A small fishing boat drifted in the bay, seemingly untethered and aimless. As the coastguard boarded a strong smell of decomposition wafted into the air. It wasn’t the smell of rotting fish, they knew that much, but they weren’t sure exactly what it was until they investigated below deck. With only torchlight they scanned the cabin, coming face to face with a body riddled with hundreds of small holes. The captain was definitely dead and had been for at least a couple of days. The rest of the small crew were missing. The coastguard boat towed the small vessel into dock, a deep chill running through the collected men. With the look of the body the vessel would have to be quarantined and handed over to the police. It was nowhere near the outcome they’d been hoping for when they first got reports of the abandoned boat.
Most of the team sat around the meeting table at lunch time making small talk as usual but someone was very much conspicuous by their absence.
“Where’s Ianto?” Gwen asked.
Jack shrugged. “Not sure. I sent him a message half an hour ago but he hasn’t replied. He probably just forgot.”
“That’s odd, usually he’s here before we are.”
Elise stood. “I’ll go get him. He’s probably just reorganising something and got distracted. I know one of the archive rooms has an electrical issue so he might be working on that.”
“Remind him he still needs to eat.”
“Will do.” She smiled as she wandered out. The hub felt colder than usual, goosebumps rising on her skin. Her footsteps seemed to echo down the corridors as she searched. She was sure she should have been able to hear him but it was silent. She pulled out her phone and set it to call her coworker. Not too far of she could hear the ringtone but he didn’t answer.
“Ianto. You taking a nap over there or something?” She called as she approached. Looking through the doorway she saw a figure collapsed on the floor. “Ianto?!” She rushed over to him and looked around for signs of what had caused him to collapse but it wasn’t clear at first. His pulse was there but faint and his skin looked deathly pale. She immediately hit the panic button on her phone that set of a tracking signal for the others to follow and sent an SOS message. As she was trying to make sure he wasn’t outwardly injured he seemed to regain consciousness.
“Wha-… Why am I on the floor?” He asked weakly.
“Thank god. Keep still, ok? You frightened me.”
“Yea. I walked in and you were out cold.”
“My neck hurts.” He groaned, still not quite back with it.
“Well don’t move.” She gently pushed his hand back down before noticing spots of blood on his collar. Pulling back the fabric a ring of holes, like a bite mark, were still seeping blood in his neck. “Shit! Just stay still. I’m going to grab the first aid kit, ok?”
“Yea… Ok.” He seemed to be drifting again.
“Ianto stay with me here. How did your weekend go? You went to see your sister didn’t you?” She asked, trying to give him something to concentrate on to keep him conscious as she grabbed the first aid kit on the wall and took a large dressing from it.
“She’s fine… Her husband’s still an arsehole.”
“Some things never change, eh? This might hurt a bit.” She pressed the dressing over the wound and kept it in place with her hand.
Ianto whimpered lightly.
“Sorry sweetheart. Do you remember what happened?”
“No… I was just checking a sound… Thought you were down here… Then… I don’t remember.”
“That’s ok. We can look at the cameras later. Don’t worry.”
“Ok just keep talking to me. I’ve already called for help. They’ll be here any second. Ok?”
“Ok… I missed lunch… didn’t I?”
“Naa. We were waiting for you. Can’t start without you, yea?” She looked up as she heard heavy footsteps quickly approaching. “In here!”
Owen was the first through, instantly assessing the situation. No signs of a fall. Even the dust on the floor hadn’t been pushed far meaning Ianto had been placed there, no spinal trauma. Good. Pulse high but feint. Very bad. He looked back at Jack in the doorway.
“I need you to go back and prep at least two bags of blood. Me and Elise can bring him up but we need to get him stabilised quickly.”
Jack didn’t doubt Owens skill so he did as he was told.
“Elise, we’re going to be doing all the work here, can you keep your right hand on his neck and you need to help lift with your left side. Ready?”
They sat Ianto up and pulled his arms around their shoulders to support him.
“Not too quick, don’t want to have to pop that shoulder in as well. And one.. Two… Three.”
Ianto was pulled up to his feet, not having to actually do any of the walking but it made movement easier. Ianto was not a small man and he was mostly muscle under the suit so he wasn’t exactly easy to move when he wasn’t fully conscious.
“What happened?” Asked Owen, trying to keep Ianto awake as Elise had.
