‘What do you want to know?’ Hannah asks, poking the wall as it writhes. I’m not sure where to start.
‘What are the shadow things? Where are we? Why couldn’t anyone remember me? What-‘
‘One at a time, for the love of god! Right, the shadow things are… Police, of sorts. They like to be in control of everything, which is a bit of a shame because so do I. Right now we’re in the space your flat used to occupy, about 30 years ago. Don’t ask me about what happened in those 30 years or how it’s affected you, because you don’t want to know. Nobody could remember you for the same reason the police want you.’
I wait for her to elaborate and for my brain to stop throbbing. ‘You expect me to believe this?’
She fixes me with a glare. ‘You wanted your questions answering, we have a few hours left until daybreak, I figured you wouldn’t be able to sleep.’
‘What the bloody hell did you put in my drink?’
Hannah looks offended. ‘Scrumpy is the best barkeep on this side of London! No bullshit happens when he’s looking after you. Well, until the police found the corridor. It’s a good thing you started greening when you did, they were about to swarm us.’
‘Greening? What am I, rotten bacon?’
‘If you can’t shut the fuck up, I’m not going to explain a goddamn thing to you. Yes, you are starting to green. You did a pretty good number on that Shadow, but not quite good enough. It’s a goddamn miracle I found you when I did, otherwise he’d have tried to take you back-‘
‘But why? What have I done to your- your shadow police?’
‘It’s July 10th.’ Hannah shrugs, as if she’s just explained everything.
‘What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?’
She glares at me again, a frightening silhouette in the half-light with the walls breathing around her. ‘It’s the 30th anniversary of the day you disappeared. No one knows what happened to you.’ She sits back and smirks. ‘Until now.’
I’m not really sure what to say to that, so I just sit quietly in the corner and start shaking. She looks over at me and rolls her eyes. ‘Oh, grow the fuck up. I haven’t even dropped the bomb yet.’
‘There’s a bomb?’
She grins at me, and for a second I think I see a devilishly familiar twinkle, before a gnarled tendril of darkness swallows her, and she grabs my arm; forcing it to drag the both of us down through the floor and into a tunnel again, while Hannah furiously spits at her thumb. ‘Come on! Come on! Fucking hell!’
I feel it wrapping around my ankles too- something so unbearably cold that it ceases to be just a matter of temperature- I feel… Dark. Like every overly-emotional poem on the internet has been compiled into a book labelled ‘Me’ and then trampled over by critics. I feel hopeless and scared, and alone, even as Hannah’s fingernails rip into my arms as she curses.
‘You fucking arseholes! You shitting twats! Come on!‘
Suddenly, a green light glows bright enough to send the darkness reeling away, and I pass out.