• ERIC BUTLER

The Ephraim Godwin Chronicles - Part 25 - Chapter 62


Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

CHAPTER SIXTY-TWO

"I forgive you," Mr. Whitlock said with a sad smile. "However, I cannot trust you...hence the shackles."


Oringo glared at him from the hard stone ground. They were far underground; in a small room, Mr. Whitlock had experienced a stay in when he was Mr. Cook. A room for dishing out punishment in the pursuit of obedience; a room so deep and off the beaten path, no one remembered its existence. No one save Mr. Whitlock.


Though in a new body, his back still ached from the memory of the lash tearing into his flesh over and over and over. Shaking his head, Mr. Whitlock chased the memories away. He had no time for those just yet. He studied the chains running from the wall before gripping them into his hands and pulling.


"As strong as I remembered," he said, his smile returning. He squatted down and reached out, touching Oringo's cheek with the back of his fingers. The boy pulled away causing Mr. Whitlock to sigh and rise.


"You had a simple job," Mr. Whitlock said as he strode back and forth before the young man. "Plant the seed in the Jew's graveyard. Is that what you did?"


Oringo sat quietly, glowering at his Master. He offered no explanation or excuse. Mr. Whitlock nodded, happy to see his lessons holding true. He was sad to see it come to this, but he honestly knew that eventually there would be no choice. Better to complete the transformation now.


"No...no, it was not," Mr. Whitlock said to fill the silence. "And do you know what happened? It grew too fast and was too exposed and now it is gone."


Shaking his head he stopped walking and squatted back down in front of Oringo. Staring into the young man's eyes, he saw pure hate staring back. The boy was doing well to feed the seed properly. It would take longer since there was only the one body here, but when it blossomed...


Mr. Whitlock stood. He strolled to the doorway and gathered his cane. Turning back to Oringo he offered a bow.


"You will be something truly magnificent to behold. I bid you well and good luck."


With that, Mr. Whitlock stepped from the room and closed the door. It wasn't until the loud click of the key turning the lock did Oringo finally start to scream.


***


The bundle of flesh still smoldered as it lay on the table. Ephraim resisted the urge to find a stick to poke the lump while Livingstone hung his coat and hat on the hooks by the door. Kimbell hung off to the back, his handkerchief pressed against his face. Ephraim didn't blame him as the stench was quite overwhelming.


"Nothing compares," Ephraim said as he moved closer to the mound. Livingstone and Kimbell shared a look, and Ephraim offered a smile. They think I'm still dulled from the drink.


If only he was, and not remembering the last time his senses were assailed like this.

Bad enough they just bunched the dead from both armies, but when an Officer of little ability to think or plan, ordered them burned instead of buried to save time...well, Ephraim never thought he'd smell something that horrid ever again.


"But here we are," he said to no one in particular.


"I'm sorry?" Livingstone asked as he stepped up to the table.


Ephraim offered a sad smile and a partial shake of his head before moving out of the way.

Kimbell hovered around the men, glancing over their shoulders at the mass.


"Well, Doctor?"


Ephraim leaned back, resting on a stool. We need Zona. The thought struck him from out of the blue, but it was correct. The three of them were not equipped to deal with all this. They were non-believers, doubters, men of science; they needed someone who was in tune with the supernatural and the world of the metaphysical.


"Yes...well," Livingstone said, starting and stopping as he appeared to be delaying either beginning or making a decision of what lay on the table.


"All in good time, inspector," Ephraim said hoping to ease the doctor's obvious discomfort.


"I don't think you understand the gravity of the moment, Mr. Godwin," Kimbell said as he moved closer. "Your names are being whispered. Soon those whispers will be shouts and I will not be able to help you for most likely they will lump me in with your misfortunes."


Livingstone nodded and began to cut into the skin. A loud shriek filled the room and Livingstone stumbled back as the mass writhed and shook while dark goo ran from the fresh opening. The stench intensified and Kimbell began to gag and wretch. Ephraim moved to Livingstone's side and steadied the man.


"Good lord," Livingstone asked, his eyes never leaving the mass. "Could it still be alive?"


"I'm not sure it ever was truly alive, but we must do what we can as quickly as we can or so Kimbell has been telling us all night."


"Right," Livingstone replied as he stepped back to the specimen. Ephraim followed him step for step and this time when the doctor cut, Ephraim was holding it down as well as he could.


The flesh was a hot and sticky mess that covered Ephraim's hands with thick slimy mucus. Ephraim tried to focus on anything else, as he began to gag. Livingstone rushed in his dissection, and after a few moments allowed for Ephraim to step back and wash up.


The mass was no longer moving and the doctor had five distinct piles. Ephraim dried his hands on a slightly soiled towel and Kimbell stood by. Livingstone turned to the men and frowned.


"I have no idea what this is as a whole," he said with a touch of defeat in his voice. "But I can tell you there are at least four humans and a number of rodents, felines, and canines mixed together in this mass."


"Good God," Kimbell said his voice barely a whisper.


Ephraim turned to the inspector, "At this point, I don't think we are dealing with God anymore."


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