WICCAN: Prologue Preview
"We are Angels, We are Demons
We are Children all the same."
Lyrics by Jack Savoretti
"There are many, many, many worlds branching out at each moment you become aware of your environment and then make a choice."
Kevin Michel - Moving Through Parallel Worlds To Achieve Your Dreams
Glistening lemony light from a rising sun struggles to filter through dense fog in ancient woodland. A spider climbs a web covered in delicate droplets of dew which accentuate the complexity of the arachnid's dragline silk. Burnt orange and red leaves of a variety of shapes and sizes are scattered along sparse snowy trails in the wood. A red-breasted robin flies nearby, almost flying into the spider's web; the little territorial bird swerves just in time and lands on a small desolate branch to regard its surroundings. Sunlight filters through strongly now and the thick mist begins to lift. The robin suddenly takes off startled by movement coming from a shrub close by. Something appears to be moving, perhaps hiding. Further on in the distance whispering can be heard.
"He must be here somewhere,'' a man whispers.
"He is," another man responds.
"Just come out mate, we won't hurt you and there's nowhere for you to run to anyway."
Both men are wearing a dark hoody and tracksuit bottoms and wellies, as if in some kind of uniform. One of the men wears a moustache and his jawline is chiselled, he stands at about six feet tall, whilst the other is more effeminate without any hair on his face and is shorter by a foot. They are both somewhat chubby in stature.
"For fuck's sake just come out!" the taller guy bellows this time. "You aren't going anywhere and it's cold and you must be starving now."
"Yes," the effeminate guy agrees. "You've been out here all night. It's cold, wet and miserable and you must want something to eat." He gapes at his colleague with an awkward smile. A crow caws in the distance - a haunting sound as it lasts longer than expected. Another shuffling noise comes from somewhere nearby and both guys peer towards a bush of cotoneaster and blackberry laden with fruit.
The man with the moustache bends down on one knee and gazes intently at the shrub. A tearful bloodshot eye widens in the undergrowth. The man reaches his hand through the thicket and yelps withdrawing his hand quickly. He frantically picks at a few thorns embedded in his palm. He inspects the man hiding in the bush and sees scratch marks on his face.
"Now now, there's a good chap. Come out and let's go get something to eat and get you warm." The partly concealed eye in the shrub blinks and a tear wells up and slowly runs down the side of his cheek. Both men close in on the shrubbery much more carefully this time.
5 months later
A man talks on a phone in a London apartment. It's a spacious abode similar to a studio flat. One side of the wall is bricked and supports a big painting of a village in fog; the fog surrounds the base of the village and both village and fog are surrounded by an intense foreboding black. The painting creates the illusion of a village suspended on a cloud above a dark abyss.
Two over-sized windows fill the main wall and are draped with white silk curtains and a roll-up blind. The wall resembles that in an urbane apartment in Paris. The colour of the wall is tangerine which blends in well with the terracotta bricks on the side wall. Through the living room, which comprises an enormous white sofa and black wooden furnishings, is a kitchen with a huge island in the middle of a tiled floor. Several utensils hang down over the island.
The island is burnt orange with cupboards on all sides and different coloured stools arranged next to it. A sizeable cooker boldly makes a focal point - it mimics a modern Aga. It is a dark green colour and an old-fashioned kettle quietly whistles on a naked flame. Further down the apartment is a small hallway leading to a bedroom. A male voice resonates clearly now and it is clear he is conversing on the phone with someone. In the bedroom is a double bed slightly off the middle of the room and more white silk curtains waver in a light breeze coming in through the window. The walls are a shade of purple and host small framed pictures of two men. All the frames are different colours, shapes and styles and they are haphazardly placed on the wall creating a mosaic. The pictures are of two men in a tight embrace and in a couple, they are kissing.
In the corner of the room is a small desk with a chair and on the other side of the wall a bookcase made of oak and filled with books. Most are self-help paperbacks, with a few on history and the practices of witchcraft and voodoo in the Tahiti islands. Through the bedroom is an en suite painted in apple green with a stylised sink, shower room and a separate oval bath next to a wall with an opening, like the kind found in an abode of an old Japanese movie - which opens to the bedroom. The guy on the phone is speaking with some intensity and appears to be agitated, his face half-covered in shaving foam. Bushy eyebrows boldly take stance over his dark brown eyes. The eyebrows match his wispy cut dark brown hair. He resembles Colin Farrell.
