No Return

I’m dead. I must be dead. I saw the claw of the hammer coming right at me. I felt it collide with my skull.

So why is it Rab collapsed on the swirly patterened carpet?

‘You hackit wee bastard,’ roared Granny, whacking him a second time with the brass candlestick which was already splattered with blood.

Rab’s body jerked then was still.

‘Linley —‘

‘Aye, I’m fine,’ I muttered. ‘But what are we gonnae dae about him?’

‘Phone the police,’ said Granny promptly. ‘He went at you with his hammer, and I’m ninety years old, they’re no’ gonnae bang me up, now are they?’ She frowned at me. ‘There’s no’ a scratch on you. Did he miss? Stupid bastard.’

‘Aye. Aye he must have.’

I took the candlestick from her, carried it into the kitchen to run it under the tap. I wasn’t having my great-grandparents’ legacy being stained by Rab bloody McAllister. I think we were both a bit stunned then. Don’t get me wrong, he was no loss to the human race whatsoever, but even so I was vaguely aware we were both operating on a sort of robotic auto pilot.

He didn’t miss. I knew he didn’t miss. I felt it hit me.

‘We can’t phone the police,’ I said when I came back into the living room. ‘It’s not the criminal justice system I’m worried about, it’s the vengeance of his halfwit brigade of brothers. We can’t have them knowing we did it.’

I did it, Linley,’ Granny said firmly, wiping her hands on her flowery pinny. ‘I won’t have you saying you did.’

I slumped down on the couch then, clutching the candlestick. There was a rustle and I realised I was sitting on a pile of KitKat wrappers. My mind was spinning. Granny hadn’t hesitated. She thought he killed me, sure enough, but it’s not every day you watch your ninety year old Granny bash somebody’s brains out, is it?

Although, to be fair, in Rab McAllister’s case there weren’t a great deal of brains there to be bashed. Still, though. Gies a minute.

‘Will we heave him oot the windae?’ asked Granny thoughtfully. ‘Say he fell aff the roof?’

‘He didn’t miss,’ I blurted out. Granny came over and sat next to me, took my hand in her wee one. The air was filled with a sickening, metallic scent and I kept staring up at the ceiling so I didn’t have to look at Rab and remember the time he asked me to re-tie his school tie after a P.E. lesson.

‘He hit me right between the eyes with the claw of a hammer,’ I whispered. ‘How am I not dead? What’s the matter with  me?”

Thinking about it as I type this now, I see that wasn’t the most pressing issue of the moment. It’s funny, when characters in a film stop to have a deep and meaningful and confess true love or something when the bad guy is after them I’m the one  screaming at the screen GET A MOVE ON YOU HALFWITS.

I mean, I think my curiosity was natural, but the logical scheme of things would have been to dispose of the dead body then ponder my apparently altered mortal state. But when you’re in the moment, the logical scheme of things does not always occur. Apologies to all the unfairly maligned Hollywood screenwriters out there.

‘I know, pet,’ said Granny. ‘Same thing happened to wee Nate the other day. He was chopping up onions and near sliced half his finger off. In the time it took me to run over with a cloth he was fine again.’ She stroked my hand and shrugged. ‘It’s something to do with the time jump thingymajiggery.’

Aye well that explains everything.

The time jump thingymajiggery – also known as the time vortex thingmy, we really need to start watching some scifi – makes us, what? Heal in an instant? Resets us so we were never injured?

Well one thing was for sure. Rab had never been through a time jump-vortex-thingmy-thingymajiggery. It had been at least ten minutes by then, and he was still dead as a doornail. Granny’s swirly patterned carpet was sodden with blood.

He stabbed a wee girl who didn’t even know she was a drug mule for her uncle last year. She thought she was taking a loaf of bread over to her auntie’s pal, and Rab jumped her in front of the swings. That made me feel better about his concave forehead.

‘We can’t throw him out the window,’ I said. ‘Even if nobody saw what flat he came burling out of, everybody in this close would get questioned and searched and we could never be sure we’d scrubbed all the blood off that carpet. They’ve got chemicals and machines these days that can detect traces of it no matter how much you clean.’

‘Well we cannae take him on the bus to dump him somewhere farther away.’

Fair point.

But thinking about the time vortex thingmy made me remember that I knew somebody who could help. I just had to find him.





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