All was quite. Eerily silent. And dark. So very very dark.
Gene tried to move but found he was restricted and banged his head as he tried to lift it. He gasped for breath. Realisng he was concealed into a small place his heart began to beat faster and he was in danger of having a panic attack. He was in a coffin. Lying in a wooden box. Or so he thought. All he could remember was going into that place on the corner, the coffee bar which he now knew to be the Railway Arms, and the last face he had seen was Nelson’s. So this was how it was? It had happened to the others, and now it had happened to him. Yet where were they? Were they all just lying side by side each other in some random cemetery? In a line, himself, Ray, Chris, Shaz, Viv, and Alex. Maybe he was lying next to Bolly on the other side.. Gene turned his head slightly and it was then he felt a breeze across his face, ever so slight. He glanced down his body and could see a tiny pinhole of daylight. He could also hear rustling outside, and voices. Something banged and startled him and he banged his head again. He managed to bring his hand to his head, with extreme difficulty and felt wetness, and from his fingers he tasted blood. There was another bang, and he realised it sound like a stone hitting metal, and voices. Which meant he couldn’t be in a wooden coffin. So where the hell was he? Hidden in vault? There was also a smell, a familiar smell. He glanced down at the window of daylight and saw that it had grown and was slowly spreading along. He placed his hands in front of his chest onto the lid of whatever it was, and with an almighty push, for he was feeling a little weak, he used all his strength as the lid opened and he pulled himself up into the daylight, or rather the fading dusk.
There were screams all around him.
“Oh help, it’s a monster”.
“Frankenstein” a child’s voice shouted.
“Run, it might be Dracula”.
Blinking hard, he managed to make out a group of children running away from him, screaming at the tops of their voices. The light was dwindling but he could make out they were dressed in some kind of outfits, one had a pointed hat and cape. Of course, he remembered. It must be Halloween.
For a second he felt amused. Gene Hunt rising from the Dead. That was a good one.
In the twilight he could see a house in the distance. It was quite remote, set back from the road in a field. It seemed familiar. He looked at the chimney stack , and there was a weather vane – in the shape of a black cat.
It was then he realised he was in the boot of a car, and as he was pulling himself out, he knew it just wasn’t any old car, but his baby, the beloved Audio Quattro!
He dropped to his knees in shock, gathered his composure and then pulled himself up once more, bending to kiss the shiny bonnet. They had killed his Quattro and now it had been re-born. No scratches, dents or broken windows. He was in two minds to jump right in and just drive away, that’s if the keys were in the ignition but a voice shouted him, taking his mind away.
He glanced round. There was nobody there. The trees were rustling quite a bit, already dropping their leaves for the winter. He shivered, pulling his coat around him. God it had suddenly gone very cold. He stared back at the Quattro still in disbelief finding it hard, seeing it again, like new. It was like part of a jigsaw puzzle falling into place and his heart lifted. If the Quattro was back, then all that was left now was Alex. Surely she couldn’t be far away.
He looked around the field. It was fairly desolate, the kids had disappeared, either frightened to death or excited and off to recall the tale of encountering a ghost on the Eve of All Hallows.
There it was again. Gene spun round, looking in each direction as it continued to shout.
“Gene!, Gene!, Gene!”
He was almost certain it was Alex’s voice. Yet why didn’t she call him Guv? Always Gene?
He suddenly felt dizzy and put his hand onto the bonnet of the car to steady himself, and then he saw her.
She was kneeling on the floor, on a patch of grass, and there was a figure beside her.
For a brief moment he hesitated, wondering what to do, but then started to walk towards her.
She turned, and he saw her face. When she saw him she got up off the ground and turned towards the old house. Gene quickened his pace.
“Alex, wait. It’s me, Gene. I am here. I’ve come back to you”.
He breathing was rapid as he started to run along the dirt track, slipping and sliding in the muddle puddles, almost breaking his neck on the fallen leaves.
