Spencer put down the phone from his mate at the running club. The news was what he expected. The New Balance running shoes had hardly any wear on them. Possibly only worn once or twice for running. They were made in 1981 and were original. The same for the vest and shorts. The shorts especially were an early eighties style and production of that style stopped in 1986.
Spencer made notes of exactly what was said, everything had to be just right for the Commander. The Dentist had compared both sets of x-rays and had confirmed that they were the same person, in fact according to him, the x-rays that he took and the ones that were given to him by Spencer were taken no more than six months apart.
It just didn’t make sense, anyway he looked at it. No sense whatsoever. How can someone disappear, come back over twenty years later and still be exactly the same as he was?
Spencer was due to meet the Commander in two hours to present his findings. Tom Lucas was going to be there as well. He was hoping that Tom had gained some information from Ray. Anything that would give them a clue as to what the hell was going on.
He had two hours to kill. He hadn’t eaten or slept since the whole bizarre case began. Sod it, he walked out of the station and went into the pub across the street. Time for a pie and a pint.
Ray had been quiet since they got back to the Travel Lodge, Tom was worried about him. He had an idea. He stepped outside and spoke to the plain clothed Policeman.
“Look, I know you’ve got a job to do, but Ray’s asleep and I’m here now for the next few hours. If you want to slip away for a while I won’t tell anyone.”
The guy looked relieved.
“Cheers mate. I only live up the road. I’m bored shitless just sitting here. I’ll shoot off and come back in a couple of hours?”
“No rush. We’re not going anywhere.”
Tom closed the door and waited five minutes. Then he looked at Ray.
“Tell you what lad, let’s go next door for a beer, what do you think?
Ray’s face brightened up.
“Yeh, why not, good idea.”
They left the room. There was no sign of the plain clothed PC. They went next door and walked into the Moby Dick pub.
Tom ordered 2 pints of Fosters. Ray was astonished that it cost over five pounds.
“Bloody hell Tom, five quid for two pints, that’s unbelievable!”
“Tell me about it, things have gone up a lot since you’ve been on your travels.”
The both laughed, Tom was glad to see Ray smile again.
“Look mate, sorry about what I said in the car, but it’s the truth, I know it’s hard to come to terms with but things have changed, they’re different now.”
“I know Tom but seeing the house just made me want to go and see it all again”
“Look, you’ve got to face facts, your wife is now fifty two, your daughter is almost the same age as you are now, imagine the shock to both of them, we’ve got to play this really carefully, you do understand?”
Ray shrugged his shoulders.
“I know, but it’s also a shock to me. I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know where I’ve been all this time.”
“Okay, let’s start at the beginning see if something comes back, you remember going running?”
Ray closed his eyes, desperate to remember.
“I kissed Laura, had a quick look in on Stacey who was fast asleep, then went down the stairs and into the front garden. I remember shutting the front door and then started running”
Tom put his hand on Rays shoulder.
“Okay mate that’s good, what else?”
Again Ray closed his eyes.
“I ran down my street and I remember it started to rain, I went up to the road that meets the country lanes and then everything goes blank. The next thing I remember is a man picking me up and taking me to his car, that was your Doctor in Buxton.”
Tom was pleased, he was making progress.
“Let’s go back a bit, you said it started raining, what can you remember about the rain, was it heavy or light or a bit misty. Was there anything about the rain you can remember?”
Ray thought hard.
“It was a light rain, very fine not the sort of rain that gets you soaked, but just enough to cool you down as you run. Hang on, there was a bad smell, yes, a strange smell.”
“That’s good Ray, tell me more about the smell. Anything that comes to mind.”
“It was the smell of dampness, like when you walk into a room that’s got damp, does that make any sense?”
“Not really, not to me anyway, but it’s something Ray, it’s something!”
Tom went and got another two pints, he felt like he was getting somewhere, he wasn’t sure where exactly but somewhere. He sat back down again with the beers.
Ray looked anxious.
“There’s something else Tom, something I should tell you, it’s about the dreams.”
“Okay Ray, tell me about the dreams.”
“I seem to be sleeping a lot. I don’t know why but every time I sit down for more than a few minutes I fall into a deep sleep. The dream is always the same, I’m running and something is chasing me, I fall, then there’s a shadow that appears over me and then that damp smell again and whatever it is has hot breath and darkness about it.”
Ray was visibly shaking.
“It’s okay mate, don’t worry, dreams can’t hurt you, it’s just a dream.”
“But there something else Tom, I don’t know why but I think whatever it is wants to tell me something, I can feel it. But I’m too scared to open my eyes and see it. Too scared that I won’t like what I see and hear. Some kind of truth.”
Tom knew this was important.
“Tell you what Ray, next time you have the dream try to control it, stay in the dream if you can, let it talk. Hear what it says. It’s only a dream lad.”
They continued chatting and then stood up to go back to their room.
Ray heard his name being called. He turned round and saw an old man at the bar.
“Dad, is that you, is that really you?”
Eddie Samuels looked at his son for the first time in over twenty years. He was exactly the same as he remembered him. His eyes filled up.
“My boy Ray, my lovely boy Ray, he’s come back.”
The two men walked towards each other and then embraced. Both were crying. They stayed like that for what seemed like an eternity.
Tom Lucas had other things on his mind. Fuck, the commander will go ballistic!