“Don’t remember.” Ianto slurred.
“Come on, stay with me… Ianto… Yan’.” Owen sped up. “What the fuck happened down there?”
“I don’t know but he has a huge bite mark on his neck.” Said Elise, keeping up as best as she could.
“No… Owen Let me space jump him. It’ll be faster.”
“You’ve never done that with a passenger.”
“It’ll be faster.”
Owen gritted his teeth. “Fine.”
“Meet you there.”
He slowly let go of Ianto, letting Elise support him. Elise concentrated on the autopsy bay and felt the familiar lift in her stomach before she was suddenly blinded by the autopsy bay lights, Ianto still leaning on her. Jack turned in shock but chose to ask questions later, instead helping to lift Ianto up. The captain was not the most gentle but he was a decent emergency field medic, getting blood back flowing through Ianto’s veins. Elise keeping pressure on the wound.
Owen didn’t understand how Ianto had lost that amount of blood without any sign of it anywhere around the archives but at least he knew that his workmate was stabilised and recovering. It had been a close call. The wound on his neck was definitely a bite and definitely not a weevil bite. In a way that was a good thing as weevil bites almost always got infected. Whatever had bitten Ianto had very clean, very sharp, teeth. It also had a mild anticoagulant in its saliva. He’d considered some kind of giant leech but the bite had been made with a mammalian jaw. For the moment the archives had been set into full lockdown to try and contain whatever was lurking down there. Hopefully they could keep it from hurting anyone else.
Everyone was on edge but sadly they couldn’t rest. They’d just received a report of a fishing boat that showed no signs of damage or a struggle, but did contain a corpse that looked like swiss cheese. Gwen and Elise had volunteered to check it out so Jack could stay with Ianto.
Elise was starting to regret her decision as she looked at the boat drifting up and down in the water. She’d avoided boats and any kind of water travel all of her life but it seemed she no longer had a choice. Thankfully the police had already bagged the body and it would be sent to Owen asap. In the meantime Gwen and Elise had to look for any clue as to what had happened. Gwen was the first to hop down onto the small vessel, offering her hand to her colleague.
“Come on. I won’t let you fall in, alright?”
Elise took a deep breath and took Gwens hand, jumping down onto the deck and gripping onto her.
“See? I told you. You’ll feel better below deck.”
“Yea, in a floating box under the water. I kind of hope we find something so I can concentrate on that.”
“We should do. The police only swept it quickly before handing it off to us. The other crew members are still missing and from what I’ve heard about the captain it doesn’t look great for them. Hopefully they escaped but… Sometimes the bay’s worse than the creatures in it.”
“I’ll agree with that.”
Gwen lead the way down into the cabin of the boat that looked as if it was hastily abandoned. The smell of decomposition wafted faintly in the air along with something else. It was hard to tell with it being a fishing boat. They were never the most pleasantly fragrant places.
Elise had thought she’d never get used to the smell of death but compared to some of the things she’d smelled the faintly sickly sweet scent wasn’t too bad. She hit the light switch but it didn’t work so she had to switch to a torch and a couple of LED lamps she had in her bag. They were small but extremely bright.
Gwen unlocked a mobile phone that sat on one of the tiny bunks. The screen wallpaper was of a man, presumably the owner of the phone, holding an extremely large fish. The photos folder contained the usual shots of family and friends but what interested Gwen was the last six images. They were blurry but they did show a view of the open sea with something glowing just beneath the waters surface. The last photo was an image of relatively still water but something seemed to be under there.
She could swear it looked like a face. She sent the image off to Tosh to try and clear up. She turned to tell Elise and found her at the radio, listening carefully.
“What’s up?” Asked Gwen, putting the phone away.
“Can you hear that? Just under the static.”
Gwen tried to listen through the static noise. “Can you clear it up a bit?”
Elise gently tilted the dial each way but it wasn’t getting any better. “I think this is good as it’s going to get. What does it sound like to you?”
“I don’t know… Singing? Might just be a radio station.”
“I don’t think so. I checked the radio signals with my phone and it didn’t pick up anything on this frequency. I’ll record it and see what I can get out of it.”
“I didn’t know you knew music and such.”
“Yea. I used to be a drummer in a local band. As soon as my kit was set up I was basically a roady. Used to be able to tune a guitar by ear, that’s how I opened that puzzle box.”
