." 

            He looked back at Fennell.

            “Do you want to go in and have a chat?" 

            “Absolutely."

            “Okay." 

            He glanced back at Harris and said, "Unlock the door."

            Harris keyed a code onto a screen on the desk in front of them and pressed a large red button. A series of random bleeping noises came from a door that was beside the mirror. 

            Inside the Interrogation Room, Martin suddenly looked towards the door and said "Oh, I have a visitor, do I? Groovy. Well, come on in, buddy. Let's have a chin-wag." 

            Mitchell and Harris both slowly took out their pistols. As the they both clicked off their safety switches, Mitchell said quietly "Bloody comedian."
            They stood up and accompanied Fennell to the door. Mitchell grabbed the large plastic handle that was on the left-hand side of the door and slowly turned it. They walked into the room to be confronted by a smiling Martin, as he asked, "How's she cuttin'?"

            Mitchell and Harris kept their guns fixed on Martin.

            “This is Fennell," Mitchell said, "From the Interrogation Group."

            “Hello," Martin smiled at Fennell.

            “Keep in mind," Mitchell said, "That we'll be watching from just next door, so let's try to keep the bullshit to an absolute minimum." 

            “Are you sure about that? It's particularly good for the roses, they say."

            He looked at Fennell and asked "Do you like roses, Fennell from the Interrogation Group? Although, I have to say that at first glance, you don't really strike me as a rose-lovin' individual."

            Mitchell and Harris slowly backed out of the room. 

            “Would you mind shuttin' the door after you, lads?" Martin asked. "There's a terrible draft coming from somewhere."

            He looked straight at Harris and said with a smile. "Be seeing you."

            Harris almost looked worried as Mitchell closed the door in front of him. There was a loud bleep from the door to signify that it was locked.

            “Where are me manners, for goodness sake? Please, sit down. Make yourself at home." 

            Fennell slowly sat down in the chair across from Martin.

            “Do you even have the vaguest idea of the trouble you're in?" he asked. 

            “I don't really have vague ideas. I leave all that to you boys and gals with your notions and your nightmares."

            “Well, at least, this particular nightmare's coming to an end. Let me ask you something. Do you have any understanding of what it felt like for us? To walk the streets and be confronted everywhere you bloody looked by creatures... like you? Not to mention some of your more outlandish lookin' cousins. Just walking around as if they owned the place. As if they actually thought they belonged here. As if they actually thought they were just like the rest of us."

            “Yes. I do," Martin said, "I know exactly what that feels like. What you're describing is simply... life. Like a fireworks display firing off in every single direction. That's how life has, does and always will develop... and change." 

            Fennell leant back in his chair and smiled a rather bitter smile.

            “Ah, yeah, here we go again. ‘We're all mutants, after all. It's all part of the evolutionary process.’ I've heard it all before, friend. That joke stopped being funny a long time ago."

            He then leant forward, placed his hands flat on the table in front of him and said very quietly and calmly "You... are wrong. Not just in what you say... but in what you are. Every single last one of you. You're all just genetic malfunctions. Diversions. Freaks."

            Martin smiled and then in a rather theatrical whisper said, "I'm glad they sent you here." 

            “Does my reputation precede me?" Fennell asked. There seemed to be almost a touch of pride in his voice. 

            “No, not at all," Martin replied, "Before you just came in, I didn't have a clue who you were. Maybe your reputation doesn't precede you, as such, it just follows you around like a snail's... trail. Okay, that's a very strange image, but one of the reasons I'm glad they sent someone like you to visit me here, is that I get the definite impression you've got a very interesting brain. I think you know a lot of stuff. Oh, dear. Oh, I'm sorry. Are you offended by me saying that? I know some of you lot really believe in ignorant bliss as a theological concept. But don't you worry yourself, pal. You're secret's safe with me. If anybody asks me, I'll say you're a complete thicko, but let me ask you something. Why do you always assume that we'd consider the word "freak" as an insult? I really think, David, that the world would be a much better place, if we could all just embrace our "inner freak". Of course, I know you don't believe me, but at this moment, I think what's really worrying you is the fact that I seem to know what you're first name is." 

