The In-between – Part 23 of 31

Okay so I’m doing M’s prompts going to try and do a full month as one long story with no planning. Today it is ‘Window of Warning’.

The instructions are to simply write for ten minutes or so each day and that’s about it. It’s certainly taking me longer than ten minutes but I will keep going with this for as long as I can and see where each days takes this.


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21  Part 22

Compton’s office was somewhat bigger than Plumduff’s, lined on two opposite sides with similar creaking bookshelves.  If lacked the ornate fireplace of Margaret’s and on the walls not covered with books were displayed a collection of thick framed maps and sketches which I took to be some sort of representation of the In-Between.  Worn patterned carpets in dark reds and greens covered the floors and at one end of the room was a desk behind which he now sat with me opposite.

On his desk, again larger than Plumduff’s,  was the collection of dials that they had used to track me down and the now empty bottle of whisky O’Rourke had so gratefully helped himself to earlier.

I could see he wanted to ask me a million questions but I think the look on my face told him that it might be wise to wait a little.  I was first to break the silence, deciding that if I did not it was more than likely I would be whisked away again on a fool’s errand straight into the jaws of danger and it had been a terribly long few days.

“Why am I here Charles I asked?”  It seemed the simplest of questions but one no one seemed willing or able to answer.  He looked at me for  while, then at the empty bottle and then back at me.

“I’m sorry” he said.  “I know it’s all been pretty chaotic since you got here and hardly ideal but I assure you…”

“Charles, just answer the question” I snapped.

“It’s not that simple Armitage, you are looking for absolutes and those things are now a luxury.”

“So that’s it, I am supposed to accept that this is how it is and I should get used to other worlds and alien creatures and witches and whatever the hell Thrumhall and his lot are.  That’s just the way it is.”

“Well no I just meant…” Crompton stammered.

“Oh and let’s not forget the tree and the Gadzooks and Periscope and Margaret and watches and rings and…” My face red I paused for breath and calmed myself.  “Sorry.  And the girl Charles, I saw her again when I thought Thrumhall’s lot were going to finish me off.”

Crompton stood from his desk and walked across to a small window that looked out onto the courtyard we had accessed from Plumduff’s office.

“We don’t know why we are here Armitage” he began looking out into the distance.  “All we know is that very few of our kind make it here and those that do seem to end up in the office of Entropy.  We suspect that it is something to do with the way we died but cannot be certain.  What we do know is that someone needs to police things here, if that is at all possible, and that duty falls to us.”

“But why?” I asked.  It still made no sense.  “And why me?  Why not somebody else?”

“Armitage, there is no why it just is.  You remember Henry right?”

Armitage nodded.  He also remembered watching him wander off into the grey as if called by the tree and feeling a sense of dread.

“Henry was here before you but it was too much for him and you saw what happened.  That’s just the way things work.  He returned to everywhere and everything.”  He had a tone to his voice that I think he thought was deep and mysterious but mostly I just found it annoying and I wanted very much to throw a tantrum and shout how unfair things were.

I sighed.  “Well it all seems bloody ridiculous if you ask me.  And what about the girl.  Why do I keep seeing her.  It’s like I can feel everything she feels.  A deep sadness.”

Crompton turned from the window and leant on the desk in front of me, arms crossed.  “There are things that will become clear to you in time Armitage, it happens to us all.  You are one of so few of our kind that make it over to the fracture once we die, and there will be a price to pay eventually.  It seems to happen to us all at one point of another.  Do you remember how you died?”

I shook my head.

“Thought not” he replied.  “Always seems to escape us that one.”

As much as I liked Crompton I felt none the wiser and if anything more confused.  “So that’s it then is it, that’s all you’re going to tell me.  This is just how it is and a vague warning about something terrible that will happen some when in the future.  Super.”

“When it comes to the ‘why’ I am afraid that is it yes” he replied.  “Stick with Plumduff, follow your instincts and try and have a little fun.”  He smiled as he said this but he was wholly unconvincing.

“Fun, right I see” I replied.  The only person that seemed to be having any fun was O’Rourke and his version of a good time was not in the slightest bit appealing to me.

“On and another thing” Crompton continued.  “I could do with your wa…”

He never finished the sentence as a look of horror flashed across his face.  This was quickly replaced by one of pain as he tried to speak and then, just as Periscope had done he dissolved into a pool of nothing spilling onto the desk and at my feet on the floor.

I sat for a moment open mouthed as I watched my moccasins absorb some of what was left of him, the tide mark passing the one previously left after our encounter with Periscope.  HIs ring and watch lay in the pool of his remains and as I watched him drip from the desk I did all I could manage.

I yelled at the top of my voice for Plumduff.

 

Part 24 is here