Ephraim Godwin and the Sins of the Past - Part 20 Ch. 49 & 50
Constable Hill glanced sideways at Livingstone as they traveled back to Chattoway's home. The doctor stared straight ahead, keeping his back stiff and his stride at a comfortable yet hurried pace. Hill wondered exactly what was going on. Livingstone had no recollection of leaving the property, entering the shop, or trying to walk off the roof. He swore the last thing he remembered was the boy throwing the dagger at his head.
Whatever has the Inspector dragged us into? The thought nagged at him as they moved through the crowd. Hill knew life as a constable would be difficult, but the last few days had been nothing but fantastical. He wanted to compare thoughts with Clark when they had a moment. He'd been on the force a while longer than Hill, and maybe this was more common than he thought.
"What's gotten into him?" Livingstone asked as he pointed towards Clark, who waved his arms frantically at the top of the stairs.
"I don't kno...Ms. Whitlock," Hill responded as he sped up, hoping the doctor would follow.
"Where the bloody hell have you been?" Clark snapped as the two men rushed up the stairs.
"What's the matter?"
"Ms. Whitlock won't wake up," Clark said as the men entered the house and moved back to the kitchen.
"Good heavens," Livingstone exclaimed as he entered the room and took in Ms. Whitlock slumped in her chair. He rushed to her side and placed two fingers against her neck. Nodding to himself, he bent over and dipped his finger in the spilled liquid mixed with the teacup shards. His head jolted back as he sniffed his wet finger. "She's been poisoned."
Hill and Clark exchanged a glance but neither moved from the doorway. Livingstone closed his eyes and stood very still next to the woman. Hill studied him, noticing the anguish on his face. Could he have done this before leaving? Hill shuddered at the thought.
"Constables, Did I see a water pump in the back yard?" Livingstone asked as he started inspecting the cabinet's contents.
"Yes sir," Hill said with a nod. "It was just off the side from the door here."
"Please go and fill this," he said, holding out a pitcher. Hill grabbed it and rushed out the back. He returned a moment later to find Livingstone and Clark on either side of Ms. Whitlock.
Livingstone held out a glass filled with salt and instructed Hill to fill it. Once the glass was almost full, he stirred the liquid. He motioned to Clark who grabbed Ms. Whitlock's shoulders and held her upright.
"Constable Hill," Livingstone said as he stepped in front of the woman, "I will need you over on this side if you please."
Hill slid opposite Clark and after a moment's hesitation gripped Ms. Whitlock's arm. Livingstone cupped her chin and leaned her head back, opening her mouth a little and placing the glass to her lips.
"Hold her upright until I finish," he said as he began to pour the saltwater into her mouth. Ms. Whitlock sputtered a bit as the liquid filled her mouth, but soon her muscle memory took over and the glass drained. Livingstone stepped away, putting the glass down and returned to stand behind her. "In a moment, you will need to lean her forward. Please keep a tight hold."
Ms. Whitlock's body twitched then shook from a spasm. She shook a bit more, and after a moment, the constables leaned her forward. A retching sound issued deep from her chest and soon the saltwater returned. Livingstone pushed her forward as more and more released from her stomach.
Hill looked up, staring at the ceiling. Clark pressed his lips tight together while looking straight ahead with a blank expression on his face. The doctor patted her on the back before moving in front of her.
"Thank you, doctor," she said with a grimace. "I'm pretty sure he used enough poison to kill an elephant."
"Let's clean you up," Livingstone said but Ms. Whitlock had already passed out.
Ephraim pushed up the manhole cover letting it fall over with a clang. Kimbell's palm on his backside told him to move faster. He scrambled out and spun offering his hand to the Inspector, who grabbed it and allowed the man to help pull him up.
"Hurry," the Inspector growled as they pushed the cover back over the opening. The metal slipped into place with a crunch as it pinched through a rotting hand.
"'oy, what is that?" a constable said as he stepped towards the men. "Oh, Inspector Kimbell...were you in the pits?"
Hunched over and gasping for breath, Kimbell waved the man away before stepping over and scooping up the severed flesh. Ephraim rushed to a vendor to purchase a meat pie wrapped in paper. He slipped the pie to a child walking by and took the paper to the Inspector, who wrapped the hand with a nod of thanks.
"Constable, keep an eye on this cover," Kimbell said as the men started back towards Chattoway's home. "If anything tries to get out...stop it at all cost."
They were too far away to hear the constable's reply, but Ephraim could imagine the man's response. As they turned the corner, Ephraim's head jolted in pain, and he stumbled to his knees, crying out. A flash of light blinded him and in the foggy mist, Ephraim thought he saw Zona floating.