            Fennell suddenly looked uneasy. 

            “David," Martin continued, "Or would you prefer Dave or Davo or Davoroony or the Davemeister. Oh, I like that. The Davemeister. It's better than your bleedin' middle name, though. Percival. Jaysus."

            Out in the Observation Room, Mitchell and Harris looked bewildered. 

            “What the hell's going on?" Mitchell asked quietly. 

            From beyond the glass, they could hear Martin who seemed to shout an answer.

            “Life's going on. Life always goes on."

            He looked back at Fennell and asked, "Don't you agree, Percy. I mean, Dave. But anyway, I suppose you're going to ask me now about the sort of company I keep. But really, I'd much prefer to talk about all those fascinating people you hang around with. It's amazing, really. You've met all the really serious movers and shakers. You know all their secrets and plans and codes and guess what?" 

            At this point, Fennell was beginning to look genuinely frightened. 

            “What?" he whispered. 

            “As of a few moments ago and thanks to the one of my two mutant powers that isn't my devastating charm, so do I." 

            “Bullshit."

            “Actually, I think we were told to keep that to an absolute minimum." 

            Fennell tried to appear relaxed but failed.

            “There's obviously been some kind of security leak. I mean, you've obviously been well-briefed..."

            Martin interrupted him.

            “The code to your PC is Doubtful 1." 

            Fennell suddenly stood up and started to back slightly away. 

            “Apparently, it was the first word that came to mind. That may have been your sub-conscious trying to sneak through. This delightful little crackdown you've been working on, was originally called "Operation Crackdown", which shows an incredible and perhaps not surprising lack of imagination on the part of your alleged superiors. You were in fact the one who suggested re-naming it "Operation Dawn". You told them that it suggested a new beginning, but in fact it was because, for some peculiar reason, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree" had been floating around your head, all day. Poor fellow. You've just come from a meeting where astonishingly I was the subject of the conversation. It was attended by yourself and Major Mush. This of course, being the nickname you've christened him with, and have never told another soul about. But more importantly than all of that, last night you dreamt that you were being sat on by an elephant, which any Jungian analyst would confirm as being highly symbolic of a deep-seated fear of being sat on by an elephant. The fact it was covered in red and blue stripes is just plain weird."        

            Fennel suddenly took out a pistol and pointed it straight at Martin's head.

            “What the hell have you just done?" he asked.

            “Only what comes naturally, David, and may I say how impressed I am at the mature and thoughtful way you're dealing with this situation."

            In the Observation Room, Harris took out his gun. 

            “That's it. I'm going in," he said.

            Mitchell grabbed Mitchell's arm and said, "No! Let's see how this plays out." 

            “What's gonna happen, now, then?" Martin asked back in the Interrogation Room as he literally stared down the barrel of Fennell's gun. "Go ahead, make my day? Do you feel lucky, punk? Luck. What a very strange concept? Good luck. Bad luck. How does seven years grab you?" 

            Suddenly, the mirror between the two rooms seemed to explode with shards of glass shattering and crashing down onto the floor. Mitchell and Harris jumped up quickly from their chairs and moved back, trying to take cover. 

            “What is it with glass? Anyway, it's been absolutely lovely talking to you, amigo," Martin continued, "But I really have to be hitting the road. You know how it is. Places to be. People to meet. Freaks to set free. Or maybe you don't know how it is." 

            Martin slowly stood up, as Mitchell and Harris came rushing in. 

            “Sit down," Mitchell shouted. 

            Martin smiled gently and quietly said, "No."

            “What do you mean, "’No’?" 

            “I'm sorry. You're quite right, of course. No, thank you. Good manners cost nothin'. That's my motto, you know. Well, no, it isn't. It's "Nil Desperandum". Words to live by, don't you think?" 

