With the blankets pulled up under my chin and the sound of the icy wind screaming around the eaves, I wondered if there was anyone else out there who was falling asleep tonight next to their husband or wife, suddenly releasing it wasn’t them they loved but someone else, a shadowy figure from another where and another when.
Then, as sleep began to take me, I heard the sound of the bedroom door creak open. I didn’t move, not an inch. Had Potter changed his mind?
Had he been unable to mask his true feelings for me and decided to spend the night with me after all? Just one night. Us together how we used to be, making love until dawn broke, when we would collapse into each other’s arms and drift into a peaceful and deep sleep. All I wanted was one night, before he went back to his life with Kiera Hudson.
I heard his feet on the wooden floorboards as he came towards the bed. I kept my eyes closed. My heart began to race as I felt his strong hand fall against my shoulder.
“Sophie,” he whispered in my ear.
“Sophie, wake up.”
Opening my eyes, I rolled over and looked into his dark eyes.
I opened my mouth to speak, but he placed one of his hands against my lips.
“Shhh!” he whispered. “I can hear someone snooping around outside.”
At first my heart sank on realising that he hadn’t come back to my room for the night, then it sped up when I realised what he had just told me.
“Who...” I started.
“Shhh!” he warned me again, his eyes wide. “Put your clothes on and be quick about it.”
Trying to be as quiet as possible, I climbed off the bed and put on my clothes. Potter went to the window and spied through a gap in the curtains.
Once dressed, I went over to him and tried to peek over his shoulder. “Keep back,” he hushed.
“Who’s out there?” I whispered.
“I don’t know. I haven’t had a good view of him yet.”
“It might be the wind,” I said.
“It’s not the wind,” he hissed. “I saw his shadow, a big shadow.”
“A Skin-walker?” I gasped.
“There’s only one way to find out,” Potter said, snuffing out the candle so that we were in total darkness. I felt his hand slip around mine as he led me from the room and down the stairs.
There was a banging sound, and I could see the pale light of the moonlight spilling into the living room from the front door, as it swung open on its hinges.
“Someone’s in here,” I whispered.
“Shhh!” Potter said again, as I felt his wings unravel from his back and brush against me.
At the bottom of the stairs, Potter let go of my hand and I saw his claws and fangs glisten in the moonlight. The fire had died down a little, but the wind that now howled across the living room sent sparks flying up the chimney.
I could hear my heart beating in my ears as Potter led me from the bottom of the stairs and towards the door. The fire cast long, eerie shadows up the walls. Then, from the corner of my eye, I saw one of the shadows move with such speed that before I’d the chance to scream, Potter was flying backwards across the room. Someone or something was on Potter. In the glow of the fire, I watched Potter stagger to his feet. Then, the shadow that had attacked him appeared from behind the upturned armchair. But it wasn’t a shadow, it was a man and I recognised him.
“Potter!” I screamed. “That’s the copper who made me shoot him on the road!”
Although I was dead, to look at him made me wonder if I wasn’t seeing a ghost.
“Don’t just stand there with that stupid look on your face, Potter. We’re in serious fucking trouble here!” he said.
“Do you two know each other?” Sophie breathed in disbelief.
I glanced at Sophie, then back at the figure who had appeared from behind the chair. “I don’t believe it,” I said, struggling to form the words in my mouth.
“What don’t you believe, Potter? That you look like a fucking retard standing there with your mouth wide open, or we’re in the shit again?” he growled, going to the window and peering out into the dark as if looking for someone.
“But...” I stammered.
“No buts, Potter,” he snapped raising his forefinger at me. “Stop standing there with your thumb up your arse and help me block up the doors and windows.”
“Who is he?” Sophie whispered at me, watching him pick up the armchair and place it in front of the window.
Ignoring her, I looked back at him and said, “But Murphy, you’re dead.”
“Yeah and so are you,” he shouted. “Now give me a hand here!”
“But...” I started again.
“But what?” he growled.
“You’re still wearing those shitty old carpet slippers,” I said in wonder, as he stood before me in a crisp-looking police uniform.“I might be dead,” he half-smiled, “but those police boots still play havoc with my corns.
