Tuesday, 3 March 2009
04:20:25 PM (GMT)
Chapter Two - Fools And Angels
"How long have we been walking?" I asked wearily. It felt like we had been walking
down the same road for days. We had only just passed street Nineteen and it was
starting to get dark.
"I don't know. Forever" came Flynn's dull reply.
I sighed. Surely this road couldn't go on forever. Surely it must lead to somewhere.
Well you would think so, but the way it looked, it was still a pretty long way to go.
I didn't like to think about what would happen once it got dark. We couldn't keep
walking when we didn't even know where we were going, where we were. I had wondered
about breaking into one of the looming Victorian houses. There didn't seem to be
anyone inside any of them. It was certainly quite odd. The whole situation was quite
odd. I had got off my usual bus into a strange town with row upon row of old houses,
all apparently empty. Despite my original annoyance with Flynn, I now found myself
incredibly greatful for his company. If I had been alone, I would surely have got
myself into even worse trouble by now.
"Flynn. Flynn?" I glanced at him. He seemed to have fallen into a trance while he was
walking. I punched him on the shoulder. "Hey Flyyn!"
He gave a start and looked at me as though seeing me for the first time.
"What?" He said dazedly.
"We can't keep walking. We don't even know where this is leading and it's getting
dark." I said.
"I know." He replied. "But what else can we do?"
"There's got to be someone in one of these houses. Or at least some way to get in." I
said, glancing at the tall iron gates and the high windows of the nearest house.
He looked at me doubtfully.
"We have to try." I told him. "We can't keep walking."
"Yeah, I suppose."
I strode towards the gate of the nearest house and put my hand on the latch. I lifted
it slowly, surprised on discovering that it was unlocked. It was heavier than I had
anticipated and I had to throw all my weight against the black metal bars to get it
to open. It opened slowly, growling loudly as it scraped the concrete. I slipped
through quickly and waited for Flynn to follow before closing it again. I left the
latch open, just in case.
With a glance at Flynn, we both began to walk across the small courtyard towards the
front door. The silence was pressing in on us; it was suffocating. I was terrified.
Though the house was sure to be empty, what we were doing was still wrong. But we
were desperate. We couldn't stay on the street all night. Yet this didn't lower my
heart rate as I stepped onto the doorstep.
I looked nervously at Flynn.
"Should we knock?"
"There's obviously no one in. Try the lock."
Without waiting for me to reply, he stretched out his arm and turned the brass door
knob. It was locked.
"Damn." I said, noticing my voice had dropped to a whisper. "What about the window?"
We both turned to look at the lowest window, which was about six feet away from the
"Stand on my back" Flynn said, walking over to the wall. "See if it's open."
Reluctantly, I followed him. He knelt on the floor and I tentatively put one foot on
his back, my hand on the wall.
"I don't have to best sense of balance you know..." I warned him, lifting myself onto
his back and wobbling slightly.
"Just see if the window's locked." He said.
Even stood on his back, I could only just reach the edge of the window. With the tips
of my fingers, I tried to lift the heavy wooden frame. It wouldn't budge.
"It's locked." I called down to Flynn, as loudly as I dared.
"Crap. Okay, we'll try and find some other way in and-"
At that moment, the curtains of the window twitched from the inside and a face
appeared. A haunting, nightmarish face with enormous, lifeless eyes and a protuding
nose. I screamed and fell backwards. Flynn jumped up.
"What? What's wrong?" He asked worriedly.
Before I had chance to tell him, the front door opened. I shrieked again. A figure
appeared in the doorway. It had the same grey, staring face. It started to move
"What do you think you're doing?!" The figure said harshly and as it did so, it
pulled off what I now identified as a world war two gasmask, to reveal the face of a
young woman. She had pale skin and curly hair and was glaring at us in such a
formidable way that I half wished we were facing a strange hollow-eyed
"We-we.." I stammered. My heart was racing, I didn't know what to say.
"We needed somewhere to go. We're lost, we don't know where we are." Flynn explained
to her calmly, though I could tell he was just as frightened as I was.
"And I suppose knocking was out of the question?" the woman said.
"We didn't think anyone would be in." Flynn admitted.
"Of course we would be in. Everyone stays inside these days, it's not safe to go out.
