Jefferson Lake awoke with a start, his heart hammering in his chest. The nightmares had become more frequent as All Hallow’s Eve drew inexorably closer. He rose from the tangled bedsheets and splashed cold water onto his face, seeking to banish the lingering memories of that night, now so long ago.
Drawing back the thin curtain of his lodgings, he gazed down upon the fog enshrouded cobbles of the city. Whilst it reminded him of his native New York, London had a more solid presence, the weight of centuries of history infusing its every atom, against which he felt as insignificant as a gnat. But just like New York, the streets were far from empty, even though night still held sway, with the citizens going about their nocturnal business without a thought for who may be observing their progress.
He heard a heavy tread upon the staircase, dismissing it as anothe lodger of the boarding house returning from a night of revelry, until his door was kicked in with enough force to shatter the lock.
And then HE was there…the Horseman.
Lake dived for the holstered pistol hanging from the bedpost, but with a speed that belied his massive frame, the Horseman strode forward, backhanding Lake and sending him crashing to the floor.
“Did you REALLY believe that fleeing halfway around the World would free you from your obligations, Jefferson?” Boomed the Horseman, “A deal was made…and no matter where you seek to flee to, I will ALWAYS find you.“
The Horseman turned, somehow surveying the room without eyes. “Even in such mean and squalid surroundings as I find you now…” He chuckled, the sound like gravel against tinplate. “Oh, how the mighty have fallen…“
Turning back to the slumped form of Lake, the Horseman stepped forward, raising an admonishing finger.
“You have seven days,” he continued, “to provide what has been agreed. I need not remind you what is forfeit, should you fail. Do not disappoint me, Jefferson, the result could prove somewhat…unpleasant.“
With this last pronouncement, the Horseman turned and strode from the room, his cloak billowing behind him.
Lake gently probed his tender lip, his fingers coming away bloodied, and levered himself up off of the floor.
Seven days. He had done it in less time before, but that was in a city he knew intimately. He was still finding his feet in London. He just needed to find the right sort of neighbourhood…and a saw.