It was a warm summer evening as Jon Emerald meandered along the gravel track to his home. Something made him divert from his usual route and he took the path passing through his orchard. Usually, he arrived at the front but today, it seemed, he fancied a change.
Emerging from the trees he heard the leaves rustle in the breeze and felt an icy shiver pass through him. It wasn't cold, so why the chill?
How his life had changed in just a few months. Not so long ago, he existed for his weekly social security cheque. His back problem had disappeared two years ago, but with the connivance of a friendly doctor and the occasional support of his local welfare rights unit, he'd managed to convince the Social Security Officer he could not work. The payment he got wasn't a fortune, but he had no financial worries and his rent was paid. He knew people with jobs who had less to live on after they'd paid their rent and the costs getting to work, but why should he care? He especially liked to wind up the staff in the social security offices he called at. Some people gave as good as they got and he admired them for it, but this drove him to greater extremes in his behaviour. He'd heard they were less likely to stop his money if he was seen to display such aggression. Ironically, his payments had now been cut following his win on the National Lottery and this was how he came to own his new home.
He was looking at the impressive building, his eyes tracing the outline, when the movement through the patio doors stopped him dead. There was no-one else home. Who was it? He watched, with a growing sense of foreboding. A man stood with his back to the glass panel. There was something familiar about him but Jon couldn't work out what. Then he saw the second man, wearing a striking cream suit. His arm was raised, seemingly pointing. Suddenly a shot rang out. Just one. Jon watched, horrified, as the first man slumped to the floor. He froze in fear. He knew that if he moved the killer would surely see him, but with the trees behind him, he had a chance the man would not notice him. He was right, the killer turned away and Jon breathed a sigh in relief. He stayed where he was for what seemed an hour but was only a minute, waiting, until he thought it was safe. When he heard the unmistakable sound of a car pulling away on the gravel he knew the coast was clear and he was breathlessly at the patio door in seconds.
As he slid the unlocked door open, he made a mental note to lock it in future. Perhaps it wasn't so safe in this sleepy little village after all.
Looking down at the body he still couldn't work out what was familiar but then he saw the wallet which must have fallen from the victim's pocket. Picking it up, he noticed the bank card partly visible through the plastic
window and he saw the man's first name was Jon. As he slid the card out, he thought it a strange coincidence; not only did they share the same forename but it was even spelled the same way instead of the more common ‘John'. Then he saw the last name Emerald! He closed his eyes for about 10 seconds.
When he read the name again it had not changed. "Jon Emerald."
Recovering slightly, he placed a hand on the man's shoulder and rolled him over to reveal his face. Jon may as well have been looking at his reflection in a mirror except the image he saw had a trail of blood from the mouth. And those eyes. Staring, but lifeless at the same time.
The sound of the car on the gravel startled him and he bolted upright. The police. But who called them? He put the card back in the wallet and saw the photo of an ex girlfriend.
"This is my wallet" he thought frowning. The doorbell rang. Jon took a few steps forward. Then wondered why he hadn't tripped over the body. He whirled around. What body? There wasn't one. No body. No blood. There was the wallet. But it was his. The doorbell rang again. Opening the door, he saw a man in a black cloak, a hood hiding his face. Before he realised, the man had stepped inside and spoke.
In one quick movement, the man removed his cloak and revealed a striking cream suit.
"Allow me to introduce myself."
Jon didn't want to know and was backing towards the patio doors. The man raised his arm and pointed. Before everything went dark and quiet, he heard the man's name.
"My name is Reaper. Graham Reaper. I have come for you."