“Were you living locally before … You know.”
“Yea. I was born in Cardiff. Family moved to Birmingham when I was eleven and I moved back when I was eighteen. Been here ever since.”
“Just seemed an odd choice for someone who’s terrified of the water.”
“I’m fine as long as I don’t get too close. Anyway, I only chose here because of the band. We even lived together for a bit but our lead singer and our guitarist fell out and we all went our separate ways. No idea what happened to them.”
“Do you miss it? Your time I mean.”
“Not really. I think my blood sugar does but I’m happier here. Anyway, we’ve got a lot to collect from here.”
“Yea, they can’t have been out too long as I didn’t see any fish.”
“Could you check the nets? I don’t think I could concentrate up there.”
“No problem. Just call up if you need me.”
Ianto opened his eyes and looked around, his senses returning to him. Jack was sitting by the side of his bed.
“Morning sleepyhead.” Jack smiled.
“What happened? My neck’s killing me.”
“That’s what I was going to ask you.” He added a dose of painkillers into the drip to hopefully ease the pain a little. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
“I thought I saw the shadow of someone. Thought it was Elise coming to study so I went to help and then… Nothing.”
“Are you sure that was all?”
“Yes… Well… Red. Everything went red. What happened to me?” He seemed legitimately frightened.
Jack took his free hand and squeezed it gently. “You’re ok. You lost a hell of a lot of blood and you have a nasty bite on your neck, but the bloodwork came back clean so you just need to rest.”
“Didn’t the cameras show what happened?”
“According to Tosh they all went dark around that area at three this morning. The actual cameras are fine but it’s as if someone painted over the lenses. It didn’t get flagged because the system assumed the lights were off.”
“Now? You recover. The archives are in lockdown so we don’t have to worry too much for now.”
“I hope you’re right. This place is like a bee hive so there are a million ways whatever it was could get around.”
“Let me deal with that. What do you think we should call it?”
“Other than an utter bastard?… Well it’s a vampire isn’t it. All it took was blood.”
“Sure, why not.”
Elise was glad to be off the boat and back on dry land as she loaded the collected evidence into the SUV. Gwen walked up to join her with a small sample jar in hand. She’d found some kind of unusual residue on the nets and wanted to make sure she grabbed some. Other than that there hadn’t been much else out of place.
As the women got back into the SUV they heard Toshiko’s voice pipe up over comms. “How does it look?”
“Like it’s a box floating on water.” Said Elise, drily.
“We’re done here. How’s Ianto?” Asked Gwen as she clipped in her seat belt.
Tosh sounded quite chipper. “He’s awake and talking. He seems fine other than being a bit sore.”
“That’s great news. He looked in bad shape even just before we left.”
“It’s amazing what multiple blood bags can do.”
“Yea. We’ll be back soon.”
“Ah… Well, actually we just got a report that one of the fishermen has been found.”
“I’ll send the address to your satnav. The police already have the scene cordoned off and I don’t recognise the name of the lead officer.”
“Newbie or a transfer?”
“A transfer by the looks of it. Good luck.”
Elise bucked up and started the vehicle. “Why’s a transfer a bad thing?”
“Usually a new officer will still listen to the local force but a transfer isn’t going to understand who we are or why they can’t just tell us to get lost. Usually Jack just throws his weight around a bit but it’s just us so fingers crossed this transfer isn’t too much of an arse.”
Sergeant David Farrell rolled his eyes as he saw the SUV pull up. He marched over as the doors opened. “Excuse me, you’re going to have to move on.”
Gwen pulled out her ID and held it up for him. “Torchwood. We’ll be taking over from here.”
The man raised an eyebrow at her. “I don’t know what you’re trying to pull here but you have to leave, now.”
“Are you certain you don’t want to just talk to your superiors? I understand you’re new so I’m going to give you one chance but you need to understand this scene is no longer under police jurisdiction. If it helps my name is Gwen Cooper and I am the police liaison officer currently employed by the Torchwood institute. This is Elise Carter one of our current investigation team.” Gwen said with the confidence of someone who knew that there was nothing the police could do to stop her and was just being polite.
Sergeant Farrell looked down his nose as Gwen. “A very good performance but I’ve seen better.”
A PC who had been guarding the door made his way over. “Sir?”
