In the last few days, Rod had seen a homeless man die in the tip, due to the cold. He stretched and removed the sheets of newspaper from within the folds of his ragged clothing and exited the car wreck. It was a simple method to retain the warmth and keep out the wind. Strange, he had been on the run for weeks now, but never once did he wrack his memory for what to do when it came to methods of survival. It was as if it was locked away in his subconscious, awaiting the day when it was most needed.
He wrenched the mirror free from the car door and trudged to the changing sheds of a local football field and picked the padlock which held the barred door closed. He realised that it was another skill long buried in his mind.
The set of clothes he stole from the previous eve from a clothesline were still folded over the top of a shower cubicle; another basic skill. His memory went back to 1916 as he set the mirror on a windowsill over a sink and extracted a knife from his inner coat pocket. One of his first training assignments was to be given a list of things to steal from a French town. He scraped the accumulated whisker free, but the knife hovered over his top lip for a moment.
“Why not?” He said to himself and styled a pencil thin moustache as he did in his prime.
He examined the face in the mirror.
“Why not go the whole way?”
He squeezed the all but empty tube of rubbing oil onto his scalp and lacquered his hair down, neatly parting it on the side. The stocky young man staring back at him was as he remembered in the twenties. He was well out of style for 2010, but it felt right.
Thoughts returned to him of Maisy, and the night they danced together in 1929 before she died in a wing-walking stunt. Decades of memories flitted through his mind in seconds, all involving the adventures and journeys he’d had. Perhaps what people said was true. Your life did flash before your eyes just before you died.
The image smirked.
“Not bad looking for a hundred and eighteen year old man.”
After he’d showered and changed. He placed the ragged clothing in the bin and took up the only items he would need from one of the benches. The knife went inside the procured jacket and his hand rested on the small Bible. His final thoughts rested on his only two friends, the two Christian journalist students who volunteered to write his memoirs. It prompted him to pocket the Bible and take up the pen and pad on the bench.
Dear Matt and Kathy,
I’m sorry I had to leave without an explanation, but it’s taken me this long to work out what’s going on. You may have noticed I’m getting younger; you wouldn’t recognise me now.
As you know, there is a war going on. What you don’t know is that a scientist was commissioned by the government to create a healing accelerant for the field. Instead, they accidentally created a cell regeneration serum.
There’s an ASIO field agent trying to track me. He’s dangerous, so I had to leave before he associated me with you. I’ve been putting a lot of thought into what to do. The government wants me alive to make a serum from my blood. Sadly, I even know what for. They want to inject all the elderly people, especially our war veterans to boost our forces. Until now, I’ve wondered what to do. I feel like the man who invented the “knife.” It has always been man’s best tool, but also one of our greatest sources of misery.
I’m writing to let you know two things. I’m tired of running and will meet this man. The second thing is that I have learned what you taught me and I’ll die a believer. I don’t expect to live beyond today, so I’ll see you in Heaven- Rod Tierney.
The post office was directly across the street from the oval, but I couldn’t go inside. He bumped into a woman carrying a wad of unstamped envelopes and picked them up, mixing his in with hers. He held the door open for her and watched her enter, feeling as if his heart and thoughts were travelling with the letter on its final journey.
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