You'd better come in." She said, ushering us both towards the front door. "Where are
your gas masks?"
"We don't have any" I said. "Why do we need them? What's going on? Where are we?"
I turned to look at her as we were walking over the threshold. She sighed.
"Not more of you? Look, get inside and I'll explain it all once we're safe."
As she said this, she shot a worried look at the darkened street outside before
closing the door and relocking not one, but five locks.
Once my eyes had adjusted to the gloom, I could see that we appeared to be in a dark
hallway. I could just make out a few dusty paintings hanging on the wall and a small
cupboard. There was a door to the right which I assumed lead to the rest of the house
and there was an empty umbrella stand at the end of the hallway where there was
another door. Once she had finished securing the locks, the woman turned to us and
pointing at the door on the right.
"Just through there. Go on." She said quietly.
As Flynn tentatively pushed the door open, the woman bent down and opened the small
cupboard, pulling out a cardboard box.
"Here. Take these. Just in case." She said, handing Flynn and I a gasmask each.
I was sure, had I known the reason for this gesture, I would have been grateful.
However, I was merely rather bemused, as was Flynn I presumed from the enquiring look
he gave me. I shrugged. Apparently things could get weirder, if it carried on the way
it was going. Better just to roll with it.
The woman lead us through the door into what looked like a dining room. It was just
as dark as the hallway and I couldn't see much of what was in there. We walked
straight through this room and through another door. As I walked through the door, I
felt the heat from the room behind it hit my face. The heavy door shut behind me with
a click and I looked around.
We were in a huge kitchen. In the middle of the terracotta floor tiles was a table
with four people sat around it, an older man who I assumed was the woman's wife and
the father of the three young girls who were sat with him. The room was lit by gas
lamps situated around the walls. There was an aga against the wall and many shelves
supporting pots and pans, stacks of crockery, pots of cutlery and jars of jams and
sauces. There was a window above the sink, though the curtains were drawn. On the
table were four gas masks, each one belonging to one of the four people who were now
staring at myself and Flynn with an understandably confused expression on their
An uncomfortable silence settled on the room. Not one person dared disturb it to ask
the questions we were all thinking.
"I'm Flynn." Said Flynn, awkwardly. "And this is Alex." He waved vaguely at me. "And
we're very sorry about trying to break it. We didn't know anyone lived here."
The man, who was wearing a slate grey suit with a bow-tie, glanced at his wife and
they exchanged a nod.
"More of them." He said, in a weary voice. "How did you two get here then?"
Of all the questions to ask, this one seemed the most unlikely, but I answered all
the same, admittedly in a very quiet, nervous voice.
"I got off my school bus and... and I was just here. I don't know what happened."
"You seem remarkably calm for someone who has just arrived in a strange place on
their own." The woman said. "A lot of the others though they'd gone mad."
I sincerely hoped that statement meant that I wasn't mad, although I wasn't sure what
reasonably logical excuse to fall back on now. I looked at the women for the first
time. She was pretty, with dark red ringlets, tied back in a bun. Her face was drawn
and pale from lack of sleep and she looked quite thin. She was wearing a tiered, grey
dress with long sleeves and a corset. Her three daughters were in similar attire.
"What about you, lad?" The man continued in a chipped London accent. "How did you get
"I don't really know." Flynn said casually. "I just remember waking up in a park and
being really confused. And then I ran into Alex a few hours later." He shrugged. If I
was calm, he was finding this whole situation rather dull. Maybe he did this more
often than I did.
The woman dropped into one of the vacant chairs around the tableand beckoned for us
to do the same.
"I'm Martha Ruskin." She introduced herself as we sat down. "And this is my husband,
Harvey, and this is Cynthia, Juliet and Vivian."
Harvey Ruskin nodded at us in greeting. Cynthia, Juliet and Vivian smiled shyly. I
guessed they were all under ten years of age. Cynthia and Vivian both had their
mother's red curls, whereas Juliet had brown hair like her father. They were all pale
and nervous-looking. I smiled back at them, but looked away quickly. I had never been
very good with children.
"So what is this place?" Flynn asked conversationally. He was staring around the
large kitchen interestedly. I wasn't sure whether he was genuinely fascinated by our
surroundings or if he was just avoiding eye contact.
