08.13 1st October
The silence was deafening. There were questions, so many questions that Matt needed to ask. Why was Maya covered in blood? What had happened? Why was she knocking on his door? There’d been no sign of her for years and today she appeared, as if by magic. They had exchanged pleasantries and were doing the polite British thing with a cup of tea.
‘You’ve done well for yourself Matt,’ Maya eventually said, breaking his thoughts mid-stream.
‘Well, it’s not like I had much of a choice,’ Matt answered.
‘How’s Riley, Finn, Walter?’ Maya tentatively asked.
‘I’ve not see much of them since……. Well I guess I don’t need to tell you,’ Matt replied, feeling the anger wake up like a sleeping hound.
‘I’m sorry. I know I have no right to be here, but I’m in trouble.’
‘Covered head to toe in blood, course you are. I’m not in that business anymore Maya. I’ve cleaned up. I have a wife and we live like normal people. She doesn’t even know….’ Matt paused seeing the look of disgust on Maya’s face.
‘She doesn’t know? It’s who you are! If she doesn’t know, she doesn’t know you!’ Maya retorted, ‘we are the sum accumulation of our past experiences.’
‘Please keep your voice down. I’ve changed, we all changed after what happened. I’ve not seen you in years, I barely know you anymore,’ Matt said firmly.
‘Why’d you pick this house? Out of all the houses, why this one?’ Maya asked, catching Matt off guard.
‘It was for sale, we had the money. So we bought it,’ he plainly stated.
‘That so. Just that simple hey,’ Maya replied standing and walking around the breakfast bar. ‘Still, this house, you really don’t remember?’
‘You haven’t changed. You’re living in a trophy of who you were! Nice try though, you almost had me fooled,’ Maya teased. ‘This house was your first long con. I brought you along for the ride, remember? You telling me you’ve forgotten conning old Gilly?’ Maya asked.
‘No, it’s….it’s not, it can’t be,’ Matt hesitantly answered as the reality hit him. It was the same house. The house they had conned back in 2005. Matt couldn’t believe how he could have missed it, but he had. ‘Easy mistake,’ he uttered after several minutes, ‘who’s after you? Disgruntled mark?’
‘I wish. Clients are easy to lose,’ Maya hesitated for a second, weighing up whether she should tell him the truth. ‘It’s the Freelancers.’
Matt stared, speechless. The Freelancers were a group of vigilantes. During the budget cuts, the organisation formed from voluntary helpers to aid the dwindling police force. Nowadays the police were buried in paperwork and had little time to patrol or uphold the law. The Freelancers had taken it upon themselves to ‘safeguard’ the streets. The vast majority of their members were psychotic sociopaths, with an inherent taste for blood. Remaining unpaid and protecting those in power, they seemed to be uncontrollable.
‘What did you do to piss them off?’ Matt whispered.
‘They have some crazy ideas. They know that we caused the instability and they don’t want it happening again.’
‘Ethan died, so it won’t happen again,’ Matt said, perplexed as to what the problem was.
‘He didn’t die Matt,’ Maya smiled, shaking her head.
Matt looked at her, going over the facts and what he knew with absolute certainty. Riley had seen Ethan die in the MRI scanner at the hospital.
‘Maya, I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you to lose him,’ he said empathetically, ‘but Ethan did die.’
‘If he died, where’s his body?’ Maya asked defensively.
‘He wasn’t from our time. His b-body probably returned to his time,’ Matt stammered trying to make sense of past events.
‘We spent hardly any time together before the instability, right?’ Maya confirmed, to which Matt nodded. ‘Then explain this?’ Maya asked, taking a tatty photo from her jacket packet.
Matt studied the picture. It was taken in an old style photo booth. Maya and Ethan both had cheesy smiles and were holding a pretty toddler. There was no way this was taken before the instability, they wouldn’t have had time. Matt puzzled.
‘Nice try. Photoshop?’ Matt grinned uncertainly.
‘He’s alive. That’s our daughter, Akasha,’ Maya claimed.
For the first time in his life, Matt pitied her. Once at the top of her game, she really appeared to have lost it. Lost everything – the love of her life, the money and now her sanity. Even the mighty fall. He walked toward her and put his arm around her shoulders.
‘I’m not crazy,’ Maya intuitively responded, ‘it doesn’t matter if you believe me. He is alive and I have to work out a way to fix the instability. It’s the only way to save my family. The only thing I need from you is information – when I was in the coma you guys consulted with a Professor? A physics genius? I need his name.’