“Sir, we believe Torchwood is code for special operations around here.” He said softly, trying to help the new guy out.
“Are you serious? Just look at them, a shirt that low cut does not say special ops.”
Elise’s ears pricked up, knowing that both herself and Gwen were dressed very conservatively. “Was that the sound of sexism I hear sir? I believe that is frowned upon in the force if I’m not mistaken. Also, hindering Torchwood business is a very fast way to get yourself sent right back to Sheffield, I’m guessing by your accent. Not just that but the longer you keep us the more likely it is that we are prevented from stopping another death. Now please, if you need confirmation then call your superiors, otherwise I suggest you allow us to do our job.”
Farrell looked between Elise, Gwen and the officer before taking a few steps away to call his superiors.
“I’m sorry about that. If it was up to me I’d just let you in. I was at one of your cases before and I don’t envy you. It looked nasty.” The officer said sympathetically, knowing how this was going to end.
Elise smiled. “Not your fault he’s got a stick up his behind.”
Farrell turned, looking like he’d seen a ghost and cleared his throat. “Well, carry on. We’ll get out of your way.”
“No harm done.” Smiled Elise.
“It looked like you wanted to cause him some harm.”
“I forgot that sexism is still a thing right now. In my time sexism was a thing you only saw in old people, you know? The type of thing your grandpa says and you just roll your eyes because he’s a bit senile.”
“It mostly is but there’s always dick heads like him.”
“It’s like Ianto’s brother in law. He’s a homophobic cunt too. Doesn’t see a thing wrong with it and says it’s just banter. Saying stuff like that in my time would be like saying the N word.”
“So that’s why you wanted to smack that bloke back there.”
“Nice to know things get better.”
“Can’t know for sure, butterfly effect and all that. I don’t think things are going to get better for this guy.” Elise looked down at the body. The man had crawled into the warehouse and expired, face down on the concrete. His clothes were damp so he can’t have been out of the water for that long and the telltale holes were present all over him. Whatever had killed the captain had also killed this crew member. Gwen crouched down to look at his hands, finding the fingernails worn away.
“He was desperate to get away from something.”
“Shame we didn’t get here earlier, any footprints are dried up. Once we have him bagged up do you think we have time to try and see where he crawled from?”
After storing the body safely away the two turned back, trying to see any signs of which direction the man came from. One of the railings showed signs of long dried blood, easily missed if the sun hadn’t highlighted it on the silver surface. Gwen followed the small spots of blood back and down a little towards the water. A residue seemed to cling to any vegetation, similar to what she’d found on the fishing nets.
Ianto was happy to be able to sit up and feel a bit more normal, even if his neck was still sore. The bruise had already started to creep down his shoulder and up his neck, looking as if he’d been hit with a car. It also meant that Owen could have the autopsy bay back. A necessity with the newest case. He was writing up a report on the incident, eating biscuits and drinking sweet tea. Swallowing hurt a little but biscuits made it worth it.
His mind was clearing and he was trying to retrieve his memories of what happened. All he could remember was seeing the colour red and it seemed to erase everything else. Even picturing that moment made his thoughts hazy. He looked around, carefully, as he could swear he heard a voice.
“It was jellyfish tendril.” Owen stated, having analysed the residue found at both scenes.
“Well, they were fishermen.” Jack pointed out.
“Ah, that’s the thing. Any jellyfish big enough to leave that much behind can’t live in cold water. Plus both bodies were filled with jellyfish venom along with eggs.”
“Honestly, I have no idea. They look similar to fish eggs but they’re huge. Each one of the holes in the body contained one egg. I’ve collected fifty two of them.”
“That’s a lot of babies if they all hatched. How many sailors are we still missing?”
Gwen looked up from what she was reading. “Two. The coastguard are sweeping the area for them but it isn’t looking good.”
“If they’ve met the same fate then we could have a real problem. Have you found anything from the scenes?”
“Not much that was useful but we did get a possible image of the thing.”
“It looks like a mermaid.” Elise mused. “It might explain the recording I got from the radio signal. It was a song but it wasn’t in any language our system recognised. What’s more it seems to have a memetic element. The system flagged it and I managed to get a filtered version to study. If it does what I think it does then it is likely why the captain didn’t put up a fight.”
Jack looked at the image. “So we have a siren in the bay. Any way of tracking it?”
