That was nearly two weeks ago and there’s been no sign of Åke since.
I nearly wrung Nate’s neck in the car on the way back. I would’ve if I’d thought it would do any good, but seeing as it wouldn’t last more than a second it seemed a bit of a waste of effort.
‘What were you playing at running us over like that?’ I demanded as the lights of Glasgow approached. I’d never been so glad to see Bearsden in my life. It meant that a hot bath and a cup of tea were barely a quarter of an hour away. After a day and a half in which I’d been brained by a hammer and had my neck broken, it seemed fair enough.
‘Saving your goddamned life,’ Nate snapped back. ‘You think he was just going to stand there chatting with you all night?’
‘I don’t know actually, and we’ll never know now seeing as you shunted him into a ditch with the car. What if he knows something about the time vortex thingmy?’
‘What if he does? We don’t need an instruction manual. It is what it is, now we get on with our lives.’
‘You don’t want to know what happened to us?’
‘Lady I’m alive, after a great goddammed viking attacked me. That’s all I need to know.’
‘Attacked the car you were in,’ I corrected him sharply. ‘I don’t remember you getting out to help.’
The bath and the tea did help though, and afterwards I chatted to Solveig while she gave baby Liv her midnight feed, and filled her in on everything.
And then normal life resumed.
That’s the strangest thing about all of this, in some ways. In between murder and broken necks and the knowledge that my grandfather is in his twenties, I get up in the morning and I make my tea and toast and I do some yoga and take a few clients at the gym. Sometimes I meet Solveig and Liv for a walk through Kelvingrove. Other times I go over to Granny’s for dinner and she makes me fish fingers because it doesn’t seem to occur to her that my palette might have developed in the past twenty years. She asks about work and Nate pipes in about the job he’s got as an apprentice in a local garage and none of us discuss whether Rab’s body might be found and what we’ll do about it if it is.
He hasn’t been reported missing as far as we can tell. That’s not overly surprising with the McAllister family; they’re not exactly given to turning to the police for help. I’ve been scouring the papers every day and Granny has her network of gossipy wee old ladies on the case, and none of us have heard a peep about Rab McAllister’s disappearance. My big worry is that the family go after somebody random in a display of halfwitted vengeance.
If that happens, I’ll have to stop them.
Solveig hasn’t heard from Åke since that night either. I’ve been doing a fairly regular scout round his wee tent, the couple of pubs where he’d made some pals and the warehouse where he picked up a bit of cash-in-hand work. No sign.
Yesterday I went round to Jim Reid’s. He lives across the road from Granny and is our local counterfeiter. He did all my pals fake IDs when we were teenagers, and lately has been doing a roaring trade in British passports and visas. He sorted Nate out a few weeks back so he could get his job, and I made up my mind to get Åke his papers so that when he comes back he can get a job or take a course or something.
If he comes back.
Because the thing about Åke is that he’s clever. Solveig has been getting some of his story out of him, and it seems that he was a bit of a big deal in the tenth century, which makes sense of the nutter viking being so impressed when I yelled his name. He’s not like a king or anything mad, but he owned land and was the leader of the expedition to Scotland. Solveig said that when he first showed up he wanted to continue on his original mission, and she had to talk him out of paying a visit to Nicola Sturgeon to discuss splitting her lands with him under threat of invasion.
Interestingly, she said he didn’t blink at the idea of a female leader. I’ve been doing a bit of reading about vikings since meeting Åke, and a lot of historians agree that while they weren’t exactly gender equal by 21st century standards, there were a lot more prominent women in their society than others of their day, at least. Even so, Åke negotiating with the First Minister of Scotland over trading rights to the Kingdom of Strathclyde is probably best avoided.
That’s if he ever shows up again.
Last night I sat up in bed suddenly with the horrible thought that he could have slipped through time again. We weren’t far from the banks of Loch Lomond, what if nutter viking chased him back to the time vortex thingmy? He could be in 2385 dealing with holograms and robots taking over the world when he’s only just getting his head around Siri.
I miss him.
I don’t mean like that. I just mean… I just mean I miss him. For what it’s worth.
I’ve got used to having a pet viking about the place. What would I do if I accidentally murder someone again? There’s no way Nate could snap a rigor mortis-ed body in half for me. Maybe Roddy or one of the guys from the gym could, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.