As I drive the car down the motorway, keeping to the central lane, maintaining a stable speed, Jules reads to me from the notepad that I grabbed back at the house. From time to time I look over and smile at her, but she is oblivious, focused deeply in the writing and diagrams that Esther made. I listen to her intently, but can’t help but just feel her presence wash over me. She’s here, back with me, she loves me, I love her too. This is the way its supposed to be.
Jules finishes the main section and pauses, looking ahead with an expression of awe.
“You really did do this to yourself, didn’t you? You actually changed the way your brain works, accidentally, but, I mean, that’s not normal, is it. It says here the pressure you must have put on your mind was immense. She compares it to the stress that torture victims have felt. She also compares the drug use to get to this point to be on a par with Tim Leary, Hunter S Thompson and Hoffman, himself, combined. I just can’t imagine how far over the line you had to go to get here, how close to the void you must’ve been”. I look over and tell her:
“I was dust on the edge of a black hole, I was disintegrating at the edge of reason and reality. If I hadn’t been pulled back by something powerful and strong, I never would’ve come back”.
It feels odd to speak like this to Jules. To get this heavy with her after everything we’ve been through made my mind shudder. I wondered whether she’d be able to handle it all, how truly broken I still am. Without the ability I had developed, what would I be? Just a broken shell of a man, a weak and fragile remnant of a human being.
Jules looks over and smiles softly, I look into her eyes briefly and my heart melts. I look back to the road and focus in on the driving. We have a few hours and I am cherishing these moments.
Jules returns to the random papers I grabbed, loose and disorganised. She starts reading from one page and then suddenly stops. She looks forward at the road for a moment, seemingly lost for words.
“I can’t put al this together. She worked so hard to study and understand you, but it was all an accident. All those people through her family watched, followed, interfered with, all of them, all accidents. It doesn’t make sense. How did she not know this? All of these papers tell the same story, the same lies. She was so intent on trying to steal the ability she is the first one of her family to discover that it’s purely coincidental.” she shakes her head and leans back. She pushes the papers onto the back seat and puts her hand on my arm, squeezing gently. She looks over at me, driving and focusing on the road.
“Twat”. She says it softly and lovingly, and we both laugh. I wish we could stay in this car forever, but we are nearly there.
The place we are heading is just off the motorway, on the outskirts of the city. When I was a child this was another town, but the motorway came through and destroyed all it’s charm and beauty.
I pull off the motorway at the junction and turn onto the small road that leads to the old centre of the village. I know these roads too well. From a young age I have walked, cycled, skateboarded and driven these roads. The small row of houses becomes a few shuttered shops and then it appears, a large ornate Victorian building. The red brick is bright down the side of the building, with no windows except right at the back. There is no one here and I park the car up. As we get out I look over to Jules, looking up the tall formless wall. The old frontage is all run down and dull, even the sign board has lost all sense of its former glory. This was the only theatre for 30 miles after the war, it played shows right up the end of the last century, but ran down fast and violently. There was a small fire, and the soot above the right hand door is still apparent.
As we walk to the back Jules takes my hand and we walk together. The small flight of metal stairs takes us up to the office, and I pull the key from the small recess in the windowsill, impossible to find unless you know it’ there. The room smells musty and dank, but it’s dry and not too cold. I turn on the light and it illuminates the room. Light splashes over the posters of old shows, illuminating the theatre’s better days. Actors faces are shown, in some cases a full body, but mostly just heads and writing. These are the moments in this particular building’s history to remember, the hay day of musicals, comedies and dramas, when all the seats were filled and people rolled in the aisles, or wept in silence. Jules looks around and takes it all in. I go the desk in the middle of the room, take a seat where my grandfather used to sit and open the drawer.
The old bottle of scotch is dusty, and the glasses have a film of dirt over them. Never mind, I pour a generous amount into each. Jules comes over and sits across my lap, resting her arm on the desk. We clink glasses and drink, the strong liquor running down our throats. I exhale slowly and take another sip. The room feels much warmer than it is for the alcohol, and the orange glow from the old light gives it a romantic feeling. I wish we could stay here, but I have to get rid of this curse, this accident. I need to get back to being me, so I can be with Jules. I reach into my pocket and pull out the small bottle of pills, putting them on the desk. If I take just half this bottle I will lose the ability, it will gone forever, unless I go through the drugs, the madness, the pain, all over again.
I look up to Jules and smile. She leans down to kiss me and I feel her hair fall over my face. Her lips are just in front of mine, I can smell her scent mixed with the whiskey. Our lips come together, just a thin sliver of a gap between them, but just as they are about to touch a loud bang comes from inside the theatre, we both turn sharply and look out into the dark building beyond the office door.