This has all been done for love.
Vaughan walked into the briefing room, sat down and sighed. “These late nights are getting a bit of a killer,” he remarked to no one in particular.
Pearse looked up from the report in front of him. “Bit of a wild goose chase I gather,” he agreed, “that’s the second in two weeks.”
Vaughan shrugged. “Win some loose some,” he said tiredly.”
“Anything further to report?” Pearse asked.
“Not really,” Vaughan replied thoughtfully, rubbing his hands across his eyes. “It was a safe house, but it looked like it had been deserted for some time, so unfortunately we’ve not really screwed anything up for them.” His eyes narrowed. “There was something very interesting though. One of my men found a letter of sorts. He noticed my name on it and passed it straight on to me.”
He held out a dirty folded sheet of paper. “I think all of us should read it, you know I never thought I’d hear my self say this but I actually feel sorry for the stupid bastard.”
Pearse, Angie and Frances looked at him.
“Its from Mike, isn’t it,” Frances said, her voice shaking slightly.
Vaughan nodded, “He mentions all of us in it,” he sighed. “He’s a leech now so no point in feeling anything for him, but read it, I don’t think it was meant to be found, he must have hidden it before they crossed him over”
Pearse picked up the paper and walked to the centre of the room. He looked at Frances and Angie and in a measured voice began to read.
I have lost track of time since Jack brought me to this place. It feels like months but I sense that perhaps only a week has actually passed. I am kept locked in one of their safe houses and I can’t tell where I am. I can hear traffic moving faintly in the distance but otherwise nothing.
When Jack is not with me I have little to do to pass the time, I cannot concentrate to read and the videos make me restless, so I think. Mostly I think what a naïve stupid fool I was to believe that I could come with Jack and be allowed to leave. Not that I was consciously thinking that when Jack came for me, I just remember feeling helpless. Jack and I had said all there was to say between us the first time he came. I had been moved by what he said and surprised at how sincere he appeared to be, but despite my longing to have him back in my life, even I knew that it was impossible. When time passed and he did not reappear I started picking up my life and seeing Frances. She will be as angry and contemptuous of me as Vaughan is. I am sorry I’ve hurt her yet again; I really do care for her.
Frances has always mistrusted and disliked Jack, and hated the influence she felt he had over me. Jack had to be the leader from the beginning of our friendship, and I was happy to go along with him. He got us into trouble when we were at college, but it was usually such fun that I’d be stupid enough to listen to him again and off we’d go. Don’t get me wrong I was never a pushover. It used to amuse me listening to Jack’s lies, half-truths and sheer blarney, but unless I was totally opposed to something he’d get around me. He’d feel satisfied that he’d got his own way, I’d have enjoyed the performance and dropped a few cutting remarks on his lack of responsibility. We both came away satisfied.
I never knew that Jack was on the take, I would have been horrified. I still can’t work out how he thought he was going to get away with it, but Jack has always had an amazing ability to ignore awkward facts, that’s been my responsibility. It still angers me that he was happy to marry Kirsty and presumably not tell her either, but that’s Jack for you. What I haven’t worked out is whether the leeches draw him in specifically or whether his involvement was a happy coincidence.
Pearse has always talked about the leeches saying that they only took people of their own free will. Yet again I was stupid enough to believe this, although I had problems with Angie’s husband taking their 5-year-old daughter. Free will is something that I am not to be permitted, although Jack has used every trick in the book and a few I’d never thought of to persuade me. He assures me that he has not bitten or fed on me to further influence me, but Jack’s assurances ring rather hollow. Apparently the leeches have always considered me one of them. When Jack first told me this I was speechless, whilst I’ve never been a dewy eyed innocent, I couldn’t believe that I’d ever done anything to warrant their attention. Jack wouldn’t explain, but yesterday, I think it was yesterday; a female leech came to see me and introduced herself as my mother. I’m looking at this woman of about my age and realise I’ve seen pictures of her at home, and recognised my dead aunt. To cut a long and rather horrifying story short, she is my mother. She had a leech lover at the same time as my dad. When she fell pregnant with me, her lover persuaded her to cross over just before I was due to be born. Apparently I was in her womb briefly after she crossed and was successfully removed by her attendants and left for my dad. She says she has followed my life with interest and she and the others have always planned to take me. They believe that I may be special, I find myself hoping that I thoroughly disappoint them, I have never felt myself to be different in any way. I took vindictive pleasure in reminding her that I was hunting leeches like her until recently, but she dared to stroke me on the cheek and tell me we all make mistakes. I find it hard to believe that a mother could do that to her baby, and when she was human, but perhaps she was good leech material. My real mum, birth mother or not, is actually my aunt, and I’d always thought what an ordinary family we were!
I am still recovering from that shock. All my pathetic hopes that I could persuade Jack to let me free on condition I left the squad and lived elsewhere are shattered. I can’t really blame Jack; he thought he was following his own agenda, when he was dancing to someone else’s tune. I don’t think he enjoyed discovering that.
My time spent with Jack has convinced me that Pearse is both horribly wrong and horribly right. Leeches do appear to love and hate, or rather lust and desire, since love is meant to be selfless. That being so they are monstrous because they are totally amoral and willing to get want they want at any cost. In his own twisted way Jack does love me, but for his sake not mine. Jack assures me that he loves his ‘life’ and that I will too when I leave guilt and remorse behind me. Jack has certainly achieved that, but then he had little time for those emotions when he was human.
Having read through this letter I know I mean it to be an apology to the Squad. Vaughan was right not to trust me, not because I would have betrayed them, though I suppose I will, but because I was unable to resist Jack.
Jack has just returned and read my letter, he is amused by my feelings, but then Jack seems to be amused by nearly all I do at present. I think he’d like to keep me as his ‘pet human’ for longer but it has been decreed that I have had time enough and tomorrow is when I will be taken. My mother wanted to be responsible for my ‘crossing’, but I will not allow her that satisfaction. If I must go, I will be taken by someone who loves me, however selfishly.
The silence in the room continued for some time after the letter had been read. Frances could be seen to be wiping tears from her eyes whilst Angie sat quietly and pensively.
“Poor, stupid, pitiful Mike,” Pearse said slowly. “He doesn’t even blame his friend in the end. Jack was right he was loyal.” He looked at the others carefully. “I wonder what they hope of him?”
Angie shook her head. “I can’t really see, but I could, I suppose hazard some not very scientific guesses.” She sighed, “I would have thought though that the time scale was too short, but we know very little really about the actual mechanism of the infection.” She thought briefly for a second.
“I’ll ring an obstetrician I know, he’s secure and reliable, researching into blood diseases, and doesn’t ask awkward questions.” Looking once more at the letter she quietly left the room.
Silence enveloped the room again and stayed for some time.
Continued in part 6, The Attack