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 ‘Anchored Avenues’.
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 Part 30
I awoke lying on the grass soaked to the skin and the rain falling on my face. Eyes opening I stared up into a starless night sky and on the horizon lightning crackled and fizzed lighting up the clouds. As I sat up I could feel the low far off rumble of thunder in my bones.
With my thoughts a blur I scrambled at the edges of vague images, confusion slowly clearing and giving birth to thoughts of Plumduff and Thrumhall, O’Rourke and the face that always haunted my thoughts at times like these.
I dragged myself to my feet, rain running down my face and the cold night air clawing at my throat. Instinctively I reached for my shoulder, but there was no pain, no blood stained shirt, no bullet wound.
Unsure and confused I looked about, struggling to make out anything familiar in the darkness. Though the wind blew the rain into my face I could just make out that I was stood in a wide grassed area, perhaps a park, with the dark silhouettes of tall buildings behind me and the outline of trees to the sides and ahead. Beyond the trees there was a pale light, barely visible, and being the only real point of reference I headed towards it.
Wearily I walked, my legs heavy and my mind attempting to make sense of what had happened. I checked my hand and could feel the ring tight around my finger but there was no grey periphery. I could see everything. My watch and wallet were still missing but once again I had the jacket I had not had since the hanger.
Pushing through the trees, the crunch of fallen twigs and leaves beneath my feet, I could hear the feint crash of waves and as the rain began to lessen I came out at the side of a road. To the far side of the rode a fence cordoned a short run off to where what must have been a cliff edge because I cold hear only hear the waves and into the distance what little light there was danced across the water. A solitary streetlight lit the area in front of me and the rain glittered as it fell.
I fought the urge to call out to Quora again, intent for once to deal with whatever lay before me and looked along the road. To the right it stretched into darkness, the white lines fading to black and to the left I could make out the arched supports of a bridge someway off..
Instinct told me to head to the bridge and as I set off, the sky lit up as lightning arced across the night sky and once more and the thunder rumbled ever closer.
“I could do with some advice right about now Plumduff ” I said to myself. Even O’Rourke’s unique approach would have been welcomed and wandering through the unlit stretch of road I tried to understand why Quora had sent me here. I knew now that Thrumhall had caused key events of Plumduff’s life never to take place, and assumed that using the device he had done something similar to Crompton but here and now, this felt like oddly familiar.
I pulled the collar of my jacket around my ears and pushed on against the wind which was now blowing straight at me. With my vision obscured by both the darkness and the rain in my face the bridge drew closer and, some way off to one side, I could just make out the glowing tip of a cigarette.
Hurrying my pace I veered to the near side of the bridge, the sounds of the waves growing louder. It was hard to make much out in the darkness but the burning ember briefly sparked into life again and I could make out the face of a woman. It was the woman I had seen in my mind so often.
She jumped as I said hello. “Please just leave me alone” she said.
“Oh sorry, It’s just that I’m kind of lost.”
She drew deep on the cigarette and exhaled, the wind catching the smoke and whipping it upwards.
“You not got a car or anything?” she asked.
“No, like I said I don’t really know where I am.”
She nodded in the direction to our left. “Keep going that way you’ll find a pub about a mile up the road. The Goat and Hound.”
I paused staring at her face in the dark. “Do I know you?” I asked.
“I don’t know, do you? You from around here?”
“Maybe, I think so yeah.”
“Well what is it, do you or don’t you?” She took a final drag of the cigarette and flicked the stub out into the darkness.
“It’s hard to explain, I just…”
“The Goat and hound” she said again pointing up the road. “Won’t take you long.”
She took another cigarette from the packet and put it into her mouth.
“What ” she said staring back at me.
Every part of me said to not go but I did exactly what I knew not to.
“A mile you say? That way?” I said pointing up the road.
“Yeah” she replied and shielding the flame of the lighter from the wind she lit the cigarette.
“Okay thanks” I replied and slowly walked past her. “What’s your name by the way, I’m Armitage.”
“Isobel” she answered without looking up.
I paused, desperate to keep talking to her but she turned her back towards me away from the driving rain and out to sea.
The rain was now getting heavier and I made my way across the bridge, the lightning crackling overhead and the whole area lit up like daylight. I flinched at the sound of the thunder as it followed almost immediately after and out of the corner of my eye I made out a familiar shape in the dark.
