Here I am again! Ty for the reviews!
What is happening? Where am I? Where have the eyes gone? Who… who are these faces? I don't like them! They don't want me! Does anyone want me? I need to get out! NO! Leave me alone! Get back with you! I'm vile… I'm vile… I'm not worthy. Miriam, where have you gone? Why won't you smile at me? I will find you, Miriam. I love you. I need to get out of here!
Chapter 4: From Cell to Cage (Part 1)
Outside the cell door of Duncan Arlong's cell, the jailor trembled will ill disguised fear. The lunatic behind the heavy cell door was muttering and moaning unintelligible words, and there were strange creaks and groans coming from the cell's interior. The bowl of lukewarm beef stew trembled in his grimy fingers. He was not at all eager to open the door.
"Must… Must be released…" the mad convict muttered, his intentions startlingly clearly voiced. "Miriam… must find Miriam… and the eyes… must find the eyes…" Arlong slurred. The eyes? The jailor immediately had a vision of his eyes being plucked directly out of his skull in a lunatic fit of the convict's, and this was swiftly followed by yet another vision of said convict eating the eyes with undisguised pleasure.
The bowl of stew fell from his hands, and clattered to the floor, spilling chunks of beef and thick brownish-grey broth over the prison floor. Almost immediately, rats scampered from the dark shadows of the prison hallway and swarmed towards the spilled food. The sound of their squeaks, scampering feet and gnawing teeth distracted the jailor – only for a moment – as to the fact that the cell had gone completely silent.
There was a moment when the sounds of the rats eating and fighting were the only disturbances in the still prison air. A low creak from inside the cell broke this moment, however, and the jailor backed up against the wall directly across from Arlong's cell. What was that sound? The jailor had a sinking feeling in his gut, and the thought terrified him to the extent that he could scarcely breathe, much less run to safety.
There was silence, in which even the rats ceased movement, pausing their eating frenzy in favor of poking rodent heads in the air, whiskers twitching. The creak sounded again, louder this time in the silence. The creaking stopped, then when it restarted, it quickly escalated into an earthen groan.
Suddenly, the imprisoned lunatic gave a loud roar that echoed off the prison's stone walls, but failed to conceal the loud crack as something dislodged from the wall. The stone vibrated when the dislodged item fell to the floor with a heavy thud. The rats trembled just as furiously as the jailor was as the earthen scraping of stone against stone got closer and closer to the cell door. Fifteen pairs of eyes were trained on the cell door as the earthen scraping continued, then stopped.
Without warning, something slammed into the cell door.
The jailor, and fourteen rats ran for their lives when the thunderous roar sounded from inside the cell.
"LET ME OUT!"
Duncan Arlong had broken his chains from the wall.
Charleston Cunningham III looked up from his ledgers as his office door opened. His butler, Ludwig, entered the room, looking to his master with polite deference.
"Master Cunningham," the butler said with a tasteful pitch, "A mister Montgomery to see you, sir." Charleston set down his quill and rested his elbows on his desk. It was about time for Montgomery to show his face.
"Show him in," he demanded, linking pudgy fingers together, his jowls shaking slightly as he spoke. "And send Mary in with tea." Ludwig nodded and backed out of the office with a short bow.
"As you wish, Mr Cunningham, sir," Ludwig intoned in a flat voice, closing the door behind him. Charleston twisted the ruby ring on his left index finger and prepared himself to see Montgomery. The door opened again, and Alister Montgomery stepped into the office, sharply dressed as usual in a burgundy waistcoat and white cravat, a fitted black coat that adorned his slim figure and tailor-made black trousers. He had his top hat in his hands, leaving his shoulder length blonde hair tied back at the nape of his neck.
Charleston fought the urge to squirm under Montgomery's sharp blue gaze as the man stepped in front his desk.
"Mr. Cunningham," Montgomery said, his cultured voice silky, but indifferent. Charleston nodded and gestured towards the chair in front his desk. Montgomery flipped the tail of his coat out of the way before he sat, his legs positioned wider than was proper for high society. It was an obvious show of power, but Charleston found himself incapable of protesting.
"Mr. Montgomery," Charleston returned, hating that Montgomery's voice was so much deeper than his was. "I pray your day has gone well?" Montgomery leveled a flat stare upon his face.
