All text is the copyright of andie j.p. frankham for Frankarlin Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any material form without the written permission of the copyright owner except in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Any authorised act in this respect may lead to legal proceedings, including a civil claim for damages.
WARNING:The following work contains some strong language and scenes of gore that some people may find offensive.
andie j.p. frankham
Then And Now:
The Worst Of Times
The time was 1883, and the heat was intense, a little too much so. Sean O'Connor removed his necktie and ran his fingers along the inside of his stiff colar. Why he had agreed to go on this expedition was beyond him, but then he remembered with an sardonic smile. He had no choice. He was, after all, only a butler, and an Irish one at that. And it was a common fact that it was a hard job to get anywhere in London without the right breeding. Wasn't a nice situation, but that's how it was. Sean had come to accept that over the years, but he didn't like it. Neither did he like this forest he was in now.
"How much longer, Mr Lockhead?" he asked.
Lockhead was his employer, although Sean knew that Lockhead still had the old master/servant mindset. Not a nice man, all told. Grumpy, and stern. Tall, with greying hair and a thick beard. Clothed in an expensive suit, Lockhead looked very out of place in the forest. Sean was sure he had heard Clark trying to convince Lockhead to change his clothes. Lockhead would have none of it. That had been back in London, nearly two hours ago. Yet Sean could not escape the feeling that he walked the whole world to get to the forest.
Lockhead held up a hand and the group came to a halt. He glanced at each of them, then rested his gaze on Sean. "A little bit of patience and stamina is all that you require, young man." Always the superior tone. Sean hated it. Lockhead indicated the trees infront of them. "Besides, it is just beyond those trees there."
"How do you know that?"
Lockhead sniffed. "I have been here before. Now, be quiet and follow me."
Sean stood his ground, and hefted the sword he was made to hold to a more comfortable position. Lockhead didn't even blink, he just turned away. Obviously the conversation was over as far as he was concerned. None of the others seemed concerned by Lockhead's knowledge of the layout of the forest. As they followed Lockhead, Sean stepped over to Clark, Lockhead's most trusted advisor. Clark was a rather large man in stature, but he dress sense was much more sensible than that of Lockhead. Safari clothes, with a hunter's rifle in his hand.
"How has he been here before?"
Clark glanced at Sean, his aged eyes looking puzzled. "Don't you ever listen, Sean? It was Lord Lockhead over there who first discovered the link."
Sean paused and watched Lockhead progress towards the edge of the forest. "Oh."
* * *
The little group came out into a rather large clearing. Sean was last, but came to a stop the quickest. The sight that greeted was the last thing he had expected. From the things he had heard in London he had expected some sort of castle, full of monsters and demons. Not this.
It was a settlement of some sort. Sean had seen paintings of similar things. Old stone huts, now in ruins. Drinking fountains, and a lot of people. More than Sean expected. And they looked so normal. All adults, the youngest couldn't have been any less than twenty years of age. They were dressed in simple clothes, no doubt what Lockhead would have described as rags. That wasn't how Sean saw it, though. They had a simple elegance that was touching. People who were not obssesed with material things, at least that was the impression that Sean got. Apart from three of them. Older than the others, and dressed in the elegant clothes favoured by the gentlemen of London Town. Complete with top hat and tails. They were very out of place.
Before Sean had the chance to observe any more he was dragged behind the remains of a stone wall by Clark. He looked over the very edge of the wall at the settlement, then glanced at Clark. "Are you sure about this? They don't look like the ones."
Clark shook his head. "I assure you that they are, young Sean. There is little doubt of that."
"But look at them. Enjoying the company of each other. Going about their own business. They are nobody's enemy."
Lockhead let out a bitter laugh, it was soft, but full of such emotion. He looked across at Sean. "Ah, the inexperience of youth. Don't let your eyes fool you, O'Connor. It is them."
