The hypnotist leaned over the table and turned on the recorder.
“Bennett Mason,” he said into the microphone. “Monday, September the 24th, seven twelve P M. Eliot Hunter, past life regression session number fourteen.”
Mason’s mouth twitched into a smile as he sat back down.
“What do you see, Eliot?” he asked.
“Trust me,” Mason reassured him. “Where are you?”
“I’m in a market,” Hunter whispered. “I’m selling meat.”
“Good, good.” Mason nodded. “Can you tell me where you are?”
“I’m in town.”
“This town,” Hunter said. “On Market Street.”
“What’s your name?”
“William Perry,” Hunter replied.
“When were you born, William Perry?”
“Under the last king’s reign,” Hunter replied. “I’m forty five now.”
“All right,” Mason said. “Let’s go forward a little bit now.”
“Take me to the day you died,” Mason’s mouth started to creep into a smile. “Do you remember the day you died?”
“Yes,” Hunter hissed.
“Don’t get too emotional,” the hypnotist said. “Just trust me. Tell me the facts. What happened?”
“It was him again, wasn’t it?” Mason’s smile broadened into a grin.
“I don’t know… he… it was too fast.”
“Don’t worry. You can trust me. What happened, William Perry, tell me what happened?”
“There was a knife. And he said ‘give me your money’. Then he stabbed me and… things went dark.”
“Was it him again?”
“I don’t know.”
“Was it him, William Perry?” Mason asked, leaning forward. “Your present self wants to know if it was him again.”
“I… I don’t know…” Hunter stuttered. “I didn’t see.”
Mason leaned over and turned off the recorder.
“Listen carefully,” he said. “It was him.”
“It was,” he repeated. “And this afternoon, you’re going to right that wrong. You’re going to right all the wrongs he’s ever done you, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” Hunter said in a monotone. “I am.”
“It’s done,” Mason said into the phone.
“Good,” Janet chuckled. “Do you think it’s going to be today?”
“I think so,” he said. “I planted it again, stronger this time. And he looked angry when he listened back to the recording.”
“Good,” she said. “What’s he doing now?”
“It’s hard to see,” Mason said, craning his head to see. “There’s a white van in the way.”
“A white van?”
“Probably the plumbers down the road,” he said. “They borrow my spaces sometimes, of a night.”
The van blocked most of Mason’s view, but Hunter appeared to be making a phone call, and getting agitated.
“He’s flailing his arms about,” Mason said. “The one I can see, anyway.”
“Who do you think he’s talking to?”
“Search me,” he shrugged, even though she couldn’t see.
“Are you going to follow him again?”
“Four times and he hasn’t suspected a thing yet,” Mason smiled. “He’s an idiot.”
“That’s why you picked him, of course.”
“Trust me,” Mason, out of habit, flashed a smile. “I know what I’m doing.”
Hunter finished his call, and started the car.
“He’s leaving,” Mason said. “I better go.”
He let another car go by at the exit of the car park and then followed behind. When Hunter got home, he parked up outside the kebab shop and watched. Hunter got out of his car, paused, waited a moment, and then turned and got back into the car. Mason’s heart bounded in his chest. This was it. This was really it. It was happening now.
He picked up his phone and redialled, watching Hunter’s car for any sign of movement,
“Janet?” he breathed.
“He’s back in the car, but he hasn’t moved yet,” he panted. “I think this is it.”
“All right,” she said. “Keep me posted.”
He ended the call, and waited. A few moments later, Hunter eased out into traffic behind a white van. They drove a few streets away until Hunter parked at a house.
Mason watched as Hunter rang the bell and argued with the man for a few moments before going inside. He smiled to himself, and waited for a few moments before driving off.
Mason arrived home in a happy mood. Janet was waiting outside the gate. He got out of the car and grinned.
“We did it,” he said, softly.
“We did,” she grinned.
“You’d better not be here, really,” he said. “After all, the police will be wanting to speak to you soon.”
“Well, I’ve got a body to find first,” she laughed. “I wonder if it’ll be bloody? Maybe he shot him and all his brains are going to be plastered all over the kitchen?”
“Take a picture if it is,” Mason grinned. “Trust me, I’d like to see that.”
“So would I,” Janet said, and leaned forward. She kissed him, and it turned into an embrace.
“You’re a bad bad man, Bennett Mason,” she whispered in his ear.
“And you’re a wicked, wicked woman, Janet Atkins,” he whispered back. “And I love you.”
They parted and Janet walked back out to the road. She blew a kiss. Mason got back into the car, retrieved the remote for the gate, and pressed the button, waiting for the gates to open.
Janet unlocked the door to the house carefully, listening for any sound.
“Hello?” she called, loudly. Hopefully loudly enough for the neighbours to hear. “Are you home?”
There was no reply.
Smiling, she closed the front door behind her.
“Pete?” she called, not expecting a reply. “Are you here?”
She opened the door to the living room, but there was nobody there. She softly closed the door again and walked to the back of the house and into the kitchen.
“Evening,” Pete said as Janet walked in the kitchen.
“Pete?” Janet gasped. He was seated at the kitchen table with a man and a woman that she didn’t recognise.
“Won’t you come and join us?” he asked, gesturing to the empty seat.
“I…” she stammered, trying to think of something to say. “I thought you were going out tonight.”
“No,” he shook his head. “Not tonight.”
“Oh.” His voice sounded different, somehow flat. It wasn’t a nice sound.
“You know, I had the weirdest thing happen earlier,” he said.
“What was that?” she asked, heart sinking.
“Some man came over, just completely at random.”
“Really? What man?”
“A man called Eliot Hunter,” he said. “He had some recordings for me to listen to. Interesting things about past life regression, apparently. I haven’t had chance to listen to much yet.”
“I didn’t think you believed in that stuff?” Janet said, trying to keep her voice neutral.
“Oh no, I don’t,” he said. “Funny thing is, neither does he. At least, not any more.”
“But you can ask him yourself, of course,” Peter said. “Later.”
“Down at the police station,” he said.
“Police station?” she asked. “What’s going on?”
“What’s going on?” Pete raised his eyebrows. “Do you mean the plot to kill me. The way Mason tried to use hypnotic suggestion to get Eliot to kill me. That sort of thing.”
“What’s going on?” Janet asked, trying hard to sound bewildered. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“We do,” said the woman.
“Sorry, who are you?” Janet asked.
“Let me introduce me you to some more of my new friends,” Peter said. “On my left is Detective Constable Ian Bradshaw. And she’s Detective Inspector Susan Lennox.”
“Janet Atkins,” Lennox said. “I’m arresting you for conspiracy to murder. You do not have to say anything -”
But she didn’t. Janet had fainted.
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