"Leave the false pleasantries behind, Mr. Cunningham," Montgomery said smoothly, folding his arms across his broad chest. "You may use that sort of unnecessary fluff with Master Jackson, but not with me. I have no use for it." Charleston gulped, swallowing his anger. There was nothing he could do, however. This man held his future in politics in his well-groomed hands. He could easily send Charleston's dreams of Parliament six feet under.
"We need to take someone out of Garrison's," Montgomery went on, his attitude almost cavalier. Charleston swallowed nervously. Garrison's? Garrison's Prison housed the most evil and demented of England's prison, more than half of the prison being underground in the most remote areas of the English country-side. The majority of said prisoner's were believed to be dead by the majority of the public, and several of them had their deaths staged to reinforce this misconception.
"Whatever for? Have you gone mad?" Charleston sputtered, forgetting his company. Montgomery's eyes glittered dangerously.
"Do you want a seat in Parliament or not, Mr. Cunningham?" the man asked, his voice smooth, yet hard at the same time. "You are not being paid to ask questions. Just initial the necessary lines on the necessary documents, and let's be done with this unneeded chatter and pretentiousness," Montgomery continued, staring at Charleston with an expression dark enough that beads of sweat prickled at the back of his neck.
"You would be reminded, Mr. Montgomery, to whom you speak. I would advise you to watch your language and remember your station," Charleston ground out, despite his fear of the man before him.
"I need clearance for cell number two-hundred and ninety," Montgomery went on, blue eyes darkening dangerously. "…And don't speak to me of station," the man went on, a sneer twisting the corners of his lips. "My station is alive, and yours could be the opposite if you don't watch yourself, Mr. Cunningham. Besides," Montgomery added almost airily, getting up from his seat and resting three fingers on Charleston's desk. "I have three more people with the same clearance that you have, just vying for an opportunity. Be thankful I chose you."
Montgomery was gone from his office before Charleston could breathe again. He loathed that man. Nevertheless, he opened his desk and drew for the necessary papers. His anger was rapidly mounting, anger he could not express in front of Montgomery. As he signed his name in flowing cursive on the lines authorizing Montgomery to pull the convict he wanted from the cell he'd indicated, Charleston could barely prevent the angry tremor that moved through his being.
The door to his office opened after a small knock, and Mary made her way into the office, a tray of tea and scones balanced on her hand. Charleston looked up sharply, his patience running thin. Knowing it was childish to take his anger out on his servants but not able to stop himself from re-asserting his authority. He slammed his fist to his desk, startling the maid.
"Not now, Mary, not now!" he yelled, spittle flying from his plump lips. The tea tray teetered precariously on Mary's palm before sliding off her hand entirely and clattering to the floor.
"Clean that mess up, you clumsy wench!" Charleston screamed. "LUDWIG!"
Kristin peered out the carriage window as they travelled over the now familiar roadway to Garrison's Prison. She ignored Mr. Montgomery's blue-eyed stare in favor of eyeing the green grass that lined the cobblestone road. She was hoping to see the lunatic again, and she had a strange uneasiness in the pit of her stomach. She leaned forward in her seat as the prison's looming stone walls came into her periphery.
"My, my," Mr. Montgomery murmured, his tone seeping with some emotion Kristin could identify, but was not inclined to acknowledge. Jealousy. "You are certainly eager to be reunited with our little monster, aren't you?" he continued, his eyes not moving their focus from her face. "I assure you, we will get there in due course…" he muttered, annoyed that she was not paying attention to him.
They had begun a pattern of sorts in the last few days. He would say something, and she would respond with a type of acidic sweetness that, while perfectly polite, was not at all friendly. But it was something. This time, however, Kristin was not the least bit inclined to be a source of amusement for Mr. Montgomery. She'd promised Duncan Arlong that she would be back, and she was anxious to show him that she had not broken that promise.
Beside her, Mr. Barker chuckled darkly, but his anxiousness was apparent as well. Only, he was most certainly not looking forward to seeing the lunatic again. The man shifted constantly in his seat, and he was swiftly beginning to annoy Kristin. She clenched her teeth and kept her gaze focused outside. Her fingers traced the wicker of the basket in her hands, and she could feel the warmth of the food inside even through her gloves. Good. She would hate to serve cold food to Duncan Arlong.
