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I curled up on the stage floor and listened to rats scratching in the darkness high above. At least I hoped they were rats. The thought that something else might be stalking about among the rodents up there, its claws clicking on the dusty floor, brought my old fear of wolves bursting to the surface.
Stupid phobia. I'd never even seen a wolf in the flesh, and there was no way a wolf would be prowling the roof space of an abandoned theatre in Plymouth. No reason to think the creatures above me were anything other than rats.
It would serve Tony right if his building was infested. I might call the local council tomorrow and let them know. After all, I was supposed to be surveying the place. Might get a pest-control inspector down here and make it official before Tony even knew he had a problem.
On the other hand, I would probably walk away and leave him to his rats.
The place smelled old. Not damp. Not rotting. Just dusty and ancient. I rolled onto my back, gave my scalp and beard a good scratch and tried to concentrate on the noises and the smell of dry centuries. I preferred them to the sound of my thoughts and the stink of betrayal.
But the scurrying rats and deep darkness offered no distractions, and my haunted mind slid back to the source of my misery: the bright hotel room to which I'd returned unannounced twelve hours earlier, to find my naked wife riding my naked best friend.
I couldn't blank out the memory of her hair swaying across her back, or their moans of pleasure as I walked into the room, or Tony's grunt of pain when Carole twisted off him to crouch on the floor by the other side of the bed.
"Joe." They gasped it simultaneously.
They tried to talk to me, but I didn't want to hear any of their shit. Tony took a step towards me, covering himself with a pillow and spouting some pacifying crap, until I punched him in his lying mouth. He went down, spitting blood, and had the sense to stay down.
Carole wrapped herself in the bedsheet and stood tall. She raised her chin to me, as if offering a second target.
How could she think that of me? I'd never lifted a finger against her. She might have felt better about herself if I had hit her, but that wasn't my style.
I sighed into the darkness. So here I was, alone in a strange city, at the lowest point in my life, spending a night on the dirty floor of my property developer friend's latest auction purchase, with nowhere else to go and no one to turn to. Great.
New noises broke into my thoughts: footsteps and low-pitched voices coming from somewhere inside the building, as if men were walking up the corridor from the fire exit towards the foyer, on the other side of the wall from me.
I scrambled around for my boots, grabbed the heavy lamp without turning it on and pushed open one of the double doors a crack.
Three lithe, muscular young men dressed in dark clothing filed purposefully across the moonlit foyer. Their supple movements put me in mind of cats.
They didn't break stride as they approached a blank wall. Just before he hit the old plaster, the front man snapped his fingers, and a door appeared in the wall.
My jaw dropped, but I managed to stay silent.
The finger snapper held the door open for the others, then walked through and left it to swing shut behind him.
I hurried across the foyer to catch the door before it closed, opened it carefully and slipped through, then stood on the pavement and stared out to where the office buildings should have been. But they weren't there. In their place, a raggedy square of Elizabethan houses surrounded a small public garden.