Just can’t wear the damn things – they hurt like a bitch.”
Then, as he hurried across the room towards the other armchair, I noticed for the first time that he was limping again. “You still have the limp,” I gasped, remembering how he had been shot by that shithead, Harker all those years ago.
“I didn’t until she shot me in the leg,” he grunted, eyeing Sophie who stood at the foot of the stairs staring at us.
“You forced me to shoot you!” Sophie snapped at him.
“I was hoping for a small flesh wound,”
he barked at her. “I wasn’t planning on you blowing half my fucking leg off!”
Ignoring him, Sophie shook her head as if waking from a dream, looked at me, and said, “Who is this guy?”
“He’s my old sergeant,” I told her, still unable to comprehend that he was back.
“Not so much of the old,” Murphy grunted as he carried the chair towards the other window.
“I’m forty. Might have gone grey early, but that was your fault.”
“My fault?” I said, going to help him as he limped across the room with the chair.
“What, with all your moaning and bitching the whole time, Potter,” he huffed as he wedged the chair into the window frame, “no wonder I went grey – I’m surprised it didn’t all bloody fall out!”
“I never used to moan...” I started.
“You’re moaning now,” he sighed at me.
Then, standing back as if to get a good look at me, he said, “My God, death hasn’t changed you, has it? You’re still a scruffy-looking arsehole.”
“I’m not scruffy-looking,” I said.
“Don’t argue with your sergeant, Potter,”
he barked. “Now help me secure this place before they get here.”
“Before who gets here?”
“The wolves,” he said with a grim look on his face.
“So where’s our backup?” I shot back.
“You’re looking at it,” he half-smiled.
“Things don’t change, do they?” I smiled back at him.
Then, from across the room, Sophie shouted, “Can someone please tell me what is going on here!”
Wheeling around, Murphy limped towards her, and jabbing his finger in the air, he barked, “I’ll tell you what’s going on here, pretty lady. You used your freaking credit card, that’s what’s going on!”
“I needed some -” she started, but Murphy didn’t give her a chance to finish.
“I killed that filthy Skin-walker for you, took a bullet for you, and all you had to do was disappear for a while and keep your head down,”
he said, pulling his pipe from his trouser pocket.
“But oh no, you had to go on a shopping spree and use your credit card, telling the whole goddamn world where you were!”
“You took a bullet for me?” Sophie gasped. “You set me up to make it look like I’d escaped from you, killed that wolf-thing with the zapper, then I shot you. I’m not surprised the whole world is looking for me.”
“I did it to save your life,” he shouted gruffly at her, plumes of thick, grey smoke spilling out of his pipe, which dangled from the corner of his mouth.
“Save my life?” Sophie said, sounding as if she were choking. “Well you have a funny way of showing it.”
“You signed your own death warrant the night you stole that blood from the morgue,”
Murphy told her. “Didn’t you think it would look just the slightest bit suspicious that a bottle of blood goes missing from a corpse that has just sat up in your morgue? And giving that cop the slip was another stupid idea. Then, you get your ex-boyfriend to carryout tests on that blood – well that was just ridiculous!”
“Who are you calling ridiculous?” Sophie spat. “Look at you - standing there with your bushy silver hair and eyebrows, police uniform, pipe, and carpet slippers – you look like somebody’s grandfather who hasn’t grown out of playing cops and robbers.”
“I’m not a granddad!” Murphy barked.
“I’m only forty!”
“You could’ve fooled me,” Sophie yelled back.
“Listen here,” Murphy said, pointing the tip of his pipe at her, “I had everything under control until you poked your nose in. I’ve been back from the dead only months, and in that time I’ve managed to work my way back into the police – into a position where I could find out what the hell is going on around here – into a position where I would be able to help my friends when they came back.”
“Help us with what?” I cut in.
“Push the world back to how it was,”
Murphy said, staring at me through a thick cloud of pipe smoke.
“Can we do that?” I asked.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure it out. But your friend over here has gone and messed things up.”