Chapter 1: A very unlikely hero
Tom had just left his friends after celebrating his fiftieth birthday in a local pub. He was making his way to the bus station to catch the last bus home. He had worked for the bus company as a driver for the last twenty years. He had been married to Pam for twenty-five years. They had three wonderful children, Lydia, 23, Robert, 20, and Samantha who had just turned 18. As he made his way home he was thinking just how lucky he was, married to a wonderful woman who, when he looked at her, he just couldn't think of anyone else he would want.
As he walked along, he met up with two members of his archery club, Paul and Tony. Paul was in his early thirties and a paramedic, whilst Tony was in his late twenties with his own engineering company. They asked Tom where he had been and congratulated him on his birthday. As they approached the bus station, they said goodnight, as they has arrived at Paul's flat. He continued on as Tony and Paul chatted on the doorstep. He had only travelled about one hundred yards when as he turned a corner he heard a scream. A young woman was struggling with a man who was trying to drag her towards his car.
"Hey. You!!" he shouted, running towards the man. "Leave that girl alone."
The man continued to drag the girl, and they had almost reached the car when Tom caught them up. He charged the man, knocking him over, and causing him to let go of the girl. They all struggled to their feet.
"Get behind me." Tom told the girl and he faced the man. Only then did he realize just what he was facing. The man was huge, about 6'4'' and about 15st of muscle compared with Tom's 5'9'' and 13st of fat.
"Get out of my way you old bastard or I'll do for you," he snarled at Tom. "Sandra, get your ass in that car if you know what's good for you. You're going to get a right hiding for this you slag. Who's this, your latest shag? Well I'm going to do for you both."
Tom was terrified. Hell! He hadn't been in a fight since school, and he hadn't won many there either, now here he was facing what looked like something from the TV show Gladiators. He looked into the man's eyes; they were glazed, with pinprick pupils. 'God' he thought 'this guys off his face on drugs!'
"No Wayne I won't!" the girl screamed at him. "You're sick you are. I hate you and never want to see you again. You've hurt me for the last time you sick bastard. You can just go and fuck yourself." And with that she started to back away from him.
"Come here you fucking whore" He yelled and lunged towards the girl. Tom stood his ground and got between him and Sandra, pushing him back. At this Wayne went mad and started attacking Tom. He was punching, kicking and beating Tom. He tried his best, but it was no use. He heard the sound of people shouting and running behind him when Wayne suddenly pulled something out of his back pocket and hit Tom in the stomach twice. He then turned, ran for his car, jumped in and drove off. The beating had hurt Tom badly enough, but this was something different. He had never known pain like it, a cold, dragging pain. He clutched his stomach and was horrified to see blood pouring through his fingers. "I've been stabbed! That bastard stabbed me!" Tom said, stunned and horrified. Slowly he collapsed to the ground: blackness descended.
On hearing the shouts and screams Tony and Paul ran towards them. They saw the man attack Tom, and were horrified when they saw him pull a knife and stab him. Tony ran towards the girl and Paul went to see to Tom.
"Call an ambulance quickly, he's hurt bad." said Paul.
"What do think?" asked Tony. "Do you think he's going to make it?
Paul looked up and shook his head. "No, he's too badly hurt, he'll be dead by the time they get here. We need to get him to Crossroads."
"Do you think they'll take him?" asked Tony.
"Don't see why not, anyway we've nothing to lose, I'll take him through, you look after the girl until the police and ambulance arrive, I'll be about fifteen minutes." said Paul
"Yes," Tony laughed, "Should take them about that long to get here."
Paul picked Tom up in a fireman's lift and ran with him back to his flat. The front door was open and heran into the spare bedroom and closed the door. Keeping Tom on his shoulder he opened the drawer in a bedside dresser and placed a sapphire ring on his finger, he then opened the wardrobe and stepped through.