Before too long, the carriage pulled up in the prison's courtyard, and jerked to a halt. Mr. Barker jumped out first, followed by Mr. Montgomery. The latter offered a hand for Kristin to use to aid her descent from the carriage. Kristin paused long enough for Mr. Montgomery to take note of her reticence before taking his arm and stepping out of the carriage. She made sure to snatch her hand away from his arm as soon as she was on solid ground. He rolled his eyes in response, but didn't try to reclaim her hand. She did, however, catch the way his eyes roved over her chest.
He had outfitted her with new clothing, much to her annoyance and gratitude alike. As if to instill the idea that there was no going back for her, he'd burned her old clothing in the fireplace, right before her eyes. As much as she hated to admit it, she was indebted to him. Kristin felt her mouth pinch tightly when a metallic clang sounded from behind the carriage. She'd seen the wheeled cage before they had attached it to the carriage back at Mr. Montgomery's mansion. She knew its purpose, and she understood the theory behind its usage, but she did not agree with it at all.
Barker pushed the wheeled cage forward, relinquishing the handle to three aides that rushed from the doorway to the dungeons and out into the courtyard. In order to avoid looking at the cage or at Mr. Montgomery, Kristin turned her gaze upwards, noticing the heavy grey colour of the sky. It looked as if it was about to empty its contents any time now.
"We have to hurry," Kristen said firmly, not caring how she might be coming across to Mr. Montgomery. "I do not want Mr. Arlong exposed to the rain the whole journey back. It will not be good for his health," she continued, striding purposefully towards the doorway to the dungeons. She clutched the fragrant basket of food closer to her stomach and allowed Mr. Montgomery and Mr. Barker to precede her. The aide's pulled up behind, pushing the heavy cage on wheels. It rattled noisily as it traversed the stone passageways, and the sound made a strange mixture of guilt and pleasure course through Kristin. She was happy they were getting Duncan from the prison, but she felt so terrible about the fact that Mr. Montgomery was going to treat him like an animal and a pawn in some evil scheme.
Kristin was caught up with warring thoughts, so much so that she barely noticed that they'd descended to the lower sections of the prison. Before the lift even landed securely on the lowest floor, Kristin could hear Duncan's roars and screams. There was also a heavy pounding sound coming from the depths of the prison. Her brows furrowing, Kristin looked sharply to Mr. Montgomery. The man, however, had his focus pinned on the shaking jailor.
"Me… Methinks 'e mighta broke 'is chains from the wall, sire," the jailor stuttered, sending a fearful glance in Mr. Montgomery's direction. Mr. Montgomery spat a harsh curse.
"And you did not think to tell us this? How long ago did this occur?" he asked, his voice hard. The jailor looked as if he'd desire nothing more than to look in any place other than Mr. Montgomery's thunderous expression, but the man, like anyone else who came upon the young man, was thoroughly entranced.
"M-Musta been about three days now, s-sire," the jailor said, his voice almost a whisper; it was so soft.
"Three days?" Kristin could not help but exclaim. "And has he been fed since then?" she demanded to know. The jailor trembled, but did not respond.
"Answer her," Mr. Montgomery commanded, his voice soft and lethal. The jailor swallowed convulsively.
"N-no, sire," he said, backing away from Mr. Montgomery in fear. Mr. Montgomery struck the man across the face, sending him reeling into the iron bars of the lift. It landed on the stone floor with a thud and a clang, then Mr. Montgomery was flinging the door open and stalking out.
"You bloody idiot," Mr. Montgomery spat, his derision in his eyes. "You blasted, bloody idiot."
Moments later, when they got to Duncan's cell, Barker edged towards the door, where Duncan was still pounding, and the lunatic's roars echoed off the prison walls. He slid the bolt open and swung the door open. Before Barker could even step out of the way, the lunatic was out of the cell, the lamplight reflecting off his pale skin with an orangish glow.
Duncan backhanded Barker with a swift hand, sending the man flying backwards into the opposing wall. Growling ferociously, the madman advanced, dragging behind him his chains with the huge hunks of rock still attached. He was moving so fast the other occupants of the hall could scarcely breathe, much less intervene. Duncan grasped Barker by the neck and hauled him up. Because of the large height difference, Barker's feet dangled above the ground.
Duncan turned around, Barker still in his grasp, and then halted as his eyes met Kristin's. He released Barker, and the man crumpled to the ground, coughing and holding his throat. Duncan took one tentative step towards Kristen, his bright green eyes canvassing her face.
"A-Angel?" he murmured, reaching for her with a pale hand. "You came back to me?"
And thus ends the first part of this two-part chapter. Please do review!