31 Aug

old church photo: Old abandoned church. IMG_2426.jpg14.

“I think we’d better go,” muttered Royston, “we can’t stand around here gossiping all day, much as we’d like to…”
“No, we can’t,” added Angelina, clinging on to his arm. Somewhere, she knew, there would be a warm sun shining, almost certainly back home, which wasn’t all that far away – but this wretched blasted place, this was no place for any sun to waste its energy … this was the very anteroom of Hell itself!
“But you must come with me…” crowed the stranger, “for only by accompanying me will you retrieve your lost and precious eyeglass… and yes, you can have it, once the magic has been done…”
“Magic? Are you some kind of loony?” asked Royston.
“Now that’s not nice,” hissed the stranger, “and so that you don’t find it necessary to insult me any more I’d best tell you my name. You can call me Mr Smith if you like, but I’d prefer it if you called me Gabriel…”
“Gabriel? Is that your real name?” asked Angelina, and Royston grinned behind her back.
“I have had myself baptised in that name,” almost cooed the man. “Now come with me, the two of you, and see what you must see…”
And from a pocket in his uniform he pulled out a small pistol, more like a water pistol that a gun save for the way the dim light of day managed to glint dully from its surface.
“Hey! You can put that thing away!” barked Royston, taking half a step towards him. But only half a step because the small pistol spat a slug of lead so close to his left ear that he could feel the whish of its passing. Another millimetre, he thought, and I’d be a goner.
“There’s no need for that!” he exploded, and he felt the world receding from him as he collapsed onto the gravel road.
“Now you’ve done it!” shouted Angelina, and she knelt by Royston, patting his cheeks and pushing one hand on his chest in a gentle rhythm that may or may not have had curative properties.
“You’ve killed him!” she hissed at Gabriel Smith. “Look, you’ve shot him!”
“I missed,” declared Smith, but she noticed a waver in his voice as if the confidence he’d been displaying to them had been wafer thin.
Royston moaned, then he groaned, then he moaned again.
Slowly he moved, and even more slowly stood up. He was used to the fainting fits he was prone to, and knew how best to come out of them.
“I feel … woozy…” he groaned.
“I’ll take care of you,” whispered Angelina, and she held him to her, pulling him with one hand firmly on his buttocks.
“Oh dear…” he moaned, enjoying the intimate contact.
“I think he’s just about recovered,” Angelina told the stranger, “but I warn you – if he collapses again you might find yourself in very serious trouble with the law!”
“There is no law around here,” muttered Gabriel, but he still didn’t seem to want to look her in the eye.
“Just be careful,” Angelina told him, firmly.
“If you are … vertical, then come with me,” repeated the man called Smith. “I have no intention of harming you, but if you do not do as I tell you then I will be obliged to shoot you. It’s as simple as that…”
“But why us?” stammered Angelina.
“It was you who returned the eyeglass to me. Don’t you see that? Can’t you see how important that makes you? Somewhere in the cosmos there’s a saint waiting for you…”
“It was Blinky!” shouted Royston. “It was the blind man! That eyeglass had very little to do with either of us! We’re just charged with retrieving it and returning it to its rightful owner, a young policeman of our town!”
“That’s enough!” barked he who called himself Gabriel. “No more talk of policemen, young or old, I order you! Now come!”
He indicated that they should walk in front of him with a flick of the muzzle of his pistol, and they did as they were told. It is, thought Royston, useless using words against a madman with a gun…
The day was still gloomy, but they were made to walk down a narrow road, and it was barely easier than walking over the broken moors, for there were potholes all along it, and some of the potholes contained deeper potholes of their own.
After a while the bleak scenery gave way to a village of squat stone houses, many of which looked deserted and on the verge of tumbling down themselves, to match Brainache Castle which, by then, lay hidden in a kind of swirling mist behind them.
They were made to walk down what must have been a main street. Part way down a pub sign slowly rocked from side to side, and Royston wondered where the breeze that blew it was blowing to and from. He couldn’t feel even the least breath of moving air.
Then they came to a church, and the two strangers were made to stop.
“Inside!” hissed Gabriel.
There was nothing for it but to go into a building that was every bit as derelict as the rest of the village.
“Come!” hissed Gabriel, and he moved in front of them, to lead the way. They followed him. It seemed pointless doing anything else. If they tried to run off he would quite easily have shot both of them, though why their presence or their lives was so important to him they had no idea.
He marched to the front of the church and there they noticed a strange wooden contraption, obviously jerry-built out of scrap materials. If anything could be called frail, it’s this,” thought Royston
“We are here!” crowed Gabriel Smith.
“Where?” asked Royston, trying to sound braver than he felt. Somewhere at the back of his mind there was a woolly cloud threatening to descend on his consciousness once again, and he fought against it.
“Here!” repeated Gabriel, and he stood before the weird wooden contraption.
“Behold!” he added, and he reached into his pocket and removed the loupe he had stolen from Blinky Curmudgen.
“This will focus the rays of the sun onto the coffin beneath the floor, and my Auntie Gladys will receive warmth and life from the sun, her heart will beat again and she will become alive!”
“What sun?” asked Angelina.
“It will shine,” nodded Gabriel. “I have decreed that it will shine!”
And carefully, theatrically, he placed the loupe in the wooden cradle he had made for it.
How many hours it had taken to craft that fragile thing, they had no idea, but the wooden bits and pieces, lined up to perfection so that the loupe would be held perfectly focussed onto the mound where apparently he had buried his aunt, looked more fragile than a house made of matchsticks.
And it was.
“Halt!” boomed a voice from the door, and a shot rang out.
The two from 221c knew that voice all right.
It was Blinky Curmudgeon, and he was facing the wrong way and trying to look threatening as the golden eyeglass tinkled from its disintegrating cradle to the stone floor of the old church..
© Peter Rogerson 31.08.14



  1. pambrittain August 31, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

    I am so glad I didn’t see those two little words. I’m loving this.

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