They were going to kill him.
Martin’s heart froze in despair. They were going to kill him, after all that he’d done. Someone reminded him that Willy Wonka dies in the story. Not in the book, but at the end of the story, he dies like everyone else, and now it was Martin’s turn.
No. It can’t happen. What he’d done - that couldn’t be the last thing he ever did, it couldn’t, it’s too horrible. Is this what he’d turned into? Just because he’d walked into the wrong hangar, he’s going to die. I’m going to die a criminal.
And then... they were gone.
He woke up in his cell, but his chains were off and the door was open. It was obviously a trap, but he was unable to keep himself from going. The hallway was empty. At the end of the hall, the lunchroom was empty. Beyond the door, another empty hallway, empty rooms everywhere. He pushed open a door to find an empty shipping bay.
He shivered. Was he the last man on the Earth?
But no. The street wasn’t empty. He didn’t have money so he couldn’t hail a cab. Where was he? Ask someone on the street - anyone - where is this? Where am I? How do I get home? How can I go back? How can I make it so that this never happened?
No one had those answers. But someone told him he was in London.
London. He knew where that was. He could get home.
Martin walked until his feet were sore and kept going, following maps on signs and newspapers and word-of-mouth directions. When he recognized the area, he didn’t need it at all, and he walked to the airport. He’d been walking miles and miles, but he didn’t care, and his legs were on fire but he was home again, an airfield, and everything could go back to normal now, nothing had ever happened and the children had never - and the man with the crazy eyes -
“Can I see your I.D.?” the guard at the employee entrance asked.
His hope shattered. He didn’t have his I.D. He didn’t have any identification at all, because he didn’t exist. Even if he did have his I.D....
“Douglas,” he found himself saying. Desperately. “Douglas Richardson. First Officer of MJN - is he here? Please tell me he’s here.” Begging now.
“MJN? You mean that dinky airline with the crapped-out plane?” Oh, thank God, their reputation among the airfields - even a bad one - served a purpose.
“Yes,” he said, as though the guard had singlehandedly rescued him.
“They’ve been here for a while. Weeks, actually. They’ve been grounded.” He looked at Martin skeptically. “Hey, have I seen you somewhere before?”
His face. His face. Did it belong to someone else? He’d thought it was just - just another face, just not his, but - if it were someone else’s...
Oh, God. He felt fear hollow him out. Who was he?
“Calm down,” said the guard, alarmed. He must have seen the fear on Martin’s face. “Calm down, I didn’t mean anything. I’ll go look for Mr. Richardson, put out a word. Wait by that coffeeshop, I’ll send him here.”
He pointed to the public part of the airport. How many times had Martin been to that coffeeshop? They wouldn’t know it’s him. “Thank you,” he said, his voice shaking, and he left.
He’d never be the same. Ever. He’d always be the man who tortured children.
He felt a tear crawl down his face.
Someone else’s face.