"It's called Intermundia." Harvey said. "We're in Section Thirteen, Street Ten. The
prince lives in Section One which is the centre of Intermundia."
"And what did you mean when you said 'more of them'?" I asked, curious, but not
wanting to sound rude.
"There's been a lot of people like you around recently." Martha explained. "Don't
know what's happened to them or where they are. It's been getting worse over the past
few years, more and more of you. Just wandering about the streets without a clue."
"What happens to them?" Flynn asked.
Martha paused before replying, as though she were debating whether to tell us
"Some of them get into a house..." She said, slowly. "And some of them hide or wander
until they are found. Some of them get back to where they came from before anyone
notices them. And some-" She faltered, "...some get taken."
"Taken?" I asked. "What do you mean?"
Martha and Harvey both exchanged glances. They both looked back at us.
"There's an old song" Martha said. "I don't remember what it's called. It will
Flynn and I both looked at each other, both confused, but Martha offered no further
explanation. Instead, she began to sing in a soft, low voice.
A long time ago, there was a foolish man
Another among many, but he does all that he can
Because Fate ordains that fools should fall for angels, that's his plan;
And so the fool falls for an angel, oh what a foolish man
Of course, it all goes to plan
Though he does all that he can
A long time ago, there was a girl with angel's eyes
So beautiful, so sweet, she would be any man's prize
Yet Chance would give the angel to the fool, it's her surprise;
A foolish man who loses himself in that angel's eyes
The world is taken by surprise
That the angel sees him as her prize
In her eyes
A long time ago, there was an angel and a fool
He is her shining knight and she is his precious jewel
And so a wedding is arranged, it is their parent's only rule;
A knight's mask worn by a fool
And the angel who is his jewel
And the wedding rule
A long time ago, there was a bride and groom-to-be
A beautiful wedding planned oh so carefully
A wedding for an angel and fool so well matched, you see;
Yet cruel Fate and Chance too plan carefully
For they can't let a fool or angel be
So the angel is walking alone in the dark
On the night before she marries her fool
She's singing a tune with the voice of a lark
And Chance is feeling cruel;
As the angel is walking alone at night
She's seen by a drunken party of men
They know that she can't put up a fight
They won't get this chance again.
They surround the angel and tear her dress
She knows there;s no one who can hear her scream
It was Chance that got her into this mess
And Fate that came up with this scheme.
The drunkards, they leave the angel for dead
There is now way she will make it through the night
Today's the day she is meant to be wed
But here she lies in a dreadful plight.
A long time ago, a beautiful girl was killed
She was meant to wed a fool, but that was not fulfilled
Instead of the beautiful wedding, an angel's blood was spilled
And so the fool has the drunkards killed
He makes a plan to be fulfilled
Blood will spilled
A long time ago, a fool became a black knight
Driven by revenge, of what happened on his wedding night
He will take revenge on every soul, he blames them for his angels plight
The angel who died on her wedding night
The fool became a murderous knight
Of the night
Martha's voice faded away slowly. I shuddered. The room seemed colder and the shadows
appeared to have crept closer. I looked at Flynn and he raised his eyebrows at me. I
shrugged in response. I didn't know what to believe.
"It's a true story." Martha said, obviously seeing our uncertainty. "There are many
versions. Some people say he breathes poison, that's why we have these." She held up
her gasmask. "Some folk say they've seen him. Of course, some are lying. But we know
he's out there, every night, taking people. You sometimes hear about it, someone you
know has disappeared. They never come back."
"What happens to them?" I whispered, her sincerity frightening me. This was becoming
to real to be true.
"No one knows." She replied.
Silence settled on the room. I could tell Flynn was looking at me, but I avoided his
gaze. My eyes were fixed on the glow of the gas lamp. I don't know how long I sat
there. At some point, I noticed that Mr Ruskin, Cynthia, Juliet and Vivian left the
room. I assumed they had gone to bed. Martha stayed with Flynn and I, even once
Flynn's head dropped onto his arms and he fell asleep. She was still sat there when I
fell asleep, though it took me a long time. And when I did sleep, I dreamt of a
beautiful girl and a heartbroken man.