Sean shook his head, and pushed his way passed Clark. It didn't escape his attention that he was getting bolder since leaving London. "But, Lord Lockhead, look at them." He pointed over the wall. Lockhead refused to look. "They are no different than our own families in London."
Lockhead pulled Sean down to his knees, turned and glared at him. "Pray, stop this now," Lockhead hissed. "Conscience will not help you stop these... These things. They may look like you, but I assure you, they most certainly are not!"
Clark did his best to motion Sean to stop, but, although he had noticed, Sean paid no attention. Instead he pursued his course. Sean needed to get to the bottom of this, because when he was first told about this he had heard stories about monsters. Responsible for countless deaths in London. But these people were not those monsters, they couldn't be. It just didn't add up.
That was as far as he got. No sooner had he started than he realised that he could not find the words to express himself. He was never good at these word battles, and now it was beginning to show. "But, this isn't right," was the best he could manage.
The group were so immersed in their internal debate that none of them noticed as a young woman walked towards the broken wall behind which they were hiding. She held in her arm a basket of clothing, meaning to hang the clothes over the wall to dry.
"Right?! O'Connor, I do not think that right was on their minds when they killed all those people."
One of the group, another servant, slightly older and more loyal than Sean, noticed the woman approaching. She was the picture of beauty. Radiant skin, long flowing blonde hair, and a very full figure. The servant only noticed these things for a breif second, his mind was filled with the sights he had seen in London. All the dead people. He glanced around the group, unsure what to do.
"Go to the families of all those that have been killed," Lockhead continued, "ask them if this is right!"
Sean looked down at the dusty ground. Although deep in his heart he knew this was all wrong he couldn't help but be humbled by the words of Lord Lockhead. Clark watched Sean's reaction and shook his head, then turned to Lockhead. Nobody noticed the other servant ready his gun.
"How do you suggest we proceed?"
"Pick them off one at a time perhaps. Although that will take a while. Perhaps it is better if we..."
The conversation was halted by a gun shot. Even Sean looked over at the other servant. But that look soon turned to outrage. These deaths were not needed. The man lowered his gun and looked at them. His eyes conveyed the fear, and Sean's heart sank at the sight of it. They were committed now.
They looked at the woman laying beyond the wall. She had a bullet hole in the middle of her forhead. Further into the clearing a commotion had begun. People were looking at the dead woman in confusion, while two of the three in the gentlemen's clothes began walking towards the woman. Even from this distance the anger on their faces was quite evident.
"Brilliant!" Lockhead shook his head. "What did you do that for?"
The servant wore a puzzled expression. He opened his mouth to speak, but very few words came out. Clark watched him intently, it was becoming very obvious that the man's mind was breaking. Something had to be done.
"I think we have gone past the point of no return. Look!" Clark pointed at the woman. She was getting to her feet.
For a moment her eyes linked with Sean's and he shuddered. Blinking, he looked away, certain that the sun was playing tricks on him. He could not have possibly seen what he thought he had seen. The woman looked back at her fellows and let out a high pitched scream. Sean slammed his hands over his ears and stumbled backwards.
"Damnation take it!" Clark yelled above the noise. "Now what?"
The noise ceased and Lockhead looked at his little group, then turned to Clark. "We attack, what else can we do?" For a moment he sounded scared, but then he took a deep breath and continued in a steady voice. "Make sure there are no survivors. This is for the fallen of London."
Sean swallowed hard and gave Lockhead a scathing look. Lockhead just smiled coldly. "Attack!" he hissed, and turned pulling his knife out of the pouch on his hip. The group followed him and launched themselves at the people of the settlement. Guns began firing, the knives and swords started flashing.
Sean stood behind the wall and watched. He could not move even if he wanted to. "This is wrong," he whispered. "Where is the right?"
Bodies lay everywhere. Blood and insides littered the ground, in places they were joined by limbs, in other places bodies lay mostly in one piece. But all had one thing in common, the hearts had been removed, thrown on the dusty ground and stamped on.
