Pete had stopped running.
Nobody was following him.
He pulled his coat around his small frame and he felt a little warmth that fought off some of the cold night’s attacks. It started to rain and Pete pulled his hood down further. He had not escaped danger, just yet.
The streets were unfamiliar places for him. He had always been with his mother or his brothers when he had been outside of the house. Then there was Brian whose comforting bulk could generally be relied upon to take them to their preferred destinations. Since Nick had fixed it, it had been running well.
Mum was another matter altogether.
When she had dropped him off this morning, she had been haunted by her dreams. She had been dreaming about the dark man who had shown her things that were not real. His mother, however, had believed him. She had dreamt about Michael, a Michael who was a danger to them and, when she had looked at Michael in the morning, she had shown her youngest son that she still believed what the dark man had said.
The dark man spent a lot of his time in other people’s dreams. He made his way through the corridors of their thoughts and planted doubts. His greatest gift was the gift of mistrust.
The woman at the nursery had been one of his. She, too, believed everything that he had told her and clung to the promises that she had been given. In the new world, she would have all that she wished for. Pete hoped that the new world would not come.
A fresh sweep of rain pushed him backwards.
He was a small boy, a boy of four, tiny in the night and the whole scheme of things, and he was alone in a city that was rapidly losing its souls. His escape from the nursery had been inspired by fortune more than anything else. If he came across any other danger, he did not think that he could get away with it again. His mum was in trouble, Nick was in trouble, and Michael had been cornered.
Chris was someplace else and Pete could not see him. The dark man could be winning and no little boy would be able to stand up to him.
A bus rushed past and threw the contents of a dirty puddle at him. From the back seat number of youths laughed at the sight of the little kid, soaked. Then the laughter stopped. Pete heard their thoughts that came in the form of a missile. They were wondering what it would be like to do him in.
The next stop would see them dismounting. They would wait for him and there would be nobody to stand in their way. The dark man had done this. He had made it all possible and his minions had created the perfect vehicle for transferring the message.
The youths on the bus had been travelling the city looking for something to film. They had talked about slappings and beatings. They had studied similar videos on the site and had been inspired by things that appeared to go right to the edge and beyond.
Murder was a serious option and the great thing was that the police didn’t want to know. It was happening all over and more and more videos were being posted. If you were out at night, you deserved what you got.
The little kid would make a good subject. It would be just mint!