The telephone was shrilling stridently as Lukas opened the door.
At first, he was reluctant to pick up; the thought that it might be MacKenzie; calling to make good on her threat to call him back was a powerful spur to just ignore the phone. Lukas was till shaken by the experience at the junction, and the thought of having to deal with MacKenzie Church was more than he could face at the moment.
The phone stopped - only to begin again, a few minutes later.
Lukas stared at it for a long moment. Then, convulsively, before he could change his mind, he grabbed for the handset. If it was MacKenzie, he told himself, then he was just in the mood to tell her to go to hell.
'Hello.' He snapped into the mouthpiece. There was silence at the other end for a moment, then.
'Lukas?' Helen's voice held a note of caution. 'Is that you?'
Lukas relaxed a little. 'Yeah.' He said, his tone returning to normal. 'Sorry sis. I thought you might have been my agent. I'm expecting her to call any day now.'
'Oh.' There was silence, while Helen digested this information. 'Right. I didn't know she knew this number.'
'She's found it.' Lukas told her. 'I got a call a few days ago. I don't know how. Anyway; sorry.'
'Don't worry. So; I called to make sure you're alright.' She paused, then. 'I just heard the news on the radio. There's been a bad accident at Wyresdale road; a lorry and a bus. Some people are dead. I knew that you were going that way, and I wanted to make sure you're okay.'
'I'm fine.' Lukas assured his sister. 'I was there, and I saw the whole thing. It wasn't nice.'
Helen sensed immediately, that her brother had more to tell her than he was letting on.
'But.., you are okay?' She persisted.
Lukas didn't answer immediately. Despite himself, he was seeing again the crash, the images unfolding in vivid clarity across his minds eye.
'Lukey?' Dimly, he heard his twin's voice. 'Lukey " talk to me. Please?'
'Sorry.' He shook the gruesome images away with an effort. He imagined the worry Helen was feeling right now, and forced himself to adopt a lighter tone.
'Sorry.' He said again. 'I was just engaging in a little woolgathering.' He had a sudden idea. 'Look; I'll tell you all about it over supper. I'm making.'
'Fine.' Helen's voice took on a lighter, more relieved tone, now that she knew her brother was okay. 'I'll bring the wine, and the indigestion pills.'
'Damn cheek.' Lukas pretended indignation. 'I'll have you know that I'm a damned good cook. I'm self-trained, you know.'
'That's what worries me.' Helen retorted. 'The last time you cooked for me, if I recall correctly, we had to send out for Chinese.'
'Granted.' Lukas smiled at the memory, despite himself. 'There were a few teething problems. But the Chinese was good. See you when you get home.'
'Sure. You take care. Bye.'
Supper that evening was as good as Lukas had prophesied; mainly due to the fact that it consisted of Chinese food ordered from Helen's favorite takeaway.
As they ate, Lukas told his sister about the accident, and about the worms he had seen gathering as if to feast. He left nothing out, telling her about his first encounters with the apparitions, and the incident in the park with David Jackinson. Lukas felt that Helen deserved to know everything, after being kept at arms length for so long. Besides which, Lukas told himself, Helen was possibly the most intelligent person he knew, with the possible exceptions of MacKenzie Church, and Morgan Wiseman. She was insightful, and possessed an intuition that went far beyond that of a normal woman. Lukas suspected it was more than partly due to being a twin; especially a twin whose brother possessed " had possessed, he corrected himself ruefully " unusual talents.
His sister listened attentively, saying little but taking in every detail. Her eyes rarely left her brother's face, as she sat listening, her food forgotten. Finally Lukas's narrative ended, and he waited expectantly for her response.
'So,' Helen picked up her fork. 'These 'worms', as you've called them. You think they knew the accident was going to happen?' She paused, and pointed her fork at her brother. 'you think they might even have caused the accident to happen in the first place.'
'It's possible.' Lukas conceded. He had not mentioned any of his own suspicions, and was pleased that his sister had arrived at the same conclusions that he had come to. 'It does seem unlikely that so many of them would gather unless they either knew or had planned for something to happen.' Lukas took a sip of orange juice while he gathered his thoughts.
