The Anglic Gene

An orphan girl unsure of who she is or why a man wants her dead carries a secret. She will experience humanity.

Are you ready?

Join Sophia in a heart thumping adventure across England set in the 1870’s, exploring faith, doubt, love and fear. A story, quoted by the editor as “really something special”, you’ll continue to contemplate long after the journey unfolds


21. Anne

Under an oil-lit lamp, Anne sat on the step to the rear entrance to Fuller Church stroking Dash. Sophia and Michael had retired for the night in the house next door. Anne thought about the heavy waves of events over the last few days. Each wave carried a flood of mixed emotions that pulled her down like a whirlpool—trying to drown her. The baptism helped to provide a life jacket, keeping her afloat, but she still experienced a sense of longing—of purpose.

Everything seemed to be about Sophia. Sure, she was her companion, but what was that, exactly? An accessory? Even during dinner, which Reverend Robinson prepared, all the questions were directed at Sophia. How did you feel after the baptism, Sophia? How are you finding the journey so far, Sophia? How are you holding up under the pressure, Sophia? Nobody asked me anything. Did they even notice that I was baptized too? Michael and Sophia appeared to have a relationship with each other that she didn’t share, and that one really hurt because she fancied Michael. Even though there was a five-year age gap, she would get older, and then there would be a glimmer of hope they could be together. At least that is what she dreamed.

It was more likely he would be with Sophia, she thought, the prettier and smarter one. Age thirteen was somewhat a curse. Her body wanted to be a woman, but her age restricted her actions. She picked up a fallen twig and sketched a smiley face in the soil. She smiled. Everything will work out. I have to trust in God. Though she believed in Jesus—after all he had healed her pain—she struggled with doubts. Maybe I’m kidding myself, she thought. Why would God let my parents die? Why would God let the Sisters die? Hard questions she struggled to find answers to. Truth was, she couldn’t. Using the point of the twig, she changed the smile to a frown. Perhaps it’s time for me to go my own way.

“Hello, young lady,” a voice called from the night.

Dash sprang to her feet. Out from the darkness stepped a man whom Anne recognized as the man in the trees during the baptismal ceremony. “Hello?” she said.

“You must be Anne,” he said, standing a few feet away. “I’m Jack.”

Dash started to growl. “Dash, behave yourself,” Anne said, patting the dog’s head. “I’m sorry, Mister, she is normally playful with strangers.”

“Oh, that’s okay, and, please, call me Jack.”

“What do you want, Jack?”

“Nothing, just to say hello.”

“How do you know my name?”

“I had an encounter with your mother.”


“No. Your real mother.”

Anne snapped the twig in two, rose to her feet, narrowed her eyes. “What do you mean, my real mother?”

“Oh, didn’t they tell you, Anne, that you were adopted?”

“Adopted?” she replied, the word weighing her brow down.

Dash started barking.

In the distance, Anne heard Sophia call out, “Anne, are you okay?”

Anne called back in Sophia’s direction, “Yes, I’m fine.” When she returned her attention to Jack, he was gone. Strange man, she thought. The question of her adoption plagued her. Could that be true? Why would he say such a thing? I need to know. She ventured into the darkness in search of Jack. Dash followed. “Go back, girl,” she shouted. Dash whimpered before retreating. “Where could he have gone?” she mumbled, walking along the side of the church to the main street.

She noticed him standing on the other side of the road, a shadowy figure, and then he turned and ran into a narrow alleyway. Perhaps I should get Sophia and Michael, she deliberated. No, I can do this. I can show them I’m capable of doing things. She pursued him. The buildings either side of the alley blocked the white moon glow and the glimmering light from the gas-powered street lamps. Her visibility into the darkness shortened to hardly more than arm’s length.

She jolted. Her heart skipped a beat and she exhaled a short scream as the sound of a crate toppling over filled her ears. A black scavenging cat ran past her leg. What am I doing? She turned to head back …. But without warning a forceful hand slapped a white cotton cloth over her nose and mouth as a strong arm hooked her around the chest. A sweet smell filled her nostrils. She panicked, struggling with all her might, but the grip was too strong. The night sounds around her became faint—distorted. The distant streetlight blurred. She heard a whisper, “Shh, my darling. It will be over soon.” The more she resisted, the deeper she breathed, the faster her vision faded. Her world faded into a mist of haziness. She fell into unconsciousness.

* * *

“What is it, Dash?” Sophia said as Dash tugged on her dress. “Michael,” she shouted, “I think something is wrong!”

Michael ran in from an adjacent room. “What is Dash doing in here?”

“She darted in and began pulling at my dress, between barks.”

“I think she wants us to follow her somewhere,” Michael said. “Where is Anne?”

“She was outside with Dash.”

“Wait here,” Michael said, sprinting out of the room. Moments later, he returned with his staff. “Show us the way, Dash.”

Head down, sniffing the ground, Dash led the way. The back of Sophia’s head throbbed with each beat of her quickening heart. Her stomach churned as if a mini-tornado had touched down. I shouldn’t have left her alone. At the side of the street, Dash paused, let out a short growl, then continued, sniffing her way across the paved road—stopping at the entrance of the alley. Michael peered into the darkness. “One sec’,” he said. He raised his staff and said, “Fiat lux.” Within a second, the top of his staff began to glow. Using his staff to illuminate the way, he proceeded. A little farther down the alley, Sophia came to a sudden halt. She slapped her chest as if trying to beat life into her stilled heart. A message scrawled in dripping red liquid on the side of the building read:


She bent over, elbows jutting hard into her gut, and gasped. “No... This is all my fault.” She placed her palms on her sweaty forehead, partially covering her pained eyes. “I promised her we would be fine, that nothing would separate us.” Her stomach heaved, propelling half-digested food onto the ground. “Tell me that isn’t Anne’s blood, Michael.”

He shook his head, shrugged. “I’m not sure, Sophia.” He stepped over and placed his strong arm around her. “I’m sorry.”

She wiped her mouth on her sleeve. “Where is Coughton Cross?”

“It’s an ancient mark stone in the southwest corner of the Forest of Arden,” he said, analyzing the ground. “It’s about 40 miles from here.”

“What are you looking at, Michael?”

“Drag marks of feet,” he said. “They go this way.” He ventured farther down the alleyway.

Sophia froze. “What is that?” she said, pointing to something in the corner, black and furry, lying in a pool of blood.

Michael strode towards the object. “A dead cat. Its throat has been slit.” He sighed and continued following the drag trail until it stopped where the alley opened onto a grassy field. Michael scanned around while speaking. “Horse waste,” he recommenced searching, added, “flattened grass, in the shape of horse hooves. Several of them. He must have tied up his horse here. There are more tracks leading off into the distance, a canter width apart.” He pointed northwest. “Leading towards the Forest of Arden.”

“We must follow,” Sophia said, “and get her back.”

“It’ll be a trap, Sophia,” he said, shaking his head. “But, well … we have no other choice.”

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