The morning sun was just rising, as John Linton hung, shaking, scared from the edge of a rocky cliff.
His knuckles whitened as they gripped the jagged rocks, his feet kicked aimlessly at the cliff face trying to find a foothold, a hundred feet up in the air.
He could feel the flesh on his fingers beginning to tear, as the sweat rolled down into his tightly closed eyes.
The strong wind seemed to be pushing him further from the cliff face, almost as if it was deliberately trying to kill him.
Suddenly John Linton’s eyes snapped open, and he thought how stupid he must look clinging to the side of his bed, shaking with fear as the bedside fan blew gently through his hair.
Quickly he rolled back onto the bed, sighing a large sigh of relief, his strong muscular face frowning, perplexed, trying to figure out why he had been having the same dream night after night for the past three weeks.
It made no sense to him, especially since he hadn’t been on a mountain since he came out of the army almost five years ago.
John Linton rose from his bed and walked quickly to the bathroom, where he took his usual early morning cold shower.
It was while he was drying his broad, six foot three body, that he realized he was still shaking slightly.
He couldn’t remember ever being more afraid in his entire life than when he was having these dreams.
Not even as a soldier serving in Northern Ireland had he been more afraid of death than he had been this morning.
He tried hard to shrug off the feeling and finally managed to push it to the back of his mind.
At seven thirty he was dressed and feeling quite calm, after all it had only been a bad dream, he told himself.
By seven forty five he was sitting at the wheel of his Ford Escort XR3i, on his way to work at the debt collection agency where he had worked for the past three years.
By eight fifteen he had pulled up outside the red brick offices in Lisbon Street that housed the agencies office.
He nodded to various people as he walked through the office, receiving the customary nods and grunts in recognition of his arrival from his work mates.
John smiled at the thought of considering this pathetic bunch of wimps, “his mates”.
He didn’t get on with any of them, and thought of them as spineless wonders.
They in turn made no secret of the fact that they considered him to be an over sized bullyboy.
The truth was in fact that the only reason that John Linton was still employed by the company at all was because he was particularly good at the more physical side of the job.
For instance, in cases where a client might be a little more than reluctant to leave their homes because they couldn’t pay the mortgage, or were willing to put up a fight to stay there.
John seemed to enjoy this part of the job the most, especially if the threat of violence was to become a reality.
He smirked; relishing the memory of a beating he had given a young Philippino man a few weeks before.
John Linton loved to look back on what he called his “Active Service Assignments” for the company, unlike many of his so called colleagues he enjoyed instilling fear into others, and the thrill of the fight made him feel alive.
A broad smile creased his face as he recalled the night he had walked down the path of the young Philippino couples house.
He had been sent by a private landlord to evict the couple for supposedly not paying their rent.
John knew that this particular landlord was a shark, and he had heard rumours that the entire block was up for sale to a large development corporation, so at the back of John’s mind he knew that “None Payment Of Rent” was merely and excuse to get the young couple out and sell the property without sitting tenants.
Of course none of this mattered to John, all he knew was that whatever reason there was for this assignment, he would be getting paid at the end of it.
And if there happened to be any trouble while he was doing his duty then he would be paid even more.
And of course John knew there would be trouble, before he even knocked on the blue painted door of the mid-terraced house, he knew because he wanted it.
He had been working himself up for a good fight all day.
It wasn’t just the extra money that John wanted, it was the feeling of power that winning a fight gave him; the extra money was just a nice bonus.
Yes John Linton was looking forward to a good fight, and here he was about to have some fun, any excuse would do for him, a raised hand or even a raised voice and John would have to defend himself.
He knocked hard and loud at the door with his fist until a very pretty young Philippino woman of about twenty-six opened it.
John barged past her into the hall, pushing her slim but shapely figure against the wall as he went by.
Her husband emerged from the living room to investigate his wife’s cry of pain and surprise as she fell to the floor, only to be confronted by the hulking form of John Linton.
The young mans hands flew up instinctively at the sight of Linton charging down the hallway, and that was enough, it was just the excuse that John had wanted.
He could now tell any court in the land that the young Philippino had rushed at him raising his hands in a threatening manner, and he had no choice but to defend himself.
