As the three men disappeared over the far grassy hill brow he made his way back down the field to continue with the mending of the wall. The early morning mist had dispersed now for the most part, only holding on in a few small pockets in the very lowest aspects of the vale, the river’s course, elsewhere the rising sun had bid it a fond farewell for the day in every place met. Once by the tumble of architecture strewn about the farm’s side of the once uninterrupted border another few stones found their rightful place, carefully positioned so has the grain of the stone ran with the wall and not into it so has to prevent moisture seeping inwards when the recovered structure was complete. Looking about the choice and another found home, then another, the wall was almost rebuilding itself.

How to play it, his apparent problem, how to ensure that this card inside his pocket represented the ticket to Margaret and Walt’s happier future. The question hung in mid air, held up by an invisible thread, force, stamina, call it whatever, but there it was, confronting, tempting, aggravating which ever way he cared to turn. The opportunity presenting itself was a chance to take, surely, an opportunity that should not be denied, but the underlying fact remained, perched on the very shoulder of his conscience, deceit, it was just not in his vocabulary. If he was to proceed it would have to be with the ultimate of caution.

Fifty yards along the wall to his left a black and white striped head of fur poked itself through a lunky hole, pointed its long snout skyward and took in a few sniffs of what this side of the the stones had to offer. Broc, perseverance personified, patience and persistence itself was in attendance. His earthy wisdom of self-reliance and determination, his willingness to work at a problem and not let it go told Mac how he must proceed, he could have had no better advice had it come from one of the Brocan themselves. Let the matter come to him, allow fate a hand in the making and everything would work out. After a moment of contemplation he emerged fully through the gap and set off up the way, his silvery grey coat resplendently crowned by a plume of black, it all shimmered in the morning light as he kept to a run that shadowed the direction of the wall itself, till both animal and mineral disappearing out of view in the far corner of the field, the place which was to be Mac’s next point of call after this repair was complete.

“Such a tragic shame!” he murmured to himself with a shake of his head as he saw him reappear and carefully pick at a way to hop over the fallen stones then melt into the habitat that was his domain. Mac was reminded, by seeing Broc he was reminded, a news article read a week or so back. On occasions since he had wondered about its content, but lately other criteria had taken precedent. Now the report came back to him with a renewed sadness. Over the next few days to come, and the date was now imminent, the fortunes of this magnificent animal and fellow inhabitant of the countryside were in jeopardy. There was to be a cull, a cull of badgers of all things, and the mournful day for its beginning was drawing ever nearer. He had not yet been able to fathom out the sense behind the reasoning, and now seeing the animal in all its magnificence brought to him once again the futility of the up and coming event, an extermination, as one news presenter had described it, in order to eradicate seventy, yes seventy percent of the badger population, a government campaign as well, afoot to eradicate certain geographic locations to this lamentable amount, seventy percent of their number. The reason? They still carried Tuberculosis in this world, a disease long since forgotten in his. “Why not just vaccinate?” he added with his next breath, recalling his social history. “Who in all above came to this decision?” The only answer the hammer gave was one of metal on mineral, a dull thud as the next stone was altered slightly to fit its resting place.

The morning soon past, what with everything that was his thoughts and the satisfaction of the wall taking shape, as in fact nearly did lunch time. If it had not been for his new pink handheld vibrating in his pocket he would have been late for the table.

It was Margaret, who else could it be! Walt would not call, he had no mobile phone and refused to pay the price for connecting from the landline handset, and Mac had certainly not let on to anyone else that he was in procession of this device wanting to remain as anonymous as was at all possible. Unfortunately that desire was about to be rudely overturned. Smiling back at Margaret’s photo she had put against her number he took the call.

“Hiya,” he began.

“Hiya Mac, it’s lunchtime luv, you need to get back up here, you’re all over the national news!”

“How d’ya mean!” He dropped the next stone and turned his back on the work in progress.

“You’re memory loss, every channel’s running the story.”

“Can they do that?” He was about to say without his permission, but then thought how silly that would sound. He ought to be grateful, that everyone was coming to his aid, taking such an interest, so that should be the emotion to portray. “Wow! I’m on my way.”

“It’ll bring someone forward surely. They’ve also got hold of your dna results.”

