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

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22. Bait

His task—setting the trap with Anne as bait—complete, Jack mounted his steed. He wiped the cold sweat off his forehead, wishing it was as easy to wipe away his guilt. With a kick of his heels, he bought his steed to a gallop, heading towards Birmingham.

A few miles on, Jack lurched forward, hunched over, and hugged the horse’s neck. A searing sting, as if someone were tugging on his intestines, shot through his lower abdomen. The tumor made its presence known, a constant reminder of why he carried out the evil deeds for Mephis. Over the past weeks, since discovering Sophia was alive, Mephis had been holding back on providing the healing Jack required. He accepted the punishment because, after all, thirteen years ago he had his chance to ensure that Sophia would never be a problem … but failed. Each day the physical pain had become more intense and was now at moments excruciating. Hopefully now, he thought, after succeeding at this task, Mephis will relieve my agony.

The mission, which began when Mephis sensed a surge of White Energy at Stowe House, sounded simple enough to Jack. Mephis had instructed him to abduct Anne and place her and a transparent crystal sphere, glowing red from a ball inside shaped like a furry orange, in a clearing in the Forest of Arden. Jack had not expected, however, the explosion of red energy that occurred shortly after he placed the sphere in the scrub on the forest floor. It was not harmful to him or Anne but had turned a circular region of the forest into a burnt-out wasteland. He guessed that was simply part of what needed to be done to execute Mephis’s dark magic. Tracking Anne’s whereabouts was another matter, but had proved easy enough. The very day Mephis located her at Stowe House, Jack, after visiting his brother’s grave, set out on horseback, cantering as fast as the stallion could take him. Before long, the mount became fatigued, requiring him to find a replacement. Stealing horses was simple enough for Jack.

At Stowe House, he waited out the night and then followed the trio to Kettering, stalking them from a distance, awaiting his opportunity. He realized why Mephis told him to abduct Anne. Using her as bait was a simple, safe way to lure Sophia into Mephis’s snare.

At Birmingham, Jack trotted towards a pub near the local railway station, doing his best to ignore the reverberation through his spine of the six chimes echoing form the bell tower at the top of St Philip’s Cathedral. Each booming dong brewed anger and hate as thoughts of God crossed his mind. Why, he pondered, would a loving God abandon him and allow the affliction of the disease that tormented his body—the same disease that killed his brother? For only one reason: He doesn’t exist.

He dismounted the horse and entered the pub, not bothering to secure the steed. Inside only a handful of patrons gathered around the bar, most disheveled, still here from the night before drowning the reality of their sorrowful existence with booze. Only one woman was in the joint, a broad in her twenties, not fair of face and of rough vintage, but attractive enough to arouse sexual thoughts in Jack. He wondered why a woman would be here. A bit rough around the edges, she didn’t strike him as a hooker come searching for a trick. Must have her own demons she is running from, he thought, watching her knock back shots of liquor.

He slid onto a seat at the bar. “What will it be?” a barman asked, wiping down the counter with a sodden rag.

“A tankard of your best,” Jack said, slamming a coin on the counter. Moments later, the barman replaced the money with a mug. Jack gulped down the beer, screwing his nose at the bitter tang. He tolerated the taste only because it would dull his pain—emotional as well as physical (and maybe more the former than the latter).

A few drinks later the woman shouted, “Get your hands off me, brute!” Jack glanced over and saw her empty a mug in the man’s face. Unwanted grope, Jack thought.

The man with beer in his beard was burly in size, not someone you would want to meet alone in a dark alley. He rose from his chair with a red face and flexing muscles. He snatched a bottle off the counter and swatted it backhanded into the side of her head. She folded to the ground with a thud. Not finished, the man stomped on her hand with the heel of his boot. “Bitch!” he yelled and staggered out of the pub.

Nobody but the barman tended to the woman who lay on the ground in a pool of her own blood. At the woman’s side, the barman yelled, “Any doctors in here?”

A man sitting close to Jack said, “Hey, ain’t you a doctor? That looks like something a doctor would carry.”

Jack glanced at his bag. The man was right, of course, but he was not there to be a good Samaritan but to drink away his pain.

“This man is a doctor,” the man shouted.

The barman stared at Jack. “Don’t just sit there, man. Come and help the lady.”

Jack put his mug down, grabbed his bag, and headed for the woman. On his knees, he wiped the blood from her face to assess the damage. Relatively unscarred. A majority of the blood flowed from a small gash above her right brow, which appeared to have taken the brunt of the impact. A piece of glass protruded from her eye. “She’s going to lose that eye,” Jack said, removing the fragment. He then bandaged her eye with gauze from his doctor’s bag. Odd he thought, using the contents of the bag for something other than murder. Over the years, the purpose of his bag had changed from saving life to taking it. After dressing the eye, he turned his attention to her fingers, which were twisted and snapped in several places. “What’s her name? Jack asked.

“Kate,” the barman said. “She’s a regular: Kate Kibble.”

“She’ll have crooked fingers for the rest of her life, but she should be able to move them,” Jack said as he set and splinted the broken bones.

The police arrived. After giving up trying to take any comprehensible statements from the drunken patrons aside from Jack who gave the best description of the assailant he could, they picked Kate up and said they would take her to the nearby hospital.

Not wanting to attract any more attention than he already had, Jack left. He strode to the station to await a train to London. Time to go home to Whitechapel. A train ticket was his personal reward to himself for a task well done. Give me a chance to rest, he thought. Horse riding, the constant movement, only magnified his physical discomfort.

A poster tacked up on the wall next to the ticket window drew his attention. WANTED it read. Under that were sketches of Anne and Sophia, and under their names FOR MURDER. The drawings were quite detailed and made it obvious to Jack that the fugitives were blood relatives. Perhaps because I know they are, he thought. The resemblance was striking. Similar cheek bones and jaw lines and though the black-and-white sketches did not show their eye and hair color, he knew them to be the alike. Sisters, near twins at that. A memory from nine years ago came back to him of that night he slipped the note under the door of Angela’s house. That night Anne should have died in the accident he had orchestrated. His attempt to clean up at least one mistake. That was an error he did not want Mephis to discover for fear of the consequences. He could not fathom how Anne and Sophia had managed to end up together as a result. A remarkable coincidence or the work of another power? Maybe that Diniel fellow Memphis had mentioned had something to do with the happenstance. Jack did not know, but the question irked him. Today he felt fortunate to have failed in erasing Anne. She provided the perfect bait to atone for both of his slipups.

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