Other & miscellaneous

A light in the mist

Wayne Telford

A light in the mist

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Chapter 1
A dark awakening

Dawn breaks, the light ebbing its way through the tapestry of my dreams as if awakening one, who has lied dormant for many years, has suddenly arisen from a seemingly endless slumber.
I awake unto an enlightened room so familiar and yet enshrouded in mystery with its walls of crimson, lights much like that of a palace, each crystal charming its way backward and forward with diffractions of light playing and dancing across each and every object. Curtains of satin drape across my bed posts as if a veil waiting to unsheathe the morning’s light and bring with it the hope of a new day one so grand in its master’s design. With art on the walls and marble busts of my great predecessors, how I long to be free of the plague, the plague that haunts my dreams, the plague of not being in control.
But what is control? According to science one is not governed by control – no one is governed by fate and it is fate that has seen fit to punish me with these ravenous desires, this thirst for destruction and mayhem. Confused? I do not point blame, I suppose it was my own doing following one’s own path rather than that which is crafted for him, alas it is only a dream and I will ensure it does not become a reality for if so who knows what I am capable of and I fear my actions will bring a tear even to his watchful eye. But who am I to speak of darkness, of peril when our soldiers are out there fighting for king, country and the empire for the illusion that is freedom “Master Jekyll will you be requiring breakfast.” Ah my old friend calls to me reminding me that I am not alone on this endeavour and that in life a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved in turn. “I think I will Bernard, I think I will.” Bernard always had words of wisdom for me even when I was lost for words guiding me on a steady and calmed path ensuring that even through the darkest of days and largest of storms that I was never alone. Alongside his most elegant of spreads for breaking the morning’s hunger we were a team forged in stone with only one purpose … to enlighten one another. “What is on the agenda?” “Well sir whatever you desire, I mean we are not bound by limitations are we?” Bernard replies holding close the cross shaped cuff links within his garb to his hands almost wishing for their endless wonder never to end and be free for all mankind to enjoy. But unfortunate as it is man would have it snatched from the mouths of defenceless children and the poor in order to feed themselves and their accompanying egos. “Not by limitations, my friend, but by duty, responsibility and people!” “Pardon me sir but did you have the dream again?” “if it makes you feel better the night shows no atrocities” Bernard informs knowing me all too well despite my affinity for locking my feelings under the most secret of guard and hiding the key behind a falsified smile he knew me all too well. “Thank you my friend this gives me hope enough to go out and maybe select some new wears after all this is the land of opportunity is it not? A land where the streets are paved with gold, where the people speak in posh dialect and ride horses of metal, when the reality is the streets are riddled in waste, the language fowl and the metal horses being put into the hands of people who are unaware of their power. Alas why be so glum? One man can change the world it seems so why don’t we give it a try? Is that not so Bernard?”
I enquire knowing my words become more distasteful every day to know what has become of this race once at the right hand and now … well. “well sir I believe that anything is possible all you need is the faith to believe it” “how right you are Bernard there is enough darkness in this clouded city without me adding to it, why even the crows are happy this morning so what right have I to be dismal?” I turn away from Bernard and open my folds of scarlet to reveal a foggish glow which soon clears taking with it the smell of the estates festivities from fine wines to dinner to … I don’t want to know only to show a once covered road carved by the vehicles that navigate them. I brush past my work desk of mahogany and glass with ornate peelings dorning each of the draws with borders of silver and f loral coverings. How ones furniture has a life of its own holding memories within its very fabric whose purpose is to protect despite having draws that are empty. Upon it, tools for my profession the best money can buy, they say, but half of them are only there for polishing and keeping Bernard busy. But wait something catches my eye a glimmering tool I don’t remember possessing before a strange compass looking object with no dials, no directions, no … compass. But alas it resembles perfectly. How strange to think that something can appear as such on the outside but be completely different on the inside perhaps this compass resembles me? Only time will tell. ‘Thump, thump, thump’ “what the dickens was that Bernard?” “Some sort of attack from malicious chimney sweeps or marauding paper boys?” “Neither sir” Bernard explains “it appears to be the post with an unusually large letter” “Hmm intriguing probably the bill for his grand house, left to me by my father, what does it say?” I enquired. “I think you should be the one to read this sir it holds the seal of the king himself!” “What is it an execution? … What are the charges?