'I've had a little longer to think about this than you. I'm not sure, but I know that the lorry sped up as it approached the junction. And the driver didn't look as if he was altogether there; hell - he looked drunk, or drugged.' He reached for a prawn cracker. 'I think the driver was being influenced somehow, by the worms. I've seen it before, in people who are susceptible to that kind of thing. Some mediums work that way - they can be manipulated by the spirits they're trying to communicate with. Personally, I wouldn't want to work that way.' He added, with a pretend shudder. 'The point is, some people are easier to manipulate than others.'
'I suppose.' Helen said thoughtfully. 'I suppose it's something to do with willpower; some people can give up smoking for example, and some - those with less willpower " just can't do it.'
'It's more than possible.' Lukas agreed. 'The point is, whether the worms knew what was going to happen somehow, or manipulated events to make the accident happen, there was no doubt that they seemed to be enjoying the result. It was like a feeding frenzy " there were worms all around that bus, and the lorry. I can only think that they must somehow feed on emotion; terror and fear probably. There was certainly enough of it at the accident.'
'It must have been awful.' Helen gave her brother a sympathetic look. 'All those poor people.'
The death toll for the accident so far, was listed as fifteen, with another six in intensive care, and some of those not expected to survive.
'Yeah.' Lukas paused for a second. Then he looked up. His dark gaze met that of his twin. 'I thought I was going to die today, for a while.' He told Helen about the aural assault that had almost killed him.
'It took a while for my hearing to return to normal; I still have a low buzzing in my ears.' He finished, as he tipped noodles onto his plate. 'The point is,' He hesitated, unsure that what was was about to tell his sister was the right thing to do. Helen waited patiently, her sympathetic eyes studying him intently.
'The point is; up until that happened. I thought I wanted to die.' He waited for an outburst, but Helen kept her peace. Her only noticeable response was a slight widening of her eyes.
'I've just been waiting for the right time " to die, I mean. Ever since the accident " ever since I lost my ability " I've just been waiting " existing. I was just waiting for you to settle. That was the only reason I didn't settle things straight after the accident; I couldn't bear the thought of you alone.' He shook his head. 'Sorry; I should probably have kept my big mouth shut.'
For a long moment Helen said nothing. She stared at her twin; as if storing memories for the future. Then she placed a hand over his.
'You prat; don't you think I haven't suspected you were planning something like this?'
Lukas looked surprised. 'Um.., What-'
'Shut up.' Helen smiled to rob her words of offense. 'You know, Lukas Madson; I love you to pieces, but you can be such a.., a dunderhead, at times. I'm your sister; how could you think you could hide something like that from me?' Her voice softened.
'I have always known what you were feeling, little brother. Even when we were kids, I knew. When you were happy; sad " even when you were planning to skip school. I didn't have to be near you " I just knew.' She grinned suddenly. 'Guess you're not the only one with special abilities.'
Lukas stared at her. 'You never said anything.' He said, finally.
'No.' Helen removed her hand, and reached for a plastic container of food. 'I didn't see why you should be the only one to keep secrets.' She said loftily, as she spooned sweet and sour chicken onto her plate. 'Even when you were away in London, I generally had a sense of what your mood was.'
'Well-,' Lukas was at a loss for words. His sister regarded him evenly, saying nothing. 'Damn.' He managed to smile.
'I would have done it eventually, you know.' He spoke more out of a sense of trying to get his own back a little, than out of spite. 'I had it all planned, for as soon as I thought you'd be fine without me.'
'Yeah.' Replied Helen through a mouthful of food. 'I'd almost liked to have seen your face, when you took those pills you brought with you.' She could not resist a small smile, that Lukas thought looked suspiciously like a smirk.
'You knew about the pills?' His tone one one of irritation, mixed with more than a little guilt.
'Found them a couple of days after you arrived. I guessed what they were for, and replaced them with some vitamin pills that looked the same.' Helen laughed. 'I can't imagine what effect an overdose of multivitamins would have had. But it was way better than the alternative.'
Lukas scowled at his sister. Then, seeing the glint in her eyes, he burst out laughing himself, snorting food across the table.
This had the effect of setting Helen off. As one, they caught a bad case of the giggles. The food was forgotten, as their hilarity escalated out of control. For the next few minutes, neither twin was able to speak; all they could manage was to stare at each other helplessly as they struggled to bring their laughter under control.