The whiskey kicked in and once again Ray fell into a deep sleep.
In his dream he was being chased. He was running fast, along a deserted road. But someone or something was behind him and it was slowly gaining ground. He didn’t know what it was, but it was dark. Almost a shadow. It didn’t seem to have any shape or form. He stumbled and fell. Whatever had been following him was now upon him. There was silence. He could feel a hot breath on his face and a stagnant stale smell in the air. Like pond water. His eyes were closed. He was just about to open them and see what was standing over him when he heard a voice calling his name.
“Ray, Ray, wake up we’ve got some news.”
It was Tom Lucas.
“Come on lad, liven up, we’ve got some news.”
Ray rubbed his eyes.
“News, what news?”
Tom gave him a wink.
“Romford have been in touch. They want me to confirm what I told them last night. It’s all good news Ray. This could be what we’ve been waiting for. We need to get back to the station.”
Ray had a shower, put on some of Tom’s clothes and tried to put the dream out of his mind. But he couldn’t. Did it mean something? He wasn’t sure. His mind was racing. There were a million questions going through his head that he couldn’t answer. Maybe he would know the answers soon.
They drove to the station in silence. Both with their own thoughts. Tom was hoping that Romford had some information that would make the situation all one massive misunderstanding. But, if this was real, then the poor sod sitting next to him had never seen a mobile phone, microwave oven or laptop. Mind you, on the plus side at least he’d missed all the Thatcher years. Tom smiled.
Ray was more concerned about his family. Bits of memory were gradually coming back. He knew he worked for IBM. He could now remember clearly Laura and Stacey. He had a vague recollection of his parents. But what was he doing in Buxton and why couldn’t he remember how he got there and where all the years had gone. But the dream was haunting him. What was it that chased him?
They reached the station and went in together both anxious for news.
“Hello Sarge, that was quick. Romford have asked you to call them urgently. Seems Mr Samuels is a bit of a celebrity down in Essex. You’ve got to call this DCI.”
Keith Price handed Tom a piece of paper. Tom dialled the number. Within two rings it was answered.
“DCI Spencer? My name is Sergeant Tom Lucas from Buxton.”
“Yes, I hear you have someone there claiming to be Ray Samuels.”
“We had a man brought in early this morning, he was suffering from hypothermia, and he said his name was Ray Samuels.”
“How old is he?”
Tom called out loudly to Ray.
“Ray, how old are you?”
“He says he’s twenty eight and lives at 284 Malvern Road, Romford.”
“He’s talking bollocks, Ray Samuels would be over fifty by now. I don’t know who you’ve got there but it aint our man.”
Tom held the phone close to his mouth and turned away from Ray.
“I’m going to take a photo of him and send it over to you. Compare it to the one you have on file, and then call me back. Something’s not right here. I think the man I’ve got here IS your Ray Samuels.”
“Okay do it. But do it quick. Let’s put this to bed asap.”
Tom put the phone down.
He went behind the desk and got a Polaroid Camera. He took Rays photo.
He scanned it and sent it over to Romford. Two minutes later the desk phone rang. It was DCI Spencer.
“Okay. It’s not April so this can’t be a joke. The bloke looks the spitting image of our missing man.”
“Sir, as I said before, I believe it IS your Ray Samuels. How? I don’t know, I have no idea, but I think it is.”
“But that’s impossible Sergeant, our man would be in his fifties by now.”
“I know, I know. Look let me bring him down to you. See for yourself. Let’s get him back where he belongs. I can be with you in four hours.”
“Okay, bring him down, but let’s be discreet. Call me on my mobile when you’re a couple of mile away and I’ll tell you where to go. If he really is Ray Samuels then we’ve got a bit of a mystery on our hands.”
Tom hung up.
“Get ready Ray, I’m taking you home.”
Ray didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Meanwhile, two hundred miles away, Commander Alan Swan was getting ready to have his lunch when his phone rang.
“Sir, Ray Samuels has come back.”
“Repeat what you just said.”
“Ray Samuels is back, the whole of the station’s talking about it. Seems he’s turned up in Buxton Derbyshire.”
“Where is he now?”
“He’s being driven back to us at Romford, should be here about four o’clock.”
“Who’s in charge?”
“Ok, I’ll call Spencer, I’m on my way. FUCK.”