"Nothing's gonna harm you… Not while I'm around…"
Toby sat straight up in his bed and breathed heavily and he shook the ghastly memory out of his mind.
"You were 'aving one of those terrors again, were you not?" His friend asked.
Toby nodded and through the covers off of himself. "I was. I'm sorry, Porter."
Porter nodded and went back to making carvings in the wall with a sharp stone. He had been doing them for years. "You're being released today, I remembered. What did you 'ave to do for that?"
"Nothing, really. The doctor felt that I was fully recovered. The nightmares won't go away, obviously. Those are there to stay but; other than that, I've had no 'moments of insanity', as you called them."
Porter watched Toby as if he had not believed him. He hesitated before speaking. "I suppose you 'avent. 'Ave you got everything packed and ready?" He asked.
Toby nodded excitedly and pointed to a leather suitcase near his bed. "I did that last night. Are you going to be alright without me, Porter? I know how difficult it is for you to talk to people."
"I'm sure I'll be fine. I am gonna miss you, Toby," Porter replied smiling with his kind eyes.
Toby went to the end of his bed and picked up his suitcase; he then shook hands with his dear friend.
"I shall miss you, as well."
Toby was only fourteen when he had witnessed the death of the woman who he had learned to love as a mother: Mrs. Lovett. That same night, Toby found the bodies in the meat grinder and he had seen the brutally slaughtered bodies of Beadle Bamford, Judge Turpin and the beggar woman he shooed out of the pie shop. He later heard that it had been Sweeney Todd's wife.
Toby had been a mess when he arrived. He would cry hysterically for Mrs. Lovett, swear to get his revenge and damn Sweeney's soul. He would have vivid flashbacks of that night, which caused him to have terrible nightmares or cause him to lash out violently at the other patients. All patients, young and old began to fear the young boy. Because of this, Toby was kept in room which he shared with two other boys he knew by nicknames, Match and Porter. Match, who had a fascination with fire, had been born with a condition which the doctors did not understand and he eventually died of neglect before he reached the age of eighteen. Porter, on the other hand, did not seem insane at all to Toby. Porter had already been in this madhouse when Toby had arrived ten years ago. He had been extremely quiet and barely spoke to Toby the first two years of his arrival. Once Porter began to feel comfortable with his knew friend, he told him his whole story. Porter's mother had been a psychopath, who killed her husband, or so he was told. She was with child when she was placed in the madhouse, which was where Porter was born. She had passed away shortly after, leaving Porter in the care of nurses and patients. They named him Porter for a reason Toby did not know. Terrible things had happened to Porter over those years, which was why he was cautious when trusting new people. Toby was appalled by the things Porter had told him but Porter was even more appalled by the things Toby had told him.
Over the years, the two became close friends; each dreaming of a life outside of the madhouse. A life filled with travel, family, a wife, success and anything else that would distract them from the past. Porter had a feeling he would never leave but he had hopes for Toby and that day for Toby came at last, ten years later.
Toby had grown into a rather handsome young man. Unlike most of the other patients, Toby tried his best to take good care of himself and not fall to the disease filled unhopeful darkness that the others had fallen into, Porter was included in this bunch. Toby hadn't lashed out at a patient in five years and his nightmares were becoming less and less frequent. He was almost himself again. Toby had big hopes for his future and he was now ready to set out for them.
"You got any plans when you're outta here?" Porter asked, going back to carving the walls.
"I do actually," Toby started, "I'm going back."
Porter dropped the stone in shock and looked at Toby. "To the shop? I would think that you would wanna avoid all the things that bring you back those memories. I wouldn't even go back to the damned street, if I was you."
"Porter, don't worry. One of the officers told me the same thing and I thought about it; but I have some plans that will distract me from all of that and, I had the officer do me a favor before I return."
"Such as?" Porter asked, still not convinced.
"Well, I told him to empty out Mr. Todd's room upstairs of the unnecessary, which he did. His things were sold at an auction and the money from the auction is now in my possession, so I can be off to a good start. I'm going to reopen Mrs. Lovett's Meat Pie Emporium and buy some fresh new meat and ingredients and then, I'll start baking. I did learn a lot when I was helping her around the shop. I think I may even re-open the barber shop upstairs so I can make a little extra more."