He moved towards a hedge where the leaves were still lying on the ground dry, and they crunched loudly under his boots. In the distance a church bell tolled. A dog barked. Not a normal bark. It was like one of those country dogs, yet somewhere else he heard a howl. A dog? Not a wolf, he laughed to himself, Christ Halloween or not , you had to draw the line somewhere. Yet the bats circling his head were very real, as was the hooting of an owl.
And then the voices, the chattering started and he thought he heard footsteps on the ground behind him. Squelching and crunching. It was rapidly becoming darker and darker and he could hardly seen his hands in front of him. He could voices, evil voices, laughing, almost demonlike. So this was it, he was on the road to hell, and not heaven? No doubt bloody Jim Keats would jump out shortly, the devil incarnate. They were still behind him hounding him, he could tell that whoever it was were getting closer, there was heavy breathing, was it theirs, or his own. The ringing in his ears, pounding of his heart, ba-boom, ba-boom. He continued running and then bang, he fell. Whether he tripped over something or merely slipped on more leaves he didn’t know, but he was face-down in a large muddy puddle, the stench almost unbearable. They say Heaven is a place on earth, yet this was surely Hell on Earth. Panicking he hurled himself up and continued running on the never-ending dirt road. He passed into an opening briefly aware of the outline of a tall figure at his side, yet to his relief the house, or building was in sight, almost in his reach. His heart stopped for the briefest of seconds. Christ, Christ, this was all so familiar, the windows were a little different, the stonework looked brighter, yet he had the overwhelming feeling of Deja-vu.
All the mattered was that he had to get away from who, or whatever was on his trail, out to get him on this deepest darkest night, and as he grabbed the large knock on the wooden door he breathed a sigh of relief slamming it fast shut behind him, unaware that the figure outside slowly turned its head and smiled a toothless smile before taking it’s position back at the side of the mound. A black crow landed on its arm, disturbing a few pieces of straw, which blew down in the wind, down into the newly dug earth of the shallow grave. The raven gave a loud call and fluttered off into the night sky. The Scarecrow smiled, having done his job. The deed was done. The night would soon be over.
Gene breathed a sigh of relief. Glad to be out of the cold, damp, miserable air. He shivered again. Glancing around he found himself in a familiar room. The furniture was a little more modern, granted, but it was the same farmhouse living room. He struggled with his brain, trying to analyse exactly what may be going on but he hadn’t a bloody clue. In fact he hadn’t since the day he had let his team disappear through the doors of the pub. Nothing made sense then, or now. Would it ever ?
Still, he was in a shelter and despite it being the place he never wanted to lay eyes on again he had to turn it around. There was a lot of water under the bridge. He could hear the rain lashing down, beating against the leaded windows. There was a howling gale which gave way to thunder and lightening. Even if there was a raging storm, and it blew the power, he was at least sheltering out of harm’s way. Safe.
He felt even better on spotting a bottle of Bell’s whisky on the table. He poured himself a glass and then spotted the huge object adjacent,
“Wow that’s a big one”. He whistled on inspecting the 42” TV. By God it was huge. He looked for a switch round the back but there was no backing to it, it was just a flat screen. Suddenly it jumped to life, the colours jumping out at him, in high definition. He was mesmerised, and finding a remote control nearby he started to flick some buttons, watching in amazement that there wasn’t just BBC 1,2, and ITV but a whole range of others. Flick, flick, flick. He sipped the scotch and flicked some more. His eyes lit up by the time he got to the late 800-900..and saw the scantily clad birds, some naked.
“Now we’re talking”.
He flicked back to BBC1 and noticed it was the news, showing coverage of some Royal event and then he stopped in his tracks. It was actually a wedding. THE Royal Wedding, the one he should have been attending with Bolly. He peered closely. The faces were so defined he thought maybe, just maybe he would see her in the crowds? A sign? After watching for a few moments he realised it was on for sometime, showing all the highlights. Well maybe he would just get himself cleaned up first, pour some more drink, scout around for food in the kitchen and settle himself down for the night. How bloody ironic. He was actually feeling quite relaxed in the place he had actually been killed. It was almost like being home.
Suddenly there was a loud bang on the front door.
