The next morning I awake. For a moment I am sure that Jules is here, lying next to me in the bed. I turn over to reach out, but the cold bed is empty. Opening my eyes I see the room, exactly as it was. Her bag is over on the chair, closed and untouched since we arrived. I wonder where she has gone, and hope that she is okay. There is a way for to search for her, but before I went to sleep last night I promised I wouldn’t use my ability again. I promise to discover the cause and undo it all. I was not strong enough to wield this power, and it had brought me only sadness. I feel guilty for blaming the ability on the events of the last 24 hours, and the last few weeks, when I know deep down it isn’t the ability, it’s me. I was too weak to control it.
Sitting alone in the room, cold and silent, I start to think of what I am going to do. Going home is out of the question; I can cover work, or find something else, and my flat is paid up for another few weeks at least. Esther’s men will surely be looking out for me there.
I gather all the bags together and wash, I need to go somewhere and think. There must be a solution to all of this, some elegant method to get my life back, to get Jules back, and to be safe. I need to go somewhere quiet and clear, where the air is fresh and the sky large. I need to clear my head and stop for a moment, find somewhere to sit and watch the world go by slowly. That rules any cities or towns out and I dare not return to the country hotel, for fear that the men will track me there. Driving out I turn back towards the motorway, intending to head South again. At the first exit i see a sign and turn off, heading West. I drive for about four hours until the early afternoon sun hangs high in the sky. The road is winding more out here, but over the top of a hill I spot what I’m looking for. The sea.
I drive along with the sea on my right for a few hours, heading onto smaller and smaller roads, until it’s barely a single carriageway. The small town up by the sea comes into view and I slow down, looking for somewhere to park and drop my stuff. I’ll need to stay here for a night. There’s a small B&B just ahead, so I park and check in, paying in advance for one night. The lady there warns me the door is locked at 11pm and I have to be out by 9am. This works fine for me. That should be ample time for what I need to do.
Up in the room I open my bag and pull out my toiletries. There in the side of the small, damp, bag is a side pocket, almost invisible. Inside I find the small plastic sealed bag and take it out, examining the two small squares of paper inside. Without much hesitation I reach in and take both bits of paper, putting them straight on my tongue and letting them sit there, my mouth closed, feeling them absorb the moisture from my mouth. After a moment, as soon as the sharp taste hits my tastebuds I swallow, and follow them with a gulp of water. I know I have about 15 minutes before I feel the first effects, so head down the stairs and out, along the promenade, towards the lonely spit of land a mile out from the town.
I walk along past closed fish and chip shops, amusement arcades with no-one in them, past the end of the multi-coloured festoon lights. I look out to the sea on my right and the waves roll in, peacefully moving up the beach and then rolling back. They’re quite hypnotic, but I push forward. I need to get away and out of the town. These blotters have been in that bag for a while, so I hope there is still some potency to the drugs they hold, that I get to the state I need to be in to think this out.
Up ahead I see an old wooden bench, the wooden slats deeply worn and sea battered. This will be perfect, so I sit down and look back to the town. The lights on the seafront bounce and swim in my eyes. I feel the first waves of the drug beginning to rush through me. I feel the awkward, almost jarring, feeling that I am slipping away from the real world, but it doesn’t concern me too much. I watch the sea below me, leading off to nowhere, infinite, just a series of rolling wave crests moving towards me and interacting with each other. I watch the breakers along the top of the taller waves, white and frothy in the late afternoon light.
The waves motion begins to throb and I see them pulsing to their own inimitable rhythm, like a heartbeat in water. The small waves that hit the coast just below me make a sound that fills my ears with the sound of each grain of sand and rock, moving against the other grains, being pushed around and up and back.
Time passes in an odd, stuttered motion, and I notice the sun is nearly down, sinking over the last scrap of land between me and the other side of this ocean. I watch it fall away, the mirage of light wobbling as the last sliver moves down. I see the darkness around me, and watch the odd shadows moving, crawling around me. I can see down to the town, the warm colourful lights comforting me up here on my own. I must’ve been here at least 3 hours already.
I need to concoct a plan to get my life back on track. Thinking back over the past few weeks I try to analyse all he interactions I’ve had, with Jules, Esther, her men, the few strangers I have spoken too. If I can find a theme, or a route back, I can define a method to get there. My mind wanders off, thinking about time travel. If I were able to replay individual events in normal time, but play them back in reverse, would that be the same as going back in time, returning to a prior state. Of course not, I’d have the memory and knowledge of going forward and then back.
There is a strong onset to drugs, but once the main rushes and frantic thoughts have passed there is a calmness. The mind is still bent on whatever drug is coursing through your system, but it feels like you are in control again. That’s how I’m starting to feel now, which is good. I keep remembering the woman’s warning to be back before 11pm.
I look down at my watch and see it is just approaching 8pm. 3 hours. 3 hours to get everything sorted. I need to focus. I look up and can still see the waves, moving forwards toward me. Waves, waves in time hitting the coast below me.
An idea comes to me, hinting at first, but growing in weight. The problem, the main problem, is my ability. If I could get rid of this ability to project myself forward, then Esther wouldn’t want me, and, I hope, Jules could forgive me. No, for Jules I need to give up the ability, not have it removed from me.
How can I choose to remove the ability? How can I give it up, without knowing where it came from to begin with?
As the lat of the light fades and I am left in darkness, I begin to imagine what series of events needs to happen, how I need to play this. I need access to the lab at Esther’s, I need her research. I stand up and start walking, carefully and soberly, to the town. I stop for a quick drink in the only pub on the seafront, and then get some chips to take back to the room. I go inside and the woman barely glances at me before I take the stairs up to my room. Inside I open out the paper bag of chips, open the window and lay back on the bed. I know what I need to do, how to play this act out in such a way that Esther will leave me alone and, if I ever find her again, Jules will be able to forgive me. The unknown possibility of what I hope can happen at Esther’s is nothing to the fear of Jules not being able to forgive me.