John Linton’s huge right hand reached back at shoulder level, then shot forward at tremendous speed until it collided with the side of the young Philippine’s head.
The man staggered back, dazed into the living room, and John was surprised to see that although he had taken the full force of the blow, he hadn’t fallen.
John hit him again hard with his left hand, catching him under the chin and snapping his head back violently, before sending him crashing to the carpet.
Still the young man tried vainly to struggle to his feet, but a succession of kicks from John Linton’s size ten boots, aimed at the stomach and head left him lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood, his young and somewhat handsome face discoloured and swollen beyond recognition.
John Linton turned from his victim to the young woman, who was now standing behind him with tears running down her face and dripping onto the figure hugging blue dress she was wearing.
He looked at her properly for the first time then, and letting his eyes wander slowly up and down her trim body he thought what a shame it was that they had not met somewhere else, like a night club maybe, and then back to his place, boy that could have been fun.
Still never mind he reasoned, it’s too late for all that now, and with the lusty smile still on his face he said, sarcastically, “mind if I look round?”
He smirked as the young lady moved silently aside to let him pass.
“So kind” he whispered mockingly deliberately allowing his arm to brush against her breast as he passed.
John started his tour of the house in the living room, then the kitchen and garden,
Having satisfied himself that there was no-one else downstairs, he climbed the stairs two at a time to inspect the toilet and bathroom.
Having made a quick check there he went to the main bedroom, as he opened the door he noticed an old man sitting crossed legged on the bed holding an action man doll.
The old Philippino man didn’t seem to notice John as he entered the room and began his inspection, he just sat silently, his legs crossed beneath the long dark robe he was wearing, staring intently at the action man doll in his hands.
It wasn’t until John was about to leave the room that the old man raised his head and said in broken English, “you ride high now Mr Linton but soon you are going to fall”.
John Linton turned quickly grabbing the old man by the bone necklace that hung around his neck, “what did you say to me? “, he said in a menacing tone.
The old man looked close into John Linton’s eyes, his own face calm and unworried,
“Would you strike and old man, Mr Linton? “ he ask softly.
“Without a second thought” Linton replied throwing an open-handed slap towards the old mans face, but stopping it a quarter of an inch before impact.
The old Philippine’s eyes still studied Johns closely, his face hadn’t so much as flinched as he said, “ you are a bully Mr Linton, you enjoy hurting people and making them afraid, but you will feel the fear much worse than they do, you will feel it many times before the end”.
He reached out his hand; with the action man doll clasped tight in his wrinkled old fingers and dropped the doll to the floor.
John couldn’t help noticing that the fingers of the doll were missing and it’s arms and legs were bent into acute angles as it landed, as the old man continued,
“As surely as this doll falls to the floor, you too will fall screaming for your life”.
Tightening his grip on the old mans necklace, John Linton raised his free hand again as though to strike, and snarled, “You old fool, I could break your neck with just one blow”.
He was somewhat unnerved by the fact that the old man remained as calm and seemingly unconcerned about this new impending attack as he had been by the previous one.
“Perhaps you could Mr Linton”, the old man replied calmly, “perhaps you could, but that wouldn’t change your fate”.
John Linton released his hold on the old man and shaking nervously almost ran from the room slamming the door behind him.
For the first time in his life John Linton was afraid, although he would never admit it, not even to himself.
He told himself as he ran down the stairs without bothering to check the final bedroom that he was only shaking because of the anger he felt, and the only reason he had not beaten the old man was because of his age.
By the time he entered the living room again, the young Phillipino man was awake and leaning against the wall, blood still trickling from his wounds.
John Linton leaned close to the young man and snarled, “be out of here by the week-end and take the old man with you or they’ll be carrying you out”.
The young Phillipino couple turned to look at each other, a puzzled expression on each of their faces, but before either of them could reply, John Linton rose to his feet and left, calling behind him, “I’ll be back at the week-end, make sure you’re all gone”.
The young woman turned to her husband again; her puzzled expression even more obvious than before and asked, “what old man?”.
Her husband shrugged his shoulders, wincing at the pain and whispered through swollen lips, “ I don’t know”.
The Philippino woman helped her husband carefully onto the sofa and made him as comfortable as possible, before going upstairs to see what Linton had been talking about.
She carefully searched each room for signs of the old man but found nothing unusual.
