Then, one night, as Lady Hunt slept restlessly in her bed, Lord Hunt crept into her room and slit her throat. Knowing that he would suffer the death penalty unless he proved to the world his wife’s adultery and the existence of the winged demons, he took his two children up into the mountains.

“Telling Isidor and Kayla that their mother was in bed with a fever and needed to rest, he invited them to join him on a short camping trip up into the Cambrian Mountains. Believing that their father had been cured, and both desperate to spend time with him, they went willingly with him up into the mountains. After setting up camp for the night, they ate their supper by the fire. But unbeknown to both Isidor and Kayla, Lord Hunt had laced their food with a strong tranquiliser. It wasn’t long before both had fallen into a deep sleep by the fire.

“Desperate to prove to the world that he wasn’t mad, and that both of his children were, in fact, demons from the underworld, he took the surgical knives that he had hidden in his sleeping bag and murdered both Kayla and Isidor. He worked on Isidor first, slicing open his back and removing his spine in search of the wings that he believed were hidden inside his son. When he failed to find any, he turned to his daughter. The attack on her was brutal – savage. He opened up her back, looking for clawed wings that he was sure were hidden inside of her. When he failed to find them, he cut off her ears, believing that he would find pointed ones underneath. But there were none. He then removed her teeth, desperately in search of fangs. He pulled out her fingernails with a pair of pliers, looking for her claws.

With Kayla’s body scattered about him, he sunk into a total fit of madness. Panicking, he wrapped Kayla’s remains in her sleeping bag and dragged her up the mountainside, believing that he might be able to hide the bodies. But even in his deluded state, he must have known that his efforts were pointless. His wife lay dead back at the manor, her throat slit open, and his two children lay hacked to pieces and scattered over the mountain.

“Lady Hunt was eventually found a week later by a friend of the family. There had been a heavy snow during that time and Kayla’s remains were eventually discovered a week later, then her brother’s almost two weeks after that. Eventually Lord Hunt was found frozen to death, ten miles from where he had left Kayla’s body. It’s believed that he walked aimlessly into the blizzard and died of hypothermia,” Murphy said. “So, in the same way they were murdered in The Hollows, they were murdered here, too,” I said, looking down at their graves. “But while they were both murdered there by Luke, here they were murdered by their father.”

“Just like I said,” Murphy grunted.

“Almost the same, but different – pushed somehow. But Kayla and Isidor must never find out what happened to them here – they shouldn’t even be here! ”

“So why have you shown me this?” I asked him, frowning.

“This isn’t the sole reason I brought you here,” Murphy said, “there is something else.”

Without saying another word and keeping close to the trees, Murphy led me around the edge of the graveyard. We hadn’t gone very far when he flapped his hand at me, signalling me to get down. I crouched behind a gravestone that tilted slightly to the right and peered over the top.

“What am I meant to be looking at?” I whispered to Murphy, who was hiding behind a gravestone to my left.

With the pipe hanging from the corner of his mouth, Murphy pointed into the distance. From my hiding place, I looked in the direction he was pointing and saw a man standing alone in the middle of the graveyard. He was staring down at one of the headstones. He was tall, with black hair that was swept back from his brow. It was as I looked at his drawn and ashen face that I recognised him, and my stomach knotted. The man I was spying on was Kiera’s father. Hadn’t he died of cancer a few years back? I wondered.

I shot a look at Murphy and as if reading my thoughts, he whispered. “He is still very much alive here.”

Turning my head, I peered over the top of the grave again and watched as he gently rested a tiny bunch of flowers on top of the headstone; he then lent forward and kissed it. With his head cast down, he turned and walked slowly back across the graveyard. When he had gone, Murphy stood up and rubbed the small of his back with his hands.

“C’mon,” he said.

As I set off after him, I started to fear what it was that he wanted to show me.

Murphy stood before the headstone, and not wanting to look at the name carved into the face of it, I stared at the flowers that Kiera’s father had left behind. Some of the petals broke loose in the wind and scattered over the grave like confetti.

“Look at the grave,” Murphy whispered.

“I am,” I said.

“Look at the name.”

“I can’t.”

“You have to.”

