The horse flicked an ear in irritation. The furry man hadn’t moved at all on the journey back to the scary old laboratory, just sat there mumbling to himself, so he’d decided to keep walking. Now, as a fine drizzle set in, he was regretting his decision. Oh to be in his mistress’ warm, dry barn with some hay to munch and no furry men making him miserable. He snorted loudly and swished his tail just to show how angry he was. The furry man didn’t seem to notice, just kept on mumbling.
Jeremiah sat on the swaying horse oblivious to the world around him. The day wore on into its afternoon. Leaden clouds gathered overhead and began to empty themselves on the quiet city below. Despite the rain Jeremiah simply let the horse take him where it wanted as he tried to make sense of the last few hours. The news he was a killer, or rather a would-be-killer, had hit him hard and he was struggling to deal with the emotional turmoil it had left him with.
He rode past houses whose occupants were slowly returning to evening meals and warm fires. Those that saw him pass nudged each other and pointed – Steelhead had a gossip mill second to none and news of the stranger claiming to be Dr Mason’s father had travelled far in the few weeks since his appearance. Jeremiah saw none of them, his mind fitfully jumping around thoughts he was rapidly loosing control of, and he rode along talking to himself with eyes edged with confusion and panic.
“But who?… a demon… why?… must be… monster!…”
Cobbled roads gave way to wooden boards and then to dirt trails as he passed out of the city and into the rolling foothills that lay beneath a soaring mountain range. The rain was falling in earnest, soaking through Jeremiah’s clothes and matting his fur against cold skin. Still he did not seem to notice, he just sat the saddle and muttered half sentences through chattering teeth.
“Must be… me?… kill them?… must remember… can’t…”
The evening grew dark around him. Creatures of the night brave enough to venture out into the rain watched the strange figure babbling to itself. A peel of thunder and sudden bolt of lightning sent them scurrying for cover and Jeremiah looked up, blinking into the rain as he seemed to finally become aware of his surroundings. He looked at horse, slick with rain and shivering in the cold, “Where…?” he asked in a daze. The horse whinnied pitifully. “I… I’m sorry…” was he could say in reply. “To… to the lab,” the horse went rigid beneath him but he didn’t notice, “I have to see… I have to know… I have to know what kind of monster I am. I have to remember.”
As the clearly miserable horse finally set off back into town with Jeremiah swaying in its saddle, an equally miserable and wet, cold, uncomfortable nun emerged from her surveillance place in the undergrowth. She set off in clandestine pursuit and, although she would never admit it to Mother Superior, found herself having some distinctly uncharitable thoughts about her mark.
In the skies above them all huge, winged shape swooped through the violent clouds and arced down towards the Dragon’s Leap Saloon. It vanished behind the structure and a few moments later a tall, elegant woman emerged from behind the bar and into the quiet lounge. Seeing no sign of her barman, she called his name. A swarthy man in a bowler hat came in from the balcony that overlooked the valley and river below, rain running off him in thick rivulets, “What are you doing out there, Warren?” she asked. “Nothink, vatching the storm,” he replied in a heavy Russian accent. She peered past him into the night and, riding through the rain and across the bridge into the city, she saw the horned man claiming to be Darien’s father. She turned to Warren, but he was already across the room with his back to her wiping the bar in slow, deliberate circles.
To be continued (after a short break)…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here