Two members of Lockhead's group lay dead, their heads having been decapitated by brute force. Sean still watched from behind the wall, emotions swimming across his face. Disgust, hate, anger... fear. His mouth was dry and he licked his lips. "There should have been another way..." He looked across at Lockhead and their eyes met. Lockhead had the crazed look of a madman, hanging on the brink of insanity. Sean watched as Lockhead looked down at the corpse beneath, and with bloody hands reached into the chest.
Lockhead lifted the heart out of the corpse and looked down at it. "You stole my daughter's soul, I claim it back." He lifted the heart above his head, and looked up at the sky beyond. " 'As the rays of the sun lighten and gild the blackest cloud, so the soul by entering the body of the universe gives it immortality; the abject it lifts up.' Rest, my dear Juliet."
He let the heart fall, and with a look of pure satisfaction, squashed it underfoot. Clark and the other servant joined him. Neither spoke to him, they just followed him over to the wall. Sean watched them approach, all three of them with their clothes covered in blood. Lockhead did not spare him a glance, just carried on past him towards the trees. Clark stopped next to Sean and placed a hand on his shoulder. The young man was trembling. Clark opened his mouth to speak, but Lockhead turned back to them.
"By Christ's wounds, leave him, Clark! He has no stomach for justice!" He walked back over to Sean and Clark, the other servant remaining by the trees. Sean forced himself to look Lockhead in the eyes, but he couldn't. The eyes were cold, and filled Sean with an intense sense of dread. "Be sure to note, Mister O'Connor, that upon our return to London, you would be well advised to seek new employment. Perhaps there is some poor micher out there who needs the services of one such as you. A boy who cannot entertain the notion of justice. The two of you would be well matched. A micher and a coward!"
Sean waited a few moments until Lockhead and his two faithful ones has entered the forest, before he started towards the trees himself. "Justice..." he whispered, bitterness only too evident.
For a while nothing moved in the settlement. Then a figure stepped out of one of the broken huts. He stood, the gentlemen's clothes caked in blood. He was on old man, but despite his obvious seventy plus years, his skin was radiant and his eyeswere alive with a fire. The old man purveyed the corpses of his people, his features giving away no emotion.
"It cannot end like this," he said.
The man took a deep breath and set off towards the trees.
* * *
Over a hundred years later.
It was early in the evening, the sky was getting dark and the air was getting cold. Late October, and over the city of London the smell of sulphur mixed with the air. All around the great city youths were preparing for November 5th. A dangerous time to live if you were young and homeless, because there were things out prowling the night, things that needed to feed.
One such homeless person was sitting on the grass, across the road from Westminster Abbey. He was doing his best to keep himself warm, wrapping his filthy coat up tight, hugging himself, rocking backwards and forwards. All around him the noise of London continued, people walking and talking, laughing. Vehicles filling the roads, heading towards Trafalgar Square, and others coming into Westminster. As per the norm people walked passed, pretending not to notice the young man. Usually it would have gotten right up his nose. But not that night. That night his thoughts were elsewhere...
They were on events that took place only a matter of hours before, when his life had taken a turn for the worst. Not to say that his life was great before, but Jake always found a way to enjoy his life. Now it was a totally different matter, for he had lost his best friend, and he did not know what he would do.
Food was a valuble part of life. And for Jake it was so much more than that. Over the years since he decided to come to London he had taken a great deal of slack off people, not because of anything he had ever done, but simply because he was a homeless person. What people seemed to forget was that Jake was just another young man, with the same needs as them. The need to eat, to be loved and to love. Since coming to London Jake had only ever found one who would love him, without reservation. His dog, Doc.
Doc had been with Jake since the early 1990s, shortly after he first arrived in this "land of opportunity". An interesting mix between an Alaskan malamute and a Collie. Short but fluffy brown fur, with a very bushy tail, and the sweetest most intelligent eyes that Jake had ever seen on a dog. Even now, as Jake sat on the grass he could still remember the first day he saw Doc as a puppy. Such a cuddly little thing, a little ball of fur. He still remembered little Doc looking up at him, and their eyes meeting. Little Doc with the eyes that seemed to say, 'take me with you'... So Jake did. He had to steal the puppy from the shop, but he got Doc.