Lowering my eyes, I looked down at the headstone, and read the name written across it: Kiera Hudson. It made me feel sad to look at her name, and although I knew Kiera was dead – she wasn’t to me; she was still very much alive.

“How did she die?” I whispered, now unable to tear my eyes from her grave. The smell of his tobacco smoke made me half-crazy for a cigarette, but I couldn’t, not here.

“In this world, Kiera was similar to the Kiera we know and love. She was a twenty-year-old rookie cop. She lived just around the corner from the flat where she once lived, but you know that already.”

“So apart from her father still being alive, what else is different?”

“Kiera was shot in the line of duty while attending a robbery,” Murphy explained. “It was no big deal in this world, as cops die all the time; it didn’t even make the newspapers.”

“But I thought her body was discovered on the side of a mountain, just like the others,” I said, feeling confused.

“A completely different mountain,”

Murphy said. “Miles from where Kayla and Isidor were discovered. Her death was never connected to theirs. Besides, apart from your friend Sophie, no one knew the name of the body that was brought down from the side of that mountain. As far as this world is concerned – Kiera Hudson, the young rookie cop, was shot in the line of duty. No one really cared, the robber was human, so no Treaty conflicts there, and every morning before setting off to work, her broken-hearted father comes and lays flowers on her grave.”

“What about her mother?” I asked him.

“She died giving birth to Kiera,” Murphy told me. “Her father raised his daughter on his own. She meant everything to him.”

“But Kiera will want to see her father – she loves him – she made him a promise...” I started.

“No!” Murphy snapped. “She must never find out that her father is still alive here.”

“So why have you brought me here?”

“You must make sure that she never finds out, Potter,” he said. “If Kiera finds out that her father is still alive, then like you say, she will want to see him, speak with him, it would only be natural. But she can’t. Our Kiera is not his Kiera.”

“They come from two different whens, ” I said, trying to make sense of everything.

“Exactly,” Murphy grunted. “And what if Kiera were to meet her father? Would she then want to push the world back and lose him all over again?”

“But I can’t keep a secret like that from her,” I told him. “She has a right to know that her father is still alive.”

“She has no rights!” Murphy glared. “She doesn’t have the right to be here – none of us do.”

“So why are we here?” I snapped back at him.

“Beats the shit out of me,” Murphy said.

“But until we figure out why we are here, none of us must get involved with our past lives.

“Like me and Sophie?”

“Yeah, just like you and Sophie,” he said.

“Look what happened. She remembered you. All those feelings she had for you weren’t really her feelings. They were the feelings of the Sophie from the world trying to shine through the tracing paper. Those feelings that she suddenly had, broken memories and half dreams, would have driven her mad in the end. This world is all that these people know and care about. Kiera’s father believes his daughter is dead, and she is, as far as this world is concerned. What would happen if he knew that she was living again on the other side of the country? It’s not her – it’s not the Kiera that you are in love with; it’s the Kiera who was brought up in a world where wolves live amongst humans. It’s a world where she is dead.”

“I don’t know if I can keep something like this from her,” I said.

“You must keep her away from her old life, Potter,” he warned. “If her father should see her, then perhaps the world will merge just a little bit more, then a little bit more, and I fear that could be catastrophic for all of us.”

“How come?”

“I think Lord Hunt went mad because some part of him remembered the Vampyrus.

Perhaps on a subconscious level, he knew that he had been a Vampyrus. Remember, he couldn’t be taken back into The Hollows because he died above ground. Maybe this world and the other one started to merge and it sent him mad. We know what he was babbling on about is true. There was a race of winged demons living below ground – us, Potter. What if enough people start to remember their other existence? What if the Vampyrus were to come back into this world? What would the world be like then? We’ve got to find a way of pushing that sheet of tracing paper back into place – get things back to how they were. So you can’t risk Kiera, Kayla, or Isidor finding out what happened to them here.”

“But I don’t want to keep secrets from my friends, especially not from Kiera,” I told him.

“She would hate me if she found out that her father was still alive and I hadn’t told her.”

“Then you better make sure that she never finds out,” Murphy said with a grim look on his face. “If Kiera even suspected that her dad was still alive, the need to see him would be unbearable, I should know.” Copyright 2016 - 2023