She thought perhaps this had been some sort of trick that Linton had used to make them even more afraid to stay in the house and she left it at that.
Two days later the couple collected up all their belongings and moved out of the house as instructed.
It was however two weeks before John Linton managed to return to the house to make sure they were gone.
This time he didn’t need to knock because he had been supplied a spare set of keys by the landlord.
He smiled to himself as he entered the empty hallway, pleased to see that they had taken everything.
He looked into the living room and found that too was as empty as the kitchen and hallway had been, as was every other room in the house.
John Linton was very pleased with himself, as he stood there surrounded by nothing but bare walls.
Another job done to the best of my ability, he thought to himself as he opened the door to the living room for one more quick look before leaving.
Yes it was empty, totally empty except for that small action man doll, a chill went through him as he saw it, “that wasn’t there a moment ago”, he said to himself aloud,
“I’m sure it wasn’t”. Then pulling himself together he thought, yes it must have been after all there is no-one else in the house I must have just missed it the first time I looked, it couldn’t have climbed up there all by itself and hung there from the mantle shelf, he smiled to himself again thinking especially since it has no fingers…
At that point another chill went down his spine worse than the one before, and he had the definite impression that some one was watching him.
He knew there couldn’t be because the house was empty, but he still couldn’t shake the feeling.
Locking up the house as quickly as he could, the hairs on the back of his neck still standing on end John Linton drove back to the office to make his report.
His report stated that he had politely knocked at the house a fortnight before and asked the young woman if her husband was home and if he could enter.
After being allowed into the hallway and the door being closed, the report went on to say how at that point the young phillipino gentleman had ran from the living room shouting abuse and trying to attack him.
And it was only after severe provocation and in self-defence that he had been forced to defend himself.
This report was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth as far as John Linton was concerned and as the young Philippino couple had left no forwarding address it was hardly likely that anyone would argue with it.
Working until seven thirty writing his report of events two weeks ago and then those of that day John became tired and went home arriving there at about eight, he was still not feeling quite right and the hair on the back of his neck was still standing on end from the feeling of being watched.
He felt uneasy, not worried particularly or frightened just tense.
Of course he knew no one could be watching him all the time, as he had returned home by car and not left it until he arrived home, except for stopping at the grocery store to buy food, but nothing unusual had happened there.
My mind must be playing tricks on me he thought; either that or I’m getting paranoid.
He put it down to the stress of work and went into the kitchen.
After he had made and eaten his T.V dinner he made a cup of tea and took it into the bedroom with him to watch television.
After a couple of hours tiredness overtook him and he settled down to for the night.
It seemed that he had only just fallen asleep when he was woken suddenly by the sound of something crashing through his bedroom window.
John Linton leapt to his feet cutting his foot badly on the broken glass, and that is when he saw it…
The action man doll that the old Phillipino man had been playing with, the same one that he had seen hanging from the mantelshelf of the house.
Linton looked through the window and saw the old man waiting in the field across the road, beaconing to him, almost daring Linton to catch him.
Without bothering to put his shoes on John Linton bounded down the stairs and across to the field just in time to see the old man disappearing into the distance.
He gave chase as fast as his legs would carry him, but the old man was amazingly agile for his age and no matter how fast Linton ran he always seemed to be fifty or sixty yards behind him.
John was amazed at how easily the old man seem to sprint across the field, clearing hedgerows and fences in a single leap, without bothering to stop and draw breath.
Even Linton who was almost as fit as he had been in the army was beginning to puff and pant from the chase and was about to give it up when he noticed that the old man had run himself into a corner.
John smiled broadly to himself now slowing his run down to a fast walk, realizing that there was nowhere the old man could go now.
Because not two hundred yards ahead there was a massive ravine at least three hundred feet down and 30 feet across, the old man would have to stop there.
John walked for some distance then regaining his breath he again picked up his speed running faster and faster until, to his delight he could see the old man standing at the edge of the ravine.
The old man began running toward Linton then suddenly turned and ran back faster still toward the ravine.
John was no more than ten feet behind him as they reached the edge and he was stunned to see the old man leap as hard as he could into the cold morning air over the ravine.
John came to his senses just in time to stop himself at the very edge of the ravine.
