Four days ago Aiden Walker did what he was best at.
What he was told.
He took a symbol and scrawled it on derelict door at a crossroads on a long dead street.
Since then he reverted to form and just filled his time. Today he was on board a ship, staring out at the water, wondering if that slipping over the edge was a better ending.
“It wouldn’t be. You’d be encoded here for a period of time. He’d come and get you. If you were lucky.”
He span round to see a man in a white suit in front of him. “Excuse me? I’m sorry…do I know you?”
“Not yet. But I came because you asked me to. I need you tell me what’s going on.”
They found a cafe and Aiden started his story.
“He took my girlfriend. I suppose this is where is all starts.”
“What did she ask for?”
“More time. She was dying but wasn’t ready. He gave her extra time and told her when he’d be back for her.”
The Old Man nodded. “When did he take her?”
“Last year. Valentine’s Day.”
“I see. And what happened?”
“She lived. It was as if she wasn’t even ill. She took control of her life, she traveled, she started to paint. Somtimes…sometimes it was like I didn’t know her at all. I didn’t really see the point, to be honest”
The old man, nodded. “And then he collected her?”
“Yep. I begged her not to go, but she didn’t listen. It wass like he changed her when she first made the deal, you know? She looked at me, calmly, and said ‘I made my deal. I’ve lived my life and now it’s time to face my death.’ She looked…she looked disappointed that I didn’t get it, somehow.”
The old man jotted down notes in a small book. “I hear that often. So, when did you make your deal?”
“The day after.”
“Of course you did. And you asked to -”
“To be with her.”
The Old Man thought for a while. “What did he say?”
“He told me to forget it. He didn’t want to make the deal at all.”
The Old Man looked surprised. “Really? That’s…not normal.” He scribbled some more notes. “So why did he?”
“I made him. He told me. You have 366 days to live your life. To make your peace. To fit it all in. Then I will be back and I will take you.”
“And what have you done?”
“Worked, lived my life. I missed my girlfriend, really, I just forgot about it and then, as her anniversary came up. I…I don’t want to go.”
They made their way back to the water.
“Can you help me?”
The Old Man walked to the edge of the boat, up to where they met. “The real question, Aiden Walker, is can I trust you?”
Aiden pulled up, “What? What do you mean?”
“You’re reneging on a deal, Mr. Walker. You made a deal, and now you’re pulling out. How do I know you won’t do the same with me?
“You see. I’m going to tell you – Do this, Mr. Walker. Do that. Be here – and I need to know that you will be there. That you will, do that.”
“How do I know that, Mr Walker?”
“Because I have anywhere else to go. Without you, I have no hope.”
The Old Man smiled.
“Well then, Aiden. I believe I can help you. You just go about your life, and I shall be there when you need me.”