Lady Of The Shades Epilogue

London is a cold, cruel city in the winter. Dark streets. Dark people. Dark ghosts.

The ghosts are everywhere. I see not just my own gaggle now - who mock me jubilantly at every turn, rejoicing in my downfall - but just about everyone who died here and remained bound to the buildings and streets. Old, young, innocent, guilty, from the distant past and the recent present. They reveal themselves wherever I go. Their resigned eyes follow me sadly, patiently, knowingly, as I stumble by, unwashed, unshaved, clothes torn and filthy, sobbing, moaning, gibbering.

Are they real or am I imagining them? I don't know. That doesn't seem to matter any more. Answers are for wise men, not fools like me.

I have no idea how long it's been since my showdown with Greygo. A week? A month? I've been sleeping rough, in old warehouses or under bridges. Not that I've been catching much sleep. The ghosts I have to face during my waking hours are a thousand times preferable to those that drift through my dreams - Andeanna, Joe, Greygo and Etienne. The fourth not as frequently as the first three, but the mystic has her moments, when her features dissolve in bubbling pools of flesh and blood to reveal a jeering skeleton, which in turn crumbles away to display the sad, haunted face of Gregory Menderes.

I think of Belinda sometimes too, and wonder if she misses Dash or ever thinks about me. I no longer hate her. There are worse than Belinda Darnier in the world.

I could go back. Track down Greygo and stop the suffering, kill or forgive him, crush or embrace him. But I won't. I've been consumed by madness. I no longer have the strength to take control of my life. All along I've been a figure in a tragic play. Now I must accept my fated end with dignity and resignation. There can be no other way.

The one comfort in this cold city of callous spectres is that my death is certain. My days and nights are numbered. Bond Gardiner will find me and keep his promise. He's a man of his word. Even if he doesn't want to kill me, he will. He's bound to his destiny as surely as I am to mine. It's only a matter of time.

So through this city of ghosts I crawl, broken and alone, trying in vain to hide from thoughts of Andeanna. Cut loose from God and man, I seek refuge and comfort among the shades of the dead, and wait for them to claim me.

THE END


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