The Shopkeeper’s Car

Hannah, my nurse, tried to come in today but I made her stay at home and gave her next week off. Poor thing just lost her father, she doesn’t need to be checking up on a cranky old cripple like me. Her family need her more.

Laura was pregnant when she died. We were going to start a family. Had her death not been so violent, the baby might even have survived but…no, it died on impact. She died on impact. We were going to have a baby girl.

You’ll notice a lot of my regrets will involve Laura. Unsurprising really, she’d be alive and happy if not for me. I regret every moment I spent with her if only because she’d have never gotten entangled with the Tree Walker if not for me.

Let’s try a Laura-less regret, shall we? It was the day we came out of the Black Forest. I remember that day particularly well because of the sheer volume of snow that the area was buried under. We walked for miles before we came across a small but modern village. We were talking to a shopkeeper, trying to get a bearing on where we were so we could get away from the Forest and, more importantly, the Tree Walker. Of course, that’s when we saw him.

At first I thought it was a snow-filled tree, but, unfortunately, it was him. Or maybe it was both. One then the other. He’s probably not a tree but he’s very good at impersonating them. Suddenly becoming them or suddenly not being there. At any rate, we saw him. The thing that had followed us through that forest for so long, until Hans was dead at our feet…

We were frozen with fear. Then Benjamin thawed and started threatening the shopkeeper. I can still remember his exact words, because it was only the second time I had heard Benjamin’s voice laced with such fear. “Give me the keys to your car, you Nazi bastard, give me the fucking keys! Refuse and I’ll kill you on the fucking spot, do you hear? On the fucking spot!” The man handed over the keys and Benjamin, Winston and I ran out, jumped in the car and hit the gas pedal. I remember we swerved in the snow as we were going around the corner and the rear of the car swung towards the curb, until my window was just inches away from him. That was the first time I saw him so closely. It’s not a suit from what I could see. It was more like bark covered in black moss.

I still feel bad for stealing that car. The man we stole it from obviously wasn’t exactly rolling in Deutsche Mark and it was a nice car, so he’d obviously been saving for it for years. We shouldn’t have stolen it, there was no immediate danger. And then we ended up torching it in Naples to try and cover our tracks. What a waste. So many things go wasted. Too many things.

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