“Bleeding Kids. “ He thought to himself. Well, he would scare them off in this state well and truly. He glanced at himself in the mirror. His face was caked in dried mud, and blood, he had leaves in his hair. He certainly looked like a corpse.
“This’ll teach them”.
He swung open the door.
“Trick or Treat?” Three voices cried in union and before he stood a chance he was pushed so he stumbled backwards back into the farmhouse.
“What..the?” He was stunned.
He stared back at three figures, all adult size, not children. Dressed in black, but wearing masks and costumes. A devil, a witch, and an angel. Maybe they were the parents trying to con him out of some money or something.
He narrowed his eyes, hoping to God the devil wasn’t Keats. He was in no mood for that bastard. His hand went instinctively to his shooter in his coat pocket, just in case.
“Happy Halloween, Gene!”. The witch said, beneath her mask with the crooked nose, and the pointy hat.
“T’is the night of All Souls, the Eve of all Hallows when the dead return to earth to gain the souls of those who wronged them. A time for deliverance, for retribution.”.
“OK quit the crap. How much? Just leave me in peace”. Gene replied eager to get rid so he could watch some sexy girls on the screen and relax.
“Rest in Peace, Gene”.
Although they mentioned his name, he didn’t think twice, too many bizarre things had happened – he was past caring.
He looked back at the Devil, plastic horns on top of his head. What a joke, as if that would scare him. Not even the mask. You could tell it had come from some cheap joke shop. The witch, well she might be a bit tasty looking. He looked her up and down from her purply and white stripey legs, to her hair under the hat. Red, auburn coloured hair, and a shiver went down his spine.
The angel on the end remained silent.
“I am the resurrection, and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this, Gene?”
“What..? What the?”
The devil removed his mask and as he did something silver fell to the floor. A crucifix.
“Daniel!. What the?”
“It’s time, Gene. Your time has come”, the priest announced.
“What you on about? Is this some kind of sick joke? Can’t you just clear off and leave me in peace”.
“Gene. Listen to Daniel. Please!. The witch finally spoke, her soft irish tones instantly recognisable.
“Maggie. Sister Mary. Please. I am tired, and weary. All I want to do is sit here and have a bit of peace and quiet. Don’t you think I have had just about enough”.
“That’s why we are here Gene. To put you out of your misery. To end it once and for all” Father Daniel said placing his devil mask on the table.
“Ha, what are you proposing to do? Shoot me?”
Gene looked up at the three of them and fleeting thought of the three wise monkeys, Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil. He noticed the Angel on the end in her flowing white robes still remained silent, her hands tucked inside her white robe, as if in prayer, looking oddly out of place with the plastic mask over her face.
Sister Mary moved over towards the television and with a flick turned the channel over, and then everything changed. Suddenly there was another Royal occasion being broadcast on t.v. One from many years ago. 1952. Coronation Day. The nun in the witches outfit stepped aside whilst Gene stared at the screen. Shivers ran down his spine, beads of sweat on his brow. It was that day. He was back to that day.
He turned to Father Daniel, about to plead. He found himself staring down the barrel of a shotgun.
Father Daniel had gone. Replaced by another face, one that had haunted Gene since that day. His killer. Yet when he spoke he still had Daniel’s voice.
“When you answered the door just then Gene, who did you think it was? Some kids, trick or treating? Kids messing, like you thought back then?”
Gene was speechless, motionless. Time stood still. Words failed him.
“Do you know why I am here now, Gene.? “ Gene remained silent.
“Do you? Answer me?” Father Daniel, or whoever this guy with the gun was asked again, this time a little more forceful.
“Answer him, Gene” Sister Mary ushered quietly.
“I..I..don’t know. I don’t understand.”.
“Retribution, Gene. An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth and all that.”.
“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, if God doesn’t get you the devil must” Sister Mary muttered. Gene fleetingly wished Jim Keats was there.
“I am giving you a chance Gene. To get your own back. To change your life”.
Gene still didn’t answer and when he did all he asked was “Who are you? Who the bloody hell are you?”.
“Do what you have to do Gene, and you will discover. I am your killer Gene, the guy who took your life, your short life. I disfigured your face, killed you in cold blood and buried you in a shallow grave. Now it’s payback time.”