He quickened pace somewhat. “What! How can that be?”

“Don’t know hun, perhaps they’ve been talking to the hospital, or they released the information.”

“Well they shouldn’t have.”

“Might ave come out in conversation Mac.”

“But that’s my personal business, surely I have to give permission.”

“Maybe they thought it would help. The article’s very good hun, it’ll not be long now I’m sure.” Margaret’s voice held a certain trepidation.

He was running now, up the steepest gradient of the climb, his breath panting condensation before him as he spoke, “but they shouldn’t…..it’s private information……they can’t release that sort of stuff……..without asking me first.”

“Perhaps they think it’ll help luv,” she repeated, “don’t worry, get back quick as ya can, I’ve recorded it all for ya, the soups ready.”

“That’s good, I’m starving. It’s cold out here today.” He needed to sound normal.

“Hurry up then luv, the kitchen’s nice and warm, I’ve just stoked up the range.”

“I’m here now.” The words left his lips as he opened the recently painted farmhouse door. It looked ten times more a welcoming threshold of late, but not today, the olive green did no more soothe than alarm as he threw of his boots and rushed through the hallway, snagging the thick woollen sock of his left foot on the torn linoleum in his panic.

Walt was sat by the pot belly stove, the same place the two had first encountered each other all those many days ago.

“Soups up lad, what’s all this bout ya being special, they dunna need science to tell em that, I could’ve told em.” Kind words, but no help.

“Can I see the news first please Walt?”

“Yep, if ya like lad, it’s not everyday we’ve a celebrity in t’house.”

Margaret ran the bulletin once more. Mac thought carefully on where they had gleaned the information from, and how could they betray his data protection? The three of them stood and watched the television, Walt resting his meagre frame against the open door, Mac holding Margaret close in his arms as if she was the one who needed reassurance.

In any other circumstance the item sounded all helpful, all for Mac’s benefit, but this implication of his inexplicable genetics could have ramifications only he knew. The two professors had thought, no realised they were onto something, but only he knew. His heart was racing and needed to be brought to a pace which was down a level or two. Was the news broadcast as bad as he had feared? He tried to relax.

“Let’s watch again,”

“You just like all the attention,” Margaret joked with him. Mac feigned excitement in a twitch or two of his hold on her.

On the second run through, the article which really almost copied the local one of the other day did not seem so sensational, the fact of his odd genetic makeup incorporated into the story almost as an explanation of how data can be difficult to interpret when achievements are sort. But the idea of him being different was now undeniably out there, and however matter of fact it had been reported it was now public knowledge. If the data was to be believed, and this particular line of the story followed up then trouble was truly on the horizon. This fear increased his pulse still further, so much for relaxing. He felt light headed, perhaps it was the hunger. The photograph released by the police was also the same one as the other day, as was a statement read out by the presenter as to the amnesiacs plight, but the final twist was undoubtedly new, this odd data coming from the tests. How could the news agencies be privy to this information, who could possibly think this would help him be found, what relevance did it have to his problem? None was the answer to those questions. The presenter concluded again stating that repeated tests were being carried out, he had misheard that sentence the first time. At least that fact gave a breathing space, a chance of hope, perhaps their would be no follow up. The feint receded.

Fast thoughts flitted from one to the other, and not realising just how tightly he was now holding Margaret, she had to pinch his arm slightly to ask him to release her a little. She turned and gave him a kiss to reassure him. It did not have the desired affect though he let on it had. Complicated scenarios of what the coming days might hold blew about his mind. How he was going to ride out the storm should it begin? Go to ground perhaps, grow a beard and dye his hair, hideaway in the barn? Walt and Margaret would help him surely. But on the other hand what if he milked the story for all it was worth. That analogy brought a smile to his face. Milking! Ironic a thought really. Debra came to mind and her role in the great scheme of things calming the storm within.

There was no doubting the information must have come out of the hospital and someone had released it. The game was certainly on, being played, this money for story game, and by more than just himself. Anyhow he kept quiet, still holding on to Margaret, more tightly again to his body as the three of them watched his two minutes of fame for one last time, the two local farmers hoping for a positive outcome and Mac knowing what might ensue during the coming days.

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