Marc Lucas hesitated. The one uninjured finger of his broken hand hovered over the brass button of the antiquated doorbell for a long time before he pulled himself together and pressed it.
He didn’t know what time it was. The horrors of the last few hours had robbed him of his sense of time as well. Out here in the middle of the forest, though, time seemed unimportant anyway.
The chill November wind and the sleet showers of the last few hours had subsided a little, and even the moon was only intermittently visible through rents in the clouds. It was the sole light source on a night that seemed as cold as it was dark. There was no indication that the ivy-covered, two-storeyed, timber-built house was occupied. Neither did the disproportionately large chimney jutting from the gabled roof appear to be in use, nor could Marc smell the characteristic scent of burning logs that had woken him in the house that morning – shortly after eleven, when they had brought him to the professor for the first time. He’d been feeling ill even at that stage, dangerously ill, but his condition had dramatically worsened since then.