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“Bardin, do stop pacing up and down, old love, you’re making me feel dizzy”, said Adam, who was seated by the fire in Bardin’s cabin. Bardin was wearing out the carpet walking up and down. He came over to the chair opposite Adam and flopped down.
“Kieran seems pretty certain this religious mob in the City are demons in disguise”, he said.
“I should think it’s very likely”, said Adam “That particular branch of them have regrouped in a different guise”.
“But what the fuck for?” Bardin exclaimed, slapping the arms of the chair “Are they really THAT addicted to destruction? They can’t cut their losses and bugger off somewhere?”
“They won’t rest until they’ve literally destroyed everything in the world. People, animals, plant-life, everything. It’s their ultimate goal, and they’ll keep regrouping and coming back until they’ve achieved it. There’s no point in trying to understand them, Bardin. It’s a mindset we simply cannot comprehend”.
Bengo ran into the room, breathlessly.
“Can’t you hear it?” he said “Come topside, now”.
Bardin and Adam followed him up onto the main deck. It was night-time. The surrounding area was blanketed in freezing fog. In the far distance was a loud banging sound, as if a giant was rhythmically banging on a huge drum.
“What is it, Bard?” asked Hoowie.
“How the fucks should I know!” said Bardin.
“I order you to cease in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!” Kieran yelled.
The banging sound slowly faded away into nothingness.
“Kieran, it worked!” said Bengo.
“Try not to sound so shocked”, said Kieran.
“We could have done with you at the Cabaret”, said Bardin “That would have been a real show-stopper”.
“Was it Satanic?” asked Julian.
“Yes”, said Kieran “Just like the clown that Bengo saw was. We’ve got to keep expecting things like this”.
“Reminds me of some of the stuff we saw on the New Continent”, said Hillyard.
“And they’re trying to do here what they did there”, said Umbert “That sound we just heard proves it. It’s what we heard there too”.
Umbert was still thoroughly wound up when they all (apart from the night-watch) returned below deck. Adam pressed a cup of tea on him in the dining-room.
“I’ve put extra sugar in it”, he said.
“Adam missed his vocation”, said Julian “He should have been a Ward Sister”.
“Isn’t it time you went to bed, Julian?” said Adam.
“I’ll go to bed when I want”, said Julian “You’re not my Nanny!”
Joby sniggered, incurring a frosty look from Adam. He decided to beat a hasty retreat to the galley, where Kieran was sitting by the stove.
“Let me in on the joke”, said Kieran.
“Oh just the old dears snapping at each other”, said Joby, opening the top of the stove and feeding another log in “Hillyard’s gonna have to arrange another tree-cutting expedition soon. God knows how if this fog persists though”.
“He’ll find a way”, said Kieran.
“I hope so”, said Joby, sitting down in the chair opposite him “You can really feel the cold now. We’re coming into the frosty region. Might help if we knew what time of year it was I spose”.
“Long dark night season”.
“How long have we been in the forest?”
“I don’t know”, he said “A few months perhaps. It was early Summer I think when we arrived here”.
“Why don’t we keep up time passing anymore?”
“Time’s irrelevant to us I guess. It’s only important on a practical level, like keeping warm, and the temperature’s tend to tell us that”.
“If we vanish for long enough, the Evil in the outside world might burn itself out”, said Joby “We lost 60 years once, in the Sea Of Torment or whatever it was. We’re heading back up that way”.
“You sound hopeful!”
“Well perhaps there’s an argument for us to leave everything else, and hope it sorts itself out. Go on, complain”.
“No, there is an argument for that. There, that’s shocked you”.
“That’s not to say we might not have to destroy the City at some point in the future. So much Evil is focused there”.
“Yeah well that shit-hole won’t be missed”.
“But we have one big strength on our side”, said Kieran “Apart from our love for each other I mean. Time. I believe it’s not long now - it may even already be happening - they’ll turn on each other, and destroy each other. There’s no true solidarity and loyalty amongst them. Our main worry is the innocent people caught up in it. But I do believe, however depressing the news is about me being the Anti-Christ is, that They are on their way out”.
“Do we stay lost in the forest in the meantime?” said Joby.
“Cloris was right, I don’t believe they’ll follow us here. Even Angel warned us about going onto Sleet Cold”.
“And you believed him?”
“In this instance I do, yes. Something around here is frightening even the ones who are causing carnage on the outside. And with any luck, the news that we’re here too, might unsettle them a bit”.
The fog was denser than ever the next day, but it didn’t stop a foraging party from going ashore. As everyone was getting ready Kieran popped into Julian’s cabin.
“Been meaning to ask you this for a while”, said Kieran.
“Well whatever it is, can’t it wait”, said Julian, who was changing into his heavy-duty trousers.
“It won’t take long”, said Kieran “Back in our time, did you ever come across some realy disreputable characters?”
“Oh just a few”, said Julian “I’ve even been called one myself occasionally”.
“I mean practising Satanists”, said Kieran “I don’t mean people doing it as an alternative religion, or for kicks, I mean the real hardcore stuff”.
“Only once”, said Julian “During my interior designer days. Chap I did a job for. Filthy rich. One evening he said to me ‘you’ll have to give in and join us on the dark side’. I didn’t pursue it any further. The job finished soon after, and I never saw him again. Why are you asking?”
“That crowd were a problem in our time too”, said Kieran “And they often hung around with aristocrats”. “Oh I see, so that means I must automatically be one too”, said Julian “Don’t you think I’d have mentioned it at some point in all these years?” “No I didn’t think you were one”.
“No I just wandered if you’d had any dealings with them”.
“Ask Adam”, said Julian, grabbing his coat “As I’m sure he’ll point out he’s more of an aristocrat than I am. And with that dark, filthy temper of his, you never know, your adored Aunty Ada might well have been an arch-Satanist”.
“Ha ha”, said Kieran.
“If you’re coming ashore with us”, said Julian “Get a move on”.
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