Chapter One

Dylan didn’t believe in spirits, vampires or zombies, but if the undead were stalking the planet, they couldn’t feel any worse than he did right now. He’d only managed a couple of hours’ sleep and his eyes felt like gravel pits. The motorways had been stop-start because of roadworks, and later a collision, so he’d spent six hours in his car.

He was awake enough to know that a black Jeep had been tailing him for the last ten miles though.

He left the motorway and drove down into Rawtenstall, where a Tesco superstore loomed on his right. He turned in to the car park and checked his rearview mirror. Sure enough, the Jeep followed.

Dylan parked his Morgan as near to the store’s entrance as he could. It was bliss to get out and stretch his stiff muscles.

God knows what was happening with the weather. An ominously dark sky glowered at him. The air was heavy with moisture and it was as hot as hell.

He ambled slowly toward the store’s entrance and stood for a moment to gaze at the window, where he saw the reflection of a tall, well-muscled man wearing a white T-shirt and ill-fitting black jeans.

Dylan strolled into the store and stopped to look at the newspapers’ front pages. He walked on, past the café where the smell of roast beef made him salivate, and to the door marked Customer Toilets.

No one else was in the Gents, and he stood behind the door, muscles tensed. God, he could do without this.

Moments later, the door opened to give him a brief glimpse of black jeans and white T-shirt. It was enough. He lunged at the figure and slammed him against the white tiles. “Right, Sunshine, what’s your game?”

“Hey, steady on. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He spoke with a local accent.

“I’m sure you do. Out with it.”

Dylan released his grip slightly. Big mistake. The lump of muscle landed a punch that had blood spurting from Dylan’s mouth.

“I’ve got a message for you, mate. Stay away from Dawson’s Clough. Stay. Away. Got that?”

Dylan spat out some blood. “Says who?”

“Says me. Crawl back to where you came from, okay? If you’re seen round here again, you won’t be walking away.”

Dylan was about to argue when a fist flew into his face. A punch in the ribs had him dropping to his knees. A kick in the stomach followed.

He managed to twist away from the boot that was aiming for his teeth by falling back and hitting his skull on the hard tiled floor. His head screamed in pain before the silent blackness wrapped around him like a blanket. He welcomed it. Sank into it willingly.

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© Shirley Wells 2016