The In-between – Part 30 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 ‘Velvety Violets’.

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 and now looking like I will probably do all 31 as one long story. Who’d have thought eh…


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 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26 Part27 Part 28 Part 29

In life I was not at all a religious type, preferring a scientific view of the universe and all within it and it was one that I was wholly comfortable with and that, for the most part, served me well.  On my demise I had expected to drift off into nothing, so you can imagine my surprise when it turned out that the afterlife would turn out to be an experience that, whilst not the Hell the door knocking Christians assured me I was destined for, was never the less turning out to be a pretty awful state of affairs.

“Armitage, your shoes” said O’Rourke pointing as I staggered to my feet, my face contorted. The searing pain in my shoulder made my head spin wildly and every movement I made was agony. What was left of Plumduff pooled at my feet staining my shoes once more.

“I don’t want to be here anymore” I said hobbling forwards towards O’Rourke. “I would very much like to be somewhere else so would you mind terribly if we left because I really don’t feel very good?”

“Armitage, I’m sorry” said the remaining Plumduff walking over and placing a hand on my arm. “I know you were friends. She was so worried about you when you became separated.”

“Yes, I guess we were” I said. “Funny how you get used to somebody so quickly isn’t it. It’s as if we had known each other for far longer than we did.”

“She was a damn fine woman indeed” said O’Rourke.

“And then before you know it” I continued, “they are little more than a tide line on your only good pair of shoes.”

O’Rourke placed his hands on my shoulders, not seeming to care that it was absolute agony for him to do so. “Okay boy, it’s been a long day hasn’t it.”

I nodded and turned to Plumduff. “What about you Margaret, what happens now?”

Plumduff forced a smile. “I will be just fine” she said, “I have no reason to stay now. I only came back for Clarissa.”

She fell silent for a while and O’Rourke and I shuffled uncomfortably where we stood. “Before you go though are you going to tell me why you came here? Or how? I’m sure you realise how little sense all of this makes right?”

“We’re all out of sense I am afraid” said O’Rourke, “and by way of answers the cupboard is a little bare too. I do know though that you were supposed to…”

And before O’Rourke could say any more he realised with a gut wrenching terror that in all of the chaos we had neglected to tie up Thrumhall.  He noticed as the giant hulk of a creature stirred on the floor, “You two get out of here now” he shouted pushing past me and hurling himself through the air towards where he lie.

Groggily Thrumhall threw out an arm instinctively and roared as O’Rourke was sent flying across the floor and on wobbly legs got to his feet shaking his head and turning first to where O’Rourke lay and then towards us.

“Quick now Margaret, go” I said grabbing her by the arm and pulling her towards the stair case.

O’Rourke raised himself back up and stood fists clenched. “Come here you big bugger” he said rolling his neck until it clicked. “Let’s finish this shall we?”

Thrumhall looked at the pool on the floor and then over to where Plumduff and I were heading for the staircase and let out a booming laugh. “Looks like I win Cardinal, and you tried so very hard didn’t you” he mocked.

“Oh shut your cake hole” O’Rourke replied and with fists balled and white knuckles he threw himself at Thrumhall.

As much as I wanted to stay and help which, if I am honest, was a matter for debate, I didn’t and Plumduff and I hurried down the stairs and into the room. Each step made me wince and as we crossed the floor we could hear the fight above as it thundered throughout the building. I heard Thrumhall roar in pain which was soon followed by a crash as if something large had fallen to the floor.

“You go Maggie” I said pointing her to the door. “Down the hill to the river I will catch you up.”

“Where are you going?” she asked. “You’re hurt you need to get away, O’Rourke said so.”

“Just go, you’ll know where you need to be when you see it. I need to make sure he’s okay.”

I pushed her towards the door and watched her squeeze through the gap and out onto the veranda. “Keep going, down the hill.”

There was another crash and the sound of breaking glass and I could hear both men shouting.

“That the best you got big man” shouted O’Rourke. “Come on, you don’t get to have a breather” and his footsteps thundered across the floor above once more. I peered up the stair case as I pressed against the wall to try and get a glimpse but unable to see anything I climbed the stairs slowly.

About half way up Thrumhall shouted something in what I could only assume was his mother tongue and a single shot rang out. The footsteps suddenly stopped and there was a thump as something hit the floor.

Instinct told me to flee and as Thrumhall let out a wild guttural roar I bolted down the stairs as fast as I was able and across the floor. I let out a scream of pain as I squeezed between the hanging doors and heard Thrumhall bellow from above.

“I hear you down there” he said his voice wild and full of hatred. “Thrumhall’s coming for you boy.”

With my heart racing and head spinning adrenaline coursed through me, my instincts screaming to run as fast as I could for the portal and to not look back. Run I did but as I rounded one of the houses at the brow of the hill I turned back to see him burst through the doors and step out onto the veranda.

“I see you boy” he shouted and squeezed a shot from the pistol which tore into the corner of the building just above my head. His face twisted with rage and his eyes bulging he kicked over a clay pot filled with violets as he strode down the stairs sending it cashing into the side of the building opposite.

I needed to further invitation to run and despite the pain tore off as fast as my legs could carry me. Weaving between the buildings I could hear his booming voice behind not far behind me.

“Armitage, here” came a strained voice as I reached the brow of the hill. I skidded to a halt on the pathway next to a small building with a collapsed roof. Plumduff was hidden away just inside the darkened doorway.

“Margaret, what are you doing?” I said stretching out my hand, panting. “You cant stay here come on, we need to go now.”

“This is my home Armitage, I don’t want to leave. I can’t.” The look on her face was one I had seen before and I knew she was not going to change her mind.

But this was her home, not mine, and I had no intention of staying. “Margaret I have to go. I’m sorry, just stay down okay I’ll lead him away.”

“Then go Armitage, and be careful.” She surged, smiling a last time before sliding away into the debris of the house.

My legs felt like lead as I pushed on down the hill, and as I looked back over my shoulder I could see Thrumhall in pursuit his form silhouetted against the setting sun.

“I see you boy ” he bellowed and a shot tore into the ground next to me.

I weaved and ducked as another rang out, the portal now in sight and growing larger. The more I focussed the more the grey in my periphery grew until only a thin slice of reality waited before me, urging me on. More shots exploded in the earth around me but I refused to look back, all my will concentrated on fighting the pain in my shoulder and the fire in my legs.

It was so close now, so close that I could feel the hum in the air vibrating through me and with a final lung bursting effort I slid down the sandy bank and splashed through the shallows of the river. The cold grey beyond the portal rim was right there in front of me and with my heart feeling like it would explode I hurled myself through and tumbled through to the other side.

I could barely get the words out as I lay crumpled my chest heaving “Close it” I shouted, close it now.”

I lifted my head and could see Thrumhall scrambling down the bank. “Quora, close the portal now” I shouted.

“Hello Armitage” she said, her voice cold and harsh. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

Thrumhall splashed through the river, I could see a broad grin on his face and he raised his pistol as he neared the portal.

“Close it Quora, close it.”

As Thrumhall tumbled through the portal after me my head began to spin and the pain overwhelmed me.

“Oh Armitage” she said laughing “you really don’t see how this works do you. I told you there would be a price to pay.”

Part 31