From somewhere, he found his voice.
“I said, what the bloody hell are you doing here?”
“And I said I had been waiting for you – and please do not blaspheme – remember we are in the House of God now” replied the figure who was now beginning to walk slowly up the aisle towards him.
Gene tried to remain calm.
“I am not a religious man and I do not care if we are in the house of God, Fraser or Her Majesty’s House of bloody Windsor, understand? Now, are you going to tell me who you are and what the hell is going on?”
“Who do you think I am, Gene?”
“Don’t keep answering me with a bloody question else you will piss me right off”, Gene replied, trying not to show any sign of the anxiety he was starting to feel. It was like something out of a Hammer House of Horror.
“I said, WHO do you think I am?” the voice demanded, a little more sternly now as he got closer.
Gene put his hand to his brow, closed his eyes for a few seconds,trying to take a deep breath.
When he opened them, the figure was there right next to him, that now familiar face peering into his, so close he could feel the warm breath on his own.
“For the last time, I said WHO.DO. YOU. THINK.I AM, GENE?”
Gene didn’t know. He certainly knew who he hoped it wasn’t.
“I don’t know who you are? You tell me. The Angel Gabriel? The Devil in Disguise?”
The figure moved away slightly shaking his head.
“Mmm Clever. Nice try. Close.”
Gene was in no mood for the games. All he knew was that nothing was making sense.
“Ok, then, Danny-boy, or should I call you Wing Commander Boxhead? I saw you when I was stuck at the Air Museum, and you vanished. Then you scared the shit out of me in that Ghost Train or whatever it was, and vanished. Now you turn up here. Are you stalking me or something?”
“I am on a mission, Gene.”
Gene was suddenly reminded of somebody else who had been on a mission. Jim Bloody Keats. Yet this guy wasn’t Jim Keats, he didn’t even look like him.
“So who the bloody hell are you, and what’s happened to the flying uniform? “ Gene surveyed the pilot he knew only as Danny .
“You may call me Father. Father Daniel.”.
Gene was struggling to take it all in. He was so tired. He glanced at the priest, noting his cassock, the dog collar, the crucifix. His hand fumbled deep into his own pocket. Yes the cross and chain was still there along with all the other bits and bobs. What did it mean? What was happening to him?
“Take a pew, Gene. We need a chat”.
Gene did not want to linger in the cold church, nor was he in the mood for a chat.
“I am not in the mood for talking. There is nothing to talk about. I have nothing to say.” Gene said firmly.
“Don’t be so defensive. I am not here to harm you”. The priest tried to reassure him.
“HA. Nothing can harm me” Gene replied again in a defensive tone “The Gene Genie is untouchable”.
Suddenly there was a loud clap of thunder, and a flash of lightening lit up the stained glass window. Rain began to pelt down hard outside.
With that Gene turned on his heel. He had to get out there, and he needed a drink. He would find a pub, go for a piss and have a few bevvies. He remembered the money he had drawn out. All he really wanted if the truth be told was a decent kip.
“Stop. Where are you going?” Father Daniel shouted after him.
Gene ignored him
“Where you running to? Scared are we?”
For somebody who was supposed to be a priest Gene was a little concerned at the way his tone changed from being caring to being a little aggressive and it was starting to freak him out. It was similar to the way Keats used to operate, a little schizophrenic at times.
Gene turned round to face the priest.
“Scared? Gene Hunt doesn’t do scared. I am scared of nothing. Understand?”
“You’re scared of the truth though Gene. Frightened to admit it” Father Daniel started to goad Gene.
Gene wasn’t prepared to listen. Outside the storm still roared.
“I’ m off”.
“Where? You leave here now and you are only going to make it more difficult for yourself. Where are you going to run to?”.
Gene didn’t really know, or care. He suspected he may just head back into town, to a hotel, or if he was lucky run into some old mates, but it must be getting late now.
“I have friends”. Gene replied.
“Friends? You have no friends, Gene. No family. No friends. No TEAM. No Ray, or Chris, or Shaz, or DI Alex Drake. Dear Bollyknickers. Nobody.”.
Gene stared back at the priest in disbelief. How in hell did he know, could he possibly know.
His jaw muscles contracted and temper got the better of him, and he grabbed the priest by his shoulders pinning him up against the vestry wall.
“I don’t know who the friggin’ hell you are but I swear to God if you don’t quite taking the piss and leave me alone, I will put a bullet through your brain and send you through St Peter’s pearly gates myself”.
Gene let go of the priest then, who appeared to seem unphased by Gene’s outburst and merely continued.
“ Walk out of that door now, Gene, and you will be sorry”.
