• ERIC BUTLER

The Ephraim Godwin Chronicles - Part 28 - Chapter 66.


CHAPTER SIXTY-SIX


"So we are in agreement?" Livingstone asked the group gathered at the table. No one responded at first, but soon Ms. Whitlock nodded. Inspector Kimbell quickly followed but Ephraim Godwin stared at the doctor with no response either way.


Kimbell shifted his attention to the man on his right, "Well Mr. Godwin is this plan not satisfactory to you?"


Ephraim glanced at the inspector before returning his attention to Livingstone. Truth be told, the doctor couldn't recall the man speaking at all since he woke up. Ephraim announced he was conscious with a low moan, mirroring the depth of pain permeating through his body from the impact with the fish cart, but no actual words.


Ms. Whitlock studied the man, and Livingstone wondered if that something he witnessed blossoming earlier in their adventure would be allowed to grow. He'd seen many connections fall apart under less drastic circumstances. That's neither here nor there, he reminded himself.


Ephraim stood, pushing his chair back, so he could step away from the group. The man paced back and forth, his newly acquired limp becoming less pronounced each day.


Livingstone hoped after a few days in the country, the man would be all healed up. Might even be able to remove the sling as well, yet the doctor didn't want to get ahead of himself with Ephraim's arm. Although the arm didn't break in the fall, Ephraim wrenched his shoulder quite badly.


Ephraim came to a stop and studied the three at the table. Taking a deep breath he finally released it and said, "Fine," before stalking out of the room.


Livingstone turned his attention back to the others, "Great, now that's settled we can move forward."


"Ms. Whitlock...the letter," the inspector said as he held out his hand. She hesitated a moment but produced the folded letter from her dress.


"I will keep investigating this with Constable Hill's help, while the three of you head to Mr. Godwin's family estate."


"I think it's for the best," Livingstone said with a nod as he stood to follow Ephraim.

He found the man sitting in the garden, his eyes glued to a bluebird splashing around in a birdbath. Dark circles around his eyes betrayed his lack of sleep, and Ephraim held himself in a slumped, defeated manner. Livingstone found it a startling change from when he first met the man a few days before.


"I was just thinking how we so recently met," Livingstone said as to announce his presence. A slight nod was Ephraim's only reaction. After waiting a moment, Livingstone sat on the bench next to Ephraim.


"I know you want to stay here, to pursue the clues to see if you can find Mr. Cooks', pardon... Mr. Whitlock's apprentice, but you and Ms. Whitlock need to rest."


"I know," Ephraim said after a brief moment of silence. "I am simply worried that any delay will spell disaster for that boy. Yet, as you say, Zona and I need the rest and my brother needs help, and so we will travel to a place I have refused to visit since I left for the war."


"And why is that?" Ms. Whitlock called out as she entered the garden. Livingstone glanced back, a warning flashed in his eyes. One he hoped she noticed, but furthermore one she would heed.


Coming to a stop in front of the two men, Ms. Whitlock staring down at them. Livingstone shrugged; mostly to himself as it was evident her choice was to ignore him. Ephraim sighed and offered a sad smile.


"My older brother frowned upon my marriage, and his disappointment deepened when I chose to fight in the war. I had duties at home that he felt were more important."


Ms. Whitlock squatted in front of Ephraim and took his free hand. She offered a crooked smile before gazing at his palm. She squinted bringing the hand closer to study, her fingertip tracing the lines until she pressed hard in the middle of his hand.


"All will be forgiven but at a cost; life will go on but not for all; you will find the truth but at a great sacrifice," Ms. Whitlock said in a voice cold and distant.


Livingstone studied the woman as if seeing it for the first time. Her face, like marble, was smooth and cool and her eyes no longer squinted but stared far away. He glanced at Ephraim who wore a disbelieving smirk and stared at Ms. Whitlock's hands. He cleared his throat, and Ms. Whitlock shuddered.


She looked at Ephraim, following his eyes to his hands still being held by her. With a yelp, she let him go and stumbled backward as she stood. Offering a chagrined smile she asked, "Did I say anything?"


"Yes but it was all gibberish," Ephraim said with a forced laugh. Livingstone offering a weak smile nodded. Maybe staying with the inspector is the safer choice.


***


Mr. Zachariah C. Whitlock stood on the dock of a small French town he had never heard of before. He smiled as a pretty young lady slipped past him and paused, glancing to see if she caught his eye. He tipped his hat at her but turned to walk in the opposite direction.


It wouldn't do to start feeding his appetites right off the boat. He needed to find someone first. Someone who knew how to secure him more seeds. If need be, he would travel back to Africa but his dreams told him there was a woman here. A woman with the necessary ability to help him create the seeds he lost in England. A sigh slipped out as he relived the reborn god bursting from the sea to aid his escape.


It was worth it to remove those meddlers from the board. The thought warmed his heart. His plans needed time to grow, and so at the time, it was worth the loss of his final seed. My only regret was not witnessing their demise with my own eyes. The ship had sailed too far away but the time the creature had begun its rampage.

Oh, well, there will be plenty of time to witness the miracles of the others. Especially my dear Oringo...when his true potential awakens, the whole of London will quake in fear. But first, he needed to find the woman...and convince her to help with his crusade.


***


Oringo jangled the chains once again. The sound drowned out the clawing and squeaks of the rats moving behind the walls, but only for a moment. He bit down on his bottom lip, increasing the pressure until blood filled his mouth. The sudden taste of copper brought him back, and he loosened his jaws. If there was anything he feared more than death, it was the dark.


The Colonel used darkness as a training tool. It was very effective in molding Oringo into the subservient helper Mr. Cook set free. I was never free... I merely traded one master for another. He shivered, wondering just how long he'd last in the dark. Something would get him unless the Master returned. His stomach grumbled as if to remind him how long since his last meal.


"Not even a meal," Oringo whispered, the memory of the seed slithering into his mouth froze his blood. He stuck his fingers down his throat; trying again to force the creature out by vomiting. He gagged but nothing came.


Oringo jangled the chains again; contemplating if now was the time to pray. A clear memory of his mother praying for his father's safe return floated in but blurred as the door burst in. The Colonel entered flashing a wicked-looking knife.


Oringo shook the chains madly, hoping the noise would distract him from the remembrance of horrors the Colonel visited on his mother that night. His prayers died on his lips as the memories played anyway.


His hoarse laughter joined the jangling of the chains as he realized the only god who would save him grew in his belly.


"I will have my revenge," he screamed into the darkness, "sooner or later... I will have my revenge."



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