• ERIC BUTLER

Ephraim Godwin and the Sins of the Past - Part 11 Chapters 30-31


Image by Willgard Krause from Pixabay

THIRTY


The carriage raced towards Livingstone's residence. The sun still slumbered but the darkness was slowly fading to a light gray. Ephraim wondered if the driver was hitting every pothole on purpose. He gritted his teeth as he observed Zona sway with no obvious annoyance to the hard ride.


"It won't do to yell at the help," Zona said, a sly smile on her lips.


Shaking his head, Ephraim realized he needed to be careful of his thoughts around the woman if this continued. For now, he simply said, "Lucky guess."


Zona's laughter filled the carriage as they came to a stop. She reached out and placed her hand on Ephraim's forearm, "We don't have any time to waste. While you retrieve the Doctor, I will head over and secure Mr. Stanbury."


Ephraim nodded and slipped from the carriage. He hoped it would be as easy as she made it out to be. Just pop in, grab Livingstone at this ungodly hour, and meet Zona at Stanbury's...all before some homicidal African completed his mad plans for revenge.


He crossed the walk and as he began to climb the stairs a flash of white off to his right caught his attention. He stepped back and stared at the mouth to the alleyway. Ephraim continued to study the dark opening but after a few moments, shook his head and continued to Livingstone's door.


Three loud bangs with the knocker announced his visit, and moments later the door opened. A tiny man stood in the doorway and blinked at Ephraim. As the silence stretched Ephraim cleared his throat.


"Ephraim Godwin to see Dr. Livingstone," he finally said. The man nodded and ushered him into the hallway. He led Ephraim down the hall and opened another door, motioning for Ephraim to enter.


Ephraim stepped into the largest library he'd ever seen. A fire roared against one wall and a row of tall, thin windows covered the entire wall opposite the door. Every open space was used as shelves for Livingstone's books. Grabbing a random volume, Ephraim moved to the fireplace and sat on one of the chairs.


His stomach grumbled, and he wondered if Livingstone would be up for stopping to grab some food before heading to Stanbury's. He was sure Zona would understand. Ephraim wondered if distance dampened the connection or if she still heard his thoughts. He shuddered, still uncomfortable with anyone poking around his head unsupervised.

Unsupervised? You mean at all, of course...the thought brought out a chuckle. The door opened and Livingstone stepped in the room with a tray. He placed it on the table next to Ephraim and sat in the other chair.


"What brings you here so early?" Livingstone said as he stifled a yawn. He appeared to have just woken up and barely had time to dress for visitors.


"Well...this is going to sound peculiar but Zona and I had a dream," Ephraim said waiting for the shoe to drop.


"A dream?" Livingstone echoed as he began to pour tea. Ephraim took the glass with a nod of thanks and grabbed a scone from the tray.


"Yes, a dream and well, all I am sure of is whatever that scoundrel Cook is up to is scary. Zona understood it better than I did, so I will just say we have to protect those men and stop Cook no matter what."


Ephraim bit into the scone and chewed in silence. Livingstone studied the fire and sipped his tea.


***


Zona stepped from the carriage and hurried to the front door. She rang the bell and waited, glancing over her shoulders every so often. The feeling of unseen eyes watching her weighed heavily on her shoulders. The dream was more than a history lesson. It was a warning.Zona shuddered at the thought. A warning she was not prepared for. If only her brother still lived. She shook her head, might as well wish this evil away as much good it will do.


The door opened and Zona turned her attention back front. A gasp slipped out of her mouth as she stared at John Roberts.


"Whatever are you doing here at such a dreadful hour?" Roberts asked as he stepped past Zona.


"I could ask you the same thing," Zona replied as she followed him down the stairs.


"Business never rests, and Chattoway wants to strike while the irons are hot." He tipped his hat and turned to leave but Zona slid in front of him.


"Before you go, you need to understand you are in danger," Zona said studying Robert's face. "The man who killed your...well, Ms. Chattoway and my brother may very well have you on his list as well."


"I doubt that," Roberts replied stepping to the left to move around Zona, who slid the same direction and put her hand up.


"Listen, foolish man...your father started this all and you are the last living relative. That means you are a target."


Robert's face paled, and he bent close with teeth barred, "Now listen to me, you will keep your wild speculation and downright lies to yourself if you know what's good for you." He pushed past her, stomping away until a handsome pulled up, and he climbed in. Zona stared at it until it disappeared down the way.


***


Cook darted back into the alley as Ephraim Godwin stared in his direction. He shook his head, cursing under his breath. This body betrayed him with every step. He still struggled with his newfound length and the accursed pale skin that seemed to shine in the moonlight, and burn to a crisp in the sun.


Cook sighed and turned heel. He wondered what had Godwin up so early. Not only up but racing to the good Doctor's house. Closing his eyes, he started to push out with his mind. He had mastered this with his old body, but he was still figuring out how to control the beast's magic in this new one.


