I wanted to get back to Annie, back to my cottage in Mount’s Bay, back to my books and leisurely coffees at Myghal’s place, although now his cover had been blown, maybe that was a thing of the past too.
My phone buzzed under the table. I pulled it out of my pocket and swiped it on. I noticed there was no signal. I checked my watch. Time had stopped too. So why did the phone buzz? There was no obvious announcement on the screen. I scrolled through looking at the apps seeing if they had an indication of a message. My Nye app was glowing green.
Nye, the ghost from 12th century Scotland who had haunted me in London when all I wanted to do was kill my girlfriend who had run off with my best mate. Nye, who had given me the hypersphere so we could do away with the ghastly red caps and lead me into a murderer’s den so we could save Annie from a gruesome death at his hands.
Was she here? Arriving like the 7th Cavalry to save the day? I took in a big sniff hoping to smell the familiar tarry smell of a good malt whisky that usually indicated she was around.
I pressed the app. This usually meant that she would appear in person, as it were, or at least show up on the screen for some face time.
Modred was watching me carefully.
“Charlie.” I countered.
“How’s the food daddy o, bust a gut yet?”
“Fine, fine.” I pushed the plates away from me. “Lets get down to business. But first,” I pointed at the speakers “can you turn that shite off.”
Modred scowled a little but clapped his hands. Immediately the music stopped, and the flailing watusi zombie dancers skipped out of sight.
Sitting back, he clasped his arms behind his head in another macho manspreading cliché bullshit position. He smirked and nodded his head.
“The situation Charlie, my boy, is you have something that I want. And in return, I can give you something that you want.”
“What’s that?” I countered.
“Your life dude.” He clicked his fingers.
“But you don’t have it yet so how can you return it?
“Are you so sure? You are currently in the company of the dead. Death is all around you.”
“Death is a fact of life” I shot back nonchalantly, but not feeling at all nonchalant. We seemed to have entered into some sort of Socratic argument.
“Do you not fear death?”
“Why should I fear death? I do not know enough about death to fear it.”
“And yet you are here in the presence of death.” He gestured with his hands at himself and then to Tregeagle who gave his gravedigger smile.
“Maybe,” I argued, “that it is you who knows little enough about death because here you are still wandering the mortal plane.”
“’Tis the vindictiveness of thy miserable priests for causing I such pain and toil.” Tregeagle spat across the table.
“Ye mortals fear death as the raindrop fears the sun. ‘Tis but a moments work for both to be gone. Damn your priests and damn this game.” He rose from his seat like a pocketknife unfolding, all sharp angles and blades. His shirtfront flounced in an act of mutiny against the jagged movements of his body.
“Hold, Jan. Hold,” Modred stared down the table at me. His eyes returned to the golden glow of the beast that was surely within. “Let us play longer.”
There, I was being toyed with.
My hand was in my pocket holding my phone. I was willing it to buzz so the green light would envelop me for all to be well. I wanted to rest my brow once again against the pillow of Nye’s breasts as she hummed a simple tune.
“Tell me mortal.” Modred’s voice had hardened. “Why you are so sure about not fearing death?”
I turned so I could look Modred straight into his golden eyes.
“I know I shall die, maybe today at your hand, perhaps not. Maybe I will live until the Crown is forced to acknowledge my singular existence through the medium of a congratulatory telegram upon reaching my centenary, who knows? But you, and you.” I pointed my finger at Tregeagle. “You, the dead, know nothing. What have you got in your death? What rewards have you accrued? Nothing. You are barely remembered, and for the most part, you are forgotten.”
Modred stood, eyes blazing, fists clenched, and knuckles down on the table.
“Human, you are finished; you will give me what I seek. You will kneel at my feet and give up the stone.”
It was my turn to grin.
“Such is death, and you live in this hell or some other hell like place where your immortality is an unhappy, endless, striving for what? You know what?” I stood, and ripped my shirt open. I bared my sagging chest at him.
“Do your worst you evil cunt, because no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.”
In my pocket, my phone burped.
In the hall, the stereo switched on.
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss
On a loop, around, and around, and around…
About Rob Burton
Dr. Rob Burton was a professional sociologist for over 25 years at the University of Exeter, the Open University and the University of Plymouth. Now semi-retired Rob works in Nanjing, China teaching English and writing novels. He has authored many academic articles and recently published, with a Chinese co-author, a crammer for Chinese students who wish to succeed with their IELTS speaking test. His first novel Meditations on Murder is available now on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.
His novels are firmly set in the Urban Fantasy genre where he brings his experiences of traveling the world and his academic interest in Cornwall, the Cornish, and the Celtic world to the fore.
Rob has an 18-year-old daughter back in the UK. Snook Doggy Dog, a female Jack Russell that he took with him to China and features in his books.
BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR:
Meditation on Murder
Dr. Burton Unlocks the Secrets of the IELTS Speaking Test
The Castle of the Red-Haired Maidens
The Twelfth Rune
A Taste of English
The Twelfth Rune is his WIP (Work in Progress). He has also written a memoir under a pen name.