The specialist came by on Sunday. He’d been recommended to me by Marcus’s doctor.
While he was giving Marcus an assessment, I drove home to grab my camera so I could photograph the page I found the other day.
He was leaving just as I arrived back. He told me that a copy of his report was on the coffee table in the library and that I could forward it to Marcus’s regular doctor. I thanked him for his help and then went inside to have a look.
The report says that Marcus should be out of his coma within the next few weeks, which is good news. But while I was reading, I noticed something weird. The initial letter of each section of the report spelt out…this;
DEAD MAN WALKING
I didn’t even bother trying to pass it off as coincidence. I knew something was wrong so I ran to check on Marcus. He was fine. But something was different, not about Marcus, but about the room. There was a new framed photo on his bedside table. Four men in front of a great forest. On the extreme left, the full-bearded form of my employer, Winston Ramsey. On the extreme right, a heavily-built and grumpy looking man whom I recognised from some pictures in Marcus’s study as being Hans Schlueter. Next to Winston, Marcus himself, though he looked a far cry from the broken man lying in the bed before me. Younger, slimmer, hairier and happier. Dorky glasses. Nothing like the suave, smooth-talking cripple with whom I was familiar. Finally, between Marcus and Hans, there was another man. Much more athletic-looking than Marcus and with an intelligence in his eyes that was wholly different from that of the other men; where Winston’s were jaded and experienced, his were shockingly alive, where Hans’s were dull and weathered, his were terrifyingly sharp, where Marcus’s were academic and naive, his were unsettlingly determined. They were animal eyes. This, I knew, must be Benjamin Vanderwaal, the man of whom Marcus never spoke. Winston had told me, in a vague sense, that Benjamin had blackmailed he and Marcus into doing terrible things, the specifics of which I learned from this blog. The photo was one of unnerving familiarity for someone who had been but a child when it was taken, but I knew it nonetheless; it was taken the day that they entered the Black Forest.
Then something hit me that nearly made me puke. I suddenly realised I had seen those animal eyes before. I had looked right at them scarce minutes before. The specialist.
I let Benjamin Vanderwaal into Marcus’s home.