Trail of Blood: A Henry Game Fable

I thought I had seen it all. I was wrong. When you have lived long enough that you give up counting the exact number of years you’ve been breathing, and generally just round it down to the nearest decade, you too will believe that there is nothing ‘out there’ that can genuinely surprise you. This has been the way for almost 200 years, until the birth and revolution of the Internet…then I was surprised again. However, that was twenty or so years ago. I had begun to believe that maybe I had seen all there is. Every sick and bizarre occurrence this planet had to offer. That was until last night, the night that made Henry Game realise: Henry Game, eternal and damned to walk alone, has a long lost brother, an identical twin, apparently, also found in the well, those many years ago.

The Order of St Oswald’s, a fellowship of sacramental heritage, placed as a deterrent that looms over religious discipline and the stewards of secrets, since before I appeared, hold historical records that stretch back as early as the 12th century. Anyway, I digress. Last night, upon arriving at the highly privileged event, I happened to come face-to-face with the current head of the Order, the Archbishop of Canterbury: Justin Welby. I entered the function and began performing the routine formal etiquettes, as is custom, of paying my respects to the hosts, when I spied the snivelling skeletal puppet heading straight toward me. I would have eventually made my way round to him and he would have smiled at me like we were familiar, although deep down, he knows we’re not. Yet this time, strangely, he didn’t and he clearly meant to speak with me. He waited until I had finished showing my respects to prancing Prince Chuck before unceremoniously pulling me into a smaller side room, where we stood in total darkness, me, alone with his perverted breathing. Finally I switched the light on.

Your eminence.’ I sarcastically swooned. Rather disappointingly he waved my faux-courtesy away with a dismissive flick of his old and well worked, arthritic wrist.

Enough of that Game. Listen, I have been contacted by the Vatican. They have issued a judgement on your brother’s head. Respectfully, they request that you-’

-Brother?’ I repeated, as his face contorted, almost comically, from confused to realisation to horror. His lips flapped and wordless breath leaked out like stale air escaping a mausoleum after decades of incarceration. He stared at me clearly befuddled. I could see the question written all over his leathery face “What have I just put my foot into?”

Brother?’ I repeated again advancing on him. The door swung inward behind me. Then I could have swore that somebody had switched the lights off, or at least that was my first thought, before the rich red carpet hurtled toward my face.

That was their first big mistake. Whether I am or am not an immortal is a question for another time, and hitting me on the back of the skull with the heaviest book in the world, all about the lineage of a certain Royal family, is only going to achieve one thing: pissing me off! I pretended to be out cold and waited for the Holy old turd’s feet to come close enough to my head so I could strike in one fluid movement.

Mason! What was that?!’

But, but your eminence, you said if he-’

-Oh I know what I said, but it wasn’t…’ he let out a deflated huff, ‘it wasn’t necessary, yet. Now we will have to deal with him. Tie him up before-’

-Too late.’ I laughed as I reached up and punched the Archbishop in the side of the knee causing it to bend in the wrong direction, and with a satisfying audible crack, it collided with his other knee. I giggled, I think, as I leapt up and on top of him, it had been too long since I had last had such fun. Before he even had time to cry out he was struggling to breathe with my forearm across his wind pipe and my free hand on the back of his balding pate exerting just enough force to choke him slowly, but what I didn’t foresee was that such an action would also make him dribble, all over my new fucking Tux!! This day was going from bad to worse.

The back of my head hurt and itched at the same time but scratching it was out of the question, at that exact moment. The moron who hit me with the book was standing there in the doorway, open-mouthed, book still in hand. He was wearing the clothes of a houseboy, but from the looks of his crooked nose and droopy eye, it was obvious he was more accustomed to cleaning up blood and teeth than pots and pans.

How did you? I’ve never seen anyone move so quick’ he said, with a look of doubt dawning on his beautiful mug.

If I were you I’d be more concerned with what’s coming next’ I snarled as I released the old fart and dived on top of Mason before he had chance to drop the book. I yanked the book out of his grip and kindly straightened his nose for him before I pressed it down on to his windpipe and waited for his eyes to close and his convulsions fail. Meanwhile the old fucker behind me was hawking and spurting on his hands and knees when I finally turned round and advanced on him.

Don’t, please don’t kill me’ he said with his wrinkly hands shaking in front of his face in some pathetic attempt at fending me off.

Kill you’ I laughed ‘oh not yet. Not before you answer my question, you fucking pervert!’

What question’ he blinked before he lowered his eyes to the floor and uttered the single syllable ‘oh…’

Yes, that question. Again and for the last time, brother?’

I decided it was time to leave, preferably before anyone happened to notice that the Archbishop was missing. We took, I’m sorry, I make it sound as though we skipped away hand in hand. Let me rephrase that, I dragged the weeping sack of shit out of the service entrance at the side of the Royal Manor, then continued to stuff him and all of his frustratingly flappy-fucking bishop robes into the back of my vehicle. Happy that we were both securely in the vehicle I calmly exited the grounds through the gravelled courtyard and proceeded down on to the secluded lane and into the heart of the English countryside.

Rain was in the air. I could smell it. Muffled sobs and sniffles from the back seat reminded me of that dirty old bastard drooling on my tuxedo. Then I imagined him drooling all over my fabric interior. ‘Don’t you fucking dare drool on my seats!’ I threatened over my shoulder as we approached a well-lit dual carriageway. I cut across the lanes and headed east toward the “vault of records” as Welby had put it.

A petrol station approached and, annoyingly, I realised that I was in desperate need of sustenance. I pulled in. ‘If you try and escape, or make any sound at all whilst I am in the petrol station’ I finished that sentence by slicing my forefinger across my throat before emphatically stabbing it toward him to emphasize an already over emphasized point. The Archbishop stopped his mumbling and nodded softly. Good. I opened the door before cursing myself and turning back ‘Where are my manners?’ I said as I leaned back in and peered over the back of the driver’s seat, ‘Do you want a drink or a sandwich?’ He quickly shook his head and I slammed the door shut and locked the car with the fob. Fucking technology! Little did he know that that would have been his last meal, had he taken me up on my offer.

I rushed more than I would have liked to as I ate at the ‘closed for the evening’ Subway dining area. Rain had begun to fall as I climbed back in to the car. The Archbishop had regained some semblance of self-respect since I had left and he sat there, seat belt on and back straight in total silence. Good. I had begun to consider whether beating him unconscious might be better than listening to his pleading and crying and sniffling and just general noise. I set off out of the petrol station and headed east, towards the ‘proof’ that I was found in that well with a sibling. Along with further ‘proof’ that my brother left with a troupe of missionaries to explore the recently discovered Americas. Along with proof that my brother lives still and is heavily involved in religion and politics, the two things I have learned to steer well clear of. I promised Welby I would let him live, should he make good on his word to give me all of the information I may need to track this brother of mine down. Preferably before the hit men-eunuch, choir-boys of the Vatican find him. Because, after all these years of believing that this was it for me, believing that I would never grow old and watch helplessly as each person I grew close to would perish and their corpses would whither to bones, and then to dust, had almost exhausted my will to continue. Now I feel revitalised. I am invigorated to find this brother of mine. This is the most fun I have had since I watched the Whitehouse burn! It would be a shame if he died now and I didn’t even get the opportunity to talk with him. Ian Mulliti, is his name apparently. And ahhh, a bit of a let down if I’m honest. I just expected him to have a better name than that! I don’t know why. It is what it is, I suppose.

Anthony Johnson, under direction of Henry Game

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