A clap of thunder roared into the silence, a flash of lightening illuminated the room drowning out the music of the Coronation.
“Daniel. I thought, I thought you were my friend. Bloody hell, I don’t know. I couldn’t make you out, or her” he motioned to Sister Mary, Maggie whoever she was. He really didn’t know.
“Why? Why are you doing this?”
“Don’t you see Gene. It’s the last piece of the puzzle. You have saved them all, your whole team. Raymond. Chris and Shaz.”
“But not Alex. Bloody not Alex. I can’t go yet. It’s not time for me. I need to save Alex. If I don’t save her..it won’t work…will it, all what you told me..I won’t get to see her again. This…isn’t happening…Christ this isn’t bloody well happening.”.
Gene’s temper started to flare, whether through panic, anger, frustration, who knew but he smashed the half empty glass of whisky across the room, splinters of glass shattering across the floor in pieces. Broken like his heart. Gene Hunt, a broken man. Is that what he was? That’s what he had come to?
“Believe me, it’s time Gene. You have to come now. You have to let go” Mary spoke softly from the shadows.
“And who the bloody hell are you?”
He stared as suddenly, Sister Mary the nun. Maggie, his flame haired fancy appeared side by side, next to a small child who stood before him holding out a stuff toy. A womble.
“We are all one and the same Gene. “ Maggie spoke, stepping forward to touch him tenderly on his arm. Gene flinched.
“Get away, get away from me the lot of you. Fucking leave me alone. I have been in hell for I don’t know how long. I am going mad, insane. I can’t cope any more don’t bloody do this to me.” There was emotion in his voice, and tears in his eyes. Gene Hunt, cry-baby.
He sank to his knees. What a sorry sight he must look.
“Please, Daniel. Father. Whoever you are, please, don’t. Don’t shoot me. Not again. Not now. I need to find Alex. My Bolly. Please I will do anything. I am a desparate man. Please just let me have some more time to find her, please don’t shoot me, I beg you.” He was still, waiting, waiting for that single shot.
“Gene. I am not going to shoot you. Rather, you are going to shoot me.”
The air hung in silence again. Gene slowly raised his head, staring back into the eyes, the very eyes which in 1952 had burned into his soul.
“Do as he says, Gene” Maggie uttered.
Gene didn’t move.
“Come on Gene. Do it.” Daniel ordered.
When Gene still didn’t move Daniel got angry.
“Come on Gene! Look at me. I’m the bastard that murdered you, blastered your face to smithereens. Retribution. You have been on the road to redemption. You have almost been forgiven for keeping your team, your friends in your little world for such a long time. You have saved their souls now. It’s time to go.”
“And who is going to save my soul?” Gene simply asked looking up the ceiling. He looked out of the window, across the field. The Quattro was still there, he could vaguely see its outline in the darkness although a mist had come down. He could see figures moving outside, slowly walking towards the farmhouse in a row. One of them looked like Shaz, and Raymondo and bloody Skelton. They were coming for him. But no Alex.
“I can’t I bloody can’t. Just tell me who you are and why.”
“We have told you Gene. “ Sister Maggie said going on to explain. “Like you, we have passed over to the other side. Your murderer wasn’t a bad man, not really. Just somebody who got disturbed, protecting his property. He was in the airforce you know, got medals for saving lives, serving King and country in the war. He came home , glad to be alive and faced with intruders in his farmhouse one dark night. What was he to do?”
Gene looked at Daniel.
“Why a priest?”
Daniel explained, still pointing the gun at Gene,
“Why not? I became religious more so after what I did to you. It was on my conscience, living with what I had done, for the rest of my life. I felt by turning to God to help others I would somehow be forgiven for my sin, the greatest sin to take a life.”
“And you?” Gene turned to the nun.
“Oh Gene. If only you knew. That little cute adorable girl, that was me. I so loved that Womble toy. I was an innocent little child, but it all went wrong, so very very wrong. I got in with a bad crowd in my teens, ended up pregnant, on the streets, on drugs. I was bad Gene, so very bad. I turned to prostitution. “
Gene stared back in disbelief.