Jake had always thought Doc was an intelligent name, and Doc was an intelligent dog. Jake's only constant companion through the short years towards the end of the twentieth century. Was.
Until that afternoon.
It had reached that time of day when Doc needed feeding, but it was also the time of the day when Jake found that the money he had managed to scrounge off people had run out. The choices were simple; either go and beg for some more money while Doc continued to grow hungry, or get something from the butchers anyway. Jake had chosen the latter, for he could not bear to see Doc go hungry for more than a second longer than necessary.
There was a little butchers near Victoria that Jake knew, the same place he often went for some food. They knew him there, and he knew them. Jake got on well with the owner, although he had never asked for favours. And the owner got on well with Jake, but he had never offered any free meat to Doc. That was fine. Even now, homeless as he was, Jake believed in paying for the things he needed. Which is why it was with a deep sense of guilt that Jake came to the butchers that afternoon.
There was a new boy behind the counter alongside the owner, Albert. Jake left Doc outside, and entered. The shop was busier than usual, but Albert said hello to Jake as he entered. The new boy gave him a strange look. Maybe Jake was being paranoid, but he was sure it was a warning. He had to ignore it, look away, keep the guilt hidden inside.
As soon as Albert wandered out to the back of the shop, Jake chose to make his move. He could not take anything with Albert inside the main area of the shop, but this new boy was another matter. It was an act of defiance in a way, just to let the boy know that he would not be scared off by anyone. The new boy was serving an old lady, just cutting up some ham for her, when Jake stepped up to the counter. He looked the new boy directly in the eye, and took what he needed. The new boy wasn't sure what to say, but Jake knew what to do. He legged it, leaving only his laughter hanging behind.
Some hours later Jake was sitting outside Victoria coach station, Doc laying obediently next to him, begging for some money. Doc was great. Not only was he Jake's companion, but he sure helped to get the money. Often people would walk by, a firm look on their faces, obviously intending to ignore the homeless begger. But then they would see the dog and their sympathies would amass. It was poetic to Jake, that people would be so heartless to other people, yet see an animal in need of help and their hearts would melt.
Jake was looking towards the ground, very close to catching a couple of zees when a pair of boots came to a stop before him. He looked up, ready to recieve some money. But his hand soon fell when he saw the owner of the boots. Spotty face, greasy crew cut, and a ring through his right eyebrow. It was the new boy from the butchers.
The boy laughed. "Oh look, it is the clever little thief!" he hissed.
Jake wasn't sure what the boy intended, but he sure as hell had no intention of finding out. With a swift move, Jake got to his feet, knocking the boy over, and ran. Doc was beside him in an instant. Together they ran, through the crowded streets, down the back alleys. Cutting a confusing path through the hectic borough. Not confusing enough, though.
Some twenty minutes later they stopped in a disused alley, nearer to Westminster than Jake would have hoped. As he was collecting his breath, Doc was licking his face obviously having enjoyed the run. Jake smiled, and ruffled the dog's collar.
"No one knows this place, like us, eh, Doc?"
"You think so?"
Jake looked up. The boy was there again. Only this time there was no where to run.
"Ah, you little bastard. Think you were clever, did you? Mister Roderick told me about you, his little homeless friend. Honest as honest can be. That's what he said."
Jake could feel his hands shaking. He had never liked confrontations. But perhaps there was a way out of this, after all, the boy was only a little younger than himself. "Listen, my dog needed food, I couldn't just let him..."
"Shut the fuck up!"
Such was the force of anger behinds the boy's words that Jake found himself complying. The boy smiled and stepped forwards slowly. "Oh, I get it. You think, because of my looks, that I am younger than you. Easy to sway?"
Jake shook his head. "No, I didn't... Yes."
