Ephraim Godwin and the Sins of the Past - Part 17 Chapters 43 & 44
"Livingstone," Ephraim called out as he moved to the man's side.
The doctor lay on the ground, his eyes open with a rather large lump forming on his forehead. The handle of the knife sat off to the side, with no blade attached. Ephraim reached to pick it up, but Zona's hand on his shoulder stopped him.
"It's a cursed item...even without the blade it might do damage."
Ephraim nodded and moved his attention back to the doctor. He blinked a few times and when he struggled to rise, Kimbell and Ephraim helped him to a sitting position.
He looked at each person, taking long moments to study their faces before moving to the next. Finally, Livingstone locked eyes with Ephraim and said, "So who are you?"
Ephraim glanced at Zona and Kimbell before refocusing on Livingstone. How hard did that handle strike the man?
"Livingstone, I'm Ephraim Godwin," he said offering his hand to help the doctor to his feet. "And this is Ms. Zona Whitlock and Inspector Kimbell."
"Ah," Livingstone said, nodding in agreement, "Pleasure to meet you but maybe I wasn't clear...who are you to me?"
Zona reached out and touched the angry red knot on his forehead. "We are your friends, good Doctor," Zona said, sadness filling her voice. She shook her head at Ephraim and moved her hand away, letting it fall uselessly to her side.
"Oh, well lucky for me then," he said, a smile on his lips. "This could have ended much worse if I'd been found on the ground by strangers. You just never know. Once in Africa, I witnessed what happens to those found by the unfriendly...believe me, not something one wants to experience or remember if I'm being honest."
Ephraim nodded and patted the doctor on his shoulder. Stepping away from the man, he motioned for the Inspector and Zona to follow. They stepped to his side and the three huddled together.
"I'm not sure I can handle any more of this funny business," Kimbell said with a sigh. "It's going to take all I got to get those two constables moving and now we've lost the doctor."
"Yes," Ephraim said, "we have lost him. Ms. Whitlock will take him back in the house and keep an eye on him."
"And where will you be?"
Ephraim glanced at her and offered a sad smile. It struck him odd that even though he just lost a new comrade, a friend, his only thoughts were of relief the handle had not struck her.
"We will be after the lad."
"And how will we be doing that?" the Inspector asked as he glanced around.
"Unfortunately, we'll be in the sewers."
Zona glared at Ephraim. Just like the man to send me away to babysit! Her cheeks blazed red, and her eyes closed to slits. She opened her mouth to inform the man exactly what she planned to do.
Ephraim held up his hand, "Hold on before you decide to argue. We need someone familiar with...well, the supernatural I guess, to watch over the man. You have the most experience."
Zona moved her glare towards the Inspector who reluctantly nodded his agreement.
"Very well...you've convinced me," she said through clenched teeth. "However, I must warn you that if the boy or his master can produce such effects as we just witnessed, you must be prepared for anything."
"Well, of course," Ephraim replied, clearing his throat as her glare intensified. "I mean of course we will."
Zona slipped her arm through the doctor's and led him into the house.
"I expect you back in one hour Mr. Godwin," Zona called over her shoulder as they disappeared inside.
"The sewers?" Kimbell asked as the two men moved toward the fountain.
Ephraim nodded before pausing at the statue. The marble had changed from a dirty, stained white to glistening dark green. The tentacles flowed out from one central mass that Ephraim could not make sense of as it seemed to not be a body or a hole. He fought the urge to reach out and touch the stone; afraid they might come alive and wrap around him. He had seen what a squid could do to a dolphin, and he expected it would feel something like that.
"I'm afraid so. We must catch the boy, and...whatever left the girl," Ephraim said with a shudder. He knelt by the fountain's edge and pointed behind the statue. A large cover had been removed and the fountain's water now drained through the opening.
Kimbell turned to his men, neither had moved from their spots since the girl's death. "Find me a lantern and then I want you two to stay with Ms. Whitlock and the Doctor."
The constables shared a look and then one moved towards the house while the other fetched the Inspector a lantern.
"I don't want to be stuck underground after sunset," Kimbell growled as they waited.
"Agreed," Ephraim said as he stepped into the now empty fountain.
He stared down the hole, counting the ladder rungs until the dark grew too dense. Lucky number thirteen, hopefully, that means nothing. Ephraim no longer understood anything. The last few days were a blur and if he took a step back and tried to process it all he knew he'd go mad.
The constable held out the lantern, the wick lit. Kimbell nodded his thanks and motioned for Ephraim to start. Ephraim slipped into the hole and moved down until his waist was level with the opening. Kimbell handed him the lantern and waited for Ephraim to continue to the sewers.
"Bloody hell," Kimbell said loud enough for him to hear as the Inspector stepped on the first rung.
Zona emerged from the washroom with noticeably less blood and gore on her person. The dress is ruined, she thought with a frown. It was one of her favorites, a special gift from her brother on a trip to Germany. Her eyes welled up at the realization that there would be no more gifts from her brother.
"Are you well, miss?"
Zona blinked back the tears and stared at Dr. Livingstone. She swallowed; afraid she might truly break down if she answered immediately. Instead, she simply nodded and moved past him.
"Would you care for some tea?" he asked as she slipped into a chair near the fireplace.
Zona had left the doctor in the kitchen, away from the mess. She thought it unfair to make him experience that a second time. When she left the room, the fireplace was cold and dark, now a fire roared and a kettle was on. She turned her head to the doctor and nodded once again. He hurried to prepare two cups and handed her one as he took the other seat.
Zona smiled and took a sip. A sharp bitter taste filled her mouth as the cup slipped from her fingers and shattered on the hard floor. Livingstone smiled and scooted to the end of his seat, placing his cup down on an end table. He reached out and took one of her hands.
"I was extremely impressed with how you retrieved our Mr. Godwin so quickly," the Doctor said in a voice no longer his own. "We can't have that happening again, so I need you off the board for a little while my dear."
Zona's eyes bulged in her head as she opened her mouth to scream for help. The constables should be nearby, but the thought was already getting fuzzy. Her lips closed as her eyes rolled back into her head. Livingstone stood and leaned over her, his lips kissing her forehead.
"Don't worry," he said over his shoulder as he walked from the room, "I'm almost certain I didn't use enough to kill you."
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