John Cranston kicked the door shut, his hands being full of paperwork, and lumbered towards his desk where he threw the documents down, creating a mushroom-cloud of dust particles that swiftly diffused into the air. With haste he pulled across a wheeled chair, a wheel caught on a protruding nail which overturned the seat, and in his surprise John spluttered and dropped his cigarette on to the floor.
“Damn place” he mumbled to to himself as he arched over to pick up his smoke. Jerking the chair back in to an upright position he sank into it whilst simultaneously pulling the cord of the desk lamp. Smoke shot from his mouth as he exhaled and began to eagerly thumb through the catalogue until he found his man; Harry Marston born 8th January 1952, died 21st May 2008.
“Well I'll be-” That was it. That was all Cranston needed - the man was an imposter – somebody else was masquerading around in poor constable Marstons flesh and bones. John slid the paper from the pile for closer examination under the desk light. He then pulled his phone from his trouser pocket and dialled Sarahs number. No answer. He dialled again and gazed out of the window, nervously sucking on his Marlboro Red.
Unknown to Cranston, Harry Marston, or more precisely a being wearing Marston, was walking briskly – bloodied knife in one hand- and his long brown coat trailing in the wind behind him, towards the old station with the intent of blunting the knife he wielded. The fear of impending death in ones eyes – already witnessed hours earlier – provoked a cold smile of excitement. Knowing he would have to leave the earth if his true identity was known, Harrys pace quickened and his knuckles tightened.
A small pile of cigarette butts were now forming on Johns desk and the air was heavy with tobacco smoke. He went to tap redial on his phone, for the seventh time, when he noticed a lamp at the end of the street began to flicker violently. A wave of unease swept through his body and, taking a drag from his cigarette, he went to tap redial but he shuddered when he saw the bars representing his phone signal disappear in succession until a red cross replaced them.
“Looks like reading time is over” he muttered with a wry smile as he quickly folded Marstons paper and stuffed it into his pocket. He went to reach for the cord of the desk lamp but, before he could do so, the bulb burst and sent shards of glass in his direction. Johns arm arrived across his face in time to stop the attack as the glass fragments shredded a portion of his jacket; the motion of his flailing arm set him off balance and he toppled backwards on to the damp floor, and his cigarette – still lit – went twirling through the air. His phone slid from his pocket in the process and bounced towards the door and, as he reached out to reclaim it, the sole of a solid, leather boot crunched down upon his hand. He flung his head up and made out a wretched and battered face through the smoke.
“Marston? - ” The boot twisted against his hand.
“What is it that you want!?” cried Cranston as he writhed around on the floor like a fish hooked on a line.
“The documents John. Be a sporting fellow and hand them over” The Imposter spoke in a tone of great authority.
“But...How did you know I was here?”
“Your friend gave me some interesting information John”
“My friend?-” John caught a glimpse of the weapon through the haze and rage filled his veins.
“Sarah! What did you do to her!?”
The imposters patience was waning and he kicked John's jaw, sending him backwards across the floor, coming to rest in front of the still-lit cigarette. Marston, relishing in the suffering he was causing – both mentally and physically – advanced towards John and grinned malevolently as he readied his knife.
“Now now John, lets talk like gentlemen” said Marston through gritted teeth as he knelt down in front of John. “Give me the paper and I'll make sure you depart this world swiftly” Cranston didn't respond; he simply lay, in foetal position, shaking. Seeing no response, Marston clutched John's hair and wrenched his head back, readying him for the fatal cut. “I will ask you one last time John. Give me the-”
“Ok, OK! It's in my pocket. Let me just-” John bent around, as if fumbling for the paper in his pocket, and picked up his lost cigarette, clutching it in his one good hand.
“I'm glad we have come to an understanding John” said Marston as he leant in to take his prize. Just as he did so, John twisted around and jousted the imposter deep into his right eye with the cigarette; Marston howled in agony, clutching his burnt eye with one hand while viciously thrashing his knife around with the other. John picked himself off his haunches and made for the door, shoving Marston into the desk as he did so; his scuttling hands – trying to get a grip on the desk – threw the pile of papers in a multitude of directions.
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