            Fennell still had his gun trained on Martin, as he asked, "Do you seriously believe you can just walk out of here?" 

            “Yes. I seriously believe, but I also believe in a zany, madcap way. Madcap. There's another strange word. A cap that makes you mad. What's that all about?" 

            “Shut up," Harris said with what sounded like a touch of panic in his voice. "Okay, just bloody shut up." 

            Mitchell glanced nervously at him and said "Harris?"

            “You don't bloody care, do you?" Harris shouted at Martin. "If we let you go, what happens then?" 

            “What do you think will happen?" Martin asked. 

            Harris now seemed almost hysterical.

            “Oh, I know exactly what'll happen. That's why we’re doing this, you see. The fact is, you people, you just can't control yourselves. At the end of the day, given half a chance, I think you'd slaughter the lot of us." 

            “But why would we do that? We love you." 

            There was a pause, for by the matter-of-fact way Martin said it, it was obvious that he wasn't being cynical or ironic or even the slightest bit sentimental. If anything, it almost sounded like a patient parent talking to a child in mid-tantrum.

            “What?" Harris asked with a rather pained expression on his face. 

            “Slaughtering people just ain’t our style. We're better than that, you see. We're... better than you. Nothing personal, you understand, but basically, we're superior. And we say that in all humility."

            “Shit," Fennell said quietly, as he raised his pistol and pulled the trigger.

            There was a click. He tried again. Another click. Mitchell and Harris both tried to shoot, but with the exact same result. For ten seconds, the only sound in the room was series of impotent clicks.

            “I could make an extremely rude joke at this moment," Martin said, "But thankfully, I'm a gentleman. But what is it with you people? You're always trying to murder higher, evolved beings. Didn't you try to do that 2,000 years ago? Didn't go to plan, then. Why try it again, now? If at first you don't succeed, why don't you try to do something that you may actually be good at? Look, I'd love to stand around and chat all day and I think you'll agree, I'm entirely capable of doing that, but I have to bid you all a fond adieu and by the way, it's not your imaginations, your feet are genuinely glued to the floor."

            Suddenly, Fennell, Mitchell and Harris noticed that they couldn't move their feet.

            “I wouldn't try to move to stop me if I were you, because you would look extremely silly."

            Fennel walked calmly towards the door. Just as he was about to leave, he paused and said to Harris. “And don't you worry, my friend. The effect is only temporary. I could say that it was like life, but that would be incredibly pretentious. Of course, since I'm an elevated being, it'll probably be very difficult for me not to be pretentious. It's hard to believe, I know. Pretentious, moi?"

            There was silence.  

            “You know. Don't mention the war. Basil in the ratatouille. My God, you really are primitive, aren't you?"

            Martin started again to walk towards the door.

            “Some people have just no sense of culture. Slán leat."

            Fennell, Mitchell and Harris were left standing there in the Interrogation Room listening to Martin's footsteps moving through the Observation Room before opening and closing the outer door.

            “Bloody comedian," Mitchell mumbled.

            Fennell looked around him. The three of them had stopped trying to move and were just standing there, waiting for something to happen.

“Isn't this dignified?" he said quietly. 

After a pause, Harris asked, "What's supposed to happen now? I mean, is that it?" 

“Nil Desperandum" Fennell said.

“What?" 

Fennell suddenly started to softly laugh, before looking at Harris and saying quietly "Don't panic". 


                              Part 5

Two Figures Pointing At Each Other

 

            “Oh, you should've seen the chaos that ensued after that. All the internees escaped, me included. The fear among the normal.... is that the appropriate word? Normal? Well anyway, the non-mutant population were terrified at what might happen next. The whole world seemed to be on complete lock-down in preparation for the imminent apocalypse. 

            Which didn't happen. 

            Days passed. Then weeks. They would've been relieved if they weren't so bewildered. And so, bewilderment became embarrassment, which in turned deepened into a burning shame. People began to think twice... and in many cases, once.

