The Seer Returns
“There’s a new leak in the...” Paul halted as he re-entered the kitchen, watching curiously as Nat gently escorted a tall rain soaked figure indoors. “Who is it, Nat?”
“Seer, he’s the seer!” An excited Nigel bounced around trying to hug the mystery man. “It’s me, little cat, it’s me. Hello...” he waved an enthusiastic hand, almost knocking Nathaniel’s teeth out in the process. “I’m still here.”
“His name is Caleb,” Nathaniel valiantly dodged the flailing hand, doing his best to keep Nigel at bay. “Don’t worry, he won’t bite you, not unless you bite him first. Grab his pack would you, Paul, it’s just under the window outside.” He tried again to block Nigel’s attempts to hug the figure. “Leave him. I mean it, Nigel...leave him alone. You mustn’t hassle him when he’s in this state.”
Paul dropped the heavy backpack on the kitchen floor. Closing the door against the elements he then stood gawping, unable to take his eyes from the man. He was an imposing figure in a full-length army greatcoat. Water streamed in rivulets from hair that cascaded in dark heavy strands about his face and shoulders. His eyes were an extraordinary colour, a deep russet, almost orange, like an owl’s. Wide and fixed they dominated the gaunt face.
“Wow,” whispered Paul. “Look at his hair, it’s nearly to his waist. What’s wrong with him, Nat, why is he staring like that? He looks like his lights are on, but no one is home.”
“He’s having a cerebral absence, in simple terms it’s a kind of fit.” Nat, tiring of fending Nigel off, despatched him to fetch a towel from the upstairs airing cupboard. He then gently guided the figure down onto a kitchen chair. “He’ll come out of it in his own good time.”
“No wonder he scared the living shit out of Chris, if that’s who he saw when he came in the kitchen.”
“Watch that language, Paul,” said Nat, automatically giving voice to Gordon’s disapproval, which seemed to come to him telepathically from the landing above. “Go and see where Nigel’s got to with that towel would you please. He’s so excited he’s probably forgotten why I sent him up there.”
Paul went out and Nat seated himself at the table keeping company with the silent guest. He glanced across at the kitchen calendar. It was a year to the day exactly. Cal never wavered. He smiled. Paul was right. Chris had probably glimpsed Caleb at the window as he entered the kitchen. He felt comforted by the thought. It meant that at least Christopher wasn’t petrified of him for some reason. After all, he thought, shifting slightly on his chair, as everyone knew, Gordon was the scary member of this team.
Upstairs, Chris sat on the edge of his bed, his heart pounding with fright and dismay. It had followed him. He had seen it, staring at him through the window. He jumped and then scowled as his name was called.
“Christopher.” Gordon knocked briskly on the bedroom door and then turned the handle. The door was locked. “Christopher, what’s wrong, why did you run like that?” He knocked again. “Come downstairs and have some breakfast, meet Nathaniel properly. I promise you he’s not in the least bit frightening, rather the opposite in fact.” The reply he got wasn’t encouraging.
“Just fuck off, okay, leave me alone!”
“I can’t do that, Chris, so please open this door and speak to me properly. I’ve got the master keys to all the rooms and while I have no desire to violate your privacy, I will do so if I think it’s in your best interests.”
Chris put a hand up to his mouth, chewing nervously at his nails. There was something nagging at him about ‘it’ he frowned trying to focus. The eyes, the eyes he suddenly realised were the wrong colour. The figure he’d glimpsed through the window had orangey eyes, not blue. A sense of relief swept over him. He got up as the knocking on his door became more insistent and the voice issued an ultimatum, either he open the door voluntarily or the master key would be brought into action. Chris moved towards the door, sensing that he’d pushed his luck as far as he could where the rather formidable Gordon was concerned. He cautiously turned the key.
“Gordon, he’s back, he’s back!” Nigel barged up the stairs, yelling at the top of his lungs. “He’s come back, he’s come home and he’s all wet!” Nigel flung open the airing cupboard and began dragging towels out, hurling them left right and centre in a frenzy of activity.
Chris’s door, which had opened a crack, slammed shut again the moment Nigel erupted onto the landing. “Calm down, Nigel, what are you talking about? No,” Gordon laid a finger briefly against his lips. “Slow down, and stop shouting. I’m not deaf, nor am I on the opposite side of the universe.”
“Darth Vader!” Nigel glanced fearfully around, “he’s on the opposite side of the universe in a galaxy far, far away...will he have heard me?”
Gordon sighed. He was beginning to wish he were in a galaxy far, far away. “Darth Vader doesn’t exist, Nigel, we’ve talked about that before. Now, tell me, quietly, who is downstairs?”
Nigel put a hand to his mouth, whispering through his fingers in an exaggerated fashion...“the seer, he’s downstairs with Nat, he’s all wet. I’m getting him a towel.” The hand dropped and his voice began to rise again, “Nat sent me to get one, because he knows I’m good at getting towels. I am aren’t I, Gordon, I’m good at getting towels?”
“Who’s the seer?” Anna, alerted by Nigel’s foghorn proclamations, came out of the bathroom. “What’s he on about?”
“Caleb Catnach by the sounds of it, he’s a peripatetic visitor to Hope House.” Gordon, his arms full of discarded towels, glanced at her suspiciously. There was a fine sheen of perspiration on her pale face.
Anna frowned, none the wiser. “Who’s Caleb Catnach and what’s peripatetic when it’s at home?”
“It means nomadic, travelling,” Paul joined the happy throng on the landing. “Don’t you know anything, stupido?”
“This one looks nice, I’ll get this one for little cat, he’ll like me getting this one for him, won’t he, Gordon?” Nigel lunged for a bright turquoise towel stashed right at the very back of the cupboard, dragging it forward. He gave a howl of grief as he was peppered with a storm of small objects.
Paul gave an audible gulp and paled. Without bothering to glance at his uncle’s face, he fast tracked back in the direction of the stairs he’d just ascended, leaping down them two at a time. Anna snatched up one of the scattered objects, her face darkening with fury. “My bracelet, that’s my bracelet, the one I thought I’d lost.” She made a dive for the stairs following in Paul’s wake, yelling, “you thieving little shit! You let me cry about this and all the time you knew where it was. I’m going to kill you!”
Nigel burst into tears, putting the towel over his head, his muffled voice wailing, “I don’t want Anna to kill Paul, it’s not nice killing people, is it, Gordon, it’s not nice, it means you’re in a very bad ego state doesn’t it, Gordon?”
“Don’t worry, Nigel, it’s just a manner of speaking.” Gordon quickly stacked the towels back in the airing cupboard, and then turned his attentions back to Nigel. Lifting the towel off his head he dried the tears with a corner of it. “Take the towel to Nat, I’m sure he’ll be very pleased with your choice, go on now.”
Nigel trotted off, getting halfway down the stairs before turning and coming back up to give Gordon a bone-crushing hug. “You’re a sweetheart,” Gordon patted his back affectionately. “Off you go, before Nat sends out a search party.”
Once Nigel was out of sight, Gordon turned his attentions back to Chris, knocking sharply on the door, which had been closed and relocked. “I’ll talk to you later, young man. Don’t think for a moment that you’re skulking in that room all weekend, because you’re not. Next time I knock on this door, you’ll open it immediately.”
Screams and shrieks from downstairs indicated that Anna had run her quarry to ground and was intent on interrogating him, painfully by the sounds of it. Gordon squatted and began to grimly gather the host of scattered objects together. “Just you wait, Paul Fulton,” he murmured. “Death at Anna’s hands will seem like a picnic by the time I’m done with you.”
Copyright Cat/Fabian Black 2010.