"I don't want to hear any more about it Grace - I know you mean well but I can't just sit around and wait for the police to handle this." He leans in on the phone which is on loudspeaker by the sink. "For all we know they're not even taking it seriously, just another homophobic officer on the case - I have to go to this village myself to see if I can find any clues." He scans his reflection in the mirror.
"He could have left his journal at a bed and breakfast or something - there must be some lead, something, I can't understand how he can disappear off the face of the earth!" He pauses, takes a breath, and focuses on a yellow note on the mirror in the bathroom which is attached with a fancy magnet - it simply reads 'To Peter, my better half - flush the goddamn toilet! Love always, Jaime.' Peter touches the note ever so slightly and a tear wells up in his left eye and trickles down his cheek.
"Okay Grace, I know. I'll be careful, I promise and I'll text and facetime you at every opportunity, so long as you don't pick on me for not shaving as I aim on letting my beard grow - one less thing to do whilst carrying out my own investigation." He listens to Grace while still focusing on the note.
Peter is the eldest of four and was always the black sheep of the family. He was the only one to attend university and albeit this was borne out of his desire to escape, he presumed his siblings were envious and resented him because of it.
He had an unhappy childhood. His father was abusive and his mother was emotionally detached so any chance he got he escaped into a book and hence honed his intellect and reading skills.
Peter never believed love was possible for him and he was incapable of flirting and small talk, he could not help but find it lame. He had no clue how to orchestrate the dating ritual. He didn't understand mind games and he was more the 'what you saw was what you got' kind of guy. This coupled with an abandonment issue over his mum meant he found it extremely difficult when courting and actually dreaded it. For a long time, he had given up on bothering. He believed dating applications were soul destroying and the bacchanalian nightlife tedious and so made a promise to himself not to bother and put all his energy into his work and hobbies and friends he loved.
That was until he met Jaime. Peter was in the library one hot afternoon. Most people would not have chosen to go to a library when the sun was out, especially not in England. Any chance to get some heat you took it! Jaime had his head lost in a book he was reading while walking down an aisle. He walked straight into Peter and that was that.
"Okay, I gotta finish the last of my packing. You look after yourself too and don't let Gavin treat you the way he does. You deserve better you know that." He smiles whilst wiping away the tear that's trickled down his unshaven cheek. "Goodbye." He hangs up the phone. He finishes with his shaving on the right side of his face - "the last time for a while whiskers," he mutters to his reflection in the mirror.
He picks up the sticker from the mirror, grabs a towel and fastens it around his waist whilst walking into the bedroom. He ambles over to the bookcase, examines the top and pulls out a book, opening it up to the back where it reads 'Jaime Coombs, writer and researcher of the paranormal.' A black and white picture fills the bottom right of the page and right below are acknowledgements. Peter stares at his partner longingly whilst he sits on the bed.
Jaime was an adopted third child of his parents. It was rumoured he was found wandering alone in the woods when he was only five years old with no memory of what had happened. Jaime's guardians took him into their home when he was six years old.
He is a strongly opinionated character and prefers to be upfront about things. He does not like bullshit and admires people who are blunt. He particularly gets on well with autistic people. He's always excelled in writing and creating a world outside of his own - honed as a means of escape from a traumatic childhood where he had to watch his brother die from a genetic condition which slowly sucked the life out of him.
Jaime felt that his father made things worse as he was over-sensitive about it and this impacted on Jaime's anxiety a lot. Writing became cathartic for him. He had accepted a life of solitude with one or two friends as he felt that he was incapable of being in love with someone due to his anxiety disorder. That was until he bumped into Peter in a library.
Peter sticks the note from the bathroom onto the side of the picture. The snapshot reveals a man with designer stubble that accentuates a defined chin. He shows off short dark brown hair, mysterious dark eyes and a cheeky smile. He wears a smart deep purple shirt and a white tie. Peter wells up again and he wipes his eyes with his hand and closes the book entitled Exploring The Magic Of The World. He places the hardback in his almost packed small suitcase and gets up to throw some clothes on. He shuffles over to the wardrobe and fishes out a pair of jeans, shirts and a jumper. A piercing whistling sound travels at him with increasing resonance - "Damn it!" He rushes out to the kitchen where a ferocious kettle is bellowing out steam; he whips if off the stove and turns the cooker off. Hardly any water is left in it and he tuts to himself. He stomps over to the fridge, opens it and grabs a bottle of orange juice. "Costa it is then." He slams the refrigerator door shut. He considers the time on his phone whilst walking back to the bedroom maintaining the annoyance in his step.