Porter blinked. "My, my, my, you 'ave got things well figured out, I must say."
Toby nodded. "Thank you-" "Tobias Ragg?"
Porter and Toby both turned towards the now open door. An officer was now standing there with the keys in hand.
"I am Tobias Ragg," Toby told him.
"It's time to go," the officer said.
"Right." Toby stepped towards the door and looked back at his room, which he lived in for ten years of his life. "Goodbye, Porter."
"Goodbye, Toby. Be sure to send me one of those meat pies, if you can, aye?" Porter laughed.
Toby smiled. "I shall."
The officer huffed and pulled Toby out of the room and closed the door behind him. Toby's eyes narrowed at him as the officer inspected Toby up and down with his eyes.
"Uh, first things first. You have to go upstairs, get yourself cleaned up, have a bath, and get some new clothes. You weren't expecting to be released in those horrendous rags, were you?"
"These are my only clothes, Sir."
The officer looked at the leather suitcase he was holding. "Then what's in that?"
Toby looked at the bag in his hand. "Oh, this? This was given to me when I arrived. It has my small possessions that I was able to bring with me, surprisingly. The clothes I've worn for the past ten years have all belonged here."
"I see. Well, while you're upstairs putting yourself together, I shall go out and find you something acceptable for you to go out in. I suggest when you arrive back, the first thing you do is find yourself a new wardrobe," The officer said.
Toby said his thanks to the officer and the two soon departed. Toby headed straight upstairs and found a clean bath to bathe in. He fixed his hair, washed his face and in about an hour, a new set of clothes had arrived for him to wear when he left the building. The officer had gotten him a new pair of black leather boots, a new shirt, trousers and a dark coat.
After Toby was dressed, he was told that the officer was waiting for him outside with a carriage. Toby excitedly picked up his suitcase and looked at a cracked mirror on the wall. He smiled at himself. He felt like a brand new man. He felt that nothing would bring him down now, that is, until he walked downstairs. There was a certain hallway that one would have to walk through if you wanted to reach the entrance door quickly. It was usually avoided since there was a mad old woman who would always sit at the start of it. Nurses and doctors said that they would move her but no one ever did.
Eager to leave, Toby quickly headed for that hallway but slowed his pace as he saw the haggard old woman watching him.
"There be a bad omen with ye, Son," she wailed.
Toby ignored her and walked past her. "You're mad," he muttered.
"I am not the one who be mad. Ye are, Tobias Ragg." She had heard him.
That statement made Toby run for the door. He ran till he was out in the thick, foggy London air. Breathless, he stared at the sky. He had not had a chance to gaze upon in ten years. Funny, how a person can easily realize how majestic the sky can be when one has been kept in darkness for so long. The sky was just as he remembered it, gray, dark and gloomy. It was beautiful. He inhaled the cold crisp air. The smell of rain lingered in the air and the streets were damp with drops.
"It's like being in a new world, isn't it?" A voice asked.
Toby broke from his thoughts and looked at the officer, who was waiting at the carriage. "It is," Toby answered.
"We best be going, Mr. Ragg," the Officer said as he opened the door of the carriage for him.
Toby, not wanting to look back on the madhouse, headed straight for the carriage and sat on the side where the window was facing the opposite street.
"Now, tell me; where shall I tell the driver to take you?" The officer asked before he stepped into the carriage.
Toby looked away from the window. "Fleet Street."
The journey to Fleet Street was a fairly short one. The officer huffed and huffed away while Toby stared, wide-eyed, at the once familiar buildings and streets. He remembered it all; the church, the grocer, the court house, the fountain, the houses, the marketplace. Soon, he was in front of the place that was the most familiar of them all.
"Is this the place, Mr. Ragg?" The officer asked.
"Yes," Toby said quickly, holding his suitcase close to him, as he stepped out of the carriage when the driver opened the door.
The officer stepped out of the carriage and looked at the abandoned shop. "It looks like it needs work."