A wide smile and a loud chuckle echoed from him as he saw the old man miss the far side by inches and plummet down the cliff face.
But as John Linton turned to leave he felt the ground beneath him suddenly give way and he began to fall, just managing to grab the edge of the cliff with his fingers as he saw the earth and rocks below his feet disappear into the distance towards the bottom of the ravine.
John Linton began to kick and scream wildly as his fingers began to claw at the cliff edge trying desperately to maintain his hold, but his fingers began to slip as the wind picked up and he knew his screams were being carried away on the breeze.
After a while the only sound he could hear himself was the frantic beating of his own heart, growing louder and louder, and closing his eyes tightly he screamed for help as loud as he could, as his aching, bleeding fingers slipped from the edge of the cliff and once again he began to fall.
Time itself seemed to slow down to a crawl for John Linton, and he fell for what seemed like an eternity, until the beating of his heart grew so loud that his eyes snapped open, only to find himself lying on the floor beside his bed, his sweat soaked sheets lay in a heap by his side, and for the first time since he was ten years old, John Linton began to cry.
The sweat and tears mingled as they rolled down his face, and slowly he looked around the room and finally towards the window.
Rising from the floor still shaking like a leaf he walked over and pulled the curtains open, his breath caught in his throat and he stepped back slightly, staring at the pane of glass searching frantically for any sign of damage.
It has to be damaged he thought, it just has to be, it was all so real, so very, very real,
But however hard he looked there was not so much as a crack in the glass, and he had to admit to himself that it had been just another bad dream, the same as the other and yet somehow worse, more vivid and frightening.
The loud knocking at the door brought him out of his thoughts and he walked over and opened it, to find the girl next door standing there in her nightclothes.
“Hello Emma,” he said trying hard to hide his shaking and keep his voice as calm as possible, “what can I do for you at this time of night?”.
“Are you alright? “ she replied, “I heard screaming and wondered what was going on”.
He clenched his fists in frustration trying to think of a reasonable excuse for the noise and flinched at the pain as for the first time he realized that his fingers were skinned as they had been in the dream.
Gazing at the floor he noticed a single bloody footprint from where he had walked to open the door, “NO!” he screamed “NO! How can this be, the window isn’t broken”,
“What do you mean? “ Emma asked, leading the once again sobbing man over to sit on the edge of his bed, where he sat with his head in his hands and explained about his dream.
“It was just a dream, “ she said comfortingly as she put her arm around his shoulder,
“Then how do you explain this? Linton replied showing her his fingers and the blood stains on the floor.
“Explain what?” She asked looking confused, “My fingers, look and the blood stains”, he almost shouted pointing down at the floor, but to his surprise there was no blood, he gazed again at his fingers, but they were uninjured.
“I don’t understand it” he kept repeating “my fingers were cut and the footprints….”
“It was just a dream,” she said again interrupting him “Just a dream John, it’s over now”.
“Yes just a dream” he repeated, calming a little as Emma wiped the tears from his eyes with caring fingers.
“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked softly.
John nodded and began to explain how the dreams had started shortly after he had visited the young Phillipino couple and their grandfather.
He even told her about the savage kicking he had inflicted on the young man.
Emma withdrew her arm slightly as he described the beating, suddenly realizing that all the stories she had heard about this man, that she had fancied for months were probably true .
And yet here he was still shaking slightly like a little boy because of a bad dream.
She squeezed him closer to her, resting his head on her shoulder.
He was calmer now and more like his usual self, as he sat there gazing down the top of her pink flowered nightdress, watching her firm young breasts rise and fall with her breathing.
He raised his head and thanked her for her kindness and placing a kiss on her lips to which she made no objection he whispered “will you stay with me tonight?”
Emma wasn’t sure if it was lust for her slender young but well endowed body that made him ask, or because he didn’t want to spend the night alone, but she decided that it didn’t matter, she had wondered what it would be like to make love to a man like the notorious John Linton for a long while, and now she had the opportunity to find out.
She thought that no matter what people said about him, he couldn’t be all bad and let her arm fall to his waist as she said, “yes if you want me to”.
“I do, I’ve fancied you for ages”, he lied, having never even given her a second look in all the time she had lived next door to him, but here she was sitting on his bed, wearing her night clothes.