“What, and then, so you could be forgiven for your sins you became a bloody nun, just like him? A change of uniform and all’s well in the bleeding world”.
“No Gene” Maggie shook her head “ the nun was actually a red herring. We had to do something to make it believable. To make you believe. We can come back as anything, shape-shift as you know Gene, that’s what the Afterworld people can do.”
“Ha, the bleeding red shoes were a bit of a give-away”.
“I died in tragic circumstances, Gene, before my 30th birthday, a victim of the Yorkshire Ripper some say though there was nobody convicted for my death”.
Still sitting on his haunches, Gene started to take it all in…slowly. So, it had all been a plan. From the moment he had let his team go in to the Railway Arms this had kicked in. The mission to get Gene.
“So, do it Gene” Daniel offered the shotgun to Gene whose head was racing, spinning, irrational thoughts, feelings, emotions. Outside the storm raged, the figures in the dark looming closer. Somewhere a clock began to chime. He counted. Midnight. Halloween. The night of All Souls, The Eve of All Hallows.
“If I kill you, who is going to save my Soul?” Gene shouted.
Somewhere he could hear chanting, voices, “Do it, do it, do it, do it.” They got inside his head, driving him mad, tapping away at his brain. His breath grew rapid, he couldn’t breath. The blood rushed around in his veins and as the thunder crashed down he felt his own heart would either stop at any moment or explode into a million bloody pieces.
He snatched the shotgun in temper, anger welling up. He pointed it at the priest, aiming the barrel at his head, but he just could not pull the trigger. He was frozen to the spot. The noise outside was unbearable. Inside was even worse, and his head, the voices “Gene, Gene, Gene” calling him, pulling him, sucking him down into the pits of hell. Nails digging into his flesh, ripping his skin, pulling his nerve endings, veins, organs. Maggots, worms, beetles, crawling all over him. Rats gnawing, bird pecking at his eyes, all living nightmares flashed before him.
He tried to pull the trigger he tried, really really he did and then there was an almighty BANG!
The sound of a single shot rang out.
The air was eerily silent. Time stood still once more as the voices, the noise, the storm, the figures all disappeared into something that resembled a whirlwind, a tornado or will-o-the wisp.
He was lay on the floor. Little Maggie, Sister Mary and Maggie had all merged into one person, the nuns face aging , turning to a skeleton, the bones crumbling to the floor. The priest lay dead before him. Yet he still held the loaded gun, barrel untouched.
From the shadows a figure in white stepped forward.
“My angel.” Gene muttered, hardly able to speak.
“Save me” he held out his hand. This ethereal beauty before him, surrounded by a glowing aura of light. Never had he seen anything so wonderous in all his life.
“Save me, hold me in your arms, please take me now. I am ready”.
It was then, he saw the outstretched arm in front of him, holding a gun, his own shooter, smoke still protruding from the shaft.
“You! You shot him?” Gene looked up in awe.
“Yes, Gene. I had to save your soul. There was nobody left.” The voice from behind the mask, was soft, gentle, and he noticed a bit posh too.
No! Surely, it couldn’t be. Christ.
“Alex? Alex? Is it you? Is it really you?”
But the angel didn’t answer. He watched as she swept over to the television which was now just a blank screen and some white noise. She turned it to a station. There was a news article about the shooting of a young copper, his first day on the beat. Tears were shed at his funeral throughout the country. It had been a very sad, and tragic end.
“You couldn’t save me Gene. You couldn’t reach me, because if you had, if you had saved my soul, and saved me from being shot in 1981 who would have been left to save you? Here” a tender hand stretched out to his and she handed back the 6620 police tag once more.
“Goodbye again Guv, but this time it really is time to say Goodbye”,
And with that she turned and walked away, her angelic robes swishing along the dirty floor, splattered with blood, and underneath Gene could see her red shoes.
He closed his eyes, feeling himself sinking deep deep down into the black pit, and when he opened them all he could see were stars, one in particular shining very very bright, and he knew. The time had come. His time. It was the end.
DCI Gene Hunt was dead.