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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7. Mephis

Jack descended the wooden steps, some of which creaked as if complaining about being disturbed, leading into the basement of an ordinary Whitechapel home. In the basement, illuminated by the glow of gas lanterns, Mephis sat at a tanned oaken table scrawling on scrolls with a quill. Without his shrouded hood on, Mephis’ auburn eyes contrasted with the pale white skin of his well-aged face, an oval elongated by a low-set jaw and bald head. On Jack’s approach, he set the quill down and turned his soulless eyes to the man. “So, Jack, did you get it?”

“Yes, Master,” Jack replied, shuffling his feet towards the desk on which he placed a black leather doctor’s bag.

The left corner of Mephis’ mouth raised, creating a deep crevice that bisected his cheeks. “Well, well, Jack, you might have a place with me after all.”

“Thank you, Master,” Jack said, bowing his head. “May I ask why Master needs the human remains?”

“It appears that my target, Sophia, has attracted the attention of Diniel and his ilk. For what reason I do not know. However, it may make the task of assassinating her by direct measures more complicated. Nevertheless, with the use of sorcery, I may be able to achieve my goal by other means.”

Jack nodded. “I see, Master.” Before Jack met Mephis, he believed magic to be mere illusions and nothing more. Now he knew different. Mephis, a sorcerer by definition, used magic, not ordinary magic but dark magic that draws power from red energy—a force invisible to humans created by their negative emotions or in more precise terms sin. When abundant red energy was absent, Mephis drew the energy from the remains of humans stained by depravity to perform his devilish spells.

Mephis rose from behind his desk and strode over to the far wall strung with dozens of hand-drawn portraits in the shape of a genealogical family tree. All the sketches had an X scrawled across them in red ink except one at the end of a long list of descendants: A picture of Sophia. Jagged red lines crisscrossed the whites of Mephis’ slightly bulging eyes as he stared at her image. “I’ve waited an extremely long time, Sophia, to end your line.”

“Master, why is Sophia so important?”

Mephis stared blankly at Sophia’s portrait as he spoke. “Her kind spread a white energy that drains the red energy, which is my power. The less power I have, the more difficult it is for me to create the gateway to the Underworld to allow my brethren of Shadows to enter this realm.”

“The same energy you use on me, Master?”

“Yes, Jack,” Mephis replied, nodding slowly as if he found the question disagreeable, “the same energy that keeps you alive.”

Jack placed his hand on his belly and traced around the large lump growing beneath his skin. The day the doctor told him he had an incurable disease he offered his soul to anyone, or anything, who could extend his life. Soon afterwards, he ran into Mephis at a local pub. For nearly two decades, he has been Mephis’ personal slave in exchange for perpetual remission of the malignant tumors inside his body that threatened to end his life.

Mephis returned to his desk, picked up the doctor’s bag, removed an object wrapped in a blood-stained white cotton rag, and placed it on the middle of a small altar in the corner of the basement. Six candles, their golden holders inscribed with unrecognizable symbols, were set along the sides of the wooden altar. Two tall candles stood at either side of a grey stone tablet that rested against the back wall of the altar. Jack gazed at the phrase cor aut mors chiseled across the tablet. Though his limited Latin vocabulary impeded his understanding of most of Mephis’s incantations, he understood this phrase to mean Heart or Death. Your choice between Heart—moral values, duty, and loyalty—or Death—to matter to no one, to have no integrity. The tablet appeared to offer a choice when harnessing its power. Jack discerned all too well the choice Mephis made.

With the end of his finger, Mephis touched the wick of each candle to start a flame. After all candles were lighted, he placed his hands on either side of the cloth wrapping and began chanting. Each spoken word carried a sense of power, an invisible force, vibrating glass jars on the shelf.

Jack wondered what the unintelligible words meant as he watched a thick purplish fog form between the two candles standing in front of the stone tablet. An image appeared inside the fog. A wood yard. The picture inside moved, as if they were viewing the scene from someone else’s eyes, striding between the stacked logs. A brown snake as long as a man’s arm slithered into view.

Mephis rolled his shoulders, squinted, clenched his teeth, and rubbed his hands together. “Let’s see how you deal with this, Sophia.” He began a new chant, this one more ominous. A scarlet glow formed around the cloth covering the human remains. As his chanting continued, the glow turned into dancing streaks of red energy circling the cloth. His chanting grew louder and faster as he passed his hands over the top of the cloth. His head lurched backwards, and he let out an agonizing wail as the red energy diverted into his palms. Several seconds passed as his body shuddered with the influx of energy that continued entering his body through his palms. Then in an instant the red energy vanished and he regained his normal composure. The bloodied cloth lay abandoned on the altar, the sacrifice within consumed. The purplish fog dispersed. “Clean up the altar, Jack,” Mephis said, returning to his desk.

“Master, what did the spell do?” Jack asked as he began cleaning the altar.

“A little embellishing.” He glared at Jack with pupils fully dilated, as if demon possessed. “Something I wouldn’t need to waste my powers on if you had done your job thirteen years ago.”

Jack tilted his head down and shuffled his feet. “I will not fail you again, Master.” He wrestled to believe his own words. He was not convinced that, in the same situation, he would carry out the task as commanded.

Mephis’ pupils flinched to black dots no larger than pinheads as the red blood vessels in the whites of his eyes reddened. “You had better not!”

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