It would be stupid to waste an opportunity like this he thought to himself as he slid his hand around her waist and began to kiss her neck.
“Do you really fancy me?” she sighed,
“For ages” he lied again, trying to sound sincere as he moved his hand up to Emma’s firm round breast and began to fondle her nipple.
She slowly pulled her nightdress off over her head and lay back naked on the bed.
John lay next to her moving his hands all over her body, cupping her breasts and kissing them, then continuing to kiss her all over her body.
Then they made love until they both fell into an exhausted sleep in each other’s arms.
The alarm clock woke them at six thirty and John went into the bathroom and showered before dressing and making tea.
He shook Emma awake and handed her a cup of tea without saying a word.
“Thank you”, she said taking the cup.
John just grunted and picked up his coat to leave for work.
“Is there something wrong?” Emma ask, as he turned to leave,
“No everything’s fine”, he replied and turning back towards her he said harshly, “thanks for last night, I enjoyed it, but do me a favour, when I get back from work be gone ok”.
“But I thought you liked me”, she said, the hurt evident in her voice.
“Like you”, he sneered, “I didn’t even think about you until you knocked my door last night”.
“But what about what you said last night?” she said, anger beginning to replace the hurt in her voice?
“Last night was last night”, he snapped sneering at her, “I had a bad dream and you helped me take my mind off it, thank you very much, are you happy now?”
“You used me, you bastard”, she screamed.
“Used you? “, he repeated, “I don’t remember dragging you screaming into my bed, in fact you seemed to enjoy it as much as I did, now get dressed and get out”,
Emma rose naked from the bed and stood before him, tears of hurt and anger rolling down her cheeks and dropping onto her breasts before falling to the floor, and she screamed at him, “I hope you do fall off a cliff and die you bastard”.
He slapped her hard across the face, knocking her back onto the bed and in a low menacing tone snarled “I won’t, but if you’re not gone by the time I get back, you might”.
The drive to work that morning was a pleasant one for John Linton, and he whistled as he drove, seemingly without a care in the world.
All thoughts of Emma had gone from his mind and he didn’t feel the slightest remorse for what had happened a little while earlier.
He didn’t go straight to the office, although he didn’t have any fieldwork to do that day, he thought that if he went to the office he would probably have to spend the entire day with that pathetic bunch of weak wristed mummies boys he worked with.
I don’t think I could stand that today, he thought.
So instead he decided to drive round some of the properties that he had helped to vacate and make sure that they were still empty, after all, he thought, you never know, squatters might have moved in and he would have to throw them out again.
The possibility of a fight brought an even bigger smile to his face as he drove.
By two pm he had inspected nearly all the houses on his books and they were all still empty.
John Linton was by now becoming a little disappointed, until he remembered the action man doll in the Philippine’s house.
Some one must have put it their he thought to himself, and you never know, maybe they’ll be there again now.
Ten minutes later he had arrived at the house and sat in the car for a while examining the windows for signs of movement inside.
After another ten minutes of watching from the car he was sure no one was in there and started the car to leave.
It wasn’t until he had put the car in first gear that he thought he saw the bedroom curtain move, not much, just a little as though someone had been watching him from the corner of the window.
He turned off the car and stepped from it into the street, he wasn’t sure if the curtain had moved or not because he had only seen it out of the corner of his eye, but he was determined to find out.
He walked down the path and opened the front door wide, satisfied that the hallway was empty he stepped in and walked to the living room, John stood there a moment and looked in through the already open doorway, and was glad to see that it too was empty.
He thought to himself that it might be empty now, but somebody had been here since his last visit because the action man doll that was hanging from the mantelshelf was gone.
He searched the rest of the house, but found no one there and decided to leave.
As he reached out to open the front door an icy chill went down his back and he had the feeling that somebody was standing behind him.
He turned slowly from the front door to find the old Philippino standing not eight feet away from him, wearing the same clothes that he had been wearing in Johns dream, the only difference in his appearance now was that his long grey hair was tied back into a pony tail and he was holding a long ornamental sword in both hands.
“How did you get there?” John asked, the cold chill spreading through his body.
The old man ignored the question and moved closer to him.
Then raising the sword above his head he whispered, “today is the day that you die, Mr Linton”.
