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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Jack, sitting on a cushioned sofa in the lounge room of his Whitechapel home in front of the blazing fireplace, pondered Mephis’s statement: “Your creator, Jack, who else?”

My creator? The statement challenged his conviction on Darwin’s theory of natural selection. He had a basic understanding of the theory, which many intellectuals and men of science considered a mortal blow to theistic religion, while others dismissed it as unscientific speculation that required as much faith and assumption as the religions it presumed to render extinct. The theory holds that organisms are produced that survive on limited resources. Over time, these organisms struggle to acquire what they need to sustain their life. Competition breaks out between the organisms, and in some instances specific creatures or entire species die. Individual entities within groups vary with particular traits, and some qualities are passed down to offspring. Variations in the beings give more advantages to some over others. The gist of the theory is the better-adapted entities are more likely to survive and reproduce. Those species whose individuals have best adapted survive while others less adaptive become extinct. This process occurred over eons of time, billions of years. A typical picture used to describe the process shows a picture of a chimpanzee, transitioning into an ape, and then into a human. The theory impressed Jack as both logical and elegant. To the religious community, of course, and the Bible-thumpers such a claim was abject heresy. But why, Jack questioned, would Mephis say my future destiny would be up to my creator?

He stirred on his chair, uncomfortable with the questions. He pondered the possibility that both Darwin and Mephis were correct. Could God have used an approach similar to Darwin’s theory to create life? The longer he thought about it, the more plausible it seemed—especially given everything he knew as a surgeon about the intricacies of the human body and the evidence of exquisite design. On deeper reflection, he also considered, albeit reluctantly, the prospect that Darwin might be wrong. What he came to realize finally, which bothered him the most, was something that he had never considered—that Darwin’s theory does not exclude the likelihood of a creator. All this time he had perceived Darwin’s theory as providing clear evidence to demonstrate that God was not necessary in the creation of man. That was true to him, but at the same time, the theory did not show that God did not create man using natural selection as a means of creative delivery. In a way, evolution, the system itself, showed a process of intelligence. He began to sweat, heavily, under his arms and between his legs, as a feeling of being duped swept over him.

All this time he had been willing to do anything, literally anything, to cling to life, to the only existence he believed he had. Now he had to consider that if a god created him, a god would certainly have the power to extend his life after death in one form or another. He thought back to how Christians seemed to face death without anxiety, earnestly expecting that the true life began on the other side of human death. He recalled stories about the resurrection of Christ and a Bible verse he had so often heard the street preachers rant: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Jack rose, paced towards the fire, grabbed a log, and placed it on the smoldering coals. Back in his seat, he watched the flames lick and lap at the new piece of wood—fuel for the hungry blaze. A disturbing image flooded his mind—a vivid image of him gnashing his teeth and weeping, surrounded in all directions by ravenous flames. He shook his head as if to clear the disturbing image, mumbled, “Pesky Christians, filling my mind with such horrid images.”

Every time he closed his eyes, a different dark, disturbing image would form. On his last attempt to rest, he dreamt of being surrounded by Shadows. The evil creatures clawed at his naked body, ripping ugly gashes in his flesh. From the wounds, red energy, not blood, flowed. The Shadows bit into the source of the energy and gorged themselves on the steady streams as he squealed in pain. He compared the creatures to vampires, mythical humanoid beings that feed on human blood by night. The noticeable difference was that these Shadow beings were not after blood but rather some kind of red energy spilling out of him, generated, no doubt, by his evil deeds.

Jack dared not close his eyes for fear of yet another horrifying image. Instead, he gazed at the flames of the burning fire. After a while, tears welled in his eyes from staring at the hot fire and from a spring of long-quenched emotions oozing like miasma to the surface of his consciousness. He blinked to clear the fluid buildup. For a moment, he considered finding a Bible to read but then realized there wasn’t one in the house. The Bible bothered Mephis, enough for him to destroy the two copies Jack had in the house. Jack had flipped through the book once or twice but never actually read much of it. Now, sitting in front of the fire, Jack questioned why the Bible bothered Mephis so much. At the time, Jack did not believe God or any god existed so the book that believers referred to as an account of God’s word was unimportant to him. It was little more to him than Aesop’s fables—a book written about a fictional character by men. He thought back to a scene a year before he diagnosed his brother’s tumor.

* * *

“One second,” Jack yelled, in response to the rapping on his door. He finished pouring his cup of tea before proceeding to the front door.

“Elidin,” Jack said, “I wasn’t expecting to see you today. You’re looking well.”

“I bought you a gift,” his brother replied.

“Oh, well, do come in then.” Jack led Elidin into the kitchen. “Take a seat. I’m pouring myself a cupper. Care to join me?”

“Please,” Elidin said.

A minute later, Jack handed Elidin a cup of tea and sat down across the dining table from him.

From under his coat, Elidin produced a package wrapped in plain brown paper. “Here you go, Jack,” Elidin said, passing the gift to his brother.

“What’s the occasion? It’s not my birthday.”

Elidin laughed. “No occasion, and although you have been known to forget my birthday, I never forget yours.”

“Right you are,” Jack replied. He pulled the paper off the gift. “A novel,” he said, seeing the brown leather back of a book.

“Not a novel,” Elidin said. “And not just a book.”

Jack turned the book over. An image on the front, framed in an oval decorative border, depicted a waist-up illustration of Jesus holding a staff and a scroll. Above his head were the words: Search the scriptures. Underneath, still inside the oval, were the words: Thy word is truth. Jack opened to the first page and read the title: The Holy Bible. “Well,” he said, sighing, “a Charles Dickens novel would make a better story, but thanks all the same.”

Elidin smiled. “You never know, Jack. The stories may surprise you.”

“Maybe,” he replied, shrugging. He placed the Bible on the table and then gave it a little shove off to the side as if it were a pie he had just discovered he didn’t have a taste for.

“Does the Bible bother you, Jack?”

“Bother me? No,” he replied, taking a sip of his tea. “I do have a copy. The one Mum gave me. The same edition that she gave you.”

“Oh,” Elidin said, his eyebrows raising. “I’m surprised you still have it.”

“Well, it’s around here somewhere. If memory serves, I think it’s in the depths of one of my clothes drawers.” He paused as he glanced at the gift. “So, why a Bible?”

“Fair enough question,” Elidin replied. “A friend of mine lost his wife and son in a terrible horse accident.” He paused before continuing. “Four weeks later he took his own life.”

“Tragic,” Jack said, cocked his head. “But what pray tell does that have to do with me?”

“In the back of the Bible, you’ll find a note. Have a read sometime.”

Jack furrowed his eyebrows. “I will.”

* * *

“I never did read the note,” Jack mumbled. Thinking back, he recalled taking the note from the Bible and placing it with his collection of letters. A sudden urge to read the note came over him.

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