It was a rainy afternoon. Odd rays of brazen sunlight sparkled out through the dense cloudmatter, striking the wet red tiles of the cities rooftops and making them glint strangely with a strangled auburn haze. Fog clung to the grimy yellowed street like a reluctant lover, purling around the gritty drainpipes and pooling in the deserted front gardens. The few dead remains of last summer's flowers rustled softly to themselves in the faint touch of winter. Raindrops were pattering like imperfect jewels from the leaves of the overgrown yellowing tree in front of Number Four. Even the air tasted as if it had been shut in a damp wardrobe for weeks.

Perhaps it was the fog's fault that they never saw him. Perhaps it was the fault of the rain. Perhaps it was the fault of the oncoming winter darkness. At any rate the traffic light by the bend in the street, just a few houses down from the corner shop, started blinking. Its amber light was just about to turn green. Then the boy stepped into the road; baggy trousers, glasses, messy dirty-blonde hair. A car's tires screeched a second too late. There was a spray of water.

The car backed away, under much protest from the beleaguered engine, so that it could navigate a large arch around that spot in the road and drive on. For a moment the motor refused to start, almost as if caught in a fascinated guilt and wanting to face its actions. In the end though, the driver won and the car disappeared down the turning into Ackles Lane towards the main road and, for all intents and purposes, out of the world.

The traffic lights had finished their allotted time on green and were now blinking. A sharp beeping noise was echoing down the road, warning pedestrians to get to the other side as quickly as they could. The body of the boy – fifteen years old, top of the top-set for English, a dedicated online fantasy game player, Jasper's best friend – didn't move at the sound. He never moved again.