Destroying property? , Frightening locals? , Causing riots? Well speak up Bernard” “no sir I fear it is much graver news his majesty has sent a request for your personal attendance as a murder has occurred in his very palace sir!” with a worried expression Bernard raised his hand to his mouth and struggled to comprehend the truth. Eventually it gripped me. I was all too aware of treachery after all the royal family has always been known for extinguishing one another to secure the throne for themselves but this is a task that will need to be thoroughly investigated for the very fabric of London, Britain and maybe even history itself could depend upon my decision. Condemning a prince or princess to hang by the neck until dead? Could I have that responsibility to kill our future monarch? No it is not my burden to bear alone. I will need assistance on this case so that if my back be turned, I would not leave within a casket. Whosoever committed this heinous act must be of great importance. One does not just murder in the queen’s royal household for fear they would lose more than their dignity no whoever the perpetrator was they were skilled and must be treated with exceptional care. “Will you be requiring transport sir?” “Perhaps the newer cart?” “that won’t be necessary Bernard I think I’ll enjoy the walk” or run in my case, knowing full well that children will try to steal whatever I have upon me. Poor ; how I long for children to be free and with a family. What a world to bring them into: corruption, war, strangeness in society but parenthood is all about sacrifice not self … bah who am I to judge unless I wear the wig or hold the gabble. But a run will do my heart good especially in the soot covered streets of merry old London. It’s enough to make your face disappear. No wonder Jack got away so easily but he wouldn’t have if I had been after him then, I think, he would long for the smog because there he could hide while out here all that would await him would be the noose. Still I must continue. I open the door, rickety old thing, and clamber down the stairs each one with its own sound like an out-of-tune piano. Its spiralling cortex like that of a wire bent to its maker’s every whim, historic art hanging on the walls, tapestries telling tales of success and victory and arches crafted into the foundations leading almost to secret doorways through the walls, if such a thing was possible. Although there are many secrets within this house trapped within its walls, carpets, curtains and the like, I guessed nothing about my parents’ disappearance at a young age, despite my relentless investigating with my microscope and lab equipment. Nonetheless this house was not the case I was being summoned for and I must retain my focus despite the distractions which lie in what I thought to be my safest of places. I reach for my overcoat and top hat to appear as a gentleman, though we are the last of a dying breed in this world. It appears the warmth of a woman’s attention comes not from humble gestures but for a secure future and quite rightly so. However, they still continue to astonish me with people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and riches being ensnared by this web of love and interest. But I digress one should consider the happiness of others above oneself and not speak as such it will never come upon them. With top hat fashioned I adjust its position when all of a sudden … “Yes hello … yes he is here shall I bring his attention for you? Yes very well sir … McKliene … M … C … K … yes indeed I will inform him immediately very well sir take care god’s speed” “who was that Bernard? Some man of sales perhaps?” I inquired. “No sir that was Scotland Yard, a sergeant McKliene, he was asking for your immediate presence at the scene of the murder!” he answered. “Not yet McKliene will have to wait I must fetch a few things in town and pick up an asset on the way” “master Flinte sir?” “You know me all too well old boy” as I reach for the door a strange thing begins, flashing images of the night previous. Could this be the darkness again? I ignore it for now but would be best getting it seen to but then I don’t handle psychiatrics well. The last one I drove insane! My mind unaware of these visions, are they from an ally or enemy? , A friend or stranger? Only time will tell. “Oh well best be off ” I exclaimed. “Yes sir, do send news when you reach the royal household won’t you?” “Yes Bernard I will get her majesty the queen to personally sign it for you and perhaps some photographs to accompany it.” Obviously I was implying humour if I was caught making images in the royal household I would probably lose some weight right above the shoulders for the amusement of the crowd. Although pictures or not my next plan of action, to find my accomplice James Flinte and then meet with sergeant McKliene and find out what is going on in the royal household or should I call it the bloody household. Full of horrors beyond my comprehension, a symbol of power for the entire empire to witness, perhaps that was the reason for this provocation but does this enemy come