Besides the unearthly time of the day and being Thursday, the platform contained no less than ten people. Most of them were waiting for the train to the capital after a hard workday.
John Netsby, however, had other reasons. Even if his unremarkable presence was sensed by the others, they probably thought his nervousness (looking at his watch constantly, while observing the horizon) was due a long working day, or maybe a conversation and a few beers taking more time than prudence recommends. But, actually, Netsby was waiting for someone. A person capable of finish his nightmare.
When the last train made its appearance, a shiver ran through the man’s body. What if he had not been able to take it? That means another night awake, more chills and more threats. He couldn’t bear it, and he knew. He breathed again when saw a tall, thin figure wearing a long coat that seemed threadbare under the dim light of the station, and with a small bag as only luggage.
“Mister Abbott?” Netsby began his greetings several steps away from the newcomer. “I’m John Netsby.”
“You have already recognized me, so I can see,” was the quick response of the other, “therefore, introducing myself would be nonsense. It’s a pleasure to meet you personally, lord Netsby.”
They shook hands before speaking again, while walking towards the exit of the station.
“You know about the case,” Netsby said, after a few trivial sentences. “Both her mother and I are … desperate.”
“Desperation usually leads to precipitation and misleading. I can assure you that only a tenth of the cases I have dealt with, enclosed any danger. The mind, my dear friend, is one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. Do not worry; I’m sure that your daughter will be completely healed in a few hours.”
The peace and calm of Abbot’s words, instead of reassuring him, made him having a knot in the pit of his stomach. He didn’t say anything.
A silence sprinkled with a couple trivialities were their only accompaniment until they arrived at the family house. Julia Netsby (maiden name, Smith) was waiting for them at the door, maybe opened more than an hour ago, or perhaps it had been just opened after the two men were spotted through the hazy night. One way or another, this was the last thing they were concerned about.
“Praise the Lord!”, exclaimed the woman, in a voice between surprise, disbelief and some discomfort for the delay. “She’s upstairs in the attic.”
Leaving the greetings for later, the two men climbed the narrow stairs, leading Netsby, which sometimes was going up the steps two at a time and others three by three, using an impossible to discern rule. Abbot, meanwhile, was advancing step by step, without ever being far behind of the other. Once upstairs, while one of them was panting with the effort, the other slightly opened his briefcase looking away from the person stood before them.
That person, of course, was the daughter of John and Julia. The girl stared at the stranger who had invaded her dominions, her mind unable to discover who he was or what he wanted.
Her human mind, at least.
It wasn’t a little girl’s voice that coming out of the mouth of the child. It could hardly be considered a voice, actually. A growl? If we call breeze to a tornado, perhaps we could call growl to the cavernous sound which made both men looked up.
“Abbot… ”, she said one more time, “How sweet of you visiting me.”
The man didn’t reply. Instead, he continued with his previously interrupted duty, overlooking what had just happened in front of him. Netsby didn’t have the same willpower.
“Honey”, a tear ran over his cheek, “you will be fine.”
“Daddy, you bring the bad man to me.” This time, a child-like voice was heard.
“That thing is not your daughter!”, Abbot said quickly, “Don’t you listen…”
The sentence was interrupted when a baseball bat smashed into his head, making the man fall upon the ground. The next hit rendered him unconscious. Three more were able to form a large, red and gray stain in the floor.
“I made what you ordered”. Netsby dropped the bat and went closer to the girl. “Now, please, release her.”
“A deal is a deal”, the girl sentenced, with a voice that was not of her. “A life for a life, and a soul for a soul.”
“See you soon, John…”