Warhol's Prophecy

Warhol's Prophecy by Shaun Hutson Read Free Book Online

Book: Warhol's Prophecy by Shaun Hutson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Shaun Hutson
the time to think about it, time to wonder if you’re chatting up that bloody tart while you’re there together in the office, wondering what you’re saying to her.’
    ‘Then stop thinking about it.’
    ‘Oh, for God’s sake . . .’ Hailey shook her head despairingly.
    She saw Marie glance at the wall clock behind them.
    Time up.
    They’d been there for their allotted hour.
    Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?
    Hailey was first to get to her feet, running a hand through her brown hair and exhaling deeply.
    They made an appointment for the same time the following week, said their goodbyes, then headed out to the small car park where the Audi was waiting.
    As Hailey clambered into the passenger seat, she thought how cold it had grown. How chilly the night air was.
    She looked briefly at Rob as he started the engine.
    As he did, the cassette burst into life too, the lyrics echoing inside the car.
    ‘ . . . Will you be there, am I the one who waits for you, or are you unforgiven too? . . . ’
    They didn’t speak during the drive home.

    T HE SILENCE WAS oppressive.
    Broken only by the steady click-click of Hailey’s high heels on the polished floor of the corridor, it seemed to surround her like a blanket.
    She walked slowly, eyes fixed ahead, not glancing left or right, concerned only with the door at the far end of the corridor. It was dark wood polished so vigorously it practically shone.
    Hailey paused at the door and wondered whether or not she should knock.
    As she waited, she turned and looked behind her.
    The corridor was empty.
    It was filled only with that deafening silence.
    She shifted slowly from one foot to the other, embarrassed by the noise her heels made on the floor. She raised herself up onto her toes to minimize the tattoo they clattered out. She tapped gently on the door, then walked in without invitation.
    The room was barely twenty feet square and, if anything, the silence here was even more palpable than out in the corridor.
    Red velvet curtains were draped across the far wall, and between them was suspended a large wooden cross. On either side of it two candles burned, their flames unmoved by the slightest breeze.
    There were two tables inside the room, the occupant of each covered by a heavy black cloth.
    Hailey tried to suck in a breath, but the air seemed as static as it was noiseless. At least her heels made no sound on the thick carpet as she moved towards the first of the tables.
    She thrust out a hand and gripped the edge of the dark cloth, preparing to ease it back, but also afraid to.
    She closed her eyes so tightly that white stars danced behind her lids, and she tried again to breathe deeply.
    Hailey lifted the cloth . . .
    Becky’s body seemed a mass of dark blue, violet and yellow bruises. Hardly an inch of flesh seemed to have escaped the massive onslaught – not even her face. The skin around her eyes was so swollen that the orbs seemed to have sunk down into the skull itself. Those few areas of her body that weren’t discoloured looked as white as milk.
    Two jagged cuts bisected her throat: hacked so deeply into the flesh that her head was practically severed. The two savage gashes joined to form one bloodied chasm that, to Hailey’s tortured gaze, looked like another mouth smiling obscenely up at her.
    She wanted to scream, wanted to cry out, but it was as if her emotions were as paralysed as her larynx. All she could do was stare helplessly at Becky’s body. She wanted so much to touch it. To hold it one last time. Embrace it. Kiss those ragged, torn lips, to say sorry.
    Sorry for letting her get lost in the crowded shopping centre.
    Sorry that she couldn’t help her now.
    Hailey felt a solitary tear run down her cheek.
    She turned towards the second table, pulling the cloth away with more certainty.
    There were two bodies on this one.
    Unblemished. Uninjured.
    Both naked.
    They were locked together in an embrace, pressed urgently against each other.

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