‘Yes, I’m going to work here!’ Ted was smiling from widely. He was sitting outside in front of the retreat centre with Laura. They were soaking up the sun and letting the gentle summer breeze tickle their faces.

‘My time at the monastery seems to be over’, Ted shrugged. ‘There is a new group of European youngsters coming in next week and they are keen to do a lot of the teaching. I feel that I have been there long enough and that it is time for a new challenge. I love this retreat centre and I think that the job as a receptionist here is just what I need before going back to Europe.’

Laura smiled. They had spent a lot of time together with Ted, and it seemed that they had a mutual feeling about their friendship. They both felt completely at ease with each other and felt as though they had known each other for much longer than they actually had. Is this how it feels to meet your soul mate, Laura often thought to herself. She hadn’t felt this way with any other man before, only with some of her female friends. For now, they were both happy to enjoy each other’s company and to discover new things about one another.

‘Well, then I certainly won’t need to be scared of any intruders coming in at night if you will be guarding the reception’, Laura winked at him. They both laughed. Ted was such a gentle soul that it was hard to imagine anyone being intimidated by him.

‘Anyway, it will be a great chance for us to spend some time together as well, before we head off to different parts of the world…’ Ted let the sentence trail off. Unavoidably, the time would come when they would have to say goodbye, even though neither of them wanted to think about that yet.

‘I haven’t seen Darky at all’, Laura said to lighten the mood. ‘Not even once since I went to the concert with him last week. Whatever he is up to, I have no idea.’

‘He will emerge at some point’, Ted pointed out. ‘Mysterious people always do, just to keep the mystery going.’

Laura laughed. She hadn’t told anyone about what had happened at the concert nor how Darky had confided in her. Annie didn’t know and Ted didn’t know the full extent of her exchange with Darky. In a strange way, Laura wanted to keep that personal information to herself. For now anyway.

‘Well, I better be off to do some yoga, and don’t you need to go for your orientation?’ Laura stretched and got up. ‘If I see the mysterious man, I will let you know.’

Ted wandered off to the reception area. He was going to be instructed on the basic duties that he was to undertake at the reception, and then he would be trying out a nightshift that evening so that he would get a proper idea of how the role would be once he started it.

Ted enjoyed spending time with the other receptionists that afternoon and the time flew by. Soon enough it was nine in the evening and time for other to retire. He hadn’t seen Laura in the evening, but he knew that normally after the evening meditation, everyone went to their rooms to relax for the night. Ted sat down behind the desk and started reading the book that he had brought along with him. The other receptionists had told him that night shifts tended to be quiet and nothing much happened.

Ted must have dozed off when he woke up with a jolt. He had heard a bang from the other side of the building where the backdoor was. He checked the time and it was past midnight. Ted took the torch light and, with light steps, approached the corridor leading to the back of the building. He stopped at the corner and peeked towards the back door. The door was slightly ajar. Maybe it was the wind that threw it open, Ted thought, and was just about to go and close it when he saw Darky step in. He was wearing his trademark dark clothes and holding two bottles of beer in his hand.

Ted took a step back into the shadow by the curtains and thankfully Darky didn’t notice him. Darky seemed to checking that the corridor was clear before motioning towards the door with his hand. Two ragged looking men followed him in. Both of the smelled awful and were dressed in dirty, dark clothes. They all looked Western and were also holding beer bottles.

Once the three of them had disappeared, Ted took a deep breath. I need to go and wake Laura up, he thought. This is our moment to find out what Darky is up to.


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