from outside or has it been birthed within these walls? I would need a keener mind than mine. However, I pushed forward not knowing what opportunity lies right around the corner. Into the street, down its blackened walls and pavements like paths carved in the purest oil and the sun glistening off windows bringing beads of sweat to my brow, although it could just be the act of dodging f lying debris from every house lest you be covered in who knows what! People walking past, broken conversations from across the street; “how’s the misses?” and “going to hospital for my foot” each one insignificant but important to men such as myself. In this profession it’s the little pieces that make the difference. “Ello gov’ner can you spare a minute or two?” a young boy pleas. “Why certainly young man” bearing in mind it’s probably a trap that will cost me my belongings “whatever is the matter?” “Sir could you spare a coin or two, my mother is poor you see and I can see you are a man of class and from what I hear ever so generous, please sir could you help? Please?” as I look upon such a trusting life I am reminded of my humble beginnings. Earning each and every penny forthwith and acquiring each item with extreme levels of labour and diligence. Yet it was an earned life and not one which caused discomfort, we were not always rich in stature or class, that we were blessed with, no before we were humble but never poor. My heart goes out to those who live in a world with opportunity and yet only for the lucky and the upper class. Perhaps there will come a day when I can call this fellow a friend and he in me, only time would tell. “Certainly my dear chap, I hear the school has opened on the street’s corner. That must excite you? The prospect of becoming a gentleman?” the boy’s face falling as though a star from the sky plunging into the depths of concern and anguish not having the strength to return a smile. “Alas good sir we are so poor I fear that school is not an option for the likes of me” “nonsense my boy, knowledge is without price and so should be its practice, whoever heard of a cost for increasing one’s intellect? I mean the entire notion is deemed absurd” and with the slight hint of a smile the boy’s hopes are raised and he adorns me with a watch strange yet somehow familiar. “This was given to me by my father and it would honour him if you would accept it please say that you will” “of course my dear boy and you had better be getting home the day’s light grows short or is that just me?” “the cloud draws ever closer sir from all the factories makes it dark before its night” “indeed well run along and be safe give my regards to your mother wont you and ask her to keep faith that she will get better, meanwhile keep yourself from harm alright promise me?” and as I arise from a crouched position the young boy runs stating “I promise sir … God bless you” his words fading into the distance as if already etched into history and time immortal. Speaking of which, master Flinte was my next call and he would prove difficult to locate. The constitution would have him patrolling all manner of areas during the day and even the graveyard at night, on one occasion. No, I would try the city zoological grounds that were usually his place of interest. As the clock strikes the hour I hasten to find my elusive partner driving ever closer to the task at hand and beginning this case … almost slipped my mind what with that young man’s life being uplifted by a few sovereigns such a small thing … that could lead to a world of difference … if only. I walk toward the zoo’s grounds with a quickness in my step and hear a slight plea, a cry for help and curiosity immediately persuades me to rush to the call. No sooner have I arrived then I see a group of young men brawling in the street such as in the kingdom of animals or House of Commons for that matter. “Excuse me gentleman, I say cease with this violence at once hmm very well” they ignored reason, a swift clip of their wings and they soon retreated leaving a curled up mess of a being lying in their wake. “Son, are you alright?” “Can you hear me?” and as I lean to check his vital signs of life it becomes apparent that only minor damage was induced. A few scratches and bruises nothing that would not heal. “Hello sir, we seem to be meeting frequently don’t we?” “My dear boy what did we just discuss?” “I’m sorry sir as soon as coin is seen the others consider it fair game … just desperate I suppose” “desperation is no reason to attack your fellow man young sir, what is more to rob him of his belongings like vultures” “it’s a hard life sir one of theft, upheaval and betrayal you can’t trust anyone these days … well all except you that is” “come come lad on your feet let us get you home shall we?” “Sir, look its master Flinte!” “Master Flinte?” “Yes the lion tamer and hero of London, can we see him? He tells the most interesting of tales” “alright but as soon as we are finished with master Flinte’s riveting tales let us get you cleaned up and in the safety of your home shall we?” “yes sir” as if achieving two goals with one aim we locate