In the Eye of the Beholder [Part 3]
A Five-Part Thriller
Artwork by Rhea Mehta
D A Y 3
Aditya woke again, feeling a strange calm. It was a welcome change to the past two days. He wondered if he could even count it as two days, seeing as how he was reliving the same day on loop.
His new body got out of bed and walked towards the front door to collect the post. He picked it up and set it on the dining table before heading off into the kitchen to make some tea. Aditya got a glimpse of who he was in his reflection on the kettle.
(That son of a bitch! Five years we’ve been together – five! And then he turns around and pulls this shit on me? On Kurt? Oh, this bastard is lucky I can’t do shit to him from – )
Aditya’s train of thought stopped short when he saw the date in Matthew’s watch. It was set to three days before he died. Three days before Matthew killed him. Matthew had Sundays off so whatever happened must have been set in motion today.
The kettle sounded and Matthew poured himself a cup, then went back for the post. Aditya saw him discard some bills and flip quickly through a copy of Times Magazine. Then he came to something that seemed to be out of the ordinary. It was a plain, non-descript white envelope with no name or address on it. Matthew immediately dropped it onto the table and went to the kitchen to get a pair of gloves before taking it up again. His thoughts felt simultaneously confused and intrigued, which, quite frankly, Aditya echoed.
(That’s right – Matthew’s ex-secret service. He’s always been a bit extra suspicious of everything.)
He turned it around in his hand and examined every inch. Then he held it a little way away from his nose and gave it a slight whiff. Seemingly satisfied, he got a knife from the kitchen and slid the fold open.
Out fell two thousand pounds in handy denominations of fifty, along with a note. It was printed on a small piece of paper that too looked nothing out of the ordinary.
(Whoever sent this has been careful to stay virtually untraceable.)
Four words took up the first line with a time and address underneath.
WOULD LIKE TO MEET
No. 4 Hogback Lane. Yellowfield. 1pm today.
(This is getting interesting.)
Aditya could feel Matthew getting anxious and confused, wondering who sent it, what it meant, and what they wanted. He felt him arguing back and forth between curiosity and caution. Matthew got up and wandered around the house, finding himself drifting between rooms, ending up in the kitchen once again.
There was a photo of him and some girl kept on a shelf. Matthew was smiling wider and brighter than Aditya had ever seen him smile. He felt a wave of warmth as Matthew looked at that picture and Aditya realised who the girl was. Emily Munnerlyn – Matthew’s little sister. He never talked about her much, but from his occasional comments, Aditya could tell he loved her dearly. Matthew never talked about his personal life much at all, actually. He preferred to keep things professional – show up, do the job, go home. Aditya and Kurt had tried getting him to open up a bit, but it became apparent pretty quickly that he wasn’t that sort of guy, so they dropped it.
(Well, might have been useful now to push on a bit more.)
But it was as if looking at that picture of Emily was the final piece in the puzzle because curiosity now won and Aditya felt resolve. Matthew looked at the time – 10 o’clock. Three more hours till he had to meet whoever was behind the letter. Yellowfield was a short drive away from Hatfield – Aditya had visited the area a couple years ago with Kurt – and Matthew lived pretty close to King’s Cross station so Aditya thought he would probably take the thirty-minute tube ride instead of taking the car for an hour. It would avoid having to explain to Kurt and him why he wanted to borrow the car too.
He pocketed the money and left the house immediately but didn’t seem to be going towards the tube station. He went into town, down some streets Aditya didn’t recognise, and walked into a small electronics shop sandwiched between a pub and a chippy.
“Matt, always a pleasure. How’ve you been?”
“Doing good, Freddie. Possibly going to be doing better.” Freddie arched an eyebrow and Matthew took it as a signal to continue. “I need to buy something.”
“Well, this is a shop, innit? We’ve got everything you could want.”
“I know, Freddie. But what I want isn’t on a counter in here.” Freddie nodded understandingly and ushered him into the back of the shop, past an “Employees Only” sign.
“I don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into, Matt, but I hope to god you know what you’re doing.”
“I do, Freddie, I do.” As he said those words, Aditya felt doubt creeping back in. Matthew quickly banished it though, replacing it with dogged determination. Something about Emily was making him do this. Making him walk into a situation that he deemed dangerous enough to have to arm himself to walk into. Something about Emily was going to make him kill him and his husband.
“Alright Matt. What kind do you want?”
“Something small. I don’t intend to use it. It’s more of a just-in-case. A semi-auto pistol. A Smith and Wesson, if you’ve got it.”
“Course I do.” Freddie turned and dug around in a box on a shelf behind him, then produced the gun a couple moments later. “Here’s the M&P 2.0. I’m giving you an extra magazine, on me.”
“Thanks Fred, how much?”
“I’ll strip away the cost of keeping the bronze at bay (which is a lot, by the way – London is a nightmare), but only because we go back. Don’t go around telling people I’ve done that or they’ll start calling me soft. Can’t have that with the kind of shit I’m selling, can I?”
“Don’t worry Fred, I won’t tell a soul. How much do I owe ya?”
Matthew pulled out five hundred and set it on the table. “Keep the extra.” Freddie nodded, and Matthew turned to leave the room.
“Finn and Anne need you.”
“I know. This is for them.”
(Who the hell are those two? Man, I really wish I’d pushed for a little more information.)
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