The four friends met as usual on the last Friday of the month. A few drinks, a meal, a laugh and a joke. They all looked forward to it and had been doing it for many years. Guy and Sue as always sat side by side opposite Frank and Fiona. The talk was of nothing in particular work, football, music all just general stuff.
The restaurant was a smart Italian on the third floor of shiny new shopping centre in the heart of Leeds. A city that had changed much over the years. From grimy industrial town in the late twentieth century it was now a smart cosmopolitan place. Banking, law, food and entertainment were big.
“I can’t believe we’re in Leeds sometimes,” said Frank. “Look at it out there, modern clean, smart people, smart places like this. Not the city we grew up in eh Guy.
“It sure isn’t,” said Guy. Not turning from his seat. Frank was staring out of the window at the crowds going to and fro. It was Thursday evening a busy shopping and entertainment night. The evening was going well, the food wonderful. Frank had known Guy a long time maybe twenty years, tonight though he seemed a little distracted.
“Everything alright old chap, you don’t seem yourself,” said Frank.
“Yeah the usual work, money, the wife,” said Guy.
The conversation faltered, it wasn’t unusual the group of friends had known each other for a long time. They were comfortable sitting, eating or drinking. Sue and Fiona were doing plenty of talking. They had a lot of catching up to do it was a month since they had been out together.
The two men sat quietly Frank still distracted looking out of the window. The mall was four floors high, a domed glass roof, built around a large atrium. On each floor was a balcony around the edge of the space with shops and restaurants. Hanging from the ceiling like giant mobiles were various sculptures and pieces of art.
Frank was still pondering how much his home town had changed when among the hustle and bustle he noticed a man. He was standing facing the restaurant leaning on the rail of the glass barrier that ran around the edge of the balcony. He was looking down towards the ground floor staring, unmoving. Seemingly unaware of those around him. Slowly the man looked up towards the restaurant. Guy thought he was going to faint, his stomach sank and blood rushed to his head. He inhaled deeply trying to quell his panic. It was guy standing at the far side of the shopping centre looking straight at him. Frank looked back at Guy, his friend was their but he too was looking down.
“Guy are you alright mate, look up, look at me. What’s happening?” said Frank.
Guy slowly looked up his movement almost mechanical. Frank’s friend looked at him blankly as if in a trance. Frank looked at the other Guy who was looking straight at him across the shopping mall gripping the glass balustrade with both hands. Frank felt as if time had stopped only seconds must have passed the two women were still chattering, people in the restaurant going about their business. Here he was though sitting looking at his friend in two place at once.
“Guy are you alright, come on mate what’s happening,” said Frank.
Sue and Fiona had noticed the change in Frank’s voice and Guy’s wife now looked across at her husband taking him by the arm and trying to raise him from his trance.
“It might be his diabetes,” said Sue “He never has before but he could be going into a coma.”
Suddenly staff in the restaurant ran to the door, there was a commotion outside. People were running along the balcony, security were rushing up the escalator. Frank saw that the other Guy the one that a moment ago had been standing at the opposite side of the mall was now climbing onto the barrier. He had clambered so he had both feet were resting on top of the balcony, he balanced for a split second and then launched himself into the wide space looking up for a moment straight at Frank.
It must have only been a few seconds until he hit the ground. With all the screams and associated pandemonium that accompanies such events. The little group of friends were still though focusing on Guy who seemed to be coming out of his trance.
“Guy are you alright mate, you were out of it for a minute there,” said Frank.
“It’s OK I just had a funny turn I think I need a drink what’s happening outside,” said Guy.
“Don’t you know, I saw what happened Guy. I have no idea really but I saw you, twice. Here and outside. It’s not possible I know but I’ve just seen you jump off that balcony,” said Frank.
“The women had rushed outside to join the crowds, Frank and Guy walked to the bar and ordered more drinks.
“I know what happened, it’s been happening for a few years now. You remember when I had that operation after the accident,” said Guy.
“Yeah they said you died five times on the operating theatre it was a total freak thing,” said Frank.
“It was supposed to be a simple operation my gallbladder removed and it turned into this huge drama when I was dying every few minutes,” said Guy.
“What’s that got to do with this I have never seen anything like it, maybe It wasn’t you,” said Frank.
“No Frank it was, I get this feeling like I am going to faint and then the next minute I am there. I suppose inside other people. I can feel them, hear them think and yet I’m still totally aware of myself. It used to be I had no control over it and it always happened just before something bad happened. It was terrible, people in plane crashes, on operating tables, murder victims always just before they die,” said Guy.
“What’s different?” said Frank.
“I seem to be able to control it a little more now, influence how people behave stop them if I want to,” said Guy.
“If you want to, what do you mean if you want to surely you want to. Tell me you stop it whenever you can,“ said Frank.
“No, at first I did but I don’t really care what is going to happen. It was going to happen anyway why should I try to stop them,” said Guy.
Frank didn’t know what to say, his friend it seemed had the power to influence whether people lived or died and seemed to be choosing to let them die. The two friend stood at the bar quietly waiting for their drinks.
“You need to get help mate, tell someone about this. They might be able to do something about it,” said Frank.
What so they can lock me up or fill me full of drugs. I did tell someone, a reporter who came snooping around after one of them didn’t die. Someone who tried to kill themselves. They went around telling people their body had been taken over by someone else just before they did the deed. I don’t know how but he had an idea it was me. Don’t tell anyone about this Frank not a soul, not ever. I don’t even know why I told you. You’re my friend and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you”
“Anything bad what do you mean, the report you told the reporter didn’t you,” said Frank.
“Yes I did,” said Guy.
“And he’s OK,” said Frank.
“No he’s not. I couldn’t let him tell all the world about this could I,” said Guy.
“Why Guy where is he, what happened to him,” said Frank.
Guy took Frank by the arm and walked him from the restaurant pushing through the crowds gathered staring over the balcony. The two men reached the barrier and looked down to the broken and bloodied remains of the poor soul who had just jumped to his death.
“That’s him” said Guy and “and that I’m afraid is what will happen to anyone who wants to tell the world about my little condition.”