John Linton dived to the floor and rolled along the hall as the razor sharp blade sliced through the air towards him.
He cried out as he felt it miss his head by an inch and slice into the top of his left arm, he rolled again and sprang to his feet clutching his arm, but ready to deliver a karate style kick at the old man, but the old man wasn’t there.
Without waiting to see where the old man had gone, John ran to the front door, opened it and ran screaming for help into the street, still holding his left arm.
A police officer that just happened to be passing rushed to his aid, and John told him about the attack.
P.C Moran was a veteran officer with more than twenty years service with the force; he stood listening patiently to Linton’s account of the attack with a puzzled look on his face.
P.C Moran had seen many knife wounds in his twenty years on the beat, and thought to himself that even with john’s massive hand covering the wound, he would expect to see more blood than he could at the moment, in fact no matter how hard P.C Moran looked he couldn’t see any blood at all.
There wasn’t any soaked into John’s sleeve and he couldn’t see any between John’s fingers, as one might expect.
He thought that maybe John was exaggerating the size of the wound and probably the size of the sword as well.
It’ll probably turn out to be a scratch from a penknife he thought to himself, smiling.
“If you could just move your hand sir”, he said, “I’ll see about dressing the wound before the ambulance arrives”.
Slowly John Linton removed his hand for P.C Moran to have a look.
The policeman’s eyes creased into a frown as he looked at the arm, and then at Linton.
“Is this some kind of a joke sir?”, he asked harshly.
John Linton looked slowly down at his arm, the look of pain changing to one of surprise and then bewilderment, as he saw that there wasn’t the slightest sign of a wound, no blood, no hole, not even the smallest nick in the sleeve of his jacket.
P.C Moran took a step back and then said Sarcastically, “ I’m sure you must have found this very amusing sir, and I realize that you probably have nothing better to do with your time, but we in the police force don’t have much of a sense of humour about this kind of thing, in fact we call it wasting police time”,
“But it’s true ”, John interrupted, “the old man did attack me with a sword, honestly, I felt it hit me”,
P.C Moran stood there a moment, looking at Linton, his patience obviously wearing thin, and said, “then how do you explain how this razor sharp blade misses your head by a fraction of an inch then slices into your arm and yet doesn’t even cut your jacket, Superman are you sir?”,
“No, I don’t know, I can’t explain it”, John shouted, becoming more agitated with every passing minute.
“But I swear to you it’s all true , please look around the house with me, he might still be in there”.
The officers’ eyes looked up to heaven as if to say alright anything to get rid of you and he said “ok sir you lead the way”.
John Linton lead the way back up the garden path and slowly opened the front door wide, then stepped aside to allow P.C Moran to enter the house first.
After a quick inspection of the downstairs rooms P.C Moran ascended the stairs and searched the bedrooms and bathroom.
On his return he said to Linton, “I’ve searched the entire house sir and it’s empty, if this old man of yours was here, then he defiantly isn’t now, so I would suggest you go home and get some rest and stop wasting police time”.
“Was there no sign of him at all?” Linton asked becoming more and more puzzled.
“No sir”, the police officer replied, “the whole house is empty except for us and this doll”.
P.C Moran handed him an action man doll that he had found upstairs and said, “good-day sir, I hope we won’t be meeting again too soon”,
John Linton followed P.C Moran out of the house and watched him stroll down the street and disappear around the corner before climbing into his car and driving home.
He arrived home at about six pm and sat in front of the T.V, not bothering to turn it on, the cold chill that he had experienced earlier getting worse with every passing second as his mind raced trying to find a logical explanation for the days events.
After a few hours John realized that there was no logical explanation, other than his mind was cracking up and he had imagined the whole thing.
“But I couldn’t have imagined it”, he said to himself, “it was so real, I can still feel the pain in my shoulder”.
A sound from the kitchen brought him suddenly out of his thoughts.
“Emma, is that you?”, he called, hoping to God that it was.
After a few seconds without getting a reply he rose from his chair and walked towards the kitchen door.
“Emma” he called again as he entered, but the kitchen was empty apart from a stray cat that had got in through an open window.
John’s heart sank in disappointment and despair when he saw the cat, and he whispered to himself, “I wish it had been you Emma”, as he walked back into the living room.