“I found the navigational record for the fishing boat. I can send you the coordinates of the spot they were meant to be dropping their nets.” Tosh said, tapping at her tablet screen. “If our system can filter out the active part of the song in a recorded track I’m hoping I can find a way of filtering it live.”
“Get on it. We need that as soon as possible.”
As the sun set it became clear that it would be impossible to hunt for the creature in the dark so Gwen, Owen and Jack were going to head out at first light. Elise was thankfully excused from the trip as she would have been less than useless on the water. Instead she was sent to check on Ianto. Jack had made sure he’d gotten home safe and told him to take the next day off and rest but with the attacker still a relative unknown it was wise to keep tabs on each other.
Owen yawned as he looked out across the water. “I thought I was done with early mornings after med school.”
“Could be worse.” Gwen smirked. “You could be doing this with a hangover.”
“Yea. Haven’t really had a drink since Tosh and Elise have been staying over.”
“Oh? They worried about your health?”
“Naa. Elise doesn’t drink much and it seemed a bit cruel to make her deal with the both of us.”
“Ok, who are you and what have you done with Owen?” Teased Jack who was looking bright eyed and caffeinated, even though with Ianto out he couldn’t have had his usual morning pickmeup.
“Blame them, not me. Anyway, I’ve got much better things to do than drink. I call them Elise and Tosh.”
“Never mind. You’re definitely you.”
Gwen rolled her eyes. “You walked right into that one.”
“I blame the sub par coffee. Here we are. Just up ahead is the fishing point.”
With the engine off the boat slowed and the sound of crashing waves was the predominant noise. Gwen switched on the radio they’d recovered from the fishing boat, still tuned to the sirens station. At first there was only static but then it began. It was a sweet song but with the earplugs filtering the sound it was just that. A song. As the boat drifted the song got clearer. As the signal strengthened a small cove came into view with a cave hidden to the left side. It was big enough to just fit a small boat inside. Instead of taking the boat in they tethered it as best they could and decided to investigate on foot. They only had so long as the tide was out and they didn’t want to be in the cave when it came back in.
Elise and Tosh stood outside of Ianto’s door, knocking. He didn’t seem to be answering so Tosh used the spare key to let them in.
“Ianto? You ok?” She called out, hoping he was just sleeping deeply.
Elise felt a chill to the air that seemed awfully familiar. She placed a hand on Tosh’s shoulder and moved ahead of her.
“Ianto!” Elise readied her weapon.
She turned the bedroom door handle and pushed the door with her shoulder. Something moved across the room as Ianto lay, eyes open and glassy. With Elise covering her Tosh moved to check Ianto’s pulse. Still there, thank goodness, but he was still unresponsive.
Elise watched the seemingly living shadow move across the wall. As it tried to move back she fired once but it did nothing, the shadow being at least partially incorporeal. She knew it had to have a corporeal form but it knew she wanted to kill it so they were at a stalemate. At least they were until Tosh screamed. Ianto had an arm around her neck, his eyes glassy and vacant, choking her. She tried to push his arm away but he was a lot stronger than her.
“Ianto… Wake up…” She rasped, hoping she could get through to him.
Elise turned for a moment, the vampire leaping from its space on the wall and solidifying. It bore a mouthful of fangs and aimed towards Elise who blind fired into its chest. It fell then skittered back into its shadow form, slipping out of the door.
Ianto immediately released Tosh, disorientated. “What.. What did..”
Tosh took a few deep breaths and coughed. “Vampire.”
“Oh god I’m sorry.”
Elise sprinted after the shadow which left a trail of dust like blood. She couldn’t afford to let it get free. She stopped and took the small blade hidden inside her jacket and ran it across her little fingertip. “You hungry?”
It stopped and turned back at the scent of blood, mouth open, red eyes glowing. Red. It had been the eyes. It lunged forward like lightning, wrapping itself around her and trying to make her look it directly in the eye. She closed her eyes tight but she could feel it scraping at her face and trying to pull back her eyelids. Red. Her vision filled with red.
