I disappeared north. I’d never really been outside of Lewes apart from the odd day out and trip away with my mother. It felt strange, like I had lost something, a part of myself that I would never get back. The carnage back at the train station would merit a proper investigation from the police. I had never been in trouble with the law so they didn’t have my fingerprints. All they would have is a name and a face. Both are easily changed.
The Jacobs wouldn’t give up looking either, but here I was less concerned. They were a big fish in a small pond, if I didn’t attract the wrong sort of attention they would never see them again.
As for me, I had no real plan. I did know one thing, from now I would keep out of sight. Out of sight, but not out of mind.
After travelling through London I left the train and walked.
I kept walking north for several weeks. I thought of nothing, just putting one foot ahead of the other. I focused only on the moving forward. I found it invigorating, but it didn’t provide the solution of what I would do next.
I finally stopped when I entered a grey city. This was just the place I could lose myself in. For days I just walked the streets, learning the terrain. It was a place of contrasts, at the centre was a small, thriving financial district surrounded by a bustling commercial district. Elsewhere abandoned rusting factories lay empty. In the expanding ruins small pockets of fortified shops, strewn with graffiti stood surrounded by bleak tower blocks.
It wasn’t just the place that contrasted, the people were the same. Some, full of hope and eager for the future. Others wallowed in their misery, wishing for the past.
I slept rough, finding a different quiet spot each night where I could sleep. A couple of weeks passed and I felt myself growing more isolated. That was no bad thing, I had already made the mistake once of mixing with other people. The money Steve gave me started to run low. A patchy beard now covered my face. I rarely washed and smelled bad, the revulsion of people that passed me by amused me.
I also grew bored, so developed a routine to help pass the time, I found a spot near the train station where the trains unloaded the commuters each morning. I watched them as they walked by. I didn’t beg, if I was hungry I would pick a passer-by and they would hand me their money and then walk away confused.
Every day I watched this surge of humanity sweep past me, in the morning one way, then in afternoon the other. I immersed myself in their minds, diving in their thoughts. It felt powerful to have such understanding of these strangers that surrounded me. These tides in the morning and again in the afternoon became the high points of my day, the beat by which I measured the passing of time.
And I began to judge them.
Twice a day I lost myself in this swarm of petty misery. I’d pick thoughts at random and follow the thread. These people didn’t know that I felt what they felt, that I could see the secrets that pained them. To begin with I judged them by their own standards, or at least by the standards of the world around them.
All too soon I didn’t just judge them, I condemned them.
There was the banker who beat his wife with his fists, but never had the courage to stand up to his boss. He couldn’t explain why he went into a run down area, wearing his suit and threatened the youths hanging around a local shop. And thanked them as they beat him to a pulp.
I judged and punished one every morning and one every evening.
I remember the woman who cheated on her husband and then blamed him for the break up of their marriage. She stripped herself naked in the street and offered herself to every man in the street.
Day in, day out I picked two more. And I grew to enjoy it, to look forward to picking the next one and thinking of the right punishment for them.
Another was the father who liked to touch his daughter, went to work then when he had finished walked to the nearest school, stripped down and shouted for them to send out the whores. He could barely touch himself, let alone others by the time he reached the police cell.
Before too long it stopped being judgement, it didn’t matter what they had done, it became a sport. A sport with only one rule, two people a day must play. All I needed was some spark from which I could draw some more suffering from.
One afternoon a man who has been attracted to his co-worker for years, but never made a move raped her as soon as he saw her at work the next morning.
For months I did this. I didn’t speak to anyone, just filtered through their minds. Like some beast of the deep, I sifted for thoughts or emotions that inspired me. And for their part, they just walked on by. Those who were close enough would turn their nose at the smell of me. I was just another dirty homeless person, to be avoided, but they couldn’t avoid me.
At night I would find somewhere out of the way to sleep. Somewhere quiet where I could rest undisturbed. My sleep was dreamless, sweet oblivion that I cam e to yearn for. After some months had passed I started hate the moment I would awake. When I was asleep I would feel nothing, see nothing. When I was awake the constant buzz of humanity infected my every moment.
Twice a day I would strike back and two people pay the price.
One night I didn’t find a safe enough shelter for the night and was woken by drunken youths looking for easy sport. It was the first time I had spoken to anybody in months. The first time I had physically interacted with anyone in the same time. It was good to let it out.
Their corpses were found the next day and for a few weeks there was a hue and cry, but as always no-one saw the tramp at the edge of their vision. They just walked on by.