master Flinte pacing as he always did on the outer rims of the zoological grounds, with watch in hand and whistle in mouth singing joyfully to himself words which no man could understand. He would look upon the beasts almost as if to tell their thoughts and yet which one was freer? He that was in a cage made of physical bars or he governed by rules and bars in which he could not see. Yet we rush to meet him … tales and all alike with the welfare of this young man and the fate of the British Empire hanging in the balance. Old Flinte no matter what the beast he would come up against, despite almost losing his appendages, he found it an increase in stimuli, how incredible that fear can stimulate an emotion in order to help conquer it. I guess for every negative emotion there must be a positive to counteract it. We all have our views on bad and good whether it is fate, chance, luck or some religious implication. I suppose life must contain both in order for balance to be found. Mind you in accordance with scientific study, the answer to the age old question “why are we here?” would remain a mystery filled with idea after idea bringing us no closer to the answer as neither can agree on the outcome and even if they do, some other opposes it. Even science is filled with dispute. Whoever thought that seeking the truth could spark such contest with those trying to find it and others trying to hide and diminish it? Ever so strange that with the open sky as our limit even the greatest of minds remain closed if they are not ready for the truth and those that are are mocked and ridiculed. But I prefer to think otherwise that we were designed for a purpose, I mean everything is perfect; the night sky, temperature, air to breathe and life, the heavens as beautiful as they are, all accidental, bah, a likely story although thinking too much again Jekyll I must get to Flinte before he questions his mortality or … never mind. “Where is he young man, can you take me to him?” I ask. “Most certainly sir for help in return” with a devious smile upon his pale white face and accompanying grin forming within his facial contours. “Of course my dear boy anything just take me to Flinte please” slightly with a more abrupt nature and dominant tone of voice almost choking on the please. The price of manners these days, it’s enough to make your stomach twist after all why be treated as a doormat when others show you no courtesy? Bernard always speaks of forgiveness and that each kind act you perform will come back to you doubled, maybe even tripled! Is that not enough to be kind for? Oh well “take me to him boy and I will see about helping you with your matter alright?” “Follow me sir” “this way, this way” “hurry sir hurry!” we run through the streets and alleys, I pursue his outlying shadow like a cat to a mouse trusting fully in his instincts so as not to lead me into a dull end and I come off worse and none short of a mugging. But so far so good all accept this darn awful stench resembling that of the … zoological grounds, ah we were close. I can hear the painful moans of the caged creatures howling through the thick, twisted bars entrapping them. A wild beast on the inside and caging it for people’s amusement and they say barbarianism has perished, I beg to differ. A cry of a lion comes with the shouts and screams of a middle-aged man and there he is … Flinte. James Flinte, a middle-class gentleman with skin of ivory, hair of tanned wool and a stature to rival a horse. Dressed in a dark outfit with gleaming badge and truncheon in hand, black and polished boots glistening in the sun and buttons fastened on his apparel more tightly than his body would permit, not due to his weight but his build. He paces the cages almost listening to each trying to talk, sympathise, obtain conversation but alas human beings are those who can speak to the point of conversation and one would consider their voices to sound as prisoners, slaves or servants allowed to live, but not in freedom, no in captivity and injustice, although prisoners have reason to be bound whereas these do not. This is what James sees I believe the potential in all. He has this daft idea of training them as police enforcement and replacing guards and guard dogs, so man can achieve more pressing matters, but the whole notion is ludicrous enabling a beast to work for the police force … absolutely … ludicrous.
“By grace, what on earth do you think you’re doing sir?” I pronounced from amidst the crowd as he places his hand on the lion’s head with no fear and watch as a crowd of young children gather to be ensnared and amazed at his awe inspiring actions with even more dangerous decisions. “Ha ha just doing my duty sir, how’s about you come from the fog of those streets and people’s stench and near with real men who tame lions and tigers to prove their worth and man’s place within the hierarchy” he exclaims boasting in stature like a peacock during mating season. “You always did play with fire old friend” “Jekyll?!”

Format: 13,5 X 21,5 cm
Number of Pages: 136
ISBN: 978-3-99048-824-9
Release Date: 09.03.2017
GBP 12,50
GBP 7,99