The siren song echoed through the cave as Jack moved ahead of the others, seeing a dim light in the distance. They tried to keep as close to the cave wall as possible as not to disturb the water and give away their position. The mermaid stood, the gills on its ribs moving in time with the sound. It’s face looked smooth and solid like a mask. At its webbed feet lay two bloated bodies that it caressed with the tendrils that looked like hair, every so often. The bodies writhed and pulsed. Jack took careful aim between the mermaids eyes and fired. Its head cracked like a shell, shattered pieces falling onto the damp sand. Gwen and Owen moved round with their plan B. Just in case the eggs had hatched they had brought enough explosives to crush every last one of them with the shockwave alone. Even underwater they wouldn’t stand a chance. The mermaid lashed out with its long tendrils blindly, a high screeching coming from its gills. As soon as the charge was set they turned to get the hell out of there, the bodies skin beginning to rupture, small tadpole like creatures crawling out. They were tiny but fast and if they were anything like their mother they could deal a very nasty sting. En mass that could be lethal. Owen took the lead but even he was having difficulty with the wet sand trying to hold onto his boots with every step. They finally breached the cave entrance as an explosion sent sand and water into their backs, landing all three face down in the sand. The cave collapsed, burying the mermaid and her young under tonnes of stone.
Tosh looked around for something to defend herself. Unlike Elise she didn’t carry her gun around and neither did Ianto so she had to think of another way. She remembered seeing a toolbox in the hallway when they entered. She grabbed a hammer and crept towards the creature that had Elise trapped. It held her up and had its lips wrapped around her finger. It was distracted at least. She held the hammer as tightly as she could and brought it down on the vampires head. Elise fell to the floor as the vampire reared back in pain. It couldn’t even take its semi corporeal anymore but that didn’t stop it being dangerous.
Ianto knew he couldn’t help, his mind being compromised and turning him into a liability. It was awful and he couldn’t forgive himself if Tosh or Elise fell victim to the thing too. He could hear it screeching in pain and his head suddenly felt a lot clearer. Like a link had been severed. He was just going to risk it.
He grabbed the fire axe he had hidden by the chest of draws. He wished he could say he’d never had to use it in self defence before but working for Torchwood tended to put a target on your back.
Tosh was torn between outright attacking the vampire or trying to protect Elise. She swung the hammer again, landing the blow directly in the creatures right eye before it swung out and threw her to the floor. As she gathered her senses she looked up to see Ianto swing the axe into the vampires throat, decapitating it and jamming the axe blade into the wall. The creature drifted down in a cloud of dust.
“You had an axe?” Asked Tosh breathlessly.
Jack was surprised to find the hub empty when Gwen Owen and himself returned. He immediately called Elise, wondering what was taking so long.
“Where are you? Is Ianto alright?” He asked.
“Yea, he’s fine. We got the vampire.”
“Yea, the doors don’t really stop incorporeal shadow beings. A hammer and an axe on the other hand do.”
“Are you safe where you are?”
“Yep. Also, damn, I can see why you like Ianto so much.”
Jack laughed warmly. “He’s mine and I don’t share… Often.”
“That’s a lie and you know it. Anyway, I don’t plan to steal your man, just appreciating from a distance. How did your morning go?”
“We’re covered in sand and dust, so pretty well. The mermaid’s dealt with, as are her spawn.”
“That’s a relief. Tosh is asking if the earplugs worked.”
“Like a charm. Can you bring the vampires body in?”
“Unless you want a hoover bag full of dust there isn’t much to bring.”
“Will you be back soon?”
“Yea we ow will.” Elise flinched as Tosh cleaned the cut on her little finger with a disinfectant wipe.
“Right. See you soon.”
Ianto smiled, returning now wearing a t shirt with the jogging bottoms he’d been sleeping in. “I won’t be stolen so easily.”
“Don’t worry I’m not a thief.”
“Anyway, I thought I told you not to hurt yourself with that knife I gave you.”
“It was better than the thing escaping or biting me. Anyway it’s only my little finger.” She waved the finger with a plaster on. “And when did you two get so badass?”
Tosh laughed lightly. “I don’t think swinging a blunt object wildly counts as badass.”
“It does when you slam a giant blood sucker in the eye. And mr viking axe thrower.”
“I don’t think it was that impressive but thank you anyway. And I’m sorry again Tosh.”
Tosh gave Ianto a light hug. “It’s fine. It wasn’t your fault and I’m fine. Not even a bruise. Unlike your poor shoulder.”
“It doesn’t hurt too much.”
“Is there anything we can help you with before we go?”
“No, I can sort the walls myself. I’ll see you both tomorrow.”