She reached towards him, and he made out the terror on her face. He wondered what was going on when she threw back her head and screamed. The image faded and Ephraim blinked away stars.
"Mr. Godwin," Kimball said helping him to his feet, "Are you all right?"
"No...something is wrong with Zona," Ephraim called out as he stumbled into a run.
Oringo entered the room with a broad smile. He stepped to the table and opened the empty cage, slipping the dark shape inside.
"I gather it was successful?" Cook asked with a nod towards the cages.
"Yes Master...quite successful," he replied as he knelt in front of the man. He kept his head bowed, eyes on the floor, and waited. Oringo caught from the corner of his eye, his Master striding to the table and lifted the cage containing the newest creature.
"You have done well," Cook said before placing the cage back down. "Were you able to retrieve your locket?"
Oringo's hands clenched at his side. He knew better than to show anger when answering, so he stayed quiet. He bit his lower lip and shook his head, hoping it would be enough. Cook's large hand patted his shoulder as he moved back across the room.
"Soon enough I suppose," Cook said as he sat on the single wooden chair in the room. "You may rise."
Oringo silently counted to ten and stood. He was now allowed to move about freely and even speak if necessary. Both things, his previous teacher had frowned upon.
"I think after those things are done in the tunnels, I can head back and get it with no problem."
"Possibly," Cook said, tapping his finger against his lips in thought. "As I told you before, we will be leaving London soon. Maybe there will be time before we go, but I can't guarantee it."
Oringo nodded, casting his eyes down to hide the smoldering anger from his Master. He hated Ephraim Godwin for stealing his locket, and he prayed those creatures made his final moments painful.
"Dash it all," Dr. Livingstone exclaimed as Ephraim burst into the house through the backdoor causing the men to jump.
Ephraim took in the room and sprang to Zona's side, squatting next to her and taking her hand. Her hand squeezed his but she didn't awake.
"She will live Ephraim," Livingstone said patting his shoulder. "But we are all in danger, and we have much to discuss."
The doctor glanced around the room and said nothing more.
"Me and the lads are heading back to the tunnel to check on the situation," Kimbell said as he led the constables from the house. Ephraim didn't look away from Zona, nodding, and waving with his free hand.
"Inspector, I think it prudent to return Ms. Whitlock to her home," Livingstone said at the back door. "I feel nothing else can be done here."
"I agree Doctor, but keep an eye out...we are no longer dealing with absolutes," Kimbell replied before shutting the door.
"Whatever do you think he meant by that?" Livingstone asked as he returned to Ephraim's side.
"Nothing is as it seems, and soon we very well may be facing the devil himself," Ephraim said, his voice a whisper. He stood, allowing Zona's hand to slip from his and turned to face the doctor. "I fear we are no longer trying to save the lives of a few individuals. This is greater than we first expected, and evil is being unleashed on our fair London that will spread out and soak the Empire in blood."
Livingstone nodded but stood quietly. Ephraim began to pace the room, holding the locket in his hand. He swung it back and forth, mimicking his motion through the kitchen. He mumbled to himself but ignored both Zona and Livingstone. Pulling up suddenly, he pointed to the doctor.
"We must get you away," Ephraim declared. "You are the last on Mr. Cook's list for revenge and I will be damned if I let that madman finish that particular quest."
Livingstone shook his head, "No. I will stay for a bit at least. I want to make sure Ms. Whitlock is up and well before slinking away to let you handle protecting Queen and Country."
The last words came out like a thunder blast and Ephraim gave a start. He bound to Livingstone, patted his arm, and offered a chagrined smile.
"My dear man, I am not trying to whisk you away like a babe from wolves. I simply wanted to keep you far away from the madman's grasp."
Livingstone tilted his head before sighing and explaining the rooftop incident. Ephraim stepped back with shock and disbelief on his features. Yet when Livingstone ended his tale with Zona's expelling of the poison, he nodded and slammed his fist into his palm.
"We are one step...no, a hundred steps behind this fiend," Ephraim said as he studied Zona's sleeping form. "Let us take her home. Mary will care for her better than either one of us could."
"Her own bed will do her a world of good," Livingstone agreed with a nod. He moved outside to flag down a carriage.
Ephraim scooped Zona up and held her against his chest. He looked fondly at the woman in his arms and his chest tightened. Although they'd only met days ago, a lifetime had passed and Ephraim wondered how they would have survived without her. He kissed her softly on the top of her head and left Chattoway's house behind.
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