Toby stared at the shop; the officer was right. Mrs. Lovett's sign had faded, the windows were covered in dust, the curtains to the door were in tatters; it really did need a lot of work.
He turned to the officer and held his hand out for a handshake. "I'm sure I will be able to handle it, Officer…"
"Mitchells is the name," the officer said. "Officer Mitchells." Toby shook his hand and gave him a friendly smile.
"I am very grateful for everything you've done."
"My pleasure. Now, don't be getting yourself into trouble. I have faith in you, Mr. Ragg. I can see that if you play your cards right, you will be very successful."
"Thank you so much, Officer. I won't let you down. Once I get this shop re-opened, I'll be sure to have the first pie you have, be free of charge; just don't tell any other soul," Toby winked.
Officer Mitchells laughed heartily. "Why, thank you, Son. I appreciate it. I do enjoy having a good meal once in a while," he said as he got back into the carriage. "I'm sure we shall see one another soon."
"Of course," Toby smiled and watched the carriage disappear in the foggy street. Toby exhaled and opened his leather suitcase and pulled out a ring of keys. He found the right key for the front door and walked slowly to the front door. He shut his eyes tightly as he unlocked and opened the door. He could feel clouds of dust fall lightly on him. He closed the door behind him and opened his eyes. Everything was the same as it was ten years ago. The table where he ate his first meat pie was there and so was Mrs. Lovett's baking area. He walked towards the next room and found the sitting room. The fireplace was still intact but Mrs. Lovett's decorations were gone. Toby decided that they must have been stolen. To his left was Mrs. Lovett's chair. He remembered seeing her rest on that chair. The two of them would have humorous conversations with each other. If anyone had heard them, they would assume the two were quite mad, which they might have been.
Toby then decided to see what the upstairs was like. He went through the side of the shop and saw the space where all the tables for Mrs. Lovett's grand opening of the shop had been placed. To his right were the wooden steps that led up to room where Sweeney Todd had lived and did his gruesome business of murder. Toby went up the steps, hitting the barber's pole as he passed it, and opened the door with another key. The room was fairly empty. He was glad to see that the bloody mess that he saw, when he was showing the officers what Sweeney had done, was all cleaned up.
The dusty bed frame had been left for Toby, as well as the mirror that had the drawers and station for Sweeney's barber knives. The chair was also left in the middle of the room. The trap door for the bodies had been hammered shut, Toby realized when nothing had happened as he pressed the petal of the chair. Everything else in the room, such as tables, was gone. Mr. Sweeney Todd's room was now to be Toby's room.
Toby set his leather case on the wood floor in the middle of the room. He knelt beside it and emptied it out. What fell out of the bag were the three possessions he had kept with him for ten years. The keys were one of these possessions. He had taken the keys he found on the floor when he escaped from the sewer and kept them with him just in case he ever came back. The second possession was his tattered hat he wore when he was younger, it didn't fit him anymore but he had had it ever since he was a young boy. The last possession was a barber knife he had stolen from Sweeney Todd. It was the same knife that he had slit Sweeney's throat with. He had wanted to part with it but a haunting force was preventing him from doing so.
Toby stood up and looked around the room and imagined what he could do with it. He would fix the mirror up, purchase some furniture for the lonely room. Downstairs, he would refurnish Mrs. Lovett's sitting room and polish up the tables and when he was ready to face his fears, he would go down to the bakery and start the machines up again but this time, the machines would not be grinding up body parts. Toby was ready to make things right and he intended to keep it that way.
Toby went back downstairs to the pie shop and opened a cupboard. He wasn't surprised when he saw a dear spider in the corner of the cupboard; the whole place was probably full of those. He opened another cupboard and found an extremely dusty bottle of gin next to equally dusted glass cups.
"Ah, you look familiar," Toby smiled. He took the dusty bottle and a glass. He blew in the cup to get out the dust and wiped it on his shirt. He walked over to the table in the corner and sat. He happily served himself some gin and reclined in his seat, as if he didn't have a care in the world. Toby held his glass out, as if he was proposing a toast.
"To a new life," he stated and drank the gin.
After he satisfied his thirst with the gin, he began to make his plans for the drab abandoned shop come true.