Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chapter 7

The village of Malkirk was small, quiet, and squat in that uniquely British way, like a shabby uncle after a few too many sherries. The trees were the round, fat types, with massive emerald leaves. The grass was dotted with daffodils. The train station was small and quiet, but for the old porter who hailed each visitor personally and kindly. There was a butchers, and a bakers; a small variety shop where regular household goods could be picked up, and a plumbers. There was a new office in town; a little legal place where people could get help with taxes and wills and the like. On the edge of town was a post office and a bank, providing most of Malkirk's connection with the outside world.

Adam had been living there for two months. He couldn't quite remember how he had transferred from his life on the run to a peaceful life in Malkirk, but it didn't concern him unless he thought about it too hard. He liked his neighbours, did his chores, and obeyed the rules of the Church and the Town. Obeying the rules made him feel happy, and always had. He was safe, as well, and the King kept the town safe and clean and happy. The town was practically out of a 1950s novel's utopia, a Disney village where the streets were clean and the lone bobby was never needed. People only needed legal services once in a while, but it was enough work to support his lifestyle. As for his older lifestyle, well, that just wasn't done. And Adam obeyed the town's rules.

He woke up every day, bright and early, and walked to the edge of town to buy food. As he approached the swaying fields, lined with scarecrows, his head began to throb again. Adam put his headache down to hunger, and bought fresh bread and cheese, eating it on his way back to town. He saw one of the town's councilmen greeting someone at the train station, and wandered over as his headache abated. The councilman, Roger Matthews, grinned over his half-moon glasses as Adam approached, "Ah, Adam! Such a pleasure to see you-- we were just going to drop by your office! Let me introduce you," Matthews gestured to the stranger, "This is Mr. Green. He's an American, like you, and a friend of the Church," Matthews gave Mr. Green a playfully disapproving look, "Though he's not a member."

"Not at the moment," Mr. Green said, in a clipped Midwestern accent. Mr. Green was a tall man, with fair hair, and very light blue eyes. He seemed strangely familiar.

"Have we met?" Adam asked, reaching out to shake the man's hand.

"Maybe once, a long time ago, but to meet again-- you do have a familiar air to you. In any case, well, I think that's cause for a proper greeting. Nice to meet you, Mr. Adam. Enjoy your time here."

"I have been, and I will!" Adam grinned, and bid the pair farewell. He walked back into the town, and was just getting back to his office when one of the old women by the butcher's called out to him.

"Adam, be a dearie, would you, and take this ham up to old Mr. Summanus? He's been put up by a gammy leg, again, and he needs his protein." Adam grabbed the bag from the woman-- the butcher's wife, he remembered, and walked towards the edge of town. Malkirk was growing, and needed more housing. So the edge of Malkirk was taken over by construction, though the company in charge changed every month or two. Most of the men changed, as well-- they were being run out of town, or went into the woods. And that just wasn't done. The construction site was just across from a primary school, and the kids were playing their chanting games and drawing images from their Church-provided picture books on chalk on the playground.

The Reverend Summanus lived in a cul-de-sac a half-mile walk from the main town. The walk was pleasant enough, if not for the slightly eerie and headache inducing scarecrows that dotted the fields. Adam occasionally trained his eyes across the treeline, then reprimanded himself for doing so. His fears were silly. Adam clenched his teeth a little-- the humming was acting up again. It was at the background of the town at almost all times, and there was nothing to be done about it. The hum was a factor in life everyday, and usually it didn't bother him. Still, he sped his walking to get to the Reverend's house. It was in the middle of a few other identical squat houses, all with magnificent gardens and white picket fences.

Adam knocked on Summanus' door, and waited a few moments, patiently. The old man had moved to Malkirk for retirement, and had suffered a couple of shocks that had mussed up his leg and hindered his movement. The Reverend still hadn't appeared, and something was making him feel uneasy, standing vulnerably in front of the green door. Adam knocked again. There was no movement inside, so, hoping that the older gentlemen would be forgiving or understanding, Adam tried the handle. It was unlocked, so Adam went inside, looking for the fridge. The fridge was scattered with children's drawings, which wasn't unusual, as Summanus looked after many of the town's children. One of them seemed to have fallen under the fridge, and Adam bent to retrieve it, forgetting himself momentarily.

The sheet of paper appeared to be blank, at first, but closer inspection showed it to be lined with white crayon. Intrigued, Adam fumbled for a pencil, and lightly sketched over the paper, in an attempt to see what the wax was outlining. He scribbled for a few minutes, not thinking about the ham, warm in its bag, or his burgeoning headache. Adam stepped back from the children's drawing, and frowned. A man, drawn as a child draws, with too long arms, fingers, and legs, and a line separating his torso in two; a line with three sharp prongs on the end; and a group of blocks, arranged into a circle. The third item could be one of the "faerie rings," or the Malkirk Circles, that span around the Tafe woods. More places that were forbidden. The rest seemed like childish scribbles, and Adam chuckled at himself, that he would spend so much time on such a thing.

Still, there was no sign of the good Reverend, and Adam was nervous; he was supposed to be housebound, after all. Adam put his delivery in the fridge, and crept further into the house. Summanus was neither in the lounge, nor the bathroom, nor his bedroom. The guest bedroom was empty too, and had gathered a noticeable layer of dust. Adam walked back down the stairs puzzled, and then noticed a door he hadn't before. He knocked three times, and tried the knob. It was a study, lined with many books that looked like they hadn't been touched in months. The only books with much ware were Church pamphlets and tomes. On the desk were a few letters, and above it was a golden... a golden staff. It was clawed at the end, with three "prongs."

Something at the back of Adam's mind flickered, slightly.

At the clinic, Ibola managed to wake up from the awful fever dream long enough to see the nurse plunge the needle back into her arm.

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