Sighing, he sensed the wisps of smoke, almost like tentacles slipping across the air currents, searching for their prey. This body, for all its disadvantages, was made for such activities. He marveled at how strong the link was, something he'd never experienced in his old body. In the past when he tried to control the gifts from the well, it was a fight, a power struggle.


Now, he played an instrument, and with the correct notes, he would play a symphony. He simply needed to practice, gain strength, and confidence and then the path of vengeance would be traveled on swiftly. He smiled as the tentacle slipped past Ephraim's hat, hair, and into his scalp. While controlling a body Cook experienced everything the man felt, thought, or did.


Cook leaned forward, eager to take control of Godwin but a jolt of electricity surged through his senses. He stumbled back and lost his balance, falling to the soaking wet alleyway.


"What just happened?"


His extremities tingled when he tried to stand. While jolts of electricity flowed throughout his body. His teeth hummed and sparked when they met. Cook was sure his new body would be strong enough to take over another, living or not. He had done it dozens of times with his old one...although it did wear it out to the point of failure.


No, this was different. This time when he entered he met something new, something unique. He closed his eyes, replaying the tentacles piercing the veil of Godwin's mind and then running into a wall. Some type of shield that closed his mind to the manipulative powers Cook's possessed.


Cook's growled in frustration. He was here to kill Livingstone, and remove him from the board. But when Godwin appeared, Cook thought fortune smiled upon him. Two birds with one stone, but alas he could not pierce the veil today and exited the alleyway. Turning to the left, he hurried down the street away from Godwin and this new conundrum.


THIRTY-ONE


Ephraim rang the bell at Stanbury's residence. Surprise bloomed on his face when Zona opened the door.


"Did you two enjoy your breakfast?" she asked, reaching out and dusting crumbs off Ephraim's jacket. He colored slightly, cleared his throat, and entered the house.


"You realize you addle the poor boy," Livingstone said as he tipped his hat and followed her inside.


"Stanbury's already gone, grabbed the family and run to a place they have in a hamlet outside of London. However, Mr. Devitt is here and has some interesting information."

"At this hour?" Livingstone said turning his questioning eyes to Zona. She only offered a shrug and directed Ephraim to the correct room.


He found Devitt, hunched over a piece of parchment that he frantically wrote on. Ephraim shared a glance with Livingstone who raised his brow in question. Zona slid between the two men and stood next to Devitt. He continued to scribble on the parchment, even after Zona placed a hand on his shoulder.


"He's giving us directions to a shortcut to Stanbury's country estates," Zona said with a smile. A smile that gave Ephraim suspicions that all was not on the up and up.


"What did you do?" he asked Zona, stepping over to study Devitt closer.


He showed no reaction that a man was close to his face. Even less as Ephraim moved his face so close the tips of their noses touched. The man never looked up or stopped writing. Ephraim reached out, his hand shaking, and pressed a finger to the man's cheek. No reaction, so shrugging, Ephraim increased the force, and still nothing. He pulled away and turned to Livingstone.


"Diagnosis Doctor?" Ephraim asked, Livingstone studied the man in front of them and frowned.


"This man is in a state of hypnosis." Both men turned to Zona who smiled.


"Well, it seemed the quickest way to get what we wanted. He was already upset I came upon Mr. Roberts and almost refused to see me altogether. Now we get what we want, and he won't be upset."


"Until we wake him, that is," Ephraim said with a heavy sigh.


Devitt finished writing and sat back. Zona took the paper and handed it to Livingstone. She moved around the table and faced Devitt's blank stare.


"Before that, I have a question," Zona said, her voice moving with a sway. "Did anything happen that you failed to mention in Africa?"


Devitt bit his bottom lip, beads of sweat popped on his forehead. His body quivered from the force needed to stop from answering the request and then suddenly he grew still. He blinked three times and his glazed over eyes focused on Ephraim's face.


"You were an Army man...you remember how it was," Devitt whispered. "We had our orders, and even if we wanted to stop...well you understand how one's blood gets up."


"What did you do, man?" Livingstone growled his cheeks flush with anger.


"They were children mostly...but some were riper than others. Some would have been of marriage age in many colonies except for their black skin. Those savages wanted our touch, welcomed it..."


Devitt's voice trailed off and the room was silent for a moment. Livingstone, shaking in rage, took a step forward his hand flexing around his cane. Ephraim put out his hand and stopped Livingstone.


"While I agree with you good Doctor, we can't touch this man and as much as it pains me, we must protect him from the fate he so richly deserves."


Devitt shuddered, each word spoken striking like a well-aimed punch. Tears flowed from his eyes, as he repeatedly mouthed a sorrowful apology.


"He will pay for his sins...it is not our place to judge," Zona said softly; her hands each resting on her companions' backs.


"Yes...very well, so now what?"


"Now we tell Kimbell to send a man over here to watch Devitt, and we are off to the countryside to see if we can stop a family from being massacred," Ephraim said before storming out of the room.





© 2020 Naked Cat Press. All Rights Reserved

15 views
 

Subscribe Form

  • Facebook

©2020 by Naked Cat Press. All Rights Reserved.