For the first time in his life he truly regretted the way he had treated her that morning, and wondered if she would accept an apology and maybe come in for a drink.
“I’ll never know unless I ask”, he said to himself and went next door to knock.
Emma opened the door with a welcoming smile, which instantly disappeared the moment she saw Linton standing there.
“What the Hell do you want?” she said, her pretty blue eyes creasing into a frown.
“I just wanted to apologize for the way I acted this morning”, John replied, his head tilted forward, his eyes staring at the floor in genuine regret.
“I know I hurt you for no reason”, he continued, “and I am truly very sorry, I wondered if perhaps you could forgive me and we could still be friends”,
Emma began to smile a little as she replied, almost laughing, “be friends with you? You must be joking, I wouldn’t spit on you now if you were burning to death in my living room, you’re a snake Linton, why don’t you crawl back under the rock you came from and leave me alone”.
And with that she slammed the door in Linton’s face.
John Linton made no reply; he was too upset to be angry and just stood there a moment feeling rejected and alone, before returning to his own flat and sitting once more in front of the T.V.
He sat there for several hours until at last his eyes closed and he began to doze off in his chair.
His eyes snapped open and closed again as he struggled vainly in his attempt not to fall asleep, he was sure that once asleep the dream would return, this time maybe worse than ever and the possibility of that truly terrified him.
Eventually however he knew that sleep was going to win in the end, and he thought that the best thing to do would be to go to bed now, have the dream and get it over with as soon as possible.
Rising from his chair he walked around the flat locking the doors and closing all the windows, making sure that everything was secure before going into his bedroom and going to bed.
After what seemed like no more than half an hour later, John Linton was once again standing at the edge of a deep ravine, the wind was blowing through his hair as he watched the sun rising in the distance.
“It’s only a dream”, he told himself as he stood there, “soon the ground will fall from under my feet and I will start to fall, but it’s only a dream and I will wake again before too long”,
At that moment the ground beneath him collapsed under his weight and John Linton once more began to fall.
His finger caught the edge of the cliff as they had in each of his previous dreams, but this time the weight of john’s plummeting body ripped the fingers off at the knuckle as they gripped the sharp jagged rocks and he continued to fall, screaming in terror, “it’s not supposed to be like this, it’s only a dream”.
Down and down he fell, his screams becoming louder and more intense as he saw a large outcrop of rock approaching him as if in slow motion.
“I’m going to hit it!” he cried, “I’m going to hit it!” and he raised his arms to protect his face as he fell, but all to no avail.
His arms caught the rocks as he passed and John heard the sickening sound of his own bones breaking at the elbows as they bounced off the rocks.
His face scrapped the rock surface removing the skin from his neck to his hairline and he continued to fall.
John Linton’s agonizing pain and fear merged into a crescendo of screams and then all fell silent as he collided with the bottom of the ravine.
Emma Pierce was awoken, startled by the terrified screams coming her neighbours flat, at first she lay there thinking, “serves the bastard right, he deserves to suffer”.
But supposing it wasn’t just another dream, she thought, supposing he really was being attacked she would never forgive herself if anything bad happened and she had done nothing.
A loud thud, similar to the sound that might be made by a body falling to the floor spurred her into action, and she went next door to see if everything was ok.
But as she stood at John Linton’s door ready to knock, she could distinctly make out the sound of some-one murmuring in pain and decided it might be best if she called the police just in case there was something wrong.
By the time the police arrived there was no sound at all coming from the flat, and there was no reply when they knocked heavily at the door.
Concerned for Linton’s safety they forced open the door and entered the living room.
Everything was neat and tidy and there was no sign that there had been a struggle of any kind.
P.C O’Brian, the younger of the two attending policemen tapped gentle on Linton’s bedroom door and waited for a moment for a response.
When there was none he slowly opened the door and entered the room.
“Serge!” he called, “I think you better have a look at this”.
Sergeant George Murry entered the room to find John Linton laying in a grotesque heap at the side of his bed.
They stepped closer to examine the body, and P.C O’Brian remarked, “my God Serge he looks like he’s been hit by a truck”.
“I know son”, his superior replied, “but how could anyone get like that from falling out of bed, he’s in a worse state that that broken action man doll laying beside him.