Anthem

1937. London. James Blunt stumbles upon a tomb and visits it's vast interior every day. Until one day, he runs into a girl dressed in exquisite robes and a very mysterious air to her. The secrets she holds though propel him into a dangerous and mythical race against an evil that was always thought to be a mere story. Anthem, the mysterious city of bridges and castles is his final destination. He then finds an even hazier secret about his past...

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Finding a girl dressed in silk in the middle of a dark tomb is unnerving to say the least. I had never experienced such an exquisite fright in my entire eighteen years of life. She was standing there in silence, with her head perched to the side as if listening to something I couldn't hear. Naturally, I stopped and looked at her wondering if she'd notice me with my burning torch aloft in my hand. However, I am getting ahead of myself. 

I first discovered this tomb when I was walking. I walk a fair bit and I like going through woods. It calms me and the air is usually very fresh. My mother was a woman who spent her days inviting friends for tea and painting the surrounding landscape which I must say was very striking. The main feature was trees which gave a horrific tone to the horizon in winter when the branches scratched the sky like fingers. There was a lake too, glassy and still in summer and dead in winter. My father was a chemist who worked with the Government and was whisked off to London or Oxford to undertake experiments where things exploded. 

So there I was, facing this girl and her incongruence. So I decided to try a little speech on her. It could work but then again, it could just backfire. Her clothes were from a different century altogether, she looked Oriental with her wavy dark brown curls and a vivid red dress that swept the floor. Then there was the hat, large and slanted as if she was heading to Royal Ascot. Nevertheless, I swept into speech rather quickly which always worked when I was nervous. 

"Excuse me?" I said with uncertainty. She was like a statue but my voice made her move. She smiled faintly as if we were old friends. 

"Hello James, I am so glad you came back...how's your leg?" she looked at my left leg with something that was either concern or sheer curiosity. My mouth fell open. 

I had pulled a muscle the day before when I forsook my exploration for a game of rugby with Albert and Percy and a whole bunch of friends who arrived. There had been ice lollies and lemonade too. That still didn't explain how she knew my name so I was understandably shocked. 

"Sorry, who are you exactly?" It sounded quite rude but I was a touch annoyed. She had obviously spied on me at some point. 

"Olivia Hurst is my name...would you like to come with to Anthem?" She looked a little dreamy like a sprite or fairy. The darkness was suddenly filled with muted light as she spoke. 

I still held the flame up, illuminating faint writing. "Anthem? We're in Surrey." 

"You have a secret, James. So do I actually, why don't we share?" More smiling took place. I had had enough of this so I walked past her, my exploration had led me to a long room with a few large trunks and chests in it.

"I don't share secrets, besides, I have none to share," I said in farewell. 

Olivia Hurst wasn't put off quite so easily and for the next half hour, she hovered while I opened the trunks only to find things from the previous years. A badly drawn map, a pair of cracked glasses, some papers with small writing which I didn't read and a mass of dust. 

"This is fun...I've never done something this fun before," Olivia was still breathing over me, literally. I could feel her breath fluttering against my cheek. I pulled up the collar of my coat around my cheekbones. 

"You're too close..." I said. Her face fell at that and I felt mildly guilty but it was true, I knew nothing about her. She could be a killer or just mad. 

"You'd love Anthem, seeing as you're into exploration, the forests there are--" I cut her off and stood. She looked perfectly earnest. 

"There's no such place called Anthem," I said firmly, signalling the end of the discussion. The room was making me fed up, there was nothing of note. Not one measly ancient coin or seal or anything. Add a girl determined to distract me and I ended up decently angry. 

"I could take you, convince you once and for all...who knows? You may find a wealth of places to explore," she said quietly looking at me squarely in the face. I dithered. It was highly tempting. Extremely so, but what would Mother say? She'd go potty and have seventy-five blue fits? Doctor Gray would be called. 

"If this place does exist, and trust me, I don't believe you, why are you here?" I asked with a fervent need for information. She looked up and around, avoiding my face which was never a good sign. 

"I'm like you. I explore, except I explore other worlds, we have gateways in Anthem...to other worlds that astonish and amaze, you'll love it. We can go to Verrh Colony, Swaski Suburbs, Ildora and Bukensky Heights," she was excited now, spewing what sounded to me like utter drivel. 

"Listen...you seem like a nice person, but I'm going to go home now, so I'm going to bid you good day," with that I turned on my heel and made for the entrance. As ever, she stopped me, he happiness vanished. 

"You're like all the rest of them...you mock me and you think I'm mad. Well, I tell you James Blunt, I am not mad nor am I deluded and if you want proof, just come and I'll show you..." she put her hand out. It was slim and very normal with a small ring. 

I smiled bashfully. "I'd rather not."

"What are you afraid of?" she practically screeched, banshee-like. Then the anger caught me. Who was she to pressure me into this hair-brained scheme?

"What am I afraid of? You. You're in a tomb, for goodness sake! You speak of these mysterious lands that supposedly have gateways, so I'm sorry if the fact that I think you should be in a sanatorium offends you, so you are going to leave me alone, are we clear?" 

She shoved me. "No, we're not bloody well clear, James Blunt. You are coming with me now."

I am not sure how it happened but a minute later, I found myself twirling head over heels in a limbo-like space with my mouth strangely shut tight. What followed was a resounding thud and I believe I was knocked clean out. There was another breathy thud next to me and the last thing I remember was a girl's voice. I don't know what it said but it sounded happy, emitting machine gun giggles of glee. 

 

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