            The government fell soon after. It fell so hard; it left a crater on the ground. 

            And Fennell? I'm afraid he couldn't deal with the new situation, at all. His state of mind quickly crumbled under the tumbling pressure of history.

            It was also at this time, that I and the rest of my kind were welcomed back into polite society with astonishingly open arms. I even got my old job back. Which was amazing. The husband and Adam were delighted. No more running. No more hiding. 

            I'm not even hearing the sort of comments I used to get about my appearance and how it might affect my work. You know, the green hair and the cats-eyes. Tapetum Lucidum. 

            Oh, I'm sorry, I should've said at the beginning that I'm a Psychiatric Nurse. By both profession and vocation. Which is how I met Fennell. 

            We had actively encouraged him to paint and draw in the hope that by putting everything down on paper, he'd be better able to deal with the contradictions that had overwhelmed him. Or at the very least, he'd be able to communicate what was going on inside his mind. He wasn't very artistic (no surprise there), and it has to be said his drawings tended to be rather child-like and simplistic. And strangely rather repetitive. It was almost always the same image. Two figures standing and pointing at each other. In the earlier ones, the two figures would be completely different. Different clothes. Different features. But slowly, but surely, this had changed. The two figures had come to resemble each other. In the last couple of weeks, they had almost become identical. Like in a mirror's reflection.

            A couple of days ago, it was decided that he should have a visitor. A very special visitor. In fact, I was the one who brought him into the common room. 

            Fennell was sitting at a table at the middle of the room, feverishly drawing with his head down, close to the paper.

            “Mr. Fennell?" I asked.

            There was no response, so I raised my voice slightly.

            “Mr. Fennell?"

            Slowly, painfully slowly, Fennell lifted his head up. His hair had grown long over the last few months, and he was now pale and unshaven. His eyes looked weary and mournful.

            “You have a visitor," I said as gently as I could. I stepped aside to let Martin walk towards the table.

            “Hello, David." he said. 

            Fennell looked up at him and his eyes suddenly widened. What was he thinking? Was he angry? Fearful? I mean, he was obviously surprised, but for one terrifying moment, I thought we'd made a horrible mistake.

            Maybe this was the worst thing we could've done. After all our good work, was he just going to withdraw back into himself?

            Martin sat down on the chair that was across the table from Fennell and quietly said "We meet again."

            Fennell picked up a red-coloured marker and bent his head down in order to start drawing again.

            Martin smiled rather sadly and continued, "I would've been, in fact, I should've been here earlier, but it's been extremely busy out there."

            Fennell kept on drawing.

            “We wish you could've been a part of it."

            Without looking up, Fennell said, "We thought you were devils, you know. You terrified us, but we could deal with that. We could deal with you being devils. But we just couldn't deal with you.... not being devils." 

            “Well, we're definitely not angels," Martin replied with a chuckle in his voice. "I mean, let's not go crazy..."

            Fennell almost started to laugh at this beautifully, inappropriate statement, but he didn't raise his head and kept on drawing.

            Martin cleared his throat and said, "Sorry. But the thing is...”
            He slowly raised his right hand. There was a small orange light glowing in his palm. 

“We owe you," he continued, "It's time to pay our debt."

Fennell lifted his head back up. He found himself

staring at the orange light that was at the centre of the palm. Suddenly, it seemed to expand, until it covered all of Martin's hand. 

            Fennell seemed hypnotised by it, as multicoloured rays started to emerge from deep within the orange. They appeared like rainbow tendrils reaching across the table to touch his face. Without realising he was doing it, he raised his right hand and pointed at Martin who raised his left hand and pointed at Fennell.

THE END


© 2022 T.J. Matthews

Bio: T.J. Matthews works as a Civil Servant in a Government Department in Dublin, Ireland. Over the years, he has had several poems published in various Irish and British Magazines.
His story "Aidan in St. Stephen's Green" appeared in the April 2020 issue of Aphelion Webzine"

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