"Well you were wrong, honest child. What is it Mister Roderick said? Oh yes. Twenty-one, that's how old you are, right?"
Jake took a step back and hit the solid wall. Down by his side Doc was growling at the boy. The boy looked down at Doc and smiled, then glanced back up at Jake. There was something very wrong here. As the boy stepped under the single spotlight Jake noticed the skin. It was perfect. Could almost have been porcelain, and the eyes were unusual too. Jake could have sworn that they had been brown in the shop. But now they were red, and as the boy tilted his head back to laugh Jake could see that the eye contained a fire.
"I'm older than you would think." He looked at Jake and gave a small smile. It was full of malice. Evil. "Would you believe that I was born in 1910? Do I look ninety years of age to you?" His tone was mocking, and Jake found himself pressing his back up closer to the wall. "I have learned a lot of things over the years. Seen a lot. But one thing that seems to be constant is the manner of thieves. There is no excuse for it. You can't afford something, you don't have it. That simple." He took another step closer. Doc barked, but the boy-man paid him no mind. "Much like me, really. Like all my kind. Difference is we have a good reason for it. To feed a dog is hardly a good reason. I guess I will have to steal something of you now."
"What?" Jake's mouth was very dry.
The boy licked his lips. "Your life, of course."
Doc barked again but the boy-man did not even flinch. Jake did. Seven years and he had never heard such a sound come from the dog The boy-man raised an eyebrow and stepped closer. Immediately Doc leaped at him, locking his jaw around the boy-man's arm. He staggered back and looked down at his arm, and watched as the blood started to come out of the wound. He shook the dog off, but Doc resumed his attack once again. Jake wanted to smile, proud as he was by Doc's protective action, but any smile was wiped clean by the laughter coming from the boy-man.
"Foolish creature..." He flung Doc into the wall. The dog let out a yelp of pain and came crashing to the floor. The boy-man just stood there looking at the fallen Doc. "You know," he began in a very conversational tone, "I have never liked dogs. Disgusting creatures." He turned to Jake. "Don't worry, I won't harm it anymore. I have you to play with."
"No!" Jake yelled at the top of his lungs, and charged into the boy. They both fell to the ground. Jake was very shocked by how solid the boy-man felt underneath him, but before the stranger was able to recover Jake was on his feet and running. Jake looked back and saw Doc growling at the boy-man as he slowly got to his feet. "Doc! Come on, boy!"
Jake turned the corner at full pelt, but Doc never came.
Jake lifted himself off the grass and looked up at Westminster Abbey. Spotlights danced on the walls, casting odd shadows over the old building. Jake barely noticed, his thoughts were still with the afternoon. With him running for his life. And it was for his life, he just knew it. Just like he knew that Doc was dead. He knew because the boy-man never followed him He knew because he saw the evil in the boy-man's eyes when he looked up from the fallen dog.
Doc was dead, killed by the boy-man!
Jake took his leave of the grass and headed through the night time crowd towards the Embankment, towards his bridge. That night he was going to have to ask for money just as if everything was normal. But that night nothing was normal, not for Jake.
* * *
A figure stood across the road, next to the iron fence, and watched as Jake made his way from the grass. The man stood tall, dressed in the finest clothes from over a century earlier. A man out of time, and a man who wanted to feed. He continued to watch Jake, his red eyes burning with the deepest fire. The man smiled, his brilliant teeth reflecting the light from above, and licked his lips.
"Ah, poor Jake Franklin." He shook his head as anger swept across his perfect face. "The fool could have ruined it! Jake is too precious for Varney." The man returned his attention back to Jake who was now crossing the road. He began to follow. "So full of life, and yet so empty. No reason to go on, then."
That was the prologue for my latest project. I am hard at work on it at present, inbetween my mundane daily job. I hope to have it finished by the end of July 2000, at which point it shall be sent to publishers throughout the UK and the USA. Any thoughts can be mailed to frankie...
March 18th 2000