“I don’t do threats. Or rules. We play by my rules : The rules of Modern policing according to Gene Hunt 1973 Edition”. Gene dusted down the lapels of his overcoat.
“1973. Ancient History” Father Daniel said.
Gene felt that feeling he had experienced earlier that evening in the pub on Bradford Road. Something was not right but he didn’t know what.
“Gene. It’s 1997. Not 1973. Not 1981,82 or 83. but 1997”.
“No”. Gene refused to believe it.
“Yes. 1997. August 31st to be precise – well for less than another hour maybe. “ Father Daniel looked at his watch.
Gene still continued to stare into space, trying to work it out in his head.
“but..but that’s 14 years on. I don’t get it”. He ran his ringers through his hair in frustration.
Reluctanctly he sat down in a pew at the back of the church. Father Daniel remained standing, his voice a lot calmer as he spoke.
“Yes Gene. 1997. And a memorable weekend to say the least, if not something that will be remembered like the shooting of Kennedy, and John Lennon. Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash yesterday. The whole world is in mourning”.
“I know. “ said Gene.
The priest looked at him questioningly.
“Oh I was in the pub on Bradford Road. I saw it on the news. It didn’t make sense or mean anything”.
“She was a truly beautiful person. Tragically taken so young. There is nothing to fear though now. Ok everybody is devasted, and upset, yet she is already up there, knocking on Heaven’s door and will be welcomed with open arms. “
Gene was silent. A candle flickered. There must be a breeze somewhere.
Father Daniel continued.
“I have been busy, and will be. The doors will be opened for people to sign books of condolence, offers of prayer. I shall take confession and comfort people who need to be comforted. An event like this can ricochet – it’s not just about a person dying but it can bring out all kinds of emotions, and feelings that may have been hidden for years. I can help to give them so kind of release? Help them move on. Do you understand that Gene? “
Gene still continued to stare at the old battered bible on the pew in front of him, aware only of the damp musty smell surrounding him.
“Do you understand Gene? Do you understand what I am saying to you?”
Gene looked up. His eyes where glazed. He also noticed the priest had a subtle Irish accent. Funny – he hadn’t noticed that before.
“Do you have emotions, feelings, things you need to get out?”.
Gene shook his head.
“Do you have something that needs a release?”
Gene shook his head, putting his hands to his ears.
“Is there something you want to confess ?”
Gene stood up. He couldn’t take any more.
He moved quickly out of the pew, pushing the priest aside.
“No, No, No” Gene moved closed towards the large wooden door of the church.
“I warn you Gene. Walk out there now and you will make it harder for yourself and for me. It’s not 1973 Gene. Or 1983. Things have changed. Everything’s changing – but you. You need to admit things to yourself, face facts”.
“Facts....Facts....? I don’t know who you are, what you are, or what you are trying to do. But if you continue to play stupid mind games with me, I swear, I will not be responsible for my actions.”
Father Daniel , touched his hand to his cross and then put his fingers inside his dog collar.
“So be it. You are like a candle in the wind, flickering, an eternal flame. Walk out there Gene, and that light will go. You will see. You will need me. You will be back”.
“Over my dead body” Gene replied.
“Exactly Gene. Over you’re DEAD body. Say it Gene. Admit it. You are dead. Just like Alex, and Ray, and Chris and Shaz, and Viv.”
Gene reached for the door latch, and struggled. The door seemed jammed shut. Father Daniel was walking closer behind him
“Say it Gene. I want to hear you say it. Admit it. You are’ Dead. Dead.Dead”.
With all the strength he could muster, Gene made one last effort, and miraculously, the door opened. He slammed it shut behind him and started to run. Where? He had no idea. He just had to get away as far as possible. From the voices going round his head, the taunting, the howling, evil laughter , the heat, the sounds of gunshot, the demons that were continuing to haunt him. Oh and the damn clown. There he was, laughing, on the corner of the street.
The word “Dead” echoed through his head as he continued to run as fast as his boots could carry him. He was weary, feverish, hot and cold at the same time. The storm had stopped but there was still heavy rain. Yet when he looked up into the night sky he could see hundreds of stars. Shit. Is this what happened? Is this what happened to them all too? Ray, Alex, Chris, Shaz.
Damn. It wouldn’t happen to him. He would fight, fight it all the way. He couldn’t, wouldn’t slip up now. He had come so far, and he would continue to look each day and night in the eye.
The Gene Genie was NOT dead by a long shot.
With that thought he continued pacing until he was out of sight of All Soul’s Church, and he turned the corner and fled into the dark Manchester night, and into another unknown world.