‘Oh no, not him. That can’t be the name, it can’t be.’
He started blankly at the paper. He read it again. The name called to him. It taunted him.
He had spent years hunting for the name. He had to know. He had pleaded and begged his mother to tell him the name but all she revealed were the briefest of details, nothing more. On her death-bed, she had given him a place, a time, a vague description.
It had been difficult to follow the clues, tracing his mother’s history. Who had she known? Where had she lived? He had spoken to hundreds of people. Followed clues, backtracked from myriad dead ends but always he persisted, driven by his need to know the name. He had read people’s intimate writing, their diaries and memoirs hoping to discover the name, somewhere. It had always been just one more clue away. Tantalisingly close yet unreachable.
The man who lay dying at his feet had been his last hope, driven mad by the frustration of not knowing, he had tortured him until he had revealed all.
Now he stood over him, reading the one diary that contained the name.
Staring down at the man, he realised what a monster he had become. His desire had consumed him.
As he closed the book, he heard the man’s final, dying breath. He looked down and spoke directly to him.
‘I’m sorry, father,’ was all he could say.