• ERIC BUTLER

Ephraim Godwin and the Sins of the Past - Part 21 Ch 54-55


Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR


Oringo carried the cage under his left arm. He wanted it tight against his body, afraid the creature might somehow get out. He still wasn't sure what to call them, as his master would not say. Oringo simply called them seeds. Never seen no seeds that could crawl around. Shaking his head, honestly never seen any of the amazing things Mr. Cook did.


The seed slithered about, bumping into the side held against Oringo's body. He shuddered, knowing what came next. Tiny tentacles slipped out and ran against his shirt, searching for an opening. If they found one, they would begin to burrow into his skin. His right side still itched from earlier as it healed up.


Part of the reason the master was requiring him to get new clothes. Two more days, and he'd be dressed up like one of those dandy clowns. Shaking his head, Oringo darted into the alleyway. He slid backward through the muck, keeping his eyes locked on the alley entrance. After a few yards, he squatted next to a pile of rubbish.


"Oy, he went this way I figure," a harsh voice said as three silhouettes filled the entrance.


"You sure," the smallest silhouette asked, voice filled with doubt.


"'E's scared," the last one said with a laugh. Oringo set the cage down and slipped his knife from his boot.


They entered the alley and spread out, making it impossible for anyone to pass by. Oringo grinned, shifting his knife to his right hand. He had no plan to leave the alley until this was finished. As the group stepped closer, Oringo took a deep breath. His eyes burned from the stench of the refuse pile, but he held the putrid breath in.


"I 'ate this alley," the small one said, "you can't see nothin' past the front and it smells awful like..."


Oringo stood and slipped his knife into the speaker's throat, cutting him off. He pulled the blade out and spun, kicking out his left leg into the closest one standing. A satisfying crunch echoed in the alley, and Oringo slashed his blade across the figure's face as he tumbled to the ground. The biggest silhouette bounced back, keeping the others between him and Oringo.


"Hear now," he stammered bringing his hands up to show he held no weapon, "I ain't lookin' for trouble."


"Too bad I am," Oringo said with a laugh as he flung the knife at the shape. It slipped just under his chin, the man clawed at his throat as he fell to his knees.


Oringo stepped over the bodies and smiled at the man. "You lot 'ave been a big help but funs over. I have work to do." He pulled his knife free and pushed the man over with his boot.

The second man groaned, and Oringo spun around gripping the man by his hair. He dragged him to the back of the alley and leaned him against the wall. He slipped his knife between his ribs and held it a moment wishing the alley was brighter, so he could enjoy the man's death. Of course any brighter, and he couldn't plant the seed.


After dragging the other two bodies over and piling them up, Oringo retrieved the cage; the wood shook and creaked as the creature became aroused by the scent of blood and death. He popped the lock and sat the cage down by the bodies. The creature slithered out and moved up the small one's torso. It paused at the neck wound and Oringo imagined the tentacles pushing past the opened skin.


He shuddered as he turned. The master instructed him to release this one closer to the Jew's burial grounds, but there was plenty for it to eat here. If the noises were any indication, the first seed was planted. Oringo stepped from the alley, whistling as he strode away.


CHAPTER FIFTY-FIVE


"Ms. Whitlock seems to be getting stronger," Livingstone said before sipping his tea. Ephraim glanced up from the paper and frowned.


"A tad longer than expected though," he said, leaving the doctor to decide if it was a statement or a question.


"True. The woman's been through a lot though, and I have every confidence she will be back on her feet in a day or so."


Ephraim offered a terse nod. The doctor had said the same thing two days ago and Zona still lay in bed, slipping in and out of consciousness. He feared more than the poison was at work. Damn Mr. Cook or Whitlock or whatever bloody name he used now!


"Godwin?" Livingstone asked, concern filling his voice.


Ephraim glanced down and studied the paper balled up in his fists. His limbs shook from the anger coursing through his body. Ephraim took a deep breath, unclenched his jaw then his hands, and exhaled slowly.


"Sorry," he replied offering no further explanation. He sipped his tea before grabbing a lemon scone from the plate in the center of the table. The men sat quietly as Ephraim nibbled at the pastry.


Livingstone finally broke the silence, "Two days and nothing...do you think they left London?"


Ephraim shook his head, washing the last glob of food down with a large gulp of tea. He'd been searching the paper for anything that might point them in the correct direction. Smoothing out the paper, he turned it so Livingstone could read where his finger tapped.

The doctor leaned forward, engaged with the article but when he glanced back up confusion colored his face. "I don't see the connection."


Ephraim sighed and retrieved the paper. He folded it in half and read aloud, "...residents in Mile End are reporting an increase of missing cats and dogs in the area. While many have suspected the local butchers, there is no evidence of such at this time."

"And this suggests they are still here?"


"Well, maybe not the two of them specifically, but something they most likely are involved in. We just need to figure that out to connect the dots," Ephraim said as he stood.

Livingstone hurriedly finished his tea and followed the man outside.


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