“Hello Armitage” said Thrumhall, his voice as unmistakable as his form. He walked over from a knot of trees at the end of the bridge, a broad smile across his face.
I wanted to run but the only way was back towards her and something inside of me told me that I needed to keep him away from her at all costs.
“No need to run Boy” he continued, “it’ll all be over soon don’t you worry.”
“You know Thrumhall, you really are …” I paused struggling for the right words.
“You’re worse than that.”
“Careful now boy you’ll have me thinking you’re trying to get into my good books.”
I wanted to run, to fight, to warn Isobel but I just stood silent.
“Why did she let you through” I said, “Why didn’t she just leave you there?”
“What are you talking about. You mean the girl?” He seemed genuinely confused.
“Quora. The tree. Why did she send you through with me.”
“I think you must have taken a knock to the head because you lead me here. And grateful I am too because it was next on my list of places to see.”
The night lit up again and he noticed me looking at he damage to his face that O’Rourke had done.
“Handy fellow your Cardinal” he said licking a deep cut in his lip. “Went down like a true warrior.”
He saw me ball my fists and laughed. “Come on boy, you’ve had your fun but it’s time to give me back my device and we can get this over with.”
He reached out and grabbed my jacket, pulling me towards himself and rummaging through my pockets.
“Where is it, what did you do with it? And where are the Shadows? I need to get that portal open.”
My face told him before my words did that I didn’t have it and a look of anger spread across his face. He pulled out his pistol and pointed it to my head.
“I’m only going to ask you once meat sack.”
“I don’t have it, Quora sent…”
“Quora, I don’t know any Quora Armitage. Now give me my device.”
I shook my head defiantly. I couldn’t give him what I didn’t have but if I kept him busy for long enough maybe Isobel would somehow get away.
“I’ll tell you what we’re going to do shall we?” he said. The question was obviously rhetorical though and he brought the pistol down heavily across the side of my face. I could taste blood in my mouth and my legs turned to jelly. I would have fallen to the ground had he not be holding me up.
“Shut it” he barked slipping the pistol back into its holster as I mumbled something obscene about his mother hoping to distract him. It was to no avail though and ignoring my insults about the circumstances of his birth he began to drag me back across the bridge towards Isobel.
Her back was still to us, and with the rain hammering down and the flash and crash of the thunder and lightning she did not hear us approach. I struggled, my head spinning, but I was too weak and before I could stop him he reached out and wrapped an arm around her neck pulling her into his chest.
Isobel tried to scream, but his arm was cutting off her air and with nails clawing at his arm and legs dangling he lifted her from the floor.
“You still don’t get it do you” he said. “And I though you Entropy boys were meant to be bright.”
“”Let her go” I begged. “Please, she doesn’t deserve this she hasn’t done anything wrong.”
He threw me to the side and wrapped all of his arms around her.
“Armitage, if she dies you don’t get to save her and if you don’t save her you don’t get that shiny badge. ”
“But why not just kill me?”
He laughed and walked over to the guard rail. Isobel struggled against him but she was too weak to resist him. “You can’t really kill what’s already dead boy.”
As he lifted her up above the rail, her legs thrashing, I summonsed every last bit of strength I had and lunged forward for his pistol, pulling it out of the holster that hung at his side. He spun to try and kick me away but it was too late and as I scrambled to my feet I pointed it at him.
Lightning cracked overhead, and I could that Isobel’s eyes were closed and she her kicking had almost slowed.
“Let her go Thrumhall, it’s over.”
“Over? It isn’t over boy. Not until I say so.” Once more he dangled her over the rail and laughed. “What you going to do now then?”
I walked forward purposefully, fearful and desperate despite the weapon I held in my hand. “Either let her go or I finish you right now. We all go down together.” The words seemed unfamiliar coming from my mouth and Thrumhall could tell I was afraid.
“I don’t think so” he said and steadying himself on one of the heavy steel supports stepped up onto the guard rail still holding her. “This really how you want it to pan out Armitage?”
Desperate I held out the pistol and placed it on the floor in front of me. “Okay, you win” I said my hand shaking. “Take it.”
He grinned and jumped down from the rail and kicked the pistol away from me to where he stood.
“You know what Boy” he said, his eyes now wide and a grimace on his face.
“What” I said. Not that I cared what he had to say.
“You should have pulled the trigger when you had the chance.” and with that he dropped Isobel’s limp body over the side and into darkness.